By Dr. Jill Carnahan – The Functional Medicine Expert

Types of Functional Medicine Practitioners

There are different types of practitioners that specialize in integrative and functional medicine, and it’s important that you know the difference so you can choose which is most beneficial for you.  With the increase in online resources and advice, I believe it is actually very important to check the credentials of the person from whom you are taking advice.  Sadly, It is not uncommon for unscrupulous individuals to call themselves “doctor” without any basis or credentials, playing on the vulnerability of the general public.

  • Medical Doctor (M.D.) – A doctor who first went through traditional medical school and then added training and education in integrative and functional medicine. They will have the most flexibility in ordering tests and prescribing medications.
  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) – This is a doctor who, like an M.D. has a wide range of services they are able to offer. This means they can prescribe medication, and are even able to become surgeons. They generally focus on the body as a whole.
  • Nurse Practitioner (N.P.) – Many people don’t realize that nurse practitioners in many ways have similar abilities as doctors. They are able to own and operate their own practices and can also prescribe medications.
  • Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) – While chiropractors are generally thought of a those who primarily treat orthopedic dysfunction, they are also able to practice functional medicine. They cannot prescribe medications and usually have a medical doctor they work with or recommend if you need a traditional treatment.
  • Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (N.D.) – These doctors use a system of treatment of disease that avoids drugs and surgery and emphasizes the use of natural agents, prescribing and licensing privileges vary by state.

All of these practitioners carry different benefits. Ultimately, it’s up to you to find the best fit for your life.


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