The patient: “Melanie,” a physically robust woman in her mid-60’s…an equestrian and head of an art department at a private school in Connecticut.
Why she came to see me: She started developing a myriad of symptoms when she entered menopause that confused both her and her primary care doctor. She suffered from diffuse muscle cramping that came and went in her arms, legs and hips…her hand stiffness that worsened with use and never entirely went away with rest… sleep disturbance that manifested inconsistently from day to day but always showed up around 3 AM and prevented her from falling back to sleep.
How I evaluated her: I reviewed the results of the workup that Melanie’s primary care doctor had provided, including rather thorough blood work that showed no evidence of any disease. When I took a careful case history beyond listening to her initial complaints, I found that her diet could stand improvement and that her digestion had been “off” for several years—not enough to trouble her doctor with but enough that she noticed. Additionally, she mentioned that lately she found herself losing her appetite half way through a meal that she had been sure she would have been able to finish.
How we addressed his problem: I tuned right in to her current diet and digestive complaints, which can trigger a myriad of health problems. I explained that by increasing raw foods, decreasing fried foods and snack items and taking her time with meals, she would get more nutrition and value from what she was eating. Furthermore, that the sudden fullness felt half way through her meals was a sign of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and bowel irregularity—and that more careful eating and food choices would remedy it substantially.
She was very cautious about adding nutritional supplements and wanted to try them “one at a time.” We agreed on a potent calcium/magnesium supplement containing the minerals as the salts of caprylic acid (a butterfat). I explained that this form would be completely absorbed within hours and help not only with her stiffness and cramping, but with her sleep as well.
The patient’s progress: Melanie did so well that it was a bit of a struggle to get her to come back in and consider what else she could do to continue to improve her health. She finally became comfortable discussing with me what she considered “non-medical” issues—unfortunately, she’d been soured by the generally dismissive attitudes of her MDs. (If there “wasn’t a drug or surgical solution, then the problem wasn’t ‘medical’.”)
Eventually she recanted, and we discussed—and addressed—most of her other issues as well. Melanie remains symptom-free and sees me only occasionally with minor complaints.