Hello there, my name is Mary and I discovered Functional Medicine along the course of my own health journey, which was an adverse reaction to an anaesthetic. When an anaesthetic goes wrong it can mean death, the medical bin, or a state worse than death for many people. I soon found the doctors had no way to fix it and despite having had full confidence in the current medical system at the time and a degree in science myself, I suddenly found myself turning to herbs and nutrition…
However my condition was extreme, my body was too weak to hold any position whether sitting, standing, or lying down for more than a few minutes at a time and all body systems were breaking down rapdily including rapid cognitive decline. After a number of doctors told me ‘they’d call back’ and then blocked me from ever speaking to them again, I knew I was on my own and I’d have to act fast and with something extreme.
I was lucky to have been getting into health beforehand and had even taken a week long course in the Welsh borders that introduced me to juicing, wheatgrass, enemas, Master Herbalists, and one woman there was doing Gerson Therapy. So I combined Gerson Therapy, a nutritional therapy primarily designed for cancer but helps many other conditions, and Master Herbalism which is a vitalist western herbalism tradition best expounded by Dr. John R. Christopher, and Ann Wigmore’s wheatgrass therapy. And I took 4g of EPA a day thanks to the research of Prof Basant Puri at that time which immediately halted the rapid cognitive decline. I had a PhD research studentship at Queen’s Uiversity Belfast in Bibical Hebrew at the time and found all my resesarch skills and confidence carried over to researching my own health crisis and not believeing what the doctors were telling me, but instead trusting what I could see was working and happening in my own situation.
The importance of belief cannot be overstated as the only doctor who knew what was wrong with me was a vascular consultant heading all the research in ME in the UK at the time, and he said his own father died of the same thing quickly, that I would have all the worst symptoms of organophophate poisoning, Gulf War syndrome, and severe ME because all of those have different types of damage to the lining of the veins. Roll on 14 years later and this year already I’ve had 5 doctors including 3 celebrity holistic functional cardiologists still tell me ‘there’s no cure’ for damage to the vein linings, however I disagree and wouldn’t be here if I listened to any of them.
It was 10 years before I was well enough to be able to spend time outside the house, now I was here for an hour every day. I use MBT shoes which aren’t made any more, so still need to fix my veins more before this pair wears out!
The view is uplifting, far from a ripple bed in a nursing home THIS is life now!
Functional Medicine could have saved me time and deterioration
But even though I regained the ability to walk again [and narrowly avoided becoming bedridden] within 4 months of starting these alternative therapies, and was able to manage the heart problems and pain and cognitive impairment and build strength, I was still severly disabled and ill, I could see aspects of the illness advancing while others were resolving, there were many parts to my condition all unidentified, I was a 30-something year old living at a nursing home using higher strength pressure relief cushions than all the elderly residents, without ever having been given any reason as to why I needed pressure relief except that my illness was not on the official list of illnesses they had to help so I had to self-fund my needs, and always aware that I was shooting in the dark, that there were things happening that I needed to understand and that I could save time and avoid certain conditions if I just understood the processes I could see happening in my body. Sometimes I fixed something not aware how much time to give it or that it could come back. And an occupational therpaist told me ‘this is just the way life is now’, no thanks. I knew there was more.
“Bear in mind a top vascular consultant in the UK [who spoke off the record only] told me his own dad died of the same thing, the hospital did what they could and they can’t fix it. That I was ‘unlucky’ and would have the worst symptoms of organophosphate poisoning, Gulf War Syndrome, and severe 25% Group ME, while not actually having any one of those conditions but they were all versions of having damaged lining to the blood vessels and that is what the anaesthetic did.”
My first introduction to Functional Medicine
The first time I heard Dr. Mark Hyman talk I thought omg this guy has the answers, if only I could find a doctor like him. I went onto the IFM website and scrolled down to find a doctor in my country and didn’t find one, but found a ‘practitioner’ who’d taken a nutrition course of some sort, and soon realized she had no experience and no knowledge of or adherence to a truly healing diet herself, she would not be able to help me. So I got a glimpse already into the difference between having a ‘qualification’ stamped by somewhere like the IFM, even being indexed on their website, versus a real education and walking the talk.
Also the more I read into Mark Hyman’s work [as I devoured all his books] I soon realized that though his explanations were great, his solutions were not always so good. He seemed to be borrowing from, yet somewhat lagging behind natural medicine. It struck me that natural medicine or ‘alternative’ medicine [though it was not ‘alternative at all in saving my life] didn’t dwell so much on the explanations behind things and that if they actually combined with functional medicine science that it would work in a much more targeted way in cases like mine and had I been able to apply functional medicine testing and knowledge early on alongside the nutritional therapies and herbs and supplements I’d found, I may have saved myself a decade or more and got greater recovery. That said, I’m glad I learned natural medicine and Master Herbalism first. However, we do need the current medical model to shift to a functional medicine model. It can no longer be optional training for MDs, and there is plenty of room for all practitioners to up their game a bit with knowing the syllabus of functional medicine.
I took Functional Medicine training myself
I knew I had to study functional medicine to understand my own condition. I’d already had to study practitioner level Master Herbalism and Hypnosis myself, so I explored my options with all the fmed courses out there at the time:
- IFM were saving the meat of the course for doctors only, I was not interested in a watered down ‘health coach’ version, and their course involved travelling abroad. Also not impressed with IFM coach practitioners I’ve met.
- I nearly joined FDN, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition. I did like that they got their students to do some tests on themselves and much of their syllabus, but I felt it was still somewhat restrictive and limited, however it does allow you to order some tests and as a non-licensed practitioner that is good, even though many of these tests are becoming increasingly open to being direct to consumer.
- I was also very interested in Daniel Kalish, who also offers his courses to doctors and interested patients alike. However again some aspects of his syllabus seemed very set in one particular approach, eg bioidentical hormones, when I already knew of other ways to solve those issues without those hormones from the Master Herbalists. Also his prices were escalating astronomically all the time.
- I enrolled at Functional Medicine University, FMU, and never looked back. The course syllabus had all the explanations I was looking for. I really needed explanations! But though they bring in guest speakers all the time who represent many different approaches so side by side we have different modalities instead of saying you must use bioidentical hormones or you must use herbs, actually you can choose which of these routes fits you best I still rarely find any functional medicine practitioner anywhere on any course or any summit who truly knows good solutions – they all have their favorite brand of supplements that are very pricey when a tray of wheat grass or coffee enema may give you a methylation or glutathione superboost, something as simple as Christopher Originals Vitalerbs which is wildcrafted wholefood vitamins and their Jurassic greens are rocketfuel with no side effects yet never get a mention by summit speakers.
So, I could not order lab tests myself as a student or afford to get someone else to do so, or get certified with the cfmp, but at least I do have the explanations I needed. Knowing how things works really helps. I know how things could have gone better, no one who has been ill a long time though will be able to afford an fmed pratitioner or doctor or the supplements they suggest, so it’s good to know alternatives and how to do things ‘economically’!
I do see from experience who is hitting at good solutions and who is not. And it amazes me to say that I’m lucky to have discovered older natural healing first because they have the best solutions which are also more affordable and accessible, I could never afford functional medicine, even now, it needs to be mainstream and with more herbs and foods and less supplements – we need explanations with the best solutions and be careful not to forget the history of healing. It worries me the sort of advice many functional medicine doctors today would have given me as regards solutions if I’d met them before I knew what I know today!
If you have any questions then feel free to ask me.
My email for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org
Similar Stories – Common Denominators
I noticed that a lot of people including medical doctors who get involved in functional medicine do so because they have an illness that cannot be solved by regular medicine in the current medical model. People get chronic fatigue or mercury poisoning or vaccine injured or thyroid problems or diabetes or Lyme disease or heart disease and realize either they are not improving at all or they need to take medications for the rest of their life and don’t want that.
I wish everyone no matter which functional medicine course they train in, would look at this video and also take this Family Herbalist foundation course in healing and herbs by The School of Natural Healing, make things better going forward but do not forget your history.
Check out the Family Herbalist foundation course, level 1 of the Master Herbalist course, and know how and why to use herbs in your practice. Even if you had a degree in herbs already they’d make you take this course in how to heal, and it’ll save you doing a degree in herbs! You’ll catch this course at different times on sale for $100
Check out how the body heals in this 30 year old video on youtube by David Christopher, son of Dr. John R. Christopher of The School of Natural Healing, fmed doctors are only beginning to catch up with this! The order of cleansing that everyone says is ‘missing’ and Jay Davidson is pouncing on actually has been clearly stated since at least the 1950s!
- Bowel / Kidney / Liver / Blood & Lymph / Heavy metals
- All can be achieved herbally, though I found coffee enemas excellent for the liver even though herbalists don’t like them
- When you do a cleanse you feel and see your body response, when you observe that response you soon get to know if you can proceed with the next level cleanse – I never made it to heavy metals as I was too toxic at the time! It’s not always ‘test or guess’, it’s actually ‘connect and listen’ too.
It’s Dr. John R. Christopher’s protocols more than anything else that have helped me survive 14 years and go from strength to strength. And he is still the only one that has a number of herbs that he considers will work for the vein damage AND they are accessible and affordable- as well as the information about inflammation reduction spoken about by some of the guest speakers at FMU 😉
Update 2019: I’m disheartened after a year of calling out doctorpreneurs on the summits that they still care more for their pockets than the patients and that the big multimillion dollar investments in keto now means most practitioners are pushing that with no regard for patients getting damaged and even dying. Is functional medicine beyond saving? That’s up to you, get a proper rounded education that is not biased and not aimed at a fast buck at the expense of the person vulnerable and ill. Keto is not the future of functional medicine, if fmed has a future.
I no longer promote the summits because they are more about money than help, doing more harm than good now fast tracking people into dangerous fad diets. The health niche is very divided on nutrition – a lot of people speaking out against keto. Know the history of healing and you’ll see the fallacy, notice the fear of food and see the fallacy, look at original sources for research like Alessio Fasano and not those who interpret and preach him with their own agendas weaved in like Peter Osborne, Tom O’Bryan etc, Fasano eats gluten because he is not ill 😉