David was excited to be a father, something he’d been dreaming about for years. Playing ball with his kids and all the fun things to make every day a memorable one, creating those precious memories of childhood, were on his to-do list. His dream, however, had become a nightmare.
Extreme fatigue was ravaging David’s life. Not just being tired but a fatigue that was so entrenched in his body that he didn’t have the physical strength to pick up his children, play with them or take them out for a day of exploring. Just trying to hold them for an extended hug was a Herculean feat. His work life offered no respite as he was dealing with a dense brain fog, making it incredibly difficult for him to concentrate for any length of time. At only 32 years old, David was too young to feel so weak, tired and confused. He knew there was something intrinsically wrong with his body but the doctors weren’t able to decipher what it was so they continued to give him more prescriptions for more pills, hoping he’d feel better.
Unwilling to accept that this was going to be his new reality and desperate for answers, David reached out to Dr. Crystal Whisler DC, RN, CFMP, one of only a few certified functional medicine practitioners in the United States. It was an unconventional approach but ultimately, it’s what turned his life around.
Dr. Crystal Whisler, DC, RN, CFMP , Functional Medicine Practioner
“Functional medicine addresses the whole individual, not just the isolated symptoms, which is the typical approach of traditional medicine,” explains Dr. Whisler. “It’s not that conventional medicine is doing a bad job, as it’s very important for acute care. For example, if I break my leg or was in a car accident, the conventional medical model is fantastic as it will deal with the medical issues at hand. But for these chronic, nagging health issues, we have to get to the root causes so we can properly heal them.”
The conventional medical model sees physicians treating the symptoms or disease process, prescribing medications and maybe some kind of medical intervention. The functional medical approach aims at uncovering the root causes that are creating the condition or symptom.
“Any kind of chronic health condition stems from one of five reasons,” Dr. Whisler explains. “They are nutritional deficiencies, infections, toxins, sensitivities or allergies and stress. We’re seeing a lot of stress right now due to COVID but stress can come from emotions, the environment, interrupted sleep patterns and food.”
Patients start with a comprehensive case review, lasting upwards of an hour and a half, delving into their history as well as their lifestyle and environment. Next up is a full battery of tests to explore the individual’s biochemistry to uncover hidden infections, nutrient deficiencies, sensitivities, toxins and heavy metals. A concussion suffered years before can have a lasting effect, for example, in that it creates inflammation in the brain that can trigger inflammation in the gut. Someone who appears to be suffering from depression and anxiety could in reality have an intestinal issue.
“This process is called Systems Biology, as we’re looking at all of the systems in the body and how they interplay together,” she explains.
Another example Dr. Whisler gives is patients with Type Two Diabetes. Some patients can manage it by switching to a low carbohydrate or paleo-type diet and doing intermittent fasting to get their blood sugar down. But there are other patients who’ve tried all of those solutions without success, as it wasn’t their diet but a high toxin load from pesticides. Through a detoxification process, the doctor was able to lower the blood sugar to normal levels.
Dr. Whisler states, “When you restore your biochemistry and your physiology, and you remove root causes, you can begin to restore health. But the patient has to be motivated to care about their health, to make themselves a priority. Once they restore their health, they’ll have the energy to be present with their family and kids.”
Modern society moves quickly and the band-aid approach of simply taking a medication for a health problem is a faster ‘fix’ than taking the time to discover what is at the root of the issues. As soon as the patient begins to feel a bit better, they think that the problem has been resolved, not realizing that there is likely ongoing damage, similar to a smoldering fire that, over time, causes other issues to flare up that are seemingly unrelated.
What sets Dr. Whisler apart from conventional medicine and even from her fellow functional medical professionals, is her Healing 4 Life Framework to Uncover, Replenish, Restore and Purify. After undergoing rigorous testing to uncover what is going on with the patient’s biochemistry, she prescribes the course of action to replenish the body, restore the biochemistry and then purify, and detoxify, if needed.
“We have to do things in the right order,” Dr. Whisler states. “While a lot of people would see heavy metals in the blood and want to jump right into a detoxification program, it’s actually the wrong thing to do. First we need to replenish the body, build it back up and restore the nutrient deficiencies. At the same time, we make sure the patient is working on their environment and lifestyle in order to build up their resiliency. Then we can start to repair any inflammations or gut issues, like an imbalance of good bacteria.”
“We work on the deeper physiology and then, once the patient is ready, we detoxify the heavy metals or toxins as doing so places a heavy burden on the body,” she continues. “We want to build them up first before taxing the body. If they don’t have the resiliency and capacity to begin with, how will they deal with a bunch of toxins being dumped into their circulation? You can make things worse taking that approach.”
In the case of David, his tests showed he was suffering from a high level of tin, along with several nutrient deficiencies. Working with Dr. Whisler, he was able to finally treat the root cause, once and for all. Today, he’s not only working full time but David’s started a second business, he hikes, he runs and he’s finally making those dreams of parenthood come true.
Dr. Whisler DC, RN, CFMP specializes in clinical nutrition, systems biology, epigenetics, and mind-body medicine. Connect with her at www.functionalmedicineforlife.... www.facebook.com/FunctionalMed...