In my professional career in the world of health and wellness I have seen my clients frequently ask the question of how to differentiate Functional Medicine from Alternative Medicine. Sometimes these two terms are intertwined and can lead to confusion, but to help you out of that doubt in this article I will talk about the key differences between these two approaches from my experience.
From my perspective, Functional Medicine is an approach that truly puts into practice the philosophy of “treat the cause, not just the symptom”. As practitioners of Functional Medicine, we delve into a thorough investigation of the underlying roots of disease. We don’t just stay on the surface of visible symptoms; instead, we consider how the body’s systems interact with each other and how factors such as genetics, lifestyle and nutrition influence a person’s overall health. We believe that a good healthcare professional goes beyond fixing the current problem and looks for the overall solution.
Alternative Medicine is intriguing, but often challenging territory. Understanding the differences between the various alternative approaches can be complicated. In general, these approaches tend to be outside the realm of conventional medicine. While some patients have experienced improvement with alternative methods such as acupuncture or homeopathy, I have found that they often lack the solid scientific basis that underpins Functional Medicine. Functional Medicine only works in specific cases and should be taken with a grain of salt in discussions about patient benefit.
- Cause vs. Symptom Approach: I have seen how Functional Medicine is more effective because of the way it works with the patient, it looks for a general diagnosis and attacks the problems from all possible angles, the scientific support of Functional Medicine allows a more accurate diagnosis than any of the other forms. On the other hand, Alternative Medicine does not take these points into account and focuses on relieving the patient’s symptoms or pain without looking at the underlying causes.
- Scientific Basis: I have always opted for a scientific endorsement of each medical procedure we perform, so we can give the patient the assurance that the treatment has already been tested and proven in various studies that demonstrate its effectiveness in the recovery of their health. Functional Medicine far exceeds Alternative Medicine in this area, although the latter has presented results in specific cases, these do not present a record that is safe for all cases.
- Collaboration with Conventional Medicine: This is my favorite part, in Functional Wellness Network we operate a community of health professionals from different fields that can respond to requests in search of a comprehensive response to the problem. This is a unique way that Functional Medicine has to the ailments of the sufferer, while in Traditional Medicine, generally, is practiced independently and often do not match between their different methods.
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Ultimately, both Functional Medicine and Alternative Medicine have their place in the world of health and wellness. However, it is critical to understand the differences between these approaches in order to make informed decisions about our medical care. Functional Medicine is noted for its focus on addressing the underlying causes of disease and its collaboration with conventional medicine. At Functional Wellness Network, we are committed to providing quality information and solutions that empower healthcare professionals and their clients toward optimal wellness.
Both Functional Medicine and Alternative Medicine have their place in the world of health and fulfill the same function: to help the patient recover. Only their difference lies in the approach given to the problem. While Functional Medicine approaches the problem from different angles and solve it in a comprehensive manner through a network of health professionals specialized in each area of human health.
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Dr. Mansi Shah
Functional Wellness Network