Integrative Medicine vs. Functional Medicine: Ralph A Highshaw MD discusses the Difference?

Ralph A Highshaw MD
4 min readMay 16, 2022

Integrative medicine and functional medicine are two of the most popular types of medicine today. But what’s the difference between them? Integrative medicine is a type of medicine that combines traditional medical practices with complementary and alternative therapies. On the other hand, functional medicine is a type of medicine that focuses on identifying and treating the root causes of illness. In this article, Tampa, Florida scientist Ralph A Highshaw MD will discuss the differences between integrative and functional medicine and their benefits and drawbacks.

What Is Integrative Medicine?

Integrative Medicine (IM) is a medical approach that combines traditional Western medicine with alternative therapies. The goal of IM is to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms of the disease. This holistic approach often includes lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, and complementary therapies like acupuncture or massage.

Ralph A Highshaw MD says IM can offer many benefits, including improved overall health and well-being and relief from specific symptoms. In addition, IM can help address the root cause of the disease rather than simply treating the symptoms.

However, there are also some drawbacks to IM, particularly when it comes to cost and access. Many insurance plans do not cover alternative therapies, and those that do often have high out-of-pocket costs. In addition, not all practitioners are trained in IM, and it can be challenging to find a qualified provider.

Your doctor will likely take a comprehensive medical history and order various tests to assess your health to apply an IM-based approach. They will then work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that may include lifestyle changes, complementary therapies, and traditional medical treatments.

What Is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine is a type of healthcare that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. It is an individualized, patient-centered approach that looks at all aspects of a person’s life, including their environment, lifestyle, and genetics.

Functional medicine practitioners use various tools to assess each patient, including laboratory tests, medical histories, and lifestyle surveys. Based on these findings, they develop personalized treatment plans that may include diet changes, supplements, and other lifestyle interventions.

While functional medicine can benefit many people, it is essential to note that it is not a cure-all. In some cases, functional medicine practitioners may recommend treatments not supported by scientific evidence. Additionally, Ralph A Highshaw MD warns that it can be expensive because functional medicine is not always covered by insurance.

Which Approach Is Right For You?

When it comes to choosing a healthcare provider, it is vital to find someone who is a good fit for your specific needs. If you are interested in exploring integrative or functional medicine, you should keep a few things in mind.

First, Ralph A Highshaw MD says, consider what conditions you hope to address. Integrative medicine approaches health from a holistic perspective, taking the mind, body, and spirit. If you are dealing with chronic stress or pain or are interested in preventive care, this may be the right approach.

On the other hand, functional medicine focuses on identifying and treating the root cause of disease. Functional medicine may be a good option if you have a complex condition or are unhappy with your current treatment plan.

It is also essential to consider your budget and whether or not your insurance will cover the cost of care. Many alternative therapies are not covered by insurance, so you may have to pay out of pocket if you choose IM. Functional medicine can also be expensive, although some practitioners accept insurance.

If you’re interested in exploring integrative or functional medicine, the best thing to do is talk to your primary care provider. They can help you understand the differences between these approaches and recommend them based on your individual needs. You can also search for practitioners in your area who specialize in IM or FM.

Finding A Practitioner

If you’re looking for an integrative or functional medicine provider, you can do a few things to find the right fit for you. Start by asking your primary care physician for recommendations.

You can also search online directories like the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Find a family physician tool. Once you have a few names, check out each provider’s website to learn more about their approach to medicine and whether they offer the services you’re looking for.

Ralph A Highshaw MD says you can also contact the provider directly to ask any questions you may have. When you’ve found a few providers you’re interested in, make an appointment for an initial consultation to see if they’re a good fit for you.

Final Thoughts

Integrative and functional medicine are two popular alternatives to traditional healthcare. IM focuses on the mind, body, and spirit, while FM looks for the root cause of disease. Both approaches have their benefits and drawbacks, so it’s essential to consider your needs before choosing a provider. You can talk to your primary care physician for recommendations or search online directories to find a practitioner in your area. Once you’ve found a few providers, make an appointment for an initial consultation to see if they’re the right fit for you.

--

--

Ralph A Highshaw MD

Physician, Surgeon, & Scientist of 18 years in private practice. Located in Tampa, Florida.