Fast forward 6 months since I first started seeing my functional medicine doctor and I have not one, but two sets of testing, decreased bloat (though not gone all together), and still no regular period (though I did get a very painful, short one last month!! V exciting if you've ever had hormone issues).
But first - let's talk my gut. My first round of functional medicine testing was made up of a GI screen with h. pylori antigen included, a test for clostridium difficile, a comprehensive stool analysis with parasitology x3, an advanced adrenal assessment, a comprehensive urine profile, and a blood lab featuring a lipid panel with direct LDL, thyroid panel with TSH, homocystein, comprehensive metabolic panel, hemoglobin a1c, PTH intact and ionized calcium, magnesium, T3 levels, thyroid peroxidase and thyroglobulin antibodies, methylmalonic acid, CBC, iron, ferritin, vitamin B12/folate, c-reactive protein, insulin, copper, and zinc.
Between all of the tests, a few overlying patterns appeared:
- Dysbiosis - shown by low levels of beneficial bacteria and high levels of the bad stuff along with a lot of neural bacteria that's not helping my gut.
- GI yeast overgrowth - detected by a stool test marker.
- B12 // and or folate insufficiency - tests showed high methylmalonic acid, a serum homocysteine level of 8.7, and large MCV.
- Impaired cellular energy production - shown by the urine panel.
- Inflammation - shown by the urine panel and the fact that my serum copper levels were so high when compared to zinc. I also have high levels of quinolinate and picolinate
- High melatonin - shown by my adrenal test upon waking, especially.
- Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation - shown by my adrenal test. I have low total cortisol production with normal free cortisol.
- High AST and ALT - AST was at 80 at time of testing and ALT was at 109 ("normal" is under 30 and 29). This aligns with my gastrointestinal doctor's fatty liver diagnosis.
- Low to normal vitamin D - this is something that honestly most people can improve upon, not just me!
Supplement protocol to address the above which I adopted for 2+ months:
- Antimicrobial protocol to rebalance the gut. This included herbal antimicrobials, probiotics, prebiotic fiber.
- A-FNG tincture to kill yeast in the gut.
- Zinc glycinate to lower copper levels.
- Cod liver oil for nutrient support.
- B complex (still taking today), magnesium glycinate (still taking today), and brazil nuts for nutrient replenishment after being on the pill for so many years.
- Adrenal glandualrs for adrenal//cortisol support.
- Weaning off coffee to support hypothalamic-pituitaryadrenal (HPA) axis.
- Practices to increase parasympathetic nervous system activity to lower inflammation, cortisol balance, mood and general well being. My doctor recommended the app 10% happier.
- Super Milk Thistle (still taking today) for liver support.
- NAC(still taking today) for liver support.
Along with the supplement protocol, I temporarily reduced the amount of super copper-heavy rich foods for ones that were higher with zinc (all foods contain a balance of both, so this was difficult) and reincorporated high fodmap foods to my diet. Though “going low fodmap” is suggested by a lot of western medicine doctors, my gastroenterologist included, they don’t all tell you that you should only be on it for a month or two. It’s important to reincorporate and find your trigger foods. So far, I’ve discovered that apples, beets, and watermelon simply do not agree with my system – it could be as simple as an unknown food sensitivity. I love all of those foods so I will still be eating them from time to time, but will avoid preparing them myself for the most part for the sake of my bloat situation.
I completed 2+ months of the antimicrobial protocol and 2+ months of the A-FNG tincture... and then it was time for the second round of testing! This second round included: a comprehensive stool test, a GI screen (basically a secondary stool test), and a blood panel for methylmalonic acid, AST, ALT, copper, and zinc.
Ready to hear the news? My zinc to copper ratio is right on the money (balanced), my AST and ALT levels have dropped to range but are still fairly high for “normal,” my b vitamin levels are still fairly low, and the yeast is gone (woohoo), but the dysbiosis is not. Though the bacteria in my gut has shifted to more good than bad, there is still too much bad bacteria going on that may be contributing to the bloat flare ups I still have from time to time. For this reason, I’m going to do another 45-60 day round of herbal antimicrobials. I was on a pill back called GI synergy the first time around – and though I’m a good pill taker, I had major trouble with one of the pills in the trio pill pack. Luckily, there is an alternative! It’s always important to be honest with doctors. I didn’t take the GI synergy as much as I could of because I couldn’t stand it. Being on a new complex will hopefully do the trick to clean up the rest of my gut flora.
What I didn’t share before (unless you follow me religiously on Instagram stories), is that I went off the birth control pill I had been taking for 8+ years in May, right before I started seeing my functional medicine doctor. She had said it may take 6 months for my period to come back, but unfortunately, here I am 6 months later with no regular cycle. There could be multiple reasons for this – all of which deserve a blog post of their own.
Sooo, in addition to doing one more stool test, we’re going to be taking a peak into what my hormones are up to. Additionally, it’s been recommended to me to add phosphatidylcholine to my supplement protocol for hormone support. I'm also FINALLY finishing up Woman Code after losing my kindle.
Above gut health and hormone balance is always mental health and state and mind. Meditation is something I know I should do, but for some reason I cannot bring myself to just sit down and do it. That is something that I’m going to try working on in the new year and I would love if you joined me! I also recently learned about heart rate variability and it’s effect on sympathetic and parasympathic systems. This is something I’m going to be playing around with fused with my self care routine.
Stay tuned for more! As always if you have comments, insights, or similar experiences I’d love to hear them. Leave a note below or message me if that’s more comfortable for you.