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The road to functional medicine

Many of my patients have been asking why or how did I choose to specialize in Functional/Integrative medicine. My story of poor encounters with medical specialists is a familiar one that is, unfortunately, repeated time and again in traditional medicine. 

When I was in my early 20's, my doctor told me I had a medical condition (liver) that I should monitor and possibly seek treatment in the future, but for now I was as good as any other young healthy adult. When I met my husband in my mid-20's and decided shortly after our marriage that he'd enter into the military, I suddenly had easy access to continual specialty check-ups and gastrointestinal (GI) specialists. 

Over the next decade, I had been following the latest research on new medicines that were being released to heal my liver. My doctors and specialists were advising that I take these medicines, but the side effects would be many. At this time, I was still feeling no symptoms and was very active and healthy. I knew I wanted to have children and I did not want to get sick. The doctors and specialists had been very persuasive and some were even pushy, advising me to take the medicines before I risk getting severely sick or having my liver develop cancer. 

I decided to go into medicine myself and become my own advocate for staying healthy on my own terms, without the pressure to take medicines that would make me feel really bad. I quickly became a phlebotomist, took an accelerated RN-BSN course, worked for 10 years in acute care, emergency care, and family practices before becoming a family nurse practitioner.

Along this journey, I had specialists who were still trying to convince me of taking the latest medicines, newer products that would have less side effects, but would still make me feel bad and potentially take away the possibility of having healthy pregnancies. And worst of all, none of the specialists took any interest in the natural remedies that I had implemented myself, and some were saying I should know "better" because I was in the medical field.

The pressure was still present, and still very heavy on my conscience. My inner voice felt stifled and guilty for not listening to all the medical advice that had been a resounding push to take the medicine and watch my lab numbers go down, which should mean my liver would heal. But I still was not feeling sick, and this medicine would make me feel bad with unknown side effects. What would give me cancer in the long-run, the current liver condition or the medicine? I felt depressed...but then I snapped out of it, and took the wheel. 

A slew of events occurred that ultimately led me to opening my own clinic in Regenerative Wellness. First, I stayed grounded and committed to my beliefs that a natural path could lead me to a similar and healthier outcome to healing my liver. Then, the unthinkable started to happen...I was blessed with two perfect babies after years of trying, I had perfectly normal liver levels with each pregnancy, my health and feeling of wellbeing never waivered, I suddenly was meeting many patients with autoimmune diseases and unusual illnesses who were seeking alternate and functional providers for a better path to wellness, I gravitated to working with many of these alternate and functional providers to learn the difference, and finally, I found my way to being able to offer my patients something that was never offered to me as a patient in the traditional medical clinics...OPTIONS! As a functional and integrative practitioner, I had gained a wider tool kit that offered patients everything from the traditional aspect of medicine, but also so many natural and kinder treatments for the mind, body, and overall wellbeing of the individual self. Namaste!

Jennylle Zanzi, MSN, FNP-C RVA Regenerative Wellness' CEO and Owner

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