These case studies are from real patients (names changed to protect identity) to show the way we work, so you can feel confident we’re the right fit for you.
See what our patients say about Melbourne Functional Medicine.
At Melbourne Functional Medicine, we partner you with a functional medicine practitioner and a health coach, so you can get your health back on track. This fresh approach to healthcare is unique to our clinic and consistently achieves incredible results.
Jenny came to see us when she was 26. She'd had acne since she was 16.
Jenny had taken two courses of Roaccutane and was on her 9th month of antibiotics. All of her blood work and her pelvic ultrasound was normal. Yet she had an erratic cycle length (30 - 45 days) and chronic acne.
We did some functional hormone testing and discovered that the ratio of oestrogen to progesterone was out of balance, with oestrogen being too high, leading to an oestrogen dominant situation - a key cause of acne.
We used herbal medicines to raise her progesterone levels, whilst encouraging her body to efficiently detoxify oestrogen to restore hormonal balance.
Her skin just kept getting better and better. Now she uses only foods to maintain that oestrogen clearance. Jenny has now been acne free now for 4 years!
When Samantha came into our clinic 2 years ago, she immediately burst into tears. Health Coach Bee sat and comforted her and could see that there was a lot of pain in Sam’s world. She was deeply emotional, crying many times a day, feeling out of control of her emotions, exhausted, out of rhythm, “just coping”. Like many of us, Sam attempted to ‘pull herself together’, but Bee recommended that in her session with Practitioner Jabe, she let it out all – be as honest as she felt safe to be. And to her credit she did.
Sam’s main presenting concern was fatigue. During the initial consult with Jabe, it became clear that her thyroid and sex hormones were out of whack along with some digestive issues. A conscientious mum of two, Sam had always worked hard and put her kids first. She is an incredibly devoted mum and wife (and friend) and consistently put others ahead of herself.
The primary focus for Sam, in order for her body to want to come back to a healthy state, was to spend more time in the Parasympathetic (rest, digest, reproduce and repair). Previously, as someone who took her phone to bed, we encouraged Sam to establish a healthy bedtime routine whereby she took off her makeup, cleaned up the kitchen (this gave her peace) and make the last hour or so before bed completely relaxing. It’s called sleep hygiene. Also, please leave your phone in the kitchen and don’t take it to the bedroom!
Ever conscientious, Sam started to implement the lifestyle strategies her team recommended.
She responded well to the introduction of the Auto Immune Protocol and the feedback was positive in a short amount of time. She told us she was still tired, but not fatigued, had no more brain fog, no more muscle aches and almost no pain with her period. Whilst it may seem like quite a simple fix, there was still some work to be done.
Sam came off the Oral Contraceptive Pill, took some supportive supplements and continued to work on her approach to life – specifically the ability to let go and put herself first (as Jabe said "Well done in prioritising yourself. Keep at it! You are worth it .")
And Sam was making progress, but not without frustration – there was a time, about 9 months in, when Sam had antibody testing and it showed an increase. She had periods of increased stress which meant it was more difficult for her to stick with her new behaviours and confessed to snacking on a well-known ‘glass and a half’ chocolate brand. She had a flare up after a family member had an accident, which resulted in serious acute stress on Sam. Gently coming back on track, she soon found her rhythm again, reframed her stress and sent through a heart-filled message showing outstanding antibody and thyroid results. The body wants to heal – we need to give it the right environment.
During the healing process, Sam started to uncover the real her – the woman she hadn’t previously had access to when so busy helping other people. She told Bee “I’m still emotional, but that’s who I am. I cry for things now but it’s not the same. I even tell the kids about some of my experiences”. She found her niche, her menstrual cycle regulated, her energy stabilised and she told Health Coach Bee “The greatest gift I was ever given was 4-7-8” (a breathing technique we encourage our patients to employ). She understood that stress was one of her greatest triggers, that this had a downstream effect on her wellbeing, and that she now has a robust spiritual practice that keeps her well. She told Bee “My biggest thing is that I have the tools. It is my responsibility to instil them.”
We worked closely with Sam and her GP to make sure we were tracking her sex and thyroid hormones and making any necessary adjustments. Sam’s willingness to reassess who she is, meant that her progress was ongoing and her health continued to trend in a positive direction. Her energy improved such that she no longer experiences fatigue and is intimately aware of her upper levels of exertion. Her monthly cycles have settled into a stable rhythm and she finds herself setting healthy boundaries in her life as well as having deeper emotional connections with her loved ones.
When Tony first came to us, his diet was pretty ‘clean’ (he followed a Paleo template) and he described his primary concerns as a lack of energy and a history of gut problems. He had lived in the tropics previously and had blastocystis, dientoemeba and had also been exposed to mould. He was so fatigued, in fact, that he had quit his job because he simply couldn’t function.
By the time he came in, Tony was ready to do anything. He was so sick of being sick. Jabe asked him to really focus on recharging the body as we continued to get clarity around his picture.
It was established in the four-hour initial consult that it would be important to address all key elements of life with Tony, including sleep, diet, stress management and support with supplements. Practitioner Jabe directed him to some apps to help introduce Tony to meditation, as well as some podcasts that would help Tony access some concepts of philosophy and take some of his attention away from such a strong health focus (because attention is good, but too much attention can become detrimental).
Simultaneously, Tony saw a jaw specialist who was treating him for TMJ (temporomandibular joint) issues, in order to lessen his headaches and improve sinus issues.
We wanted to encourage Tony to change the way he interacted with his world. He told us that he had always gone at lightning speed, had always been spontaneous and whenever, in his recovery journey, he saw times of improved energy, his inclination was to go go go!
Recommending that someone change how they think, react and move through their world is a very long game. It was clear that Tony was invested in the change process.
Two months into working with Tony, with regular meditation, plenty of rest and a refined supplement prescription, he had a period of rapid improvement. In fact, he told us it was the best month he had had in a long time. He decided that he didn’t have a need for close coaching and felt confident that he could ‘go it alone’. During this time, Tony was excited and so let some of the foundation behaviours slip. He stopped meditating and let his yoga practice go as well as significantly increasing his social commitments.
Shortly after, when chatting with Health Coach Bee, he recognised that the few things that had slipped had, in fact, made a real impact on his recovery progress. He had started taking on more events socially, and he told Bee “I’m disappointed with myself for going back to old behaviour”. This is the very nature of human behaviour. There can be a strong drive away from a pain; the motivation is clear – to not be in pain. As that pain begins to resolve, we revert back to who we are (or were). Conceptually, it’s why shake diets so often leave people gaining more weight – they are not taught how to behave in a new way (in this case, healthy cooking/eating). Bee and Tony chatted about the benefits of creating a meditation practice – one in which he became present more frequently (strengthening those neural pathways) and then in the future, when his energy is consistently better, he is more likely to make appropriate choices about how he spends his energy.
Several supplements had a significant impact on Tony’s energy and sense of wellbeing. On writing this case story, testing is still underway to understand what underlies the fatigue. We’re looking at both mould and heavy metals, but we’re happy to report we have an engaged patient who is open to settling into a new way of being. He is self aware and has already seen great improvements to his wellbeing.
Joanne came to Melbourne Functional Medicine with a goodie bag of health worries. She was chronically fatigued and struggled to push through her training commitments, she had bloating, anxiety and sleeping problems. Joanne felt wound up and under energised.
In working with Jabe they were able to identify a number of important lifestyle choices that were compounding her symptoms.
Jabe prescribed a specific nutrition protocol to address her underlying digestive issues and to support her energy levels. Bee came on to support Joanne in a health coaching role and developed a tailored meal plan for Joanne with recipes, a shopping list and had a number of phone conversations with Joanne to ensure she understood the protocol and felt confident.
Within two weeks Joanne reported (excitedly) that by eating more regularly and making congruent food choices her energy levels had skyrocketed.
Her training had improved and her friends and family were all commenting on her elevated energy and attitude. Her bloating had also resolved. When talking with Bee she seemed most excited by the absence of anxiety.
This alone can be a taxing and socially alienating experience so to overcome this so quickly was valuable.
James was 17 years old when he first came to us. He was covered from his neck to his ankles in eczema. There was bad scarring behind his knees from the constant itching scratching. James also had a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and was verbal, enjoyed learning at school, but not a fan of eye contact.
A thorough assessment revealed that he was also constipated despite drinking a lot of water and had congested sinuses most of the time. Historically, he wasn’t breast fed, and the eczema developed in his infancy. He also had a period in his childhood of multiple urinary tract infections (due to a congenital malformation) and required treatment with many courses of antibiotics. His bowel motions were never quite the same.
A holistic assessment of James indicated that there were multiple factors in the past and present contributing to his eczema:
• Early exposure to bovine based formula and the onset of eczema point to intolerances. The inflammation created by food intolerances can express systemically, and likely in this case both in bowel and skin.
• Recurrent courses of antibiotics disturbing microbiome ecology, and potentially leading to constipation, compromising a key pathway of detoxification and impacting the behaviour of the immune system (eczema, chronic upper respiratory congestion).
• When key paths of detoxification are impaired, this can over burden other systems such as the skin and lymph.
We assessed food intolerances by blood test and discovered that dairy, almonds and eggs were the main offenders. After eliminating the problem foods from James’ diet, we observed a significant reduction in eczema. He then binged on ice-cream and it returned, which was a great reminder for him.
After the small slip-up, James got back on the elimination diet and after 16 weeks his eczema completely cleared up. You can see the remarkable improvements in the before and after images below and as you can imagine, James couldn’t be happier with the results we achieved together.
Amy was 11yo when her mother brought her to see us. She had lots of tiny little bumps across her forehead and was getting self conscious about them at school. The other kids were starting to notice and say things about it. Her mum also commented that she’d started to develop noticeable body odour, which is unusual in a girl of her age.
Questioning revealed she was constipated (moving her bowels every second day), had tummy pains and snored very loudly. An ear, nose, throat specialist had flagged the need for surgery to remove her enlarges adenoids. Her sister and father have food reactions.
The global nature of her symptoms and family suggested that they could be attributed to food sensitivities. Testing revealed strong reactions to egg, dairy and gluten.
After removing the foods for 3 months, whilst repairing the gut, her body odour completely went away, the snoring stopped, she resumed normal daily bowel motions and the rash on her forehead remitted. Most significantly when the ear nose and throat specialist examined her, the size of her adenoids had resumed to normal (which explained the snoring disappearing). The specialist remarked that he’d never seen such large adenoids shrink back to normal size so rapidly.
Food sensitivities can affect many parts of the body by launching an immune response and especially can cause gut inflammation and damage. IgG food sensitivity testing does not show allergies. It detected reactions that are delayed and cumulative. At the same time as eliminating the foods for 3 months, additional work is done to reduce gut inflammation and restore integrity and to reduce the inflammatory response by the immune system.
A married 55yo woman came to see us. She runs a company, is married and her children are out of home. She was stressed about her weight gain of 10kg in 2 years.
She was eating about half the kilojoules required for a woman her age, was going to the gym three times a week, as well as walking and gardening on weekends. Her sleep had become fitful, and whilst she was able to ‘push through’ her fatigue, she knew she couldn’t do this for long. Her flushes and sweats were manageable for her. Her daughter, who we had treated for food intolerances, referred her.
The treatment focused on ironing out the oestrogen fluctuations through modulation with herbs and dietary changes (phytoestrogenic rich foods), and investigating her thyroid function. We discovered that she had developed an autoimmune thyroid condition, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, since her menstrual cycle changed. This is unfortunately not so uncommon for women to experience as a result of a significant transition in hormonal development (it often happens after childbirth too).
Her thyroid function was probably also being affected by the excess oestrogen (menopause) and cortisol (high stress job). And there was now the autoimmune aspect to manage.
Autoimmunity generates inflammation when the body is attacking itself by mistake.
We used herbal medicine to lower her antibodies, modulate oestrogen and support the adrenals by lowering cortisol. We also focused on stress management techniques, and she reduced her work hours for a period of time to allow her body to recover.
After 3 months she had lost 5kg, was eating more and doing the same amount of exercise.
She felt energised and clear headed and lost the remaining weight over the following months.
Tanya came to us with some gut and joint pain issues with a focus on optimising her health. What we discovered quite quickly, was that learning lifestyle skills has turned out to be valuable for Tanya. She sought advice about healthy snacks, how to eat well (the actual act of eating), and how to move well.
We learnt that Tanya had bowel variability – she tended towards constipation, couldn’t go to the bathroom when staying away from home, was tired, had painful periods and her bowels became loose around period time. She is a hard-working business owner and being well is important for her. In a session with Bee, she identified that health, inner peace and mindfulness were amongst her highest values.
The process with Tanya has been a series of mini experiments and she has learnt an awful lot about her body. She now has a clear understanding of what food her body likes and doesn’t – those experiments have been absolute. She knows when she needs to slow down. With ongoing variability in the bathroom, Jabe asked Tanya to carve out time to just sit – don’t rush this. Making this particular adjustment has seen Tanya’s entire bowel-moving experience change. She now goes, easily, every day. She recently reported that she’d gone away and had success going to the bathroom there!
“I did two poos yesterday – I was so excited.”
We celebrate all the wins 🙂
Michaela came to us because she was suffering from psoriasis and it was having a significant impact on the way she was living her life. Being in her early 30’s, socialising was a big (and important) part of Michaela’s life. Going to music festivals was her outlet and most of her social interactions included drinking alcohol.
Michaela had been living with psoriasis since she was a teenager and was already able to identify that there were some things that directly impacted her psoriasis, like stress, sun, salt and alcohol. This was great awareness and important information.
Taking the time to really explore a patient’s history is critical for us. Because we believe that everybody can –with the right conditions– heal, we need to really figure out what has been going on, and why. This is where Michaela was so great; she knew she was sensitive to chemicals because whenever she walked down the cleaning aisle, she sneezed. Her skin was sensitive to personal care products, and she got shocking hangovers. Together, this told us that her ability to detoxify was a point of concern, so straight away we had some good information about where to pay attention (the liver and other elimination channels).
Being suspicious of gluten for her, we also put her on a gluten-free diet. After a month we hadn’t seen a significant change. With inflammation being a primary target, functional medicine practitioner Jabe recommended Michaela start an Auto Immune Protocol (AIP). This is one of the more intensive food protocols but is incredibly powerful when wanting to find out the role food is playing when it comes to immune interactions and inflammation. Giving up booze was tricky, as it really was the cornerstone of social life, but with Health Coach Bee, they came up with some strategies around how to navigate those social times as well as staying crystal clear about why she was doing it (big-picture goals).
Once Michaela had spent some time doing AIP, it was clear that food was indeed causing an inflammatory response (expressing through her skin). After a couple of months there was a noticeable improvement in her skin, but it had not completely resolved. We dug a little deeper with a Food Inflammation Test and it turns out pumpkin and spinach were causing problems for her. This was powerful information as we weren’t likely to guess that these were foods to be avoided!
Michaela’s skin improved further, and we learned that in addition to pumpkin and spinach, she had problems with legumes, and grains in general, but otherwise didn’t need to be as strict as AIP.
Although we were supporting her liver, and now had absolute values on which foods were showing up as inflammatory, the most significant piece to Michaela’s puzzle was stress. Working in a high stress industry, we needed to help her develop skills and habits that would support her body. Michaela leaned-in to daily journaling and gratitude, as well as building a robust meditative practice. She started walking to work so that she had some ‘empty brain’ time and worked with her Health Coach, Bee, to come up with some affirmations, which helped her navigate moments of anxiety.
During a particularly busy and stressful period over Christmas (after working with her health team for 11 months), where work was requiring longer hours, parents were visiting from overseas and she was given a leadership role at work, she told us that she noticed she wasn’t as stressed as she would previously have been. Hooray! She had taken the time to build those habits to the degree that they simply became part of her everyday routine – like brushing her teeth. As those neural pathways strengthen, so too does the physiological response, which is why, when stress pressed down on her, she displayed more resilience.
At last report, Michaela’s skin is great. She has maintained her meditative practice, eats well (the way her body likes it), and she has clarity around her thresholds for stress – and what to do about it.
Alex was 40 years old when he came to see us after being recently diagnosed as having hypertension with a blood pressure of 155/105 at rest. Alex was overweight which was normal for him since childhood, although he admits that over the last couple of years he has been carrying more weight than usual.
His GP had ordered a 24hr blood pressure monitor as well as an echocardiogram as Alex mentioned he frequently has heart palpitations, particularly when physically active at work. The echocardiogram showed a mild enlargement of the left ventricle of the heart with mild mitral valve regurgitation.
During the initial consultation Alex was found to have a significant family history of cardiovascular disease on both his mother’s and father’s side, including hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia and myocardial infarction.
In the clinic, his blood pressure was found to be 160/103mmHg.
Recent blood results were reviewed during the consultation which showed that total cholesterol was elevated at 9.1mmol/L (HDL: 1.2mmol/L LDL: 7.2mmol/L TRIG: 1.5mmol/L).
At 185cm tall and a weight of 103kg, Alex’s BMI measured at 30, which is in the range for obesity. A waist/hip ratio of 1.1 is suggestive of central obesity which is associated with cardiovascular disease.
Dietary analysis showed a typical western diet which was high in refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and low in fresh fruits, vegetables and fibre. Water intake was suboptimal at approximately 500-750ml per day, with most fluids coming from coffee, soft drinks and alcohol. Alcohol intake averaged 2-4 standard drinks per day, usually beer, or occasionally bourbon and coke.
Alex was reasonably physically active with his work as a sales and client manager for retail pharmacy. Dedicated exercise included weekend walks or bike rides with the family.
Functional testing using a comprehensive cardiovascular profile including lipoprotein subfractions was undertaken. The results demonstrated elevated lipoprotein levels consistent with the elevated cholesterol results previously reviewed. Further analysis of the lipoprotein subfractions determined elevated lipoprotein (a) often seen in people with a genetic or familial predisposition to hypercholesterolaemia, or in people with a low vegetable, low fibre diet. Lipoprotein subfractions profile indicates a mean particle size in the low end of the normal ranges, although still indicative of a lower risk for coronary artery disease, the trend to the lower end of the ranges indicated the need to be responsive to these findings.
Fasting blood glucose was normal indicating there was no risk of blood sugar dysregulation, insulin resistance or development of Type II Diabetes Mellitus.
Other markers such as homocysteine and c-reactive protein were within normal ranges indicating a low risk for cardiometabolic disease, considered a much more serious chronic disease.
Over all these results indicated potential for early intervention preventative strategies to correct modifiable lifestyle factors, reduce body weight and central adiposity, and reduce blood pressure, thereby reducing risk for heart attack, stroke, or more serious chronic cardiometabolic disease progression.
Modifiable lifestyle factors have been consistently shown to have a significant effect on improving a person's cardiovascular risk profile. The 4 pillars of eat, sleep, move and de-stress were used to implement a number of strategies to improve Alex’s cardiovascular health.
A modified version of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet was introduced. This included a diet that was abundant in fruits, vegetables and wholefoods, with a moderate amount of good quality lean meats and proteins. The diet was modified to remove dairy products as Alex had reported having some symptoms when consuming dairy, particularly milk. In addition, his health coach worked with Alex to increase his daily water intake and reduce daily alcohol intake.
As Alex was known to snore in his sleep, he was referred for a sleep study to check for obstructive sleep apnoea, a known risk factor for hypertension and development of cardiovascular disease. The results of the sleep study did not identify obstructive sleep apnoea, so with the guidance of his health coach, effective sleep hygiene strategies were used to improve the quality of Alex’s sleep.
Alex was encouraged to increase his dedicated exercise time to the recommended minimum threshold of 5hrs moderate to high intensity exercise per week. For Alex this included brisk walking for 30mins on most days of the week, and including muscle strengthening or resistance training on at least 2 days per week for a total of 1 hour. The health coach worked with Alex to help this become a regular part of his daily life.
As Alex had identified stress related to his work as having an impact on his energy levels and mental wellbeing, he worked closely with his coach to implement simple breathing exercises that he could perform throughout the day to offset the effects of stress. He also used a phone app to help him with guided mindfulness exercises.
A nutritional compound of Arginine and citrulline was prescribed to help improve endogenous nitric oxide production and improve blood vessel compliance. Fish oils which contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and have been shown to be effective in lowering blood pressure and assisting to correct the blood lipid profile, were prescribed. A high tocotrienol containing form of vitamin E was prescribed as it has been shown to be effective in lowering total cholesterol and LDL-c.
By working closely with his health coach, Alex was able to progressively introduce the various lifestyle strategies that were recommended. By the end of the 1st month his blood pressure was measured in the clinic at 140/85mmhg, placing it in the high normal range. Additionally Alex had lost 2 kgs in weight reducing his BMI to 29.5, representing a shift from the obese to the overweight range.
By the 3rd month Alex was completely comfortable with and enjoying his new diet and found that his family were now all eating much better then they had previously. The family were now a lot more active and exercising regularly together.
Alex continued to lose weight, reducing a further 9 kilos over 6 months to achieve a BMI of 26.9, slightly above his healthy weight for his height, but still representing a significant reduction in cardiovascular risk. Additionally his waist hip ratio had improved to 0.96 indicating that he was successful in reducing his central abdominal adiposity, considered a significant risk factor for cardiometabolic disease.
Alex’s blood pressure reduced further and stabilised around 135/80mmhg considered normal for a male his age. Over a period of 1 month he was weaned off the arginine compound with no rebound rise in blood pressure.
Follow up testing to check his cholesterol levels showed that total cholesterol had reduced 7.14 due an increase in HDL-c, reduction in LDL-c and triglycerides. This represents a significant improvement in lipid profile over 6 months, and with the changes Alex has made, it is expected to continue improving over time.
Lucy was 5 when she was referred to us by a speech pathologist. Her mum was worried that she wasn’t going to be school ready, because she was getting sick every couple of weeks which would often progress to croup. The recurrent upper respiratory infections had impacted her hearing earlier in life, which in turn hampered her learning. She was also tired most of the time, and didn’t like the physicality of playing like other kids. In fact, she’d rarely go outside. She was also a very fussy eater, choosing only “white foods” such as milk, bread, cakes and biscuits.
Lucy was small for her age, had been late meeting most of her milestones, she could not breathe through her nose, and had speech and mannerisms that were underdeveloped for her age. She also experienced eczema periodically. Her mum reported that Lucy had been unwell most of her life and had also been constipated primarily since 3 months of age.
Lucy was a C-section baby and breastfed until 3 months of age, when she transitioned onto formula. Vaginal births and breast-feeding are considered to be protective and positive for a developing immune system. However, this isn’t possible for everyone due to circumstances, and can certainly be mitigated with appropriate interventions.
Functionally speaking, Lucy’s body was showing signs of stress from a young age, from about the time formula was introduced and worsened with solid food introduction. Excessive inflammation and mucous production had resulted in ear infections, grommets, lots of antibiotics, colds, coughs and croup. Antibiotics would have caused changes in her gut microbiome diversity, affecting her capacity to digest foods, and further negatively affecting an already imbalanced immune/inflammatory response.
Practically speaking, having a constantly blocked nose would have impaired taste acuity, therefore influencing her choice of foods. Her breathing difficulties would have impaired oxygen exchange, and therefore the production of energy, hence her apathetic response. Furthermore her innate immune resistance to infection was likely compromised by inadequate nutrients from her limited diet.
Therefore the treatment was aimed at several levels:
Food sensitivity testing revealed a strong reaction to dairy, which her mum was concerned about as she seemed to live off milk and cheese. We used substitutions for these foods for other white foods like coconut yoghurt, soy milk and gradually introduced fruits and vegetables in a way that was playful and reward based, so Lucy enjoyed the transition and became more adventurous with food.
By the end of 6 months of treatment, Lucy was assessed as school ready. But even more gratifying for her parents was that she had transformed into an energetic girl who could go on family bike rides and play outside for hours without needing to rest. She barely got sick anymore and if she did, it resolved quickly. Lucy also became aware of her body and very proud of her poo!
At MFM we’ve worked hard to overcome any possible roadblocks for patients. Part of this solution involves an app that we ask patients to join us on so we can monitor their nutrition, hydration, movement, sleep and other critical trackers. Not only do we get to see how you’re tracking, we can seamlessly communicate with each other as an extra (and very efficient) channel of support. John (not his real name) came to see Jabe as he’s in training to participate in a marathon and he needed some guidance around energy metabolism, athletic programming and nutrition to support him in his training. He said this about the support he receives through the Nudge app:
“…it’s great – pretty sure it got me started back, not sure I would have without it. It’s not the app that gets me, it’s the app, combined with knowing who is at the other end of it, plus having an appointment booked for another catch up – those three together keep me really honest – cheers”.
Michael is 35 years old, a husband, first time father and entrepreneur. He came to see us because his skin was causing him to feel self-conscious about the appearance of the skin on his face. His work involved a lot of training and public speaking and noticed that his skin was starting to undermine his self-confidence.
His skin was red and flaking below his eyes, across the bridge around the folds of his nose, as well as on the margin of his hairline and scalp. The flaking on his scalp was persistent and profuse and was also a source of concern, as he constantly had to be aware of flakes falling on his suit jackets or shirts. He was using anti-dandruff shampoo to try and control it. More recently an angry red rash had spread through his beard, down his neck and onto his chest.
Michael had been dealing with this for 5 years and had tried eliminating foods for short periods of time with little success. However, these dietary experiments had only been for a few weekends at most.
We conducted food sensitivity testing for Michael and found that he was highly sensitive to eggs, gluten and dairy. We removed these foods from his diet, gradually, for a total of 3 months. During this time, we focused on reducing inflammatory markers that is a key driver of dermatitis, restoring the gut microbiome (which impacts inflammation), creating normal healthy bowel motions (another driver or contributor to dermatitis), and most importantly, repairing gut inflammation, which is generally present in those that have external inflammation.
By the end of the 3 months, the inflammation on his face was almost completely resolved.
Through rechallenging certain foods, we established that eggs were highly reactive for him and removed these from his diet moving forward, of course while replacing them with other protein sources. Surprisingly the scalp flaking/dandruff completely disappeared.
Note: Seborrheic dermatitis (SD) and dandruff are a continuum of the same condition. SD effects areas mostly where there is a higher proportion of oil glands. Cradle cap is also a form of SD. On the scalp SD tends to be less inflamed, and is mostly an over-production of oils that flakes off. On the rest of the body, it tends to appear on the nose, cheeks, sometimes chin, chest and anywhere there is a crease e.g. armpits, neck or elbow crease.
When Danielle first came to us, the bathroom was the one room in the house she dreaded. With a history of gut issues that she’d had no resolution from, she was determined to get to the bottom of things.
After running some labs to determine just what was going on we incorporated supplements and asked Danielle to experiment with some foods. She saw improvement in bloating, mood, energy and digestion.
There was a significant turning point for Danielle. Talking with Bee one day, she was recounting that she was still experiencing reflux, sugar cravings after meals and her bowels weren’t moving the way she hoped they would. She set a micro challenge: for one week, eat mindfully. Remove all tech and reading materials, taste each mouthful, chew thoroughly, put your fork down between mouthfuls.
A phone call follow up the next week saw her very excited as her bowel movements were now her idea of perfect, the cravings had subsided and she had no more reflux. Together, Danielle and Bee celebrated the simplicity of this one element.
Maria was 24 when she came to see us, and had been experiencing acne for half of her life! Since age 12, Maria’s acne fluctuated between being mild to severe. Her acne never went away, even after trying the oral contraceptive pill for a few years in her early twenties.
Maria was worried about taking antibiotics or Roaccutane, as she was scared of the side effects. She had used topical vitamin A, peroxide creams and facial extractions with limited success.
After a thorough case history, we discovered that Maria had severe allergies to nuts and fish, and would come out in hives and have digestive upset when eating dairy, eggs, citrus and wheat as a child. Maria also alternated between constipation and diarrhoea, had thinning hair, long irregular periods, and wheat was a staple in her vegan diet. She would also binge drink with friends every fortnight.
Functional hormone testing revealed that her testosterone levels were almost twice the upper limit. Combined with her symptoms of thinning hair, acne, and long irregular periods, Maria met the criteria for PCOS - polycystic ovarian syndrome, a common condition in those with acne. Her uncle also had severe acne, pointing to a genetic link to metabolising testosterone poorly, leading to the increased levels as shown on Maria’s lab test.
Other factors contributing to Maria’s acne were food sensitivities, particularly wheat, and that she was missing key nutrients in her diet that are important for skin health (many of these were mentioned in the webinar). Her detoxification pathways also needed support (especially from the binge drinking), as did her gut health.
Maria’s treatment plan included taking herbal medicines to reduce testosterone levels, which included having spearmint tea. She was also advised to avoid wheat given it was a known sensitivity for her, and was supported with food suggestions and nutritional supplements to help regulate her menstrual cycle, improve her detoxification ability, her digestive health, and her skin.
After 3 months, Maria barely had any new acne, and her period started to become less erratic. At the end of 6 months, her cycles were much more regular, and her skin was clear of acne.
Check out Maria's before and after pics below. The bit of redness left is post inflammatory pigmentation from having acne for so many years. The redness disappeared within 2-3 months as Maria maintained her skin healing protocol.
After struggling with acne for 12 years, you can imagine how happy Maria is to finally look in the mirror and be happy with seeing clear skin!
Susan is a 60 year old female who presented to the clinic with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, overweight and with chronic sleep problems. Her fasting blood glucose fluctuated between 7-8mmol/L and would rise to 17mmol/L after eating. A measure of her HbA1c levels at 9.2% indicates that her blood glucose regulation had been poorly managed over the proceeding 3 months.
A review of Susan’s diet showed regular meal skipping, high intake of coffee, and low in fruits vegetables and fibre. She was undertaking a moderate amount of exercise each week including walking and 3-4 gym sessions, however there was no effect on reducing weight.
At the initial consultation Susan’s recent pathology was reviewed:
Liver function test showed low serum globulin indicating that liver function was less than optimal, however, not suggestive of any serious pathology and likely attributable to a suboptimal diet.
Her most recent fasting blood sugar was extremely high at 17.7mmol/L, a significant increase on her previous result of 7.8mmol/L and her HbA1c indicated that the dysregulation of blood glucose has been going on for several months or longer. Fasting blood glucose levels normally range between 3.5-6mmol/L, so the current result is diagnostic for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) which now requires oral medications and insulin injections to control.
Serum insulin levels were found to be normal, suggesting that the pancreas was still capable of producing insulin, however wasn’t secreting sufficient insulin to control blood glucose, and it is likely that Susan’s cells were resistant to insulin.
Cortisol levels, a key marker for inflammation, was elevated, as were her serum triglycerides which are associated with cholesterol.
During the consultation it was also found that Susan suffered from bloating and constipation, and her sleep was frequently interrupted by leg cramps and needing to urinate. She also had several amalgam fillings in her teeth, and had begun to suffer from neurological symptoms in her hands and feet which is commonly associated with poorly controlled T2DM.
Susan had a number of stressors in her life relating to caring for her family and working night shift.
Following the initial consultation some functional pathology tests were ordered. A food reactivity profile was undertaken and showed Susan to be reactive to white potato, sweet potato, garlic and coffee, all of which frequently featured in her diet. These food reactions will contribute to a systemic inflammatory response, further disrupt her diabetic control, and will be an underlying driver for disease progression.
An organic acids test was also completed and showed elevated markers for yeast and bacterial overgrowth, in particular for clostridium difficile. The elevated oxalates also suggested that the yeast overgrowth was likely to be caused by Candida which is often found to be problematic in people with poorly controlled T2DM. A number of other metabolites showed increased lactic acid, poor energy production and increased ketones, all of which are consistent with her diabetic state.
The organic acids report also showed elevated metabolites for her detoxification pathways which is suggestive of potential toxic exposure. Susan undertook a toxic metals blood screen which showed high levels of antimony which has been shown to leech from PET plastic bottles and containers. Mercury levels were also elevated and are likely to be related to her amalgam fillings.
At the end of the consultation, the priorities for managing Susan’s health were determined to be:
The approach to addressing Susan’s uncontrolled blood sugar regulation involved both effective lifestyle interventions to address diet, exercise, weight control and stress management as well as specific clinical interventions.
The 4 pillars are the foundation for establishing health and in Susan’s case, will form the lifelong strategies she will need to follow to continue to manage her diabetes.
EAT: Functional testing detected a number of reactive foods in Susans diet. These were removed to reduce the immune priming and inflammatory response that dysregulates blood sugar regulation. Other dietary changes were implemented to reduce the high amount of processed foods and high glycaemic load foods, and to increase fibre and complex carbohydrates. These approaches stabilise blood glucose levels, preventing spikes which can reduce insulin’s ability to bind to cell membrane receptors and allow glucose to enter the cell.
MOVE: There is a significant body of evidence to support the role of regular moderate exercise in managing people with diabetes. For Susan this included brisk walking outdoors or on the treadmill for 1hr/day 4-5 times per week.
SLEEP: Specific sleep promoting strategies were implemented to help regulate cortisol and melatonin levels necessary to promote quality sleep. Improving the body's diurnal cortisol regulation also reduces cortisol's effect of driving systemic inflammation which is a primary concern in the progression of diabetes.
DE-STRESS: One of the physiological effects of stress is elevated cortisol which becomes a primary driver of systemic inflammation. Regular practice of stress management techniques such as breathing exercises were used to help reduce the physiological impact of stress on Susan, and to improve her cortisol regulation over the course of the day.
Several supplements were also prescribed.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid, which has been shown to improve insulin resistance, one of the key endocrine disorders that precedes the development of T2DM. ALA also improves symptoms associated with peripheral neuropathy which is commonly experienced in people with diabetes.
Low magnesium has been shown to be associated with insulin resistance. Magnesium citrate was prescribed to correct the low magnesium levels and also to assist with the physiological effects of stress.
Activated B-Complex vitamins are important cofactors involved in a large number of metabolic processes in the body.
Probiotics were prescribed to help restore the healthy gut bacteria and reduce the opportunistic overgrowth of candida. With reduction of the candida, vitamins B6 and B12 will support the oxalate metabolism pathway, reduce the excess oxalates that had been found, and reduce the pro-inflammatory effects of oxalates.
Current evidence suggests that lifestyle factors should be the primary interventions for the management of insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Over several months, Susan worked with her health coach to progressively plan and implement the key strategies recommended for each of the 4 pillars; eat, move, sleep, and destress.
Along with the prescribed supplements, within 3 months, Susan’s blood glucose readings reduced from a fasting level of 17mmol/L to 8mmol/L, and her HbA1c levels had reduced from 9.2% to 7.9%. Additionally, Susan lost 5.5kg in weight.
These significant changes in Susans diabetes control demonstrate a significant reduction in her risk factors for peripheral vascular disease, neurological disorders, cardiovascular disease, and blindness. In discussions with her doctors, Susan’s GP had agreed that if she continued to improve over the next 3 months, then they would consider reducing her insulin with view to her moving to oral medication only to control her blood sugar levels.