My Journey Through The World of Functional Medicine Pt 2

Today we venture into part deux of my journey to restoring good health. Since I last updated you, I’ve received the results of two things:

  1. the blood work that my medical doctor requested to investigate my level of fatigue i.e. I have had significant anemia in the past and he queried my thyroid function.  
  2. the results of my fecal test – my urinalysis results should be back next week.

I met with Dr. Binning earlier this week and I’ll update you on that in a moment.  

First, what I want to acknowledge first and foremost is that I genuinely believe that medical doctors all enter the profession with good intentions (to help people) and end up battling a system that doesn’t set them up for success. It’s not their fault that the system only allows for 11 minute appointments or that they only get paid for one concern so they only want to treat one concern per visit – which prevents a wholistic medicine approach.  1 issue per appointment isn’t conducive to treating someones HEALTH (in my humble, non medical opinion).  

I’m not against conventional forms of medicine – at all – I feel that there are things we absolutely need medical doctors – like acute/trauma care – that naturopathic or functional medicine cannot begin to address.  In this instance I’m addressing my non-acute, non trauma CHRONIC conditions.  

Ok, so now that I’ve addressed that, let’s delve into the results of my stool test shall we?   It feels rather personal sharing these results with you – and in doing so what I accomplishing is sharing not only the results – but also the information – because what I learned from these results essentially presents us with an opportunity – when we have information that we didn’t have previously we can create change – everything that I learn here is actually a positive (even if the results aren’t great) because that’s an opportunity for better health.

Results Of GI-MAP DNA Stool Analysis

Pathogens = none (yay!)

8 virulence factors for H Pylori = none (yay!)

Bacterial Flora:

IMG_4046

Most are low, one is high – indicating dysbiosis = so, there’s an imbalance in my gut.  So we want to look at can be driving that imbalance – which could be as simple as poor dietary diversity (vegetable fibre – which is odd because until last week I was vegetarian) or not enough or something can be suppressing the growth of healthy bacteria – these bugs all all live off these fibres and if they’re not getting them they can’t grow.  

Overview: insufficient levels of good bacteria and poor mucosal health – these bacteria are all there to protect us, they all serve a purpose, so important that these levels are improved — all of this leads to a healthy gut and healthy immune system.  My AKK MUCI (abbr) is just above the acceptable range.  Phyla Microbiota essentially again saying “Hello! Not bacterial enough growth!”  Is something suppressing that growth?  Is another bug coming in and screwing everything up and taking all the resources or are there really no resources to begin with?

Opportunistic Bacteria: 

IMG_4047

Streptococcus – remember that HUGE rash on my face that my MD diagnosed as peri-oral dermatitis and gave me an antibacterial cream and antibiotics for?  If you missed it – you can check out part 1 of this series here.  This makes a lot of sense!  This is something generally on skin and mouth – if there’s an overgrowth we need to start balancing this out.  

** I’ve left out some of the other results – which are within the normal range **

Intestinal Health:

These levels are look normal – and nothing can be further from the truth.  That’s where the benefit of knowing your patient inside and out, and basing it solely on them and not a “range” comes into play.  This I find interesting.

By way of background until last week, I ate a 95% vegetarian diet. So my steatocrit is at a 7 – the limit <15% – if someone is eating a lower fat diet – that number is high then – why would this be so elevated?  If they’re on a high fat diet that number might be ok – ideally we don’t want to see a number here – we want it as close to 0 as possible.  So what this is saying is that fat is leaking out of my digestive system, I’m not absorbing it and it’s showing up in my stool.  

Screen Shot 2019-12-14 at 11.15.27 AM

Elastase-1 – is at 261 – results show “normal” however it should be in the 400-500 range – even higher.  What this is telling us is that my pancreas isn’t making the things it should and releasing them well (insulin and digestive enzymes).  

B-gluconatodase level is at a 2042 – which indicates normal here – and this can’t be further from the truth.  When your body is exposed to toxins, even the waste of the bacteria that live within you or event the waste of the byproducts of my own metabolism (of every cell) creates waste – my body has to detoxify these things through the liver – not going to lie here – I need to revisit that Dr. Binning sent me on this — something about binding, neutralizing and that that enzyme cutting those two things from each other and frees that toxin to go back into circulation and cause more havoc.  We’ll talk more about this at my follow up appt once I get the results back from my urine test. 

Secretory IgA – 90% of your immune system exists in your gut — this # should ideally be at around 1000 – not high enough – the decrease in this number can be caused by chronic infections or chronic stress – they will just deplete this.  The anti-gliadine is at 55 showing some insensitivity to gluten.  
 
Screen Shot 2019-12-14 at 12.03.04 PM
 
Zonulin – marker for leaky gut — so I’m pretty close at 99.1 – definitely don’t want this number going up and higher that’s for sure!  
 
So, that’s a really great first step with Dr. Binning – I’m super happy about getting these results – because now I know where we can move forward in the betterment of my health.  We have an appt scheduled for December 27, 2019 to go over my urine results and then we can overlap all of the results to come up with a treatment plan that’ll be aimed at getting me back to good health and function.
 

Results Of Anemia and Thyroid Testing

My interim GP had requested blood work at my request last month as I had asked him to refer me because I was dragging my butt.  I have those results and my Hemoglobin and Hematocrit levels are low and my ferritin is at a 5 (which his the low end of normal reference range (5-272 — how is that even a realistic range??). My Thyroxine Free is at a 10 – and the “normal” reference range is from 9-19 – which again is at the low end of norm.  
 
 
Screen Shot 2019-12-14 at 11.29.27 AM
 

I have an follow up appointment scheduled with my interim GP to go over the results – he’ll likely recommend that I recommence iron tabs.  As an aside, have you ever taken iron pills?  When I was severely anemic a couple of years ago, I had to take 4 at a time and it wreaks havoc on your GI tract, if you know what I mean 😉  

As an aside, I had a brief conversation with a medical doctor I know, last week about these results, and his response was “you’re barely anemic!”.  This is what frustrates me about the medical profession at times.  That statement hit me in the gut.  I’m barely anemic?  That may well be based on these results – however, why am I dragging my arse?  Why can I hardly function?  Why can I hardly make it though a day without napping?  I know my body, I know what normal for me, I know how I’m feeling and I know where I’m struggling – I wish MDs would put more emphasis on their patients words (I know this is not true of all MDs, I’m just pointing out that this is a common theme I hear regularly throughout the course of my job as a disability claims specialist).  

 

Conclusion

I won’t be commencing anything until I get my final results back from Dr. Binning and together we come up with an appropriate plan.  My body is clearly deficient of other nutrients so I want to balance out my who body and gut biome.
 
All of these tests are starting to come together to give me a clearer picture of what’s going on in my body and why I’m feeling how I am.  
 
I can already start noticing little changes in how I feel just by eliminating gluten and dairy and reintroducing meat to my diet (organic).  Some days I don’t have the need to nap (although it is a bit of a struggle still). 
If you’re interested in reading my first blog in this series you 
can find it here:

https://mybetterlifeca.com/2019/12/01/on-health-the-world-of-functional-medicine-pt-1/

For the last post in the series, you can click here  —>

https://mybetterlifeca.com/2020/01/11/my-journey-through-the-world-of-functional-medicine-pt-3/

My Journey Through The World of Functional Medicine Pt 1

Ugh, I’ve been dragging my butt so hard lately *again* and if I’m being honest, it’s been a lot of months, like 6-7 or so!  I just thought I was exhausted and burning the candles at both ends and that it would pass (I need to learn to listen to myself better).

If you’re reading this – then there’s likely something in what I posted that resonates with you.

I feel that what we consider “traditional medicine” absolutely has a place, my opinion is that in the 15 minutes or so they are allotted to us they focus on acute care  — i.e. “how can I fix your symptom?”.  What they fail to consider (in my opinion) is the root cause — What is causing your symptom(s)?

So, recently, I go to my interim GP (General Practitioner) who says to me – “Let’s give you something to get rid of that rash!”.  And I wholeheartedly agreed, let’s get rid if this massive rash which has taken over my face (and it hurts and stings).  Now to be honest, until I got the rash on my face, I had been bypassing every single sign that my body was telling me to GET HELP!  It wasn’t until I got this rash on my face that I was like “oh, wow, I really need to do something about the state of my health!” How vain am I, right?  Not really, that’s most of us to be honest, we ignore our bodies until we can no longer sweep it under the rug.  My poor body has been telling me for months that something was not ok and that I needed to care for it.  And, it wasn’t until it totally revolted and put a rash the size of Texas on my face that I stopped and took heed!  So, I say to the doctor “ok great, I’ll take something to get rid of the rash in the interim, but what is it? And, why did i get it?”  He says to me “It’s peri-oral dermatitis and we don’t really know what causes it and I can’t be sure why you got it!” Ok cool! (ok not not cool! Sounds like a general medicine catch all to me).  Now, I should state for the record that we went over that I haven’t changed my diet or facial products in the last long time and he checked if I had any other rashes on my body.

So, I left the clinic with NO answers and a facial cream for my rash (which didn’t work btw and I had to go back 14 days later to get ANOTHER facial cream and antibiotics).

…. and, we still didn’t address my lethargy, my need to nap 2x per day and then why I’m in bed at 10:00 PM regardless of napping twice during the day.  It was non-existent to him – he was only concerned about my rash, not by the plethora of other symptoms I had been experiencing which were 100% NOT NORMAL for me nor any of the times I had been to see him had anything to do with what’s going on now – with that my 15 minutes were up and he asked me to book another appointment for the following week!

Feeling completed dejected, and knowing that this wasn’t just about a rash on my face, I knew I had to go to functional medicine for the answers at the urging of a friend of mine.

That being said, you may still be slightly in the dark as to what this cutting-edge medicine is really all about, and how it may be of benefit to you.  I’m writing this because it may save your life … this may sound like a dramatic overstatement … and bear with me — I’m going to explain to you how and what my findings are as I go through.

This blog is not intended to shun traditional western medicine (which is essential and highly effective in an acute care setting), rather, it is to recognize that we are living in the middle of a chronic disease crisis and it’s not being properly addressed.  I see this EVERY DAY as a Disability Claims Specialist.

I started seeing my functional medicine doctor, Satdip Binning about 6 weeks ago to help me find answers.  I’m not looking for a new prescription, nor for a catch all – even a diagnosis.  I’m looking to understand why my body is doing what’s it’s doing and why I’m experiencing a whole host of symptoms that I cannot simply understand or be explained – why are all of my tests coming back negative (except for my anemic testing) and they tell me I’m “normal”.  No, I’m not! I want to feel well again!

The symptoms I’m currently exhibiting are

  • feeling mentally and physically exhausted even after a solid 8 or even 9 hours of sleep
  • profound fatigue during the day (need to nap twice per day usually)
  • brain fog
  • decreased concentration
  • decreased memory
  • flare up in Raymaud’s of hands and feet
  • a huge peri-oral dermatitis rash on the lower half of my face
  • irritable bowel
  • thinning hair (+hair loss)
  • lethargy
  • body aches/myalgias

Not only am I tired – I’m tired of this being my life for the last half a dozen months.  I take naps at work – yes, some days, I literally leave my desk and go down to sick bay and snooze for 30 minutes – longer when I work from home.  I have had to withdraw from my participation in certain courses and programs because of my lack of energy.  I have to be planful of the days I have things to do after work (because I have to squeeze in a nap).  I forget how to get to places I’ve driven to my whole life.  My condo looks like a bomb went off and I’m too tired to even cook – so I grab Skip the Dishes or don’t eat.  This is not me!  This isn’t who I am!

For this On Health – The World of Functional Medicine series – I’m partnering with Dr. Binning as I document my journey and quest to get some answers via functional medicine.

To bring you up to date, just so you know what I’ve been working on so far:

  • we’ve gone through diet (gluten, organic eating, reading labels, understanding fats and GMOs).
  • talked about digestion and detoxification
  • discussed hormones and the importance of exercise
  • went over sleep, circadian rhythm
  • and ways of eliminating unnecessary stressors on the body while it tries to heal and repair itself.

I have eliminated dairy from my diet (that wasn’t too hard, I already only are cheese on occasion and sometimes had cream in my coffee).  I’ve reduced the amount of gluten I intake.  I’ve stopped drinking regular coffee and have switched to one that contains rare organic Ganoderma lucidum spores powder, used for thousands of years for its immune benefits (Organo™ Premium Gourmet Organic King of Coffee).  And I am trying to eat mainly organic foods.

I have just recently competed my fecal and urine collections.  So, once these results are received, Satdip will be going over the results and what next steps are …

Why am I doing this?  

I’m doing this because I believe functional and integrative medicines are the future of medicine. Physicians need to begin to take a more holistic approach to treating patients, no longer just concentrating on treating the symptom, the diagnosis or the disease!

I work with 3 different physicians in the course of my 9-5 and I deal with family doctors and specialists all day long and the large majority of them believe that Western medicine is the ONLY way to go.

I also feel that that most physicians do not even leave the door open for any kind of alternatives.  In fact, I see it quite often when I am speaking with my claimants – I will often inquire if they are considering any other treatment modalities such as chiropractic, naturopathy, acupuncture, Chinese medicine or functional medicine and the large majority of the time the claimant tells me their doctor has advised against it!  Shouldn’t the most important thing to any doctor be the well being of their patient? And, if that means integrated treatment – then so be it.

person holding green leafed plant
Photo by Chokniti Khongchum on Pexels.com

Stay tuned for next week’s update — the tests should be back – let’s see what they reveal about my over all health and what we’re going to do about getting me back to feeling “normal” again – I’m leaving in 3 months for my year long adventure all around South East Asia and I need to feel fit as a fiddle – I have friends and fam who will not let me leave the county until I feel well again LOL

If you’re interested in reading the other 2 blogs on my functional 
health journey, you can find them here:

https://mybetterlifeca.com/2019/12/14/my-journey-through-the-world-of-functional-medicine-pt-2/

https://mybetterlifeca.com/2020/01/11/my-journey-through-the-world-of-functional-medicine-pt-3/

What are your thoughts on naturopathy?  Functional medicine?  Alternative medicines?