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Functional and natural medicines

What’s the difference between functional medicine, holistic medicine, natural medicine, and integrative medicine?

There are some key differences among these approaches to healthcare.

Dr. Scott Resnick, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and advocate for the discipline, helps us understand important differences between these practices.


“A functional approach to the patient utilizes the tenants of both holistic and integrated models of care; yet adds still another dimension.  It is impossible to fully realize a patient’s full health without looking at it holistically, considering the influences of mind, body spirit and energetics.  Similarly a patient’s health may be best managed in an integrated fashion, with practice and communication shared across a variety of both “alternative” and conventional modalities.   The added dimension of a functional medicine practice is that it goes deeper into the body’s multiple complexities and associations with our natural world.  It considers how an individual’s genetics are being influenced by our environment; it looks into the ways that the environment, with toxins, chemicals and stressors, dictates the way that our body functions and ages; and most importantly, it stresses the complexity and beauty of the human animal in nature, and its need for natural foods, sunlight, community and nutrition.”*

Additional credentials

Note that a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner may have foundational credentials such as an MD (medical doctor), an ND (naturopathic doctor), an NP (nurse practitioner), a DO (doctor of osteopathy), or a DC (doctor of chiropractic). These doctors then take additional instruction in order to get certified as Functional Medicine Practitioners from a qualified institution such as the Institute for Functional Medicine (

Fit matters

At the end of the day, the right Functional Medicine Practitioner is a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner who’s also a good fit for you. We discuss more about how to find the right practitioner — questions to ask, and questions they’ll ask you — in our educational articles for Members. Become a Member today and learn skills about how to build a successful relationship with your practitioner.

*Scott Resnick, “The Difference between Functional Medicine, Holistic Medicine, Natural Medicine and Integrative Medicine.”

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