How Is Functional Medicine Different?
Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex,
chronic disease. Hallmarks of a functional medicine approach include:
Patient-centered care. The focus of functional medicine is on patient-centered care, promoting
health as a positive vitality, beyond just the absence of disease. By listening to the patient and
learning his or her story, the practitioner brings the patient into the discovery process and tailors
treatments that address the individual’s unique needs.
An integrative, science-based healthcare approach. Functional medicine practitioners look
“upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and
lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with
both internal (mind, body, and spirit) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect
Integrating best medical practices. Functional medicine integrates traditional Western medical
practices with what are sometimes considered “alternative” or “integrative” medicine, creating a focus
on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise; use of the latest laboratory testing and other
diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines,
supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress-management techniques.
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