Editor’s note: “Need to Know” is a series inspired by common forum questions and comments from readers. Have a comment or question about MS? Visit our forum. This week’s question is inspired by the forum topic “Do We Need a Personalized Approach to Treating MS?” from May 23, 2019. Have an experience you want to share? Leave a comment here or at the original forum topic.
Medicine models are more specific than ever. Patients must try to understand their symptoms and identify the philosophy of their healthcare provider, which might be why some patients don’t trust doctors and why some doctors underestimate their patients’ intelligence. Clear communication and a shared vocabulary must be a higher priority.
We are most familiar with conventional medicine: medications, surgeries, and other invasive procedures. Diagnosis and treatment are prioritized, with less of an emphasis on the root cause. Conventional medicine, or standard medical care, has led to a variety of disease-modifying therapies, at least for people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
On the other hand, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) embraces a wide range of unconventional medical approaches. For example, acupressure, acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, massage therapy, meditation, and nutritional supplements are not considered standard medical care.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, CAM is a nonstandard medical practice. Either complementary medicine is used with conventional medicine or alternative medicine is used instead of conventional medicine.
Four 21st-century medicine models
These terms may be familiar to you, but do you know what they mean?
Functional medicine (FM)
The Institute for Functional Medicine defines FM as “a systems biology-based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. Each symptom or differential diagnosis may be one of many contributing to an individual’s illness.”
FM favors nutritional science, epigenetics (heritable changes in gene expression), and molecular biology focused on genes and gene mapping. FM clinicians include medical doctors, osteopaths, nurse practitioners, naturopaths, and chiropractors.
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