The basic difference between functional and lifestyle medicine is how they approach health. Lifestyle medicine seeks to address the underlying causes of illnesses instead of simply treating symptoms. Functional medicine focuses on diet, lifestyle, and other factors that affect overall health. For example, low thyroid and vitamin D deficiency can lead to depression. The same is true for antibiotics and inflammation. Many functional medicine providers follow the GOTOIT framework to determine the root cause of many conditions.
Both traditional Western and alternative medicine practitioners consider lifestyle factors when treating patients. Lifestyle medicine takes the whole person into account, including the mind, spirit, and environment. Holistic physicians look at all these aspects as contributing factors to overall health. While conventional medicine focuses on treating symptoms, holistic practitioners focus on preventing and reversing disease. Holistic physicians use a variety of methods to treat patients, including changing their diet, increasing physical activity, addressing stress, and staying socially connected.
Among the different types of lifestyle medicine, functional medicine emphasizes identifying the underlying cause of an illness. Differentiating from integrative medicine, functional medicine focuses on determining the root cause of illness. A functional physician will work with a patient to determine how illness starts and how it can be prevented. By treating the root cause of illness, the doctor can restore a person’s health. This approach has the advantage of avoiding the use of medications and surgery, which can both have beneficial effects.