Functional medicine continually rises in popularity as more and more people want a more personalized, natural approach to healthcare. You may wonder whether you should have both a functional medicine doctor and a regular doctor, or if you should choose one over the other. You may also wonder if a functional medicine doctor can be your primary care provider.
Here’s what you need to know about functional medicine vs traditional medicine and whether you should have both types of doctors or just one. Let’s get into it.
What’s The Difference Between Functional Medicine And Traditional Medicine?
Both functional medicine and traditional medicine are fantastic approaches that can treat health issues and help you achieve and maintain general health and wellness. However, they are not the same thing. While both are rooted in science, they have key differences.
Functional medicine is a patient-centered, science-based approach focused on understanding how your unique genetic, biochemical, and lifestyle factors impact your specific health needs. It strives to treat health issues in a natural way.
Traditional medicine is science-based and can be patient-centered. It is widely accepted and used. Traditional doctors treat health issues with general wellness advice and recommendations, in addition to medication and more invasive treatments that functional medicine does not do, like surgery.
While many doctors of either approach will argue how theirs is better, the truth is that both functional medicine and traditional medicine have their merits. Both are good for different purposes. Hence why some people wonder whether you should have both a functional medicine doctor and a regular doctor.
Should You Have Both Types Of Doctors?
You can have both types of doctors, yes, but it isn’t a necessity. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health recommends informing yourself about the safety and effectiveness of any health approach that you are interested in.
They recommend taking the same amount of care when choosing a functional medicine doctor as you would when choosing a traditional doctor. They recommend telling all healthcare providers that you work with about all health approaches you use in order to ensure safe, coordinated care.
The NCCIH advises against using alternative methods in place of conventional methods that have not been proven as safe and effective and without consulting with your healthcare provider first. You can have both types of doctors in a complementary or integrative approach (which is when functional medicine and conventional medicine work together). Your primary care provider may be able to recommend functional medicine doctors to work with.
Any functional medicine doctor that you see should be willing to work with your other healthcare providers. If they are not willing to collaborate with conventional medicine, continue your search. This is to preserve your safety, as many functional medicine approaches are still being researched. If your functional medicine doctor has no problem working with conventional doctors, this tells you that you can trust them to prioritize your health.
Why You Shouldn’t Just Have A Functional Medicine Doctor
Functional medicine doctors are wonderful for giving you personalized advice and seeking the root cause of your symptoms. But wonderful as they are, functional medicine doctors do not provide emergency treatment or care for serious medical conditions. Health insurances generally do not cover functional medicine treatments, although they may cover certain tests and the like.
As such, see your functional medicine doctor for general wellness, in conjunction with your primary care provider. Keep your primary care provider to help you navigate the healthcare system, advocate for you, administer vaccines, prescribe medications, and the like. If you need surgery or suffer a serious illness or injury, your primary care provider will help you get the right care.
Can A Functional Medicine Doctor Be Your Primary Care Provider?
Many health insurances require that you choose a primary care provider. This is your main medical provider who is responsible for dealing with the majority of your health issues and referring you to specialists. The reason why you should have a primary care provider is to promote better health and wellness and to have someone who advocates for you in the medical system.
If you prefer your functional medicine doctor to your traditional doctor, you may wonder if they can be your primary care provider instead. While it’s a great idea to see a functional medicine doctor for general health and wellness and to get to the root of certain issues you may have, since most health insurances do not cover functional medicine, you will need a regular doctor as your PCP in addition to your functional medicine doctor.