In medical circles and consumers alike, there exists an “us vs. them” dynamic when it comes to traditional western medicine and functional or naturopathic medicine. Traditional medicine loyalists say that functional medicine lacks scientific evidence, while functional medicine devotees say that traditional Western medicine is overly reliant on pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, and procedures, that our bodies are better at healing themselves than we give them credit for, and that using plants, naturally occurring substances, and making lifestyle changes can address most health issues.
While evidence of its prevalence and significant effect on health is growing, MTHFR, as it stands now, is frequently considered a condition that needs more scientific empirical evidence to be addressed by practitioners of traditional Western medicine.
That said, it can be a challenge to find a medical professional to work with to a) identify MTHFR as your medical issue, and b) develop a follow-up care plan to improve your health. It’s likely you’ll want to find a health professional with a less traditional approach to diagnostics and treatments. Let’s talk about different types of doctors.
Western (or traditional) medicine:
Cancer.gov defines western medicine as a system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery. Also called allopathic medicine, biomedicine, conventional medicine, mainstream medicine, and orthodox medicine.
Chiropractic is a licensed health care profession that emphasizes the body’s ability to heal itself. Treatment typically involves manual therapy, like spinal manipulation, exercise and nutritional counseling.
As it’s defined by the Institute for Functional Medicine, functional medicine addresses underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach in order to identify and try to fix imbalances in the body. The goal of functional medicine: to “re-balance physiological systems with targeted food and herbal support designed with each person in mind to unleash your body’s inherent healing ability to reverse disease, naturally.”
The Morrison Center describes integrative medicine as
- Treating the causes and not only the symptoms
- Looking at the whole body as an interconnected matrix rather than a collection of separate systems.
- Addressing the body/mind/spirit connection
- We work on the cutting edge of diagnostics and interpretations to look for deficiencies, which may include genetic testing when warranted. We order lab tests seeking optimal ranges, rather than “normal” values, and we take advantage of the latest advances in medicine to personalize a treatment plan for each patient.
We strive to enhance the body’s innate healing ability
Many people do not require pharmaceuticals, which often have significant side effects. Where appropriate, we recommend diet, exercise, lifestyle modifications, and natural supplements. If medication is needed, we will prescribe it, along with supplements to decrease the risk of side effects.
We partner with our patients to achieve optimal health
We believe the doctor and patient are equal partners in medical care.
WebMD defines naturopathic medicine as “a system that uses natural remedies to help the body heal itself. It embraces many therapies, including herbs, massage, acupuncture, exercise, and nutritional counseling.”
- Naturopathic physicians generally complete a 4-year, graduate-level program at a naturopathic medical school accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education. Some U.S. states and territories have licensing requirements for naturopathic physicians; others don’t.
- Traditional naturopaths, also known simply as “naturopaths,” may receive training in a variety of ways and usually are not accredited by organizations recognized for accreditation purposes by the U.S. Department of Education.
- Other health care providers (such as physicians, osteopathic physicians, chiropractors, dentists, and nurses) sometimes offer naturopathic treatments, functional medicine, and other holistic therapies. Training programs vary.
If you’ve found that traditional medicine is helpful to you--which, for some conditions, it very well may be--finding a licensed Naturopathic Doctor (ND) or an MD who has also studied naturopathy may be the optimal choice for you.
How to find a non-traditional medical practitioner:
- If you have good health insurance, they likely have a database for locating particular types of medical practitioners.
- Largest referral network in functional medicine (and it did yield the most results relevant to the writer’s geographical location): https://www.ifm.org/find-a-practitioner/
- Here is a resource for finding MTHFR experts by geographical area. There are very likely MTHFR professionals who are not registered on this site, but it could be a good start.
- Another search by location: https://mthfrsupport.com/find-a-practitioner/
Congratulations on taking control of your health. Be well.