Despite revolutionary advances in disease management, America is sicker than ever – and the problem is only getting worse. Every state, save for Colorado, has an obesity rate of over 20%. In many Southern states, that number shoots up to 30% or higher. (1.) The current state of health continues to remain dismal despite the information we have about conventional and functional medicine.

So, what gives? TV commercials consist of nothing but weight loss programs and new, innovative medications. But, our health is still declining. This paradox is due in part to how the current system focuses on symptom management rather than treatment.

Functional, or holistic, medicine takes a more whole-body approach compared to its conventional counterpart. Several differences set the two healthcare models apart from one another, and these variances could prove lifesaving.


Conventional, or allopathic, medicine is the dominant healthcare system in most developed countries, including the United States. Traditional medical schools teach this curriculum, and graduates of these programs practice it.

Drugs and surgery are the primary treatment modalities utilized by conventional medicine. Nutritional therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and herbal supplements are not considered to be part of this model. (2.)

Symptom management with medication is the primary concern of conventional physicians. Rather than taking time to investigate why someone is feeling a certain way, providers take a band-aid approach. This method allows the person to feel better quickly while imbalance continues to fester beneath the surface. This contributes to a further decline in the person’s state of health.


Functional medicine, on the other hand, is a bio-individual approach to health that focuses on discovering the root cause of disease. Specific diagnoses, such as depression or inflammation, can result from a variety of underlying issues.

A person’s genes, environment, and lifestyle all influence the prognosis of their illness. One root cause may look entirely different depending on each one of these factors, which is why looking deep beneath the surface is necessary.

Addressing the underlying problem is the only way to achieve true healing beyond merely the suppression of symptoms. This discovery is why functional medicine is the future of healthcare in America and all over the world. Below are vital variances between the two models that could be the difference between life and death.



Conventional medicine

Takes a surface-level approach to managing the disease.

Care providers use medicine to suppress symptoms; however, the root cause remains untreated. Therefore, patients never truly heal and must rely on drugs for life. Additional health complications commonly arise from the underlying issue having never been addressed. This is why many Americans take several different medications and are still incredibly sick.

Compartmentalizes the body.

Conventional medicine has separate doctors for each body part. These physicians are not allowed to veer outside of their scope, so they view disease through a very narrow lens. Treatment must be confined to the symptomatic area, regardless of the origin of the health issue.

Treatments often have risks and side effects.

Since conventional medicine uses drugs manufactured in a lab, our bodies do not recognize them. Life-altering or even fatal side effects may ensue as a result.

Care is non-individualized.

Each disease has a cookie-cutter treatment course across the board. Patients do not receive customized plans tailored to their specific needs.

Patients do not play an active role in their treatment.

Conventional medicine frowns upon consumer education. Indeed, practitioners discourage patients from doing independent research and advocating for themselves. The doctors’ opinions should be taken as law and never questioned. Such a dismissive system causes people to lose touch with their bodies and outsource their health.

Options are limited.

Providers often do little for a patient beyond medication or surgery. This method often puts insurmountable pressure on people and forces them to make a decision that they may regret at a later date.

Providers largely ignore disease until it becomes serious.

Also, we may argue that conventional medicine is nothing more than palliative care. This phrase refers to an effort to prevent death and manage a severe illness. They deem subtle signs of health issues, which often manifest in the initial stages, as not problematic. As a result, diseases that could have been easily treated spiral into a complex web requiring drastic measures to unravel.

Treatment is reactive rather than proactive.

Adding to the previous point, conventional medicine focuses on managing disease when it has reached a point of no return. At this point, patients are stuck and have few choices concerning their course of action. (3.)

Less thorough testing.

Many of the diagnostic modalities utilized by conventional medicine are either not specific enough or inaccurate. “Normal” ranges for blood biomarkers are vast, meaning a person could be ill and think nothing is wrong.

Money matters above all else.

Conventional doctors receive money from pharmaceutical companies upon prescribing medications. This practice encourages them to write more prescriptions, which are not always necessary. The food industry also has an enormous influence on our healthcare system. As a result, they advertise things like corn and canola oil as being heart-healthy. In fact, though, they are very inflammatory and contribute to the poor state of health.


Functional medicine

Looks beneath the surface.

Rather than focusing on symptom management, functional medicine takes an investigative approach. By identifying and addressing the root cause, symptoms inevitably disappear. This method leads to long-lasting results and doesn’t see localized issues spreading throughout the body.

Sees the body as a whole.

Functional medicine doctors often do not specialize in one area of the body. This is because holistic practitioners understand how intricate our internal workings are. Health issues are usually not localized to one area, but rather have widespread implications. Everything about the human body is connected, and one malfunctioning part can affect the entire system. Recognizing this interdependence allows treatment to focus on repairing the machine rather than patching up defective pieces.

Treatments are safe.

Food, exercise, and stress management are true first-line defense mechanisms. Therapy also includes herbal supplements if a patient needs more aggressive intervention. Still, so many consider traditional medicine a last resort if all other options have been exhausted. This attention to daily habits differs vastly from the conventional model, which does not even consider lifestyle changes as a treatment approach.

Custom protocols.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to functional medicine. If ten patients all have the exact same disease, they will likely each receive a different treatment. This is because one health issue can have a myriad of root causes which require unique healing modalities. Rather than focusing on the illness, functional medicine is patient-centric.

Is that the reason behind the current state of health in the US?

Takes an integrative approach.

Adding to point three, functional medicine views disease from a much broader lens than our traditional healthcare system. Diet and lifestyle, mindset, healing herbs, and conventional drugs are all on the table as treatment options. Patients get the best of both worlds and do not feel stuck or pressured due to limited choices.

Prioritizes restoring optimal function.

The primary goals of functional medicine are not to prevent death and manage symptoms. Instead, providers take great care to restore a person’s health fully. Our bodies perform optimally without the aid of drugs, and holistic doctors recognize this. Functional medicine gives the body the tools it needs to heal itself. Then, it steps back while the body it does its job of restoring to a good state of health.

Preventative instead of reactive.

Practitioners strive to resolve disease before it reaches an irreversible state. Additionally, they emphasize proper nutrition, regular exercise, and stress reduction as building blocks of a healthy lifestyle. This usually minimizes the number of supplemental treatments required after building the foundation.

Cutting edge testing.

Functional medicine has access to the latest diagnostics to identify subtle abnormalities. This includes stool, hormone, and even genetic testing, all of which serve as pieces to a complicated puzzle. Furthermore, functional medicine seeks to achieve optimal bloodwork values rather than striving for the broad “normal range” set by conventional labs. (4.)

Not influenced by corporations.

Functional medicine doctors don’t take pay offs by drug or food companies. Instead, they use evidence-based approaches from peer-reviewed medical journals.

state of health


In the words of Hippocrates, “let thy food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food.” Conventional medicine does not agree with this sentiment, believing that what goes on our plates has little to do with disease. In the world of holistic health, a preventative approach to health means that illness has no reason to manifest initially.

The current healthcare system has many pitfalls. Doctors are overprescribing medication and rewarded handsomely. And, they treat each part of the body as a separate entity. In functional medicine, the opposite is true.

In fact, integrative medicine involves recognizing the human body as a complex, interconnected system. Treatment focuses on discovering the root cause of illness and restoring optimal function rather than symptom management. By taking this approach, patients achieve true health instead of dependence on the revolving door that is conventional medicine. Only then can we begin to improve the current state of health in America.