The New Medicine, Integrative and Functional Medicine
A Look at the Ever-Changing Environment of Health Care: Part 3
By Steven Ross, DC, FASBE, DAAPM
In today’s world, people want to seek medical care that complements their own lifestyle and values. Many people are turning to complementary and alternative medicine, or better known today as integrative and functional medicine because they feel listened to and treated as a whole person.
Integrative and Functional medicine looks at how you are doing and feeling. You won’t be told, “It’s all in your head.” Functional medicine addresses all of you—your life, your well-being, what you eat, your work environment, your relationships and communication with others, how you relax and play, what medications you take, how well your digestive system functions, and what chemicals you’ve been exposed to. In hearing about your life, practitioners gather significant clues and information to assist you in feeling better.
You can change the way you feel and function! Rather than naming a specific disease, the functional medicine approach seeks to find underlying causes in context of your life choices. As a result, your treatment program will reflect your needs.
Who Can Benefit from Integrative and Functional Medicine?
Many people today have health problems that don’t fit into simple categories. Often they have complex health problems involving inflammatory responses or immune, nervous, digestive, energy, and/or cardiovascular systems. These people are best helped by a functional approach to medicine. Typical patients include those with various auto-immune diseases, fatigue of unknown origin, and/or digestive complaints. Often they’ve visited several physicians without effective treatments or improvement.
Integrative and Functional medicine is also for people who are interested in preventive healthcare. They want to take an active role in their own well-being and the health of their family members. Therefore, they seek functional medicine practitioners to guide their continued good health.
How Integrative and Functional Medicine Differs from Conventional Medicine
Suffering with pain, discomfort, or reoccurring health complaints is your body’s way of getting you to pay attention. Rather than taking a pain medication each time you get a headache, backache, or stomachache, ask yourself “why” you’re experiencing the pain in the first place. The answer to the cause of these conditions may be simple or complex.
For example, chronic constipation or diarrhea could be from a bug you picked up years ago in a foreign country, or you could be reacting negatively to certain foods you’re eating. This approach obviously takes more work than just writing a prescription for an antibiotic; it takes specialized testing along with the knowledge of being able to interpret those tests and making the appropriate recommendations for treatment as well as follow-up testing to make sure that the irritant has been removed.
The following chart demonstrates a simplified comparison of functional diagnostic medicine versus conventional medicine:
|Functional Medicine||Conventional Medicine|
|is health oriented||is disease oriented|
|is patient oriented||is doctor oriented|
|looks at patient as biochemically unique||treats everyone the same with the same diagnosis|
|is cost effective||has become cost prohibitive|
|is holistic||is very specialized|
|looks at deep causes of illness||diagnoses an illness from a set of symptoms|
|is high touch and high tech||is high tech|
|works in true preventive medicine||uses early detection of disease as preventive medicine|
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.