A conservative yet progress functional medical approach holds much promise in symptom relief.
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A Successful Patient Case Study Treating Insomnia, Weight Gain, Thyroid, and Arthritis
Some people believe that functional or naturopathic medicine is an expensive and complicated process that involves suitcases of supplements and thousands of dollars in lab tests.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
In my functional medical practice, I don’t believe in running gratuitous lab tests and doing excessive treatments. My philosophy is to create a treatment plan that is short and inexpensive. My goal is to get to the root of the health problem using a science-based approach.
I do testing in my practice, but am fairly conservative. One example of the way I work is a successful case study with my patient Laura.
Laura is 67 and she came to me with complaints of insomnia, dramatic spikes and dips in energy during the day, arthritis in her fingers and knees, and weight gain despite changes in diet.
These symptoms were adversely affecting her quality of life, but Laura believed she had no control over their progression because they were simply the result of aging.
Fortunately, she came in to see me for help.
While she was eating a diet aimed at supporting her health, she didn’t realize it included some inflammatory foods, such as grains, that could likely exacerbate her symptoms.
We did some cursory testing of her thyroid and found that she was positive for Hashimoto’s disease.
Hashimoto’s is the leading cause of hypothyroid disease in the Western world. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body makes antibodies or immune cells that attack and damage the thyroid. If this process occurs long enough, it can lead to irreparable damage to the thyroid gland and it will become hypothyroid.
While Laura already knew that she was hypothyroid, she was surprised to learn that the underlying cause was an autoimmune condition.
We put her on supplementation that helped with thyroid hormone conversion and were able to decrease her thyroid inflammation. We also supported her other hormones.
On the dietary front, we experimented with putting her on the Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP). Like the Paleo diet, the AIP diet eliminates grains, beans, soy, peanuts, industrial oils, dairy, refined sugars, and processed foods. But the AIP protocol goes beyond the Paleo diet to also eliminate foods that can likely irritate the gut and immune system, such as eggs, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers), nuts, chocolate, and certain spices.
While Laura thought it would be difficult to make these dietary changes, since it involved removing daily food staples, she found it much easier than expected after the first several days.
She was surprised that she felt quite satisfied and never hungry or deprived on this diet. She also experienced a slow and steady weight loss of 1 pound per week, and is now down 8 pounds from where she started.
Her secret to successfully sticking with the diet was planning ahead.
Two months into this diet, Laura feels much better and most of her symptoms have dissipated.
Her biggest complaint was the insomnia, but now she sleeps through the night on most nights.
“I thought I was fated to be an insomniac for the rest of my life,” says Laura.
Now she also has a sense of well-being and stable energy throughout the day. She no longer has pain in her knees and less stiffness in her hands. The quality of her life has greatly improved.
The next step with Laura is to monitor her progress as she continues the program. If she continues to improve, as she has been, we’ll do nothing more.
If her progress is not where it should be, then we’ll do some additional investigation with further lab testing.
I love to empower patients with the knowledge they need to take better care of themselves. Before, Laura believed that her issues were age related, and that she was destined to feel worse with age.
Now, she feels “younger and freer.” She realizes that it was an imbalance in her body and lifestyle factors that were preventing her from feeling better.
The takeaway for this case study is that we have much more control over our health than we think. Getting good help and making a few targeted changes is something anyone can do to make improvements in health and life.
If you need help using this information to become healthier, click here.
To be notified when my print book becomes available & get a free gut health eBook, click here.
If you are a healthcare provider looking to sharpen your clinical skills, click here.
What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.
Dr. Ruscio is your leading functional and integrative doctor specializing in gut related disorders such as SIBO, leaky gut, Celiac, IBS and in thyroid disorders such as hypothyroid and hyperthyroid. For more information on how to become a patient, please contact our office. Serving the San Francisco bay area and distance patients via phone and Skype.