What’s in a Name? Integrative Medicine vs. Functional Medicine

In this evolving era, conventional and orthodox treatment methods are getting less popular. New methods of treatment which offer realistic and patient-friendly approaches and good results have come to the market. Integrative medicine and functional medicine are one of them. These treatment methods are now used globally to treat ailments with a cent percent ratio. But there is always integrative medicine vs. functional medicine debate over which one is better. Both approaches have the same goals, but their patient treatment differs. Both methods are fighting for the same cause.

In this article, we will learn how these methods work and how they differ. We will know how the doctors treat the patients using these methods and which is better for you.


Understanding Integrative Medicine


Integrative medicine considers the well-being of a person as a whole as it considers mental, physical, spiritual, environmental, social, behavioral, and emotional factors vital for overall health. Health doesn’t mean the absence of disease. Health is the collaboration of all the factors mentioned above to hold the body and soul in a good position.

One of the best things about integrative medicine is that it utilizes conventional diagnostic and treatment methods like X-rays and drugs along with its own therapies and techniques. That’s why its name contains the word integrative.

Integrative medicine tries to treat the person as a whole, both his body and soul. To achieve this goal, it incorporates several medical techniques;

  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy / essential oils
  • Breathwork
  • Chiropractic
  • Cryotherapy
  • Dietary changes
  • Dietary supplements
  • Exercise
  • Herbal remedies
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Reflexology
  • Reiki
  • Saunas


Understanding Functional Medicine

Understanding Functional Medicine

Functional medicine focuses mainly on the root cause of any problem. It treats the patients by finding the cause and pathology of any disease and curing that cause. It evaluates the human body’s genetics, medical history, lifestyle, and external factors rather than treating the symptoms. Functional medicine doctors follow the GO TO IT (Gather, Organize, Tell, Order, Initiate, and Track) method for finding the origin of any ailment.

It is very important to get full attention and cooperation from the patient while treating chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. For instance, in the case of hypertensive patients, functional medicine providers do not give the pills to alleviate the symptoms. Still, they study all patient factors related to hypertension and find the root cause causing hypertension. Then, doctors treat that root cause with personalized treatment and lifestyle modifications to get rid of the disease for good. This is the functional medicine way of treating patients. This is accepted globally by many people with chronic diseases.


Integrative Medicine vs. Functional Medicine: A Comparison

Integrative Medicine vs. Functional Medicine: A Comparison

Approach to treatment

Integrative medicine starts the treatment by keeping all the spiritual, medical, physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral factors proportionately to get better results or treat the patients. It focuses on treating the patient with the help of many therapies. It also synchronizes with conventional methods while curing the disease.

In the comparison of integrative medicine vs. functional medicine, functional medicine is more system-oriented as it deals with the proper steps to reach the cause of the disease. Functional medicine works more on scientific principles rather than a therapeutic approach.


Approach to patient

Suppose you talk about integrative medicine vs. functional medicine approach to the patient. In that case, it is the same in both, as good doctor-patient interaction is needed while treating under these methods. But doctors’ inquiry questions can differ as a functional medicine physician likes to know about the patient’s medical history, genetics, and environmental condition. Further, functional medicine physicians also want to know about lifestyle and stress conditions as friends to discover the main cause of disease.

In the integrative medicine approach, physicians ask questions about family life, work history, anxiety, and stress levels to determine the mental and physical condition to treat both the body and the soul. Therefore, there should be a strong bond between the patient and the doctor to discuss the patient’s life.


Focus area

If we talk, functional medicine focuses mainly on chronic diseases like autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Strong cooperation and effective technique are needed to find the root cause and treat such slow poison natural diseases.

Integrative medicine tries to focus on the overall fitness and health of the patient. It focuses equally on acute and chronic diseases. It applies its techniques to get the person’s physical, mental, and emotional stable state.


Use of therapies

Therapies are used in integrative and functional medicine but are more commonly used in integrative medicine. Integrative medicine works on physical and mental health; therefore, therapies are used to get a stable mental state. Acupuncture, massage, yoga, meditation, and spiritual healing therapies are used to get the desired result. It doesn’t mean that integrative medicine doesn’t use drugs and diagnostic tests. Drugs and tests are also used to a small extent.


Treatment procedure and duration

Functional medicine is science-oriented, and it considers each individual biochemically and genetically different; therefore, it uses scientific drugs according to the needs of each individual. It evaluates that disease is any homeostatic imbalance in the organ, and relevant medicine can only fix it. Integrative medicine comes with conventional and unconventional methods like spiritual therapies, Ayurveda medicines, traditional Chinese medicines, and other therapies to give balanced life to the person.

As far as the duration of treatment is concerned, functional medicine deals with chronic diseases and has complex long processes, so it takes more time to get the results. In the case of integrative medicine, treatment is of short duration because it works with some specific therapies and drugs.


Cost and diagnostic tools

Functional medicine utilizes advanced diagnostic tools and tests while determining the cause of the disease. It deals with deep insight into each organ in the body; therefore, modern and high-skilled lab tests are being done. Integrative medicine uses the same tools and test but often uses conventional methods to discover the problem.

In Integrative medicine vs. functional medicine cost, functional medicine costs more because its diagnostic tests are expensive. Drugs and medicine used in functional medicine are costly as they are of scientific origin. Therapies and meditation in integrative medicine are cheap; even poor people can bear such light expenses.

Final Words

The medical world is rapidly changing with new treatment techniques and methods. Patients and doctors accept integrative and functional medicine as effective treatment methods. Many people have queries regarding the Integrative medicine vs. functional medicine approach. You, as a patient, can benefit from both techniques collectively. Many physicians treat the patients using both integrative medicine and functional medicine according to the needs of patients.

But there are some things you need to know if you want to choose one method; functional medicine is best for you if you are dealing with chronic diseases or undefined symptomatic diseases. But if you want to get treatment for physical and mental peace, integrative medicine can be your choice. Functional medicine is expensive and more time-consuming than integrative medicine. Functional medicine deals with scientifically derived drugs, while integrative medicine uses therapies and some conventional methods. Therefore, choose the one treatment technique according to your body’s needs, as you are the best advocate for your body.