From addressing hormonal imbalance and anxiety to gut health troubles, functional medicine takes a holistic, individualized approach to treat chronic conditions and restore long-term well-being.
You know deep down something is off with your health. Maybe you’re unusually moody, frequently tired, and gaining weight no matter how careful you are about your diet. Perhaps your libido is low, you’re anxious, or you frequently suffer from abdominal distress. But when you consult your doctor, your lab work comes back normal.
- You might be told, “this is just the way it is when you get to your age.”
- You’re prescribed birth control to help ease hormonal fluctuations.
- You’re given a list of diet recommendations to address your digestive complaints.
While symptom management is common in conventional medicine, what if you’re the kind of person who wants to know what’s behind your troubling symptoms to achieve long-term healing?
That’s where functional medicine practitioners comes in.
What is functional medicine?
Functional medicine is whole-person care.
“Functional medicine is a systems-based approach that deeply values understanding each patient as an individual.” ~ The Institute for Functional Medicine
Instead of treating and suppressing symptoms, functional medicine is patient-centered care that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease to restore well-being. Although many practitioners are board-certified MDs and DOs, certified functional medicine practitioner’s come to the profession through a variety of medical backgrounds, including nursing, psychotherapy, dietetics, naturopathy, and chiropractic.
Typically, functional medicine practitioners integrate Western medical practices with integrative or alternative medicine, focusing on prevention, diagnostic testing, and utilizing therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, stress-management techniques, and supplements as treatments.
Functional medicine practitioner examines the space between the pathology of disease and optimal wellness by taking an individualized, comprehensive approach to care, assessing a person’s genetics, biochemistry, epigenetics, physical/social environment, and lifestyle.
What is functional nutrition?
A core element of functional medicine is functional nutrition, which views food as medicine. By understanding the interaction between a person’s genes and environmental factors, including food and toxins, a functional nutritionist can offer individualized interventions to better manage chronic diseases often linked to diet and lifestyle, like hypertension, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, mental illness and rheumatoid arthritis.
Functional nutritionists not only assess the types of foods a person consumes but also the how and why behind specific food choices. As part of the protocol, we recommend eliminating processed foods and eating a balanced diet rich in an assortment of colorful fruits and vegetables, as well as other whole foods appropriate for that individual’s medical history and health goals.
Because 70% of the immune system is contained in the gut, we encourage eating foods that support the gut’s microbiome and promote healing.
Furthermore, for long-term well-being, we also evaluate how sleep, stress and relationships are contributing to your overall health.
Why functional medicine?
Due to the rising incidence and cost of chronic disease in our country, there’s a growing need for changing the way we approach healthcare. Nearly 60% of adults suffer from at least one chronic health condition and roughly 40% suffer from more than one chronic health condition, accounting for trillions of dollars in healthcare costs.
“As healthcare costs become increasingly unsustainable, it is apparent the heart of the problem faced by patients and payers is the frequency with which costly disease management strategies are applied before exploring the potential of disease reversal. Rather than looking beneath the assortment of diagnoses to find the underlying causes of their health problems, patients with chronic conditions are encouraged to follow costly, often lifelong medication regimens and hope for occasional days of freedom from symptoms.” ~ Tom Blue, IFM director of industry strategy & partnerships
Functional medicine matters because it has been shown to reverse the trends associated with the cost and prevalence of chronic disease by improving patient outcomes and in the long term, saving money for patients and the healthcare system. (Source: IFM.org)
Where the mind and the body intertwine.
As a licensed professional counselor, board certified in holistic nutrition and certified as a functional medicine practitioner, I believe that physical and emotional health are intertwined.
By understanding the biological, chemical, nutritional and environmental root causes of distressing health issues, along with creating an actionable plan for addressing them, you’ll feel more empowered in how you approach your health and well-being every day.
Specializing in Functional Nutrition, I see nourishing food as medicine and provide guidance to my clients on the types of whole foods and essential nutrients that support the microbiome in the body, which encompasses gut health, nervous system regulation, cardiovascular health, brain health, blood sugar, the immune system, and healthy metabolism. I also consider lifestyle factors like sleep and relationships which impact the way our bodies process foods and manage stress.
How functional nutrition’s holistic, individualized approach works.
In functional nutrition, we take a comprehensive and individual approach. After a careful review of your health history, we take a deep dive into your functional medicine labs.
For example, we might discover that your insulin is high, contributing to hormone disruptions, which can lead to weight gain, fatigue and mood disruption. We can then create a treatment plan to restore your energy and balance your moods.
Here’s how I work with my clients.
- Discovery call. Schedule a free 20-minute discovery call where I’ll listen to your story and share some thoughts about what’s causing your health concerns.
- Case review. During your initial case review appointment, I’ll spend time getting to know you and your full health history. I’ll provide an analysis of your case and recommend specific labs to confirm your root causes.
- Coaching/Counseling. While waiting for lab results, we’ll schedule health coaching appointments to help you make the dietary and lifestyle changes you want to see and/or counseling appointments to help you address nervous system dysregulation and trauma.
- Lab review. At your lab review appointment, I’ll customize a plan to help you resolve your root causes for good. I also upload a written plan in your client portal for you to access with easy-to-follow instructions, recipes, and everything else you’ll need.
- What next? Follow-ups are scheduled as needed to work through all your root causes and transform your health from the inside out.
What types of complex health issues do you address?
Chronic stress and past trauma are often the culprits behind issues affecting the body and the mind. Through a combination of nutritional functional medicine and counseling, including somatic experiencing, I help clients get to the root of their stress by exploring the biochemical, genetic, lifestyle, and relationships factors that could be contributing to issues like:
- Brain fog
- Unexplained weight-loss/weight-gain
- Emotional eating/Food addiction/Disordered eating/Binge eating
- Gut issues
- Sleep problems
- Moods and hormonal imbalance
This is what one of my clients shared about her experience pursuing functional nutrition:
“I was dealing with a lot of bloating and nobody could figure out why. I was shipped around to my primary doctor, the OB, and the GI doc, only to be told nothing was wrong with me. One call to Brooke and she knew it had to be SIBO, which a test confirmed. I am so grateful to have had somewhere to turn when everyone else thought I was crazy, and when my symptoms seemed like something I would never recover from.” ~ Megan
My personal path to functional medicine.
I know firsthand how difficult life can be when you don’t have answers to frustrating health issues. My life with food started off with a rough start. The first bite of food my mother gave me was plain yogurt right around my first birthday. In her words, every orifice started streaming with fluid; water from my eyes, nose, and mouth. My parents took me to the hospital, where the doctor told them I’d likely have a lot of allergies and to avoid milk completely for the time being.
We know a lot more about allergies and food sensitivities now than we did back then, but that doctor was certainly right. I did grow up with a lot of food allergies.
We also know a lot more about trauma, and how trauma lives in the nervous system. What did my body remember about the experience of struggling to breathe after my first bite of food? What memory lived in my nervous system every time I ate something and my body reacted poorly? I developed a deep-seated distrust and fear of food.
Years later, this distrust manifested into an eating disorder, in which I’d experience sensations and images that didn’t make sense around my urge to binge on food.
Through a combination of functional nutrition and a trauma therapist who specialized in somatic experiencing, I began to resolve my anxiety, trauma, and binge eating disorder.
My recovery was multifaceted. I learned how addictive certain foods were for me. I treated my gut problems with functional medicine. I processed the trauma in my body through therapy and found other coping mechanisms aside from food to cope with my stress.
For me, healing required an integrative approach. My personal health journey inspired me to attend holistic nutrition school in Denver followed by three years of functional medicine practitioner training. Later, I earned my Master’s in Counseling Psychology and trained in Somatic Experiencing.
My mission is to provide the comprehensive tools and resources to help you put the pieces of your puzzle together and support you in your healing and recovery journey.
Learn more. Wondering if the functional medicine approach can help you? I specialize in the gut-brain connection, hormonal imbalances in women, couples and individual counseling, and nutrition coaching. Schedule a free discovery call to see if my holistic approach to healing is right for you.