If you’re among the estimated 133 million Americans who suffer from a chronic condition such as joint pain or migraines, you’re all too aware of the frustrations and challenges just to get through one day when you actually feel good. More times than not, your treatment is focused on relieving symptoms without ever addressing the cause of your issue.
This scenario typically plays out as a vicious cycle of a doctor prescribing different medications until finding one that helps. That is, until it doesn’t help anymore — and then you start all over again.
Isn’t there a better way? Yes, says Natalie Branton, DO, a board-certified family medicine physician with certification in functional medicine who’s part of our team at Cardio Metabolic Institute.
In this blog, Dr. Branton shares her insights and passion on addressing illness and promoting wellness by looking at the whole person and tackling the root causes of your condition, instead of only treating symptoms — and, more importantly, how integrative and functional medicine can effectively work together to optimize health.
Because terminology can get very confusing rather quickly, we start by defining what integrative and functional medicine are.
Integrative medicine takes a holistic approach
You’re probably heard the terms “holistic medicine” or “holistic care,” a mode of care approach that starts from the belief that each person is much more than the sum of their parts. This belief is at the core of integrative medicine.
Specifically, an integrative medicine provider considers a patient’s mind, body, and spirit while delivering care. Integrative medicine treatment often includes treatment modalities like osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT), acupuncture, cupping, and gua sha (scraping).
As its name suggests, integrative medicine can be integrated into or used to complement your treatment plan outlined by your primary care doctor or other specialists.
Functional medicine gets to the root cause of illness
Functional medicine also embraces a holistic approach, and it can be used alongside traditional medicine, as part of an integrative medicine treatment plan, or as a standalone treatment. But it goes one step further.
The overarching goal of functional medicine is to optimize wellness or to treat illness or disease by addressing the underlying cause. The basic premise is that when you know the cause of an issue, you’re armed with the knowledge to obtain wellness or prevent illness from the get-go by making lifestyle changes.
Helping patients with complex, chronic issues
Integrative and functional medicine practitioners consider all possible factors that come into play when a patient is suffering from a medical issue. Because these approaches use this information to uncover the root cause, together they’re a dynamic duo for treating chronic disease and complex medical issues.
If you struggle with a chronic illness from time to time, you’ve probably been through the seemingly endless and frustrating search for a prescription drug that addresses all of your symptoms. While one medicine may take care of a particular symptom, it may interfere with another drug you’re taking for another symptom. You may start feeling like the “cure” is worse than the disease.
That’s the beauty of a treatment plan that combines integrative and functional medicine. Treatment starts from the belief that there are no cookie cutter solutions.
Instead, integrative and functional medicine take a more personalized, science-based approach. Your provider looks at factors like your medical and family medical history and your physiology as well as your living and social environment.
Your personalized path to wellness
The same thorough approach that develops a complete patient profile to get to the root of your health concerns can also be used as a road map for maintaining your overall health. This is an important tool for wellness and preventive care.
If you’re suffering from multiple issues or a chronic medical condition and want to learn if an integrative and functional medicine approach is right for you, make an appointment with Dr. Branton at Cardio Metabolic Institute. Click the “Book online” button or call today so we can help you feel more like yourself again.