Integrative & Functional Medicine: Individualized Wellness

Integrative or Functional Medicine Practitioner

Options for optimizing your health have increased in recent years. Integrative Medicine is an approach to treating chronic disease that is patient-centered, emphasizes doctor-patient relationship, and integrates therapeutic approaches of both conventional and alternative medicine. [1] Integrative Medicine emphasizes wellness, not just for the physical needs of the patient, but also takes into consideration the emotional, mental, social, and environmental influences that affect a person's health. Integrative Medicine will utilize conventional medical care while also exploring other therapeutic options such as acupuncture, animal-assisted therapy, aromatherapy, dietary supplements, massage therapy, music therapy, meditation, and more.

For example, if an Integrative Medicine patient presents with a high level of stress and an increase of unhealthy inflammation, their practitioner may initiate a variety of treatments from massage therapy to acupuncture, or even meditation before settling on a traditional prescription.

Integrative Medicine is a personalized treatment approach that also involves the patient to be an active partner in their own healing process. Integrative Medicine also endeavors to coordinate patient care in tandem with other practitioners and experts of different specialties, exchanging information, all with the patient’s overall healing as their primary goal. [2]

Functional Medicine represents a deeper scientific approach to healing from the perspective of individualized molecular therapeutics, with the goal of assessing and treating the biological origin of a person’s chronic disease. [3] “Functional Medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional Medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease.” [4]

Functional Medicine believes that a diagnosis is just the beginning of the process because each condition can have multiple causes. For example, if a patient presents as having trouble maintaining a healthy mood, the causes can range from such things as antibiotic use, omega 3 deficiency, vitamin D deficiency to several other factors. Furthermore, each cause depends on the individual’s genes, environment, and lifestyle. For the Functional Medicine practitioner, the goal is deeper than erasing the symptoms themselves, but rather discovering the precise treatments to address the correct cause.

Functional Medicine provides perspective into the specific nutrients needed in the body on an individual basis. Each patient is unique and Functional Medicine helps determine what nutrient deficiencies could be the root of the chronic condition. Functional Medicine understands that essential nutrients play an important role in cellular metabolism, and the results of nutrient insufficiencies can affect the entire body. [5]

Functional Medicine helps doctors identify, improve, or even reverse dysfunctions in the physiology and biochemistry of the body. This is Functional Medicine’s primary method of improving patient health. Functional Medicine can also operate alongside of Integrative Medicinal approaches as it takes into account the result of lifelong environmental interactions, lifestyle, and genetic predispositions. [6]

So if you want to optimize your health, setting an appointment with an Integrative Medicine or Functional Medicine practitioner may be a next step to take in your wellness journey.

The Institute for Functional Medicine has provided a way to locate a practitioner near you. Simply, click here.