Have you considered medical treatment through functional medicine? This approach’s history dates back three decades when Dr Jeffrey Bland created the discipline to deal with problems related to chronic disease. The National Health Council reports over 40% of Americans to have chronic diseases. A functional medicine doctor takes a somewhat different approach to treating conditions than traditional medicine by focusing on the disease’s cause.

How is functional medicine different?

In many ways, functional medicine is a blend of conventional and alternative medicine. Several alternative medicine systems are available today and have increased in popularity as patients seek holistic (whole-body) treatments.

Today more doctors are taking the approach of functional medicine to treat chronic diseases. The focus is more on treating the root cause of the disease rather than the resulting symptoms.

This discipline includes elements of “integrative medicine” that considers a patient’s lifestyle habits. A doctor focuses on the whole person, including their body, mind, and “soul,” instead of a particular disease.

Functional medicine uses a similar approach to treating chronic diseases. The main goal is to understand the disease’s root cause. It focuses on providing personalised healthcare to the patient and factors in the person’s lifestyle like integrative medicine.

Besides the person’s lifestyle, a doctor might also research factors like the patient’s genetics and environment. This can provide a better snapshot of the patient’s overall health. The process makes it easier for a doctor to have a clear understanding of the factors causing the patient’s disease.

Functional medicine also includes some features of traditional medicine. In part, this is because less research has been conducted on the effectiveness of alternative medicine versus traditional medicine. However, the doctor also considers which prescription medicine is ideal for a particular patient rather than treating disease symptoms.

Functional medicine vs. conventional medicine

While functional medicine has some features of conventional or “allopathic” medicine, doctors use traditional treatments differently to treat a patient’s serious disease. Traditional medicine involves specialists who focus on particular body parts, such as systems for breathing or digestion.

Functional medicine takes a different approach. It focuses on various body systems and parts being connected and the importance of maintaining their balance. For example, doctors search for reasons why various body systems have become imbalanced, explaining why a person has developed a chronic disease.

Doctors then prescribe a combination of traditional and alternative treatments. However, the goal isn’t to relieve symptoms but to re-establish a balance of the various symptoms.

What are the main benefits of functional medicine?

This approach can provide several benefits over strict conventional or alternative medicine. One of the main advantages is it focuses on individual patients instead of the disease or its symptoms. The goal is to balance the body’s systems, which then restores the natural healing functions.

Another major difference is functional medicine evaluates lab results in terms of whether body systems are working optimally. This differs from conventional medicine that checks if the test results are “normal” by falling within a particular range.

Yet another benefit of functional medicine is it’s science-based and evidence-based. It perceives the body as a complex machine with various systems that work together in a large network.

When selecting medical treatments for chronic disease, a functional medicine doctor takes a different approach. The focus is on the individual patient’s genetics, lifestyle, and environment. The physician then prescribes traditional or alternative treatments to restore the balance of the body’s network of complex systems. This approach focuses on the cause of disease instead of the symptoms it causes.