A Comparison of the Approaches of Functional and Conventional Medicine

Below is an example of a how conventional medicine would treat a case compared to how we would treat it with a functional medicine approach. The patient is a 56 year old male, struggling with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heartburn, joint pain, and type 2 diabetes.

Conventional Medicine Approach Functional Medicine Approach
Prescribe blood-pressure medication: have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, back pain, and headaches Eliminate sugar and refined carbohydrates in the diet which are the major causes of metabolic syndrome
Prescribe cholesterol medication: increases risk of type 2 diabetes and joint pain; only decreases risk for heart-attack by less than 2% Run thyroid tests because low thyroid levels in men and women is a sign of hormonal disturbance that contribute to metabolic syndrome. Consider Bio-identical hormone therapy
Prescribe diabetes medication although insulin: can actually worsen type 2 diabetes in the long run Prescribe blood-pressure medication (short term) as a first step; for long term– strategic supplementation and target nutrient-dense foods high in magnesium and potassium that lower blood pressure naturally
Suggest non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for joint pain such as ibuprofen: can damage the all-important gut lining and lead to bleeding ulcers, heart attacks, and strokes Integrate vitamin d/ sunshine and exercise.  Add anti-inflammatory foods and supplementation which are involved in bone strength, weight loss, gut health and cardiovascular health
Prescribe acid blockers for heartburn: this inhibits the stomach’s ability to make acid needed to digest food and resist harmful bacteria; long-term use is linked to osteoporosis and nutritional deficiencies Monitor and maintain improvements: if heartburn does not clear up after weight loss, integrate a plant-based digestive enzyme, strategic probiotics, bone broth and other gut rejuvenation techniques
Taking all of these drugs together can cause adverse interactions or toxicities such as confusion, which can be misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s in older patients By getting out of the chronic-disease loop early, our patient avoids the long-term effects these problems eventually cause such as nerve pain and heart disease, and will continue to live a healthy lifestyle with a clear mind, great cardiovascular system, and low risk of cancer or osteoporosis

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