Functional Lab Testing

My Problem with Functional Medicine

How Coaching Makes Functional Medicine More Effective

My early career in medicine began as an acupuncturist. I went to school in a converted old house in New Mexico, with chickens in the parking lot and burritos at break time.

My teachers were mostly from China, and very smart, interesting people. I learned to read the signs of the body. Puffy tongue means dampness. Frequent sighing shows liver stagnation.

Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDNP

Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDNP

As I entered practice, I gave generously to my clients. I used essential oils and did massage. I counseled them on dating and workplace drama.

But when I got sick, I didn’t know enough to help myself. As I looked for solutions, I found functional medicine.

I didn’t know it by that name at the time, but I studied the body systems in a new way, and I studied a new body of therapeutic foods and supplements.

 

I was fascinated with this new world and reaped some benefits in my own health. I went on to study functional medicine in a more formal way, completing the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition program.

But then one very rainy winter in Oregon, I got really sick. And again my knowledge was not enough. I turned to lab testing and found mold and Epstein Barr. I found some great insight from functional practitioners but also fell into some serious gaps:

  • There was a rush to give supplements.

  • There was a ‘this should be working’ attitude.

  • There was an overlooking of me as a whole person.

 

One of the most disappointing things for me was the lack of empathy I felt from the functional practitioners that I saw. While I’m sure that they did care, I didn’t hear it in their communication.

 

I was really sick. I’m talking bone-tired, twitching eyelids, can’t hold a thought for two seconds sick. Beyond expensive supplements, I needed to feel heard and loved. I needed advice on how to make it through the day.

 

I’m not saying that one functional doc is meant to be an answer to all of life’s issues! When you are seriously ill, it’s going to take a village, persistence, & a good mindset. Eventually, I found a counselor who helped me address the stress of chronic illness and the displacement caused by mold.

As I struggled to figure out my illness, I had to re-calibrate my view of functional medicine. Was it not at all what I thought it was? Was it a waste of time and money?

I am very thankful for my roots in Chinese Medicine and life coaching that gave me a roadmap for how things could, indeed, be better.

 

My current practice is very progressive. It’s all online, and we run tests from mold to parasites. We have clients all over the world and use video chat and electronic intake forms.

 

But I have embraced wholeheartedly the old-fashioned values of listening to my client carefully, of reading between the lines and seeing what’s really stressing them and letting them have a voice in how their protocols proceed.

 

We remember to say, “you’re doing a great job,” and remind you that things will get easier. We help you deal with skeptical family members and birthday cake in the break room. 

We are coaches, and we help you navigate the hard parts of life.

 

The term ‘functional medicine’ was coined by Dr. Jeffrey Bland in 1991 as he and his wife established the Institute of Functional Medicine. Dr. Bland is a nutritional biochemist and we can really credit him for establishing and advancing this field.

 

Functional medicine excels at testing. It looks at how to best support the body’s systems without doing harm. But here’s the thing...

You are not a group of symptoms or test results.

You are person with a story of how you got sick, and the story of how you get well is still being written. Having a coach who truly listens and lifts you up will be an important a part of your healing journey.

Are you ready for the next level of holistic functional care?

Work With Us!

We would be honored to work with you as a private client. We provide testing and coaching options to women in most every state and country. Come check out our coaching options to see if it’s a fit. 

 

 

 


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Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDNP, is trained in functional health coaching and has worked with thousands of women over her career since 2004. She is the founder of Women’s Wellness Collaborative llc and HormoneDetoxShop.com.

Case Study: A Functional Approach to Hormones and Gut

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How Functional Health Coaching Treats Mood, Gut and Hormones in an Integrated Way

The Symptoms

When Emily joined our coaching program, she was struggling with depression, anxiety, fatigue, and brain fog. She said that she did not have the energy to improve her diet or exercise regimen to support her health. She feared that trying to make major changes could have the potential to elicit panic attacks that would prevent her from moving forward.

Photo by Jason Briscoe

Photo by Jason Briscoe

Emily felt “tired almost all of the time.” Up until a few years before joining our functional coaching program, she had lived an active life. She had spent years gaining her education and working as a public health professional. And, at 38-years-old, she found herself barely making it through the day.

Emily had resorted to some of the most common coping mechanisms available: coffee in the morning to give her enough energy to get going, and alcohol at night to help her sleep.

Emily had resorted to some of the most common coping mechanisms available: coffee in the morning to give her enough energy to get going, and alcohol at night to help her sleep.

She suffered from symptoms of gas, bloating and indigestion. Her symptoms eased when she was strict about her diet but returned whenever she wavered slightly. 

The First Steps

The first thing we advised Emily to do was to take the huge step of removing coffee and alcohol from her diet. Within a matter of a couple of weeks, she was amazed at how much better she felt, just from those small changes. While this is not always as impactful for everybody as it was for Emily, it does show that sometimes a couple of small tweaks can have big effects.

The Labs

As Emily made those early changes to diet, we ran a handful of functional labs, including:

  • DUTCH Complete hormone panel

  • Comprehensive thyroid panel

  • GI-Map stool pathogen test

  • Micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) test.

The Test Results

The test results showed that Emily was quite deficient in the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone but it is also responsible for providing a sense of energy and plays an important role in regulating the circadian rhythms controlling sleep/wake cycles.

Emily was also very low in all of her female sex hormones (the estrogens and progesterone) and she was also very low in melatonin, a hormone that helps promote restful sleep.

Emily's thyroid appeared to be slightly sluggish and she was deficient in seven different important micronutrients.

Her stool test detected two different parasites, an overgrowth of two different opportunistic yeast species, suppressed immune response in the small intestines, and a very strong sensitivity to gluten-containing foods.

Part of the Hormone Report

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Stool Test Results

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The Protocol

Emily remained free from coffee and alcohol and began to adopt a gluten-free diet.

She started doing moderate exercise, managing her stress levels, eradicating gut pathogens through an herbal protocol, and supporting her healthy hormone balance through diet, herbs, and lifestyle changes.

She introduced some herbal tinctures such as black cohosh, red clover, vitex, and motherwort to support her female hormone levels. She used a product called Adrenotone from Designs for Health to support the adrenal glands and the balance of stress hormone production through the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

Emily supported her micronutrient balance through the introduction of a complete mineral support formula and used the Designs for Health GI Microb-X product as one of the antimicrobial blends for eradicating infectious microorganisms. She also introduced Megaspore probiotic to rebuild beneficial gut flora and to support the immune system. 

For dietary support, Emily began seed cycling and introduced more healthy fats into her diet. She also incorporated detoxification strategies such as dry brushing and rebounding into her daily routine to help her move toxins out of the body in a natural way.

The Transformation

Photo by Patrick Hendry

Photo by Patrick Hendry

As Emily gained energy, she was able to reintegrate exercise into her life and she enjoys mountain biking and outdoor sports of many kinds.

After six months on the coaching program, Emily reported feeling better than she had in years despite experiencing some extreme stress, including the sudden death of her partner’s mother.

Over the course of her six months on the program, Emily gained enough energy and mental clarity to make big decisions about her life, including the purchase of a new home and a desire to have a baby.

Emily is now thriving, pregnant, happy in her life, and excited about her future.

 

 

Are You Ready for Your Transformation?

Work With Us!

We would be honored to work with you as a private client. We provide testing and coaching options to women in most every state and country. Come check out our coaching options to see if it’s a fit.


Bridgit.jpg

Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDNP, is trained in functional health coaching and has worked with thousands of women over her career since 2004. She is the founder of Women’s Wellness Collaborative llc and HormoneDetoxShop.com.

Are You in Prediabetes? With Dr. Alan Hopkins

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Dr. Alan Hopkins is the CEO of YOURLABWORK, LLC and is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Surgery and Perioperative Care at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. In this episode, we continue with the conversation on blood sugar that we started last week with Diane Sanfilippo. Hopkins talks about what prediabetes is, testing and blood sugar numbers.

Here's what you'll hear:

Min 01:45 Dr. Alan Hopkins' background & work
Min 04:25 Diabetes research
Min 08:40 Lab testing at Your Lab Work
Min 10:25 Taking a stand for your health
Min 12:35 Prediabetes & diabetes numbers
Min 13:20 Blood sugar markers & your risk potential
       - Blood sugar of 85 or less is considered perfect
       - Blood sugar of 100 is prediabetes
       - Blood sugar of 125 is diabetes
       - Blood sugar of 126 & above is consistent with Types 2 diabetes
Min 18:00 Early blood sugar screening
Min 24:50 Insulin resistance
Min 28:40 Effects of exercise & food on blood sugar
Min 33:10 Dealing with Prediabetes
Min 36:45 Custom lab work
       - Metabolic panel
       - Sugar metabolism & Diabetes screening
       - Thyroid tests (TSH, Free T3, Free T4), Thyroid Peroxidase antibodies (for Hashimoto's)
       - Advanced cholesterol panel

To learn more about Dr. Alan Hopkins, visit his website here.

Resources:

Detoxing From Sugar with Diane Sanfilippo
How High Blood Sugar Wrecks Your Hormones with Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo 
Get 20% discount off your lab work using the discount code "Drr2018"
Practitioner Training Program survey
Custom lab work

Here's the video version of the interview with Dr. Alan Hopkins:

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

If you have not yet joined our community, be sure take our "Is a Gut Infection Causing Your Hormonal Imbalance" quiz here, and come on board!

We have lots of valuable, free resources for women's health we share weekly.

Bridgit Danner,

Founder of Women's Wellness Collaborative

Best Protocols for Gut Infections with Ann Melin

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Ann Melin is our lead health coach at Women's Wellness Radio and a certified Holistic Health Practitioner, Clinical Nutritionist, a Clinical Master Herbalist, and a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner. In this episode we talk about gut health, gut infections, and the best treatment protocols.

Here's what you'll hear:

Min 01:35 The connection between gut health & hormone health
Min 05:20 Symptoms of gut infections
Min 11:00 Why you need to address gut parasites
Min 14:35 Gut healing protocols & lab testing
Min 22:50 SIBO & GI map tests
Min 27:10 Links between gut parasites & other diseases
Min 30:10 Getting treatment for chronic conditions
Min 38:00 Treating gut parasites (candida, SIBO)
Min 41:35 Herbs & supplements for gut health
Min 45:20 Steps to WWC coaching

Resources:

Check out our coaching program to see if it is a fit for you.

Visit our shop here.

Beautycounter products - non-toxic line of beauty products

Learn about our protocols for toxins testing here.

Here are more resources, outlining our testing protocols for other nasty gut issues, including SIBO, parasitic infections and Candida.

Join Our Community!

If these talks resonated with you and your case, we’d love to get to know you better!

If you have not joined our free newsletter, be sure take our "Is a Gut Infection Causing Your Hormonal Imbalance" quiz here, and come on board! We have lots of valuable, free resources for women's health we share weekly.

If you use Facebook, please join our group! Hormone Detox Tribe is a community of amazing women who love learning, want happy hormones and want to avoid toxins to protect their health and to love up on the environment.


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Bridgit is trained in functional health coaching and has worked with thousands of women over her career since 2004. She is the founder of Women’s Wellness Collaborative llc and HormoneDetoxShop.com.

Create a Healthcare Revolution with Chris Kresser

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Chris Kresser is the founder of The Kresser Institute, co-director of The California Center for Functional Medicine, and author of the new book "Unconventional Medicine" as well as New York Times best seller "The Paleo Cure."

Here's what you'll hear:

Min 01:55 Introduction to Chris Kresser & his health history
Min 05:00 Chris Kresser's work & books
Min 06:25 The state of health care & chronic disease
Min 10:25 Working with health practitioners & the problem of insurance
Min 21:10 The pharmaceutical industry's influence & functional medicine
Min 26:25 Chris Kresser's clinical practice & programs
Min 33:50 Networking for health practitioners
Min 42:50 Chris Kresser's resources

To learn more about Chris Kresser, visit his website here and follow him on social media:
Facebook 
Twitter 
Pinterest 
Google+ 
YouTube 

Resources:

Get 50% off our Hormone Summit, Menopause Summit, & Perfect Periods Program using the code rock2018
Kresser Institute for practitioners
Beautycounter - non-toxic line of beauty products

Here's the video version of the interview with Chris Kresser:

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

If you have not yet joined our community, be sure take our "Is a Gut Infection Causing Your Hormonal Imbalance" quiz here, and come on board!

We have lots of valuable, free resources for women's health we share weekly.

Bridgit Danner,

Founder of Women's Wellness Collaborative

Current Trends in Women's Health Disorders with Ann Melin & Bridgit Danner

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Ann Melin is a functional health coach and my colleague in the Restore Your Radiance Program, which we discuss in this episode. She's our guest this week where we talk about the program and issues we have come across recently in our practices.

While we are no longer offering this particular program, we still provide private coaching and cutting-edge test reviews. You can learn about our current coaching programs here.

 

Here's what you'll hear:

Min 02:10 Ann Melin's work in the Restore Your Radiance Program
Min 05:30 Bridgit's work in the Spark Case Review Program
Min 08:35 Challenges/road blocks to good health
Min 12:30 Health profiles of women in the program
Min 17:55 Thyroid issues among women
Min 21:05 Gut issues among women
Min 23:10 Interacting with other health practitioners
Min 27:10 What the program offers & follow-ups

Resources:

Lab Testing for Women's Health Webinar replay
Our current private coaching programs

And here's a video version of the interview on YouTube.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

If you have not yet joined our community, be sure to grab our hidden Hormone stressors quiz here, and come on board!

Thanks for listening,

Bridgit Danner, Founder of Women's Wellness Collaborative

The Benefits of Lab Testing for Women's Health

LabTestingBlog

You are trying to fix your hormones, tame your hormones, survive your hormones…is it working? If not, here’s help and an explanation of why it’s so complicated.

Your body is complex- 11 systems comprised of 37.2 trillion cells working together with 100 trillion bacteria to keep you energetic, sleeping well and thinking clearly.  Source

Our modern environment is also complex. Wi-fi, international news reports, food additives, long work days…we all have a lot challenging us right now.

You are probably already trying to be healthy. Did you cut down on sugar, caffeine, gluten?  That’s great! Are you noticing some steadier moods or a slimmer waistline? I hope so. 

You may also be trying to get regular exercise, and maybe even meditating.  That’s great too!  How about reading blogs like this one and attending online health summits? Yup. These foundations of diet, exercise, stress reduction, and education are all very important.

But what if you are still tired? What if you still have no sex drive?  Raging acne? Creeping weight gain?

You may think, “well I must have adrenal fatigue.”  

That’s the mindset I had several years ago. I was eating really well but still had spotting before my periods and really low energy in the afternoons.  I thought, “Well, it’s the stress. I need to do a better job of handling stress.” But I never seemed to accomplish that.

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Later I had a DUTCH (Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones) test, and it revealed something new to me.  It suggested I may have low thyroid function, which I had never suspected. I didn’t have the hair loss, weight gain, etc. that I had learned about with low thyroid.

Important Point #1: Your hormone problems are not always what you think. 

It’s easy to come to a conclusion that you have estrogen dominance, low hormone levels, low adrenal function, etc, but you don’t really know until you test. You can, like me, beat yourself about a diagnosis you’ve decided on and keep self-treating for it, but it’s better to test and really know.

After my DUTCH results suggested I had low thyroid function, I ran a full thyroid panel on myself for the first time. Although I had run blood tests in the past, I had never tested my thyroid antibodies as I hadn’t suspected an issue there.

My results showed a very low level of thyroid antibodies, and I’m so glad I caught it early.  Around the same time I was chronically sick, and, at first, I figured it must be this thyroid issue. 

But soon after we learned that we had toxic mold within the walls of our house, which took me down a deeper rabbit hole of testing.

Important Point # 2: Your hormone problems came from somewhere.

It’s important to realize that your body will not randomly give you a thyroid condition, or any other hormonal imbalance.  It wants to have a working thyroid gland and balanced hormones.

As I learned about mold, I learned that it, among other triggers, can contribute to thyroid issues. This is why I still do not identify with a Hashimoto’s diagnosis, but rather I consider myself a person in the process of healing and clearing deeper causes of illness.

Recently I had a new type of stool test. My past stool tests had revealed some bacterial imbalance and H. Pylori infection, an infection I cleared without any improvement in my gastrointestinal symptoms.  

I was ‘inspired’ to run a GI Map test by Diagnostic Solutions laboratory after interviewing Dr. Todd Watts about parasites on my podcast, and then promptly passing a worm in my stool the next day! What timing. Side note: if you see something that looks like a pad thai noodle or a bean sprout in your stool, but you’ve didn’t eat either the day before, you should be highly suspicious!

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The GI Map is different because it looks for DNA fragments of parasite and other infections in your stool.  So it doesn’t miss much.  However, according to Dr. Watts, it is still inadequate because it does not test for every type of parasite.

But for me, a parasite was found, and it did appear to roughly match the specimen I had found in my stool.  I lived a year in rural South America about 20 years ago, and I had suspected a parasite back then.  But you don’t need to leave the country to get a parasite!  Again according to Dr. Watts, “everyone who has a pulse has a parasite.”  According to the Center for Disease Control's website, " Parasitic infections affect millions of people in the United States every year."

I mention stool testing because 100% of the clients in our coaching program have GI issues contributing to hormonal issues.

When you are housing candida infections, aberrant bacterial growth, parasites, H. Pylori infection or Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), it’s a chronic stress or your body, leading to inflammation, malnutrition or even autoimmune disease. It’s incredibly common, and digestion and hormones are not often enough linked in the medical conversation.  

Important Point # 3: Your primary care doctor probably doesn’t take a functional approach to health care.  

Many people comment to me that they want to feel better and they are very interested in the functional approach, and then their next question is, “Can my doctor run these tests for me?”

Yes and no. Sometimes your doctor to run a full CBC blood panel for you, and have them add vitamin D and thyroid antibodies. However:

  1. Within a conventional medical system, she can’t run labs for diagnoses they don’t suspect based on their training

  2. If she is not a functional practitioner, she will not interpret your results in a functional way, and may tell you you are fine (when you don’t feel fine)

  3. She definitely cannot run the advanced urinary, saliva and stool tests we use because these tests are not available to them through the conventional medical system

You can’t ask your doctor to practice functional medicine if that’s not what she practices.

It’s like asking your massage therapist to give you acupuncture.  It's not within their training.

Our clients can sometimes get helpful blood tests through their doctors that we can review, and I also encourage them to use a Health Savings Account (it’s pre-tax money you put towards health expenses) when possible.

I understand that spending money out-of-pocket on medical expenses is not fun. I understand that many people are living on modest means and supporting kids, parents, and other family members financially.

Our family has spent, get this, at least $100,000 in remediating mold in our house, replacing all our stuff, missing work, moving to a safer space, and treating our health.  And the spending hasn’t stopped because I’m not all healed up yet, and we still have some mold-infected belongings to replace.

Still dealing with mold, over a year after it was found.

Still dealing with mold, over a year after it was found.

So I am sympathetic, but at the same time, I have made incredible sacrifices to heal myself and my family.  And I would do it again in a heartbeat.  

The experience I went through with mold was a huge growth opportunity.  It made me realize how short and fragile life is, and gave me a deep hunger to get well and live my life to the fullest.

I recently read this quote in the book, Gratitude, by author and physician Oliver Sacks, after he learned he had advanced liver cancer, "It is now up to me to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can."

I had a firsthand experience with the web of diseases and how they interconnect. It was not easy to identify my root causes nor navigate the options for care. 

As a health coach, my experience made me a strong advocate for my clients to persist and get well, even if the path seems impossible to find, or the mountain too big to climb.  

We have women in our program who are too sick to work, homemakers or who are working low-wage jobs. I am fiercely proud of them for choosing to invest in their health. Others have parents that choose to support them in their healthcare, often in cases of infertility where the odds of becoming a grandparent are increased!

It comes down to choosing more for yourself- to believing your health could be improved, which allows you to be happier and more productive.  You also have to be willing to work and to pick yourself up when you have a hard day of symptoms.

If you'd like to have a conversation with me about your health journey and what we do in our functional health coaching program, please check out our current coaching options  Our private coaching program does include choosing the best lab test for your case, placing the orders for you, interpreting your results, setting a protocol based on those results, and adjusting and monitoring your protocol for best results.

Free Educational Videos on our Favorite Lab Testing

In this video, Ann Melin is describing about the DUTCH i.e Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones by Precision Analytical. She will also explain about different types of hormones and organic acids.
In this video, Ann Melin is describing about the GI-Map from Diagnostic Solutions Lab. She will also explain about Stool testing techniques, different types of pathogens, worms and intestinal health.

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Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDNP, is trained in functional health coaching and has worked with thousands of women over her career since 2004. She is the founder of Women’s Wellness Collaborative llc and HormoneDetoxShop.com.