Seeking Self: Patient finds truth in Integrative Medicine 

Amy Brooks was at a crossroads last fall. The mother of two had sent her eldest son off to college, and was watching her youngest finish high school. She was also menopausal, exhausted, and had gained 30 lbs.


"I was feeling a big shift, and like I'd lost who I was because I was gaining weight, getting older," Brooks said. "I had reached a point where the weight became a symbol of being buried under all this stuff."


A friend who had been struggling with her own health issues recommended that Brooks take her full self into consideration and try an integrative approach to her healthcare. For many, Integrative Medicine provides a sustainable way to take their health into their own hands through exercise, eating right, and awareness. The friend suggested the Raby Institute, and in November 2012, Brooks scheduled her first appointment.


First impressions


As she waited in the Lobby, Brooks took in the calming music, serene lighting, and artwork on the walls. "It makes the whole experience of going to the doctor completely different. I almost wished [my friend] hadn't prepared me for what a relaxing environment it was," Brooks said.


That feeling continued into the appointment, as Brooks met with Theri Raby, MD, ABHM, founder of the Raby Institute. Blood tests confirmed the cause of Brooks' extreme fatigue. Results showed low iron levels, trace amounts of Vitamin D, and cholesterol over 300.


"You forget how you're supposed to feel," Dr. Raby told Brooks. "You get used to that constant state of not feeling good, and you think that's your normal."


Dr. Raby, who practices general medicine, referred Brooks across the hall to Katherine Chavez, ND, a naturopath focused on how stress reduction, diet, and lifestyle choices can positively influence health.


Dr. Chavez also runs the HCG Longevity Diet program at the Raby Institute. The medically supervised diet focuses on losing unhealthy stored fats typically found on the thighs, hips and abdomen, while protecting the body's own protein stores. Brooks viewed the program as a detox and education.


Daring to detox


Part of the education involved testing different foods to see if Brooks had any intolerances or allergies. She did: to gluten and dairy. "I'm not in a perpetual state of congestion anymore," she said. For years she had thought she was allergic to pollen.


Brooks began the six-week HCG program over the holidays. She stopped drinking hard liquor, and switched her diet to lean meats, fish, and lots of vegetables.


"I'm glad I did it when I did because I learned I could get through the barrage of foods that just aren't good for you. I can have half a cookie now and be satiated with that."


Nearly a year later, Brooks called the experience "life-changing." She lost 17 lbs. during the program and an additional 10 lbs. in the subsequent weeks.


"I learned how to actually eat well, instead of just eating to eat. It was so empowering. I could control my body, whereas before I felt my body was controlling me," she said.


Dr. Chavez introduced Brooks to natural substances that could help control her cholesterol, instead of going on a statin drug. She also offered dietary advice to help Brooks control her kidney stones, incorporating fresh lemon juice to help slow new stone formation.


The education didn't stop there. Brooks learned "so much about what my body needs and what it doesn't need. I'm working out. I realized this is how I'm supposed to feel."


Bright future


At 48, Brooks weighs what she did in her mid-20s, and her cholesterol has dropped to 200. "I feel better than I ever had, better than I felt at 21," she said. "I was trying to figure out who I am and who I used to be. Once the weight started to come off, I didn't want to stop. I wanted to go to the core of who I am."


People, including her husband, have told Brooks that she's "like a different person-and not in a bad way."


Brooks went back to work fulltime recently-something she hadn't done since before her children were born-and said she feels confident out in society again. Her experience at the Raby Institute "has an effect on what I'm projecting out there, the energy that comes off of me."


Brooks visits the Raby Institute every three months for blood tests. Going through menopause will be easier, she thinks, because she's taking better care of herself.


"I'm thankful every day that my friend recommended I go see Dr. Raby. This whole experience speaks to how well integrative medicine can work for people who really want it to."

"Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one."
- Ancient Chinese Proverb