Patronus Medical Blog

The Difference Between Functional Medicine and Integrative Medicine

Posted by Carey Grainger on Oct 20, 2016 9:18:20 AM

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Various forms of alternative medicine, such as functional medicine and integrative medicine, have been quickly gaining popularity in the 21st century. Both disciplines are highly regarded by world-renowned health care practitioners such as Drs. Deepak Chopra, Mark Hyman and Dean Ornish.  Many believe functional and integrative medicine are the future of medicine. Physicians are beginning to take a more holistic approach to treating patients, no longer just concentrating on treating a disease. Although functional medicine and integrative medicine have similarities and overlap in several areas,  there are a few factors that make each discipline somewhat unique.

 What is Integrative Medicine?

 Integrative medicine is a holistic medical discipline which takes into account the lifestyle habits of a patient. The physician works to treat the whole person rather than just the disease. The mind, body, and soul of a patient are taken into consideration to promote healing and well-being.

Integrative medicine uses a combination of modern healthcare practices to diagnose and treat a patient. Treatments may include such modalities as acupuncture, yoga, or massage. This medical practice also focuses on the nutritional and exercise habits of the patient to curb factors related to obesity and diabetes. Integrative medicine physicians believe poor lifestyle choices are the root cause of many modern chronic diseases.

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine embraces much of the philosophy of Integrative medicine as described above but also employs a systems-oriented medical approach that works to identify and understand the underlying or root causes of a disease. This discipline takes into account the personalization of healthcare, as each patient care plan is distinct and unique.  The relationship between patient and practitioner effectively becomes a partnership; every aspect of a patient’s medical history is reviewed in detail. Much like integrative medicine, functional medicine treats the individual rather than the disease.

Often, individual genetic and environmental research is conducted to obtain a deeper knowledge of the patient’s health status. Understanding the biochemical individuality of a patient can lead to the underlying causes of disease and furthermore, the prevention of additional health risks in the future. Functional Medicine has gained much popularity, even spurring the creation of the Institute for Functional Medicine. Personalized medicine is without a doubt, the future model of medical care.

Interested in personalized medical care? Learn more here.

 Although integrative medicine and functional medicine have similarities, there is one important distinction.  Both practices focus on supporting the patient as a whole person; however, functional medicine strives to determine the root cause of each and every disease, particularly chronic diseases such as autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases as well as, diabetes and obesity.   Rather than simply making a diagnosis and then determining which drugs or surgery will best treat the condition, Functional Medicine practitioners dive deep into the patient's history and biochemistry and ask why this patient is ill.  Functional medicine is highly personalized and often includes a detailed analysis of an individual’s genetic makeup. 

Healthcare is undergoing drastic changes in the 21st century. In as few as five years we will look back and ask ourselves how we could have been practicing medicine so primitively.  Those practitioners who embrace the Functional and Integrative Medicine paradigms will be at the forefront of healthcare in the 21st century.  Would you like more information on either integrative medicine or functional medicine? Contact the professionals at Patronus Medical.

Topics: Functional Medicine, Integrative Medicine