About Naturopathy and Functional Medicine

Naturopathy dates back thousands of years, draws from multiple cultures and is based on these principles:

1. The healing power of nature.
Symptoms are the body’s expression of its attempts to heal. This healing can take place once obstacles to healing are removed and missing nutrients are provided.

2. Treat the cause, not the symptoms.
A healing plan should focus primarily on identifying and eliminating the underlying cause of symptoms. Suppression of symptoms should not be such that they interfere with the body’s healing process, nor replace identification and removal of the underlying cause.

3. First do no harm.
The most natural, least invasive and least toxic therapies should always be first choice for treatment.

4. Treat the whole person.
Harmonious functioning of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects are essential to attain and maintain whole-body health. This requires an individualized approach that considers each of these aspects.

5. Physician as teacher.
The job of a naturopath is to educate, empower and motivate patients to assume more personal responsibility for their health by adopting a healthy lifestyle, diet and attitude.

6. Prevention is the best cure.
Interventions known to prevent an illness are also the best way to heal from that same illness.

Traditional Naturopath vs. Naturopathic Physician/Doctor

Traditional naturopathy is based on the philosophy that the body has an innate ability to heal itself through the use of proper nutrition, healthy lifestyle and various healing modalities such as herbs, massage, homeopathy and other natural healing methods.

Although there is overlap, a traditional naturopath differs significantly from a naturopathic physician. A traditional naturopath may obtain training at any number of institutions, which can vary greatly in their curriculum and requirements. They are not concerned with the naming or treating of dis-ease or suppression of symptoms; they focus solely on helping their clients create a healing environment wherein the body can regain or maintain health through the removal of roadblocks and supply of missing nutrients.

Naturopathic medicine is a more evolved practice, and has only been around for the last 100 years or so. Naturopathic physicians have attended a 4-year accredited school, and practice as primary care physicians in states with naturopathic licensure. In these states, they can diagnose conditions, perform minor surgeries, deliver babies and prescribe certain medications. This is quite similar to what a medical doctor does, although a naturopathic physician will also recommend supplements, herbs or other natural therapies that most medical doctors are not familiar with.

In states where naturopathy is not licensed, traditional naturopaths and naturopathic physicians are similarly restricted in their practices, and should insist that you see a medically trained physician to ensure that no underlying conditions go undetected.

Functional Medicine

Functional Medicine is an integrative, science-based healthcare approach that treats illness and promotes wellness by focusing on the bio-chemically unique aspects of each patient, and then individually tailoring interventions to restore physiological, psychological and structural balance.

Function Medicine focuses on understanding the fundamental physiological processes, the environmental inputs and the genetic predispositions that influence health and disease so that interventions are focused on treating the cause of the problem, not just masking the symptoms.

There are 7 basic principles underlying Functional Medicine:

1. Science-based medicine that connects the emerging research base to clinical practice.

2. Biochemical individuality based on genetic and environmental uniqueness

3. Patient-centered care rather than disease-focused treatment

4. Dynamic balance of internal and external factors that affect total functioning

5. Web-like interconnections among the body’s physiological processes also affect every aspect of functionality

6. Health as a positive vitality, not merely the absence of disease

7. Promotion of organ reserve