Lauren’s Journey

Lauren’s Bio:

Dr. Lauren Castle is the founder and CEO of the Functional Medicine Pharmacists Alliance (, the first association representing pharmacists in functional medicine. FMPhA supports members practicing functional medicine across all pharmacy settings by uniting leaders in the field to provide continuing education, training, networking, and advocacy.
In addition to her role as CEO of FMPhA, Lauren also serves as a consultant for PharmToTable Team & Marketplace, and a Collective Member and Secretary of the board for Con Smania Costa Rica Transformational Retreat Center. 
Lauren received her Doctor of Pharmacy from Ohio Northern University in 2013 and her Master of Science in human nutrition and functional medicine from the University of Western States in 2018. Lauren has also studied with the Institute for Functional Medicine and the School of Applied Functional Medicine, becoming an Applied Functional Medicine Certified (AFMC) practitioner in 2022.
Lauren and her husband live in Dayton, OH with their three cats: Fluffy, Olive, and Pickle. In their free time, you can find them riding motorcycles, attending music festivals, and exploring the world. 

Contact Info / Social Media:
For more information or to work with Lauren, visit
@DrLaurenCastle on LinkedInInstagramFacebookTikTokTwitterPinterest 

My journey to founding FMPhA

2013: I graduated with my PharmD from the Raabe College of Pharmacy at Ohio Northern University (with a minor in Business Administration) and began working as a Pharmacy Manager for a mass merchandising pharmacy.

2015: We moved to Michigan, where I discovered Functional Medicine when my husband was dealing with some health issues and just generally “felt like crap” all the time. I knew that what I was recommending to him wasn’t working, despite following all the tips I learned in pharmacy school to be healthy: eat healthy foods like whole wheat bread and skim milk, get 8 hours of sleep, exercise daily. And it seemed any OTC or prescriptions medications would be just covering up the symptoms.
One day, I received a flyer in the mail from a local Functional Medicine practitioner who claimed he could fix all of the problems that my husband was experiencing, like allergies, sinus congestion, poor digestion, fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, anxiety, insomnia, snoring, the list went on.  My first google search of “functional medicine” turned up Wikipedia articles claiming this was pseudoscience or quackery, but after reading about the head-to-head trials at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, I thought there must be some evidence to this new approach. After attending a weekend seminar, he enrolled in a 12 week, $5000 program that included all of the labs and supplements and weekly visits he would need. I couldn’t believe we were going to spend this much on out of pocket healthcare costs, but at this point, it sounded like it would be worth it.
Through extensive labwork, we discovered his hidden food sensitivities of gluten and dairy, candida overgrowth in his gut, nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, methylation SNPs, early insulin resistance, increased inflammation, and more. No wonder he felt like crap! The high-stress job, lack of sleep, infrequent exercise, and Standard American Diet (including regular attendance at craft beer and food festivals) had taken its toll on his health at an early age.
He completed an elimination diet, optimized his nutrition through high-quality supplements, and within the first few weeks, all of his symptoms disappeared, even the snoring! By the end of the program he had lost 20 lbs. Interestingly enough for me, I had been following along on the dietary changes too, and couldn’t believe how much better I felt! I didn’t even know it was possible to go from feeling “normal” to feeling this good. This is what we mean when we say “health as a positive vitality and not merely the absence of disease!” It was like The Matrix (which is kind of punny since there is such as thing as the FM Matrix): we had taken the red pill and there was no going back. I believed that this was truly the future of medicine and I wanted my patients to experience this incredible health as well.

2016: I started my Master of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine at the University of Western States. (Note: you do not need a Masters degree to practice FM and you can read more on training in this blog, but my reason for pursing a master’s was because I was already looking into MBA or MPH programs when I found this program, and new my employer would want a formal program vs a certification.) At this time, I was working as a Pharmacy Manager in Flint, MI during the water crisis, so I took a particular interest in heavy metal toxicities and how to support detoxification through nutrition for patients who couldn’t afford most functional medicine practices. I would incorporate FM into my daily practice through counseling on lifestyle medicine (nutrition, exercise, sleeping, stress management) as well as drug-induced nutrient depletions, deprescribing, and supplements.

2017: I was promoted to a pharmacy clinical services manager, lead point of care testing training for my 11 stores incorporating lifestyle counseling, and lead a diabetes MTM pilot program in conjunction with POCT.
I also started looking for more resources on implementing FM in pharmacy practice, and I quickly realized the lack of pharmacist-specific training. CME abounds, but no CPE. So, I set out to create these opportunities for pharmacists. I presented my first CE program “Functional Medicine 101: A Primer for Pharmacists” at the Ohio Pharmacists Association Annual Conference in April 2017. While I was doing my research for this program, I discovered more and more pharmacists who were already providing FM. Old friends I hadn’t spoken to in years. New colleagues that I met through mutual connections.
On April 17, 2017 I started the Functional Medicine Pharmacists Facebook group as a way to gather pharmacists in FM. My next opportunity to educate pharmacists came during the Michigan Pharmacists Association Symposium 0n August 25, 2017. It was at this even that I officially announced the launch of 
Initially, FMPhA was just a website to serve as a landing page for other pharmacists who were googling “functional medicine pharmacist” (just like I was in 2017) and direct them to the Facebook group. I also began to write blog posts on various topics that were inspired by question from the Facebook group. I had an idea for a directory of pharmacists but the original website didn’t have a great way to facilitate this.
In September of 2017, we ended up moving from Michigan to back to Ohio and I was promoted to a market director. The day that I interviewed for the position, my mom was also diagnosed with alcholic liver cirrhosis and admitted to the ICU. Thus began the most challenging next 5 years of my life, balancing my pharmacist career, being a caregiver, growing a movement in functional medicine, and learning how to manage my own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

2018: I took IFM’s AFMCP course, we held our first FMPhA Meetup at the Functional Pharmacy Symposium in September that year, and I graduated from my Master’s program in December. I had also taken up an interest in fitness and bodybuilding. 

2019: I completed a Special Project Assignment on Functional Medicine and Nutrition for my employer at the Home Office in conjunction with the new Health Centers they were creating. Unfortunately due to leadership changes, the project was tabled before the program launched. In hindsight, it was all for the best, as just 2 months later the pandemic began and would have shut down the program anyways. 

2020: I returned from the project to my market director role, with a mixture of frustration and disappointment in the conventional pharmacy world, fueling my passion for functional medicine even more, and I immediately founded FMPhA, LLC. As the pandemic ramped up, more pharmacists began flocking to our Facebook group seeking information on a functional approach to Covid, and our group grew to over 2,000 members. At the same time, some of the content started to get censored, and I knew it was time to move into a more sustainable and long term model on our own private platform, so we launched our new website in May 2020 with membership options on to support our efforts. Conferences for the year were also all canceled and moved to online virtual formats.

2021We announced partnerships with IFM and A4M to further integrate pharmacists into the FM space. This furthered the growth of our membership by providing even more value to our members. I got to speak about Functional Medicine at Medipreneurs in October. I also attended A4M World Congress for the first time in person, which was an incredible experience! 
On a personal level, this was the most difficult year of my life. I also was deep into my own functional medicine journey dealing with hormonal issues, anxiety, depression, grief and PTSD. In October 2020, I decided to stop hormonal birth control and opt for natural family planning (NFP), but as 6 months passed, I knew that something was off. A DUTCH test revealed that my hormones were a wreck, so I began Jolene Brighten’s “Beyond the Pill” detox protocol in the spring, and started acupuncture in the summer.
My world came crashing down when my mom passed away on 9/12/21. After a 10 week leave and attending intensive outpatient therapy for my mental health, I left my market director role to take on a remote work from home role in social media & influencer marketing, where I’d be able to have more flexibility while also gaining new marketing skills to help scale FMPhA. 

2022: We attended the A4M Spring Congress and held a dinner to connect with even more pharmacists. I spoke at Diversify Rx Conference bonus day on the topic of functional medicine. We celebrated the 5 year anniversary of our founding. We also reached 3,000 members in the Facebook Group.
In September 2022, I left the social media role to pursue FMPhA full time while continuing to practice as a part time staff pharmacist (24 hours / week) and part time functional medicine consultant with Pharm To Table. 

2023: We launched our first live course, Functional Medicine Pharmacist Bootcamp (FMPhB) in January 2023. In January, I attended my first retreat at Con Smania, which was so life-changing that I became an investor member of Con Smania Collective using some of the inheritance that my mom left behind. We ran 3 live rounds before converting Bootcamp to an on-demand course. On July 29th I stepped down from salaried pharmacist to hourly PRN, before taking a 3 week trip to Costa Rica. Upon returning, I knew that it was time to transition to exclusively being the CEO of FMPhA, so I left my employer on 8/25/23. We also started our first monthly Clinical Calls in Sept 2023. We ran one last round of Bootcamp in December 2023 to close out the year. 


Pharmacy is a small world, and the world of FM Pharmacy is even smaller. And while this field is growing on a grassroots level, there was no organization that could unite pharmacists in FM, until now. That’s why I created FMPhA. I hope you will consider joining and becoming an ally!

In Health,
Lauren Castle, PharmD, MS, AFMC

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