The Difference between Conventional and Functional Medicine and Examples of Emotional Trauma That Make People Sick

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The Difference between Conventional and Functional Medicine and Examples of Emotional Trauma That Make People Sick

Dr. Corinne Weaver —
Jun 7, 2018

The National Institutes of Health defines conventional medicine as “A system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery.”

Let’s take a look at some similarities between conventional and functional medicine:

-both practiced by licensed medical professionals

-both are evidence-based

-both utilize diagnostic testing

Conventional medicine is extremely effective for treating acute problems such as heart attacks, broken bones, and  physical trauma. While conventional medicine is a good tool for many things, functional medicine is built on the technological advances made in conventional medicine. The approach to chronic conditions is where conventional and functional medicine begin to differ.

Let’s take a look.

Unlike Conventional Medicine, Functional Medicine focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease, not just symptom treatment. Functional medicine examines every factor involved including symptoms, genes, environment, and lifestyle factors to treat the causes of disease, not just the symptoms.

Functional medicine was developed based on the understanding of ‘the importance of an individualized approach to disease causes based on the evolving research in nutritional science, genomics, and epigenetics,’ according to the Institute for Functional Medicine.

At the heart of Functional Medicine lies the understanding that when the underlying causes are not addressed, problems can progress and worsen. Lifestyle factors (such as diet and stress) often lead to irritating, chronic, and painful medical conditions.

The body is well equipped to heal itself, however, a poor diet and excessive external stressors interfere with the body’s ability to heal naturally.

The following factors are what truly set Functional Medicine apart from Conventional Medicine:

- Focuses on cause of symptom treatment

- Holistic view of the entire body rather than a collection of separate systems

- Examines the body, mind, and spirit connections to determine both physical and emotional aspects of disease

- Improves the body’s innate healing ability

- Partners with patients allowing both parties to actively participate in treatment

As we’ve just discussed, the goal of Functional Medicine is to determine the root cause of an illness or disease in order to treat the cause of symptoms. Functional Medicine uses the symptoms as a clue to discover something hidden deeper.

Picture a tall oak tree and imagine what we see above the ground as the symptoms of disease. The extensive root system below ground is less visible but no less important! The roots symbolize the cause of disease and functional medicine takes into account both the seen and unseen systems of the body in order to understand how (remove “to”) everything works together.

When it comes to chronic conditions, a systems-based approach is needed, but this can be a time-consuming process, which is why Functional Medicine is the preferred approach by a growing number of medical professionals. Functional Medicine is a personalized healthcare treatment to treat individuals, not diseases. As each of us are genetically and biochemically unique, Functional Medicine supports the body’s natural ability to heal rather than tackling disease directly.

For example, I was working with one of my patients who had nerve pain in her lower back that radiated to her lower abdomen for over 20 years. As I was working with her she told me she lost 2 babies. One baby died during delivery and one died a few days after she delivered her a few years later. She has been to multiple doctors for help and never told one doctor. As we were talking, I knew this nerve pain she was having was connected to these past traumas that happened over 40 years ago. I was able to not only adjust her spine but give her emotional healing techniques to help her overcome this past trauma. Being in practice for 14 years I have seen and heard many stories. Emotional trauma can also show up as physical pain. If the patient did not share with me this story of her history I would not be able to help her. She is now pain free and finally free of that emotional bondage she was carrying.

Research shows disease and illness is composed of a complicated network among various systems in the body. Functional Medicine utilizes this science to understand the relationship among these functions and to help the body self-regulate and heal. Tapping into this natural ability promotes natural healing and even prevention of many diseases!

Did you know that health is defined by the World Health Organization as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease?

Functional Medicine has been proven to help a wide range of conditions including:

CARDIO METABOLIC CONDITIONS (diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease)

NEUROLOGICAL AND PSYCHIATRIC CONDITIONS (depression, attention deficit disorder, and migraine headaches)

DIGESTIVE DISORDERS (irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, chronic pancreatitis, acid reflux, and diverticulosis)

AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and celiac disease)

SKIN DISORDERS (psoriasis, acne, and eczema)

HORMONAL PROBLEMS (thyroid conditions, chronic fatigue, and menopause)

The main goal is to repair and restore the body’s natural ability to heal by restoring system balance.

Since each of us is different, our care plans are unique. Care plans may include:

- Lifestyle changes such and diet and exercise

- Stress management tools

- Detoxification programs

- Nutritional supplements

- Botanical remedies

Each plan developed between a patient and (a) Functional Medicine health professional aims to restore imbalances causing a specific condition or prevent chronic conditions from occurring in the first place. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reports significant results for participants following a combination of four different lifestyle changes. The study followed 23,000 participants adhering to the four behaviors:

- Not smoking

- Exercising 3.5 hours a week

- Eating a healthy diet

- Maintaining a healthy weight


These behaviors alone attributed to:

- 93% diabetes prevention

- 81% heart attack prevention

- 50% stroke prevention

- 36% cancer prevention


Another study published in the Lancet followed 30,000 participants across 52 countries. Similar results were reported with a 90% prevention rate of all heart disease with lifestyle changes. Note that these are just 2 examples of the ever-growing body of research on lifestyle changes and disease prevention!

“Genetics Load the Gun but the Environment Pulls the Trigger.”

There are many factors contributing to heart disease. While genetics contribute to some degree, many other factors are within our control. According to Dr. Hyman, “genetics load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger.”

Aspects such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or abnormal cholesterol are contributing factors to heart disease. These are often treated with medication, however, Hyman reports (“)studies have increasingly shown that treating these risk factors have (remove: “only) little benefit or none at all.(“)

Lifestyle changes are the most effective tool for preventing contributing factors, thus significantly reducing the risk of heart disease. A note on medications:  While medications certainly have a place, a study in the Nutrition Journal compared treatment with statin drugs to a diet rich in viscous fiber, almonds, soy, and plant sterols for the lowering of cholesterol. The study found similar rates of cholesterol reduction, however, the dietary changes also reduced inflammation and homocysteine levels.

When visiting a Functional Medicine practitioner, you can expect your visit to take a bit more time than it would with a Conventional practitioner. Functional Medical practitioners are looking for in-depth information regarding your personal and family history and the circumstances around your first symptoms. As the goal is to uncover the underlying causes of your health problems, a detailed history, physical examination, and laboratory testing are necessary to provide a full picture. This may seem like an initial investment, but it is worth the time to get to the cause rather than treating symptoms which can lead to recurrent conditions.

If you have been having some health issues one of the ways to act on your health is to contact a Functional Medicine practitioner. Contact us for a professional assessment and laboratory analysis to detect your body’s biochemical and physiological state. Let us help you get on the road to better health … today! I love helping others achieve greater wellness within them!!

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 I hope my column speaks to you and you can wake up each morning with a purpose. What I do every day is a calling, and I give God the glory for allowing His gifts to work through me. I do believe in miracles, because I get to see them every day!  For more information you can go to(:)  and sign up for my closed Facebook group #NoMoreMeds-Community for more healthy tips.

Keep Breathing,
Dr. Corinne Weaver


Dr. Corinne Weaver is a compassionate upper cervical chiropractor, educator, motivational speaker, mother of three, and internationally bestselling author. In 2004, she founded the Upper Cervical Wellness Center in Indian Trail, North Carolina. Over the last 13 years, she has helped thousands of clients restore their brain to-body function. When she was 10 years old, she lost her own health as the result of a bike accident that led to having asthma and allergy issues that she thought she would always have to endure. Then, after her first upper cervical adjustment at age 21, her health began to improve thanks to upper cervical care and natural herbal remedies. This enabled her to create a drug-free wellness lifestyle for herself and her family, and she also enthusiastically discovered her calling to help children heal naturally. 

Dr. Weaver was named one of Charlotte Magazine's "Top Doctors" in 2016 and is now a number-one internationally bestselling author to two books: Learning How to Breathe and No More Meds.

Upper Cervical Wellness Center is known for finding the root cause of health concerns through lifestyle changes, diagnostic testing, nutraceutical supplementation, and correction of subluxation (as opposed to just medicating the symptoms). The practice offers cutting-edge technological care at its state-of-the-art facility, including laser-aligned upper cervical X-rays, bioimpedance analysis (measures body composition), digital thermography (locates thermal abnormalities characterized by skin inflammation), and complete nutritional blood analysis, which is focused on disease prevention.

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