Why a Functional Medicine Doctor Is Someone You’ll Want to Add to Your Health Routine

functional medicine"Over time, your immune system has gotten confused," Robin Berzin, MD, explained, after about an hour spent delving through my health history, from my Cesarean birth to my chronic congestion to what kind of protein powder I put in my smoothie yesterday.

Getting it back on track to help me feel my best was the goal of her in-depth analysis, and it's what she's focusing on with each patient she sees at her new Manhattan functional medicine practice, Parsley Health.

While all functional medicine is forward-thinking, Parsley Health is truly modern in its approach. It incorporates the streamlined technology, convenience, and expertise of One Medical, with the cool factor and accessible-luxury mission of Drybar.

"I really wanted to do everything in a...tech-driven way," Dr. Berzin says. "It changes the whole experience of going to the doctor, making it more accessible and affordable." And maybe even more enjoyable?

The inspiration

Dr. Berzin trained at Columbia University and Mount Sinai and shadowed industry pioneers like Mark Hyman, MD. She's also a certified yoga teacher and has studied Ayurveda, so you could say her approach is extremely well-rounded. And it helps her zero in on both problems and solutions. "We focus on the individual, and the root of what's going on with your health," she says, reminding me that just tackling symptoms isn't her thing.

She was practicing at the Morrison Center in New York City when she got the idea to strike out on her own. "I couldn't afford myself at my own practice," she says. Typically, functional doctors like Dr. Hyman, Dr. Morrison, and Frank Lipman, MD, don't take insurance and command hourly rates that approximate your rent, making the barrier to entry into functional medicine prohibitive for many people. "I’m interested in creating something affordable that can help a lot of people," she says.

Since she had always had one foot in the tech world, producing conferences like Health 2.0, she decided to apply current technology and a membership model to a functional medicine practice to streamline the experience and make it more accessible. Parsley Health was born.

How it works

Parsley uses a membership model, so Dr. Berzin doesn't take insurance, and you join for a full year at $149 per month. That price includes five annual 60- to 80-minute visits with the doctor (when was the last time you got a tenth of that time with your doctor?), unlimited health coaching with the two full-time coaches on staff, email access to Dr. Berzin and your coaches, and events like yoga classes and green juice happy hours.

All of your information—including office visit notes, prescriptions, diet plans, and supplements—is easily accessible in an online patient portal, where you also book appointments, either for in-person or virtual consultations.

An office visit

Parsley Health is located in a WeWork space (yup, the trendy co-working company), so waiting to be seen does not include sitting next to sniffling kids and magazines from 2008. Instead, when I went, a whiskey tasting was going on in the lobby, and 20-somethings were mingling at tables with their laptops.

The office occupies three rooms in a row, one for the health coaches, one where a nurse takes care of bloodwork and supplement distribution, and Dr. Berzin's office, furnished with a desk, a large plant, a colorful wall tapestry...and, oh yeah, an exam table. (When she pulled out a stethoscope and digital blood pressure cuff, I had no idea where they came from.)

My appointment with Dr. Berzin was a typical initial visit, and it was incredibly illuminating. For an hour, it's like someone is holding a microscope up to everything that ails you for the very first time, analyzing the diseases your Irish family refused to talk about, the pizza you scarf down while swearing your diet is 75 percent kale, and the weird sh*t your body keeps doing that you figure will just go away eventually.

Of course, what matters is what you then do with the conclusions she draws from all of that. And Dr. Berzin tries to make that process as simple as possible, setting you up with tools like an elimination diet to finally identify the root of your health issues.

In the end, your part of the bargain is going to be way bigger than waiting 20 minutes for a prescription at Duane Reade. "If you're a member of Parsley Health, wellness is really embedded in your life," she says. Just think about the long-term benefits. —Lisa Elaine Held

For more information, visit www.parsleyhealth.co

(Photo: Dr. Robin Berzin)

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