Integrative medicine and functional medicine are two completely different approaches to medicine. Each one of them has specific characteristics and is built on its own principles that define how it works, what it seeks to achieve and how this is actually done. Therefore, by evaluating the special characteristics of each one of them, we shall have provided a clear understanding of how different the two are from each other.
Basically, functional medicine can be seen as an approach to medicine which is focused on identifying the underlying causes of chronic diseases and working to prevent them from occurring in the body of patients. What this means is that unlike other approaches that are concerned with the signs and symptoms of a disease, functional medicine is concerned with tackling the root causes of a diseases and if, possible, preventing the causes from existing within the body of a patient. To this end, functional medicine seeks to ensure that the body is restored to and maintained at an optimum physiological functional level.
There are several important things that define how functional medicine works. First of all, the practice is based on the idea that understanding a patient is far much important than understanding only the disease. To this end, functional medicine is concerned with the needs of the patient in terms of overall vitality and how this is affected by the presence of disease.
Second, functional medicine is based on the idea that all of us are completely different from each other. This difference among us is not a mere conjecture but rather a complex creation of genetic and environmental factors that have led to every one of us having a completely different biochemical make up from each other. It is based on this differences that our physiological functioning differ from each other’s.
Third, functional medicine is based on the idea that our bodies operate in a special fashion characterized by complex interconnection among the body systems. All the systems of the body are seen as a maze of interconnected processes which are influenced by the state of each other at any given time. Therefore, a disorder in a particular system or part of the body will definitely affect many other systems and parts.
Fourth, as much as the internal body systems are connected to each other, the body as a whole has the ability to achieve a state of balance and maintain it over a long time. Balance in this case is understood in two aspects: internal balance between all the systems in the body and balance between the internal systems of the body as a single entity and a multitude of factors that form the external environment.
At the root of integrative medicine is the need for healing in body, spirit and mind. Since this is the foundation of integrative medicine, the approach can be seen as one that combines conventional therapies with complementary ones as a way of healing an individual in eth body, spirit and mind. This holistic approach to health is a very important characteristic of integrative medicine and differentiates it from functional medicine and other approaches as well.
There are fundamental differences between integrative and functional medicine. Since we have looked at the important principles that define how functional medicine works, we now turn to those of integrative medicine. It is by comparing them that clear differences between the two approaches to medicine become clear.
Just like functional medicine, the practice of integrative medicine is based on particular principles. These are described as follows. The first one regards the range of therapies that are used to treat patients. Basically, integrative medicine is based on the idea that conventional therapies like drugs, surgery and other special procedures used in cases of different diseases work hand in hand with other therapies such as nutrition, physical exercise and even traditional healing methods like acupuncture and specific herbs. The two, conventional and complementary therapies, are seen as being not antagonistic to each other but rather complementary.
The second principle that defines the approach and practice of integrated medicine regards the relationship between the patient and the specialist. The basic idea that defines this relationship is that the two work hand in hand in the process of providing healing to the patient. Although this approach is similar to what is used in functional medicine, its application in integrative medicine is much more emphasized and pronounced than it is in the former case.
The third principle is that healing is not only absence of disease but rather overall wellbeing of the body, sprit and mind. You can note the slight difference between this and what is used in functional medicine. Whereas functional medicine lays much emphasis on healing all the internal systems first before attaining to gain a balance between the body as a whole and the factors in the environment surrounding it, integrative medicine is primarily concerned with ensuring that the body, mind and spirit of a patient are at peace. This is where all the focus is.
The fourth principle that defines how integrative medicine is practiced regards the use of scientific evidence. Since integrative medicine advocates the use of multiple therapies to cure a patient, there is always the need for concrete scientific evidence that the different therapies used are actually effective. Although scientific evidence is required in functional medicine as well, the manner, type and level of emphasis that is attached to it in the practice of integrative medicine is clearly different.
AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has been on the forefront in promoting the practice of both forms of medicine: functional and integrative. Dr. Dalal Akoury is a certified practitioner of functional medicine with a lot of years of experience in the practice. She has worked with many patients having chronic illnesses often to satisfying results. You are free to contact us and experience not only our unparalleled expertise but also outstanding service in the form of unique and personalized care.