A functional medicine practitioner and a naturopath are similar in many ways, but that’s not to say that they are the same. Those seeking treatment for chronic conditions may find relief from practitioners in either field, but their methods do differ somewhat.
A functional medicine practitioner may use naturopathic techniques, and a naturopath may be trained in the methods of functional medicine too, but the two may still use different methods of treatment. Functional medicine builds on the foundation of conventional medicine and it treats patients holistically relying on some naturopathic concepts. Naturopaths rely solely on a variety of natural treatments.
What Is Naturopathy?
Naturopathy is a practice which is rooted in the belief that the body holds the innate ability to heal itself. A naturopath looks to harness the body’s vital force to enhance and support its ability to heal. The patient’s healing is helped by removing obstacles which may be impeding the body’s ability to heal and balance itself. If the patient’s body is in harmony, it can prevent disease and alleviate chronic conditions. A naturopath will use natural treatments such as nutrition, detoxification, herbal supplements, and homoeopathy to remove the illness.
How Are Functional Medicine Practitioners and Naturopaths Similar?
A functional medicine practitioner and a naturopath are similar in their approach. Both types of healthcare practitioners will begin the process by gathering as much information about the patient as they can. They will take into account their diet, the exercise they do, environmental factors and their genetics. A naturopath is more likely to take this further to gain insight into the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of the patient’s life.
Functional medicine and naturopathy both look to prevent chronic illness from developing into a disease by taking the individual into account. They both treat the patient, not merely the illness. Conventional medicine may suppress the symptoms while neglecting the factors causing the illness.
What’s the Difference Between Functional Medicine and a Naturopath?
Based on an in-depth consultation, a functional medicine practitioner will order lab tests to get a clearer picture of the patient’s health status and how their lifestyle and genetics may have affected their overall health. A naturopath may not be able to order such tests or form a diagnosis.
The two practices also differ in their treatment solutions. A naturopath will only utilise natural treatments, but a functional medicine practitioner will use every tool available to them through a multidisciplinary approach. This approach relies on the knowledge and skills of a physician, dietician, health coach, and a behavioural therapist. The functional medicine practitioner will then design an entire programme for the patient to follow in order to recover from their condition. A functional medicine practitioner may also rely on naturopathic treatments, should they consider them appropriate.
Philosophically, functional medicine views the body as a cohesive system, rather than a collection of organs independent of each other. The function or dysfunction of these organs affect each other and may manifest in illness. A naturopath primarily sees the human as self-healing and looks to harness the healing power of nature to help the body in the healing process.
Luke Clarke is unique in that he is both a functional medicine practitioner and a naturopath. This allows him to draw on his skills and experience in both fields to give his patients the right treatment to meet their needs, rather than utilising only one modality.