Integrative Medicine v Functional Medicine
Having specialized in these areas for the past decade, I feel they are actually very similar. Both tend to be desired frustrated patients with problems receiving normal Western Medical tests and being told ‘there is nothing wrong’. These statements below may help you understand these modern medical specialties:
American Hospital Association:
‘When it comes to complementary and alternative medicine gaining favor in the healthcare industry, the driving force behind the movement is largely the patients themselves’
The American Board of Physician Specialties:
‘Integrative medicine is designed to provide the patient with the best care possible, using all available means, including traditional and complementary techniques.’
AHA Defines Integrative Healthcare:
‘Complementary medicine: a non-mainstream practice used in conjunction with conventional medicine.
Integrative medicine: Conventional and complementary approaches used together in a coordinated way.’
I am first and foremost a specialist in Integrative Medicine, as from the beginning of my medical career, in the past 30 years, have always strive to provide the best options for patients, on a number of levels. Western medicine is fabulous, however extra layers can be added by managed integration of complementary therapies; attention to diet, exercise and of course mood.
Integrated Medicine – The Power Of Three
I integrate techniques and therapies from both:
- West and East;
- Mind and body;
- The best of Western medicines, herbs and supplements.
What Is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine is a root cause medicine, where we go ‘upstream’ to identify the underlying cause of your symptoms and diseases. We look at the person as a whole – not just the physical body, but also your mind and spirit. One thing out of balance may affect a whole cascade of symptom development and eventually manifest as a disease. This is also Integrative Medicine, using a multi-disciplinary approach.
We aim to understand your whole life history on a timeline starting from when you were in your mother’s womb up until now. We’ll spend a good hour painting your whole life story to identify the trigger and how your symptom/disease developed overtime. We dig deeper than your typical medical history to find out more about you and your overall life.
Root Cause Medicine
Once we get a good grasp of your timeline, we explore the suspected root cause through labs and specialized tests most practitioners don’t perform. These may include testing for gastrointestinal microbiome, food sensitivities, environmental toxins, genetics, hormones and its metabolites – we dig deeper than your regular blood panel tests. Investigating our body chemistry at a biochemical level allows us to pinpoint where in the process things are malfunctioning.
How Is Functional Medicine Different From Traditional Western Medicine?
Traditional Western medicine identifies the end result, or ‘downstream’ symptoms, makes a diagnosis and treats accordingly through pharmaceutical medications, which often come with a whole list of unwanted side effects. Many people take these medications for life. The Functional Medicine approach is that it’s an accumulation of our everyday choices (e.g. in diet) that leads us to the point of no return. Traditional Western Medicine is the solid basis, often better for acute cases. However in Functional Medicine, we’ll tell you is that your disease may be reversible, and that maximizing your quality of life is possible with a lifestyle change.
We are a team of practitioners aiming to help you achieve your optimal health. Just like how a community builds its strength from each other, we too, can build a good body – mind, body, spirit – through diverse approach such as, nutrition, yoga, acupuncture, biophotomodulation therapy, to optimize your health. We treat the person as a whole using personalized plan that is right for you. Using this Integrative Medicine approach, on top of Western Medical knowledge, just adds more to your wellness plan.
Often we do more complex tests than the standard blood tests. For instance, neurotransmitters can be assessed by studying the urine, as breakdown by-products will be excreted here. We are interested in digestive enzymes, as well as, the more normal stool tests that look for bacteria or parasites. Candida syndrome, Mould syndrome, Chronic fatigue and Weight loss are also in this realm.
Naturopath and Homeopath
B.Sc (Hons) Monash University – Biochemistry, Psychology, Microbiology
Dip. App. Sci (Naturopathy) – Southern School of Natural Therapies
Post Grad. Dip. Homoeopathy – Homoeopathic Education and Research Association (HERA) Australia
This Australian naturopathic doctor has a solid education in science, having obtained her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry in Australia, as well as a diploma in naturopathy and postgraduate diploma in homoeopathy.
Perhaps surprising in someone who has studied micro biology and chemistry then became a molecular biologist in cancer research, in the U.S., patients find her very kind and easy to relate to.
Having worked in the US, and in China as well as her own clinic in Melbourne for 11 years, Sara Jefferson brings a multitude of experience to the table. Experienced with problems of pregnancy, children, digestive disorders as well as chronic disease.
Sara Specializes in areas of:
- Gut health and food intolerance/allergies
- Hormone balancing
This is an example of her philosophy:
”Reflux and Stomach Acidity”
The first thing that many people reach for when they have indigestion or heartburn is antacids. I believe this is one of the worst things you can do for your health.
Although counterintuitive, heartburn is more often about too little stomach acid than too much. After 50 we tend to produce less stomach acid and yet indigestion is a common complaint of older people.
Having too little stomach acid has lots of ramifications. Our food is not digested as well before it enters our small intestine, making it more difficult to absorb nutrient and many harmful bacteria survive through the lowered acid conditions, which can lead to increased bacterial growth, ulcers and gastroenteritis, and of course, over the counter antacids lower our stomach acid even more, creating negative feedback loops encouraging our system to produce even less stomach acid.
Try the simple test of drinking ¼ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda mixed into a glass of cold water first thing in the morning. If you don’t belch within 2-3 minutes, chances are that you are low in stomach acid.
Low stomach acid can also indicate poor nutrient levels, especially zinc and vitamin B12. Treatment often includes assessing the nutritive status and supplementing with digestive enzymes and high quality bioactive multivitamins.
What is Naturopathy?
Naturopathic doctors are trained in both traditional (western methods) and alternative methods of diagnosis, to successfully pin-point a predisposition in the body, before the onset of acute disease, and treat the patient with specific therapies which may be lifestyle based, eg dietary, herbs, and vitamin mineral supplements. Naturopathic doctors undergo a 4 year college training, and then some train further in homeopathy, another natural medicine.
The advantage is that their prescriptions are effective yet free of side effects.
The doctors do have training in assessment of laboratory tests, and often will recommend sophisticated tests to diagnose things such as environmental toxicity.
Conditions especially amenable to Naturopathic Treatment:
Often things that Western medicine is less effective with, such as:
- Eczema and Allergies
- Low immune system and frequent infections
- Hormone issues, Menstrual, Polycystic ovarian syndrome, Menopause
- Food allergies and Intolerances
- Stress, anxiety and minor depression
- Gut dysbiosis, candida, leaky gut syndrome