Functional medicine helps woman overcome decades of illness

Cindy Tedrow, 66, from Delta, Ohio, loved being a teacher, but decades of mysterious chronic health problems left her unable to work.

“I loved my job, but I just couldn’t do it anymore, so my life pretty much stopped,” she said.

Over the years, Tedrow was diagnosed with celiac disease, thyroid problems and a nervous system disorder. She had debilitating fatigue, chronic pain and unexplained seizures.

After 20 doctors failed to help her, she turned to functional medicine.

“Functional medicine is a new way of thinking about disease that gets to the root cause,” said Mark Hyman, M.D., Director of the Center for Functional Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. “It doesn’t focus so much on symptoms as the question of why you have those symptoms.”

Tedrow enrolled in a ten week ‘Functioning for Life’ program at Cleveland Clinic. The medical team reviewed her history, medications, lifestyle and diet – and made adjustments.

“We simply removed the impediments to health and added the ingredients for health,” said Dr. Hyman. “We gave her a whole food diet, eliminated inflammatory foods, gave her some nutritional support, and some lifestyle support.”

Now Tedrow, who lives on a farm, knows she’s sensitive to beef and eggs. She’s taking supplements, is on fewer prescription medications and sticks to a strict, mostly organic, diet.

“I found out through the program that I need high fat; I was told I needed at least six tablespoons of a healthy fat a day, and here I was trying to totally stay away from it,” said Tedrow. “I found what foods I can eat, and what foods I cannot eat, and that’s made a big difference.”

So far, Tedrow has lost 80 pounds. She feels energetic, and hasn’t had a seizure in months.

“You have to do what they tell you; you have to follow the program and you also have to be your own advocate,” Tedrow said. “You have to want to do it and I wanted to get well. I wasn’t going to give up – I’m not a quitter, I’m an overcomer.”