Conventional, Functional, or Integrative Medicine: Which is best for you?
Modern day medicine now consists of three (3) primary practices: Conventional, Functional and Integrative Medicine.
Each of these models have their own justifiable benefits. Depending on your current health status and preference of treatment.
But which format is best for you?
First, we need to make a clear distinction between conventional, functional and integrative medicine.
So, let’s breakdown the core format of each medical practice and situational benefits.
What is conventional medicine?
Conventional medicine involves general medical specialties such as cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, psychiatry, etc. It is also known as Biomedicine, Allopathic medicine, Western medicine, Mainstream medicine and Orthodox medicine.
Conventional medicine is most widely practiced in Western world and Europe by registered (graduated) medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery.
For example, if your pancreas stops working, conventional medicine teaches to focus on the pancreas, and not the potential relatable organs or habits of the patient. Thus why you have the varied medical specialties: rheumatologists focuses on musculoskeletal disease and systemic autoimmune conditions; urologists focuses on male and female urinary tract, and others.
The final determination is based on lab experiments and trials that ultimately just mitigate the symptom.
What is functional medicine?
Functional medicine is a medical practice that is sometimes referred to as alternative or holistic medicine. The practitioners in this field primarily focus on the root cause of a symptom versus treating the symptom in its current state.
The unique aspect of functional medicine is the strong emphasis on personalization of the care plan. Each care plan is distinct and unique to everyone. All patients are not the same, thus the importance of reviewing, in detail, the medical history of the patient.
To effectively analyze this history, the practitioner and patient become partners, per se. This allows the practitioner to establish a comfortable, open relationship with the patient to obtain a deeper understanding of the patient’s health status.
Functional medicine includes the philosophy and practice that is inclusive of a variety of world cultures. Thus aiming to reduce the dependence on opioids (medication) and provide holistic alternatives to treat symptoms.
What is integrative medicine?
Integrative medicine, the newest of the 3 practices, considers your lifestyle habits. Treating the “whole” person (emotionally, psychologically and physically) to promote whole-life wellness.
Practitioners of integrative medicine believe poor lifestyle habits are the root cause of many chronic diseases.
So, this practice uses principles from both conventional and functional medicine to diagnose and treat a patient by focusing on the nutritional, physical as well as personal & professional relationships to help the patient to refrain from habits that cause bad health, i.e. type II diabetes, high cholesterol, chronic fatigue, obstructive sleep apnea, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and more.
No matter the type of medication, holistic or conventional, without healthy lifestyle habits, it won’t sustain good health.
So, which one is best for you?
All of them! Because it depends on your specific situation. Each practice is beneficial for each person for each condition and the severity or lack thereof.
Over the last 30 years, conventional medicine has often been criticized for treating your condition and not you as a person, expecting you to accept the diagnosis and treatment.
But during that time, with the help of the Functional Medicine Institute and sole practitioners of functional medicine, western medicine is increasingly recognizing the importance of your involvement and choice in your treatment, and this is due to the influence of complementary and alternative medicine approaches.
Over the last 10 years, realizing the importance of an integrative approach, medical schools have incorporated preventative healthcare teachings into the curriculum. Teaching future practitioners prescribe a more natural remedy when possible. And only resorting to prescribing conventional medicines to mitigate worse case diagnosis.
Conventional medicine will always be needed to address urgent medical situations, such as physical trauma and mitigate worsening infection. While functional and integrative medicine will support prevention, reducing symptoms of chronic illnesses or recovery from conventional procedures.
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Kurt Dixon is an educated, certified and experienced health consultant who is passionate about helping his client-patients achieve their goals by adjusting their lifestyle to promote a seamless, healthy living. His experience covers healthcare, pharmaceutical, money management, telecommunications & customer service industries. He is also the founder of Body Refined and the Lifestyle Management program, an integrated consortium of measures addressing life balance, eating healthier, physical wellness and career management.