What is the difference between integrative and functional medicine?

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Here we explore the similarities and differences between integrative and functional medicine.

The old adage says that ‘prevention is better than cure’ - and we agree. By understanding how your body works and what it needs in order to function, you can take a proactive approach to managing your health.

This is one of the principles of functional medicine. It is an alternative approach to medicine that promotes an individual working closely with a healthcare professional to build the optimal picture of long-term health for their body. This means understanding how the body is functioning, any underlying conditions, relevant family history as well as lifestyle habits that could cause illness. If there is any existing illness, the patient and their doctor will explore multiple alternative therapies to try and treat the illness, and prevent future or additional illnesses from developing.

As we like to say, treat the cause, not the condition!

Similarly, integrative medicine often involves using alternative therapies to treat illness. It presents a holistic approach to treating conditions using a mix of traditional/western medicine and alternative therapies. It differs from functional medicine as it is more of a treatment-based approach, rather than a longer-term, proactive health plan.

Integrative medicine in detail

As integrative medicine is a holistic approach to healthcare, it addresses the body as a whole, interconnected organ. In addition to providing drugs to treat a health condition, integrative medicine looks at the mental, emotional, social and environmental factors that could contribute to illness. So naturally the treatment options offered will incorporate approaches that focus on these areas, instead of relying on medication alone.

Examples of integrative medicine therapies include those that aim to cleanse or detoxify the body, supplement any deficient nutrients and reduce the need for extensive medication programmes (drug reduction). Integrative medicine can also use physical treatment therapies like acupuncture, massage and even hypnosis.

More about functional medicine

Functional Medicine looks at every case on an individual basis. Rather than referring to a textbook and applying a standardised solution to your problem, a Functional Medicine Doctor will explore every potential factor that could contribute to any ill health. Your past and present circumstances will be relevant and you’ll work together on a care plan that is precisely tailored to you.

At Vala, every practitioner in the field of Functional Medicine is a highly qualified and experienced medical doctor. It’s critical that you work with a medical professional when treating any chronic diseases or recurring ailments. This is important for your safety and will offer you the best chance of a successful outcome.

How to choose the best treatment for you

There is no silver bullet when it comes to treating illness and staying healthy. Though there’s a host of things you can, and should, do to look after your body. Eating a nutritious and balanced diet, taking regular exercise and looking after your mental and emotional wellbeing are all ways to safeguard your health.

But nothing is guaranteed, and sometimes illness strikes when one least expects it. In this case, it’s even more important to maintain your good habits.

Whether you choose to explore integrative or functional medicine, the important thing is that you’re caring for your body. At the moment, it can be challenging to book a GP appointment at your local surgery due to Covid-19. But that doesn’t mean you should put off getting checked out if you have any concerning or new symptoms.

There are loads of options to get a GP appointment, including online GPs who offer same-day appointments!

The cost of Covid-19 on healthcare

A recent report from Macmillan Cancer Charity said that there are “50,000 people now missing a cancer diagnosis who are at risk of becoming the forgotten ‘C’ of the coronavirus crisis”. The report continues to explain that the same applies to getting treatment through the NHS.

For Cancer patients and those with other diseases, waiting for a diagnosis or treatment can be stressful, frustrating and, in some cases, fatal. That’s why many patients are turning to integrative and functional medicine to look after their bodies and minds.

This can also benefit patients by giving them an element of control back to their treatment. Whilst waiting for delayed treatment to begin, patients can use alternative therapies like massage, acupuncture, detoxification and numerous other therapies. This can minimise the impact of their symptoms and can benefit their mental health too, a very important aspect of holistic healthcare.

It’s critical to work with a qualified medical professional on any form of healthcare therapies or approaches you choose.

How to learn more about integrative and functional medicine

As healthcare experts, and practitioners in functional medicine you can find out more on our site, or, sign up and book a same-day GP appointment with one of our highly qualified and experienced medical team to learn more.

They’ll be able to tell you more about various healthcare approaches and work with you to build a long-term healthcare plan that optimises your physical and mental health. It’s never too late to start focusing on your health! We’re here to support you on your journey towards a more proactive and positive picture of health.

Get in touch to find out more.

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