Close this search box.
Close this search box.

What is the Difference Between Functional Medicine and Integrative Medicine?

What is the difference between functional medicine and integrative medicine

In recent years we’ve seen a growth in alternative medicines and holistic approaches. People are seeking these treatments instead of medications, and even doctors are noticing the benefits they offer patients. Both functional and integrative medicine can improve conditions and give patients a positive outlook. The two practices are similar, but there are certain aspects that make each unique.

Functional Medicine

Functional medicine isn’t treatment-based as other practices are. Instead, it focuses on the underlying cause of issues such as weight gain and pain. After specialists establish the cause of an illness or disease, a doctor and patient will discuss the next steps. They work in partnership and create a treatment plan. This is to reduce symptoms and stop a condition from worsening.

Traditional medicines treat diseases, but functional practices look at the individual. They enable doctors to get a broader idea of how a condition affects each person. Practitioners can then put an effective care plan into action. One of the key things to do is gain insights into the origin of the problem by using tests.

Specialists will often carry out environmental and genetic research to look at a patient’s health background. Each person has a unique biochemistry, so gaining insights through testing can prevent future health risks.

The key to successful treatment is acknowledging how the person can be treated rather than the disease. Conventional medicines often focus on reducing symptoms and treating diseases with a “one size fits all” approach. Functional treatments look at ways to improve the person’s overall health in the long term.

There is a strong emphasis on using holistic approaches to minimize symptoms and achieve an overall balance. Professionals take a patient’s lifestyle, stress levels, and overall health into consideration. Doctors use traditional medications when it’s appropriate but incorporate holistic approaches. These include:

  • Massage
  • Reflexology
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Talking therapies
  • Acupuncture

Many regard functional medicine as being the future as it offers a personal approach conventional treatments don’t.

Integrative Medicine

Integrative medicine also focuses on the patient’s overall wellbeing, instead of one condition. Its holistic approach looks at the lifestyle of each patient and examines the factors that might damage their health. Physicians consider the health of the mind, body, and soul as all being important for individuals.

Specialists use modern healthcare practices to diagnose a patient. These may include blood tests and x-rays. A conversation between the doctor and patient will take place to establish which areas need improvement. It’s essential that there’s a good patient-doctor relationship in order for integrative therapy to work. Physicians need to understand all the environmental and emotional factors which might contribute to the symptoms of a condition.

Integrative practitioners will also look at how an individual’s community impacts them. For example, a patient unhappy with their social life and support will have increased stress and anxiety levels. If someone has a respiratory condition and lives in a busy city, this could impact their condition. By looking at these factors, physicians and patients can find solutions such as moving to a different area.

There is an emphasis on the immediate health concern. However, integrative practices aim to teach people healthy behaviors to aid them in caring for themselves and reducing their symptoms.

Common treatments include yoga, massage, and acupuncture. Integrative medicine focuses on making lifestyle changes to treat conditions. It’s particularly beneficial for obesity and diabetes. While conventional medicines treat a condition, integrative physicians see chronic illnesses as the result of poor lifestyle choices.

The Difference Between Functional and Integrative Medicine

Functional and integrative medicine are very similar. Both use a personal approach and work with a patient to improve their symptoms. There is a large emphasis on treating the body and mind with both medicines combining conventional and holistic treatments. However, there is one aspect of functional medicine that sets it apart from integrative techniques.

People seek functional treatment to get an in-depth look at why they are unwell. It’s different from other practices because the emphasis is on the cause rather than an immediate diagnosis. Integrative medicine looks at how and what but functional medicine also asks why. Research into the patient’s background takes priority and it includes an analysis of their genetic makeup.

Healthcare is changing and it will continue to evolve. In the last 50 years, we’ve seen dramatic changes in care and there’s now more emphasis on patient satisfaction. People want better care and are turning away from conventional medications in favor of holistic approaches. Functional and Integrative medicine will continue to grow and it’s likely they’ll be common practice soon.

Let Wellness by Design Introduce You to Functional Medicine

If you’re ready to take more targeted approach to treating your health problems, contact Wellness by Design to learn about functional medicine. Use the form below to request more information or schedule an appointment at our conveniently located Greenville office.