What is Integrative, Lifestyle and Functional Medicine?


These terms are becoming more widely used, but there is still much confusion about the difference between them all.

Integrative Medicine is the intelligent and evidence- based use of conventional, lifestyle and holistic approaches to improve health and wellbeing. It encompasses many different therapeutic modalities including conventional medicine, nutrition, lifestyle and functional medicine, acupuncture, naturopathy, herbal medicine, homeopathy , bodywork and movement, mindfulness and traditional healing practices such as Ayruvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine. It provides a huge toolbox in addressing and preventing health conditions and allows a truly holistic approach to healthcare addressing the root cause of ill health and aiming to redress imbalances and root causes as well as providing safe and effective symptom relief.

The term originated from the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, USA. It is very popular in America and the rest of Europe, particularly in Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland. In the UK, the National Centre for Integrative Medicine (NCIM) and College of Medicine are the leading bodies in promoting and providing training in Integrative Medicine.

Functional medicine is a systems biology-based approach to medicine that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease using a science-based system. It incorporates Lifestyle and Nutritional Medicine at it’s core and involves the use of functional medicine tests to look for nutritional deficiencies, immune dysfunction, chronic inflammation, food intolerances, digestive function, the health of the gut microbiome, genetic predisposing factors to disease and detoxification pathways in the body. With a very holistic approach it also takes into account emotional health, stress, sleep and relationships, your environment and lifestyle and is a particularly useful approach in chronic and complex health conditions. Based in the USA, the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) is the leading organisation in this medical field and covers training and research into Functional Medicine globally

Lifestyle Medicine is the foundation of all health and is the cornerstone of preventative medicine. If empowers patients to take control of their lifestyle and optimise nutrition, sleep, relationships, exercise and to manage stress in positive ways. It incorporates movement such as yoga, pilates and cardio exercise, healthy nutrition, mindfulness and meditation and sleep hygiene practices to build the foundations of a healthy life.