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Naturopathic and Functional Medicine

As a naturopathic doctor, I practice a form of medicine that is not as 'alternative' as some might think. As doctors, we study all the same biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, and pathology as other doctors. They are all the same science. Our differences lie in our application. Natural medicine shares common traits with MDs, DOs, DCs, and even dentists, such as 'first, do no harm' and 'doctor as teacher'. Therefore, our philosophy tells us to treat the person, not the diagnosis, remove obstacles to cure and stimulate nature's healing power, the Vis Medicatrix Naturae, to treat and prevent disease. 

The Vis is the ordered, intelligent, driving force of life, which is evident in all forms of self-correction and self-healing. Originally introduced to America by Dr Lust in 1896, naturopathic medicine emphasizes prevention and self-healing through natural therapies. It is a patient-centered, science-based, whole-person approach to medicine. Besides being a foundation of functional medicine, it is also a key aspect of traditional medicine.

Drs Bland and Bastyr, the founders of naturopathic and functional medicine, established Bastyr University in the 1970s and 1980s. The Functional Medicine Institute was founded by Dr Bland in 1991 to help bring the approach into the mainstream of medicine by using a strict science-based approach. Over the years, naturopathic medicine has developed a public awareness of patient-centered medicine, which has led to an increase in the demand for such holistic care, and functional medicine offers physicians and dentists a great opportunity to expand their practice to include nutrition, natural therapies, and functional testing as part of their education and practice. A naturopathic medical program's curriculum includes listening to the patient, considering the whole person instead of just a diagnosis, using laboratory and clinical testing, and natural therapies, and NDs are taught this natural approach throughout their medical training.

Functional medicine focuses on systems biology and function as opposed to conventional disease-based diagnostics. Unlike the disease model, it includes more data points, from lab and genomic tests to lifestyle and environmental factors.

I believe functional medicine is a great way to expand the principles of my profession into the existing American medical network. Taking this approach can only be beneficial to public health. Teaching other doctors how to use natural medicine is a fantastic way for me to help expand the use of natural medicine to as many patients as possible.

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