How Functional Medicine Saved My Life and How it Can Save Yours Too
You haven’t been feeling your best lately. You are more tired than usual. You haven’t been sleeping very well. You seem to wake up at the same time every night. You gut feels off. You have been noticing some indigestion and bloating. You aren’t sure what’s going on but you know something isn’t right.
You make an appointment with your doctor and he/she sends you in for some blood work. You are excited to see get the result and see what’ going on. In your follow-up appointment you are told that all your lab work came back normal and there is nothing wrong with you.
You leave the doctor’s office feeling frustrated, confused and probably with a prescription in hand. You know you don’t feel your best but you have no idea what to do about it.
Does this experience sound familiar?
This experience is common. Why is it that lab tests come back normal despite you feeling like crap? It is because conventional lab ranges are meant to encompass 90% of the population. This means that as the population gets sicker and more unhealthy, these lab ranges get wider.
These tests are meant to detect end of stage dysfunction so that you can be diagnosed with some condition or illness. What is your doctor is really telling you when he/she says everything is normal is that you just aren’t sick enough, yet.
It is only once your condition (whatever that condition may be) has progressed far enough along the spectrum that you will finally fall out of the lab range and get a diagnosis. At this point the issue may have been going on for years, even decades and it has now progressed so much that healing it becomes problematic.
Symptoms are not normal. It’s true they are very common, but that does not mean they are normal. Your body is an incredible machine and it’s meant to work. All it wants is to be in balance and for you to be healthy.
For this reason, it attempts to compensate when things start to go sideways. By the time you experience symptoms, the imbalance has been going on for quite some time. If you have symptoms, you have dysfunction.
A study was done on Armed Forces Personnel who eventually were diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This is an autoimmune condition also known as lupus in which the immune system attacks the body’s tissues including kidneys, joints, skin, blood, brain, heart and lungs.
Blood draws are taken regularly from the armed forces. This study evaluated the blood of 130 men before they were diagnosed with lupus. It was found that SLE antibodies were present in the blood up to 9.4 years prior to diagnosis.
What does this mean?
It means chronic health conditions do not just occur overnight. They take years to develop but are often not detected until a significant amount of damage is done and reversal is difficult to achieve.
What is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine addresses the underlying cause of disease and seeks to find dysfunction even when it’s in its early stages. It engages both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. The patient takes responsibility for their health and is fully involved in the healing process.
The healing process involves using different kinds of lab tests and careful analysis with functional lab ranges. Functional lab ranges are narrower then conventional lab ranges and are based on people who feel healthy.
Types of testing include looking at hormone balance, detoxification status, gut function, food sensitivities and for the presence of gastrointestinal pathogens. When all these things are in proper working order, you feel healthy.
How Has Functional Medicine Helped Me?
As you know, I am a Functional Nutrition Practitioner. When I first heard about the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition training program, my health was in the toilet. I was really struggling. I could barely get out of bed and I was scared. I was scared for the future and I was scared that I wasn’t going to live very long.
I signed up for the program so I could learn how to heal myself. And along the way I realized that I wanted to help others heal as well.
As a part of the training I ran several different labs on myself. What I discovered was that I had the hormone levels of an 80 year old woman, my liver was congested and my cells were breaking down. I also had a parasite infection, a bacterial infection, yeast overgrowth, leaky gut and multiple food sensitivities.
By following the protocols I was taught, I was able to fix most of these things and get my health back. This was a few years ago now and since then I have turned my passion into a business that I love and that allows me to help people every single day. How cool is that?
These days I feel like my health is at about 80%. While I feel great most days, I know there is still work to be done. I have felt for a while that my energy should be stronger, my sleep should be better and that my athletic performance should be higher. I had also been noticing some mild digestive symptoms.
Maybe 80% health is good for most people but it’s not acceptable for me. I decided to run a couple of labs. I ran my standard GI Pathogen Screen and leaky gut test. Both came back clean. The standard GI Pathogen screen that I use relies on stool culture. If you have an infection, it needs to be able to grow in your stool and seen through a microscope in order to be detected.
This can work really well for some pathogens but not for others. My intuition was telling me that I had an infection so I decided to run the GI-MAP from Diagnostic Solutions Lab (DSL). DSL uses a new technology that allows lab technicians to analyze pathogenic DNA in stool rather than looking for pathogens through a microscope. This is an FDA approved technology and I have been hearing good things about it.
Here are the results I received earlier this week.
What Does This Mean?
First of all, I have Entomoeba Histolytica. Histolytica literally means “tissue destroying.” This is basically the worst, most dangerous parasite you can get. When it comes to the parasite lottery, I just won (or lost….). This guy does not like to stay in the intestinal tract. It can move to the brain and the lungs. It also loves to travel to the liver and create abscesses. This can be fatal.
Unfortunately, this parasite does not respond to herbal formulas. I will need to take a potent dose of anti-biotics to kill it. Anti-biotics are something I avoid in all cases. This is clearly a case where they are necessary.
Second of all, I have Clostridium Difficile. This is a bacterial infection that is highly resistant to antibiotics. I am hoping that by taking the antibiotics for the E. Histolytica, it won’t cause this infection to flare up. This infection generally occurs because of antibiotic use and is rampant in hospitals. It secretes a toxin which basically poisons cells and kills them. It accounts for 29,000 deaths in the United States each year.
Not to mention I have Giardia Lamblia (another parasite) and Klebsiella, a nasty bacteria which can lead to autoimmune diseases. Clearly, my gut is a disaster zone.
The good news is that my immune system markers are good. This means that my immune system strong and is responding appropriately. If it wasn’t I probably wouldn’t be doing as well as I have been.
This is some serious stuff. I never would have imagined that I could have so much imbalance in my gut. All this time I have felt thatI was at 80% health but maybe it’s more like 50% or even 40%.
I can only imagine how amazing I am going to feel when I eradicate these infections and rebuild my gut. It’s exciting.
I am truly grateful that I ended up on this path with Function Nutrition. Without it my life would be much different. There is a good chance I would end up with a chronic illness or worse.
How Did This Happen?
I will never know exactly how this happened. It likely has a lot to do with my past and how I used to live my life. I was often sick as a child. I was on multiple rounds of antibiotics. In fact, I can remember having these liquid antibiotics that tasted like banana and strawberry. I used to sneak them from the fridge and drink them. They tasted like candy!
I spent a lot of my life eating what I considered to be a healthy diet. Unfortunately, this consisted of low-fat processed foods and sugar. I also spent a good 10 years of my life partying like a maniac.
On top of that I once took a 3 month course of antibiotics for acne, I was on birth control pills for 8 years and I was emotionally stressed through my teens and most of my early 20’s.
All these things together deplete gut flora, depress the immune system and set the stage for infections to enter the body and thrive.
Why You Should Take Your Symptoms Seriously
Symptoms are no joke. Many of us put up with them because everyone else has them and we think they are normal. Symptoms are your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. If you ignore them or mask them with pharmaceuticals, you are ignoring this important message.
You will either end up with new symptoms or they will come back with a vengeance in the future. You may even end up being diagnosed with a chronic illness and losing your quality of life.
I am not writing this to scare you. I am writing this to educate you and to help you avoid a nasty diagnosis down the road. You have the power to take control of your health. You have the ability to change what’s happening to you now and create a happier, healthier, more energetic future.
Be proactive about your health. If you are having symptoms, contact a Functional Medicine Practitioner or a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner. Spend the money, run the labs and take responsibility.
If you want to contact a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner please schedule here.