In this post, I will share with you what it’s like to have a functional medicine doctor, but first is the story of how I found this model of healthcare.
In search of learning more about natural health and wellness, I started listening to health related seminars like those found on Health Talks Online. Each month it seemed there was a new health topic to listen to that involved a week long of seminars. Sometimes, I would listen to every talk and reserve the week to learn about that given topic. I’ve learned so much from these health summits, such as The Autoimmune Revolution, Heart Revolution, and Sweet Freedom Summit. It was during these summits that I first heard of the term functional medicine.
Being in the medical profession my whole life, I hadn’t heard of such a term, so I looked into it.
What I found out blew me away, and I knew that I had to find myself a functional medicine doctor!
Dr. Tom O’Bryan, one of my favorite speakers and a functional medicine doctor himself, had such great things to teach me about gluten and healing leaky gut. I bought Dr. Tom O’Bryan’s book called The Autoimmune Fix – How to Stop the Hidden Autoimmune Damage That Keeps You Sick, Fat, and Tired Before It Turns Into Disease. This is such a great book and I highly recommend it! I have learned so much from him, and ultimately, this information has helped me improve me and my family’s health.
This is a quote about functional medicine from Dr. Tom O’Bryan’s website, thedr.com.
Functional Medicine is defined as patient-centered, science-based health care that identifies and addresses the underlying triggers that cause disease and dysfunction. Its therapeutic goals are to reverse or prevent disease progression and enhance vitality. Functional Medicine is a field of health care that utilizes sophisticated assessment and testing to discover early indications of potential imbalances so that we may intervene early, improving one’s overall health.
The Functional Medicine health care approach recognizes that our bodies want to be well and that each individual patient is unique. What may work for some, may not work for others. Therefore, the therapeutic game plans used in Functional Medicine concentrate utilizing this premise while integrating knowledge from a wide range of academic and clinical disciplines. Its focus is to assess and intervene at root levels of metabolic imbalance – that is to identify the “cause” of an illness rather than focusing only on the illness. It aims to improve and optimize health at the psychological, biochemical or structural levels through therapies that restore, repair and rebuild that intrinsic balance. Its goal is to intervene before imbalances become later diseases utilizing intelligent and individualized combinations of treatments or protocols.
Most chronic health conditions involve metabolic imbalances in one or more of these six categories: Nutritional Imbalances, Immune/Inflammatory Imbalances, Intestinal Dysfunction, Impaired Detoxification, Oxidative Stress and Endocrine Imbalance. The treatments and therapies used in our office include only those in which good science and/or clinical experience have demonstrated results.
To be considered as consistent with the principles of Functional Medicine a treatment method must fulfill four criteria. They are:
- Do no harm
- Improve symptoms as well as the overall function and quality of life
- Help to convert the underlying causes of the disorder
Improve the long-term prognosis for the patient
Although this approach usually necessitates some laboratory testing and a potential range of therapies directed at the underlying causes, the most important therapy is the time and care taken with each patient at every visit. There are few shortcuts to this approach; we strongly feel it is time well spent and have hundreds of patients that have benefited from the Functional Medicine approach.
Another speaker and functional medicine doctor I admire is Dr. Peter Osborne from Sugar Land, Texas where he runs Origins Health Care.
I have learned so much about the connection between our diets and our health from Dr. Peter Osborne, in particular, how eating grains can affect us. I bought Dr. Peter Osborne’s book as well called No Grain, No Pain – A 30 Day Diet for Eliminating the Root Cause of Chronic Pain. Also, he has a shop on his website with certified gluten-free supplements that I have purchased and it was a positive experience. There is a $10 off coupon that will pop-up when you visit his Gluten Free Society Shop.What I found out blew me away, and I knew that I had to find myself a functional medicine doctor!Click To Tweet
My 6 Month Experience Working with a Functional Medicine Doctor
After I had studied the work of many functional medicine doctors just like Dr. Tom O’Bryan and Dr. Peter Osborne, I was determined that functional medicine was the model of healthcare I needed and I began my search. I remember searching for a functional medicine doctor in my area with no success, then months later, I started my search again. This time, I found a functional medicine office just a half an hour drive away. I was SO excited and emailed the doctor right away explaining my symptoms and asking if he could help me. He responded right away with the great news that he treated patients with similar symptoms like mine and requested that I book a free consultation which is a service he offers.
The intake form was long and very comprehensive which I saw as a good thing. I had a long list of symptoms including brain fog, joint pain, increase in anxiety, family history of digestive issues, a growing list of food intolerances, and sinus issues. The doctor wanted to know details to put together my whole medical history like a puzzle. As a nurse with a background in medical charting, I was sure to fill out every detail and then some. I got together with the functional medicine doctor, and he agreed that I had a lot going on, but he was positive that he could help me through a 6-month program working with him and his partner.
The funny thing is my husband came along with me for my initial consultation and decided he wanted to join in getting medical attention, so we both ended up getting six months of medical care from our functional medicine doctor and went to our appointments together. We had a doctor visit every other week after getting extensive blood work done. During our treatment, we had to meticulously chart things the doctor wanted to know like what we were eating. There were two doctors that treated us and one was dedicated to going over our nutrition and supplements throughout the program.
We had time to talk and were heard, it was an amazing experience, so much so, that my kids liked going to the doctors with us. It ended up becoming a family event every two weeks!
I was very motivated to follow doctors orders to get the maximum benefit of my medical care, but I have to admit that having my husband go through the program with me and meeting with the doctors every other week was huge to my success. Seriously, I needed the accountability and it worked! I did everything I was supposed to do from the nutrition plan, supplements, lifestyle, and charting. It took a lot of discipline to go through the program, but it was all worth it to feel me again. I regained the physical and mental energy that I had lost, plus shedding some fat in the process was a positive side effect.
I started Aroma Mama while being treated by my functional medicine doctors. The increase in mental energy, in my opinion, helped me to be successful with the launch of Aroma Mama!
We completed our six months of working with our functional medicine doctors this past summer. I can honestly say that I am so happy I chose this route for my medical care. I’ve been able to figure out which foods I need to stay away from and which foods to limit so that I have less inflammation going forward. I’m more aware of how our day to day actions really add up, good or bad. My labs will be drawn annually for maintenance. Plus, my doctor told me to call for whatever reason or make appointments as needed.
Does a functional medicine doctor interest you?
If you would like to find a functional medicine doctor in your area, enter your city and state in this functional medicine database or enter into a search engine; functional medicine, your city, and state. If there aren’t any in your area, some other options can include a holistic care practitioner or a naturopath.
For anyone local to the Greater Portland/ Vancouver area, there is an office that I can recommend called NorthWest Functional Wellness. They have two locations; one in Clackamas which is just south of Portland, OR and the main office in Vancouver, WA.
A simple step in the right direction is to keep a food journal so that you can be more aware of what you’re eating. Sometimes our portion sizes can be more alarming on paper and cause us to re-think what we are consuming. Sometimes, a food journal can even help us figure out what we’re eating that can be contributing to a symptom.
Download the free printable I made for you below to start your own food journal.
Please spread the word about functional medicine doctors as so many people could be benefitting from this model of healthcare. One way to do this right now is to share this post on social media using one of the social icons of your choice below.
Related post: My Experience on an Autoimmune Paleo Diet