How to be a Health Detective: Learn the Strategy the Functional Medicine Docs Use

Today I promise to share a tool with you that Functional Medicine Doctors use to try and solve your case.

The reality is the job of a doctor is a lot like being a detective.  So I really do consider myself like a CSI health detective – to try and find the little clues that will help me solve your case.  And the tool that I’m going to show you today is one that all functional medicine doctors use and it’s called…

The timeline. 

Now, everybody has a timeline and anybody can do this, I’m going to show you how easy it is.

Go run and get yourself a simple piece of paper and a pen and I’ll show you how to work your way through your timeline.  I’m going to show you how easy it is to map out your health timeline.  And by doing this, you might just find the underlying root cause of where your fatigue (or any other symptoms) came from in the first place.

So, this is what you do.  On your piece of paper, you’re going to draw a line across the paper.  On the one side you’re going to put a zero and that’s going to be when you were born so we’ll put “birth”.  On the other side, we’ll put a big “X” and that is just now – today’s date.

So the next thing you do is list all of the different symptoms along top right corner of the sheet of paper.  All of the symptoms you’ve been suffering from.

Now that you have listed all of your symptoms, the next thing to do is start to think back to when was the last time you felt really good.  When was the last time that you felt like your old self?  Take a moment and think about that now and then I want you to graph that on your piece of paper.  Either put your age or put a year.

The next thing to do is to go through every symptom that you’ve been suffering from and try and think back to when was the first time that you noticed yourself having that symptom. 

So for your symptoms, work through each and every one and try and go back as to when those symptoms started and mark them on your timeline.

The next thing that we’re going to work on, and this is where it really starts to get interesting, is to really try and find the root underlying causes of where all of this is coming from because again, in functional medicine everything in your body is connected.  And because everything in your body is connected, there can be one problem that happens and it can have a domino effect in your body causing other problems to happen, too.

The next question that I want to ask you is have you ever had food poisoning in your life?  Have you ever had a really, really terrible stomach flu, or an awful 24-hour flu or a gastro?  Have any of these things ever happened to you and if they have, I want you to mark down on your timeline when they happened – either the year that they happened or the age when they happened to you.

Let me give you a real example:

When I asked my patient Mary this question about food poisoning, she told me specifically she remembered, back in 2005, traveling to Europe and having a really bad food poisoning.  And then, she remembered in 2008 also having another food poisoning.  So this was some super juicy information for me as a doctor because, like I said, a lot of this is just simple detective work and unfortunately, a lot of health care providers don’t have the time to map out your timeline like this.  That’s why I wanted to show you this secret today.

For Mary, in 2005 she had a food poisoning, and in 2008 she had another food poisoning.  So 2005 was her first food poisoning and then in 2006, lo and behold, that’s when her PMS and her IBS started!

Is this just a simple coincidence? It’s definitely not!

So as I show you all of the different steps of mapping out your timeline, I want you to keep in mind…

Did any of these things happen to you within six to twelve months of your symptoms starting?

If “yes”, that means that these two things are connected. 

So for this patient, the root underlying cause of her PMS and her IBS is actually food poisoning and to me that means she still has a chronic infection in her intestines.

Asking that simple question about have you ever had food poisoning or really bad stomach flu or a terrible 24-hour flu, that’s an excellent place to start.

The next thing we’re going to map out are the major stresses that you’ve gone through throughout your lifetime.  I’m talking about the really, really big stresses.  This would include the death of a loved one or illness of a loved one, going through a separation or a divorce, unemployment, some type of abuse (mental abuse, physical abuse or sexual abuse).  And lastly, a major trauma so that could be like a major car accident or a concussion even.  So take a moment, think about in your life, when have you had major stresses/traumas happen to you and then map them out on your timeline.

Now that you’re done with that, the next thing to think about is surgeries.  When have you had any surgeries in your life?  It could be surgery on your body, it could also be dental surgery, any dental work.  It could be something as simple as a root canal.  Think about when those things have happened in your life and map those out on your time line.

The next thing that you’re going to map out is exposures to toxins.  When in your life have you had a major exposure to toxins?  I want you to think about have you ever renovated your house?  If you have, it could be a small renovation or a major renovation, you’re going to write that on your list.  Or, have they ever done any renovations at the place where you work, at your office?  Again, you’re going to put that down on your timeline.  Along with renovations, have you ever been exposed to mold?  Have you ever had a leak in your house or a leak at the office where you have been exposed to mold that you know of.  Again, write that down on your timeline.

Now the next thing we’ll talk about are antibiotics.  Antibiotics are necessary and they save millions of lives every day, but antibiotics come with a down side.  Antibiotics kill off all the good friendly bacteria living in your intestines and then that can have a whole domino effect in your body.

Research now shows that antibiotics can cause chaos in your body for up to four years after.  On your timeline, I want you to map out any and all times in your life that you have taken antibiotics.

You may have used antibiotics for sinus infections, for lung infections, for chronic acne, for bladder infections.  A lot of women, along with antibiotics, have had to use antifungals for vaginal yeast infections.  Think about all the times in your life that you used antibiotics/antifungals and mark it down on your timeline.

This next one is a little bit easier because it’s pregnancy.  I want you to write down on your timeline all the different times that you were pregnant and you had a live birth and I also want you to write down all the different times you had a pregnancy that actually ended up in a miscarriage.

Pregnancy can be a big clue and is a common theme that I hear from women.  They come in and they tell me “I’ve never been well since my last child was born”.  When I hear that it’s like music to my ears because I know part of the reason why that they’re having their symptoms is simply they’re in massive hormonal imbalance.

Take a moment now and write down all of the pregnancies you’ve had on your timeline.

The last one that I want you to think about is colonoscopy.  If you’ve ever had a colonoscopy, I want you to put that on your timeline and this is why.  When you need to do a colonoscopy, you have to drink some funky liquid so that you have a total emptying of your bowels.

And that purging of your intestines in and of itself can create an imbalance within the bacteria that grow afterwards and I have had quite a few patients come in and tell me as we’re going through their history that they’ve never been well since their preparation for colonoscopy.  If you’ve had a colonoscopy, write that on your timeline right now.

As you’ve been working through your timeline, if you can think of anything else that we haven’t talked about yet that you think might be related to your case write it down on your timeline.

Again, what we’re looking for is did something happen six to twelve months before your symptoms started.  If that’s a “yes”, it means that is likely one of the factors of why you’re having your symptoms.  That is one of the root underlying causes of your symptoms!

Let’s go back to this case that I was showing you a little bit earlier for Mary who came to see me last year.  She was suffering for many years with PMS, IBS, brain fog, fatigue, poor memory and bloating.  In fact, she emailed me a whole bunch of pictures on how bad her bloating is. And literally, she did look about four or five months pregnant.

As I worked through her timeline, I saw that in 2005 she had her first food poisoning.  Then, in 2006, is when her PMS and her IBS started.  Not a coincidence at all!  Then in 2008, she had a second round of food poisoning and then years later, in 2011, is when she remembers first having brain fog and bloating.  For this particular patient, I knew, just based on this timeline that a big piece of the puzzle for her case was finding the hidden infection that is still living in her intestines from these two rounds of food poisoning.

For this patient, what I did next to confirm my suspicions, for her what we did actually was a urine test.  It’s called an organic acids urine test and what I found was that she had a chronic yeast infection growing in her intestines.  Basically what happens is this yeast, as it grows, it gives off toxins and we pee those toxins out and that’s what gets measured on the test.

What I did was I put together for her a protocol using herbs to kill off the yeast infection and after that, what I did next was, I put together a protocol to repair her leaky gut and the damage that that yeast infection had done to her body since 2005.

And on top of that, I worked on just getting her immune system stronger so that if in the future she had another infection that hopefully her immune system could just take care of the infection all on its own.  Plus we worked on some basic nutrient deficiencies like vitamin D and B12.

And the last thing that I recommended for this patient is that she do a trial of 100% gluten-free diet and a 100% dairy-free diet.  She initially did just a 30-day trial.  I said, “You know what?  I want you to just try it for 30 days, see how you feel and then on day 31, I want you to gluten it up and I want you to dairy it up.  Eat a ton of gluten and dairy and I want you to see if you feel any worse”.

So what ended up happening with this patient?  Within two months of starting the program, her bloating was significantly better, her brain fog had improved and her energy levels were improving as well.  And eight months into her program, her brain fog was gone, her bloating was gone as long as she stuck to her gluten-free and dairy-free diet because she noticed a huge improvement just with her diet alone.  And her PMS was significantly better and she had no more IBS.

So again, this is one of the tools that Functional Medicine Doctors use to try and uncover the pieces of the puzzle and to try and solve your case.  I hope that you’ve enjoyed this process of being a bit of a health detective today and I really hope that it’s helped uncover some of the underlying causes for your different symptoms that you’ve been suffering with!

Make a promise to yourself starting today:

Stop feeling lousy…rotten…awful…crummy…miserable…terrible…crappy.

Find a good Functional Medicine doctor to help you get to the root cause of your health problems.

Like I always say:

Find the cause.

Fix the cause.

Feel normal again!


Dr. Carri Drzyzga, DC, ND – The Functional Medicine Doc

Find the Cause. Fix the Cause. Feel Normal Again!

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