How Functional Medicine Resolved My Chronic Symptoms!

April 2, 2022

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I'm Kimberly - a women's health functional nurse practitioner.  I am here to help you achieve vibrant health!

Meet Kimberly

Functional medicine has been life changing for my health. My chronic health problems began when I was in my 20s after traveling in West Africa. Following a gastrointestinal infection I acquired while traveling there, I have struggled with a variety of chronic health symptoms and conditions including IBS, depression, and joint pain. In recent years as I approached age 60, I was also diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia. And like many women I see in my practice, I am bothered by a whole host of chronic annoying symptoms on a day to day basis.

I recently turned 60 years old, and this has prompted my thinking seriously about how I want to feel for the rest of my life. Healthy, full of energy, and vibrant are ways I want to be described as I age. Furthermore, I want to be able to participate in all of the activities I enjoy including hiking, kayaking, skiing, traveling, playing with my dog, gardening, and hopefully running around with grandkids someday.

I do not want to continue to add to my list of health conditions and medications. And this is where functional medicine comes in. In this blog post, I describe how a functional medicine approach helped me to completely resolve most of my chronic symptoms and come off of my prescription medication!

Functional Medicine Process

Functional Medicine is a scientific-based approach to healthcare and wellness. It looks beyond symptom resolution to find why illness occurs and addresses those root causes to restore health and encourage optimal well-being. Additionally, functional medicine encompasses a whole person and integrative approach. The process utilizes in depth testing that goes beyond what is typically ordered in a traditional medical clinic.

Functional medicine testing often focuses on the health of the gut, the immune system, the endocrine or hormonal system in the body, inflammation, and food sensitivities, toxins, and is designed to identify the root cause of bothersome symptoms or illness.

Functional medicine treatment is designed to address the root cause of symptoms and illness, unlike the Western model which often focuses on quieting or masking symptoms. Treatment utilizes a holistic approach including nutrition, supplements, lifestyle measures, mindfulness to address the body, the mind, and the spirit.

An Inventory of My Symptoms

My list of symptoms is not unlike many of the women I see in my practice. My symptoms include headaches, sinus congestion, vision and hearing changes, ringing in my ears (tinnitus), poor sleep, joint pain and stiffness, depression, anxiety, memory problems, dry eyes, dry skin, neck and back pain, heart palpitations, energy fluctuations, hot flashes, gastrointestinal symptoms, and low libido.

And while the symptoms are not all extremely bothersome, many are persistently annoying and affect my overall sense of well being on a daily basis. Some of my symptoms have required management with prescription medication including antidepressants which I have taken for about 25 years and medication for my heart arrhythmia.

Functional Medicine Testing

I commonly order the following three functional medicine tests for a baseline evaluation for most of my patients. I did the same for myself, and this allowed me to design a very targeted health plan for myself. The tests I used are as follows:

DUTCH Complete Hormone Test

A comprehensive hormone test that looks at hormones throughout the body in the HPA Axis (Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Adrenal Axis) including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol, and more. It looks at the levels of the hormones in addition to how the hormones are being metabolized and used by the body. This test gives insight into how our hormones affect our sleep, our moods, our reproductive cycle, our energy. It offers information about inflammation in our body and also hormone metabolism pathways including those that could potentially put us at higher risk for some cancers.

My test results showed I was low in estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and some of the adrenal hormones. It showed I had low melatonin (which can be caused by one of the prescription medications I was taking) and low DHEA (which can also be caused by one of the prescription medications I was taking). My results also showed some hormone metabolism problems possibly indicating mitochondrial dysfunction, liver dysfunction and digestive dysfunction as the cause. These results helped explain my depression, heart problems, low libido, energy fluctuations, and poor sleep.

GENOVA GI Effects Test

This is a stool test that gives great insight into the health of the gut. To be honest, so many of the symptoms and conditions we face come back to the health of the gut. Our immune system and nervous system are heavily intertwined with the gut, and if the gut is not functioning optimally, this has serious implications for our health. In the majority of women I treat, there is an underlying gut issue that when corrected, allows for a better state of health overall in the body. This test is fascinating!

My test results showed that I was not metabolizing food properly. Results revealed that I had a bacterial imbalance in my gut and possibly SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) that can cause damage to the lining of the gut and produce inflammation and an autoimmune response. These results explained the chronic annoying symptoms I was having.

GENOVA Nutra Eval Test

This test looks at our body’s state of nutritional health as it relates to inflammation, energy production, toxins in the body, oxidate stress, and methylation imbalance. Additionally, it gives a detailed picture of the nutrients in the body and where there may be areas lacking that result in poor body function.

My test results showed that I have mitochondrial dysfunction which is a problem with the body’s energy production. This can affect all organs and systems in the body. Our cells, organs, and body systems cannot get the energy they need to operate optimally without proper mitochondrial function.

My test results also showed chronic oxidative stress (cell damage) in the body and methylation imbalance (a metabolic problem that can lead to problems such as fatigue, depression, headaches, cardiovascular diseases, some cancers, and more).

The Nutra Eval test helped me to identify what my body needed, and gave detailed results which indicate how to correct these concerns through use of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, phytonutrients, and more. As a results, this test provided a blueprint for my holistic health treatment plan.

My Plan

Utilizing my test results, I was able to design a health treatment plan to restore those areas in my body that needed support. I did this with the following strategies.


I began a targeted supplement regimen that included probiotics, magnesium, B vitamins, Zinc, Coenzyme Q10, amino acids. Additionally, I added mood support with a mineral supplement, 5HTP, and St. Johns Wort. For sleep I added melatonin and valerian. And lastly, for hormone support, ashwagandha and maca powder.


I set the intention for structure and balance in my daily life. A healthy sleep schedule and sleep hygiene have become priority. I began daily intentional stress reduction measures like long daily walks with my dog, Epsom salt baths, meditation, time with friends, activities I enjoy such as knitting, doing puzzles, reading.

Elimination Diet

I did an Elimination Diet consisting of 21 day elimination of Gluten, Dairy, Alcohol, Coffee, Beef, Soy, Sugar, Eggs, Alcohol. By the end of the 3 weeks, most of my symptoms had resolved or significantly improved! I then began adding back in one food at a time to find out which would trigger my symptoms. And those are the foods that I will now stay off of most of the time.

My Symptoms Disappeared!

I was astounded at what an impact this plan had on my health! My headaches disappeared. Energy feels amazing! I sleep so very deep and restful. My vision improved, and I now have to take off my glasses much of the time as I don’t need them for distance anymore. My hearing improved, and I no longer need to ask people to repeat things. I can see on the television where my husband used to have to turn up the volume so that I could hear, and now it is back down to his level!

My nose stopped running. Eyes have stopped watering. My mind is sharp. Focus and memory have improved. I feel happy and am laughing more! My skin is moist and clear. Digestive symptoms have resolved! My heart arrhythmia is gone! The puffiness under my eyes has improved. I no longer feel the need to constantly take a deep breath for air. My energy is amazing! I feel less joint, back and neck pain. My social anxiety is improved. My libido has improved. I no longer have hot flashes. My weight is what it was in high school. And I was able to go off of my prescription medications!

I Feel Amazing!

Basically I feel amazing, and this motivates me to continue with my plan going forward. I did have to make significant changes in my diet, and this was not easy for me. For example, coffee is no longer a part of my diet. And I used to thoroughly enjoy drinking it all day long! Green tea is now my hot beverage of choice. I no longer drink alcohol. Eating bread is now only enjoyed on occasion, and it used to be a staple in my diet. I do not eat dairy products. And while I am sad to say goodbye to cheese, I would much rather give it up and feel the way I do now!

Most of the time I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, healthy meats and fish. I include lots of seeds, nuts, herbs, legumes, and some whole grains. Additionally, I do not eat sugar. And I have figured out how to enjoy healthy fruit or date sweetened treats for desserts on occasion. And lastly, I drink lots of tea and water. I can honestly say that FOOD IS MEDICINE!

Going Forward

I have not moved through the final stages of my plan yet. Going forward, I will attend to the following.


I plan to gradually come off of my supplements one at a time by replacing them with food. This will require thoughtful intention.


I will move forward with my lifestyle balance plan on a day to day basis. For example, I plan to be very intentional with lifestyle choices. My priorities will include mindfulness, sleep, diet, hydration, and movement. Additionally, I will choose to create joy, time for myself, spirituality, connection with friends and loved ones, hobbies, and time in nature.

Maintenance Diet

A whole food diet will continue to be the mainstay of my health plan moving forward. Additionally, avoiding dairy, gluten, alcohol, coffee and sugar will continue to be a priority, as those are my “triggers”. I will follow the 80/20 rule where I can deviate from my plan some of the time. I want to enjoy food – whole food, local food, delicious food! Furthermore, I love planning and preparation, cooking, and gathering to eat with others. Basically, all of the rituals and beauty that food brings into my life are priorities for maintaining my good health. And at times I will choose to deviate from my plan for a bit. I will be very intentional when I choose to do this. Furthermore, deviations will only be for a short lived period of time so that my body can recover quickly.

Work With Me!

This plan can work for anyone. I believe that any woman can find amazing results through a functional medicine approach to health, just as I did. If done carefully, intentionally, and with guidance, you can have an experience such as I have had. I would love to help you with this. Most importantly, consider whether this resonates with you. And if you would like to explore the possibility of working with me to achieve your own personal expression of vibrant health, consider scheduling a free consultation with me today!

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