Is a Functional Medicine Practitioner the Same as a Naturopath?


As a short answer "no", but there are some commonalities. As a longer answer, the practice of functional medicine features a personal and integrative approach to healthcare which involves understanding the prevention, management and root causes of complex chronic disease. Functional medicine looks to take from the best of every approach to offer the most comprehensive and effective approach to healthcare.

That means functional medicine practitioners like Sandra Stryker at Restore Holistic Health utilize the most current scientific knowledge about how genetics, environment and lifestyle interact together to diagnose the root cause based on patterns of dysfunction and imbalance. Functional medicine seeks to treat the person who has the disease, not the disease the person has. It's holistic in how it views patients from several viewpoints and incorporates the open-mindedness of integrative medicine as well as some core concepts of naturopathic medicine as needed.

A naturopath, or one who practices naturopathic medicine, encompasses a broad spectrum of practice and a wide variety of therapeutic types. Some focus only on diet, lifestyle changes, detoxification and other natural interventions. Others incorporate additional non-conventional options such as acupuncture or homeopathy, a practice that treats a disease by administering minute doses of a remedy that would in larger amounts produce symptoms similar to the disease in a healthy person. Like a very small amount of coffee for a person with insomnia.

Also under this wide umbrella term are those at the other end of the naturath spectrum who manipulate the body's physiology and biochemistry through botanicals, nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals. Most naturopathic practitioners incorporate parts of all these elements into their practice.

One of the biggest differentiators between conventional medicine and other treatment options is the dedication of practitioners to listen and learn from a patient's viewpoint experience, not simply rush to prescribe a medicine to treat a symptom when a root cause can't be easily found through typical tests.