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What is a Functional Medicine Doctor?

Medical doctor and nurses with question marks above heads.

A Functional medicine doctor seeks to develop a treatment plan using natural remedies based upon the patient’s history, elaborate ‘functional’ lab testing and evaluation. They may examine the genetic and epigenetic factors for each patient to develop an individualized therapeutic approach that addresses these underlying factors.

Do I Need a Naturopathic Doctor if my Medical Doctor Offers Functional Medicine?

Yes! A Naturopathic Doctor (ND) takes a deeper look at the overall health of the patient and takes the time to find the underlying cause of a disease. ND’s do not only look at lab values and then recommend supplements or foods. A ND will take into account the patient’s current health history, past history, family history and genetics, as well as comprehensive dietary evaluation and lab test results. Naturopathic doctors are considered the experts in alternatives to prescription drugs. NDs know all of the contraindications and indications for combining alternative treatments and prescriptions. They seek to balance the whole person, not just the physical body, by taking time to spend with patients.

The scope of practice for ND’s varies across the USA, so it may be necessary to employ an Medical Doctor (MD) for care that the ND cannot provide such as prescriptions or minor surgery. ND’s are the most comprehensive provider if you are seeking an expert in alternative medicine, nutritional knowledge and general medical knowledge. At NatureMed we aim to bridge the gap between alternative and conventional medicine. Due to the Colorado state laws, we have an MD on staff to provide the care that our NDs cannot.

What Services do Functional Medicine Doctors Offer

  • Laboratory testing
  • Supplements
  • Herbal products
  • Dietary advice
  • Functional medicine providers may or may not have deep knowledge of nutrition, a holistic approach to medical problems (mind/body/spirit), alternatives to prescriptions drugs or drug-nutrient interactions

Who Can Become a Functional Medicine Provider

  • Dentists
  • Chiropractors
  • Nutritionists
  • Optometrists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Pharmacists
  • Acupuncturists
  • MDs
  • Nurses

In the early 1990s, a biochemist named Jeffry Bland who was a former board of directors for Bastyr University of Naturopathic Medicine; developed a certification program for functional medicine training. This program is one that most certified providers of many disciplines can obtain.

How to Become a Functional Medicine Provider

  • Must hold a certification of any kind (Does not have to have medical education)
  • 16-24 months to become certified (vs 4 years of naturopathic medical school)
  • $15,000 is the average cost to obtain certification (vs 4 years of naturopathic medical school costs!)

Is Functional Medicine the Same as Naturopathic Medicine?

No, functional medicine is not the same as naturopathic medicine. For a complete history of naturopathic medicine visit Naturopathic medicine incorporates the use of functional medicine and much more!

How to become an Naturopathic Doctor

  • Bachelors in pre-med or health sciences
  • 4 year naturopathic medical school (general practitioner plus natural medicine)
  • Option for residency

What NDs Do

  • Clinical nutrition
  • Lab testing
  • Physical exam
  • Supplements
  • Botanical medicine
  • Homeopathy
  • Alternatives to prescription drugs
  • Prescription drugs
  • Lifestyle management
  • Physical medicine
  • Provide a holistic approach to medical problems (mind/body/spirit)

Naturopathic Doctors are trained as general practitioners. They can treat acute illnesses like colds, coughs, stomach bugs and the flu as well as chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, auto-immune disease and more. When dealing with chronic health conditions, they work to uncover the obstacles that prevent true health, and employ treatments that assist the body in regaining optimal health. Not only do NDs use ‘functional laboratory testing’, they also use their knowledge to focus on discovering the underlying cause of disease to further balance the health of patients. NDs are experts in the natural medicine approach for your health care needs.

Call our office today to schedule with one of our NDs. To find a licensed ND in your area visit