The breadth and scope of “integrative” and “functional” providers varies significantly. Some providers regard any analysis of root causes as qualifying them as a functional providers. Other providers may consider themselves integrative providers because they embrace similar treatment methods, (e.g. supplements, mindfulness and/or complementary therapies). And because both integrative and functional medicine is often described as “personalized” due to the time involved in understanding the patient’s unique health, providers may call themselves “integrative” or “functional” because their patient visits are longer than traditional patient visits.
With the terms “integrative medicine” and “functional medicine” having different standards, the definition of I&FM can vary wildly between the integrative and functional medicine community and the traditional medical community. While most of the I&FM community sees functional medicine as a science-based approach to augment traditional care, some of the traditional medical community has regarded functional medicine as an alternative medical approach that is not science-based. The same is true of treatments used by integrative providers. (Some of the traditional medicine community have also embraced and implemented integrative and functional medicine.)
The specialty laboratory tests utilized by many integrative and functional medicine providers epitomizes this disagreement. I&FM providers believe these tests employ advanced knowledge and technology that is ahead of traditional medicine. Traditional providers believe these tests are unnecessary and of dubious value.
Patients interested in I&FM should understand what potential I&FM providers are offering, how it differs from traditional medicine and the risks and costs involved.