I’m writing this post to provide a brief introduction to two approaches to medicine that I find intriguing and compelling because they have an internal logic that resonates as a path to holistic wellness. If these appeal to you, I encourage you to investigate options available where you live.

IM Defining Principles

● The patient and provider are dynamic partners in the healing process.
● All factors that influence health, wellness, and disease are taken into consideration, including body, mind, spirit, and community.
● Providers use all healing sciences to facilitate the body’s innate healing response.
● Effective interventions that are natural and less invasive are used whenever possible.
● Good medicine is based on good science. It is inquiry-driven and open to new paradigms.
● Utilizes Evidence-Based Therapies. Incorporates Cutting Edge Modalities in Treatment.
● Alongside the concept of treatment, the broader concepts of health promotion and the prevention of illness are paramount.
● The care is personalized to best address individuals’ unique conditions, needs, and circumstances. Practitioners of integrative medicine exemplify its principles and commit themselves to self-exploration and self-development.
● Focus on prevention and foster the development of healthy behaviors and skills for effective self-care that patients can use throughout their lives.

Integrative Medicine (IM) focuses on a dynamic patient-provider partnership that addresses the full spectrum of wellbeing and health, including physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental components. It combines the best of contemporary conventional medical disciplines (Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Gynecology) with natural therapies that demonstrate solid, definitive, reliable, consistent scientific and clinical evidence.  IM seeks to restore and maintain health and wellness across a person’s lifespan by understanding their unique set of circumstances.

IM personalizes health care, moving beyond treatment of symptoms to address all the underlying causes. In doing so, it takes account of the patient’s immediate health needs, as well as the effects of the long-term and complex interplay between biological, behavioral, psychosocial and environmental influences.

Patients may be attracted to IM’s explicit response to dissatisfaction with the conventional medical model where patients’ insurance plans limit them to 5-15-minute visits with a doctor. IM doctors strive to avoid the dynamic where, when people reach middle age (50 and older) they may observe deteriorating changes in their bodies and these get addressed with prescriptions for drugs and/or surgery. The IM alternative approach focuses on the entire body and seeks to optimize systems with natural and less invasive treatments. Side effects tend to be positive such that if an IM doc prescribes nutraceuticals for one issue, it may actually improve many conditions and end up having a positive impact on several physiological systems and significantly impacting the entire whole including mental and emotional systems.

IM practitioners believe that many prescriptions used in conventional medicine have serious side effects resulting in patients treating one issue who then have to address other issues.  IM practices reflect the desire to offer practical, natural, safer approaches that treat the whole patient.

In a typical IM doctor/patient encounter involves the provider earnestly listening to the patient to understand who the patient is and what their goals are. They then devise a personalized strategy that considers the patient’s unique conditions, needs, and circumstances, using the most appropriate interventions from an array of disciplines to heal, to regain optimum health.  Based on this understanding, IM brings conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way emphasizing multimodal interventions (two or more interventions such as conventional health care approaches like medication, physical rehabilitation, psychotherapy, and complementary health approaches like acupuncture, yoga, and probiotics) in various combinations, with an emphasis on treating the whole person rather than, for example, one organ system.

The use of integrative approaches to health and wellness has grown within care settings across the United States. Researchers are currently exploring the potential benefits of integrative health in a variety of situations, including pain management for military personnel and veterans, relief of symptoms in cancer patients and survivors, and programs to promote healthy behaviors.

Functional Medicine (FM) The FM practitioner seeks to find the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach that engages patients and practitioners in a therapeutic partnership. FM views the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs divided up by medical specialties treating the whole system, not the symptoms.

The FM view is that we are all different and therefore genetically and biochemically unique so FM’s personalized health care treats the individual, not the disease. It supports the normal healing mechanisms of the body naturally, rather than attacking the disease directly. FM is on the cutting edge of science employing evidence-based strategies. It operates from a strong belief that research shows us what happens within us and that this involves many connections within a complicated network or web of relationships. The pursuit of wellness, then, is based on understanding those relationships which allows practitioners to understand and treat the functioning of the body.

A foundational principle of FM treats the body is intelligent with the capacity for self-regulation. This expresses itself through a dynamic balance of all your body systems known as homeostasis. FM thinking is that your body has the ability to heal and prevent nearly all the diseases of aging so in FM, health is not just the absence of disease, but a state of immense vitality.

FM asks the vital questions that very few conventional doctors ask: “Why do you have this problem in the first place?”  “Why has function been lost?”  “What can we do to restore function?” In other words, Functional Medicine finds the root cause or mechanism involved with any loss of function, which ultimately reveals why a set of symptoms is there in the first place, or why the patient has a particular disease label in contrast to conventional medicine where practitioners endeavor to match a treatment to a symptom and prescribe a relevant drug.

FM is a systems biology–based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. Each symptom or differential diagnosis may be one of many contributing to an individual’s illness.

This graphic illustrates how a diagnosis can be the result of more than one cause. For example, depression can be caused by many different factors, including inflammation. Likewise, a cause such as inflammation may lead to a number of different diagnoses, including depression. The precise manifestation of each cause depends on the individual’s genes, environment, and lifestyle, and only treatments that address the right cause will have lasting benefit beyond symptom suppression.

Sources about Integrative healthcare



Sources of information about FM



Cleveland clinic explanation-good comparison between Functional and Integrative