A biology-based
approach to wellness.

Functional Medicine

A biology-based approach to wellness.

How Does Functional Medicine Work? The Importance of Holistic Medicine

Sir William Osler, one of the first Physicians-in-Chief at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, once said that “the good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.” Functional medicine isn’t a new concept. Its roots are derived from modern scientific medicine and functional medicine clinics are living by Osler’s words.
Functional Medicine is a systems biology-based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of a disease. Functional medicine clinics take the holistic approach to understand who you are, knowing that every person is unique and should have a medical plan that is custom fit for their needs.
Instead of determining which drug will cure a disease, functional medicine clinics have doctors that discover why you have an ailment in the first place, and to restore what’s no longer functioning.
Think of medicine in terms of a science experiment. Experiments with limited variables are easier to find solutions for. The more complex the problem, the more difficult the solution becomes. The human body is full of variables. Lifestyle, genetic makeup, personality, and environmental factors are just a few, and within each of these basic categories are countless more variables.
Too often, traditional physicians treat the disease and not the patient. They don’t take the time–and, in their defense, can’t take the time–to understand all of the variables that make you unique. While the standard model of care works well for acute diseases, trauma, infection, and emergencies, it fails to care for the chronic diseases that affect over 133 million Americans.

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Principles of Functional Medicine

According to Mind Body Green, there are five principles of functional medicine:
Everyone is different, both genetically and biochemically. With this in mind, functional medicine clinics take a personalized approach, treating the patient and not the disease. Instead of tackling the disease directly, functional medicine practitioners find ways for the body’s normal healing mechanisms to resolve the problem.
Functional medicine is science-based. There is a complex network of interconnected relationships within our body, not unlike the many webs that connect us in other ways. By understanding those relationships, functional medicine practitioners can have a deeper comprehension of the body.
The human body has the capacity of self-regulation. Your body has millions of systems that are interconnected with one another in a delicate balance. Sometimes certain conditions can knock your body off balance.
Your body can often heal itself and can prevent nearly all of the diseases of aging. Health is a state of immense vitality, not just the absence of a disease or an ailment.
Healthy active women of multiple ages laughing and walking through the park on a sunny day.

One Condition, Many Causes. One Cause, Many Conditions.

Functional medicine clinics and the doctors who run them know that one condition can have many causes. In turn, one cause can spurn many conditions. The Institute for Functional Medicine expresses that depression can be caused by a combination of multiple factors such as inflammation, an Omega-3 deficiency, a low thyroid count, and antibiotic use, to name a few. Meanwhile, inflammation can be caused by a combination depression, heart diseases, diabetes, and/or a million other things.
Functional medicine practitioners know that each symptom or differential diagnosis may be a contributing factor to an individual’s illness. By identifying and treating the root cause(s) of an illness, functional medicine has a much higher chance of properly treating the patient. Functional medicine clinics use scientific principles, advanced diagnostic testing and treatments to restore balance in a patient’s physiological processes.

Gastrointestinal Disorders | Boston, MA


Gastrointestinal disorders are conditions that impact the digestive system or GI tract. A few of the most common types of GI disorders include leaky gut syndrome, lactose intolerance, food sensitivities, microbiome management, and nutritional assessment. Symptoms of digestive disorders generally include abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, and unintentional weight loss. GI disorders can be caused by a number of factors, including genetics, age, eating a low fiber diet, inactive lifestyle, and stress. If you suspect a GI disorder is the cause of your health problems, do not hesitate to call our office at 610-304-1965 for  assistance today. Family physician Dr. Steven Zivich can assess your concerns and build a personalized treatment plan that suits your needs.


GI disorders are often manageable with treatment, but a proper diagnosis is crucial to improve your condition. Dr. Zivich will discuss your symptoms, review your medical history, and go over any current medications you are taking. He will provide a physical exam and work with third parties for a stool analysis if needed. He can also refer patients for colonoscopies and ultrasounds. His goal is to evaluate you as a whole to help identify the underlying problem. Based on the results of your tests, he can review all your treatment options. Treatment for GI disorders is very diverse and depends on your unique concerns. Common therapies include prescription medications, enzyme supplements, nutritional counseling, and lifestyle changes.


A healthy digestive system can make the world of difference in your overall well-being. If you are experiencing GI problems, seeking help from a seasoned physician, like Dr. Steven Zivich, can help improve the function and health of your digestive tract. With personalized GI care at Boston Direct Health, your gastrointestinal disorders can be improved, easing irritable symptoms.

Dysbiosis | Boston, MA


Dysbiosis is a condition that develops when the healthy bacteria (microbiota) in your digestive tract becomes imbalanced. Our GI tract consists of over 400 species of microbiota, which help fight off foreign microorganisms, assist in digestion, and help our bodies absorb essential nutrients and vitamins from our food. When our gut bacteria levels are out of wack, it can lead to a wide range of gastrointestinal issues, like diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, and more. Dysbiosis can be brought on by an unbalanced diet, certain medications, stress, poor dental hygiene, and excessive alcohol consumption. At Boston Direct Health, Steven Zivich, M.D. will work with you to help optimize your microbiome for optimal gut health. Do not hesitate to call our office at 610-304-1965 for directions or assistance.


Your treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your dysbiosis. First, Dr. Zivich will review your medical history, current medications, diet, and daily habits. He may also order a few diagnostic assessments, such as an organic acid test (which requires a urine sample), a comprehensive digestive stool analysis (CDSA), and a hydrogen breath test (which measures gases produced by bacteria to identify intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Depending on your test results, Dr. Zivich might suggest adjusting your medications, nutrition, stress management, vitamin supplements, and taking a pre- and probiotic to aid in balancing gut bacteria.


Yes, it can. Research studies have found that microbial dysbiosis can be linked to several diseases and conditions, including heart disease, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, obesity, autism, and more.

Although precise numbers of patients with dysbiosis are difficult to quantify, because of the link between dysbiosis and so many conditions, researchers believe it is very common.

The most common signs and symptoms of dysbiosis are usually digestive issues, including stomach or intestinal discomfort, chronic gas and bloating, cramping, diarrhea, and constipation.

Treating dysbiosis can encompass a number of approaches, including lifestyle and diet changes, exercising caution when using antibiotics, reducing alcohol consumption, practicing good oral hygiene, and more.


Reduce stomach cramps, chronic bloating, indigestion, and more with dysbiosis treatment. At Boston Direct Health, we emphasize a holistic approach to balancing your microbiota for optimal GI health. Do not hesitate to call our office at 617-304-1965 to schedule a virtual or in-person appointment with family physician Dr. Steven Zivich. He will take his time to listen and understand your needs to discover the best treatment solutions for you.

Chronic Fatigue | Boston, MA


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is severe tiredness and low energy that lasts for at least six months and can’t be linked to a particular medical condition. It’s very difficult to diagnose, as fatigue is a symptom of many different health issues. A key identifier of CFS is that it tends to get worse with physical or mental activity but does not improve with rest. Individuals who suffer from CFS typically experience sleep that isn’t refreshing, brain fog or difficulty concentrating, poor memory, and dizziness. Chronic fatigue can make performing daily activities difficult, affecting one’s overall quality of life. Primary care physician Dr. Steven Zivich offers holistic solutions that can help dramatically improve your energy levels and mental awareness. Call Boston Direct Health in Boston, MA today.


Unfortunately, there isn’t a single test that can diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome. But, Dr. Zivich specializes in medical and functional medicine, making him an expert in diverse modalities that can aid in reducing symptoms of chronic fatigue. In many cases, certain lifestyle adjustments, stress management, vitamin supplements, and boosting gut health can help significantly reduce CFS. During your initial consultation, Dr. Zivich will review your condition with care and an attentive eye. From there, he can provide recommendations on how to improve lingering tiredness.


Studies have estimated that as many as 2.5 million U.S. adults are affected by CFS, with women four times more likely to develop chronic fatigue syndrome.

Chronic fatigue syndrome differs from being tired by these major symptoms of chronic fatigue:

  • Being too tired to engage in normal activities
  • Symptoms that get worse (dizziness, mental fog, sleep problems, headaches, severe exhaustion, etc.)
  • Symptoms that occur while sitting or standing
  • Memory and cognition issues

Medical science currently doesn't fully understand the causes of CFS. There can often be multiple causes, with one or more issues triggering chronic fatigue syndrome. CFS often runs in families and may be genetic.

There is currently no cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, only condition management. Some treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome include vitamin supplements, improving gut biome, lifestyle adjustments, stress management, and others.


Are you experiencing constant fatigue that limits your ability to live your daily life? Thankfully, there is hope through holistic medicine. At Boston Direct Health, family physician Dr. Steven Zivich has worked with countless individuals who are battling long-lasting fatigue and low energy levels. Contact our practice in Boston, MA to book a consultation to learn more.

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