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What is the Difference Between Physiology and Medicine?

Dulce Corazon
Dulce Corazon

Both physiology and medicine deal with the human body, although there may be a few differences between the terms physiology and medicine. Physiology deals with the many processes that are normally going on in the body. It describes the important functions of the cells, tissues, and organ systems in relation to a healthy body. Medicine, on the other hand, is all about the diagnosing and healing or treating of diseases the human body is prone to suffer in a lifetime. Prevention of diseases and maintenance of health is also part of medicine.

In physiology, the nine systems of the body are studied. Among these organ systems are the cardiovascular system, digestive system, urinary system, and the male and female reproductive systems. In order to learn about physiology, one must also know the basics of anatomy and biochemistry. Anatomy is the science that identifies the parts of the human body, down to the layers of the skin, the types and shapes of bones, and the four chambers of the heart, among many others. It is in anatomy where the parts of the brain are cut open in order to see the sections contained within. Adequate knowledge about anatomy, usually makes it easier to understand physiology.

Physiology deals with processes of the body's organ systems.
Physiology deals with processes of the body's organ systems.

Biochemistry focuses on the biochemical processes that continuously occur inside the body for proper functioning. It explains these processes down to the cellular level. One example of an area of study within biochemistry is how the body breaks down carbohydrates present in foods and use them as fuels for the muscles, brain, and heart.

In the study of medicine, physiology plays a very important role. Before a physician can diagnose and treat diseases, he must first master the different processes normally going on inside the body. Armed with this information, physicians can usually pinpoint when something abnormal occurs. Aside from physiology, he also needs to become adept at anatomy, biochemistry, pathology, and pharmacology, among many other health sciences. Pathology is studying and diagnosing diseases by examination of body tissues, and pharmacology deals with drugs and their actions in the body.

Medical research is one field of medicine.
Medical research is one field of medicine.

The study of physiology and medicine often create awareness about the many wonders and capabilities of the human body. People are also being informed about diseases as well as their treatments and preventions. Nations from all over world often focus on health issues and their impact in the economy. These are usually made possible with ongoing researches in various branches of science, such as physiology and medicine.

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Discussion Comments


One of my good friends is currently in medical school. This is a career she began pursuing many years after she was working as a nurse practitioner.

She says she is the oldest one in her class, but she already has a lot more knowledge and practical experience than all of the other students too.

I always know which system of the body they are studying as she talks about her various classes and requirements. I love seeing her passion about the human body and treating people.

It is also wonderful to be a good friend with someone who knows so much and really cares. She is the first person we call when we have a medical question about anything.

She really has a good handle on both medicine and physiology, and I know that she will make a great doctor when she graduates from medical school. I just hope she ends up practicing somewhere close by.


When I was studying to become a physical therapist, learning physiology and all the different systems of the body were part of our training.

I remember all of them, but the one that stands out most to me is the unit on anatomy. I had one long summer class where this is all that we studied.

I was not looking forward to this class as part of our training was to work on cadavers. I will say, it was a very interesting class as I learned how the body works and how important it is that all systems are in balance with each other.

The doctors do a good job on the medicine end as far as diagnosing and treating. The best balance is knowing how the physiology of the body and the medical treatment work together.

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    • Physiology deals with processes of the body's organ systems.
      By: Matthew Cole
      Physiology deals with processes of the body's organ systems.
    • Medical research is one field of medicine.
      By: Andres Rodriguez
      Medical research is one field of medicine.
    • Physiology includes both the male and female reproductive systems.
      By: jelena zaric
      Physiology includes both the male and female reproductive systems.