Naturopathic Medicine IS Functional Medicine

Naturopathic Medicine IS functional medicine but functional Medicine is NOT Naturopathic Medicine

The new buzz word: functional medicine

Functional medicine, aka-nutritional science, is a thin slice of the apple in A Naturopathic Physician’s Education.

It is one physiological tool of the trained Naturopathic Physician. 


What is the difference between a Naturopathic Physician and a practitioner that practices functional medicine ?

A Naturopathic Physician has 4-5 years of doctorate level training – in classroom instruction by PhD level professors and several clinical training hours in the education of nutritional science, aka functional medicine, as well as these science and these clinical courses:

A certified functional medicine practitioner has completed an online program, seven courses and one case study, with no clinical application.

Simply put, it is the short course in nutritional science–an online course designed by Jeffery Bland, PhD, a nutritional biochemist.  He was the first member of the Board of Trustees of Bastyr University, the first federally accredited university in the United States offering a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine.

Standard of care medical doctors are not required to do any course work in nutritional science to get their doctorate degree. ZERO ZIP NADA… yep, I know, right?! 

There is actually no comparison to the depths of a naturopathic medicine training and taking an online course in  nutritional science. Nutritional science is but one aspect, several textbooks, in a naturopathic medical training. It is a slice of the apple. As a student at Bastyr University, studying to complete a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, we had the privy of Dr. Bland’s nutritional biochemistry expertise which we study for 4-5 years to earn our doctorate degree.   Not only from Jeffery Bland, but other world renown doctors of science is one ensconced in a naturopathic medical school.

Dr. Bland coined functional medicine from his nutritional biochemistry training because certain biochemical nutrients may address states of dysfunction, disease in the body.  The adage from Hippocrates ‘let your food be your medicine…’ comes to mind.  Jeffery Bland designed an online course in functional medicine, FM, a seven-class online program to be certified a practitioner of FM.  As an student of naturopathic medicine, nutritional medicine is but one stepping stone in our understanding of the complexities of body. We also apply our knowledge and are guided by the wisdom of trained physicians to 1,200 clinical training hours and approximately 600 patient contacts by the time we graduate.  The FM Online course, certificate program, fails to give any clinical training.

As a doctor of naturopathic medicine, ND, functional medicine, is only one aspect in addressing the human body.  As an ND, we are trained in our 4-5 doctorate-level paradigm, to regard the WHOLE body – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. An ND’s training encompassing 4 + years of nutritional science, which a medical doctor has ONE elective course of nutritional science, the general basic sciences of any standard medical school, four years of homeopathy, botanical medicine, physical medicine,  spiritual/mental counseling by such experts as Caroline Myss, traditional medicine, Chinese, Ayurvedic, etc, etc…

BUT, The Heart, The Paradigm, of Naturopathic Medicine is:

Recognizing The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)

Naturopathic Doctors recognize the body’s inherent ability, which is ordered and intelligent, to heal itself.  Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to recovery, and to facilitate and augment this healing ability.

It is the Naturopathic Physician who understands, listens, and acknowledges the innate wisdom of the body to heal itself.  For example, when a thorn enters the body, one may pull the thorn out, but will the body instinctively heals the wound.  An ND will make sure the body’s life force is strong enough to heal the wound? If the vitality is weak, the ability of body to heal itself, our knowledge of the use of botanical medicine, homeopathy, nutritional science ~ Natural Medicine  will help to facilitate the body’s natural instinct to heal. We do not only address the cause of disease, the thorn,  

We address the Vitality and the Will of the body to heal itself. 

Naturopathic Physicians carry the torch of HippocratesParacelsus, and other historical physicians that recognize the homeostasis of the

body and the wisdom of the body to correct this balance at all cause.  Symptoms of disease, of imbalance, is the innate wisdom of the body trying to correct itself; therefore, inflammation, fever, fatigue, insomnia, pain, are signals that your body is out of balance. As an ND, we honor these red flags which alert us to what needs to be addressed. I call them our Tell/Tales… It is not our desire to suppress these signals, but to help the body restore its innate, natural balance, homeostasis. 

The Principles of Naturopathic Medicine:

The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)

Naturopathic medicine recognizes the body’s inherent ability, which is ordered and intelligent, to heal itself. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to recovery, and to facilitate and augment this healing ability.

Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam)

The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than to eliminate or merely suppress symptoms.

First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)

Naturopathic medicine follows three principles to avoid harming the patient:

  1. utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects;
  2. avoid, when possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms;
  3. acknowledge and respect the individual’s healing process, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat illness.

Doctor as Teacher (Docere)

Naturopathic physicians educate the patient and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also acknowledge the therapeutic value inherent in the doctor-patient relationship.

Treat the Whole Person

Naturopathic physicians treat each individual by taking into account physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental and social factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual path.


Naturopathic physicians emphasize disease prevention, assessment of risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and making appropriate interventions to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine strives to create a healthy world in which humanity may thrive.


Wellness follows the establishment and maintenance of optimum health and balance. Wellness is a state of being healthy, characterized by positive emotion, thought and action. Wellness is inherent in everyone, no matter what dis-ease(s) is/are being experienced. If wellness is really recognized and experienced by an individual, it will more quickly heal a given dis-ease than direct treatment of the dis-ease alone. (This principle was adopted by Bastyr University and added to the six principles.)



A Little POWer for the Week

Once a week, a pearl of wisdom (pow) in the form of a video and or blog will be sent directly to you which will motivate, inspire and inform you on ways to optimize your health. These are gentle reminders of why, how, and what to do to restore, rejuvenate and replenish your health and vitality!