2020 has been challenging on many levels. So much of the media is focused on fear and the negative aspects of these challenges. But there has also been much good, much breakthrough – much opportunity for lasting impact! – that has come from this strange and wondrous year.
The pandemic shines a light on how poor health increases the risk of debilitating disease, including infections of all kinds. More and more people in our communities are realizing that chronic diseases which have plagued us for many years are not benign. Even when seemingly well-managed with drugs, maintaining a comorbidity has a cost. A vulnerability.
At SAFM, this year has inspired our tribe even more strongly to pursue our mission. Our practitioners are helping people to actually restore health – which brings resilience in the face of challenges. The vignettes below are just a small sampling of the successes that practitioners at SAFM have helped their patients to achieve recently – since the pandemic started.
These examples are commonplace fare in our practitioner forum. Successes we are grateful to feature. Inspiration that people in your practices Need to Know. Powerful possibilities of which few are aware.
There are huge opportunities for leadership at hand. Right now.
Will you seize Yours?
Through the Functional Medicine lens, we can support each unique person to find and address the actual root causes of dis-ease in their lives.
At this powerful time of awareness, let’s resist the tug of looking backward. Look up. Look forward. Let’s celebrate this powerful reminder of What Is Possible when the body has a restoration of health. We need You.
Female with hyperlipidemia and chronic inflammation.
Outcomes: labs WNL in 3 months.
Key Interconnectedness: A full thyroid panel revealed a hypothyroid state due to high stress, inflammation, and insufficient nutrients e.g. Selenium and Zinc. But hypothyroid function impairs digestive secretions, creating a vicious cycle that needs step by step root cause resolution. Food sensitivities were uncovered as a source of inflammation. Hypothyroid function is a common cause of hyperlipidemia in women.
Male in his 30’s with morbid obesity, GERD, IBS, brain fog, anxiety and ADHD.
Outcomes: 80 lbs lost in 8 months. Normal mood. Improved energy and cognition. Metabolic and lipid labs WNL. IBS and GERD gone.
Key Interconnectedness: Diet high in refined, nutrient-poor foods left this patient depleted and compromised. PPI drug use impaired digestion and absorption of required nutrients, especially Amino Acids and minerals. Magnesium deficiency contributed to LES dysfunction that promotes GERD and imbalanced GABA/Glutamate interplay which promotes anxiety. A potent focus on eating hygiene improved satiety and digestion and allowed the Migrating Motor Complex to support microbiome balance. B complex support improved hormone and neurotransmitter function. Doable introduction of exercise prevented overwhelm and paved the way for sustainable change.
Male in his 40’s with uncontrolled T2DM, obesity, exercise orthorexia, GERD, anxiety and arthritis. HbA1C 9.3% on metformin.
Outcomes: 60 lbs lost. HbA1C 5.5%. Anxiety gone. Arthritic pain gone. Off metformin. Reports having control of his health for the first time in his life.
Key Interconnectedness: Gallbladder removal and PPI use prevented proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Metformin was depleting B12. Unaddressed hepatobiliary congestion was exacerbating inflammation and toxicity. Progression of insulin resistance leads to ectopic fat in both liver and pancreas, dysregulating insulin secretion and impairing endogenous digestive enzyme production. Excessive exercise increased sympathetic activation feeding inflammation and oxidative stress. Customized diet, less intense exercise, targeted supplementation, and digestive support sustainably shifted momentum away from metabolic syndrome.
82 YO home-bound Female with poorly controlled IBS resulting in stool incontinence.
Outcomes: Resolution of stool incontinence. Patient free to live her life with confidence.
Key Interconnectedness: Dis-ease often begins in the gut. Poor eating hygiene impairs digestive secretions with especially notable impact in elderly patients who likely already have hypochlorhydria and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Gluten and dairy are common food sensitivities, and downstream inflammation from their intake can affect the health and function of the intestinal brush border (which makes enzymes required for their digestion).
Female with pandemic-related onset of anxiety and insomnia. Already healthy diet and lifestyle.
Outcomes: Sleep restored and anxiety gone. Client says she feels like her old self again.
Key Interconnectedness: Sustained overwhelming stress (e.g. pandemic or job-related) can dysregulate the HPATG hormonal axis, affecting sleep, electrolytes, and neurotransmitter balance. Ongoing sleep loss promotes anxiety, and both sustain dysregulation. Diurnal cortisol test data allowed targeted support which supported sleep and daytime energy. Magnesium boost was key to regulating GABA/Glutamate balance.
32 YO male with abdominal pain, IBS and anxiety. Elevated LFTs. On antidepressants. History of frequent antibiotic use.
Outcomes: Feels amazing. Off all prescriptions. Normal pain-free GI function. No anxiety. Optimal LFTs.
Key Interconnectedness: Frequent antibiotic use, stress, ongoing SSRI use, and poor eating hygiene can precipitate dysbiosis, including SIBO, and symptoms of impaired motility and IBS. GI dysfunction affects neurotransmitter and neuropeptide synthesis exacerbating mood imbalances and affecting motility, insulin function, and liver health. Much of IBS can be traced to dysbiosis and enteric serotonin imbalances. Addressing the gut often improves a host of downstream, systemic dynamics.
30 YO female with psoriasis, anxious about appearance for her upcoming wedding.
Outcomes: Within months, all skin lesions gone. Client thrilled and able to enjoy her wedding day with confidence.
Key Interconnectedness: Disease often begins in the gut, again. Gluten and dairy elimination in sensitive individuals can stop the cycle of enhanced intestinal permeability that creates chronic autoimmune dynamics as a result of microbial LPS molecular mimicry. Addressing key nutrient deficiencies supports optimal skin restoration. Boosting phytonutrient intake can significantly increase glutathione synthesis and counter oxidative stress from inflammation.
Overweight female with PCOS, amenorrhea, anxiety, brain fog, joint pain, and cystic acne. Considering getting pregnant. Long-term SSRI and OCP use.
Outcomes: 3 months of restored and normal menstrual cycles. All other symptoms resolved. Client is thrilled!
Key Interconnectedness: Combined nutrient-depleting effects of OCP and SSRI use are common and affect many body systems, especially detoxification, hormone metabolism, and neurotransmitter balance. High glycemic, excessive carbohydrate intake over time creates insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia which in turn promotes higher androgen synthesis with possible anovulation, lower progesterone, and infertility. Lower glycemic diet with supplemental berberine and inositol improved glucose management and insulin sensitivity. Targeted B vitamin support was key for mood balance and detoxification. Increased glutathione synthesis is essential for lowering oxidative stress and supporting Phase II liver detoxification.