Holistic, functional, and integrative medicine are three different medical modalities.
While each of these three modalities uses a specific approach and pedagogy, they also contain a consistent mindset of mental and physiological interconnectedness and an emphasis on whole-person health.
Because of this, holistic, integrative, and functional medicine have a natural cohesion. At CentreSprings MD, we encompass all three modalities to combine conventional western medicine and alternative treatments into a balanced whole-person, holistic health and wellness approach.
Below, we discuss these three independent ideologies, provide examples of each, discuss how they work together as a cohesive medical ideology, and provide information on how to find the best holistic functional integrative medical practitioner near you.
What is Integrative Medicine?
Integrative medicine is an evidence-based approach to merging multiple systems of medicine. This includes conventional Western medicine as well as nutrition, Eastern medicine such as Ayurvedic medicine and homeopathy, Chinese medicine, and more.
The defining principles of integrative medicine do not exclude any modalities of care; instead, integrative medicine uses multiple healing sciences to contribute to the body’s innate healing response.
The integrative approach believes that all forms of evidence-based medicine can work together to provide the best health care possible while minimizing unnecessary invasiveness. Although integrative medicine prefers less-invasive interventions when possible, it doesn’t exclude conventional invasive treatments when they are determined to be the best course of treatment for your condition.
What is Holistic Medicine?
Holistic medicine is a healing-oriented mindset that focuses on the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and environmental influences that affect a person’s health. It considers health not only of the physical body, but also evaluates thoughts, emotions, and life stressors in the context of their chemistry and physiology.
Holistic medicine seeks to restore and maintain health in all aspects of a person’s life by addressing not only immediate health needs, but also balancing a healthy body, mind, and spirit to promote health and prevent illness.
In holistic medicine, natural remedies are preferred. However, conventional treatments will be used if they are determined to be the best course of treatment.
What is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine believes in uncovering the underlying cause of conditions, with an understanding that systems—bodily as well as mental and emotional—are interconnected through chemical, biological, and physiological.
While conventional Western medicine categorizes organ systems as separate and specialized, functional medicine views all organ systems as integrated and considers how they work together rather than separately.
Functional medicine focuses on treating the cause of the condition rather than focusing primarily on suppressing symptoms.
Are Integrative and Functional Medicine the Same as Holistic Medicine?
Holistic medicine is considered a “whole body” approach to care but doesn’t necessarily describe a specific model of healthcare. A functional medical doctor, naturopathic doctor, integrative doctor, or conventional medical doctor can be considered holistic if he or she focuses on the whole body, mind, and spirit in their medical practice.
Integrative medicine, however, is a model of healthcare that creates a personalized whole-health strategy using multiple care practices. It includes caring for the body holistically—mind, body, and soul—by bringing together conventional and complementary or alternative treatments for whole-person wellness.
In comparison, functional medicine believes in improving the functioning of the body as a whole by approaching care by considering all organ systems as a single integrated system rather than independent organs or systems. It focuses on uncovering and treating the underlying causes of a disease to bring whole-body health and balance back to the person to restore and maintain optimal health. In this way, functional medicine complements a holistic medicine mindset.
How do Holistic, Integrative, & Functional Medicine Work Together?
Although holistic, integrative, and functional medicine are defined by different methodologies, their holistic approach and belief in the interconnectedness of mind, body, emotions, and environment, means they can complement each other well in healthcare.
Finding a holistic, integrative, and functional medicine practitioner provides you not only with a way to manage and ease current symptoms but also as a way to get to the root cause of your symptoms. It is also a phenomenal approach for restoring and maintaining the health of your mind, body, and spirit for life.
Making the transition to a medical practice that encompasses holistic, integrative, and functional medicine means your healthcare provider is not just the person you see when you are sick—they are your partner in lifelong health and wellness.
This means you and your doctor will work together to bring your body, mind, and spirit into balance to achieve and maintain optimal health and wellness.
How are Functional, Integrative, & Holistic Medicine Different from Conventional Medicine?
Conventional medicine is characterized by a process of diagnosing and treating symptoms. It relies heavily on the use of synthetic medications as well as procedures such as surgeries or invasive procedures. It also views the body as a set of largely independent organ systems, often with medical specialists for each system or organ.
Conventional medicine has seen some great advancements over the past century in fields such as emergency medicine, infectious disease, surgical interventions, and more. However, it is often considered more of a reactive care system than a preventative or healing approach.
While holistic, functional, and integrative medicine also addresses symptoms, they do so not only by diagnosing the disorder causing the symptoms but also by seeking the root cause of the disorder. In addition, functional and integrative medicine have a conscientious focus on optimizing and maintaining health.
Medical practitioners who encompass holistic, functional, and integrative medicine often focus on creating a long-term health partnership between the doctor and patient instead of being called upon only when the patient is sick.
Characteristics of Holistic, Functional, and Integrative Medicine
Holistic, functional, and integrative naturally work well together. When you work with a medical practitioner who encompasses these three modalities, your healthcare will include:
- Identifying underlying health issues causing disease, illness, or symptoms.
- Creating personalized treatment plans that incorporate the best of conventional and holistic modalities.
- Minimizing invasiveness by using natural remedies whenever possible.
- Restoring health of body, mind, and spirit to help prevent future illness and disease to maximize whole-life health and wellness.
Below are some of the primary characteristics of holistic, functional, and integrative medicine:
Your Partner in Health
One of the defining characteristics of holistic, functional, and integrative medicine is that the patient and practitioners are partners in the healing process. They will work together to understand the root causes of any current symptoms or disorders. They will also evaluate areas of holistic health that may be improved to promote healing and healthy living.
Holistic, functional, and integrative medicine consider all physiological, biological, and chemical factors that influence health and wellness. This includes the mind and emotions as well as the body. Health is considered the body’s natural state. Your practitioner will focus not only on eliminating any negative symptoms you may be experiencing, but also restoring and maintaining a healthy mind, body, and spirit.
Underlying Cause of Health Issues
Rather than focusing only on eliminating current symptoms, holistic, functional, and integrative medicine focuses on identifying the underlying cause of any existing health issues. This means understanding as much about what factors may be causing the disease as much as understanding what kind of disease the patient has.
Prevention is a primary focus of holistic, functional, and integrative healthcare. Therefore, a care provider is not only seen when the patient is experiencing negative health symptoms, but for regular maintenance visits as well. Your healthcare provider will become your partner in restoring and maintaining whole-body, mental, and emotional health. Wellness in this type of medicine is seen as the pursuit of the highest quality physical, environmental, mental, spiritual, social, and emotional aspects of the human experience.
Physicians who encompass holistic, functional, and integrative care utilize a combination of medical modalities. They will combine conventional medicines and procedures, complementary or alternative practices, education for lifestyle and self-care, and mental and behavioral health.
Your health provider will create a customized care plan for you that includes addressing health and nutrition, stress reduction and relaxation, hormone and/or pH balancing, and recommendations for additional therapies such as massage therapy or health coaching.
Medicine that encompasses holistic, functional, and integrative philosophies combine evidence-based therapies. It embraces the idea that many strategies can contribute to health and wellbeing. It is inquiry-driven and open to new paradigms. It includes your practitioner critically considering multiple solutions to develop the best, least-invasive path of healing and health for you.
This course of medicine evaluates lifestyle, beliefs, and emotions in the context of their chemistry and physiology. The health care provider will take an extensive medical history as well as asking you about your life, stressors, and emotions. Based on your personal situation, your practitioner will combine strategies such as lifestyle coaching, mind-body interactions, alternative therapies, and conventional medicine for a completely personalized holistic care approach.
Multiple Care Providers
While you will typically have a single physician overseeing your health and wellness, it truly takes a team of care providers to achieve holistic, integrative, and functional health. This may include nutritional counseling, mind/body therapies such as meditation or yoga, stress management, cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture, personal training and exercise health, as well as education.
Examples of Holistic, Functional, and Integrative Medicine
Below are some common examples of treatments and services provided by practitioners who encompass holistic, integrative, and functional medicine:
- Chronic Pain Management
- Cancer Support
- Chronic Illness Healing
- Allergy & Immunology
- Nutritional Deficiency Testing
- IV Therapy
- Nutrition Counseling
- Dynamic Exercise Programs
- Hormone Replacement Therapy
- Weight Loss
- Spa Therapies (Facials, Massage, Etc.)
- Meditation & Yoga
- Comprehensive Physicals
- Family Medicine
- Women’s Health & Wellness
- Men’s Health & Wellness
- Pediatrics Health & Wellness
- Children & Teen Holistic Health & Wellness
- Sick Visits
- Health Coaching
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
To start your personalized holistic, functional, and integrative healthcare journey, contact CentreSprings MD today to schedule an appointment.
How to Find a Medicine Doctor who Provides Holistic, Integrative, Functional Care
It’s important to find a physician that is the right fit for you.
When it comes to holistic, functional, and integrative healthcare, it is essential to find a practitioner you trust and who takes the time to listen and understand during your visits.
Your practitioner should consider your history, desires, beliefs, and decisions when creating the right treatment and holistic health plan for you. Here are some tips for finding the best holistic, integrative, functional physician for your needs:
- Ask for Referrals. A good place to start is to ask friends and family for referrals. It’s important to start your holistic, integrative health journey from a place of trust. Having a personal referral—especially if you have witnessed their health journey or progress—can be a good starting point.
- Ask Your Alternative Treatment Therapists. It can also be a good starting point to ask alternative treatment therapists such as massage therapists, counselors or psychologists, chiropractors, or nutritional coaches for recommendations. It is likely they have collaborative or professional relationships with holistic, integrative, and functional medicine doctors in the area.
- Read Reviews Online. When looking for a physician, don’t forget to read reviews online. Health and wellness is a personal journey and it’s important to remember that each individual’s story is different, but looking for key phrases such as “listened to me” and “took the time to understand” can give you insight into whether the physician is one you’d like to work with.
- Ask About Training & Experience. Your physician should be a fully-licensed medical professional. However, some of the practitioners involved in your care will have different educational and accreditation requirements. You should feel comfortable asking about the licenses, certifications, and qualifications of the people involved in your holistic, functional, and integrative care.
- Schedule a Consultation. Before committing to a health care provider, schedule a consultation to discuss your health and wellness goals. Ask about their approach to health care and their network of practitioners. Take time to consider how you feel interacting with the practitioner. Do you feel comfortable talking and asking questions? Do you feel listened to and understood? Do you feel as though the practitioner will work well with you in a partnership of healing, trust, and health?
- Be Open About Your Experience. Holistic health and wellness rely on a positive relationship between the practitioner and patient. If you don’t feel like you’re receiving communication and understanding, talk with your physician. If it’s not the right fit, your health professional should be comfortable offering referrals for other practitioners who may harmonize better with your needs.
Does Insurance Cover Holistic, Functional, and Integrative Medicine?
It depends. Some medical practices may be covered by insurance or may be reimbursed by submitting a claim form with the insurance company. CentreSprings MD will submit claim forms on your behalf for reimbursement. At our facility, these claims are filed within 72 hours of treatment with reimbursement expected within 30-60 days. We have found that most of our patients receive on average a 40-60% reimbursement for their visit.
Ask your healthcare professional about monthly membership programs. These often come at an affordable monthly price and include a wide range of benefits.
Would you like more information on the holistic, functional, and integrative health services provided by CentreSprings MD? Contact us today to learn more about our services or schedule a consultation.
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