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Traditional Medicine VS Functional Medicine

Intelligent Ageing Team

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Developments in medical technology have long been confined to procedural or pharmaceutical advances, while neglecting a most basic and essential component of medicine: patient information management.” –  John Doolittle

One common question is doing rounds in the medical fraternity nowadays, how are Traditional Medicines are different from Functional Medicines? And in here we are trying to find out the same. Watch this video – 

Let’s start this by understanding what traditional medicine approach is and what is functional medicine approach?

Traditional Medicine Approach Functional Medicine Approach
Disease oriented Health oriented
Doctor centered Patient centered
Everyone is treated the same Holistic
Specialized Looks at underlying cause of disease
Diagnosis based on symptoms Biochemical Individuality
Early detection of disease Preventative approach


What is Traditional medicine approach & Functional Medicine Approach?

  • Traditional Medicine Approach:

In a Traditional medicine system once a patient approach to a medical practitioner, he/ she try to identify the symptoms & on the basis of those symptoms classify the disease. After recognizing the disease a treatment plan is created that suggests the pharmaceuticals which help in treating the disease and reduce the symptoms. 

  • Functional Medicine Approach:

Functional Medicine employs a detailed approach.  And it is more of patient-oriented, functional medicines study the person in whole instead of just concentrating on the list of symptoms.  A typical functional medicine program requires the doctor giving more time to their patients.  Doctors pay close attention to their patient’s lifestyles to recognise the factors that are affecting their well-being. Things like where patient work? Where patient live? What is the medical history of its family etc.?  In functional medicine approach a typical doctor/patient communication demands time, but it will assist in solving the actual problem and not only hiding the symptoms.

Traditional medicines are best for short-term illness, and functional medicines are best for chronic illness.

Traditional medicine is primarily focused on urgent care, diagnosing & handling trauma or any short-term illnesses, for example, heart attack or any physical injury. Practitioners have particularly prescribed methods that include surgery or drugs to treat an illness.

Functional medicine needed to treat chronic illnesses. The basic question arises in functional medicine. How one can start treating a patient if not having an understanding of the “root cause” of the problem? For instance, a person is tired, how one can treat the exhaustion if not having the idea why that individual is tired?  There can be many possible reasons, he/she can be anemic, maybe having an underactive thyroid, or there are chances of having a reaction to something which he/she eats.  Each of the mentioned scenarios requires a different treatment. And once the root cause is eliminated associated illness will also go away forever.

A Traditional medicine procedure is an exceptional procedure for some conditions, but it can miss the underlying cause in many other situations.  On the other hand, functional medicine works on the core level and transforms a sick body to a completely healthy body.

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