- Ava has three different autoimmune conditions including Hashimoto’s
- A functional medicine doctor put her on a restrictive diet for six months and an extensive supplements regimen
- Despite these measures, Ava still isn’t feeling better.
Ava’s autoimmune struggles have been going on for some time now. She’s put in so much work and has invested in supplements, appointments, and treatments so it’s understable that she’s frustrated to see no payoff. It’s my impression that the root problem hasn’t been exposed. I knew that was exactly where I wanted to start.
Autoimmunity is rampant in our society and more people are being diagnosed with all types of autoimmune conditions every day. Many start with conventional medicine like Ava did, then realize it may not hold all the answers for them, and turn to functional (or holistic) medicine. However for some, like in Ava’s case, it may still not be complete. Many practitioners, even more functional and holistic ones, can still be missing the root cause.
My guest on this episode is Dr. Connie Jeon, founder of Alkaline Wellness and Lupus Rebel. She helps A-type, ambitious, and committed autoimmune patients reverse their disease holistically so that they can create a successful life without limits.
Why Doctors Miss the Real Problem
There are many reasons why a functional or holistic medicine doctor might miss the real root cause of the problem. For example:
- Psychosomatic trauma and stress as the perpetuating factor that didn’t get addressed
- Overly restrictive diet plans that the patient could not follow due to lack of accountability and support
- Over prescriptions of hormones (often progesterone) before addressing lifestyle issues
- Lack of rapport with the patient, not knowing more about their life
- Excessive lab testing and focusing on what’s wrong vs focusing on the solution
- Emotional metabolism and proper boundary setting is required for successful reversal of issues
- Self-regard, self-respect, and self-love is lacking
- Mental health and stress management is not included in the treatment plan
- Telling clients what to do without accountability and support, instead of showing them
- Not seeing the big picture and enlisting patients as the primary driver of their health
Balancing the Body with Autoimmune Issues
The list above shows that many of these issues have to do with lifestyle, thoughts, and taking a bit more time to gather more information. If a practitioner or doctor you’re working with isn’t asking you questions about this then you may be missing some of what’s needed for a truly holistic approach.
Balancing our body and getting to the root of health issues, especially as it relates to autoimmunity, is multi-faceted and has to include the inner work too.
How Treatment-Stress Can Reverse the Benefits
Ava was diligent with her diet and supplements, but being so diligent was also causing her a ton of stress. She would feel anxious if she had to go out to eat or shift anything in her routine. Those anxious feelings would spiral in her head, and affect her sleep and how she showed up in her work and for her family during the day. She often woke up dreading the day because she didn’t feel well and because she felt she had to accomplish so much.
So many of us have a lifestyle with high stress. In the work world, we often don’t take time to slow down and analyze how these lifestyle choices might be affecting our health. Interestingly but not surprisingly, Ava didn’t realize this was going on and therefore did not consider that it could be a part of her underlying issues.
How To Address Underlying Stressors Affecting Autoimmune Issues
- Figure out what you enjoy, and make time for it
- Create a positive relationship with your health team and don’t be afraid to search for options
- Find a health practitioner who will take time to search out the root cause
- Identify where you could create better boundaries and reduce stress
- Try EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
- Identify any limiting beliefs or thoughts
- Reduce over-supplementation or excessive prescriptions where possible
- Keep the focus on the solution
- Engage in regular stress-relieving activities
- Don’t discredit the power of your mind and heart as a part of the whole solution
I knew with Ava that there were likely deeper stressors affecting her, and triggering the autoimmune responses she was experiencing. We started by making a list of all the things she enjoyed (which wasn’t as easy as you might think!).
The next step was to carve out time in her schedule so she could start spending more time doing the things she loves. She was excited but also found that she felt guilty about taking the “me” time. This is common and we had to address it as a limiting belief. To help with removing this belief, we used the dot exercise. This exercise is based on EMDR principles where I had her follow a moving dot back and forth on the screen with her eyes while saying the belief with the words ‘no more’ before the belief.
I know this may sound a bit strange at first, but following the moving dot with her eyes activates the optic nerve which runs between the right and left hemisphere of the brain which then helps us go deeper into the subconscious mind where these beliefs are stored.
We identified many more limiting-beliefs such as: I am never going to heal, my body is broken, there is not enough time, I am too busy, and the world is unfair. Then, we worked on eliminating those.
We then used the mind body method based on the work of Dr. Mario Martinez to help us connect the mind to the body and then disconnect the feelings and beliefs from where they manifest. It’s one of my favorite modalities because it’s so effective and quicker than most people would expect. Results can be noticed as quickly as a day or two. If you are not familiar with this concept, I talk about it indepth in my interview with Dr. Mario Martinez way back in episode 7 so if you missed that one or it’s been a while since you listened to it, be sure to play it.
I worked with Ava on observing her thoughts without judgment. This was harder than one might think, because her thoughts were fast and she had never paused long enough to listen. This is so common in our society. It’s easy to be in overdrive and forget to listen to your thoughts.
Once she heard these thoughts, it was hard for her not to judge them but as anything else, we get better with practice and so did she. Laughing at the thoughts she was having was a technique that helped her see them as a bystander without the same judgment.
While we were doing all this, I actually gave her permission to eat certain foods that she was restricting. Having that permission really helped to ease the food anxiety she’d developed over the last year. And it provided her with more nutrients from a more varied diet.
Remember the supplements? Ava was advised to take many great supplements from her previous doctor but I felt it was too much for her body to handle, process and break down. Not to mention the expenses were a struggle for Ava. We picked the most important ones and were able to cut her list by half.
Three months into our work applying a whole mind-body approach, Ava saw a huge shift. Her energy was elevated, her joints were less achy, and her sleep improved.
She also reported that her anxiety was pretty much non-existent. She felt joyful and was excited to wake up each morning and face her day. I was so happy to support her through this and now that she knows what to do, and has the tools to do it, she can continue the work on her own.
Eliminating Health Mysteries
Everything in the body is interconnected so please don’t underestimate the power of your mind and your long-held beliefs. If you find yourself wondering why your healthy diet and supplements aren’t working, then it’s essential that you look at lifestyle, stress, and the beliefs that may be causing issues.
For more on this, check out episode 77 called Are you Getting in Your Own Way of Healing? In this episode, I talk more about the impact beliefs can have on our health.
As for Ava, all she needed was someone to get to the bottom of her health concerns by looking where nobody else had thought to look – in her mind and beliefs. Could this be affecting someone you know?
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