Functional Medicine and Integrative Medicine

HOW DOES FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE COMPLEMENT A CLINICIAN'S INTEGRATIVE TRAINING?

Integrative medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative.

If you’re already studying and practicing integrative medicine, then you know something about whole-person modalities. Functional Medicine provides an architecture that will help you organize and apply all that knowledge in a systematic way, digging deeper into the origins of disease and the determinants of health.

The Functional Medicine model considers the diagnosis, of course, but also seeks to answer the question, Why does this person have this illness? The answer to this question is revealed by discovering the antecedents, triggers, and mediators that underlie symptoms, signs, illness behaviors, and demonstrable pathology. Further, medical genomics can identify the phenotypic expression of disease-related genes and their products, affording another lens through which to view illness. Chronic diseases cut across multiple organ systems, and this calls for a systematic method of viewing each patient.

 

HOW IS FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE DIFFERENT FROM OTHER INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE MODELS?

Practitioners of Functional Medicine use the Functional Medicine model to organize their findings. It’s a kind of flexible and adaptive information-gathering-and-sorting architecture for clinical practice that deepens the clinician’s understanding of the often-overlapping ways things can go wrong. The patient’s story is organized according to seven common underlying mechanisms that influence health, which clarifies the level of present understanding and illuminates where further investigation is needed. An operating system guides clinician through the entire process from gathering information to initiating treatment and tracking the patient’s progress.

All healthcare disciplines—including integrative medicine—can, to the degree allowed by their training and licensure, use a Functional Medicine approach, including integrating the Functional Medicine operating system and tools to organize knowledge and recognize patterns. Functional Medicine provides a common language and a unified model to facilitate integrated care.