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Five Reasons to Choose Integrative/Functional Medicine over Conventional Medicine

Ever wonder whether holistic medicine practices such as Integrative or Functional Medicine might be a better choice over conventional medicine approaches? Here are five reasons to help you make that choice.

Reason #1 – Integrative/Functional practitioners look for causes rather than just treating symptoms.

Perhaps the number one reason to choose Integrative or Functional medicine over conventional medicine is the focus on root causes over only treating symptoms.

When it comes to treating trauma such as injuries or crisis situations such as appendicitis, traditional Western conventional medicine has made great advances over the years with the use of sophisticated technology for diagnosis and treatment. But when it comes to degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes –rather than search for the underlying cause(s)– traditional medicine typically focuses on treating symptoms.

Holistic Medicine providers look for root causes using various approaches. Functional medicine, for example, analyzes core systems that help the body function properly. This involves hormones, digestive health, immune system, and more.

There are cases of Functional medicine practitioners treating patients with a variety of symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, and insomnia. Functional medicine testing revealed “leaky gut” syndrome, allergies from dairy and wheat, and adrenal fatigue. By addressing the leaky gut, food allergens, and adrenal problems the practitioner was able to resolve his symptoms and eliminate all the medications he had been taking for his various symptoms.

Reason #2 – Integrative/ Functional  practitioners focus on wellness, not just the absence of disease

A second reason to choose holistic medicine approaches over conventional medicine is holistic approaches focus on wellness, not just the absence of disease.

Wellness is more than being free from illness. According to the University of California at Davis:  

“It is a dynamic process of change and growth. It is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”  

For example, proper digestion  has been linked to health complaints such as allergies and  migraine headaches. Holistic health providers can perform tests to identify needed nutrients to help a patient return to a healthy state. A traditional physician, however, will many times limit their efforts to prescribe pills to address immediate pain or discomfort without addressing the underlying root cause.

Reason #3 – Integrative/Functional Practitioners are more personalized

A third reason to consider choosing integrative and functional medicine practitioners over traditional providers is they have the time to develop a much more personalized approach.

Due to increased bureaucratic requirements from government programs such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Act (Obamacare) and Medicare, the time that traditional doctors spend with patients has decreased significantly in recent decades. In many conventional medical practices long waits to see a physician or health practitioner are followed by a short ten-minute consultation with your doctor before they have to move to the next patient. This makes building rapport and a relationship with your doctor almost impossible.

By focusing on the doctor-patient relationship, Holistic practitioners can conduct in-depth consultations, taking personal history and other factors such as physical or mental stress into consideration. This strategy allows the Holistic practitioner to gather the information needed to get to the root cause of your issue. It also builds a rapport with your doctor, which helps you get the treatment options you need.

Reason #4 – Integrative/Functional Practitioners look at the Body as an Integrated Organism

Holistic medicine practices such as Integrative/Functional Medicine consider how the entire body functions as a
single organism. Disruption of any single aspect or component invariably affects something else. These changes cannot happen in isolation. Integrative / Functional medicine considers the individual genetic makeup along with internal
(mind, body, and spirit) & external (physical and social environment) factors that affect total body function. These approaches to health and wellness are comprehensive and integrative. They can include traditional western medical practices along with alternative or integrative medicine. A strong emphasis is placed on prevention through the exercise, nutrition, and the following fundamentals of healing:


Remove the foods/actions/environmental toxins that are causing your body’s imbalance.

Replace the nutrients needed to restore your health.

Repair the body with a balanced lifestyle and a holistic focus on optimizing your physical abilities, and

Re-inoculate your body with the natural substances that we require to improve our immune function andreaction to harmful external elements.

Reason #5 – Integrative/Functional Practitioners Focus on Preventative care and long term health

If you want to do more than confirm the absence of disease and focus on long term health and preventative care– holistic approaches to health such as Integrative and Functional medicine are the clear choice over conventional medicine.

Across the specialties of most conventional medicine practices, physicians have been trained in acute care, but not preventive care. They are trained in managing chronic diseases with medications which often times have side effects which lead to additional medications. This does not address the underlying cause nor help prevent illness from developing in the first place. Integrative medicine has a wide array of alternatives to prevent illness from occurring including clean water, nutrition, diet, and exercise.

When it comes to addressing medical ailments and optimizing health, it’s a long term proposition. Therefore, implementing long-term lifestyle changes is often necessary to achieve optimum health. Integrative / functional medicine treatment options are designed to help you implement long-term health solutions that improve your overall health.

Summary

Traditional or conventional medicine has made great advances in treating trauma and crisis situations by the use of sophisticated technology for diagnosis and treatment. However, when it comes to looking for root causes for degenerative disease such as heart disease and cancer, traditional medicine focuses primarily on treating symptoms. For those wanting a different approach that focuses on wellness and disease prevention– holistic health approaches such as Integrative or Functional medicine are often a much better choice.

Providing reasons for your target audience to try Integrative/ Functional  medicine is a good way to educate potential new clients, but to bring them to your door rather than another alternative practitioners, you need a Unique Value Proposition.

To learn more about Unique Value Propositions and why you need one please see: “Unique Value Propositions: A Guide to Holistic Health Marketing.”

For more information on Holistic Medicine, please contact The Institute for Functional Medicine at ifm.org.