With the progression of medicine and science, new forms of medicine are making their place into the healthcare field, which is ultimately leading to human betterment. From Ayurveda to Functional Medicine, the 21st century has seen some of the finest alternative medicine systems working side-by-side for the treatment of different kinds of diseases. The two most primary forms of alternative medicine systems: Functional Medicine and Integrative Medicine. These medicine systems broaden the minds of physicians beyond more than just diseases. It taught the importance of the patient’s body, mind, and soul. Functional Medicine and Integrative Medicine are somewhat similar but they also have their unique characteristics which at the same time sets them apart from each other.
Integrative medicine is a treatment approach that places the patient at the center of focus and examines the full spectrum of physical, emotional, behavioral, social, spiritual, and environmental factors influencing the health of an individual. Using a personalized strategy that takes into account the special conditions, needs, and circumstances of the patient, it uses the most suitable interventions from a variety of scientific disciplines to heal disease and illness and help people recover and maintain optimum health. Along with addressing and handling direct health problems, integrative medicine practices also focus on prevention and encourage the development of healthy behaviors and skills for effective self-care that patients can use throughout their lives. Treatments could include therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, or massage. This medical practice also focuses on the patient’s food and exercise habits to combat obesity and diabetes-related factors. Integrative medicine physicians believe the root cause of many modern chronic diseases is poor lifestyle choices.
Even though Functional Medicine works on the same principle as that of Integrative Medicine, it focuses more on the root cause of the disease, particularly chronic diseases such as autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases. Rather than merely making a diagnosis and then deciding which medications or surgery will better cure the disease, Functional Medicine practitioners dig deep into the history and biochemistry of the patient and determine why this patient is ill. Functional medicine is highly customized and also involves a thorough examination of the genetic structure of an individual. Individual genetic and environmental research is often done to gain a deeper understanding of the health status of the patient. Recognizing a patient’s biochemical individuality can lead to understanding the underlying causes of disease and, moreover, the future prevention of additional health risks.
In the 21st century, healthcare is currently experiencing drastic changes and improvements. We will look back in as few as five years and ask ourselves how we could have practiced medicine so primitively. Those practitioners embracing the methodologies of functional and integrative medicine will be at the forefront of healthcare in the 21st century.