Health Tips Blog
What is Functional & Integrative Medicine?
By: California Center of Longevity & Functional Medicine on August 15, 2018
Most Los Angeles physicians approach medicine with a particular practice in mind, whether it be oncology, neurology, orthopedics, or otherwise. However, Functional and Integrative Medicine takes a holistic approach to treating illness. Instead of focusing on one specific area—like the heart, or the lungs, or a specific illness even—the goal of integrative medicine is to assess the patient as a whole, taking into account all aspects of health, including the body, the mind, and the spirit. In treating conditions or diseases, integrative physicians make use of all therapies—both traditional and alternative—that best serves a patient’s specific, comprehensive needs.
For instance, an integrative physician in Woodland Hills, or elsewhere in Los Angeles County might utilize a varied combination of treatments to address a condition or illness. Nutrition, certain types of exercise, meditation, supplements, lifestyle changes, and other treatments are assembled to craft a person-specific treatment plan that goes beyond the pharmaceutical or procedural. Instead, integrative medicine seeks to treat the patient as a whole, emphasizing that physical health, mental health, and often spiritual health are powerfully intertwined. The logic follows, then, that appropriate and effective treatment for health conditions should be just as integrated and multifaceted, in order to yield the most positive treatment results.
Functional medicine, while similar to integrative medicine, plays a complementary role alongside integrative medicine. In other words, integrative medicine is healing-focused, considering the patients’ wellbeing as a sum of its parts. Correspondingly, functional medicine provides a framework within which integrative medicine is best put to use, while also working from a holistic approach. In essence, functional medicine seeks to understand the big picture—begging the question of why a patient might be suffering from a particular malady.
In actuality, functional medicine is simply a model that physicians can use to “organize their findings,” according to the Institute for Functional Medicine. A functional approach to medicine can be utilized beyond integrative medicine, too, which showcases its usefulness and versatility in treating health conditions and diseases. At its core, functional medicine is a scientifically-based practice that takes treatment to a personal level, honing in on the underlying causes of diseases and chronic conditions. Technically speaking, a main goal of functional medicine is to identify the fundamental, clinical imbalances in a particular patient, deciphering what’s happening on an internal, individual basis that might contribute to his or her condition or disease.
It’s easy to see why comparisons are drawn between integrative and functional medicine, especially because functional medicine offers the architecture by which integrative medicine can be put to use. Though there are certainly similarities between the two, it may be helpful to understand some of the main tenets of each area in its own right, in order to glean the differences, as well.
The Basics of Integrative Medicine in Los Angeles
• Perhaps one of the foremost goals of integrative medicine is to consider a wholesome approach to treatment, taking into account that health is derived from the body, the mind, and the spirit, and then tailoring treatment accordingly. For instance, a patient suffering from Type II Diabetes might benefit from more than just medicine to maintain a baseline of health or keep symptoms at bay. Instead, weight loss, a change in diet, meditative exercises, as well as medicine might best serve the patient’s overall health and wellness for the long-term.
• Another important tenet of integrative medicine has to do with the relationship between doctor and patient. Using an integrative medicine method, a strong emphasis is placed on the bond between a patient and his or her treating physician.
• Like functional medicine, integrative too takes an evidence-based approach to treatment. Though integrative medicine makes use of some alternative treatments and practices, its goal is foremost to accurately and scientifically assess each individual, then provide a holistic treatment plan that best suits a patient’s needs.
The Basics of Functional Medicine in Los Angeles
• A core ideal of functional medicine is to address each condition or disease as specific to the patient. Functional medicine, such as that provided at California Center of Longevity and Functional Medicine also focuses on underlying causes, rather than solely concentrating on indicative symptoms. Likewise, to a doctor who specializes in Functional Medicine - including Dr. Allan Kurtz, Founder of the California Center of Longevity and Functional Medicine in Woodland Hills - who the patient is specifically and uniquely, is just as crucial as the condition he or she may be suffering from.
• In functional medicine, particular attention is paid to an individual’s specific environment, as well as his or her personal variations in metabolic function - which may reveal much about an individual’s health and/or ailment.
• This tenet may explain why integrative and functional medicine are so often closely linked. Functional medicine emphasizes and explores the interconnectivity of an individual’s health. Just as the body is a collection of functions and systems - from the digestive system to the respiratory system, etcetera - functional medicine practitioners believe that a web of personal physiological factors may shed light on a patient’s condition, as well as illuminate the best course of treatment. This belief is not unlike the beliefs of doctors who practice integrative medicine. Once again, considering the whole person and the confluence of factors surrounding his or her health and wellbeing is common ground between integrative and functional medicine.
Though there are certainly comparisons to be drawn between the two, functional and integrative medicine each occupies its own space in the medical field. Though integrative medicines makes excellent use of this functional approach, they are autonomous practices and only an experienced medical professional can best determine how to combine the best of both, to help you feel your best for years to come.
Dr. Allan Kurtz specializes in creating ideal health and longevity plans for patients of all ages. Fellowship trained in Integrative and Functional Medicine, Dr. Kurtz is also a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and The Institute for Functional Medicine. The California Center of Longevity & Functional Medicine and the Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention Center of Southern California was founded in Woodland Hills, CA to aid patients throughout the greater Los Angeles area in restoring and maintaining optimal health for the long term.
To schedule a consultation contact us today at 818.346.1440