Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania Edition
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Dr. Ray Benedetto

Functional medicine is defined as a “medical practice or treatment that focus on optimal functioning of the body and its organs, usually involving systems of holistic or alternative medicine.” The theory aligns with principles of chiropractic medicine in that it strives to help patients get well by determining the actual cause of a patient’s condition, and finding non-invasive, pharmaceutical-free solutions to help the patient achieve wellness. Dr. Ray Benedetto of Benedetto Chiropractic Health, in Bethlehem, says integrating functional medicine into his chiropractic practice was a natural fit.

“Over the last 11 years, I could see the need for functional medicine, because many of my patients with chronic conditions weren’t getting better going through the traditional medical route,” Benedetto says. “I’ve always enjoyed counseling patients on nutrition and diet, so it was a nice match. I saw a need, and these were things I enjoyed doing with them.”

Benedetto Chiropractic Health Center is primarily a functional medicine practice, addressing hormone imbalances, digestive problems, Type 2 diabetes and neurological conditions. His chiropractic services focus on spinal pain, chromic lower back pain and disc problems, such as particularly bulging and herniated discs.

“We intensely work one-on-one work with our patients, and we do a lot of different therapies for neuropathy and back pain,” Benedetto says. “One primary treatment for chronic disc problems, especially in the lower back, is non-surgical spinal decompression. It’s a non-surgical, non-drug treatment for disc problems.”

An aspect that’s drawing many patients to functional medicine, aside from wanting non-pharmaceutical approaches to ailments, is the time spent with patients. Benedetto says he spends an average of 45 minutes with each patient to thoroughly listen to his or her concerns and get to the bottom of their issues. He notes that he’s very hands-on with his patients and they have access to him via phone, email and even Skype.

Benedetto says he sees many patients suffering from autoimmune disorders, which leads to hormone conditions. “The patients we see suffering from thyroid conditions, whether it’s Graves’ disease that causes hyperthyroidism, or Hashimoto’s, which causes an underactive thyroid, are almost exclusively a result of autoimmune conditions,” he explains. “So we start by digging down deep to what’s causing the problem. Our approach to that is a lot of advanced hormone testing and advanced thyroid testing.”

Most patients immediately begin with broad, sweeping dietary changes and nutritional supplementation. “We give them information to get their immune and digestive systems working better. Once we get specific test results in, then we address the individual and imbalances we may find,” he says.

The autoimmune issues leading to so many hormone imbalances seen today can be numerous, Benedetto says, so getting to the root of those issues is crucial. Causes of autoimmune issues could be intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut, so he looks for food sensitivities and environmental factors, such as environmental toxicity in the workplace or toxins in drinking water.

With completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, research in human genomes and its affects on our health has steadily evolved. “We also look at genetic factors. A patient could have some genetic defects or mutations that affect certain hormones,” Benedetto says. “Today we have the capabilities to take someone’s environment and genetic makeup and analyze the two together to make it useful and relevant specifically for the patient and determine how we can use that to help treat a person and get them better.”

Benedetto Chiropractic Health Center also offers oxygen therapy. As a board certified chiropractic neurologist, Benedetto also sees many patients with neurological conditions. He notes his functional medicine patients also receive neurological workups to help find brain imbalances, abnormalities or functional issues. The oxygen therapy, delivered through an oxygen concentrator, helps improve brain function to improve memory, concentration, and alertness, as well as decreasing fatigue and improving blood circulation.

“I think we’re seeing a grassroots movement of patients that want and desire the types of service I offer, because many of them have gone through the traditional medical system, which focuses on acute care, so it’s pharmaceutically based,” he says. “Most patients who come to us have already been down that road, and it hasn’t worked. Patients are looking for the type of care we offer because we determine the underlying problem, and we get the results, so they get better. I think the demand for functional medicine will continue to grow in the future.”

Benedetto Chiropractic Health is located at 623 W. Union Blvd., Unit 3, Bethlehem. For more information, call 610-974-9911 or visit LehighValleyChronicCare.com.

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