What is Functional Medicine

“What exactly is Functional Medicine?”

Dr Patti Zub and Lisa Vasile, NP were trained and practiced in traditional medicine for a combined 40 years. Although traditional medicine helps many, finds abnormal conditions and saves lives, they found themselves frustrated with disconnect for patients whose tests were “normal” but  were still symptomatic or those who dreamed of more energy, sleep, strength and clarity.

They found quickly that much of what they did was checklists:

  • Did the patient get their physical (PE) – perform PE – little time spent asking about family, lifestyle, mood, bowels, energy, etc
  • Was PE normal (blood pressure, pulse, exam, BMI, etc)
  • Order labs, tests, vaccines need to be ordered for their age and/or symptoms
  • Referrals as needed to specialties

So they researched and studied Functional Medicine to offer a broader spectrum of medicine – a ‘deeper dive’ to above and beyond the checklists.

After years of training many of their friends and family will ask “What do you do at your office?” And more and more our patients will say “I was looking for this type of medicine, but didn’t even know it exhisted”.

Functional Medicine

Is it “holistic” medicine? Is it herbs and vitamins? Is it Nutritionists?  Is it Science-Based? YES
While traditional medicine focuses on dealing with the symptoms of illness (treat the ill with a pill or surgery or send for counseling), functional medicine aims to understand its causes, and then uses that knowledge to treat the roots (cause) of chronic disease.

What’s the difference between a ‘regular’ (traditional) provider and a Functional Medicine provider?
Quick answer: In Functional medicine

  • They believe deeply that our symptoms are not deficiencies of a pill (ie: constipatoin = deficiency of miralax, high cholesterol = deficiency of statins, aches and pains are deficiencies of ibuprofen, etc)
  • They have a deep belief system that the body can and will heal itself if it is given the optimal nutrients, appropriate lifestyle and reduction of exposure to what each unique body can’t handle
  • Their approach starts with food; knowing wellness and disease are greatly shifted with nutrients we consume, absorb and assimilate
  • They listen to the patient searching for the body’s interconnected clues
  • They believe strongly that the body and brain shouldn’t deteriorate with age
  • They respect and empower the concerns of a patient with normal BMI, normal labs and no symptoms and offer deeper dive testing to prevent a future concern (such as dementia or cancer)

This table offers a deeper comparison and explanation:

  Conventional (traditional) Medicine Functional Medicine











Patient has symptom:




Limited Consultation with exam:

Check for obvious disease (high blood sugar, blood pressure, or cholesterol, excess weight or abnormal skin growths)





Limited Consultation with exam:

Labs/testing ordered


“normal” testing  = treat the symptom  (ie: constipation – treat with Miralax)



Extensive Consultations with limited and targeted physicals:

Check to ensure the root causes of Dis-Ease in the body are not present – if they are we help the patient to improve and remove them




Extensive Consultations with limited and targeted physicals:

Review all testing for optimal ranges (B12 ‘normal’ range is 200-900 but optimal range is 550-800) order further testing for a better view of the optimal levels (ie: RBC Magnesium instead of serum Mg).


Offer methods to remove the cause of the symptom (ie: Constipation is often from low hydration, lack of exercise and low Magnesium – not a deficiency of Miralax)


Length of appointment Average appt in U.S. is <15 (many are less than 10) Average is 60-90 minutes for Initial and 30-60 for follow up
Treatment of Abnormality Follow algorithm for diagnosis

(ie: Pain – start med and PT- if it doesn’t work trial another – perhaps a MRI – add more medication)

Unique individualized plan

Consultation will typically offer insight as to what may be disordered within the body – further testing is often recommended- information from these unique results dictates the unique treatment plan for the patient

(ie: Pain may be an inflammatory response to food intolerance or poor detoxification ability)

Approach One PCP or Family medicine provider group who screens and follows the patient.



Referrals to ologists (oncologist,rheumatologist, gynecologist, etc) for symptoms that are unresolved with first line treatment.




High use of over the counter pills and prescriptions

Not typical for discussion of the nutrient deficiencies caused by pills




Unpredictable support for Functional medicine collaboration

Team approach with team of complementary providers:
Acupuncture, massage therapy, reiki, yoga, meditation, DO’s


Work with symptom interconnected and all symptoms are red flags that something is not functioning optimally in the body. (*we also refer to specialists/ologists)


Belief that medications are often necessary, yet sometimes have ability to decrease dosing and number of pills.

Deep discussion of nutrient shifts with prescriptions and symptomatology


Work with other providers in open communication

Diet Touched on during visits with focus on BMI, Calories in/Calories out, no butter, no salt, no fats, low cholesterol diet



Often not proficient with food allergies/sensitivities

Dietician referrals often only paid for by insurance with abnormal ICD10 code (Diabetes, obesity)

70-80% of focus for optimal function in the body

Focus on foods not supporting the individual body, adequate absorption and assimilation.


Knowledgeable in food allergies and sensitivities.

Offer specific plan to improve nutrients which optimize energy, detoxification, mood, sleep and digestion.

Education Refer out to dietician, Physical therapist, counselor, etc


Detailed Programs, handouts, protocol to optimize the interconnected systems

(Low nutrient status, poor GI function with inflammatory reaction, poor detoxification, static energy function)

(*may also refer out)

Chronic condition approach Patients led to believe a chronic condition is one with a worsening trajectory and there with no chance of cure (diabetes, high cholesterol, etc) Patients empowered to believe symptoms can be reduced and often resolve if all systems are approached consistently (yes Type II Diabetes can go away)


For more on the tenets of functional medicine, the article “Functional Medicine: A Science Whose Time Has Come“ is a great one. At 4 Better Health we use a Functional Medicine “DINE” Approach for diving deep to find the root cause and work in collaboration with the patient (and their other providers) for Vibrant energetic low (or no) symptom living

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rebecca a photo“Words cannot express how grateful I am for the individualized care I have received from Lisa at 4Better Health! If you or someone you love is suffering with an auto-immune condition, want more energy and less pain and are looking for an alternative to traditional medicine, you have found it! With their help you will be amazed at the power you have to change your path.” 

Rebecca Alferes 53 Years Old

“Frustrated with conventional medicine philosophy of just take a pill for the rest of your life? Functional Medicine is your answer. Since I first saw Lisa 2 months ago I have lost over 10 percent of my original body weight and have more energy than I can ever remember having.”

Micheal Annantuonio – 36 years old

“After suffering for over 2 years and seeing many practitioners (who often dismissed my fatigue & pain) Dr Zub adjusted my medications and supplements. As a result, my baseline functioning and health is finally better. Dr. Zub works as a partner with you the patient, is earnest, humble and actively learning She is a Gift!” 

C.G., Needham M

“I feel like I have finally found a physician who is willing to work as a partner with me with the goal of improving my health. Dr Zub is an outstanding physician both from a diagnostic and a Functional Medicine perspective. I’ve recommended her to many of my friends.”

Karen Bird – Needham MA

“In a very short amount of time, Dr. Zub has been able to identify and address underlying chronic health issues that I have been dealing with, that other doctors were unable to do. I love 4 Better Health’s approach to treat the entire person thru a therapeutic partnership and get to the root of issues, not just throw medicine at a symptom. I truly sing her praises and have already referred others to the practice. I truly wish I had found Dr. Zub a long time ago as she has been life changing!”

Diane Tamagno

Linda LaCamera(1)“Finding 4 Better Health was a blessing after many years of traditional medicinal doctors /Endocrinologists being unable to get me to feeling optimal. Dr Zub listened to me, truly heard me & devised a proactive plan for me to have a better life. My body is still healing, but I am no longer barely functioning to get through my daily life. I can exercise again without being completely depleted of energy. I have been able to successfully lose 20 pounds. I feel I can always contact Dr. Zub with any questions or concerns I may have. We continue to work together to find the right course of action for my health. I can’t say enough great things about their practice.”

Linda LaCamera

colleen adams“4 Better Health embodies the true meaning of holistic healthcare! Thank you, Dr. Zub, for taking a genuine interest in each aspect of my life affecting my health and vitality; and for taking the time to educate me on the ways in which my body functions on a metabolic level, and the things I can do to better manage my energy and well-being!”

Colleen Adams

“Prior to working with Lisa I’d have to be home-bound one day every other weekend in order to deal with my problem. Now that I don’t need to do that anymore I’m back to hiking/mountaineering, kayaking, bike riding, snow-shoeing, being with friends, and spending time in the White Mountains. I am soo thankful for all 4 Better Health has done for me. You had a MAJOR hand in getting me back into this kind of shape [and I’m looking forward to getting even stronger and more fit]. I feel in command of my life again and I am enjoying doing all the outdoorsy, active things I love to do! What a gift you have given me!”

John Curcio

jenweightloss“My weight has always been a fight. I was having trouble sleeping  and walking upstairs because of pain in my hip and knee. I have tried a million diets but in the end I never felt in control of what I ate. When I made the decision to do the cleanse/detox I had my reservations. But it changed me. What I want
to eat and what my body craves. I feel better than I have in years. I am  sleeping better than ever and taking the stairs every chance I get. In 6 months I’ve gone from 265# to 180#. It’s all planning and consistency!”


I was exhausted and in pain- aching from my neck to toes and waking up 4 or 5 times a night. My doctors told me it was just old age. Within a week of taking a few supplements and small changes to my diet recommended by 4 Better Health; my pain was drastically reduced and I began sleeping so much better. I am doing much more than I had been able to do in a very long time, my spirits are better, my outlook is better and I couldn’t ask for anything more. I would recommend this practice to everyone.

Rose Ciampa 83years old.