by: Elysia Arseneau
[This is Part Three of the series called My BCB Journey.]
So far on my journey, I’ve described why I left a stressful career and took control of my health, and what symptoms prompted me to have my body chemistry tested. I also explained NutriChem’s Body Chemistry Balancing testing process. Today’s post will describe Step 2 of the BCB Test: The Clinical Consultation.
The BCB Review: The Intake
NutriChem’s founder and CEO, Kent MacLeod, is a Clinical Pharmacist and Biochemist. He has been doing BCB Reviews since 2007, helping numerous patients achieve optimal health. You can read some of his incredible patient testimonials on our Patient Successes page.
I met with Naturopathic Doctor Tanya Manikkam to go over the results of my blood work and urinalysis. I’ll admit that I’ve been very excited to hear my results, but at the same time slightly scared: I’ve never actually known how “good” or “bad” my health currently is, so it was oddly nerve-wracking to think that I’d soon be finding out for certain!
When I arrived at the NutriChem Richmond Road clinic, the Patient Coordinators at the desk were very pleasant and helpful. Their big smiles definitely helped calm my nerves! Dr. Tanya ND was on schedule and accepted me warmly into her office. During my intake, she asked me to expand on what I had written down on my health questionnaire, but I never felt like I was repeating anything that I’d already written down. She asked me about my family’s health history, my lifestyle (including what I typically eat and drink in a day and how much I exercise), the medications and supplements that I am taking, and (of course) my current health concerns. I much prefer the holistic approach of naturopathy: everything is considered because everything in your body is, after all, all connected!
The BCB Review: The Results
Once we had completed my intake, it was time to go over the results of my blood work and urinalysis. The report consists of a whopping 11 pages: quite daunting at first! But Dr. Tanya was very thorough in going through each result with me, taking the time that I needed to understand each one before moving on. She checked off the values that were within the normal range and circled the ones that need to be worked on. I am a science student and have a general understanding of what she was talking about, but Dr. Tanya wrote little notes in the margins so that I would recall things like “creatinine” relates to the kidneys, and “LDL” is the “bad” cholesterol.
I’ve always been more of an over-sharer than the reserved type, so I don’t mind giving an overview of my actual results. Firstly, I am extremely happy to report that practically all of my values were within the normal range, and many of them were even considered optimal! My results related to the following were all normal:
- blood pressure, fasting blood sugar levels, electrolytes
- kidneys, liver, thyroid, parathyroids
- cholesterols and triglycerides
- high-sensitivity CRP (for inflammation around the heart)
- FSH levels (I have good eggs in my ovaries, and in good numbers. Yay!)
- testosterone levels
- blood cells (look, numbers, concentration, oxygen transport)
- immune system
- neurotransmitter function
- GI health (this was mostly normal)
Together with my naturopath, I will be working on:
- raising my iron and vitamin D levels (I’m on the very low end of the normal range for both)
- getting some Coenzyme Q10 into my vegetarian body
- lowering my estradiol (estrogen) levels and raising my progesterone levels
- “fixing” my adrenals (cortisol was too low, and DHEAS way too high)
- glucose metabolism (namely, that I don’t metabolize it!)
The inside scoop: how my body’s imbalanced biochemistry has been affecting me
The most gratifying feeling for me during my appointment with Dr. Tanya was whenever she revealed the results outside of the normal limits: this was the data that confirmed what I’ve suspected was wrong with me! In particular, I have long assumed that my hormone levels are off because I have migraines associated with my menstrual cycle. While certain therapies (like homeopathy, chiropractic adjustments, extra rest and taking magnesium) have helped slightly, I still suffer with a menstrual migraine at least once bi-monthly. Well, it turns out that I was right about that: the BCB test confirmed that my estradiol levels are too high, and that my progesterone levels are too low! I had also figured that there was a biochemical reason behind why I’ve never been able to lose my baby pudge weight (right again – there is a very good reason), and also that my body hasn’t healed after the high levels of constant stress that I endured as a teacher (right again, in a BIG way).
The result that shocked me most related to my adrenal glands: they aren’t functioning like they should be, likely caused by too-high levels of cortisol for too long (thanks a lot, teaching profession!). Currently, my cortisol levels are much too low; they’ve “bottomed out”. You would think that this is a good thing, but in reality, it indicates a past burnout that my body has not (yet!) recovered from that prevents me from adequately dealing with current stressful situtations. Additionally, my levels of DHEAS are MUCH too high. This happens when the adrenals have been working tirelessly to meet the demands placed on them due to chronic, high-stress situations, including poor nutrition, dieting, emotional turmoil, and job and/or family-related stresses. Under these conditions and without proper support, the adrenals spiral downward into adrenal imbalance and eventually adrenal exhaustion. The end result is that your adrenals become tired from pumping out so much cortisol, and they can no longer support a healthy hormonal balance. When this happens, you end up feeling tapped out, overwhelmed, and often, depressed. (Most of the women seen in this OBGYN’s practice have some indicator of adrenal imbalance.)
This means that my poor, overworked adrenal glands tried their very best to help my body cope with the stress of a stressful career, but because I didn’t help them out at the time I suffered a burnout and they stopped working properly. This is the number one reason for my fatigue, my mood swings, my male-pattern facial hair that increased in my first year of teaching, and my inability to deal with current stressors in my life. (Here’s an example of that: last year, I was so terrified on the top of a ski hill that I sobbed and shook uncontrollably, unable to ski down. The feelings of stress and overwhelm continued for hours, even after I’d reached the bottom by chair lift with an understanding friend. The only thing that calmed me down and relieved me of my stress was (fitfully) napping for a bit, then getting a migraine and vomiting 5 hours later.) I’m not sure how long my adrenals have been functioning abnormally for, but I believe it’s been since my burnout in my first year of teaching.
Another thing that didn’t surprise me about my results is that I do not metabolize glucose, as indicated by a very high amount of lactate in my urine. This means that when I eat or drink anything with glucose, my body doesn’t metabolize it like it should, so it gets stored as fat instead. In addition to that, I’m also not getting the energy that comes out of metabolizing glucose correctly, which also leads to feelings of low energy and fatigue.
The body is an incredible machine. I wasn’t surprised about being right about all of those things because I could SEE and FEEL what was wrong with me. Fatigue isn’t normal. Hunger and sugar cravings aren’t normal. Irritability, anger and moodiness aren’t normal. And despite what most people think, uncomfortable periods, including migraines, cramps, and PMS, aren’t normal. These are all symptoms that far too many people routinely cope with and work around, but often they have roots at the biochemical level. Think of how much happier and healthier we’d all be if we just figured out those biochemical issues and fixed them!
Now that I know, what do I do?
The biggest way that my “issues” will be solved is through my custom formula. This, in my opinion, is the coolest thing that NutriChem does with the results of the BCB test: they take your results and they compound a multivitamin/mineral formula based on your body’s biochemical needs! This formula will replace most of the supplements I’ve been taking in store-bought doses (my multivitamin, iron, B-complex, vitamin D), and will combine them in a personalized formula that is custom-made for me, in doses that my body actually needs. So any of my test results that were outside of the normal limits, or even that weren’t optimal, will be put into my custom formula that I will take every day. NutriChem will even make it into a prenatal formula for me since babies are on my horizon. It will take me about 10 business days to get my custom formula, and I can’t wait!
In addition to my custom formula, I will be working on my imbalances through the nutritional interventions that I was recommended. I left the clinic last week with a list of supplements to take in addition to my custom formula, specific for my needs. [NOTE: I am listing them here NOT as an endorsement of any kind, but rather to continue sharing my own, personal, BCB journey. I include links to the NutriChem store only if you’d like to learn more. This list is not meant to diagnose you with anything: please speak with a health care practitioner for that kind of help.]
My recommendations were for:
- ESTROsmart Plus by Lorna Vanderhaeghe (to help balance my estrogen-to-progesterone levels, especially as I’m preparing my body for pregnancy)
- a probiotic (to give my GI and colon bacteria a boost, and to help with my scalp issues)
- magnesium glycinate (like Mega Mag; to help with my magnesium deficiency, adrenal fatigue, and achy joints. It also helps you sleep!)
- GLUCOsmart by Lorna Vanderhaeghe (the D-Chiro-inositol in it will help lower my DHEA levels: as an added bonus, it will help sort out some of my sugar issues, as well as boost my serotonin levels (the “happy hormone”) and control my appetite.)
- Fish Oil (like Pure Premium Fish Oil; to help with the adrenal fatigue, to boost my mood, and to reverse my dandruff, scalp issues, and hair loss)
- apple cider vinegar (to help with my glucose metabolism issues, and to balance my pH levels)
What was great about getting all of this blood work done through NutriChem is that a Patient Coordinator from the clinic gave me handouts about the NutriChem products that I’d been recommended so that I could learn more about them at home once I’d come down from my information overload. Then, she brought me right to a Health Counsellor in the store who helped me buy the recommended supplements: I was able to start my protocol that same day while waiting for my custom formula to be compounded. The Health Counsellor also took the time to answer all of my questions about the products, including the best times of day to take them.
All in all, the process to get my BCB results was informative and efficient. I’ve already booked a follow-up blood work appointment to see how I respond to the custom formula and supplementation protocol.
In addition, the Health Counsellor that I spoke with suggested that I set up a nutritional consultation with one of NutriChem’s Registered Holistic Nutritionists to discover how to eat properly for my body chemistry. I set up an appointment with Laura Mierzwa this week to find out what I should and should not be eating. Most specifically, I’ll need her help in determining what I can eat now that I know that I have difficulty metabolizing glucose (including carbohydrates)!
So, tune in every Monday until the end of March to follow “My BCB Journey” to better health!
In Part Four, I will:
- share how it’s going so far on my new supplementation protocol
- describe my nutritional consultation with Laura Mierzwa, Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Culinary Nutrition Expert
- outline the dietary changes that I need to make for optimal health
Missed a post in this series? Catch up here!
[Part One] Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired!
[Part Two] Don’t Just Survive… Thrive!
[Part Three] The Results Are In: Here’s What’s Really Going On!
[Part Four] Are We Really What We Eat?
[Part Five] What The Elimination Diet REALLY Looks Like
[Part Six] Optimize Your Health by Balancing Your Body's Chemistry
[Part Seven] 7 Ways My Health Improved in 1 Month
[Part Eight] When it Comes to Supplements, YES Quality Matters!
[Part Nine] Is Your Food Making You Miserable?
[Part Ten] Be Healthy Again / For the First Time!