Fibromyalgia Case Study

The Gut-Brain-Pain Connection

Meet Shirley, a 60-year-old female bus driver with a history of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for 25 years, lymphocytic colitis, fibromyalgia, insomnia, and arthritis. Her symptoms had caused her to miss substantial time from work and caused her to have a lower quality of life.

 

Shirley found us through an internet search for Functional Medicine. She was already well versed in dietary strategies and had spent some time on different diets (GAPS, SCD, AIP). When she came in, she had a list of approx. 15 things she could eat. Her goal was to enjoy life and not spend most of it on the toilet.

 

At the initial consultation, Shirley was in good spirits and visibly looked like a completely healthy individual. She was an extremely positive person and wanted to feel good once again. It wasn’t until she told her history that we realized she was not living up to her potential and chronic digestive issues were holding her back.

 

Assessing her using the Living Proof Method, we evaluated which 6 pillars were involved in her case. We found significant dysfunction in her brain chemistry, digestive function, and inflammation.

Brain Chemistry Profile VIA Organic Acids

Using an Organic Acid Test, we found significant imbalances and inflammation at the brain level. The Organic Acid Test shows us neurotransmitter metabolism. Neurotransmitters are brain signalling chemicals – the primary ones we tested for here were norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine (motivational and reward chemical), and serotonin (feel good and happy chemical). When we see all 3 markers (22, 23, and 24 respectively) right shifted, it lets us know that this patient is under an extreme amount of stress.

 

In addition, the bottom 3 markers (25, 26, and 27) let us know of systemic inflammation and more specifically, inflammation at the brain level. This can manifest as symptoms of poor short-term memory (walking into a room and forgetting why or picking up your phone and forgetting why), brain-fog, low motivation, low-mood, and often indicates inflammation in other areas of the body.

Fungal Overgrowth via Stool Testing

Functional stool analysis provided us with information regarding an overgrowth of her normal fungal species. This overgrowth can contribute to undigested food, nutrient deficiencies, and inflammation within the gut.

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth Breath Test

SIBO testing confirmed for us a very severe small intestinal overgrowth of bacteria. This can often be the primary factor contributing to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The small intestine’s main purpose is the absorption of nutrients – when there is an overgrowth like SIBO, a patient will be significantly nutrient deficient. This will also cause digestive function to suffer and can contribute to inflammation in the gut.

 

Shirley was ecstatic with discovering her test results and why diet alone was not enough to completely get rid of her debilitating symptoms.

 

We began by strategically targeting her inflammation while preparing her body to get rid of her overgrowths and achieve balance in her gut. She was placed on an antimicrobial protocol which started to chip away at the overgrowth.

 

We continued to work with her on her diet and worked on adding diversity. Lifestyle changes were also a big area of focus as Shirley was used to eating while driving and had minimal time for breaks. We used quick and easy to implement lifestyle changes to make sure she was in a state of rest-and-digest before eating her meals.

 

Today Shirley enjoys a symptom-free life and is a completely changed person. She is learning what foods serve her and which ones harm her. She no longer lives guessing what her digestion is going to be like and continues to feel better with each passing day.

 

If Shirley’s case resonates with you and you have tried many approaches with minimal results, digging deeper with a trained functional medicine consultant can be extremely valuable. You may set up a free phone consultation to see if the Living Proof Method can help you become the best version of yourself.