When Bob contacted me he was frustrated at the fact that despite all the information and advice out there, he was still struggling to solve a decade of gastritis and abdominal pain and a whole host of related symptoms and health challenges.
Bob was 76 at the time and he did a fantastic job of demonstrating what can be achieved to reclaim vitality and wellbeing.
I’m going to fast-forward 8 months to after our support was complete. Thankfully, once we had finished these were the only health challenges/symptoms Bob was experiencing:
- Slight Anxiety (greatly reduced)
- Waking once per night (also greatly improved from 3 x per night)
That’s a pretty short list! But prior to the healing process that we put in place it was a different story. For 10 years Bob had been stressed-out, confused and frustrated trying to solve the following much longer list of challenges:
- Gastritis and Abdominal Pain (sharp, upper)
- Excessive Burping/Belching
- Cravings for Sweet Foods
- Lower Back Pain
- Athlete’s Foot for 14 years
- Leg Cramps at Night
- Sleep Disturbances, Waking 3 x per night
- Tension Headaches
- Significant Supplementation (19 products)
So, how did Bob create so much change and success in just 8 months? I’ll take you through it.
Actually, many of these symptoms alleviated within just a few weeks. This is always fantastic of course, but it’s important that our focus is not on ‘quick-fixes’ and any unrealistic expectations. Instead, if we can focus on optimising the body’s ability to heal at it’s own individual optimal rate – then there will be success, without any externally applied judgments or limitations!
Bob was on board and he had an awesome support team in place (Bob’s Wife and family) together with the various practitioners we integrated into the process along the way.
Bob was one of my Distance Coaching Clients. I’m based in the UK and all of the Support, Communication and Assessments required were delivered to the comfort of Bob’s residence in New Jersey, USA.
Bob and his Wife embraced the video calls and technology just like they embraced the Functional Health Approach and steps that we put in place.
Clarity not Confusion
“It’s not so much what you do, it’s how you do it” I suggested to Bob during his Initial Consultation when he described his struggles with information overload and feeling stuck as to what to do. Consuming lot’s of information and advice and trying many, many different strategies hadn’t yielded the results so far. This wasn’t a criticism and there was certainly no lack of effort or motivation for Bob. In my opinion there is rarely a need to do more of something and complicate things further.
The most important initial step is to stop guessing and get clarity on what is going on. Start simple, identify individual needs, provide the basic foundational fundamentals and then, if necessary have some ‘fun’ and add some layers of complexity.
Bob’s Clear Foundation
No secrets here! No magic cures!
“Jack is an intelligent, competent, nonjudgmental, caring professional and after reviewing my health history he explained that all areas of the body and these symptoms are linked.”
After a thorough Case Review (of the timeline, health history, goals, nutritional analysis, behaviours, lifestyle, circadian rhythm, movement and exercise) we simply spent some time optimising:
- Current Supplementation Reduction
Each of these Pillars of Health are worthy of greater discussion themselves (*see Google for every opinion under the sun :-). Of note it’s very common for people to already be on many supplements prior to contacting me. Bob certainly wasn’t relying on these supplements to fix all his symptoms, but understandably he was looking for solutions and anything to alleviate the gastritis and abdominal pain in particular.
Supplements have a place and can yield some extraordinary results, but any product needs to justify it’s place in a protocol. Consider that your body has a priority of which, if any, supplements it requires at any given time. This is based on your body’s individual needs – not based on the title of the product. I.e. taking an “Adrenal Fatigue” product for a self diagnosis of adrenal fatigue is questionable as the ingredients may not be suited a specific physiology. Taking ‘Probiotics’ because they are ‘good for the gut’ will create more imbalances and problems for some people.
Imagine that a supplement product has to submit an application to be allowed to enter your body. It must pass an interview panel to ensure that it is:
- Not contraindicated to any medications.
- Individually required by your body.
- An actual priority for your body.
- Of High Quality.
- Supported by an assessment or measurable.
- Not contraindicated to any sensitivities.
- Applied with structured care and awareness.
- In place with an exit strategy in mind.
In the first few weeks we used the above principles to reduce Bob’s supplementation by 50%. This achieved a few key factors for us. For example, this part of the routine became much simpler, we identified some products that were non-priority and probably of no value at this time and also removed some products that were actually creating imbalances in the body and preventing healing at an optimal rate.
Plus this put less pressure on the finances of such a supplement routine.
The Cause of Bob’s Number 1 Symptom of Abdominal Pain
You guessed it. It was a supplement!
It’s important to note that some of Bob’s supplementation was based on some ongoing factors such as Secondary Glaucoma and Prostate Health and we really did not want to remove anything that was actually of great benefit. So as we carefully and strategically investigated all the current supplements we found that the Stomach Acid (HCL) product was seemingly causing a great deal of discomfort and aggravation to the Gastro-Intestinal Lining. It may not have always been the cause of his discomfort, but it absolutely was at that point. As soon as he stopped it, the sharp upper abdominal pain completely alleviated.
Within just TWO WEEKS his number one symptom was gone.
What’s interesting is that for some people with similar symptoms of gastritis and abdominal pain the HCL supplement could actually have helped. Yet it would still be contraindicated and high risk. Functional Stomach Acid levels is a topic for another discussion. In Bob’s case we looked at removing it for clarity’s sake and for some common sense due to the potential effect and contraindication of adding more stomach acid to a stomach lining that was already inflamed.
The Knock-On Effect
When you create a change in a situation, there is always a concurrent opportunity that presents itself. Without the sharp abdominal pains affecting the quality of daily life Bob chose to stop his over-the-counter medication (Peptobismol). It’s not my remit to advise either way on Medications, so I work on the surrounding factors, functions and underlying causes with the person, providing an informed choice and balanced information for them to maintain control of their health and empower the whole process.
He had been taking this medication for some time and on stopping it his progress was not affected. This was a double-whammy of a result as now Bob was achieving his goal of reducing the need for medications and the fact that acid-blockers/antacids etc (whilst they have a valuable role for some) will affect the ability to digest food, breaking it down and absorbing nutrients.
This has a great knock-on effect for the healing ability of the body as a whole.
Adding an Assessment Layer
Functional Medicine Lab Testing offers an excellent way to gain critical insight and understanding into what is causing the imbalances and dysfunctions in the body. If I have been given a diagnosis of gastritis and abdominal pain, or any other condition by my Medical Doctor, what I then want to know are the underlying causes and mechanisms at play. Not everybody needs additional testing to achieve their goals, but it’s a great tool to have in the toolbox.
Fundamentally it is simple. The body has a blueprint of how to Function. Each system, tissue, organ, gland and cell has the blueprint of how to perform their job. All we want to to do is assess whether this blueprint is being expressed, or whether there is actually a sign of dysfunction.
With a Functional Health Approach there are no claims of cure, diagnosis of a condition or treatment. It’s not ‘instead’ of a medical intervention if that is required. It’s to be integrated into your approach to achieve your desired level of wellness.
Bob’s case is a perfect example of this as there were some medical factors to take into account and complement. Let’s look at the Functional Lab Tests that were valuable in understanding which functions needed supporting.
Comprehensive Gut Health Test
It was back in 2014 when we were using a different lab and type of digestive health test, but it really highlighted some key findings.
In this section (left) of the stool test results we can see that there is a potential fungal overgrowth. All too often ‘Candida’ is identified and seen as a major issue that needs chasing, killing as if it’s the source of all ills. Whilst it may be a piece of the puzzle, it is most often just a clue as to what is really going on. Going ‘after it’ can often lead to a vicious cycle of symptoms and further neglect of making real changes to the cause of the imbalance/overgrowth.
We can also see ‘Undigested Tissue’ which highlights some difficulty in digesting foods, which is understandable given the symptoms, timeline and medications.
Further Analysis (above) shows that there are some potential issues with ‘Opportunistic Bacteria’. The more research we do the more evidence there is to these bacteria displaying the possibility of pathogenicity in some scenarios (but not all). Whilst many bacteria and organisms can be seen as part of our ecosystem and perfectly healthy, it is important to consider the role that they are playing alongside the bigger picture of symptomology, health history, treatment history, immune function, inflammatory markers, toxic load etc.
In addition Bob also identified a borderline level infection of H pylori bacteria, which he has history of and related challenges in his gastritis and abdominal pain.
Can a Hair Test Help?
A Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis is one of the most educational tests that we run. Interpretation of the biochemical markers in the hair tissue is somewhat of an art-form (one which continues to challenge this physiologist’s mind!). Used correctly it will help focus on very specific therapeutic steps (nutrition etc), give insight into potential toxic burden and hormonal imbalances, monitor progress and changes and also underline the foundational steps.
8 Months Healing Process
Equipped with all the above and more information we were able to design a healing process that did not complicate or confuse matters. I assured Bob that no matter how complex the human body appears to be, you only ever have to focus on putting one step in place at a time.
A key to success involves establishing which step to put in place in which order and taking action whole-heartedly, with confidence, clarity and control, listening to the body’s response and then adjusting/fine-tuning.
Then move to the next priority step and focus on that. Building.
Bob built progressively and became more of an expert in his own body and mind. That’s ultimately what matters, because that’s what will dictate the outcome in the short, medium and long-term. Playing a part in the process as a Practitioner isn’t about taking over and seizing control.
“The ultimate goal was to equip me with skills to create change and enable me to monitor progress. Goal met! Jack gave me the power to be confident about my health and all that he taught me is now part of my life.”
As a brief summary working together we implemented:
- Streamlining Supplements
- Individual Nutrition (avoiding long gaps, improving protein quality, timing of beverages, limiting salmon intake, eliminating nuts, enhancing nutrient status and more).
- Teaching some Therapeutic Movement principles and exercises.
- AntiMicrobial Cleansing
- Steps to improve Sleep
- Detoxification pathway support
- Metabolic Monitoring with Biomeasures (pulse and temp)
- Careful Digestive Capacity enhancement
- Gastro-Intestinal tissue repair support
- All focussed on enhancing function (No diagnosis, cures or treatments).
The journey of restoring health is truly different for everyone. There will be different rates of success, steps, strategies, results and durations. But a common theme will always be the ability to achieve clarity from your Assessments.
If we aren’t assessing, we’re just guessing!
Not all assessments have to be a Functional Lab Test, but selecting and prioritising the most important test for you is a fundamental starting point for the healing process.
And of course if you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Here is Bob’s Full Testimonial
The key to my success to attain a healthy digestive system was only due to the personal guidance enabled me to reach my goals. Jack is an intelligent, competent, nonjudgmental, caring professional and after reviewing my health history he explained that all areas of the body and these symptoms are linked, and that he thought my vicious cycle could be reversed. Based on lab test work and case review we followed a weekly strategy to optimize my nutrition, provide anti-microbial and liver support, improve digestion and balance hormones. The ultimate goal was to equip me with skills to create change and enable me to monitor progress. Goal met! Jack gave me the power to be confident about my health and all that he taught me is now part of my life. I would like to thank Jack for walking me through this program for my gut health and for all the things that “popped up” during our time together. I sincerely appreciate his time, expertise, compassion, kindness, and care and plan on checking in with him in the future. I am most grateful for all Jack did for me.
The key to my success to attain a healthy digestive system was only due to the personal guidance enabled me to reach my goals. Jack is an intelligent, competent, nonjudgmental, caring professional and after reviewing my health history he explained that all areas of the body and these symptoms are linked, and that he thought my vicious cycle could be reversed.
Based on lab test work and case review we followed a weekly strategy to optimize my nutrition, provide anti-microbial and liver support, improve digestion and balance hormones. The ultimate goal was to equip me with skills to create change and enable me to monitor progress. Goal met! Jack gave me the power to be confident about my health and all that he taught me is now part of my life.
I would like to thank Jack for walking me through this program for my gut health and for all the things that “popped up” during our time together. I sincerely appreciate his time, expertise, compassion, kindness, and care and plan on checking in with him in the future. I am most grateful for all Jack did for me.