The New Medicine, Integrative and Functional Medicine
A Look at the Ever-Changing Environment of Health Care: Part 1
By Steven Ross, DC, FASBE, DAAPM
Many people believe that illness, degeneration, disease, and pain is a normal process of growing old and that conventional medicine looks for defects, causes, risks, and genetic markers—all while attempting to suppress the symptoms of disease. In this ever-changing era of conventional medicine, the ultimate definition of good health is still merely the absence of disease and infirmity.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), approximately 62 percent of Americans are using some form of complementary and alternative medicine. These include:
- Biologically based practices using substances from nature such as herbs, special diets, or vitamins.
- Energy medicine involving the use of energy fields that surround and penetrate the human body.
- Manipulative and body-based practices based on manipulation or movement of one or more body parts.
- Mind-body medicine using techniques that enhance the mind’s ability to affect bodily function and symptoms.
- Whole medical systems built on complete systems of theory and practice.
In many cases, these systems have evolved apart from (and even earlier than) the conventional medical approach currently practiced in the United States. The study also shows that well over half of the U.S. population is turning to CAM in addition to (not necessarily in place of) conventional medicine. Why?
The survey asked people to answer that question by selecting from five reasons, stated below. Respondents could select more than one reason. In the order of most-to-least times answered, they indicated the following reasons:
- CAM would improve health when used with conventional medical treatments: 55%
- CAM would be interesting to try: 50%
- Conventional medical treatments would not help: 28%
- A conventional medical professional suggested trying CAM: 26%
- Conventional medical treatments are too expensive: 13%
Still, some people don’t know other choices exist.
Integrative and Functional Diagnostic Medicine
Unlike conventional medicine, Integrative and functional diagnostic medicine sees disease not as an enemy but as an opportunity for change and growth. Like complementary and alternative medicine, it views a person’s body as self-regulatory—that is, disease occurs when the self-regulation system gets disrupted or damaged.
Yet, functional diagnostic medicine takes that concept even further. It operates on the premise that, with appropriate diagnostic testing, the “root cause” of imbalance and disruption can be restored without the use of drugs or harmful treatments.
Functional diagnostic medicine works because it addresses the dynamic processes that cause disease in the first place. For example, if you have a peptic ulcer, a conventional doctor may prescribe an antacid that relieves your symptoms. A functional diagnostic medicine practitioner will seek answers to questions like:
- Why did you develop an ulcer in the first place?
- Was it the result of the invasion of bacteria in the gut?
- Was it related to stress at home, in the workplace, or even a chemical imbalance in your body?
While functional diagnostic medicine acknowledges that disease and pathology exist, it addresses how a disease actually develops. Then it sets in motion a treatment program to restore functions that aren’t working. Symptoms will disappear as a result of this program, versus a prescribed drug masking the symptoms.
Interested in learning more? See Dr. Ross’ course here.
Dr. Steven Ross, DC, FASBE, DAAPM is the President and Co-Founder of Advanced Med Academy. He is a licensed doctor of chiropractic since 1982, a diplomat of the American Academy of Pain Management, a Fellow of The American Academy of Applied Spinal Biomechanical Engineering (A.S.B.E.), and an affiliate physician of the Chopra Center in La Costa, California. He runs a functional medicine practice in San Diego, California.