If you've been experiencing unpleasant and chronic symptoms, but your doctor hasn't been able to diagnose you, you may be suffering from an unexplained illness.
An unexplained illness occurs if you're healthy but unexpectedly fall ill and cannot get better.
Unfortunately, since your symptoms could vary, you doctor may not know the root cause. Your doctor may order several tests, but if they've all come back negative, your doctor may not be able to do anything else for you.
This can leave you discouraged and left to believe you'll never get better.
You may have to take your unexplained illness in your own hands and try to figure out why you're not feeling like yourself. For example, clinical nutritionist, Robyn Puglia, has come up wit the 5 'R' approach to better understand and help treat your unexplained illness.
What is the 5 'R' approach?
Puglia discusses the 5 'R' approach to help you understand and treat your unexplained illness.
RadioMD Presents:HER Radio | Original Air Date: March 19, 2015
Host: Michelle King Robson & Pam Peeke, MD
It's all about her. Her body. Her mind. Her wellness. Her sex. Her relationships. Her aging. Her beauty. It's HER Radio starring acclaimed entrepreneur and women's advocate, Michelle King Robson and leading women's health expert, the doc who walks the talk, Dr. Pam Peeke.
PAM: Michelle, as a doctor, unexplained illnesses are just the bane of our existence, you know?
MICHELLE: And, as a patient, right? I mean, I've experienced that myself and I know. It's so hard to navigate when you know you're sick and you just don't know how to get well and nobody seems to know what's wrong with you.
PAM: Well, Robyn Puglia is here to help us answer the questions and actually gift us with the five "R's" approach to understanding an unexplained illness. She's a clinical nutritionist whose got a global clientele everywhere from the UK where she emanates from today, to Tokyo and New York.
Robyn, welcome to HER Radio and we're very interested in your 5 R's approach. So, what is the first R to this unexplained illness?
ROBYN: Okay. Well, the first "R" is actually "Remove". So, when we're talking about an unexplained illness, usually it's because we don't have a diagnosis. So, when we're trying to work out, instead of trying to work out what to call it, what we're really trying to do is work out what exists in the body or in the environment or in the lifestyle of this person—the patient—that is causing biochemical disruption or inflammation that's contributing to the symptoms that cause the health issues that the person's experiencing. So, we're looking at what is there that needs to be removed.
PAM: It sounds like you have to be a bit of a scientist or an investigator. So...
MICHELLE: Or, you're a science project, as a patient. So, tell us what number two is.
ROBYN: So, number two is "Replace". So, it's the exact opposite. We're looking at what's missing from this body that's required for health or required for healthy function. So, we're thinking about things like vitamins and minerals. We're thinking about things like physical activity or simple things like vegetables or fats, for example, might be something. So, vitamins and minerals are a common thing to be missing that's required for health. Also, things like digestive enzymes or stomach acids.
PAM: But, it could also be lifestyle things like physical activity; like, you know, what's going on here? So, alright. So, the first two "R's" then are "Remove" and "Replace" when we're looking at the 5 "R's" approach to understand and treat your unexplained illness. So, what's number three? We've got "Remove" and "Replace". What's number three?
ROBYN: So, number three is "Repair". So, what we're looking to do here, once we've identified and removed anything that's problematic, for example, an infection or a bacterial imbalance in the gut, what we need to do then is repair the tissues in the body that have been damaged by the inflammation or injury which is a really critical part of the healing process. So, in this case, we might be talking about the gut. If somebody has had an inflammatory reaction to the food, that can damage the wall of the gut which creates inflammation that travels globally around the body and causes symptoms like fatigue or muscle or joint pain. So, repairing those tissues is a really important part of bringing that body into balance, reducing inflammation overall and, very importantly, getting rid of those symptoms.
MICHELLE: Boy, Robyn, do I know all about inflammation and the gut because tomorrow I'm actually having surgery. I have to have my colon resectioned. Ugh. I'm not looking forward to it, but it's long overdue because I've had diverticulitis for 13 years. So, I'm fascinated with what you're saying.
So, now we have Remove, Replace, Repair. So, what's number four? What's the fourth "R"?
ROBYN: So, number four is "Reinoculate" and reinoculate really talks about this colony of microbes that we have living in our gut. So, I don't know if you know this, but in a normal, healthy adult, you should have about 2-5 pounds of bacteria living in there.
MICHELLE: No. Really?
ROBYN: Yes. It's a lot of bacteria. And they are a critical part of a healthy person and, actually, often are a critical part of an unhealthy person because they modulate all of our inflammatory reactions. So, they're a really critical part of the immune system. So, Step number four is actually looking specifically at that bacterial colony and re-addressing or reinstating balance in there.
PAM: What we actually call this in science is the "gut biome". You know, we're really now looking at an entire world in there. Robyn, you speak to it so well. And, well, Michelle, my wonderful co-host. Michelle is going into surgery tomorrow and I'd say she's one with her gut biome right now, that's for sure. It's going to be part of that healing process and, Michelle, you've been so wonderful to share this with everyone out there, too. We're all going to be, hoping and praying for you for a speedy recovery and to hear about your own experience as you're living this out.
MICHELLE: Yes. Well, thank you, Pam. It's been long overdue. I should have done it a long time ago, but as a patient advocate, we don't always advocate for ourselves as women. So, now it's my turn. So, I'm just so fascinated by the 5 "R's" because they pertain to me. So, let's talk about number five. Tell us about number five, Robyn.
ROBYN: So, number five, the fifth "R" is "Rebalance". So, this is the final piece of the puzzle. It's the last step that we do. So, after we've Removed, Replaced, Repaired and Reinoculated, then we take a step back and look at the whole person and make sure that all of the pieces required for a healthy and a happy life have been accounted for. So, now we're considering stress. We're considering family and familial relationships and other important relationships. We're looking at physical activity; at sleep; at hydration; nutrition; genetics and any other personal, lifestyle or physical factors so that the whole picture is balanced and that person can move forward in a healthy way and maintain health going forward.
PAM: I love this. So, the five "R's" approach to understand and treat your unexplained illness are: Remove—you've got to get rid of some of those things, especially toxins. Replace and that includes everything from just sedentary behavior to replacing it with physical activity let alone vitamins and minerals and repair those tissues in the body that have been damaged by inflammation or injury; Reinoculate – oh, that gut biome. All those wonderful gut bacteria and, obviously probiotics and others are so wonderful here to help us; and Rebalance –take the whole integrative approach and make this work.
I want everyone to make sure to get on over to Robyn's website and it's RobynPuglia.com to learn about Robyn's wonderful work as a clinical nutritionist who has really taken an integrative approach.
Michelle, looking at all this, can you imagine the timeliness? Here you are, you're going to be having your colon surgery tomorrow and we're looking at these 5 "R's".
PAM: How does that hit you?
MICHELLE: Well, it really hits me because I think it's the unexplained illnesses, right? It's that piece that we can't seem to figure out which they couldn't figure out with me. So, I had a hysterectomy instead of having a colon resectioning a long time ago. It's because they didn't really believe I had diverticulitis. So, it's these unexplained things in our bodies that keep us sick and not well. We have to learn to advocate for ourselves which is the whole reason why I started the company. It was because of this very thing. So, I like what she's saying.
ROBYN: Well, thank you.
PAM: And, the company is EmpowHer. EmpowHer. This is why we're so proud of the work Michelle has done as a patient advocate.
Well, first of all, I just, again, on behalf of Michelle, myself and all the wonderful HER Radio listeners, Robyn, thank you for coming to HER Radio.
I'm Dr. Pam Peeke with Michelle Robson.
MICHELLE: You may not know that you've got something. You know something's wrong with you, but you don't know what it is. So, make sure that you stay on track and find out what it is by going to a different doctor, if you need to.
You're listening to HER Radio on RadioMD. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook. Stay well.