Author: Dr. Steven Davis

Dr Steven C Davis

Integrating Functional Medicine with Tribal Healing Modalities

Dr. Steven C. Davis Chiropractor

Functional medicine hasn’t always been an average biomedical endeavor. It’s a unique patient-centric approach that relies on extensive patient history and knowledge of lifestyle factors to explore the root causes of poor health. It also makes patients and doctors into investigative partners, rather than using the typical paternalistic approach of modern biomedicine. 

More recently, the individualized practice with traditional tribal healing modalities has been incorporated into modern care. Indigenous communities around the world have increasingly faced health risks that require culturally sensitive care. In this sense, they’re no different than the average patient who must have trust in their healer, diagnosis, and treatment model.

Dr. Steven C. Davis Chiropractor has examined what these two healing frameworks had in common and how both modern scientific evidence and tribal health could adapt and work together.

Understanding Functional Medicine

Functional medicine’s treatment paradigm focuses on identifying and addressing the root causes of a disease. Rather than a doctor who simply treats symptoms, these practitioners go deeper to try and grasp the complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that influence an individual’s health.

This openness to personalized care, along with fully understanding the background of a single patient, means that functional medicine practitioners are well-placed to give culturally sensitive care. These doctors thrive when it comes to forming closer therapeutic relationships with patients. 

Exploring Tribal Healing Practices

Tribal healing as a whole can mean many things. It may involve herbal remedies, spiritual rituals, or communal ceremonies rooted in the cultural and environmental contexts of a distinct tribal community. However, we shouldn’t assume that this is not science-based care. We simply define “science” as Western-based inquiry, but tribal practices offer a rich array of modalities that have been used, tested, and compared over hundreds of years. 

Like functional medicine, many indigenous healers also take a holistic view of health that doesn’t force patients to separate the physical, spiritual, emotional, and communal aspects of their wellbeing.

While tribal healing often emphasizes communal health and healing that we call “public health,” it also recognizes something Westerners are only just coming to realize – that health is more than the absence of disease and that bodies are “healthy” when there’s harmony between an individual, their community, and their natural environment.

Dr. Steven C. Davis Chiropractor

Comprehensive and Culturally Literate Care

Functional medicine and tribal health modalities share a holistic view of health and a focus on root causes rather than just symptoms. What this really means, though, is that the most important aspects of medicine, such as taking a rigorous health history, doing advanced testing, and working to understand a patient’s lifestyle and environment are integral parts of both models – even if they don’t always look the same on the surface.

Even the use of herbal remedies derived from local flora, which is common in some tribal healing systems, is conducive to functional medicine since the latter emphasizes the therapeutic effects of remedies at a molecular level. Researchers can evaluate the efficacy of these remedies, their mechanisms of action and safety, and the potential interactions with other treatments just as they would a mainstream pharmaceutical. 

In the process of respecting indigenous health models, modern Western health practitioners can test and validate traditional remedies to help preserve tribal wisdom in the service of evidence-based care. They can also become more sensitive to the importance of a balanced state of physical, emotional, spiritual, and communal wellbeing. While some might label these as “psycho-social benefits,” we’re increasingly learning that this is actualy another part of the puzzle that Western medicine has long been missing. 


Merging functional medicine’s evidence-based approach with tribal healing practices offers an innovative path to enhance health outcomes in underserved communities and promote culturally sensitive care. This integration can not only respect and preserve indigenous traditions, but also bring the rigor of modern scientific methods while simultaneously improving a practitioner’s understanding of whole-person care.

The Role of Functional Medicine in Chronic Disease Management

Dr. Steven C. Davis, Chiropractor

For centuries, the general model of healthcare followed the same approach: a pill for an ill.

That therapeutic route is the epitome of conventional medicine — and the opposite of functional medicine.

Where conventional medicine focuses on using visible symptoms to diagnose a condition and develop a treatment plan, functional medicine focuses first and foremost on identifying what is causing the symptoms and considering underlying emotional or physical factors.

In a way, while conventional medicine treats the symptoms, Dr. Steven C. Davis, Chiropractor, noted that functional medicine is more concerned with treating the person as a whole. Functional medicine is more of a holistic approach to healthcare — and it’s becoming more popular in today’s age of personalized medicine. 

The Chronic Disease Epidemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 6 in 10 adults in America have a chronic disease, which covers everything from heart disease and diabetes to arthritis, cancer, and stroke.

Even more alarming: 4 in 10 American adults are living with more than one chronic disease. 

In the U.S., chronic disease is the leading cause of disability and death, but there are millions who must manage a chronic disease day after day, month after month, and year after year. With functional medicine, also known as integrative medicine, many are finding targeted ways to cope with or even overcome certain diseases. 

Research has increasingly brought to light the value of functional medicine, especially in the United States where lifespans have increased but chronic disease rates remain very high. To functional medicine practitioners, treating the whole person rather than just the disease is seen not as an alternative therapy approach, but as the primary one.

Functional Medicine 101

Functional medicine focuses on the root causes of disease within individual patients, factoring in lifestyle choices, genetics, or environments in personalized treatment plans. In general, the goal is to improve one’s well-being by addressing any issues throughout a patient’s collection of physiological systems.

The physical symptoms of a chronic disease are just a starting point within functional medicine. From there, doctors gather important information on a patient’s lifestyle, environment at home and at work, activity level, sources of stress, family history of medical issues, and the role that discomfort and pain play in their everyday life.

From there, underlying symptoms of the chronic disease can be targeted. For example, heart disease may stem in part from mitochondrial dysfunction, while diabetes can be impacted by inflammatory imbalances.

Biochemical uniqueness is a pivotal principle of functional medicine, with achieving a balance of spirit, body, and mind — internally and externally — as the main goal.

Dr. Steven C. Davis, Chiropractor

The Importance of Functional Medicine

Despite groundbreaking technological advances, modern medicine falls short when trying to combat many forms of chronic disease. 

Functional medicine, however, is making inroads through its patient-centered and customized plans that do not simply treat chronic disease symptoms on a temporary base. Instead, it offers potential long-term solutions for partial or even complete chronic disease relief.

By focusing on the mechanisms behind a condition, functional medicine is often the avenue to more effective treatments and longer-lasting recovery.

In the 21st century, it has become increasingly clear that those who are ill need far more than just a pill.

Integrating Complementary Therapies for Overall Health

Dr. Steven C. Davis, chiropractor

Over 35 million American adults receive chiropractic treatments each year.

Now, a growing partnership between chiropractic care and holistic health has begun to emerge. This innovative approach marries chiropractic care with other holistic mind and body therapies in order to enhance traditional health care practices.

Dr. Steven C. Davis, chiropractor, provided valuable insights into the core components of this approach, which includes natural products, hands-on healing practices, and techniques that link the mind and body. Combined, these aspects provide treatment options that could both improve overall health and foster a sense of well-being.

Complementary Natural Products

Proper nutrition is necessary in order to maintain a healthy mind and body. A well-balanced diet of healthy fats, lean protein, vegetables, and fruit will provide the nutrients needed to function optimally. Integrating chiropractic care into one’s health routine enhances the body’s healing processes, supports immune function, and promotes well-being. 

A balanced diet will help with maintaining a healthy weight, reduce chronic health risks, and support a healthy lifestyle. The focus of chiropractic care is on the musculoskeletal system and the nerve endings, spinal cord, and brain in the nervous system. Certain nutrients serve to safeguard these systems and boost their strength. They include:

  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin K 

Body Therapy

Dr. Steven C. Davis, chiropractor

Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation

Studies conducted by the National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health show that chiropractic spinal manipulation helps reduce chronic and acute back pain. A chiropractic adjustment involves using special instruments or hands to manipulate joints in the body.

These adjustments help reduce pain, correct the body’s alignment, and improve how the body functions physically. Chiropractic treatments complement traditional medical care.

Massage Therapy  

Massage therapy is an approach that helps people manage Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, scoliosis, and dementia, mainly when used with more traditional care approaches. 

NIH research solidifies the benefits massage therapy offers to those dealing with various health conditions, such as:

  • Low-back pain
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Headaches

 A partnership emerged that could change how to deal with chronic health conditions.  

Integrative Mind-Body Medicine 

Mind-body therapies are techniques that improve the interactions of the mind with bodily function to improve health and well-being while inducing relaxation. The three standard mind-body therapies are acupuncture, yoga, and meditation. 


Acupuncture involves using thin needles, electricity, heat, and pressure to stimulate points in the body to promote the balance and flow of internal energy. It helps to improve sleep and reduce pain, fatigue, dry mouth, vomiting, nausea, and hot flashes.


Yoga is an ancient practice that uses breathing exercises while moving through specific postures, focusing awareness, and meditating to achieve heightened emotional, physical, and mental health. Research on mindfulness-based meditation reveals its many uses and benefits, including reducing anxiety, improving cognitive impairment, reducing depression, decreasing fatigue, relieving insomnia, and improving sleep quality. 


Chiropractic and holistic wellness incorporate complementary and integrative approaches. Complementary therapies work in conjunction with mainstream treatments, but they are not to be used as a replacement.

Integrative medicine treats the whole person involving spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical needs. It ‘integrates’ complementary therapies and conventional approaches to achieve optimal healing and health.