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Don't Become a Patient For Life

I have been busy working on re-branding my company, Finding Your Health, because I feel my heart is totally into helping others understand the difference between how conventional medicine treats disease and how functional medicine establishes health. This is why I’m passionate about the functional side of medicine.

Functional Medicine helps you get to the root of your problem so you can heal, not just address the symptom with a Band-Aid approach, which is our western medicine model.

Because of my knowledge and my life experiences, in addition to what I see happening all around me, people are more and more confused about which direction to take in their health pursuit. There are many problems in our healthcare system. Our nation spends more money than any other nation treating chronic disease. Yet, insurance companies will not reimburse for natural treatments, which can actualy help people get off medication and reverse their symptoms, rather than just masking them.

I am raising the torch declaring that we don’t have to be victims of a diagnosis or chronic disease. Whether you’re feeling depressed, or you’re having to take medications to help treat your symptoms for the rest of your life, know that there are other options. When we give into this approach, we feel disempowered, as if we’d given in to the disease itself.

Maybe it takes hitting rock bottom to motivate you to change. I know that was true for me. And, I know I am not perfect. A health issue is constantly challenging me, and still, I have fears of the unknown when a symptom arises.

But I have experienced the power of being willing to bring a whole new awareness of my approach my own ill-health. It’s a paradigm shift away from everything conventional medicine has taught me, and it helps me re-think my approach when I’m not feeling well.

Conventional medicine taught us to treat our dis-ease or illness. Functional medicine is about figuring out why it’s there in the first place. Did you know that our thoughts, emotions, negative feelings, chronic stress, and eating pro-inflammatory foods are the underlying cause of our illness? This information is never addressed in your doctor’s office.

A few years ago, I was having a really hard time. I thought I was losing my mind. I couldn’t remember names, or when I walked into a room, why I was there. My memory, focus and energy completely vanished. I had this “wired but tired” feeling throughout my day, every day. I wasn’t sleeping, which only compounded my symptoms. I would go the entire night and not sleep.

At 54 years old, I was feeling depressed and hopeless. I thought I was doing everything right. When I went in for my annual physical, I sat in the doctor’s office in tears, telling him my symptoms. He looked at me and said, “Let me ask you this, do you think you could be coming down with early dementia?”

This diagnosis makes sense using the conventional medicine approach - confusion, memory issues, exhaustion, a woman in her mid-50’s – Early Dementia! It’s efficient—I’ll give him that. It saves the time and energy that would be required to figure out why I lost my mind in the first place. But, it doesn’t address the fundamental problem.

Not only that, but, what if I’d said “Yes!” What if I agreed and accepted that label? I would begin to suppress my symptoms with drugs and have to live with their side effects. Unfortunately, I would not be addressing the underlying cause of the problem. I would become a “patient for life,” wearing that label, instead of reversing the disease and restoring health.

After that meeting, I met with a functional medicine doctor to get a second opinion. Because I was eating well, including organic produce, good quality meats, fish and smoothies every day, I was perplexed as to why was this happening.

I learned that even though I was eating healthy, my digestion system wasn’t working properly. I was not producing enough acid in my stomach to digest my food. And, because my digestion wasn’t working properly, I wasn’t getting the nutrients from my food. They were just releasing into my bloodstream, and causing a host of problems. Then, my digestive issues caused unbalanced hormones.

Through functional medicine testing, I learned that my circadian rhythm was working backward. My cortisol (energy hormone) was highest at night and lowest in the morning, when I needed the energy boost. At night, cortisol should gradually go down as our body prepares for sleep. We then produce melatonin (sleep hormone) to help us sleep. As with my digestion issues, my hormones were not working properly either and they were the reason why I had been feeling “wired but tired” for so long. I was placed on various herbs, supplements, minerals, probiotics and digestive enzymes to help with my digestion issues and bring my cortisol levels back to the normal range again. I worked on getting quality sleep. I needed to improve my sleep habits and get into a routine where my body would adjust. Also I needed to be aware of anything that could cause me additional stress, as I needed to take really good care of how I was treating my body in addition to getting proper rest. Our bodies heal when we’re in the para-sympathetic (rest and restore) phase. When we’re in the chronic stress (sympathetic) phase, we can’t heal.

This whole process took me about a year. A long time? Maybe? But, what is the alternative? I would have had to live with my symptoms for the rest of my life. In the scheme of things, a year is not a long time. And, as with everything I do, I learned a great deal about my health during this whole process. Now, in turn, I am teaching others.

The bottom line is with conventional medicine, we can do better—and given the alarming statistics on the rise of chronic disease—we have to. We owe it to ourselves, and more importantly, to our children and future generations. Don’t let your symptoms rule your future. If you are open to looking at your health instead of looking at your disease, you can heal!

This is my passion. If you think you can improve your health, but are unsure which direction to take, I’m here to help. Contact me for a free 50 minute discovery session, and learn what may be holding you back and how to move forward! Or send me a direct email

Donna Markussen, Empowerment Health Coach "From Surviving to Thriving"

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