Several approaches to health care have emerged in the industry, many of which intersect and stem from one another and provide different means of eliminating disease and promoting health. Among these include functional medicine and integrative medicine. While both challenge the status quo of conventional care, they are nuanced in practice and benefit patients in different ways.
Conventional medicine is the most common form of health care. It specifically refers to the practice of evaluating and treating diseases based on a modern scientific understanding of human biology. It’s an approach that has formed the basis of the health care system in the U.S. — but it also has significant shortcomings. These include an overreliance on pharmaceuticals and too much of a focus on treating the symptoms of disease, rather than the underlying causes.
Functional and integrative medicine provide a more comprehensive approach to care by examining the root cause of disease and considering whole-person health. Knowing what they involve and how they work can lead to a better understanding of how they each promote optimal long-term health for patients through subtly different means.
Integrative medicine is a discipline that goes beyond the disease-oriented approach of conventional medicine by taking into account a more comprehensive and personalized view of each patient. In addition to their medical history and health, this can include their lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being, and even community.
The goal of integrative medicine is to improve the health of the entire person. To do this, it considers all available therapies using an evidence-based approach. This includes conventional methods, as well as alternative therapies such as yoga, acupuncture, and massage. It also focuses on improving long-term health by encouraging better nutritional habits and exercise. Whenever possible, the integrative approach emphasizes natural therapies above more invasive ones — although it remains open to whatever pathway will most benefit the patient’s health.
One of the most foundational aspects of integrative medicine is the strong relationship between the patient and provider. Both are partners in the healing process and work together to not only address a current illness, but also prevent disease and promote long-term health.
Functional medicine builds on integrative practices by using a systems-based approach to identify and address the root cause of disease.
This approach grew out of the understanding that chronic disease and other prevalent health issues rarely occur independently. Instead, they are the result of complex interactions between a range of factors, including lifestyle, genetics, and the environment. Because of this, functional medicine providers begin by identifying the underlying mechanisms and pathways of disease.
Treatment typically includes locating any possible antecedents or triggers of disease, studying how a patient’s unique genetics interact with their environment, and uncovering core imbalances in specific biological systems (such as nutrient absorption or hormone profiles). This information is then used to build a personalized health plan for each patient that often incorporates a broad range of interventions, including both restorative and reparative therapies.
Similar to integrative medicine, the functional approach is about building a closer and more productive relationship between the patient and provider. This helps empower them to uncover any possible causes of health issues and develop an effective health care plan that can lead to optimal health.
A Better Form of Health Care
Conventional medicine by itself can no longer meet the health care needs of many people, and is unsustainable systemically. It’s time for a different approach. Precision health care is a new form of care that combines the best of conventional, functional and integrative medical practices. By mixing these disciplines, precision health care makes it possible to not only address a current illness but also identify any underlying causes so patients can start taking substantial steps towards living a disease-free, high-quality, long life.
Want to learn more? At Essential Health, we believe you deserve a better form of health care. That’s why we developed precision health care: a comprehensive, proactive, and personalized form of health care. In addition to conventional treatments, we offer a host of programs that can improve your quality of life. These include bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), IV nutrient therapy, platelet-rich plasma, peptide therapy, and more.
Schedule a meet and greet to talk to an expert and see how precision health care can benefit you.