Learn About Our Colorado Functional Medicine Clinic and how we differ from Traditional Medicine.
Do you know what the terms traditional medicine and ‘Functional Medicine’ mean? Do you wonder how Functional Medicine differs from traditional medicine? Are you interested in finding a different way to address your health issues or concerns? Then read on, as we explain how Functional Medicine differs from traditional medicine as well as how to work with us at our Colorado Functional Medicine Clinic.
In this blog, you will learn:
- What the terms traditional medicine and Functional Medicine mean precisely
- What are the differences between these two types of medicine?
- When it is best to opt for traditional medicine and when to opt for Functional Medicine
- How to work with us either locally or via distance at our Colorado Functional Medicine Clinic
Have you been sick for some time? Do you suffer from symptoms that don’t seem to go away or remain unexplained? Maybe you have seen many doctors and still have not regained full health. Do you wonder why this is and what is the difference between traditional medicine and Functional Medicine? Are you looking for help and want information about our Colorado Functional Medicine Clinic? Then this blog is for you. Please read on for the details!
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What is Functional Medicine?
Last week, we wrote a blog in which we answered the question “What is Functional Medicine?”. Please see the link here.
To recap, Functional Medicine is a comprehensive science-based approach to understanding disease and health. It seeks to identify the root causes of disease and to address these root causes one by one. Functional medicine uses different modalities to achieve this; we use nutrition, supplementation, herbs, lifestyle changes, exercise, mediation and others. Functional Medicine not only addresses existing disease but also aims to prevent disease from occurring in the first place. We want to resolve symptoms, address disease and achieve an optimal state of health in order to improve people’s quality and enjoyment of life!
What is Traditional / Conventional Medicine?
Traditional or conventional Medicine is what you might be more familiar with. It is the standard of care you get when you go to your General Practitioner MD. It is the medical care practiced in hospitals and covered by insurance. Traditional medicine is also called conventional medicine, allopathic medicine, mainstream medicine, orthodox medicine or Western medicine.
It is the system in which MD’s and other healthcare professionals (nurses, pharmacists, surgeons, paramedics, etc.) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation or surgery. It uses methods of healing or treating disease that are taught in Western medical schools. An example of traditional medical treatment is the standard treatment for cancer which include surgery, chemotherapy, medication and radiation therapy.
What are the Differences between Traditional Medicine and Functional Medicine?
Traditional or conventional medicine relies heavily on pharmaceutical drugs as its main intervention. It seeks to match symptoms with medications. Functional medicine uses a range of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as nutrition, supplements, herbs and lifestyle habits such as exercise, mediation, stress management and sleep hygiene. Functional medicine may use a pharmaceutical but it is not the only approach.
There can be useful benefits of medication. They do have helpful effects when you use them, such as lowering blood pressure, curing an infection with antibiotics or relieving pain. This needs to be balanced with the risks of potential side effects from medication.
Traditional medicine and medical science have successfully found cures to many fatal diseases. These diseases have been cured or we now can get symptomatic relief from medication. For example, in 1900 the top causes of death were from infectious disease (smallpox, cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis and pneumonia). Today none of those are even in the top 10 causes of death. Conventional medicine has developed antibiotics and vaccines to fight against infections. This has been very effective in some cases and in some diseases.
Traditional or conventional medicine often recommends surgery. Functional medicine practitioners rarely do.
Traditional medicine is necessary when you have an acute or possibly even traumatic injury. For example, in the case of a broken bone or ligament, conventional medicine can help to reset the bone or repair the ligament. In the case of organ failure or an accident, conventional medicine can perform an organ transplant to save a life. Sometimes a natural childbirth is not possible. Traditional medicine can perform a C-section or help pre-mature babies to survive through the use of incubators. Surgeries are sometimes unavoidable and this is a case when conventional medicine is extremely effective.
- Time with your Doctor:
In traditional conventional medicine, patients usually don’t get much face-to-face time with their MD. Appointments are typically very short. The approach is general and less individualized than in functional medicine. The MD will prescribe a medication to address the issue, whereas in functional medicine, the approach is tailored to the individual. In functional medicine, more time is spent with the functional medicine practitioner in order to find the root cause(s), discuss the situation together and come up with an individualized approach.
- Lab Testing:
In traditional medicine, there is less lab testing and only the conventional lab tests are run. This testing is less extensive, and therefore less informative, than in functional medicine.
The reference ranges used on lab tests are different as well. In conventional medicine, these ranges are usually wider and do not pick up the beginnings of a health issue. In functional medicine, more extensive testing is run to dig into what the root cause(s) are. The reference ranges are more precise and pick up when a person is starting to have a problem. For example, in functional medicine, pre-diabetes will be identified whereas in conventional medicine, the reference range is wider. So, most doctors wait until the person has diabetes and then prescribe a medication. Or with autoimmune conditions, the antibodies can be seen in blood testing before the autoimmune disease is fully manifested in the patient. Conventional medicine would not run these tests so would not see this information.
- Insurance Coverage:
Traditional medicine is more easily accepted by insurance companies. This is the type of medical care you get with your health insurance. It may be more difficult to get insurance to cover functional medicine practitioners and doctors.
- Philosophy & Approach:
In traditional medicine, health is defined as the absence of disease. While this is a good start, health can be much more than simply not having a disease. Functional medicine looks to help people achieve optimal health, i.e., feeling the absolute best you can feel.
Functional medicine is more focused on finding the root cause(s) of a health condition. Conventional medicine will assess the symptoms, seek to name a diagnosis and prescribe medication.
Traditional medicine is more concerned with suppressing symptoms and less with prevention. Doctors will look to manage symptoms with a medication. They are not really looking at preventing health issues from developing. In functional medicine, prevention is one of the key principles.
When should you choose Traditional or Conventional Medicine?
Traditional medicine is necessary if you’ve been in an accident or emergency. Surgery can repair a bone, ligament or other type of dramatic injury. In a crisis or emergency situation, conventional medicine is often the best solution.
With some acute diseases or infections, the medications offered in conventional medicine can be more effective and certainly faster-acting than natural options.
If you cannot pay out-of-pocket at all, but have health insurance, conventional medicine costs will be covered while Functional Medicine costs may likely not be covered.
When should you choose Functional Medicine and our Colorado Functional Medicine Clinic:
If you have chronic or unresolved issues, Functional Medicine will probably be a better option. Identifying the root causes will likely be more effective. Sometimes a symptom is rather vague, like fatigue or pain, and conventional medicine does not have a quick answer. In these cases, you might benefit more from a deep dive into the root causes and an approach that addresses them individually.
When symptoms don’t go away over time, the approach is not working. This is a good time to switch to a functional medicine doctor. They will look at long-term symptoms with a new perspective and will search for the underlying causes. They will go through a comprehensive overview of your health and can come up with an individualized plan to help symptoms get resolved.
If you have health issues that conventional doctors have not been able to resolve, it is time to look elsewhere. Again, the functional medicine model is ideal for these types of complex, chronic unresolved issues. Your functional medicine practitioner will work through the puzzle with you in a way that conventional MD’s do not.
In our clinic, we are Functional Medicine experts. We have expertise in treating a range of complicated, difficult-to-diagnose, often chronic conditions. We look for the root causes in our patients to identify what could be causing the symptoms. We regularly treat and resolve complex conditions in patients in our Functional Medicine clinic.
** Please stay tuned for our next Blog! **
Are You Suffering From A Chronic Illness?
Does your current health situation look like this…
- Do you feel that you have tried many things and either nothing works, or the treatment does not hold?
- Have you been told that there is nothing that can be done to reverse your illness and you just need to manage symptoms?
- Does your illness impact your work, your family, your happiness and your social life?
We specialize in finding answers and solutions for complicated chronic illness when people feel like they have tried everything. If this sounds like you, book a free call with us to see if we are the right fit for your health goals.