My Journey Through The World of Functional Medicine Pt 3

I’ve been nursing a flu/cold since last Thursday. And, while I feel much better than I did at the onset, I leave on my 12 month adventure in 2.5 months and my health is one of the only things that matter to me at the moment.  I need to be in top health before I start this adventure of a lifetime.  This weekend my goals are fairly simple:  

1) complete this blog

2) rest and

3) binge watch Season 7 of Blacklist.

I met with Dr. Binning (functional medicine) earlier this week to go over my urine (Organic Acids Test) results. I was excited to go over these results, as this is the final piece required to determine move forward steps on my treatment – on my way to better health – mainly increased energy, not feeling so fatigued and the sense of having to nap 2x per day – like I don’t have one foot half in the grave.

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Western Medicine

In this blog, we’ll go over my results – as best as I can recall them from my appointment with Dr. Binning.  I find the way the body works – ridiculously fascinating – it’s a marvel! I’m always eager to get to my appointments so I can really get to the root cause of what’s going on with my body and better understand what I need to do to feel like the old Tina again!

Let’s begin shall we?   This gets very technical and medically – just a heads up.

This first page of my results talks about energy production – that is – how do I get energy from carbohydrates, fats and the actual energy producing cycle (citric acid cycle or krebs cycle)?

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The pattern that I have is that of someone who is losing sensitivity to insulin, so I’m not making energy from my carbohydrates anymore – the reason is that lactate has right shifted.  Whereas,  Pyruvate, which should be higher than Lactate, isn’t even showing up! How close am I to becoming diabetic?

“Medicine’s a funny business. After all, dispensing chemicals is considered mainstream and diet and nutrition is considered alternative.”
Charles F. Glassman, Brain Drain The Breakthrough That Will Change Your Life

Pyruvate feeds into your citric acid cycle which makes a lot of energy.  Lactate doesn’t feed into this cycle, it goes into something called your Cori cycle and your Cori cycle is a stress induced cycle.  It makes energy (not that much). It makes it very quickly and the net yield is actually lower than the output is, so we’re not meant to use it for a long period of time.  I’m (clearly) using it for a long period of time – I mean have you seen my life – it’s not a wonder LOL.

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B-Hydroxybutyrate  – when this molecule is present it is signalling for my cells to burn fat as fuel.  Good thing – this signal is being sent.  We have to improve this to assist my body in creating more energy.

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Now (above) we’re looking at how well my cells make energy – and what we can see is that my results are all right shifted and Fumerate doesn’t even show up!  The best way I can describe this (and how I understood it) is that if we think about this as an 8 cylinder engine in a car (because there are 8 markers)  4 of them may be misfiring (or on the verge of having problems) and 1 isn’t firing at all – it’s not even getting fuel in that cylinder.  All in all, it seems I’m lacking in amino acids, coenzyme Q10 and some minerals like magnesium and manganese.  So, we have to address these deficiencies to help improve the output of energy in my cells.

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Now, when we look here at B vitamin deficiency, the a-keto 8 — this deficit is for B1, B2, B3 and B5 – which is close enough to being low for me.  It means I need some.  The rest of them seem like they’re in decent ranges.

With methylation – this is the process by which my body can activate things – B12 is bordering on low.

IMG_4675Now we look at the brain here – neurotransmitters – not a lot of brain inflammation, and, the one marker shows a lack of amino acids.  My dopamine is right on the limit of being low.  Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that gives you more drive, makes you feel great, your get up and go, your motivation chemical.  I’m not burning through ANY – so that means I’m likely not making any – wow!  It may be that I lack tyrosine OR that I’m lacking iron, B6 – any of the co-factors that lead to the production of dopamine.  What the results show is that I’m not using any of it – and if I’m not using any of it – I probably don’t have any.  

IMG_4676Detox — upper results are pretty good which shows low exposures to chemicals and that I’m able to clear them because they’re not building up. Pyroglutamate is ok. Sulfate is pretty low which shows a low ability to make Glutathione – because I am lacking the resources (the demand is high).  It is your body’s most powerful antioxidant and it’s used to neutralize the damage created by toxins and stress.  What is creating the demand?

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Yeast/Fungal – when we look here we see 3 different things that indicate there’s an overgrowth.  What I found interesting that that everyone pushes probiotics this – probiotics that — when in fact you only NEED them when your body is deficient – any mine is NOT.  Taking probiotics would in fact create an imbalance in my body.  It’s not going to help me to take more of something I have a lot of.

The results show SIBO – (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), a (serious) condition affecting the small intestine. It occurs when bacteria that normally grow in other parts of the gut start growing in the small intestine.

AND ….

here’s an answer I have been searching for …. for YEARS … since I was diagnosed with anemia — my small intestine IS NOT not be able to absorb nutrients, causing my anemia!!!  My GP did not investigate this far – he queried as to what the root cause of my anemia was — but did not dig.  They went up the heavy menses route – which I believe was the correct route to investigate and when it yielded no results – it fell off the radar and I was left with uncontrolled, chronic anemia.  Take iron tabs – anemia improves  — stop iron tabs — anemia eventually returns.  Not to mention how hard iron tabs are on your system/intestinal tract and taking that much iron throw the rest of your levels off.  Here it is — what I have been asking for YEARS, what is causing my anemia?  SIBO – malabsorption.

On this result we also see that there is a positive – I have no invasive yeast – and there was not invasive yeast in my stool results either.  So, we need to prioritize the SIBO stat.

I’ll be meeting with Dr. Binning to go over prioritizing what I need implement.  The first thing we are introducing is Grass Fed Beef Organs (Liver, Heart, Kidney, Pancreas, Spleen) supplements – which is a more naturally sourced iron (traditional peoples, Native Americans and early ancestral healers believed that eating the organs from a healthy animal would strengthen and support the health of the corresponding organ of the individual).

I am so happy that I finally have some answers. I don’t look at these results as what’s wrong with me.  I look at them as an opportunity, an opportunity for improvement, to get my health back – to get back to me … you have NO idea how happy this makes me!

As you struggling with a chronic condition?  Are you not getting the answers your looking for?  Have you considered functional medicine?

If you’re interested in reading the first 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/2019/12/01/on-health-the-world-of-functional-medicine-pt-1/

 

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:

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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: 

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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.  

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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.  
 
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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.  
 
 
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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/

On Health: Why I’m Choosing Complimentary Care

It’s been a while since my last blog entry, I’ve been feeling so many different things lately, and as I started to type I thought I was actually going to talk about empty nest syndrome, or my plans to move to South East Asia in a few years … but as I started – I realized … “I’m really f@cking tired, but can’t sleep, so why don’t you write about your struggles from a health perspective”?

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The biggest thing I’ve been struggling with is profound fatigue – as in fatigue that isn’t relieved by rest – and being in a state of constant reduced energy, motivation and concentration.

I’ve been working on replenishing my iron counts (for nearly 2 years now with no success) and my adrenal levels (most recently) which to be honest for the most part, until that happens, leaves me spent by the end of the work day – who am I kidding – I’m spent the minute I open my eyes in the morning.

As a point of reference, I had lab work done 2 months ago, my iron/ferritin count was at 13 —- 13, when the max range is 250 – I was a 13 – and this was taking 2 ferrous gluconate tabs per day – imagine if I didn’t take any at all?  I’d need a blood transfusion!  No wonder I was dragging my butt around!

I went back to see my new GP, whom I was excited to see – we knew the issue, my iron counts were low (again) – he’d make some wonderful new recommendations and after 2 years of struggling with this – I’d be on the road to recovery  …. ahhh not so fast ….. as if it would be that easy … during my 15 minute slotted appointment with him, he seemed to not hear me and how I was telling him I was feeling (I know my body, its been mine for 43 years – and he’s known me 5 whole minutes).  His  response was that my counts are low  (thanks Captain Obvious) and to take iron supplements – I remind him that I am – 2 per day – already – and my counts are still this low – and I’m still struggling – his solution is to tell me to remain on the 2 iron tabs and he referred me to a Gynaecologist and for an ultrasound because I may have additional bleeding causing my iron levels to drop …. that’s it – no immediate recommendations, no take more of this or add this to your diet or take this supplement — as swiftly as he came into the room, he was gone 😦

So, off I went, had the ultrasound … as an aside he has not called me yet to review the results (I need to call their office) and I’m still waiting for this specialist appt – dollars to donuts – his office has forgotten to follow up, they’re not the most organized of offices – sigh. This was all over a month ago, and I have continued to drag my butt around with no relief in sight. In fact, I felt it was getting worse because my sleep was poorer than usual – the feeling of being utterly exhausted and then not being able to sleep is one of the crappiest things I’ve ever experienced – I actually started to feel intoxicated and couldn’t complete sentences.  I caught myself making mistakes at work and would come home after work most nights and crawl into bed.  It literally felt as if I was wasting my days away because I couldn’t function normally.  I don’t know why I am speaking in the past tense here, this is still the case, despite my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts telling you contrarily.

Today for instance – I started actually writing this last night (and by last night I mean Wednesday lol) – I couldn’t finish because I was exhausted and had a headache. Came home from work at 5:10’ish and have been in bed completely spent since.

It wasn’t until about 2 weeks ago that I was at work assessing a claim – so for background purposes I work as a Disability Claims Adjudicator for an insurance company – the claim was for an individual who was experiencing similar signs and symptoms as I was i.e. chronic fatigue, loss of energy, headache, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, leg cramps, insomnia, low blood pressure, intolerance to heat or cold, weight gain (abdominal) and a few more I may be forgetting.  I was quite literally at my desk saying to myself “omg, this is me” — I scrolled down to the diagnosis section – she had Addison’s Disease – I wondered – could I have Addison’s?

Since I was getting no immediate help from my family physician (and listen, I get it, they’re crunched for time, don’t have the time to spend with each patient that they really need to in order to best understand their history and active symptomology – I work in disability claims – I see this on the daily), but in this case – it’s ME.  I decided to advocate for myself and for my health and decided while my GP was barking up one tree, I was gonna bark up another.  I decided to visit a Naturopath last Wednesday – so 1 week ago today (assuming I finish this blog today lol)  Update: no I didn’t, it’s now Saturday lol.

Screen Shot 2018-06-09 at 2.57.11 PMShe spent an hour with me going over my personal history, my life, what I had/have been going through in my life the last few weeks and months, prior health issues, family history etc … she performed a Postural Blood Pressure test (when we stand up, those of you who are in good health experience an almost immediate rise in blood pressure. In contrast, adrenal fatigue sufferers will see no change in their blood pressure, or even a slight fall. In very general terms, a larger drop in blood pressure signifies a more severe case of adrenal fatigue) – my systolic fell from 110 to 90 in that split second!  The thing is when your body isn’t producing enough cortisol, it does’t respond properly.

The first thing I was glad to hear is that she could help me (yes!) and that she felt in addition to severe anemia I was suffering from adrenal fatigue.  This was new to me and news to me.  Why had my MD (medical doctor) not suggested this as a differential diagnosis?  Well … it seems that the vast majority of MDs don’t believe the condition is real.  Yet, if you see a naturopath or a complementary (non-mainstream) medicine doctor, they might suggest that you have adrenal fatigue.

So What's The Theory Behind It?

Your body’s immune system responds by slowing down when you’re under stress. Your adrenal glands (which are small organs above your kidney, respond to stress by releasing hormones like cortisol). They regulate your blood pressure and how your heart works.

According to the theory – as per James Wilson, PhD, a naturopath and expert in alternative medicine who coined the syndrome in ’98 –  if you have long-term stress your adrenal glands can’t continuously produce the extra cortisol you need to feel good. So adrenal fatigue sets in.  There’s no approved test for adrenal fatigue. Blood tests can’t detect a small drop in adrenal production.

More and more, I have been seeking out traditional, natural alternatives to healing my body (massage, acupuncture, cupping, chiropractic and reiki).  For thousands of years, we’ve been doing this – the use of herbs, for example, vastly pre-dates modern pharma therapy. The use of body therapies like massage and acupuncture goes back for thousands of years – plus, I want to fix the issues not simply mask the symptoms.  So, I was agreeable to taking Adreset® which is designed to support resilience and stamina in individuals who are feeling mild weakness and fatigue due to stress and a tincture called St Francis Femance Excess Flow (Capsella Combo) which is a formula for individuals who experience excessive menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) or irregularity in their menstrual cycle – so my MD was in the right area thinking this – cause clearly the ND (naturopathic doctor) thought the same thing.

I started taking them the following morning (2 Adreset capsules and 30 drops of Capsella tincture three times per day).  We are now at 9 days post-commencement and I can honestly say that I am starting to regain some of my energy, the operative word here being some – but, the way I see it, it’s better than none.  She told me to would take about two weeks to start feeling a significant effect.  I feel more refreshed upon waking, I don’t feel like I’m in a constant haze/brain fog – I have more clarity, I have enough energy to come home from work and rest but not actually have to take a nap and to get suff done on weekends as supposed to resting for two days straight – today I actually cleaned my whole condo from top to bottom 🙂

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” ~ Thomas Edison

So, so far so good … I am liking the complimentary medicine approach.  In my experience, many don’t understand the positive aspects of choosing natural treatments and alternative medicine over conventional treatment – it’s a shame that Western society has taken this approach.  As part of my work, I often see/hear physicians instructing their patients not to use complimentary services. People in Western countries like the United States and Canada mainly consider these treatments outside the mainstream, or “alternative.”  Which is truly a shame, they should want the best for their patients regardless of treatment modality – we’re just a part of big business, I suppose.

Do many of you seek alternative treatments?  What are your thoughts?  Do you suggest any that I haven’t yet tried?