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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Functional Medicine Creates a Partnership for Wellness: Dr. Jim Handzel describes how functional medicine addresses complex, chronic diseases

May 30, 2014 08:59AM ● By Dr. Jim Handzel

One of the common definitions of functional medicine is a medical practice or treatments that focus on optimal functioning of the body and its organs, usually involving systems of holistic or alternative medicine. Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engages patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership.

What makes functional medicine necessary is that society is experiencing more complex, chronic diseases that often are not completely addressed by standard medical physicians/doctors that focus mostly on acute care. There are methodologies, treatments and different ways to address some of these more complex and chronic diseases, versus just treating symptoms.

Digestive distress actually is one of the more common ailments individuals experience, especially in America, where the diet isn’t always based on healthy and natural foods. Because these aliments are so prevalent, this is a good illustration of where functional medicine comes into play in ways we may not realize.

The digestive system is a highly complex system from beginning to end, with many moving parts and internal dependencies. Instead of standard solutions to address and resolve issues like irritable bowel syndrome, reflux or other digestive issues, treatments today only mitigate the symptoms and often require long-term or lifetime medication, and can even cause additional issues like hindering the absorption of necessary vitamins and minerals from food and reduction of natural acids that help the breakdown of toxins.

Because multiple systems are examined from different perspectives with functional integrative medicine, it becomes more obvious that fixing digestive distress is not as simple as one might think. Treatments could include anything from chiropractic adjustments to colon hydrotherapy, as well as a nutritional focus that can often help to address digestive stress and the ongoing symptoms that occur with them.

Recommendations are further developed from understanding the root cause of ailments. Practitioners of functional integrative medicine focus on education and identification of a step-by-step process for addressing the issues and recommendations for healing and maintenance as necessary.

Dr. Jim Handzel focuses on chiropractic care and functional medicine at Mind, Body and Flow, in Chandler. For more information, call 480-782-6566 or visit

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