Functional Medicine vs. Conventional Medicine: What Makes Sense For You?

by Steffie Bell

Healthcare is constantly evolving, and new approaches to medicine are emerging to address the complexities of individual health needs. Two prominent paradigms that have garnered significant attention are functional medicine and conventional medicine. While both aim to promote well-being and treat illnesses, they diverge in their fundamental principles, diagnostic methods, and treatment approaches. In this article, we will explore the key differences between functional medicine and
conventional medicine to help you gain a better understanding of these two approaches.

What Is Conventional Medicine?

Conventional medicine, also known as western or allopathic medicine, is the established and widely practiced medical system based on evidence from clinical trials and scientific research. Its core focus lies in diagnosing and treating diseases by using standardized protocols and medications. Conventional medicine emphasizes acute care, where symptoms are treated to alleviate immediate discomfort or resolve illnesses quickly.

Key Features of Conventional Medicine:

  • Symptom-based diagnosis: Conventional medicine primarily relies on identifying symptoms and applying a diagnostic process based on medical history, physical examinations, and medical tests.
  • Specialization: Conventional medicine practitioners are usually specialized in specific fields like cardiology, oncology, neurology, etc.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Prescription drugs and surgical interventions are often the main tools for treating ailments.
  • Disease-centered: Treatment is centered around the specific disease or condition rather than focusing on the person as a whole.

What is Functional Medicine? 

Functional medicine is a relatively newer approach to healthcare that seeks to address the underlying root causes of illnesses rather than merely treating symptoms. It views the body as an interconnected system with complex interactions between different physiological processes. Functional medicine practitioners take a personalized and holistic approach, recognizing the unique genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors contributing to a person’s health.

Key Features of Functional Medicine:

  • Holistic approach: Functional medicine examines the patient’s lifestyle, diet, stress levels, genetics, and environmental factors to understand the root causes of health issues.
  • Personalized care: Treatment plans are tailored to each individual’s specific needs and may involve multiple healthcare professionals working together.
  • Prevention-oriented: Functional medicine emphasizes preventing chronic diseases through lifestyle changes and early intervention.
  • Integrative therapies: Alongside conventional treatments, functional medicine may incorporate alternative therapies such as nutrition, exercise, herbal medicine, acupuncture, and mind-body techniques.

Differences in Diagnosis and Treatment

Conventional Medicine Diagnosis and Treatment:

Conventional medicine usually relies on specific diagnostic criteria and standardized treatment protocols based on well-established scientific evidence. This approach is highly effective for acute and life-threatening conditions. However, it may fall short in addressing chronic and complex health issues.

Functional Medicine Diagnosis and Treatment:

Functional medicine seeks to understand the unique health journey of each patient, using advanced testing and assessments to identify imbalances and dysfunctions. Treatment plans are then developed to address these imbalances using a combination of lifestyle changes, dietary modifications, supplements, and other personalized interventions.


In conclusion, functional medicine and conventional medicine represent two distinct paradigms in healthcare. Conventional medicine is firmly rooted in non-personalized research-based practices, while functional medicine takes a more personalized and holistic approach to understanding and treating health conditions. 

Looking to learn more about how customized functional treatments can treat you? Give us a call today at +1 720-647-7640