In a world where conventional medicine often leaves us merely surviving, functional medicine and holistic wellness provides a beacon of hope. Today I shine a light on this topic after a recent chat on my podcast with Dr. Meg Mill – a Functional Medicine Practitioner, bestselling author, podcast host, and speaker.
Through advanced diagnostic testing and personalized support, Dr. Meg delves deep into the root causes of health struggles. Her virtual Functional Medicine practice serves patients worldwide, offering a bridge to holistic wellness. But what led her down this transformative path, and why should you be eager to follow? Today we’re diving into gut health, headaches, how to have increased energy, and more, because I want you to know all the resources that are available to you.
Listen below for the entire episode on The Systemize Your Life Podcast
Navigating My Health Journey
My own health journey began with chronic strep throat, from the age of 14 to 21. I would get it three to five times a year. Unfortunately, insurance wouldn’t cover the removal of my tonsils unless I had documented cases four times a year, and it always seemed to occur at the wrong time of the calendar year. In retrospect, this was a blessing, but at the time, I desperately wanted them removed.
After that, the severe strep throat stopped, but then I received a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. One of my doctors wanted to put me on antidepressants, which made no sense to me because I wasn’t experiencing depression. My primary issue was the physical pain I was enduring. The doctor’s rationale was that antidepressants could help numb the pain, but I didn’t want to be numbed —I wanted to lead a fulfilling life.
Embracing Holistic Wellness: From Trauma and IBS to Naturopathic Care
It was during this time that someone introduced me to our naturopathic medical doctor who we still see. Throughout that whole journey, I endured a traumatic experience for about five or six years. On the other side of that challenging period, through my recovery and healing, I developed horrible IBS. I worked with our naturopathic doctor to heal it naturally. While I can say it’s in remission, I must still manage and pay attention to it; it remains a constant presence in my life.
Both of my kids were born under his medical guidance and care. They have never experienced mainstream medical care. I believe it’s important for everyone to understand the difference. I’m so glad that Dr. Meg possesses the experience of both worlds.
Meet Dr. Meg and Her Holistic Approach to Wellness
Dr. Meg is particularly passionate about helping people overcome headaches and migraines, increase energy, and restore mental clarity without the use of drugs or overwhelming protocols, thanks to her proven E.A.T. Method.
Her practice primarily serves women, and her main focus is on uncovering the root causes of health issues. She aims to identify the connections within your health by looking at the symptoms you’re experiencing and then putting them all together to help you feel your best and heal naturally.
Medication Survival Dilemma: Dr. Meg’s Eye-Opening Experience
Dr. Meg’s background lies in pharmacology and ambulatory care, where she spent considerable time working in various clinics and hospitals. She worked closely with physicians on medication and medication management.
During her practice, she observed that doctors were prescribing multiple medications to an increasing number of patients. While she understood the research behind these drugs and the protocols, she couldn’t help but notice that people weren’t getting better. Instead, they were merely surviving. While survival is possible with these medications, they often come with side effects and consequences. People were merely surviving, far from the thriving state she believed in.
Discovering Functional Medicine: Dr. Meg’s Journey to Healing and Holistic Wellness
Dr Meg happened to be experiencing some of her own health issues, including symptoms of IBS. She visited various gastroenterologists and began to feel anxious. Despite her struggles and persistent symptoms, everyone kept reassuring her, saying, ‘You’re fine, you’re young, and your blood work looks great.’ However, she felt far from fine. She experienced exhaustion and couldn’t eat anything, leaving her unable to fully enjoy life.
This led her to start on this quest of finding another way. She did a lot of holistic things and tried different avenues. It wasn’t until she found functional medicine that she realized this was the bridge she was looking for. Functional medicine involves a lot of in depth testing. The data undergoes analysis, following a highly individualized process. You get to experience agile healing.
The Shift from Mainstream Medicine to Holistic Wellness: A Desire to Truly Help People
One of the main reasons why mainstream medical doctors often make the switch to alternative practices is that they see people aren’t getting better. Most doctors grow up with this passion and this desire to actually help people and then they realize that it’s not actually helping. In my case, I saw my kids receiving actual help. As a mom I really want my kids to get better. I don’t want them to suffer in silence and rely solely on medication. Unfortunately, many people don’t know that there are many alternative solutions out there.
Embracing Personalized Medical Attention
In 2001, Dr. Meg transitioned to offering virtual consultations alongside her local practice, allowing her to serve clients worldwide. She provides personalized, results-focused care and offers free consultations to understand each individual’s unique health challenges and goals. A personalized medical approach is such a hard thing for people to wrap their brain around when they’ve never had that personalized medical attention before. And I don’t know how I would function without it, honestly.
She tailors her methods to address specific issues such as headaches, hormonal imbalances, and gut problems, aiming to improve each person’s quality of life through individualized care.
Exploring Root Causes: Holistic Wellness for Women’s Health
Women often experience a variety of symptoms that people commonly consider normal or expected. By addressing the root causes and delving deeper into these issues, we can break free from a cycle of reliance on medication and chronic illness. Exhaustion and hormonal imbalances serve as two illustrative examples of such symptoms.
“By addressing the root causes and delving deeper into these issues, we can break free from a cycle of reliance on medication and chronic illness.”
Revitalizing Energy Levels Through Nutrient Optimization
We tend to assume that feeling exhausted is a normal part of being a mom. However, being so tired that you can’t keep your eyes open after seven o’clock is not actually normal; it’s typically a symptom or side effect of an underlying issue. People might go to Dr. Meg for hormone balance or relief from conditions like IBS or something like that. When they address their nutrient intake and their body’s ability to digest and absorb these nutrients, they can’t believe the energy they have.
Empowering Hormonal Balance Beyond Conventional Approaches
Hormones are an area where many women are underserved. They are typically only offered conventional medicine options. Dr Meg shared an interview with a doctor who had formerly practiced as a gynecologist but transitioned to a more functional approach. She pointed out that gynecologists are primarily trained for delivering babies and doing surgery. Their expertise in managing hormones is limited. Yet, that’s our go to for hormone health! They’re trained to put you on a birth control pill and then what if that doesn’t work? She’s had people tell her they were actually just given a list and told to pick a different one.
Navigating the Unintended Consequences of Birth Control
What many of us, as women, fail to realize when presented with these options is that birth control often comes with a lot of side effects. Even young girls are prescribed birth control pills when they begin experiencing breakouts, menstrual cramps, or irregular periods. However, this approach merely masks the symptoms; it doesn’t address the underlying issues. Additionally, it can lead to deficiencies in essential nutrients such as vitamin B6.
Vitamin B6 plays a crucial role as a precursor to serotonin, our ‘happy hormone.’ It contributes to our overall sense of well-being, mood stability, and alleviation of anxiety and depression. Unintentionally depleting vitamin B6 can also impact the gut lining, potentially resulting in conditions like leaky gut. This, in turn, can trigger autoimmune diseases, skin problems, and a range of other health issues.
We’re missing the mark by just going on medication. A different approach is needed. We need to start by examining our symptoms and understanding what’s happening in our bodies. We need to balance the hormones. With hormones it’s beneficial to do the testing and not just guess symptom-wise because you really want to make sure you’re getting the right balance. Things get balanced through the testing and many symptoms naturally go away on their own.
Embracing Perimenopause: Understanding the Transition and Finding Balance
The perimenopause phase of life is an inevitable journey for us women. It’s a transitional period that spans about ten years, during which progesterone levels can start to decline roughly a decade before estrogen actually decreases. You’re not officially in menopause until one year after your last period but the transition can last for approximately a decade. While this time of life brings numerous changes, it doesn’t have to be miserable. All we need to do is understand what’s happening within our bodies and get things balanced. Luckily, more women are becoming empowered to know there are things we can do.
It doesn’t have to be this way; it all comes down to hormone balance. So if you’re looking at it, is your progesterone low or is your estrogen high? Are you just not excreting? When you think of estrogen, you want to use it and then lose it. The goal is to utilize it for bone health and vitality while ensuring efficient excretion to prevent experiencing symptoms of estrogen dominance.
Unlocking Hormonal Balance
The biggest question I believe most women have is if achieving hormonal balance is possible and, if so, what steps can be taken to attain it. . Once you’ve undergone hormone testing, such as the Dutch test, you’ll receive results for various hormones, including cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and other hormone metabolites (breakdown products of hormones).
You’re going to want to see your estrogen and progesterone balanced out with each other. Look for the little dials on your results, and ideally, you want them all pointing in the same direction rather than pointing toward each other. The specific adjustments needed for balance vary from person to person. For instance, some may need to increase progesterone, while others may have elevated overall estradiol levels.
Understanding the Complex Relationship Between Migraines and Estrogen Metabolism
Many people who experience headaches and migraines may have an overactive CYP3A4 pathway, which is responsible for metabolizing estrogen in the liver. In some cases, the metabolites produced in this pathway can be even more estrogenic than estradiol itself. As a result, you may exhibit symptoms related to excessive estrogen, even though a standard blood test for estrogen levels might appear normal. This discrepancy arises from the heightened activity in this particular metabolic pathway, leading to an increase in estrogen metabolites in your system. So it’s really learning all of that and being able to manipulate them in a way that creates balance for them
Navigating the Ever-Changing Landscape of Hormonal Balance
When it comes to balanced hormones, we have to remember that hormones are fluid. We will have different hormones throughout our whole life. For example, your hormonal levels during puberty will be different from those during perimenopause or menopause. However, it’s essential to look at your symptoms.
Recognizing Hormonal Imbalances: Is Your Menstrual Cycle Running Your Life?
Do you find that you live your life according to your menstrual cycle? Do you notice distinct changes in your mood and physical symptoms each week? For instance, do you experience anger and mood swings, followed by bouts of crying? Perhaps you’re constantly teary-eyed. Are you dealing with cramps that are so severe they disrupt your daily routine? Do you struggle with heavy bleeding? Are your breasts tender and painful? Do you find it difficult to sleep, experiencing insomnia? If you’re nodding in agreement to any of these questions and feel like your life is dictated by your menstrual cycle, it might be time to consider whether your hormones are out of balance.
It’s natural not to look forward to your period, but if it becomes a significant source of discomfort and disruption, it’s worth exploring the possibility of hormonal imbalances.
Balancing Wellness and Lifestyle: Achieving Holistic Wellness Goals Without Sacrifice
Dr Meg doesn’t believe in a lot of elimination. That’s what often concerns people when they’re entering the functional or holistic wellness space. They worry that they’ll have to give up things they love. Her goal is to provide support without asking you to sacrifice your favorite things. Instead, the aim is to incorporate adjustments. For example, exploring certain nutrients or adding more berries to your diet, which might positively impact your health pathways. Additionally, targeted supplements are tailored to specific needs, depending on the extent of any deficiencies or changes required.
She always inquires about your lifestyle to understand how feasible it is for you to introduce variety through food. Based on your nutrient levels, she can recommend dietary adjustments. She provides a range of options to help you incorporate these changes into your diet. The focus is on specific elements that can enhance your overall well-being through dietary and lifestyle modifications.
Shifting the Focus: Prioritizing Natural Healing Over Medication
The people that are educating our conventional doctors are drug companies. There is a huge influence by these drug companies on our medical system. Many doctors are trained to prioritize the interests of these companies, which essentially revolve around profit-making. We have to keep that in mind too because there is an idea that drug companies prefer patients to remain on medication. In contrast, the goal of functional wellness is to help you gradually reduce your reliance on medication and facilitate your body’s natural healing process. We’re encouraged to do all the things we need to do to be our healthiest self, not just take medication. Sometimes it’s necessary. However, most often, there’s a lot of things you can do. And you don’t have to rely on that, you just have to have the understanding and knowledge how to do it.
Financial Strategies: Navigating Healthcare Costs in the World of Alternative Medicine and Holistic Wellness
My husband and I often discuss the cost aspect of healthcare because insurance doesn’t cover any of these doctors, for the reasons we’ve been discussing. There’s no money in doctors that don’t prescribe prescriptions to their patients, which aligns with the interests of insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies. As a result, alternative healthcare practitioners often find themselves excluded from insurance coverage.
Consequently, we made strategic financial decisions early on to establish our own health savings accounts. These accounts have been crucial in ensuring that we have the means to pay for our medical expenses. I’ve been prioritizing this approach since my days as a single mom when I didn’t have a dime. My main priorities are good medical care and access to good, nutritious food. I didn’t carry health insurance for decades. And we probably wouldn’t have it.
Even now, with my husband working as a firefighter and having access to decent medical insurance, there have been times where we opted to pay cash for healthcare services. Surprisingly, in many cases, negotiating and paying directly for medical bills turned out to be more cost-effective than relying on health insurance. This opened our eyes to a whole new world of healthcare options.
The E-A-T Method
Dr Meg shared about her E-A-T method, which stands for Enlighten, Align and Thrive.
The first step is enlightening ourselves about all of our triggers. For example, lets consider IBS as an example. When you eat, are you actually digesting and absorbing your nutrients? You might be consuming a wonderfully healthy diet, but if your gut is not functioning optimally, you might not be able to digest and absorb those nutrients effectively. So when we talk about fatigue, could it be because you’re not absorbing the nutrients you need, such as B vitamins and iron, even if you’re eating them? We need to investigate if there are underlying issues with your gut microbiome.
Many people talk about gut health, but what Dr Meg often finds is that they follow a gut health program and then come to her saying, ‘Well, I feel a bit better, but not significantly.’ This could be because they’re increasing fiber intake or taking probiotics, but a comprehensive stool test or similar diagnostics are often necessary to identify what’s really happening in your microbiome. We need to pinpoint the specifics. Do you have a parasite? Is there Candida overgrowth? Does a pathogen need elimination or rebalancing?
The next step is aligning. This includes aligning hormones, working on the circadian rhythm and regulating the nervous system. The nervous system is all tied into digestion, hormones, mood etc.
My biggest trigger, even to this day, is when I become extremely stressed. In those moments, my bowels are a mess. I believe my damage came from living in trauma for so long.
We need to work through trauma because it’s all connected. We’re not just our GI system or our brain. There’s the vagus nerve, which acts like a superhighway connecting the gut and the brain. So, we need to focus on regulating our nervous system, bringing us back into balance, and aligning our overall health. Then, we can be set up to thrive, ensuring we have all the necessary nutrients, balanced hormones, and sometimes, we work on detoxing the body to prepare you for thriving.
Dr Meg’s goal in working with people is to help them experience a transformation. Often when people come in they’re experiencing symptoms. There are things that can be done to boost energy, enhance mental clarity, improve mood, and alleviate symptoms.
Embracing a New Path to Holistic Wellness
If you’re hearing about this alternative approach of holistic wellness for the first time and wondering, ‘What is all this?’ I encourage you to delve into some reading and research. Seek out an exceptional doctor like Dr. Meg who can guide you through this different, yet effective path to better health.
In my world, many people come to me, and they often approach the functional and holistic route with skepticism. I genuinely believe that this is the way medicine was originally intended to be practiced. Over time, certain changes occurred, and the concept and practices of Western medicine diverged from this path. Dr. Meg, as a highly specialized physician focusing on a specific aspect of women’s health, is a valuable resource for those seeking a different approach on their health journey. It’s reassuring to know that such expertise is available to people.
Resources To Get You Started
She has also shared a free gift, 8 Step Guide to Say Goodbye to Headaches Naturally and her free Masterclass Why You’re Suffering With Headaches & Migraines And 3 Ways To Resolve Them For Good
Head on over to our FREE Facebook Group – I’d love to hear about whether or not you’ve made the shift to functional wellness and what your experience has been.
Frequently Asked Questions
I'd like to start being more intentional about how I'm nourishing my body. Do you have any resources that can help me with my meal planning?
Yes, I’m so happy to share my Menu Cards system with you. Meal planning and prep are very important. Follow these 5 practical steps to a simple meal plan. If you’re a busy work-from-home mom I also have a healthy meal routine you can follow. Lastly, here are the top 5 healthy dinners I like to save time and have less to clean up.