Both patients and practitioners often inquire what the term Functional Medicine actually means.
How is it different than Integrative Medicine?
Is it distinct from Holistic Medicine?
In the 1990’s the term Integrative Medicine was popularized as physicians acknowledged that their role, and what they had to offer their patients, was TRUE but partial.
The term Integrative Medicine was described as: “the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing”.
Beautiful, right? A system designed to honor the person and their need for support from myriad modalities of healing.
This thinking was a huge step forward from where medicine had come (while also, we have to recognize, quite retrospective—meaning it’s what medicine used to be).
Functional Medicine was also described in the 1990’s, by Dr. Jeffrey Bland.
It’s just now receiving the recognition it deserves.#FunctionalMedicine is said to better address the healthcare needs of the 21st century. Click To Tweet
Functional Medicine is said to better address the healthcare needs of the 21st century by shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of the medical practice to a more “patient-centered approach, addressing the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms, listening to patients’ histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease”.
I applaud and am completely in service to the practice of Functional Medicine and what it stands for. When I began seeing an increasing number of clients in my practice—especially those with complex cases—it was these principles that spoke to me as a route to finding resolution and remedy.
And as I further adapted the principles for my clinical needs and my scope of practice, I saw results—results that enabled my nutrition practice to grow beyond my wildest dreams, so much so that I had to hire more nutritionists onto my team to handle the extra clients. And all of this growth happened by word-of-mouth recommendations alone.
Functional Medicine has a therapeutic focus on restoring the optimum function of the body and its organs, that works with systems and frameworks toward resolving the root causes of any sign, symptom or diagnosis, with a highlight on the importance of diet and lifestyle modification as part of its approach.
Interestingly, Integrative and Functional are not mutually exclusive.
As you can see from the descriptions above, an Integrative practitioner can take a functional approach and a Functional practitioner can (and likely does), integrate adjunct therapies and allied practitioners into their therapeutic care. Both are holistic in their approach.
And this is where we come in. You and I.
We are the bridge. We are integrative care and, if we care to have the best results, we practice functionally.
What we do is integral to the therapeutic plan—to bring insight to the people seeking help in healthcare. In this way, we can work with any doctor, with any practitioner, on our clients’ teams to support making the everyday practices that matter more accessible, more understandable, easier to follow and with increased support when the tried-and-true just does not work. All this for the increased outcomes that both patients and practitioners deserve.
Functional nutritionist and educator Andrea Nakayama (FNLP, MSN, CNC, CNE, CHHC) is leading patients and practitioners around the world in a revolution to reclaim ownership over our own health. Her passion for food as personalized medicine was born from the loss of her young husband to a brain tumor in 2002. She’s now regularly consulted as the nutrition expert for the toughest clinical cases in the practices of many world-renowned doctors, and trains a thousand practitioners online each year in her methodologies at Holistic Nutrition Lab. Learn more about Andrea here.