Let’s talk conventional medicine vs. functional medicine. Two very different approaches but both special in their own ways.
Conventional medicine is more like the auto body shop. They typically use a hands-on approach to fixing something that already exists or happened in the body (for instance, a sickness/disease/broken bone), similar to a car post-wreck that needs a new bumper or window. It’s very specialized, very specific to a certain area or part of the body, with a very routine treatment or intervention (a pill/a surgery, etc.). Conventional medicine is more disease- and symptom-centered. The patient listens and responds to the doctor here.
Functional medicine is more like the auto repair shop. They take a holistic approach and look at the body as a whole operating system, how all the puzzle pieces work together, to create an optimized you! This is similar to a technician using computer science to diagnose a problem with the car because the car as a whole isn’t working. They aren’t just fixing a door or a window; they are repairing and maintaining the car to create longevity so you can get from place to place.
It’s the same with the body. They are not just treating symptoms – they are taking bio-individuality into consideration and diving deeper to get to the root cause of why these signs and symptoms are popping up in the body in the first place. Functional medicine is more patient-centered, where a healing & compassionate environment is provided and the whole person is taken into consideration, not just a piece of them. The doctor listens and responds to the patient in functional medicine.
The benefits of bringing in a functional medicine practitioner to your team:
Instead of chasing and treating symptoms, a functional medicine practitioner can help you dive into the reason behind why these symptoms are showing up in the body. When you understand the why, you are more motivated to make the nourishing lifestyle & dietary choices that help the body heal from the inside out. In conventional medicine, a doctor is more apt to prescribe you something to cover up your symptoms but not address why it’s happening in the first place. Let’s use high cholesterol as an example. If cholesterol is high, a conventional doctor is going to put you on statins and send you on your way. A functional doctor will be more concerned with helping you work through ways to lower your cholesterol through lifestyle and dietary choices so you don’t have to take medication for the rest of your life.
Think of conventional medicine more as a treatment (a pill or surgery for everything that pops up) vs. functional medicine more as prevention and optimization (tactics to help keep your body really healthy and functioning optimally so you don’t get to the point of disease or illness).
Functional medicine helps you THRIVE rather than just survive in your day-to-day life. It helps to optimize your body as a whole and improve your quality of life so you can feel great on a daily basis. Conventional medicine is more about keeping you comfortable so you can make it through the day.
Ever bought something that’s labeled “one size fits all” only to get home and realize it definitely doesn’t fit? You wonder, what’s wrong with me? This is more like conventional medicine. They love a cookie-cutter medicine approach, but, unfortunately, cookie-cutter just isn’t in style anymore. Functional medicine not only takes your symptoms into consideration, but they also listen to you and take into account your whole history, dating back to before you were even born! A functional medicine practitioner’s approach is very personalized and tailored specifically to you and your story!
Conventional medicine looks at our organs and systems from a disconnected point of view. Conventional doctors are very specialized and well-versed but typically only in one area of the body. That’s why we are constantly being referred to “another specialist” in conventional medicine: a GI doctor, cardiovascular doctor, endocrinologist, infectious disease doctor, etc… I am not writing these doctors off though! Disease and conditions are going to pop up, even in the healthiest of people, and these are all very important and necessary practitioners! We know from science that all the organs and systems in the body work together. It’s like an interconnected web! Functional medicine takes this into perspective by looking at the body as a whole. How do all the pieces of the puzzle fit together? They know that just because a symptom is popping up in a specific area of the body doesn’t necessarily mean it started or manifested there.
Conventional doctors look at pharmaceutical drugs as medicine for the body. Functional doctors look at nutrient-dense, real whole food, spices, and herbs as medicine for the body. Functional doctors work toward healing and nourishing the body and maintaining strong function from a cellular level. Conventional doctors focus on managing existing issues with medication.
There is really no right or wrong way to approach medicine. There are just different therapeutic approaches, and we are so lucky to have access to all of these wonderful options. Where do you stand? Conventional medicine or functional medicine or a combination of both?