Though we’ve been in practice for nearly eight years, and my mentors have been talking about this “new medicine” before I even started medical school, I still get questions everyday about the terms integrative and functional medicine. “What is it? What do these words mean?” These are common questions in a routine day.
Let me start with the textbook answer, and then follow with my answer. Integrative medicine is a recognized specialty of medicine, that works to merge multiple systems of medicine together, while examining all aspects of your health—your mind, food, lifestyle and even your relationships.
In the words of Dr. Andrew Weil, considered by many to be the founder of the integrative medicine movement in our country. . .
“…integrative medicine [is defined] as healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapies.”
On the other hand, functional medicine was pioneered by Dr. Jeffrey Bland and focuses on a similarly holistic view of health with a stronger leaning towards biochemistry, pathways and the inner workings of your health like how your cells communicate, how your hormones metabolize, and the role of your genes and the environment. It is an equally exciting and vibrant field of information, challenging all physicians and providers to think differently, act consciously and prescribe less.
Bland says, “Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms.”
I think both of these systems of medicine are beautiful and have watched thousands of patients healed by these philosophies put into practice.
My journey in this field has been a hard fought combination of both. I learned the biochemistry, but I embraced Chinese medicine. I followed genetic snps and methylation, but also brought Ayurveda to CentreSpring MD. I rely and depend on nutrition and food as the ultimate medicine, but know that our food is not what it once was—hence the need for additional supplementation and support. And what about our lives? We all juggle so much, encounter stress and run, so our needs and demands are higher.
Whether integrative or functional medicine or a holistic approach, there is only one type of medicine—good medicine. A practitioner practicing good medicine who pulls from all systems and fields, going beyond the treatment of symptoms and invididualizing care in order to get to a patient’s centre, their core, for healing to truly take place. That’s why I created CentreSpring MD—a medical home where you’ll find advocates for your health, because you are the the patient, and you deserve the highest level of care.
I thank my mentors and role-models—Dr. Weil, Dr. Bland, Dr. Hyman, Dr. Lowdog, Dr. Maizes and too many more to mention here. I’ve learned so much and taken your charge seriously, creating a unique model for medicine that I am also passing on to my team. All so that good medicine lasts well beyond me.
This is how medicine should be.
|Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, MD, is a board-certified physician, specializing in integrative and emergency medicine, pediatrics and prevention, with expertise in women’s health, weight-loss and nutrition. She is the author of “What Doctors Eat” and “The 21-Day Belly Fix.”
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Categories: Holistic Health