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?  

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?