Various forms of alternative medicine, such as functional medicine and integrative medicine, have been quickly gaining popularity in the 21st century. Many believe functional and integrative medicine are the future of medicine. As information about health and healing continues to evolve, many doctors are taking a more holistic approach to treating patients. Even though functional medicine and integrative medicine have many common components and overlap in several ways,  there are a few differences that make each discipline somewhat unique.

What is Integrative Medicine?

Integrative medicine is a holistic medical discipline which takes into account the lifestyle habits of a patient. The doctor works to treat the whole person rather than just the disease. The mind, body, and soul of a patient are taken into consideration to promote healing and well-being.

Integrative medicine uses a combination of modern healthcare practices to diagnose and treat a patient. Treatments may include such modalities as acupuncture, chiropractic, or physical rehabilitation. This type of medical practice also focuses on the nutritional and exercise habits of the patient to curb factors related to obesity and diabetes. Integrative medicine physicians believe poor lifestyle choices are the root cause of many modern chronic diseases.

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine embraces much of the philosophy of Integrative medicine as described above but also employs a biology–based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. Each symptom or differential diagnosis may be one of many that contributes to an individual’s illness. This discipline takes into account the personalization of healthcare, as each patient care plan is distinct and unique.  The relationship between patient and practitioner effectively becomes a partnership; every aspect of a patient’s medical history is reviewed in detail. Much like integrative medicine, functional medicine treats the individual rather than the disease.

Often, individual genetic and environmental research is conducted to obtain a deeper knowledge of the patient’s health status. Understanding the biochemical individuality of a patient can lead to the underlying causes of disease and furthermore, the prevention of additional health risks in the future. Personalized medicine is indeed the future model of healthcare.

Although integrative medicine and functional medicine have similarities, there is one important distinction.  Both practices focus on supporting the patient as a whole person; however, functional medicine strives to determine the root cause of each and every disease, particularly chronic diseases such as autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases as well as, diabetes and obesity.   Rather than simply making a diagnosis and then determining which drugs or surgery will best treat the condition, Functional Medicine practitioners dive deep into the patient’s history and biochemistry and ask why this patient is ill.  Functional medicine is highly personalized.


Our primary focus is creating wellness programs for people with un-diagnosed or under-diagnosed thyroid disorders.  Most of our clients are looking for answers to improving their health.  They’ve been to the doctor or have been diagnosed with some type of thyroid issue and they just don’t feel like themselves.  For those people, we’ve created both in-office and online programs that allow them to get control of their thyroid issues and get back to living healthier, happier lives.

Healthcare is undergoing drastic changes in the 21st century. Would you like more information on either integrative medicine or functional medicine? Contact the professionals at Dr. Mays Wellness.