If I could put my entire philosophy into one sentence, it would be this: Know and advocate for your own body. No one else will ever be able to know you as well as you do, and you can use and trust this innate wisdom as you seek healing. Our bodies are truth tellers, and symptoms and changes are their message. Sometimes the message is clear, and other times, you may need a partner to help you decode the message. My job is to help you listen to what your body is telling you and help you figure out what it’s asking for. In the spirit of figuring out “what’s going on in there” (and not just putting a bandaid on symptoms) I use a variety of tools so that together we can uncover your unique needs. These may be food journals, comprehensive questionnaires, or functional lab testing. This enables me to create targeted protocols to restore optimal, individual function.
If we need to dive deeper into your symptoms, I’ll suggest targeted functional lab testing as a window into the body’s function. The tests are simple, accurate, and uniquely informative about what’s going on for you and what healing protocols will be most effective. They’ll also be a barometer for us to objectively and measurably track results. Rather than the stops and starts of trying out various strategies, we can quickly jump onto the healing path so you can start to feel better sooner.
Some of the functional screening tests I recommend are listed here. I’ll suggest specific labs based on your unique needs. These are direct-to-consumer tests, and most can be mailed right to your home and then mailed back to the lab. When results come in, we’ll review the results together.
We live in a 24-hour society, and “busy” is what we answer when people ask us how we are. This level of GO can be incredibly depleting to two small, energy-regulating organs that sit right above our kidneys: the adrenals. The adrenals secrete several hormones, including one you may have heard of as the “stress” hormone: cortisol. Cortisol is not just a stress hormone, though. You need adequate levels to stabilize your energy throughout the day. The adrenal test is a salivary test that looks at how much cortisol you have available during the day, and what the pattern of release is. This will give us information about how healthy and strong your adrenals are. In addition, we get a snapshot of DHEA, which is a precursor hormone to sex hormones, and will help us in reviewing potential hormonal imbalances.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, is famously quoted as saying “All disease begins in the gut.” It’s easy to imagine why: all the building blocks for your entire body–organ systems, hormones, neurological signalers–enter the body via the digestive tract. You are not just WHAT you eat–you are what you DO with what you eat. This test is an amazing tool that provides insight into how you’re digesting fat, protein, and starch, whether you are harboring parasites or fungal overgrowth (yeast/candida), if you have intestinal inflammation markers, and what the balance of the bacteria in your gut looks like. The study of the balance of this bacterial colony, know as the microbiome, is cutting-edge science, and we are constantly uncovering links between the gut and mood, gut and skin, gut and chronic illness. The gut is referred to as the “second brain,” and information is constantly being shared along the gut-brain axis, a superhighway between the gut and brain. There are more neurons in the gut than in the brain! For people who are struggling with pain in the digestive tract, autoimmune disorders, and mood imbalances, disturbances in the microbiome or gut function are often at the root of the issue. Intestinal permeability, otherwise known as “leaky gut,” is an increasingly common issue that can stem from or lead to other issues throughout the body. Everyone is different, so manifestations may be different for an individual, and depend on the intersections between the leaky gut and other triggers.
Knowing “what’s going on in there” will help us determine the best path to healing.
GI issues are often intertwined with food sensitivities, and can be implicated in chronic health conditions. Not all food sensitivities manifest in ways you might expect, but they can be stopping your body from doing the real healing work it needs to. It’s like continually picking at a scab. Mediator Release Testing (MRT) identifies sensitive foods and chemicals in foods that are could be contributing to this intestinal irritation though comprehensive analysis of your body’s response to 150 different foods and additives. It is highly accurate, comprehensive, and backed by research. The reaction levels for each individual are carefully tracked, revealing not just whether you are sensitive to a food, but HOW sensitive you are. This information is critical in putting together a healing dietary protocol. The foods identified as reactive are not off the table forever–we take the time to heal the underlying issue and then are able to slowly re-introduce foods.
Some of the top complaints I hear from women are related to hormone imbalances. Your endocrine (hormone) system is delicately balanced and can be impacted by stress, diet, and environmental toxins, just to name a few.
What might that look like for you? If you’re cycling, it could mean PMS, irregular menstrual cycles, lack of a period, skin problems, stubborn weight gain, migraine headaches, depression and anxiety, mood swings, and sleepless nights.
Women who are either transitioning to menopause (peri-menopause) or are menopausal may experience stubborn weight gain (often in the midsection), hot flashes, and osteoporosis.
For a cycling woman, the comprehensive panel involves collecting 11-17 saliva samples over the course of her cycle to get a full picture of her hormonal pattern throughout the month. Seeing both the entire pattern, rather than a single snapshop, as well as gathering information on the free fraction of hormones (which is how much hormone is actually available for use by the body) is the best way for us to identify the root cause of imbalances and identify ways to restore function.
Menopausal women may choose either a salivary or urinary test to evaluate hormonal function.
While women’s cycles have a more obvious pattern and the clear age-related shift of menopause, they are not the only ones to experience hormonal change. As men age, they may notice that they have less energy, can’t work out as hard in the gym, have changes in sexual performance, and my experience changes in hair patterns. Just as with women, looking at the free fraction (available for use) of hormones via a saliva sample can show where imbalances may be contributing and where there are opportunities for healing.
The thyroid is one of the key regulators of metabolism and energy in the body, and many people experience thyroid symptoms like thinning hair, cold hands and feet, brain fog, exhaustion, and weight gain, without ever identifying the root cause. In conventional care, if a thyroid test is performed at all, it is just a TSH level test. Comprehensive thyroid measurements should include a lot more than this, including available forms of active thyroid and thyroid antibodies. Having all levels checked may reveal hidden causes of dysfunction.
Moreover, the thyroid (just like all glands, organs, and systems) is not a lone ranger; function is tied to your entire body system, and getting to the root of thyroid disorder means looking at your system as a whole.