How Integrative Medicine Looks at the Minds, Spirits and Bodies for Diagnosis and Treatment

Many people use the terms “Functional Medicine” and “Integrative Medicine” interchangeably. While these two specialties have similarities, they are not the same.

According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, integrative medicine is “practicing medicine in a way that selectively incorporates elements of complementary and alternative medicine into comprehensive treatment plans alongside solidly orthodoxy methods of diagnosis and treatment.”

Both functional and integrative medicine fall under the category of complementary and alternative medicine, which describes healthcare practices that traditionally have not been part of conventional medicine, according to the Mayo Clinic.

As a form of complementary medicine, integrative medicine may be used “as adjuncts to conventional treatment and are not usually taught in medical schools.” Integrative medicine focuses on a patient’s health and healing rather than disease and treatment; viewing patients as whole people with minds and spirits as well as bodies, which are considered for diagnosis and treatment.

Functional and integrative medicine share some similarities, but also have their differences. Both are rapidly growing forms of medical attention aiming to address one’s physical, emotional, and mental needs. We wanted to take a look at each form and how they differ.

Functional Medicine vs. Integrative Medicine

Functional medicine focuses on underlying causes of illness that are due to genetic predispositions and the environment in which one lives.

At its core, functional medicine is based on the idea that one condition can have many causes or one cause can have many conditions. A functional medicine doctor will utilize an individualized approach to identify what is causing your problem and recommend certain specialty tests to determine if there was an imbalance prior to the ailment, or if it was a result of a chronic condition.

Integrative medicine is similar, but not the same. While functional medicine focuses on the cause of the disease, integrative medicine focuses on the patient as a whole.

The integrative approach views the patient as a combination of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs that all rely on each other. Different “therapies” (acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, etc.) are often used as treatment options.

According to Balanced Well-Being Healthcare, “a good way to describe integrative medicine is taking the approach to health and combining it with less conventional therapies.” With people everywhere aiming to take control of their health thanks to increased access to testing, both functional and integrative medicine. have become popular alternatives to traditional medicine. As is the case with most relatively new things, some may be hesitant to turn to these forms of medicine. However, as more evidence becomes available on the effectiveness of these approaches, we can expect these areas of healthcare to continue rapid growth.