When I joined Parsley Health, I’d already spent the last 15 years suffering from what I thought was irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It first started when I was in high school. My parents thought that my cramps, bloating, and diarrhea were from my period, or from the anxiety I’ve had ever since I was a kid. Since no one around me seemed to think it was a big deal, I just coped.
As I got older, the IBS symptoms would come and go. I noticed they got worse when I was stressed out, like during finals at school, or when I moved across the country for my first job out of college. I always just fought through it with over-the-counter medication and sick days. I didn’t think I had a choice.
Three years ago, shortly after I got married, everything suddenly got worse. I had severe stomach cramps and felt like I was in pain all the time. No food was safe. It seemed like everything I ate caused me pain or diarrhea. The stomach pain was bad enough, but sometimes I didn’t even want to leave the house because needing to use the bathroom was so unpredictable.
Like my parents, my PCP also thought that my symptoms were caused by anxiety, so he put me on anti-anxiety medication. This helped my anxiety, but my digestive symptoms didn’t really change. My PCP sent me to a gastroenterologist, who thought I had acid reflux , but the medication he prescribed gave me acid reflux.
I started to wonder if a “normal” doctor could even help me. A friend of mine had a good experience with functional medicine, so I decided to give that a shot. I did my homework, but whenever I found a functional medicine doctor that I thought seemed promising, my insurance wouldn’t cover them.
My sister told me about her amazing experience with Parsley Health, which she started when she was dealing with fertility issues . I trusted her, but I worried about the cost. But my sister, who also lives in New York state and has the same insurance that I do, told me that I might be in-network with Parsley. When I checked, I was eligible, which meant that my membership was only $69/month (and I got a free month because I paid for the year upfront).
Before my first visit, Parsley Health sent me some long questionnaires that I was supposed to fill out before I met my doctor. I was impressed by the level of detail. I also took the Parsley Symptom Index , which would help me track my progress over time. Something about it made me feel reassured—like my Parsley team was confident that I would be feeling better soon.
I was nervous for my first meeting with my doctor, but she gave me all the space I needed to share my symptoms and ask questions. I talked for a long time about my medical history. She also asked me questions I didn't expect, like whether I was breastfed, how I like my job, and the foods I like to eat (without making me feel judged). She even asked about my travel history, and I told her about getting traveler’s diarrhea in my teens, when I studied abroad for school. Even though talking about my digestive symptoms with most people can be embarrassing, it wasn't with her.
After our meeting, my doctor sent me to get blood work. She talked me through a list of important labs that cover different aspects of my health, but she also wanted me to get breath-testing for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) . Since my digestive symptoms were pretty severe, we decided to jump into action before my results were ready. After talking through my options for antibiotics vs. antimicrobial herbs, I decided to start with the herbal remedies first, including berberine and oregano oil.
When I tested positive for SIBO a few weeks later, I obviously wasn't thrilled about it, but I was so relieved to have an answer. I was excited to start my care plan and work on my healing.
I loved working with my health coach. She had a special interest in digestive health, so she could help me stay motivated as I started the low FODMAP diet my Parsley doctor recommended. She gave me specific brands to try when I was cutting out gluten from my diet, so I didn't feel stuck at the grocery store. I could even run restaurant menus by her for work dinners. When I was feeling stressed or low on willpower, she was there for me to listen and give me advice.
Food wasn't the only thing my health coach and I worked on. Since gut dysbiosis can affect the production of neurotransmitters that affect mental health, she also made me a meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction protocol to help with my anxiety. I had often struggled with getting enough sleep during stressful times, so making it a regular habit to do box breathing before bed helped me feel more rested. I started getting eight hours of sleep per night, instead of only five or six.
With my care plan in action, it took about three weeks for me to start noticing a difference in my SIBO symptoms. I started having regular bowel movements without urgency or pain, and my anxiety got way better. Between that and my better sleep schedule, I had way more energy for my family, friends, and work.
From my doctor, to my health coach, to the Parsley staff who helped me with my paperwork (including the time I had an insurance issue that they helped me sort out), my amazing medical team helped me feel better than I had in almost literal decades. I'm so grateful to Parsley—they truly changed my life.
At Parsley Health, our leading medical providers and health coaches heal the root cause of health concerns with a personalized care plan and year-round support. Our root-cause resolution medicine has helped thousands feel better, with 85% of members reducing symptoms in their first year.