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Functional versus Pathological

By Dicken Weatherby, ND

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Medicine and health care are undergoing a paradigm shift. We are seeing more and more demand from our patients to look at their complex cases from a holistic rather than a mechanistic or reductionistic perspective. In order to do this we need to have diagnostic methods that focus on physiological function as a marker of health, rather than merely the presence of pathology or tissue change as a marker of disease. The following lists the differences between a reductionistic, pathological view of the body, and the view of the body as functioning physiology.



  1. The body is viewed as a dynamic and complex interconnected system of mind, body, and emotions.
  2. Emphasis is placed on identification of areas of imbalance or dysfunction in normal physiology.
  3. Diagnosis integrates data from many different systems and methods.
  4. Treatment addresses the underlying causes of dysfunction.
  5. Major focus is spent on both subjective and objective information gathering based on a concept of optimal physiological function.
  6. Allows for an early prediction of dysfunction.
  7. Health is measured along a wellness continuum, which is a spectrum moving from health to disease. Intervention can be made at every stage of the spectrum to restore and/or improve health and wellness.
  1. The body is viewed as a “machine” composed of separate systems reduced into its constituent parts.
  2. Emphasis is placed on the identification of disease or pathological tissue change.
  3. Diagnosis is extremely specialized.
  4. Treatment is based on reducing symptoms.
  5. Major focus is spent on how the patient is doing based on charts, statistics, and test results etc. that are measured against a statistical “normal population”.
  6. Relies on late stage development of disease as a marker.
  7. Health is measured as an absence of disease. As long as you do not have a disease, you are considered healthy.

© 2004 Dicken Weatherby, ND


Dr. Dicken Weatherby is a graduate of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. He is the co-author of the best-selling book "Blood Chemistry and CBC Analysis- Clinical Laboratory Testing from a Functional Perspective". To learn more about Dr. Weatherby's functional diagnosis books and sign up for FREE functional diagnosis tips, tools, and techniques, visit his web site at

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