In the following interview, IFM’s co-founder Jeffrey Bland, PhD, sits down with the 2019 Linus Pauling Award recipient P. Michael Stone, MD, MS, IFMCP, to discuss Dr. Stone’s many contributions to the Functional Medicine model, his role in helping clinicians recognize the importance of methylation, and the instrumental points in the arc of his life that have guided his medical career and healing passion. This was the 25th anniversary of the Linus Pauling Award in Functional Medicine.
One of the most important people in the development of the Functional Medicine model over the past 20 or more years…is Dr. Michael Stone.
– Jeffrey Bland, PhD
Foundations of Resilience
Within the first few days of life, Dr. Michael Stone turned blue and lost his heartbeat. He was revived, but the physicians believed he would likely be blind, deaf, and developmentally disabled.
But he recovered.
When Dr. Stone reflects on this early time, he is curious. What was that love and caring that allowed resilience to be found? What was it that led to that resilience, to the neuroplasticity, to the healing? “Sparking resilience with love and caring is part of that mystery,” he suggests.
Nutrition and the Functional Medicine Matrix
Seeing the effect of nutrition on the birthing process ignited his curiosity and led him to the study of human nutrition at the University of Washington. His work initially centered on milk and sugars in the American diet, and this path ultimately led to medical school.
Human nutrition, it was like coming home.
– Dr. Stone
As a family physician, Dr. Stone saw communities through multiple generations and noticed patterns that made him wonder how to build resilience and how to improve function.
Then he discovered Functional Medicine.
“In 1998, we came to the [IFM] Annual Conference, and it was coming home,” Dr. Stone reflects. “It [Functional Medicine] started to bring answers.”
After attending the conference, Dr. Stone found that as a clinician, different questions were asked through the Functional Medicine lens. “Doing Functional Medicine through the ER in a small town, it becomes powerful. It’s powerful medicine,” he states. Next, he ruminated on how to move the Functional Medicine model forward.
In 2000, Dr. Stone attended his second Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice (AFMCP) conference and wondered, “How do I listen to the story, and how do I drop it into the possible buckets that I can start to see connections? And that’s when I scribbled out on the piece of paper, the rudimentary Matrix.”
In addition to conceiving the original Functional Medicine Matrix, Dr. Stone was essential in promoting nutrition as a fundamental concept in Functional Medicine. He also pushed for advanced training in physical examinations that would help detect nutritional imbalances. This idea and effort ultimately led to the establishment of the Nutrition-Oriented Physical Exam course that is offered as a free IFM clinical resource.
“You [Dr. Stone] became Functional Medicine. You became a leader in Functional Medicine,” Dr. Bland states.
Methylation Pathway Observations
In addition to the many contributions made to the Functional Medicine model, Dr. Stone is also recognized for his field-changing observations regarding the importance of methylation pathways. And these observations began in a very personal way.
When his second daughter began fainting up to 20 times per day, at the time, the relationship between methylated folate and genomics had just surfaced as part of the Functional Medicine conversation. He dove into the research and asked himself if it could be the lifestyle factors of his daughter, an athlete with increased protein intake and decreased folate intake. He asked if there could be a genetic cause for an increased folate requirement that contributed to her fainting.
By happenstance, his daughter began taking an increased amount of methylfolate for improving neurotransmitter balance.1 Within three days, her syncope episodes stopped.
In another case, Dr. Stone treated a pediatric patient who had autism, and who had registered a very low level of methylfolate in the fluid from a spinal tap. The Functional Medicine Timeline helped focus an initial nutrition intervention that yielded promising results.
Dr. Stone noted that this case has
forever changed our perspective of the power of targeted nutrition at the right point, at the right time, in the right life.1
From his continuing contributions to Functional Medicine and dedication to the healing path, Dr. Michael Stone does not show any signs of slowing down. He continues to speak at several IFM programs each year.
- Stone M, Stone L, Bland J. December 2015 issue: Michael Stone, MD and Leslie Stone, MD [transcript]. Jeffrey Bland, PhD. Published December 2015. Accessed December 20, 2019.