Functional medicine: whole kid care from the inside out

Everybody is unique. When it comes to your baby’s health, it’s important to get the kind of care that addresses his or her individual needs. In my San Francisco practice, GetzWell Pediatrics, we take an innovative approach to healthcare that combines the best of traditional Western medicine with what is called functional medicine. This approach focuses on the whole child, not just a set of isolated symptoms, and we strive to understand the root causes of health concerns.

What is functional medicine?

Functional medicine regards the body as a complex web of interconnected and interdependent parts. Think of the body as a bicycle wheel that depends on its spokes being in balance so that it turns properly. The same is true of the human body: our organ systems don’t function in isolation, instead they work together, influence each other, and impact our overall health.

Understanding this interconnectedness gives us the tools to promote the body’s healing process and allows for truly preventive medicine. We believe in supporting the body’s innate healing abilities. In order to provide this kind of care, we spend extra time with our patients getting to know the factors which influence health: genetic, environmental, nutritional, and emotional.

It starts in the gut

Did you know that about 70 percent of the body’s immune system is in the gut? The “bugs” that live in our bellies and the food we eat provide information to our immune cells and have an enormous impact on our health. Supporting the gut is fundamental to a functional medicine approach. I work closely with families, educating them about the foods and nutrients that support optimal intestinal health. Together with parents, we can influence a child’s developing immune system by impacting what goes and grows in the intestines.

It’s proactive care

Functional medicine gives us the tools to intervene early to promote good health. Here’s an example: when a baby is born by Cesarean section (C-section), he or she is deprived of important birth canal microbes that are fundamental to early gut colonization and subsequent immune function. For C-sectioned babies, we typically recommend probiotics in order to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria that baby missed out on during the birth process.

It promotes healthy pregnancies

Whole kid care starts before your baby is born. I invite women and their partners into my practice early in their pregnancies to set the stage for the healthiest baby possible. Together we examine mother’s diet, intestinal health, environmental and psychological stress, exercise, etc.—all factors that can shape the physical, mental, and even emotional well-being of the developing baby for a lifetime!

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About Dr. Julia Getzelman, Board Certified Pediatrician

Julia Getzelman, MD, founded GetzWell Pediatrics in 2008 based on the belief that an integrative approach to pediatric care that combines the best of conventional and complementary medicine is the wisest approach to health optimization and the treatment of illness in kids. Dr. Getzelman earned her medical degree from Yale University and completed her residency at Children’s Hospital Oakland.


  1. Probiotics for c-section mums is really beneficial both to mom and the baby. Taking probiotics before and after your C-section may assist in maintaining the balance of good bacteria in breast milk.


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