An Unsolvable Issue

After working to address a chronic health condition that has persisted the last 3 years and exhausting my known options I took a trip to the Cleveland Clinic’s center for Functional Medicine directed by Mark Hyman to see if they might be able to help me resolve it.

Since I’ve received quite a few questions about the process and what to expect I wanted to record my experience and share relevant resources for others who may be interested or considering functional medicine in their future.

What is Functional Medicine, exactly?

Functional medicine is defined as:

a personalized, systems-oriented model that empowers patients and practitioners to achieve the highest expression of health by working in collaboration to address the underlying causes of disease.

In my experience, this is a verbose way to say, ‘we use additional tools often overlooked by conventional medicine to help the body heal and flourish.’ The main additional tools being: detailed blood work, nutrition, stress management, sleep, and supplementation.

What to Expect: Part 1

  • Prior to your appointment you’re required to fillout a lifetime medical history questionnaire. They ask you about your total health and any insults to health that have occurred since birth e.g. were you breast fed, delivered vaginally or via C-section, surgeries, chronic illnesses, etc.

  • Next, you meet with a physician for 60 minutes. This was the most refreshing and valuable part of my visit - you are given an opportunity to just talk. We talked about my health throughout my lifetime. Why are you here? What’s been bothering you? We reviewed the major milestones on my medical history.

  • From there my physician prescribed me a supplementation plan based on my symptoms and issues that we discussed. He also required that I do detailed blood work and complete a Genova GI Effects Comprehensive Gut Health Profile health test.

Here’s what blood work and supplementation I was prescribed:

Blood work ordered:

  • CBC + DIFF
  • Complete metabolic panel
  • copper blood levels
  • Vitamin D levels
  • TSH
  • T3 & T4
  • Methylmalonic Acid level
  • Magnesium RBC levels
  • Homocysteine levels
  • GGT levels
  • C-Reactive protein levels

Supplementation ordered:

  • Cortisol Manager (integrative therapeutics)
  • GI Integrity pure (pure encapsulations)
  • Inflammatone (designs for health)
  • Magnesium Gylcinate
  • One Omega (pure encapsulations)
  • TherBiotic complete (klaire/prothera)
  • Vitamin D3 5000 (pure encapsulations)

What to Expect: Part 2

  • Next you participate as a group session with a nutrition coach. We had a small group but basically she ran through a presentation and we discussed how we get our food, food choices, what to eat, how to think about preparation.

  • I found this very helpful given the noise around what’s appropriate to eat these days. They prescribe an elimination diet. Asking all patients to remove items that cause inflammation - the top 3 being gluten, dairy and corn.

  • I’ve attached their elimination diet protocol here.

What to Expect: Part 3

  • Next, was a group session with a life coach. The life coach discussed strategies for sleep and stress management.

  • We discussed how most appointments to general practitioners are actually stress based (almost 60%) and the importance for managing cortisol levels. Meditation was a must do - recommending at least 20 minutes per day.

  • Sleep strategies were heavily discussed, including light, caffeine, wind-down routine, etc.

Take Aways & Total Cost

In total, my visit cost $600 (my visit was not covered by insurance so paid cash and received a discount), my gut health test was $300, and my supplementation cost $300. My all in cost, was around ~$1,200.

For many years, I’ve long thought that medicine would be on track when they asked you ‘how you were sleeping, what you were eating and how your stress levels were managed’ - this was the first I’ve experienced the full continuum of health within major medical institution.

I view this as an no brainer investment if you’re interested in your long term health. For what it’s worth, it has already paid for itself, given that I’ve been able to clear up on going chronic health issue within the first 4 weeks. I’ve not doubt it will continue to repay itself for years to come.

If you’ve never had an appointment with a functional medicine physician it’s a quite different approach to what you may be used to - but I assure you it’s the future and more complete way to practice medicine.

To book an appointment you can visit: Cleveland Clinic’s center for Functional Medicine

You might find some of these resources helpful: