In the past few years, several different methods of practicing medicine have appeared on the horizon. You may have heard of them, and you’re interested in a more comprehensive approach to your healthcare, but maybe you don’t know where to begin or what type of practitioner to see. Functional medicine, integrative medicine, holistic care, naturopathy, homeopathy…are they all the same? If they are different, how do they differ? If you’re confused, you’re definitely NOT alone. Let’s break it down!
Functional medicine is using a biology-based (i.e. rooted in science) approach to look for root causes of illness. In this field, providers search, system by system, for potential triggers of a symptom. For example, if a patient comes in feeling depressed, instead of automatically prescribing an antidepressant, the provider will offer a deeper workup looking for drivers of inflammation that can CAUSE one to feel depressed (like poor diet, food sensitivities, an imbalanced gut, or chronic stress). The goal is to restore balance and functionality to the body as opposed to the band-aid approach of covering symptoms.
Integrative medicine essentially means combining different treatment modalities to support the whole health of the person. Often, this will require multiple practitioners. For example, someone with fibromyalgia would benefit from a functional medicine practitioner to search for a root cause of symptoms, a massage therapist to soothe muscle pain, a physical therapist to learn appropriate exercise for the condition, and a therapist to work through past trauma and cope with having a chronic disease. “Holistic medicine” is essentially the same as integrative medicine and is exactly as it sounds- taking a whole view of a patient to offer the most appropriate treatment.
Naturopathic medicine is a specific type of training that requires a doctoral degree in naturopathy. These practitioners are taught to use natural treatments, like dietary changes, herbal remedies, fasting, saunas, and many more. Some are able to prescribe medications, but most choose not to as the first line of treatment, again opting for more natural solutions.
Finally, homeopathy is a type of natural medicine that uses specific remedies targeted for specific symptoms, using the “like treats like” approach to bring balance to the body with the smallest effective dose possible. For example, the remedy Coffea cruda is used to help with insomnia, which seems counterintuitive- something that sounds like coffee helps with sleep? This is where the “like treats like” principle comes in- very small doses of the poison actually train the body to heal itself.
There is of course quite a bit of overlap in all of these treatment modalities, and there’s no wrong answer when choosing a direction to improve your health because all treatments discussed here will help you on your path to wellness. We at Vibrant Health of Colorado have extensive experience and training in functional medicine specifically and have developed a community of providers that we refer to when further treatments, like acupuncture, are necessary to be able to provide a holistic health plan for our patients. All of our providers here truly enjoy digging for root causes of illness- poor nutrition, food sensitivity, hormone imbalance, gut disruption, adrenal imbalance/chronic fatigue, chronic infections, and more. Though this is what we are passionate about, conventional medicine and pharmaceuticals have their place. We prescribe pharmaceuticals when they make sense and when they would improve quality of life, because the ultimate goal for YOU is to be able to live the most vibrant life possible, and for US to help you achieve it. For example, that patient with depression from earlier may need medication as part of their treatment plan, either temporarily or long term to achieve their best health, and that’s okay!
The bottom line is that personalized medicine is the way of the future, and there are multiple modalities to help you dig deeper to determine why you’re not feeling the way you’d like to feel. We would love to help!
Vibrant Health of Colorado is now offering Primary Care services. Primary care includes all of the following:
-Acute illnesses, like upper respiratory infections or urinary tract infections
-Injuries, like a back spasm or knee/ankle twist
-Management of chronic conditions, like hypertension, diabetes, or depression
Call us at 303-730-2229 or book your complimentary consultation online today. We look forward to helping you live a more Vibrant Life!