The primary distinction between naturopathic doctors and holistic doctors is that a naturopathic doctor utilizes natural remedies to enable the body to heal itself, while holistic doctors use conventional medicine in combination with other systems of medicine and care to provide holistic health. Naturopathic doctors or naturopathic doctors earn ND or NMD degrees from a naturopathic medical school. Both the names and the abbreviations mean the same thing, but the individual selects the degree depending on the educational institution, the state in which it is practiced, or personal preferences. Naturopathic medicine is a system that uses natural remedies to help the body heal itself.
It encompasses many therapies, including herbs, massages, acupuncture, exercise and nutritional counseling. A good functional medicine doctor is holistic, a good integrative medicine doctor is holistic, a good naturopath is holistic, a good conventional doctor is holistic. They may use complementary medicine, such as homeopathy, herbal medicine and acupuncture, in addition to naturopathic treatments. Nor should it be used in place of conventional medicine for serious conditions, such as cancer and heart disease.
In addition to a standard medical curriculum, schools require their graduates to complete four years of training in disciplines such as clinical nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, physical medicine, intravenous nutritional therapies, and counseling. Andrew Weil sums it up nicely by saying: “Integrative medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes into account the whole person (body, mind, spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. This is a model of medicine in which a strong emphasis is placed on characterizing disorders through diagnosis, which generally reflects a set of symptoms or behaviors rather than the cause of the disorder. The approach and thinking process of the integrative professional may remain reductionist, with a strong emphasis on characterizing disorders through diagnosis, as in the conventional medicine model, although with a much broader toolbox for evaluations and treatments that are available through unconventional modalities.
When used properly, alternative medicine can serve to help relieve pain in a safe and natural way, prevent further diseases or ailments, and provide comprehensive treatment to the person (that is, licensed functional medicine professionals usually come from a conventional model of medicine and are integrated into the Functional one once they face serious chronic diseases and seek lasting effects in chronic and more complex diseases). Determining the root cause of the disease is an essential component of this model. Considered the most effective healthcare approach in modern times, functional medicine combines conventional medical practices with unconventional practices. In short, integrative medicine is holistic because it uses a toolbox of unconventional medicine, including naturopathy, and it uses a toolbox of conventional medicine.
While conventional medicine has caused a sensation in acute diseases, when it comes to complex and chronic medical problems, functional medicine employs a systems biology approach that considers the person within a holistic framework and their problems within a biological network.