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What is Functional

Diagnostic Nutrition? 

Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN) is the methodology used by Ellen Nicholas at Optimized Brain & Body to assist clients as they do the work to recover or optimize their health.  Our clients' most frequent question is:   Why?  Why am I so sick?  Why don't I get better?  Will I ever get better?  

I understand their plight.  It took me 20+ years to recover to 90%.  I no doubt went to several dozen doctors and miscellaneous alternative practitioners in my efforts to get better.  Fortunately for my clients, my sole reason for being an FDN practitioner is to help people resolve the underlying causes and conditions at the root of their health complaints that have not resolved under medical care.  It never had to be as hard as it has been or is...  In order for ME to recover, I researched relentlessly and undertook the effort to be trained as a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDNP).  

Let's Compare Medical vs. Functional Model


First the Traditional, Medical Model...


In the traditional medical model (which FDN is not), a patient goes to a doctor when they have symptoms.  Broken legs and hips, heart attacks, kidney problems, gallbladder attacks, pneumonia, strep, ebola, flu, you see blood, feel a lump -- run (or limp) to the doctor's office or the hospital!  


Of course, people also go for many other reasons including recurring and unexplained aches and pains, headaches, uncomfortable digestive issues, unrelenting fatigue, weakness, anxiety, depression, diarrhea, constipation,  insomnia... 


Often, these conditions will be treated with a prescription that gives symptom relief.  If the symptoms go away, they will likely come back because treating symptoms does NOT eliminate the root cause of the symptom or symptoms. As soon as you forget to take your med, you know it's back.  Somewhere in the body, possibly far removed from the symptom area itself, there is a root cause which needs to be found and addressed. 


As many of us learn the hard way, prescriptions can cause additional problems, additional symptoms, due to side effects.  For those patients who have multiple symptoms, involving multiple organ systems, there are traditional specialists they will be referred to.  Some deal with allergies, some with the digestive tract, some with hormones, some with sleep, some with aching joints and bones, etc. but as a rule, none of them is really looking at the whole body.  Often, they seem to just keep a running medical record of intensifying or worsening symptoms but somehow a very large cohort of patients doesn't ever get better.  

There are those who will cynically say that the medical system and pharmaceutical companies are set up to keep patients in the system long-term to generate revenue.  I think a large part of the problem is that doctors are so unbelievably busy because corporate medical practices are in fact driven for profit.  It's impossible for a doctor to discover a lot if they only get 10-15 minutes with you or there is a deficit in their training because medical schools have a particular way of training.  Lastly, it's pretty well understood that insurance companies are only willing to pay for certain things and you won't be approved as a doctor by insurance companies if you go beyond the boundaries set by them.  I personally largely gave up on getting answers to my questions and undertook to solve my problems another way.  

Functional Diagnostic Nutrition


Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN) is a different kind of option.  It is a cutting edge though non-medical, health-building, opt-in model of self-care.  What does that mean?  First, the client decides they want, and are willing, to commit to self-care because going through the medical process has failed to heal them. This typically happens when a doctor, or series of doctors, tells the client that either there IS nothing "wrong", or they DON'T KNOW what's "wrong", or sends them off to another specialist.  It is a relatively rare doctor who  accepts the responsibility of even trying to get to the bottom of  ALL of the problems/symptoms you may have. 


With the help of an FDN Practitioner -- the client takes control of their health and a process unfolds designed specifically to uncover the root causes of the dysfunctions causing unwelcome symptoms.  Hiring an FDN-P is precisely what makes effective self-care possible.  If you are in fact the client who has been ill for a long-time, you will need a fair amount of support including on-going access to your practitioner/coach on a weekly or every-other-week basis. Unfortunately, it is typical for family members to suffer from fatigue from your illness.  That is where coaching comes in...


Ellen will interview, guide, educate and coach a self-described "motivated" client through a science-based, investigatory process including functional testing at nationally recognized and accredited labs.  When lab test results come in, they are correlated with clinical presentation of symptoms and then used to devise a natural but effective, personalized health-building protocol.  


In the world of FDN, there are no limits set by insurance companies at all:  not regarding number of appointments; length of appointments; specific pharmaceuticals allowed and not allowed; or testing allowed.  It is all self-pay but at least you can get to the results.  FDNs are not subject to pharmaceutical reps and their marketing.  And most important of all, Ellen Nicholas as your FDN Practitioner has a wealth of knowledge of: 

  • natural protocols that assist in rebooting your immune system; 

  • root causes of illness;

  • uses of functional labs not usually approved by insurance companies and thus not used by many doctors; and

  • a deep understanding of what you live with as she has been through it herself.  As a result, she will be a highly compassionate and able support to you as you go through your healing process.


In the course of treating NOTHING specifically, but the entire body non-specifically --  it is typical for an amazing thing to take place.  Symptoms, even of long standing, tend to disappear.  That's because our protocols will affect every cell in every organ in every system.  By them working better, the entire person is more functionally able and therefore feels better!  


You can be on the road to healing beginning the day of your first appointment.  Once fully developed, your OB&B protocols will typically last 120 to 180 days.  It seems obvious but it should be stated outright that those clients, with the most wrong, of the longest duration may quite reasonably take the longest to see results in all areas.  If it took you many years to get this dysfunctional, it can certainly require 180 days or more to regain function. Those who've had Lyme or Fibromyalgia for 10 to 25 years should not expect to be perfect in 90 days but they can certainly feel better. 

***Please note:  I am a non-medical practitioner.  I neither diagnose nor cure which is considered the domain of doctors.  A test may come back showing positive for any of a variety of issues including Lyme or a particular parasite and we would act on that information.  Once protocols are created, it is entirely the work of the client to execute and comply with protocols to achieve the desired outcomes.  

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