The day Mrs. X first came in to see me she was visibly at the end of her rope. Who wouldn't be? She had had pain in her neck and upper back every day for the past 20 years. She had had pain in her lower back every day for the past 15 years immediately following an epidural she had for the birth of her youngest child. She was tired and lacked the energy she needed to keep up with her 4 high energy teenagers and worried about the her older husband who was starting to have health problems of his own. She was physically active, skiing regularly and occasionally doing Pilates. She felt that her programs for working out had made her stronger but she stayed heavy. She ate well compared to most people- mostly organic food with little junk food. Yet she just could not lose weight. When she completed her "Review of Systems" her MSQ was 92, signaling to me that her multiple symptoms were likely caused by one or more underlying problems in "The Function Medicine Matrix".. We spent over an hour reviewing how her health had deteriorated over the years, looking for triggering events that contributed to her current condition. Although she was strong she weighed 192 lbs.
When I asked her what she was hoping to get from me she replied, "I need a miracle."
We discussed "The Functional Medicine Matrix" and I told her she had several problems within it. She had chronic high levels of stress which would give her high stress hormone levels and her adrenal glands may be running out of gas. Her symptoms suggested that the normal healthy bacteria in her GI tract may have had high levels of bad bacteria and/or yeast growing and crowding out the healthy bacteria in the gut. This, in turn, could easily give her a "leaky gut" leading to increased inflammation throughout her body as well as the development of food sensitivities. Her weight further contributed to the total inflammation in her body as well as contributing to high levels of oxidative stress (rust in a biological system) which would damage the energy power plants in her cells (mitochondria), meaning that she would have difficulty converting the food she ate to energy.
Mrs. X was highly motivated and was ready to make "the big commitment" to getting better. I discussed some basic important points with her:
1. That inflammation, in and of itself, causes obesity (and obesity causes inflammation). If we were to put her on a program to correct the problems she had in her gut she would lose weight, even with no caloric restriction...
2. That toxic chemicals in our environment, in and of themselves, cause obesity. If we were to place her on a "Detox Diet" to clean up chemicals out of her system, she would lose weight, even without caloric restriction...
3. That we could use special programs to accelerate her weight loss. She had heard of the HCG Diet and was interested in doing it. I told my experience that a number of women I know had lost weight on a HCG Diet, but it was difficult (being 500 calories a day). She said she was ready to go.
We obtained some lab confirming that she had essentially all the problems we had discussed. We decided to go ahead with an HCG Diet modified to make it a Detox Diet and AntiInflammatory Diet (an Elimination Diet) at the same time. She took supplements to address nutritional issues found in testing (although she admitted she isn't much of a pill taker).
Less then one month later I saw her back and she already looked like a new woman. She walked in with more energy in her step. She had lost 14 lbs, down to 178. More importantly, the pain she had had in her lower and upper back for years was gone! Her MSQ had decreased from 92 to 5. The day before coming in she had felt so good she helped her daughter move some furniture (for the first time in years)- "I forgot I had a back problem"- and her back was hurting a bit since that episode. Her MSQ was 5.
It's important to note at this point that her neck and back pain had gone away even though she was still heavy. Conventional doctors would be quick to say that her pain went away because she had lost weight, and there was less mechanical strain on her back. The problem with this theory is that (1) the mechanical aspect of weight loss would not help her neck pain, and (2) she was still heavy at 178. Her pain was less because the total amount of inflammatory cytokines in her body was dramatically lower then just a few weeks before. That's the power of Functional Medicine!
Mrs. X continued on her program and continued to feel better and better. I last saw her 6 months after she started her program with me. Her weight was down to 127 lbs. She felt like a new person (with a whole new wardrobe!). And her MSQ was 0.
A miracle? Not really. Stories like this are routine with Functional Medicine- a better "Operating System" for addressing chronic health problems.
So what's your MSQ?