This review was written by my assistant Christina.
If you aren’t familiar with the term functional medicine, perhaps the best description is that it’s a way of practicing medicine that looks at the whole body and how you actually feel and treats the root causes of a disease rather than merely managing its symptoms. What those of us on the autoimmune protocol do every day is a type of functional medicine–using diet and lifestyle to pursue whole-body health. I am a big fan not only of functional medicine, but also of patients knowing what their own lab results mean in a time when most autoimmune diseases are still very poorly understood and addressed by mainstream medicine.
Unfortunately, working with a functional medicine specialist can be expensive. Rarely are they covered by insurance and some of the more thorough labs that might be appropriate for autoimmune patients can be costly. If you’ve been in the game a while, you might already be familiar with the idea of ordering your own labs or even have done it through a service like 23andMe. Do-it-yourself labs should always be reviewed by a qualified healthcare provider whether they’re functional medicine specialists or not, but wouldn’t it be nice to know what each test is for and what the results might mean? Being better informed about your options can help you prioritize your healthcare spending and give you direction in your next appointment with your doctor.
Test Clear Heal is program from functional medicine practitioner and fellow autoimmune patient Anne Angelone that aims to teach you just that. In six weeks of online videos, you’ll learn about common autoimmune complications like food sensitivities, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), FODMAP intolerance, MTHFR mutations, TH dominance, and heavy metal toxicity, including the symptoms, tests, and potential treatments for each of these problems. You’ll learn the ideal ranges for things like thyroid disease, various types of anemia, adrenal function, acute bacterial and viral issues, micronutrients, and methylation.
Anne also covers the autoimmune protocol, including lifestyle aspects like exercise and stress management, and suggests at least one month on the elimination diet for every year you have struggled with chronic illness. I have found that this is a great rule of thumb in response to the FAQ “How long do I have to do the AIP?” It took me ten years from the onset of my symptoms to even get diagnosed, and I was nine or ten months into the AIP before I felt well enough to start reintroducing foods. And sticking it out during all those months would’ve been so much easier with the resources that are available now: In Test Clear Heal alone, you’ll get tips for getting started, eating out, batch cooking, talking to your family about your dietary needs, supplementing, and troubleshooting any lingering problems you may find you have.
Sound like a lot? It is! But don’t be overwhelmed by how many labs there are or how much information there is. If you’ve been on your healing journey for a while, you may already have had some of the tests run; you’ll be ready to sit down and learn more about reading them. If you’re just starting out, knowing more about each condition, its symptoms, and its tests and what the results might tell you can help you prioritize your spending. Each week includes a helpful PDF of resources and you can pause and rewatch each video as much as you need. I took a lot of notes as I went through the program and even though I consider myself generally very well informed on all of these subjects, I found a lot of areas to investigate further, especially for my husband’s MTHFR mutation! Plus, Anne is not only whip smart, but one of the kindest and most encouraging people I’ve ever met. If you can afford a consult with her, I highly recommend it. If you can’t, Test Clear Heal is the next best thing!