Simply put, Functional Medicine practitioners are doctors with the tools and training to diagnose a wide spectrum of conditions along with an education to use natural medicine and other integrative treatment options. By determining and addressing the root cause of dysfunction Functional Medicine practitioners are able to more effectively improve the health of their patients. In an era where more and more people have become concerned about the adverse reactions of prescription and over-the-counter medications, Functional Medicine practitioners are becoming a popular alternative. Every year, more and more patients are choosing a Functional Medicine practitioner as the first doctor they visit when they get sick or are having health problems.
And because Functional Medicine practitioners are trained not only in medical diagnostics but also utilize more alternative, cutting edge testing and natural treatment plans, these alternative practitioners find themselves evaluating and successfully treating those patients deemed by the medical community as "challenging" or even "hopeless". How is that possible? It's the approach: a time honored method of doing the "detective" work in addition to using integrative treatments, natural medicine, herbal and nutritional therapy, biofeedback, homeopathy, and diet to replace dysfunction and illness with normal body function and health.
Although similar to Naturopathic Medicine, Functional Medicine requires 2 years additional training that provides an organization and protocol that helps us determine the root cause, connecting the dots through an extensive and thorough timeline and matrix. The Functional Medicine approach is generally less about giving something to control symptoms or to give synthetic drugs or hormones, and more about finding and correcting the source of the disease. The functional examination and diagnostic testing is to answer not only what is going on, but also to answer the question "Why is this happening?"
Video Credit: Dr. Oz Show, January 12, 2012
A licensed primary care physician, MD, DO, DC, or ND, can continue their post-doctorate specialty training to achieve the level of Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner (IFMCP) by an accredited organization. Their assistants (PA and NP) may receive certified training as well. Training takes 2 years or more followed by a certification exam and case study.
While Functional Medicine is largely considered an alternative field (non-conventional), both DC and ND physicians are at an advantage having received holistic natural medicine training as part of their doctorate school course work. The 5 basic principals of Functional Medicine are already principles for both Naturopathic Doctors and Chiropractic Doctors. Functional Medicine, however, provides an added organizational protocol to the approach taken with each patient. We utilize a comprehensive Timeline and Matrix that help us identify a personalized starting point to determine the root cause of various conditions, as well as an action plan to follow to achieve the patients goals. By supporting the body's natural ability to heal itself we are able to restore function to the body.
While Naturopathic Doctors are licensed in 16 states in the US, Chiropractic Doctors have been licensed to practice alternative medicine in all 50 states and over 30 countries for close to 50 years. At it's core, Chiropractic seeks to restore, improve and optimize the function of the human body by removing the interferences (chemical, physical and emotional), nurturing and providing support, and allowing the intelligence of the body to heal itself. Many chiropractors focus on musculoskeletal imbalances (physical) and specialize in fields such as Sports Medicine or ART, while others may seek specialties in physiological and neurological imbalances as Clinical Nutritionists, Functional Neurologists, or Functional Medicine Practitioners and Chiropractic Internists (Natural Primary Care).
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