A “natural” provider is prone to reach for treatments and interventions that originate in nature. I appreciate the various routes a natural practitioner can take when it comes to someone’s health. It’s not limited to cremes, tinctures, supplements or diets. They can tap into other components of nature that may have healing applications like – the use of sound, light, vibrational energy or touch.
Natural medicine bases treatments in that which is found in nature exclusively. Any inclusion of pharmacology are excluded from the practitioner’s armamentarium, whether by choice or by law.
Functional Medicine similarly tends towards a natural approach, and the well-versed functional medicine provider understands and utilizes the benefits of this approach. The ability to tap into the complexity of the human physiology and spirit using purely natural approaches is powerful. This could provide the single intervention that allows a patient to regain optimal health. Unquestionably, I will gravitate towards a food, plant, nutrient, hormone or supplements first in working towards a patient’s health. Many of my cases this is all required to repair and realign one’s health or to modify the risk of a chronic illness. Ideally, we can attain a state of balance and wellness. Which can then be maintained with the basics of clean water, organic foods, tranquility and community.
I feel that a primary factor that differentiates a Functional from a purely “natural” provider is the understanding that on occasion one needs to utilize the advancements in science and medicine. To rectify a severely damaged or unbalanced physiology that is contributing to one’s illness.
Yes, I prefer to utilize herbal approaches to rectify a yeast overgrowth. But if this fails, on occasion a person needs an aggressive course of anti-fungal drugs to rebalance the gut’s ecosystems. A severe case of Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) may respond to probiotics, but occasionally the use of a prescriptive, non-absorbed antibiotic like Rifaximin is the best recourse. Severe adrenal depletion frequently responds to adaptogenic herbs, but rarely the individual requires Cortef, a drug used to directly replace cortisol.
In conclusion, I believe that a Functional approach offers the best of both worlds. In my practice I can go weeks without writing a “conventional” prescription, emphasizing the use of natural treatments, herbs, hormones and foods. But a functional approach to health really delves into the vast complexities of human biological and physiological systems. I strongly believe the “Western,” purely allopathic, symptom-based and medicine-driven approach is generally doing more harm than good. I make every effort to pursue health from a different perspective.
But let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. If I rupture my appendix, I can assure you that I will gladly take general anesthesia, surgery and antibiotics to save my life. We need to remember that conventional medicine offers many lifesaving possibilities. But like so many things, these possibilities need to be understood in the perspective of their mechanisms, limitations and their influences on the entire body.
When we embrace the capacity to blend a “natural” with a scientific and modern approach. We can begin to embrace a state of true health and longevity.
Dr. Scott Resnick
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