Functional Medicine

...you are not your symptoms.

 

Daniel Baines M. Ost is in ongoing mentorship with Certified Functional Medicine Doctor, Dr Stewart Gillespie.

 

Functional medicine has the ability to scientifically uncover the true underlying causes of chronic diseases, and correct them through nutritional and natural methods. 

 

Functional medicine is not about treating the disease or presenting problems. You are not your symptomsSymptoms are merely clues that are whispering to us (sometimes very loudly) that we need to go back in time to understand what has bought us here. If you took your car to the garage with a red light flashing on the dashboard you would be somewhat disappointed if the mechanic simply disconnected the light and said “problem solved it doesn’t flash anymore,” yet this is exactly what we do with our health every day!

Whether he is working mechanically with muscles and joints, or looking under the 'bonnet' with a functional medicine approach, Dan begins with a thorough case history. He will ask himself,  "Where did things start to unravel? What pushed you off centre, and then how did life accumulate on top of this?" Dan looks for the root cause/causes of an inflammatory cascade which can then effect hormones, pain, digestion, mood and immunity. IBS, fibromyalgia or thyroid issues are dealt with the same way.

 

Dan's Five Categories for Functional illness:

  1. Illnesses: Infections, viruses, parasites, hospitalisations, and surgeries

  2. Stresses: Family, school, work, relationships

  3. Toxins: Heavy metals, moulds.

  4. Food sensitivities and recurring allergies

  5. Medications past and present: corticosteroids, antibiotics, etc what were they for and did they help?

Conclusion

  • You are not your disease

  • You symptoms are whispers which you might want to listen to

  • Those whispers are gifts

  • Go back through your timeline paying attention to infections, stresses, toxins, food sensitivities and medications

  • Figure out where your inflammatory cascade began.

Treat that root cause and watch the red flashing light go out on its own.

Daniel's Story

Below, Daniel uses himself as an example, to show you the processes of diagnosis undertaken:

Age 1-10

  • Straight out of the womb I did not want to breast feed (I was a little bugger even back then). Breast is indeed best as every baby is born with a leaky gut and it is the colostrum in mother’s milk that helps heal it ready for solids and the various infections that twill inevitably come our way as we get older.

  • Repeated urinary tract infections and antibiotics (UTIs are often a sign of candida infections)

  • Repeated antibiotics as a child for a suspected case of bacterial meningitis 

  • Mumps, Chicken pox and Measles

Age 10-20

  • Family stress as my parents divorced mixed in with the usual angsts of being a teenager

  • The mandatory STD associated with university life and another course of antibiotics to get on top of it

  • A fungal foot infection aged 18 that would just not shift

Age 20-30

  • I began dancing and training people so I began a 100 hour work week that lasted for over 3 years.

  • I began to get acid reflux

  • A touring lifestyle that involved late nights and poor diet as we lived out of hotels (and night clubs!)

  • Oral thrush infection and white coated tongue

  • Sore throats

  • Multiple joint pain and consecutive injuries

  • Chronic fatigue

  • No longer able to get enough adrenalin in my body to get me up on stage and through a performance

  • I had to retire from dancing

Age 40+

  • Brain fog

  • Gut issues: bloating and IBS symptoms

  • A voyage of self discovery to get on top of things.

  • The thought I would have to settle for just feeling older and this was the nature of being over 30

 

Tying my case history together - 

My presenting problem was chronic adrenal fatigue and discomfort that meant I could no longer do what I loved. Scouring through my timeline, the first whispers were already there by the time I was 2 weeks old. 

My gut never got a chance to heal and much of my mother’s gut microbiome (the bacteria that lives  in harmony with us) never made it across (if you fancy a great read on the topic I would thoroughly recommend 10% human: How Your Body’s Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness) A good dose of antibiotics made sure that any ‘good’ bacteria became collateral damage leaving what should have been a sterile small intestine with the starts of candida over growth. The signs of Candida overgrowth are urinary tract infections, thrush, fungal foot infections, brain fog and a white coated tongue – a clean sweep! 

Candida overgrowth then affected my digestion by creating lesions in the gut wall (leaky gut) allowing undigested proteins to enter my blood stream causing inflammation and autoimmune responses. Add in high stress (physical and emotional) and I was the perfect storm for a catabolic stress response which broke down anything made from collagen (my predisposition to injuries and further gut wall break down). 

My solution at the time was to increase my coffee intake and sugar intake to get me up in the morning and keep me going into the evening. My friendly Candida loved the added sugar it was being lovingly fed and the coffee further stressed my adrenals. The end result, my adrenals went on strike.  In order to prioritise survival my adrenals sacrificed the production of sex hormones (inability to gain muscle plus the libido of a door mat) and they struggled to make cortisol causing uncontrolled inflammation, whole body joint pain and the inability to get the adrenalin needed to get me up on stage each night. What a mess. 

What was the medical solution – corticosteroids and the chronic pain clinic to understand the complex nature of pain so that I could live with it in harmony. In other words: disconnect that flashing light! Still being the obstinate bugger who refused to breast feed aged 1 week I chose instead to look under the bonnet.