Disclaimer: This is merely a blog showing a window into my health care plan and how I approach caring for myself. The information held on this blog is merely the opinion of a layman individual. I am not a doctor nor do I claim to have any formal medical background. I am not liable, either expressly or in an implied manner, nor claim any responsibility for any emotional or physical problems that may occur directly or indirectly from reading this blog.
At the beginning of 2016, I decided to up my holistic health care to a new level. I found a functional medicine doctor and practice in Toronto called The Dempster Clinic run by Dr. John Dempster. After 2 appointments I’ve come home armed with new test results and a new supplement protocol routine.
Why did I decide to start going to a functional medicine doctor? Two books that have been important in my care are by Dr. Terry Wahls and Dr. Amy Myers, both functional medicine doctors in the US. I wanted to find one a little closer to home. So I simply googled functional medicine Toronto and found Dr. Dempster.
He boasts a list of qualifications on his website that intrigued me.
Summary of Qualifications:
- Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor (CCNM)
- Licensed to practice Naturopathic Medicine in Ontario
- Licensed to practice Parenteral (IV) Therapy in Ontario
- Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors, member
- Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, member
- Board Certified Fellow in Anti-Aging, Regenerative, and Functional Medicine (FAARFM)
- Board Certified member of The American Board of Anti-Aging Health Practitioners (ABAAHP)
I am already in the care of my current Naturopath but I was really curious about Functional Medicine and wanted to see if there were practitioners in Canada and how they could add to my overall care.
So I booked a complimentary phone conversation for 15 mins to see if it would be a great doctor-patient match.
Dr. Dempster and I chatted over the phone about my MS diagnosis, my supplement routine, my digestive health and the steps I’ve been taking so far to clear up my irritable bowel symptoms. He told me there was a multitude of tests we could go over. I said I was diving deep into research and was learning about things like organic acid tests or hair mineral analysis, etc and wasn’t sure what would be appropriate for me and my health care. He seemed knowledgeable and wasn’t dismissive in regards to my self-education so I decided to make an initial consultation.
The clinic is in the heart of Yorkville, Toronto, (97 Scollard St) on the second floor of a house turned into a business. The clinic is clean, welcoming and has a warm ambiance. Dr. Dempster has a vitamin IV service so he was in and out of a room while I waited, administering vitamin cocktails to patients.
I had so many questions but definitely felt rushed moving through them once we got into his office. As part of the onboarding, I received a sheet of paper of all the tests they had access to. I wanted to know what everything’s purpose was. I’m curious like that. I know he was being short and concise in his answers or the appointment could’ve been hours but I didn’t feel very comfortable at that point. I definitely felt like I was being rushed and at one point even asked if we only had a short amount of time. In Canada, we are used to publicly funded health care. However, functional medicine is considered private medicine. Although the cost of the appointment is thankfully covered under my benefits, tests that could be performed would be paid out of pocket. I wanted to ensure I was getting enough time to ask all the millions of questions that can pop into my head about my health care.
What I thought was really great at the Clinic was the onboarding paperwork which was sent to me ahead of time so I could complete and bring in. It was extremely thorough. At one point in the onboarding, I was asked what my top 3 objectives were for coming in. I believe I wrote down.
- Manage my MS for life
- Completely heal my gut health
- Ensure I’m taking the right supplements and understand if they are working
This definitely provides a focus for a doctor / patient relationship.
In the end, we decided to do a full nutrient panel by SpectraCell Laboratories and the Lactulose/Mannitol Challenge to test for leaky gut which I’ve already shared on the blog already. I was really excited to see the results of the nutrient panel.
Here’s a bit of background on the lab conducting the test and how it works.
SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc., is a specialized clinical testing laboratory company. [They] were established in 1993 to commercialize a patented, groundbreaking technology for micronutrient testing. The technology was developed at the University of Texas, by the Clayton Foundation for Research, as a diagnostic blood test for helping clinicians assess the intracellular function of essential micronutrients.
It was explained to me and I did my own online research after the appointment to confirm that: “Micronutrient testing measures how micronutrients are actually functioning within your white blood cells.” I had been previously looking at blood tests requisitioned by my family doctor which was explained to me to only give me a picture of what’s in my body in the past 24 hours while a micronutrient test of your white blood cells provides a larger picture up to 6 months. I was excited to see what my body has actually been able to absorb from the food that I eat, to the supplements that I take.
We discovered that I’m deficient in:
Vitamin B6, Zinc, Glutamine, Coenzyme Q-10, Inositol, Insulin and Immunidex
The results printout I received is comprehensive and I was explained how to read them. Anything with a green box above the yellow line shows adequate levels, black in the yellow line was borderline deficient and anything red in the blue area was considered deficient.
So Vitamin B6 turned up deficient but I was also borderline deficient in Vitamin B2. Deficiency symptoms that I’ve seen in my demeanour lately include irritability & anxiety.
From an Amino Acids & Metabolites standpoint, I was deficient in Glutamine (which was shocking as I take 2 scoops a day) and Inositol. I was borderline deficient with Serine and Choline as well. There are no deficiency symptoms for Glutamine because of “endogenous synthesis and high dietary intakes.” I didn’t even know what Inositol was. I have never come across it in my health journey to date. Symptoms of an Inositol deficiency have not been reported conclusively but could include eczema and insomnia. The skin on my hands has been extremely dry lately and due to anxiety a bit of insomnia exists in the first few months of the year as my life was going through some major changes.
In terms of other vitamins & minerals, we discovered I was completely deficient in Zinc and borderline deficient in Vitamin D3 which was interesting as my 24-hour blood level show it to be sufficient and I dose at 8,000 IUs a day. Dr. Dempster also believes I was dealing with adrenal fatigue when ran the iris dilation test and my pupils decided to grow larger when exposed to light which is the opposite effect of normal function. Symptoms of a zinc deficiency include fatigue which I’ve been experiencing since January. I’ve barely wanted to work out and opted for sleeping in many times over morning workouts or working on my side hustles. I’ve also had poor wound healing for a while now. The scrapes and bruises I get from OCR-related training always take forever to disappear. I cut my shin twice in February doing box jumps and tripping at a spa and the scabs are still healing on my shin.
They tested my carbohydrate metabolism and I’m deficient in glucose-insulin interaction. My chromium levels are borderline deficient and the report states this level is “closely linked with insulin function and glucose tolerance”. This definitely deserves extra insight as I’m not currently consuming any carbohydrates, refined or processed sugars.
Additionally, my coenzyme Q-10 was showing up in the red zone and Cysteine & Vitamin C are borderline deficient. The only deficient symptom of CoQ10 would be the same fatigue I’ve explained prior.
Finally, they do a test called Spectrox which indicates antioxidant function. I am below 40% which indicates a decreased ability to resist oxidative stress or an increased antioxidant load. When we look at my Immunidex it indicates a deficiency which translates that it may indicate a weakened cell-mediated immune response. This doesn’t really shock me if I’m dealing with an auto-immune disease on my hands. Thanks, test!
The report from the lab is very comprehensive. It explains the function of each area of deficiency, symptoms I may be experiencing due to the deficiency and repletion information. There is so much information there it’s a bit overwhelming. I can start looking at my weekly meal plans and see where I can fortify my deficiencies with food and continue to support my immune system through supplementation to ensure I’m getting all the micronutrients my body needs. I have a supplement protocol plan outlined by Dr. Dempster and I’ll continue to monitor my symptoms associated with these deficiencies moving forward. I’m not sure if I’ll repeat this test at a further date as it was quite expensive but it’s a great measure moving forward.
However, my one confusion was receiving the test and not discussing possible causes but simply going into how to change my supplementation only. My understanding of functional medicine is that it’s supposed to deal with the root of the problem and not just treat the symptoms. I would’ve valued much more time spent discussing root problems.
Supplement Protocol Plan
- Increase my CoQ10 supplement from once to twice a day
- Consistent 8,000 IUs of Vitamin D3 daily
- Increase my NAC from once to twice a day
- Start taking a B Supreme & B5/B6 supplement twice a day
- Start taking a Zinc supplement daily
- Consistently take current Vitamin C supplement twice a day
- Start a new Glutamine supplement and take 2 tsp a day
I’m not going to lie and say it’s super easy to just adapt things easily into my lifestyle. Moving to Ottawa and trying to ensure I’m creating a new daily routine for myself while changing my supplement protocol is proving to be challenging in terms of compliance. I have alarms set on my phone to remind me to take everything but I’m starting to ignore them and dismiss them. I’m going to have to do something about it to ensure I’m getting back on track.
Wish me luck!