How Are Functional Medicine & Integrative Medicine Different?

Functional medicine and integrative medicine are two alternate approaches to traditional healthcare. Many modern practitioners believe they represent the future of medicine, thanks to their comprehensive nature and benefits to patients. Known as holistic medical disciplines, these two styles are sometimes confused and referred to interchangeably. While there is indeed significant overlap, it turns out they do have some important differences.

What Is Integrative Medicine?

Integrative medicine is a holistic approach to medicine, which means it factors in a patient’s unique lifestyle habits. Practitioners treat the entire individual—not just the symptoms of a particular disease. In other words, the mind, body, and soul are considered when healing is pursued.

To facilitate healing and overall wellness, integrative medicine combines several healthcare practices for diagnosis and treatment. For instance, a patient may be encouraged to undergo acupuncture and massage therapy. Nutrition and exercise habits are also factored in as a means of addressing conditions such as diabetes. Integrative medicine practitioners believe healthy choices lead to better health outcomes, including reduced risk of chronic illness.

What Is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine parallels integrative medicine in many ways, but it also incorporates a systems-oriented medical approach to pinpoint and understand the root cause of illness. Practitioners take a highly personalized approach to healthcare, with the understanding that each patient has unique factors which call for an individualized care plan. Patients and practitioners form a partnership, and all aspects of personal health history are assessed for the most comprehensive approach to wellness. Similar to integrative medicine, functional medicine practitioners treat the person and not just the illness or its symptoms.

Oftentimes, individual research is performed to learn more about a patient’s genetic and environmental factors which could contribute to their specific health status. By looking at a patient’s biochemistry, practitioners can get a better understanding of underlying causes of disease, while also minimizing the risk of other health issues for the future.

Which Is Right for You?

While integrative and functional medicine share common overarching principles, there is one key factor which sets them apart. While both approaches look at the patient as a whole person, functional medicine aims to uncover the root cause of all illness—especially chronic and autoimmune conditions.

Instead of simply diagnosing and prescribing, functional medicine practitioners aim to get to the bottom of a patient’s illness by understanding their history and biochemistry, which may include an analysis of their genetic factors. It’s widely believed that functional medicine will be a large part in the future of healthcare, especially as patients continue to seek an increasingly personalized approach to wellness.

Looking for a comprehensive biochemistry test and program designed for your own personal blueprint? Contact a Care Coordinator today to learn more.

This post was written by Becky Palmer, a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine for traumatic brain injury, also known as stem cell therapy for traumatic brain injury. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.

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