Integrative Medicine Practitioners Vs. Functional Medicine

Medic reading on a tablet

Recent years have seen the growth of alternative medicines and alternative treatments instead of common medications.  Even though both integrative and Functional Medicine can give the patient a positive outlook, the two practices have aspects that make them unique. 

Both functional medicine practitioners and integrative medicine practitioners work to achieve the same goal. To differentiate the two, let us look at the deeper meaning of each of them. 

Functional Medicine

Functional medicine is an area that focuses on finding the root cause of the problem as opposed to using different techniques to alleviate the patient’s symptoms. Some of the critical areas that functional medicine focuses on include laboratory-based analysis, use of supplements, and lifestyle changes. 

A functional medicine specialist will determine the root cause of an illness, and after that, a practitioner and the patient will discuss the next steps. There are four basic principles of functional medicines, which include; 

  • Every patient is unique in their ways; hence every problem should be addressed with a different approach
  • Functional medicine focuses on systems and various dysregulations within these systems, which lead to chronic medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and even obesity. 
  • Science-based solutions that go deep into genetic predisposition to specific conditions and biochemistry dysfunction.
  • Self-regulation, ranging from proper choice of diet, frequent exercise, and adequate sleep 

The functional medicine practitioner will then work with the patient to establish a workable treatment plan to reduce the symptoms and prevent worsening. 

One of the vital things to do is gain insights into the origin of the problem using tests. While functional medicine looks at the patient, traditional treatments focus on the disease.

Reading the chest radiograph

Functional Medicine – Personalized Approach

To find the illness’s cause, you will require specialists to carry out generic and environmental research to establish the patient’s illness background. It is important to note that each person has unique biochemistry; therefore, gaining insights through testing prevents the future occurrence of a similar problem. 

The key to functional treatment is acknowledging how the patient will receive treatment rather than the disease. Instead of treating the disease as is done through conventional medicines, functional medicine aims to improve a person’s overall health on a long-term basis.

While doctors use traditional medications, the functional approach emphasizes a holistic approach to achieving an overall balance. Professionals in this field will take into consideration the patient’s lifestyle, stress levels, and overall health.  Some of the most common approaches used by functional health practitioners include; Exercise, Massage, Nutrition, Reflexology, Acupuncture, and Therapies. 

Functional medicine clearly defines the future of treatment since it offers a personal approach to a problem that conventional treatment doesn’t. 

Why Choose Functional Medicine?

  • Focus on patient-centered care 

The physician will get to you instead of just the illness. They take your comprehensive medical history and lifestyle assessment to understand the real picture of your health. After that, they identify some of the diseases triggers to build a holistic workable treatment plan. 

  • Multi-disciplinary approach

Functional medicine physician supports throughout your wellness journey. Furthermore, you will have access to various professionals, i.e., behavioral health therapists, health coaches, dietitians, and many more. 

  • Focus on chronic conditions 

Functional medicine develops practical and useful methods to solve common medical issues.

Why Functional Treatment Use Test

We are all different, and performing a test is a useful way of discovering the body’s happenings at the biochemical level. Tests also help the physician examine the deficiencies, infections, dysfunctions, and imbalance, giving essential insights into the patient’s health condition. 

Performing tests also seeks to look at the digestive systems like assimilation and how it absorbs nutrients. Once the right test has been completed, a practitioner will start examining the body and the reason for the occurrence of symptoms. 

Functional medicine practitioners interpret tests differently from conventional doctors. They look at tests in a broad reference range. For instance, they take into consideration statistical information taken from the entire population. Such studies are essential since similar problems can still occur within that range. 

Integrative Medicine

Integrative medicine practitioners focus on the patient’s overall well-being as opposed to their condition. The approach looks at each patient’s lifestyle and points out the factors that risk their health. When seeking treatment, a physician will examine the health of the mind, body, and soul, all of which play an essential role in an individual’s well-being. 

A specialist in this field uses modern health care practices such as blood tests and x-rays to diagnose a patient. After that, the doctor and the patient will converse to establish areas that need improvement.  For integrative therapy to work, there is a need for a good doctor-patient relationship. Physicians need to develop the possible environmental and emotional factors contributing to the said condition’s symptoms.  

Another essential thing that integrative practitioners will look at is the impact of the community on individual patients. For instance, if a patient is not satisfied with their social life, they are likely to have increased stress and anxiety levels. At the same time, living in a busy city while having a respiratory condition will only catapult them to an even dire situation. In such a case, the physician will advise the patient to move to a different area. 

Even though integrative treatment looks at the immediate health concern, it aims to teach people healthy behaviors. Additionally, the practice reduces the symptoms and instructs patients to care for themselves. 

Some of the most commonly used integrative Medicine include yoga, acupuncture, and massage. The practice focuses on making lifestyle changes with an effort to treat the condition. Most of these practices are particularly beneficial to conditions such as diabetes and obesity. 

Overall, integrative physicians view chronic illnesses as a result of inappropriate lifestyle choices instead of treating the condition. Unlike the past, a modern patient is health-conscious and actively participate in their health journey.                                                                                                 

Benefits of Integrative Medicines 

Among the numerous benefits of integrative medicines, here are five outstanding reasons integrative medicine is suitable for modern patients;

  • Focuses on prevention 

Integrative medicine focuses on preventive measures to support the patient’s optimal health before disease development. Additionally, the practice reinforces the body’s ability to heal itself by utilizing lifestyle enchantments.

  • Holistic approach

The approach of integrative medicine focuses on the whole person rather than a patient’s specific health problems. It focuses on the patient’s immediate environment, lifestyle choices, emotional well-being, and social relationships. 

  • Relationship and collaboration

Integrative medicine focuses on building an honest and collaborative relationship between the physician and the patient.  These highly desired components bring warmth and create a friendly atmosphere during treatment. 

  • Personalized care

An integrative physician’s primary goal is to uncover all the components contributing to the patient’s physical and emotional well-being. There is also a commitment to finding the root cause of the problem and seeking unique solutions. 

  • Integrative medicines are supported by science 

By blending scientifically sound methods with safe and efficient alternative medicine, patients receive all-rounded care to promote their health through prevention and effective disease management.

Holistic approach

How Is Functional Medicine Different from Integrative Medicine? 

To a large extent, functional Medicine and integrative Medicine are similar since both use a personal approach to improve the patient’s symptoms. Both directions emphasize treating the body and mind by combining holistic treatments and conventional treatments.

However, there is a slight aspect that departs functional medicine from integrative medicine. 

Functional treatment gives patience and an in-depth look at the condition, while integrative therapy emphasizes the cause rather than the immediate diagnosis. In other words, Integrative Medicine focuses more on the ‘how’ and ‘what’ and functional medicine looks at the ‘why.’ Functional treatment looks more into the patient’s background through a comprehensive analysis of their genetic make-up. 

Over the years, healthcare has evolved, and the trend is not expected to stop anytime soon. Modern-day physicians look to concentrate more on the patient’s care and satisfaction. People are looking for better care and holistic approaches to treatment, and the popularity of integrative and functional medicine is expected to grow even more in the coming years. 

What to Expect

During your first visit to a functional or integrative medical practitioner, you should expect to provide a comprehensive set of information on the items below.

  • Lifestyle audit – Diet, work-life, activity levels, stressors, and hobbies
  • Genetics – Family history of mental and physical condition
  • Environment – Possible exposure to allergens and toxins

In both functional and integrative treatment, the physician will perform a well-outlined procedure to help them understand your health. 

The physician will review your health history and perform a physical exam through a lab test. Afterward, they will introduce you to a good diet program then discuss your overall treatment and follow-up care plan.  


While attaining perfect health with zero absolute chance of getting a condition is the goal for everyone, achieving such is practically impossible. The ultimate goal of both functional and integrative practitioners is to minimize the occurrence of pathological conditions. 

Functional and integrative treatment aspects are a huge milestone and are designed to improve an individual’s health with a condition. Both are equally important and need to be applied more often to improve your overall well-being.  

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