What is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine is a patient-focused approach that is commonly mistaken for other medical approaches such as holistic medicine, functional medicine, preventive medicine, lifestyle medicine, and alternative medicine. Each medical segment shares common themes, yet their approach to wellness differs. The following paragraphs compare the approaches below.

dr. fred harvey

Functional Medicine Practitioner

Conventional Medicine

Conventional Medicine is a common practice in the United States. Medical doctors use the conventional approach to routinely diagnose conditions based on a collection of symptoms and behaviors.

“Fixing” the Problem

Medical professionals use various tests and procedures to diagnose and prescribe medications, procedures, or surgeries to treat problems.

The body is viewed as different organs that work separately, and there are doctors that specialize in each organ. Conventional medicine focuses on treating symptoms rather than identifying the root cause of the disease. Emergency medicine, diagnostic procedures, and surgical interventions are experiencing tremendous growth, but chronic disease management is failing overall. People are living longer, but they have a poor quality of life.

Our Approach

Health news and discussion with Dr Fred Harvey, MD.

Functional Medicine

Functional medicine focuses on identifying the root cause of illness. Its main goal is to ultimately restore the human body to optimum functioning.

Functional Medicine practitioners perform different laboratory tests and diagnostics to uncover the root cause of symptoms to treat the whole person and not just the disease. Practitioners encourage and empower patients to be conscious of their food choices, environmental toxins, and overall well-being.

Understanding Genetic, Lifestyle, And Biochemical Makeup

It starts with a detailed understanding of a person’s genetic, lifestyle, and biochemical makeup through in-depth history taking and questionnaires. Visits are usually longer due to the fact that practitioners have to dig deep into the past as to why, when, or how the symptoms have come about. Functional Medicine practitioners tend to do a lot of different types of functional laboratory tests and diagnostics to find the root cause of symptoms and treat the whole person and not just the disease. For example, comprehensive stool analysis, organic acid testing, nutritional evaluation, genetic SNP testing, heavy metal testing and different types of specialized testing may be used to find the true sickness, and treatments are personalized and individualized based on the patient’s background, lifestyle, and genetic factors. Practitioners empower patients to work on their diet, environmental toxins and uses labs as a motivator and diagnostic as it tries to get patients to optimal range and not just the “normal” lab range.

Natural Medicine

Natural Medicine doesn’t use the traditional or conventional approach. It focuses on the premise that the mind, body, and spirit are one and should be taken into consideration when treating conditions. It embraces eastern medicine practices like acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, and Ayurvedic medicine. It also focuses on the healing of the mind, body, and spirit, including energy medicine and the use of herbs and supplements.

Preventive Medicine

Preventative medicine is an approach that works to protect, promote, maintain health and well-being, and prevent disease, disability, and premature death. For example, screening for hypertension and treating it before it causes disease is good preventive medicine. Preventive medicine takes a proactive approach to patient care.

In clinical settings, practitioners help people make changes in their lifestyle which may help them avoid illness. They also perform preventive health screenings to catch the disease before it gets worse. In non-clinical settings, these practitioners focus on healthcare legislation, health policy, and social and behavioral factors that influence a person’s health.

Lifestyle Medicine

This approach to medicine seeks to use lifestyle changes as the first option in dealing with and preventing chronic illness conditions. It stresses a whole food, mostly plant-based diet, along with regular exercise, good sleep, management of stress, and avoidance of substances that increase the risk of illness along with good social interaction as its primary approach to dealing with chronic illness conditions. It looks for underlying causes of illness rather than continuing to push medications and medical procedures, much the same as functional medicine. It is also a great way to lose weight.

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