What Are Integrative Health and Functional Medicine?

Integrative health and functional medicine are two relatively recent developments in the practice of Western medicine. At heart, these schools of medicine are two sides of essentially the same coin. They each take a lot of inspiration from Eastern traditions, and each is practiced with more or less the same ultimate goal. They share an emphasis on a more holistic approach to patient wellness and believe the body is more than the assemblage of different organ systems.

At Advanced Health, we take an integrative approach to healing the body and spirit as one, rather than fixating on one single node of an intricate web.

Integrative Medicine

Integrative medicine focuses on the whole person. It is built on a deep and foundational relationship between the health provider and the patient, which deliberately eschews the facelessness and grim professionalism common to much of Western medicine.

As well as more conventional approaches to medical care, integrative health practices use all available therapeutic treatments to promote a more comprehensive kind of healing. In integrative medicine, any treatment path is specifically personalized for the particular needs of a patient, taking into account more than just a single cause. For instance, a patient with headaches might be treated a number of ways. Acupuncture might target certain body systems, but integrative health would look further and suggest more regular sleep habits, better nutrition, meditation, yoga (both for mental clarity and for the physical exercise and blood flow), and even lifestyle changes to reduce stress and promote wellness. A headache isn’t just a headache, but rather a single part of a much broader causal interplay.

In the long run, this comprehensive restorative approach saves patients time and money, and offers much more lasting long-term benefits.

Functional Medicine

Functional medicine, as we’ve said, has a great deal in common with integrative health practice, especially in that it approaches the body more holistically. In functional medicine, the body is viewed as an incredibly complex series of interrelated systems. The conventional distinctions, between discrete systems, organs, processes and so on, inhibit proper healing in that they don’t account for the interrelation between each module or mechanism.

For instance, a problem with blood pressure would interrelate with everything from digestion to muscle tone. A hormone imbalance here might cause irritation there. In practical terms, the body doesn’t differentiate between discrete systems or order itself into tidy categories. Treating it as though it might is counterproductive.

Functional medicine also generally goes hand in hand with alternative medicine and holistic treatments.

Advanced Health’s Expanded Clinic

Founded in 2013, Advanced Health is still growing. We have recently expanded our services by bringing on several new practitioners so that we can continue to bring patients the best in integrative and functional medicine.

Advanced health now offers treatments and services for acupuncture and massage, autoimmune disorders, detoxification and healing, digestive disorders, skin diseases, thyroid disorders, age-related cognitive impairment, and hormone imbalances. As well, they offer mindfulness-based stress reduction seminars, and nutrition counseling, as well as anti-aging and hormone therapy.

How Our Practitioners Contribute

Dr. Payal Bhandari, M.D., founded the clinic in 2013. The leading practitioner of integrative health and functional medicine in San Francisco, she combines Western Medicine with Ayurveda, nutrition, stress and sleep management, in order to best understand a person’s health concerns.

Dr Harlan South, M.D., is another practitioner of integrative medicine.  He has been practicing for nearly 20 years and recently moved from Atlanta, GA. Dr. South’s specializes in longevity medicine, cognitive impairment, and hormone therapy.  Dr. South collaborates closely with Dr. Lonnele Ball, PhD, an Endocrinologist and Chief Scientist from the Institute for Predictive Medicine & Longevity at her Advanced Health office in Pacific Heights.

Dr. Bhandari and Dr. South’s are complemented by integrative functional dietician, Ms. Danica Cowan, M.S., R.D.  Danica also works part-time at UCSF’s Osher Center bringing a breath of knowledge and experience from the academic center to Advanced Health.

A recent addition to the team, Mr. Andrew Castellanos, L.Ac., has a Master’s Degree in traditional Chinese Medicine. A licensed acupuncturist with 20 years of experience, Andrew uses his skills to treat illness and injury, assist with neuromuscular re-education, soft tissue mobilization, and more. Starting April 1st, massage therapist, Nora Medeubayeva will be joining our team and complementing Andrew’s practice on the weekends.

The team is brought together by Ms. Audrey Dombroksi, a practicing herbalist and the office manager for the center.

How it All Comes Together

At Advanced Health, each of our practitioners bring their unique talents together while practicing under the philosophy of caring for the whole person through the eyes of integrative medicine.

With each of the practitioners working together in harmony, toward the shared goal of patient healing and long-term wellness, the team is able to combine their strengths to provide the best possible care. More than just the sum of their various parts, their particular strengths come from the blending and interplay of their various talents.

Integrative medicine is a highly personalized approach to treatment. It is built on a deep relationship between patient and care provider. Advanced Health is taking a step further, and building the relationship for a patient with some of its critical healthcare team members. Each practitioner builds the same kind of trust and connection with a patient to ensure that patients get best kind of comprehensive, lasting healing.

Advanced Health San Francisco

Are integrative health and functional medicine right for you? Get in touch with Advanced Health and arrange for a consultation to find out how our team can help you with personalized healing.

Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

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