Hi friends! I talked a little bit about how to find a Functional Medicine practitioner recently on Instagram and I got a lot of feedback from people about it so I wanted to bring it here to the blog so I could share some links and talk more about my story in hopes that it helps someone out there looking to find optimal health.
My Health Story
SOOOOOOOO…let me first tell you a little bit about me and my journey. When I was pregnant with my first, 5 years ago, I picked up a parasite in Key West when we were there for a wedding. I know, Key West + pregnant = total buzz kill but then you add parasite contraction on top of that and it’s just plain painful. My symptoms were extreme diarrhea but I thought it was morning sickness so I let it go until I reached my second trimester before seeing a doc. At that time I was prescribed a Class C antibiotic called Flagyl. I was totally sick over it because the last thing I wanted to do was take antibiotics while I was pregs but in the end I did it because I was told the parasite could turn septic entering my bloodstream and then the baby’s if I didn’t treat it. After that I was “fine”.
Every year after that I would get a bout of diarrhea for a week or two and then it would go away. I didn’t think much of it. Then a couple of years ago we went out to P.F. Changs (which my friend has since dubbed “F.U. Chang’s”) and I woke up with a bout of diarrhea that has never gone away. Like I legit have had diarrhea for years – UGH.
So at the onset which was a little over two years ago, I saw my regular primary and she referred me to a GI specialist who gave me a colonoscopy. This confirmed I had microscopic colitis and I was prescribed a steroid to calm the inflammation, given a pat on the back and told I would be better in 6 weeks. Well at that time I was just rounding the bend into green living and breast feeding my second and decided not to take the steroid. Symptoms persisted.
About 6 months later I found a functional medicine practitioner (FMP) out of The Rothfeld Center in Plymouth, MA when I was living in Boston. She initially ran an IgE test, some blood work and a stool sample and told me I had Celiac and to cut out gluten.
After that punch in the face, I went home and swore off gluten. And honestly THE NEXT DAY I noticed a difference. Swelling in my hands and face I didn’t even know I had went down and my digestion improved overnight. I was cured!
Three months later I was having GI issues again. At a followup my FMP just looked defeated and suggested a SIBO test because maybe I had bacterial overgrowth. At that point I threw in the towel with her. I felt like I was going around in circles and getting nowhere.
Next up, my chiropractor recommended her FMP out of New Hampshire so I gave her a try. She looked at my labs, gave me a hair sample test and concluded that I had a virus in my gut and heavy metal toxicity. She put me on a regime of supplements including the usual suspects like vitamin D, zinc, magnesium and probiotics but then added some herbal antivirals like lemon balm, golden seal and garlic to fight “the virus”.
My digestion started improving right around the time I realized she was quoting Anthony Williams to me so I was stuck between a rock and a hard place noticing improvements but questioning her expertise. After 6 months with her I moved to Atlanta and my digestion plummeted. I was worse than ever this past December. Just constantly going to the bathroom and it was totally impacting my quality of life to the point where I couldn’t even take my kids to the park because “what if”.
So, stuck without a doc and needing some serious help I started searching for someone local. I wanted someone who wouldn’t jump to antibiotics or steroids as the answer but at the same time wouldn’t rule those out those options if they are truly needed. I’m not looking to treat my symptoms because I know they are just that; symptoms. I want to target the root problem and fix it so I stop having symptoms.[clickToTweet tweet=”Functional medicine is a whole health approach to wellness that targets the root of the problem not the symptoms.” quote=”Functional medicine is a whole health approach to wellness that targets the root of the problem not the symptoms.”]
Enter functional medicine practitioners (FMP), health coaches, nutritionists, natropaths and the like.
Functional Medicine Practitioners, Health Coaches and Naturopaths, OH MY!
There is a HUGE range of alternative medicine practitioners out there with a HUGE range of skill – the key is finding a good match for you and your needs.
On one end of the functional medicine practitioner spectrum we have health coaches, nutritionists or functional medicine practitioners who are not doctors and may have taken anything as little as a weekend crash course to several months of training to get their certifications. We run the full gamut of expertise here.
On the other end of the spectrum we have docs; MD, DC, NDs etc. People who have years of medical training and clinical experience. And again as in any profession a full gamut of skill and specialties resides here as well.
Now for someone who is having mild symptoms, a health coach may be just the thing for you. They are cheaper, more accessible and your situation may be an easy fix for them. But on the other hand if you are having severe symptoms (like me with years of testing and doctor hopping) a health coach is not an ideal mach. So I set out to find a doctor. I was done messing around and this time I wanted a naturopath.
Natropathic Medicine focuses on prevention by using therapeutic methods to encourage self healing and it includes both conventional and alternative medicine. Naturopaths are trained at accredited medial colleges and most hold a 4 year or more degree in medicine. Get ready to pay out of pocket for a Naturopath though because most are not covered by insurance – although this can vary state to state.
My New Doc
I found a naturopath here in Atlanta. Her name is Dr. Rachel Marynowski. I’ve met with her once and so far, so good. She asked for my labs in advance and requested I do a 7 day food journal before my intake appointment. My first visit was 2.5 hours long and was an extensive granular level mockup of my medical history and health influences like possible mold exposures, genetic dispositions, my birth story, a physical examination – the whole 9.
We ran 3 tests: A blood draw for environments allergies like mold or dust mites etc. And another draw for food allergies. Plus another stool sample (which I don’t wish on my worst enemy – THE WORST!) Still waiting on the results.
In the meantime I am off all of my supplements, eliminating nuts (AHHH the agony!), gluten (old hat) and dairy (no biggie). I will meet with her again in a month to go over the results of my tests and give her feedback on how I am feeling post elimination diet and decide what to do from there.
I am feeling optimistic.
How To Find A Practitioner Near You
Here are a couple of resources you may find helpful to find a practitioner near you.
The American Association of Natropathic Physicians has a search page where you can search by zip code for a Natropath near you.
American College for Advancement in Medicine – I didn’t find anything by me here in Atlanta or Boston but maybe something will come up for you so I wanted to include the link as a resource.
The Wellness Way is also highly recommended by one of my friends. This one was not a good fit for me but their approach literally saved my friend’s son’s life and they have affiliate practices all over the country.
Naturally you can Google your zip and the terms “natropath” “functional medicine” “intergrative medicine” “holistic doctor” “alternative medicine” and see what comes up.
And another great way is by joining a Facebook Group local to you that values holistic health. Try searching “organic moms” + “your location”. This is a great way to info crowd source with local like-minded moms/women. Discover local resources like doctors, farms, springs. where to pick organic blueberries or find a public salt water pool. I love this resource.
Ask Around The Healthy Scene:
In Boston and in Atlanta the best luck I’ve had getting connected is by tapping into the holistic scene. Asking around at the chiropractor or a local juice bar can dig up some great recs. I was chatting up my chiro in Atlanta and they referred me to my current naturopath. Score!
Either way, it may take you a few tries to find a doc that is a good fit for you. Just trust your gut (pun intended!) I like what my girl Amy says over at The Healthy Apple: If you are seeing a doc and you are are not seeing improvements in 3 months? FIRED! Move on! Consider it not a good match and find someone new.
Okay, We Get It!
Okay, I’ll stop now since there is a lot here. I hope my experience and theses resources help. I am happy to chat more – feel free to leave a comment or email me with thoughts or questions. If I can help, I will. I plan to chat about my health journey here every month or so so stay tuned for updates.
Photos by my faves: Viera Photographics