Reaching for your dreams with Functional Medicine

Her father noticed her slow steps and sad face as Anne Magnuson returned home one day after work, and he inquired about her low spirits.

She told him, “In my heart, I wish I had followed my dreams of becoming a doctor.”

Medical school had been a goal for Anne during college, but she had been dissuaded by various factors.

Her father encouraged her to give it a shot, rather than to regret it later. So, this time, Anne wasn’t deterred, not even by the four chronic illnesses that have sidelined her in various degrees since a teenager.

As she prepared for her medical college admission test (MCAT), she also began to reexamine her health, meeting with Abigail Taylor, MD, her internal medicine doctor at CentraCare Clinic. They discussed her medications, which had been relieving some symptoms, but hadn’t been as effective as she would have liked.

Dr. Taylor recommended she try Functional Medicine at Lifestyle Health for her polycystic ovarian syndrome, high cholesterol, exercise induced asthma and irritable bowel syndrome. Functional Medicine looks beyond writing a prescription to deal with symptoms, focusing instead on genetics, environment and lifestyle to find the root cause of an illness. Once discovered, a personalized plan is created to help a person feel his or her best.

Anne initially met with Kathleen Mahon, NP. “I could tell Kathleen looked at me as a real person,” said Anne. “The first thing she asked about was my goals. I felt heard and valued as an individual.”

In Functional Medicine, a key aspect is listening to a person’s story. “That personal story often holds some of the pieces of the puzzle as to the ‘why’ of a current health condition,” said Mahon. “No two stories are the same. I encourage patients to consider their health goals. My role is to guide and help clarify those goals.”

For Anne, her goals were to eliminate headaches, fatigue and high cholesterol, as well as lose weight and someday have kids. “I’m only 24, and I was tired of being on as many medications as a 94-year-old.”

Together Anne and Kathleen decided to try an elimination diet. Through the process, Anne discovered she had an intolerance to processed gluten and met with a dietitian on a meal plan. “I now know more about my choices and consequences,” explained Anne. “Would I rather eat that cookie and have a headache, or not eat it and feel better?”

The new diet, paired with stress-relief techniques and interval training, has allowed Anne to eliminate some medications. “My chronic illnesses will never go away, but my health has done a 180-degree turnaround,” said Anne. “I feel better than I have in years.” She added that she now has the tools needed to successfully reach her goals.

Read more about Functional Medicine and Anne’s story in the St. Cloud Times article.