Functional Medicine vs. Integrative Medicine: Which One is Right for You?

Have you been feeling unwell, but your test results say that you are healthy? Are you tired of being prescribed medications that do not seem to be solving the root cause of your symptoms? If so, functional medicine and integrative medicine may be just what you need to get to the bottom of your health concerns. These two approaches to healthcare are gaining popularity among patients who want a more holistic and personalized approach to healing.

In today's rapidly evolving world of healthcare, patients are increasingly seeking alternatives to the traditional disease-focused approach. While both integrative and functional medicine share common principles, they also have distinct approaches.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the similarities and differences between Functional Medicine and Integrative Medicine to help you make informed choices about your healthcare.

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Functional vs. Integrative Medicine: Which Approach is Right for You?

Functional medicine and integrative medicine may differ in their formal definition, but the outcome for patients remains very similar. Most providers who practice integrative medicine do so from a functional perspective.

This means that both integrative and functional medicine doctors use a blend of treatment modalities that are best suited to each patient based on advanced diagnostic testing in an effort to address the root cause of symptoms.

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional Medicine is an approach that aims to address the root causes of illness rather than merely treating symptoms. Developed in the 1990s, Functional Medicine has gained recognition for its patient-centered, systems-based methodology.

A functional medicine doctor examines the patient’s medical history, lifestyle, genetics, and environment to create a personalized treatment plan. Functional medicine practitioners often use advanced diagnostic tests to provide more detailed information about the patient’s health, such as genetics, nutrient levels, and inflammation markers. Treatments may include nutrition and lifestyle changes, supplements, and medications.

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Key Principles of Functional Medicine:

Individualized Care: Functional Medicine doctors recognize that each patient is unique. They conduct in-depth assessments to understand an individual's genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

Holistic Perspective: The focus is on the interconnectedness of various bodily systems. Functional Medicine doctors examine the whole person rather than isolated symptoms or organs.

Personalized Treatment: Treatment plans are customized to address the specific imbalances and dysfunctions identified through comprehensive testing.

Nutrition-Centered: Diet plays a fundamental role in Functional Medicine. Practitioners emphasize the importance of a nutrient-dense, whole-food diet in promoting health.

Prevention-Oriented: Preventing chronic disease is a core goal. Functional Medicine strives to identify risk factors and address them before diseases manifest (1).

Related: 10 Important Health Checks You Need in Your 40s

Common Diagnostic Tools in Functional Medicine:

  • Advanced Lab Testing: Comprehensive blood, urine, and saliva tests to assess various biomarkers, hormones, and nutritional deficiencies.
  • Genetic Testing: Identifying genetic predispositions to tailor treatment plans.
  • Stool Analysis: Assessing gut health and microbiome diversity.
  • Food Sensitivity Testing: Identifying food intolerances that may contribute to inflammation and health issues.

Shop: At-Home Lab Testing

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What is Integrative Medicine?

Integrative medicine is a broader approach to healthcare that focuses on the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. It combines conventional Western medicine with evidence-based complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, and yoga. Integrative medicine also emphasizes the importance of prevention and empowering patients to take an active role in their own health. Integrative medicine seeks to create a personalized plan that addresses the patient’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs (2).

Key Principles of Integrative Medicine:

Holistic Healthcare: Integrative Medicine physicians recognize the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit. It seeks to balance all aspects of a patient’s life.

Patient-Centered: Patients are active participants in their healthcare journey. Shared decision-making is encouraged, and treatments are tailored to individual needs and preferences.

Combination of Therapies: Integrative Medicine integrates conventional medical treatments with complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, herbal medicine, and mind-body practices.

Prevention and Wellness: Promoting health and preventing illness are central tenets. Integrative practitioners emphasize lifestyle modifications and preventive measures.

Common Therapies and Modalities in Integrative Medicine:

  • Acupuncture: Traditional Chinese practice involving the use of thin needles to stimulate specific points on the body.
  • CranioSacral Therapy, Chiropractic care, and others: Manipulation of the spine and musculoskeletal system to improve health.
  • Mind-Body Practices: Techniques like meditation, yoga, and tai chi to enhance mental and emotional well-being.
  • Nutritional Counseling: Guidance on dietary choices and supplements to support health.
  • Herbal Medicine: The use of plant-based remedies to address various health concerns.
  • Ayurveda & Traditional Chinese Medicine: Traditional systems of medicine that focus on holistic health and balance.

Learn more about Conditions We Treat: Autoimmune Disease

Benefits of Functional Medicine and Integrative Medicine

At CentreSpringMD, you can experience the benefits of both functional and integrative medicine. Our aim is to empower patients to take an active role in their own health and prevent future health problems.

Enhanced focus of care

Providers identify and address the root causes of diseases through advanced testing and personalized treatment plans in an effort to treat the whole person.

Advanced diagnostic approach

Thorough lab testing, including genetics and comprehensive biomarker assessments provide insight to guide your ideal treatment plan. Providers place a strong emphasis on patient history and clinical examinations.

Effective approach to chronic illness

With nearly 50% (and counting) of Americans suffering with 1 or more chronic health conditions, functional and integrative practitioners use methods proven to provide better outcomes and cost savings for both patients and the medical system (3,4). 

Individualized treatment emphasis

Personalized nutritional and lifestyle interventions, often utilizing targeted supplements, in addition to conventional treatments using complementary therapies.

Diverse therapeutic modalities

A wide range of testing and diagnostics, help pinpoint underlying issues and biochemical imbalances.

Emphasis on prevention & wellness

By identifying early signs of dysfunction, providers emphasize overall wellness by supporting physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of health.

Strong role of nutrition

Nutrition is a cornerstone, with a focus on individualized dietary plans and addressing nutritional deficiencies.

What to remember

Functional medicine and integrative medicine offer patients a more personalized, holistic approach to healing. Both approaches offer benefits for patients, including more effective treatment, better overall health, and an improved quality of life. If you are interested in exploring functional medicine or integrative medicine, schedule a consultation with a patient care coordinator to learn more about which treatment modalities can most benefit you.




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