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Comparison of Functional and Conventional Medicine

The table below summarizes the differences between functional and conventional medicine.

Functional Medicine Is… Conventional Medicine Is…
Investigative. It treats symptoms by addressing underlying cause of the problem, which leads to more profound and longer lasting results. Superficial. Masks or suppresses symptoms, but does not address underlying cause, which creates “patients for life”.

. Treats the body as an interconnected whole, and recognizes the importance of these connections in health and disease.
Dualistic. Views the body as a collection of separate parts, each of which has its own doctor (i.e. cardiologist, podiatrist, etc.)

. Treatments have mild or no side effects, and other unrelated complaints often improve spontaneously.
Dangerous. Treatments often have serious side effects and complications, including death.
Patient-centered. Treats the patient, not the disease. Treatments are highly individualized based on patient needs. Disease-centered. Treats the disease, not the patient. Patients with the same disease get the same treatment, regardless of their differences.
Participatory. Patient is respected, empowered, educated and encouraged to play active role in healing process. Autocratic. Patient’s opinion is often discounted or ignored, little time is spent on education, and patient may be discouraged from playing active role.

. Combines the best of both modern and traditional medicines and emphasizes importance of diet and lifestyle.
Limited. Relies almost exclusively on drugs and surgery, in spite of their risks and complications.

. Tests and treatments designed to promote optimal function, prevent and reverse disease, and improve quality of life.
Palliative. Tests and treatments designed to prevent death and manage serious disease, without dealing with the underlying cause.

. Guided by the ancient Chinese saying, “The superb physician treats disease before it occurs.”
Reactive. Focused on managing disease after it has already reached an irreversible state..

. Based on the latest research from peer-reviewed medical journals, and uncorrupted by corporate and political interests.
Profit-driven. Based on outdated research and heavily influenced by profit-driven pharmaceutical and insurance companies..