What is integrative 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.

Watch this 2 minute video from Dr. Steven Ross and see if Functional medicine is right for you.

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.

Integrative medicine versus conventional medicine

Benefits of a Holistic Approach to Healing

By looking at each person as an entire being, doctors can discover various patterns and information. Often people see a variety of specialists—one for heart problems, another for gynecological problems, an internist for their general needs, and so on. For example, one man who was experiencing heart palpitations went to see a cardiologist and was put on heart medication. Then he saw his internist because he had a tremendous amount of leg cramping and was put on a muscle relaxant. Next, his psychiatrist put him on an anti-depressant for anxiety. Then the same man saw a functional medicine physician who immediately noticed that all of these symptoms could be due to a lack of magnesium. After being given magnesium and other supportive nutrients, he was able to discontinue all the other medications.

Better Health Right Now

Most people have a reoccurring health problem that can be alleviated or corrected through functional medicine. It’s common to simply learn to live with a variety of small to large health problems and limit our lives accordingly. For example, people with irritable bowel syndrome might stay home because they are unsure of their bowels. Many women with migraines don’t schedule anything during certain parts of their menstrual cycle in case a migraine comes on. And people with arthritis give up moving in certain ways or doing certain things because they can’t. This is because we have been told to just accept our limitations. In contrast, physicians working with functional medicine are realistic as well as optimistic in their approach. This is a winning combination.

Has Your Body Turned Into A Toxic Dump?  

As a society, we face increasing challenges on our bodies from our environment on a daily basis. Pesticides, fumes, synthetic materials, cigarette smoke, caffeine, preservatives, medications and much more are contributing to our toxic world. In addition to these environmental pollutants, our bodies also produce waste by-products as a result of normal metabolism that need to be eliminated. If these toxins are not neutralized and eliminated, the result is sub-optimal health and toxic related illnesses.

Think for a moment. Do you eat processed foods, non-organic fruits and vegetables, meats and poultry that is not true free-range? Do you use artificial sweeteners, drink coffee, soda or alcoholic beverages? Do the foods that you eat have preservatives, additives, dyes, or sweeteners added? Do you eat fast foods and/or eat out regularly? Do you drink less than 6-8 glasses of water daily?

If the majority of your answers are yes, then it is likely that your diet alone is contributing significantly to your potential toxic load. Poor diet, together with everyday exposure to environmental toxic substances can result in you feeling less than your best. Not only may you be experiencing toxic headaches, fatigue and general overall poor health but, other symptoms of a toxic body may lead to poor digestion, food cravings, reduced mental clarity, PMS, low libido and increased stress.

Hippocrates once said, “The natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well.” Ignite the healing force.

Whole-Body Harmony

This new approach to healthcare is based on helping your body—your whole being—work in harmony. By contrast, conventional medicine compartmentalizes the body into specialties: liver doctors, bone doctors, heart doctors, mind doctors, and so on. With the functional method of diagnosis and treatment, all systems are linked and relationships between them explored. Many diverse fields contribute to this process, including genetics, herbal medicine, nutrition, acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine or ayurveda, environmental toxicology, endocrinology, chiropractic, gastroenterology, psychology, and immunology.

Briefly defined, functional diagnostic medicine:

  • Is patient-centered, based on each person’s unique needs.
  • Aims to balance the patient’s functional systems.
  • Integrates physical, mental, and emotional health.
  • Uses scientific laboratory and diagnostic tests to pinpoint underlying causes.
  • Focuses on outcomes versus controlling or suppressing symptoms.
  • Emphasizes lifestyle changes, benchmark and follow-up testing.

Patient-Centered Care

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.

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