Holistic Healing with Green Circle Wellness
As you may have noticed on some of my instagram posts as of late (here and here), I’ve started to work with the experts at Green Circle Wellness, an integrative and functional medicine clinic in the Chicago Loop. Yes, I’ve been a little cryptic about the whole thing, but I’ve decided to lay it all out on the table for you in this blog post. Here goes nothing...
It all started back in April, when I decided to really take my clean lifestyle to the next level and get off of the birth control pill once and for all. It’s something I’d been considering for a long time, but I needed a little bit of convincing (thank you, Eric Cooper) to really kick my butt into gear. I won’t go into all of the reasons I’m against the pill, but if you’re interested in learning more, here are a few amazing podcast episodes you should listen to:
[Ladies, if this is something you’ve been considering, I would be happy to talk with you about it. It’s a big decision, but something I wish I had done YEARS ago.]
I had heard the road to a normal cycle after getting off the pill would be a tough one, and I was prepared.
The months between April and August were busy with wedding planning, work and the addition of five permanent yoga classes to my teaching schedule. There was some underlying stress likely lingering, but I didn’t worry too much my period hadn’t shown up. I knew it would take time, and five months was normal - right?
In September, once we settled into our comfortable married life -- which by the way is the absolute best -- I decided it’d be good to go see my OB/GYN and get blood work done to check where my hormones were at. It took them five weeks to get back to me with the results. Five weeks. And when she did call back, I was told my LH (luteinizing hormone) was a little low, but it was nothing to be worried about) and that I’d go on synthetic progesterone tablets for 10 days to jumpstart my period. If nothing happened after taking the pills, we could talk about next steps.
SO not what I wanted to hear. Without knowing what questions to even ask, I hung up the phone with a quiet “okay.” I never filled the prescription, and I haven’t spoken with that doctor since.
I started to do more research on functional medicine doctors in my area, and Green Circle Wellness popped up immediately. After learning more about Dr. Dina’s background and her belief in holistic healing, I knew I had to go check them out.
ALL ABOUT THEM
Doctor Dina Pavilonis is a double board certified physician in the field of Family Medicine, and Bariatric (Obesity) Medicine and Metabolic Endocrinology who worked as a primary care doctor for six years before choosing to focus on Metabolic Endocrinology, Bariatric and Integrative/Functional Medicine.She noticed a drastic increase in patients suffering from chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, mental illness and heart disease, and began to see that the typical acute care approach to managing these diseases falls short.
She felt the strong urge to approach medicine from a different angle, one that was comprehensive, holistic and integrative. Functional medicine uses a variety of concepts including diet, lifestyle and stress factors to begin the healing process.
Green Circle Wellness provides a broad range of services including functional medicine, nutrition consultations, hormone therapy, IV therapy, lab services, body contouring, anti-aging medicine, flora optimization, and even aesthetic services.
Food sensitivity profile - Food intolerances can cause the immune system to overreact to a consumed substance by identifying it as an invading organism. These intolerances create a release in chemicals that can directly affect how you feel by affecting the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems. Symptoms may include chronic acne, eczema, skin rashes, chronic runny nose, irritability, bloating, and migraines.
Full hormonal profile - Hormones affect many different processes in the body including: reproduction, sexual function, metabolism, growth and development and even mood. Our hormones make up a very delicate system that can be compromised by stress, toxins, food intolerances and more.
Nutritional deficiency profile - You may understand that nutrition is important and the foods you eat affect your health but what about the effects from the foods you do not eat have on your health? People take vitamins and supplements to feel better and prevent diseases which can be very beneficial but confusing and expensive. It is important to understand which supplements are right for your body, lifestyle, and circumstance, thus enhancing your unique needs are met without wasting money on items that could be unnecessary or potentially harmful for your body.
Most of the results were in line with my expectations, others were a little more shocking. Without getting too medicial on you, I’ll give you just a quick summary:
Food sensitivity profile - I have a slight intolerance to dairy, eggs, yeast, coffee, cod, sesame, peanuts and kidney beans.
Full hormonal profile - My estrogen and progesterone are both super low, while my testosterone is high. In addition, my cortisol levels are normal in the morning, meaning they spike when they’re supposed to, but they plummet early on in the day -- hello afternoon crash. My TSH, T3 and T4 (the thyroid hormones) are not where they should be, which is important to fix because they are directly correlated with the ovaries.
Nutritional deficiency profile - I’m deficient in Vitamin C, a-Lipoic Acid, B vitamins, Magnesium, iron, iodine, and have a high need for probiotics. In addition, my amino acid profile is too low (bring on the bone broth!).
Next. Dr. Pavilonis and I had an in-depth discussion on my results and what everything means. I have zero medical background, but Dr. Pavilonis explained everything to me in an understandable way. Her knowledge and level of confidence that we’d figure everything out together left me feeling so hopeful. She filled me in on my supplement protocol for the next thirty days and sent me off to chat with her on-staff nutrition consultant, Faith.
I explained to Faith that I’d typically been following a high-fat, low-carb diet for about a year now, and it seemed to work well for me when it came to weight management. With a bit of a chuckle, Faith told me I’d be going on a high fruit diet for the next thirty days, pretty much the opposite of what I’d been used to.
After learning about the keto diet, reading Kelly LeVeque’s book, and listening to countless podcasts about intermittent fasting and the benefits of a high-fat diet, I was starting to get slightly scared of the sugar in fruits. I now understand how absolutely silly that was, and how incredibly important they are for us.
There are three primary areas of focus that Faith and I are addressing together with my food:
By addressing these first, we are getting my body back to its normal function and will subsequently address the hormone imbalances. My nutrition plan for the first thirty days will include tons of delicious fruits, a neuro smoothie, and lots of veggies -- all of which will help with the liver, brain and gut. I’ve given you the entire breakdown of my plan below, but I want to strongly emphasize that this plan is for me specifically for right now. It is meant to address the deficiencies, hormone levels, and detoxification needs that my body has at this point in time. In no way is this a recommended diet or eating plan for you all. I have been getting tons of questions about the plan, so I wanted to share for those of you that geek out on holistic healing like I do! At the end of the day, I suggest you work with your doctor and nutritionist on what is right for you -- and I HIGHLY recommend you work with the team at Green Circle Wellness.
Okay, here’s the breakdown:
+ Upon awakening: 16 oz of celery juice OR cucumber juice on an empty stomach (alternate days between celery and cucumber). Just stick to the veggie of that day - nothing else added! The celery juice will taste pretty salty, but you get used to it. I use a vitamix blender and strain with a nut milk bag. A juicer is great if you have one! Be sure to buy organic, of course.
+ Around 8am: breakfast. “Neuro Smoothie” packed with 2 cups frozen blueberries, 1 cup frozen cherries OR grapes (alternate days), 2 large handfuls spinach, 4 inches aloe vera plant, 1 tsp spirulina, 1 tsp barley juice powder, 1 small handful Atlantic Dulse, Taste Nirvana coconut water.
+ Graze snacks (adrenal snacks) between meals. Sample days below:
Day 1: ½ papaya in morning, 1 mango + 2 figs/dates + 2 celery sticks in afternoon
Day 2: ½ melon in morning, 1 banana + ½ cup raspberries + ½ cup butter leaf lettuce in afternoon
Day 3: 3 red-skinned apples in morning, 1 banana + 2 dates + ½ cup butter leaf lettuce in afternoon
Probiotics (seed.com) - 3 capsules on an empty stomach in the morning
AlphaBase plant-based multivitamins - 3 capsules daily with meals
Iron - 2 tsp liquid form daily with lemon water to help absorb iron
Seleno-iodine - 1 capsule daily, 5 days/week
AdaptenAll - 2 capsules daily at noon
Saw Palmetto - 500mg daily to block androgen receptor in the skin and stop acne
+ At least one can of Taste Nirvana Coconut Water to boost hydration and electrolytes.
+ 16 oz of warm lemon water in the early afternoon to stay hydrated and keep the toxins flowing, then again in late afternoon, and again in the evening.
+ Before meals and before bed: Raspberry Leaf Tea
+ Use iodized salt up to ½ tsp/day
+ Veggies to incorporate daily: 2 cups of sprouts/microgreens - raw, 2 cups of kale/butter leaf lettuce/spinach - raw, 1 cup of winter squash/butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, 1-2 small sweet potatoes/yams, 2 tbsp hemp seeds, 1-2 avocados, artichokes 4 days of the week, asparagus or fennel the other days. All spices and herbs are welcome.
+ Fats to consume: raw EVOO, coconut oil, avocados
+ Animal meats: keep as the afterthought on your plate - making sure to get the suggested veggies in, THEN deciding how big your portion of animal protein should be depending on appetite/activity level. Incorporate high-quality fish, venison, lamb, goat, turkey, chicken, bison, beef.
+ Foods to avoid during liver detox (and in general): canned fruit, artificial berry juices, corn, canned vegetables, soy-based foods, refined flours, gluten-containing wheat, rye, oats, barley, spelt, kamut, peanuts, cow dairy, conventional meat and eggs, margarine, butter, hydrogenated oils, cooking sprays, mayo, shortening, corn oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, coffee, black tea, soda, alcohol, sweetened beverages, and all sweeteners including maple syrup. Important to keep in mind everyone is different.
+ Foods to help detoxification:
Non-dairy milks (unsweetened coconut, almond or hemp)
Organic, pasture-raised turkey and chicken
Purified water, organic herbal or green tea
Pink Himalayan sea salt
CELERY JUICE… THE BENEFITS.
+ it is anti inflammatory because it starves pathogens that cause inflammation & disease
+ it contains a multitude of undiscovered mineral salts that act together as an antiseptic to kill disease and help the body function optimally
+ it’s an amazing detox for the kidneys and adrenals and it also raises hydrochloric acid in our gut… so helps with digestion a ton & balances pH
+ the mineral salts support the central nervous system to help with healing of all kinds
+ breaks down and flushes out viruses
+ it is amazing for skin as it clears out debris in the digestive tract and liver
Apple Cider Vinegar in the mornings when drinking cucumber juice and every evening to stimulate digestive enzymes
Drink 70+oz of filtered water daily
Mild to moderate exercise 4-5 times/week before 3pm (if after 3pm, it should be light yoga or pilates) for now for HPA Axis recovery
Sleep 7-8 hours per day
Follow nutritional plan ~90% of the time, but it’s important to focus on a healthy balance and not be too hard on yourself.
The liver, in close association with the GI tract, works to remove toxins that we encounter from the food we eat as well as those produced by metabolic processes. When the GI tract is not functioning optimally, additional burden is placed on the liver. When incoming toxins exceed the liver’s ability to remove them, it is termed toxic burden. It is important to periodically restore the body’s ability to eliminate toxins and maintain optimal liver function.
To reiterate, this plan is what MY body needs in this moment from a healing standpoint. These foods are basically reinforcers to help balance things back into homeostasis. Once things start improving, Dr. Pavilonis, Faith and I will work on establishing a lifestyle diet. And I can’t wait to see how that works out! It is incredible how healing food can be. It truly is medicine!
If you are curious about functional medicine at all, please email me at email@example.com or reach out over Instagram. Would love to chat about it!