We’re bringing back our Parsley Health member stories where we hear from real patients, in their own words, about their incredible health journeys that changed their lives.
This week we sat down with Sarah Kurz, a 36-year-old artist based in NYC. Sarah was suffering from a chronic allergic and autoimmune disease that gave her inflammation and plaques in her esophagus. One of New York City’s top doctors reached a dead-end with her as a patient because the typical protocol and drugs weren’t working. She also had acne , candida, anemia, fatigue and her inflammation levels were through the roof.
This is Sarah’s story of how she was able to treat the root cause of her autoimmune disease, become more in tune with her body and finally feel in control of her health.
My name is Sarah Kurz and I live and work in New York City. I am an artist and my studio is in East Harlem. I am often out visiting museums, galleries, and enjoying the city with friends and family. Life would be dreadful without painting, pilates, traveling, and of course, my health.
In 2014, I was diagnosed with a chronic allergy/autoimmune disease called Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EOE). I had periodic acid reflux and dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), so my PCP sent me for an endoscopy. After getting the results, my PCP and GI doctor immediately sent me to an allergist, who did allergy blood and skin testing. I showed up allergic to over 45 foods and multiple environmental allergens. I was told to “simply” avoid these foods, take an anti-histamine and dismissively was sent on my way. Completely in shock, I was never aware I had any food allergies and had no idea how I was going to live like this. I had never even heard of EOE.
After doing some research online, I decided to seek a second opinion with an EOE specialist at Mt. Sinai in New York. While this doctor was much more knowledgeable about my autoimmune disease, the typical 6 food elimination diet proved unsuccessful. My esophagus was still extremely inflamed and covered with eosinophils. Although I did not want to be on a steroid for the rest of my life, it was recommended I try Flovent, which is the only approved medication for EOE. I immediately developed thrush, a side-effect that made it impossible for me to continue the treatment.
Although frustrated and scared, I did not give up looking for another EOE treatment option. Hitting dead-ends with conventional medicine, I decided to see a functional medicine doctor who I researched online. I appreciated his holistic approach and openness to non-traditional forms of tests and treatment. The follow-up, however, was inconsistent, brief, and impersonal. I was not seeing any results and the treatment was random, without a clear path forward.
After 2 years, multiple endoscopies and over 7 different ‘top-rated’ NYC doctors, my EOE symptoms were worsening. With no answers, I still had acid reflux and consistently choked on food. I had intermittent stomach pain, digestion problems as well as anxiety /depression, sinus headaches, candida, anemia, acne and hormone imbalances.
I heard about Parsley Health through friends and online resources. I liked that I would be working with a team of people and the membership included a lot more than just doctor visits.
I chose Parsley Health because it does advanced, comprehensive testing and would treat me for all of the health problems I was experiencing, not just my EOE. Moreover, I wanted to address the problems at their root cause — I was tired of pills and quick fixes.
My initial consultation with Dr. Berzin was extremely thorough. We discussed all aspects of my life, from my history with my autoimmune disease and other health concerns to my stress level and personal life. For the first time, I felt heard by a doctor. She listened to my concerns, took detailed notes, and asked me my health goals. My health goals? Usually, the doctor tells me what my health goals should be. This is when I realized Parsley is completely different. How refreshing and smart — doctors who open communication to allow for buy-in. Given a voice, I was encouraged to take responsibility for my health and understood my path to healing would be a collaboration.
Next, I met with my health coach, who asked me a variety of lifestyle questions, including my eating, sleeping, and exercise patterns. She also wanted to know about work, personal relationships, and stress management. After going over all aspects of my life, we set specific goals. She bluntly told me I would not heal if I did not learn to manage stress better. She knew I needed to hear this. I was shocked when she scientifically broke down how all aspects of my life were negatively affecting my health. I immediately started meditating and finding ways to relieve stress.
After a round of testing, Dr. Berzin put me on an autoimmune/low-histamine diet and a variety of supplements . My treatment was extremely tailored and explained in detail. My health coach helped me adopt the new diet to my busy lifestyle to put the least amount of restrictions on travel, work and socializing. Both Dr. Berzin and my health coach were committed to my success as much as I was. I had never before experienced this level of collaboration, engagement, and determination.
After only 3 months, my results were astounding. My EOE symptoms were gone, I had no reflux or dysphagia. My blood tests showed remarkable improvement — my inflammation markers and eosinophil count dropped significantly, to within normal range. My brain fog , sinus headaches, candida, and acne resolved. My anemia and hormone imbalance are still improving through supplements and exercise. Biopsies from a recent endoscopy revealed almost zero eosinophils on my esophagus and my GI doctor declared this my new baseline.
Not only have I learned how to manage my autoimmune disease, but now I believe there is a chance it could go into remission. Although I still have flare-ups from time to time, I have such hope and renewed faith in the body’s ability to heal itself without medication.
My improvement has allowed me to be less fearful in a variety of ways. I am no longer scared of living with a chronic autoimmune disease. I am not afraid to say no and take the time necessary to make my health a priority. My overall quality of life has improved, although there are days when I get frustrated with my diet and new lifestyle. One of the most surprisingly difficult adjustments was dealing with close loved ones’ reluctance to fully accept and support the changes I had to make. Because of this, my health coach has been invaluable in her understanding and guidance.
Through Parsley, I’ve learned my health is a combination of multiple factors. I feel my absolute best when I’m following my diet, taking my supplements, meditating, and getting enough sleep , exercise and fun.
Parsley’s real strength is how it combines a variety of elements, including tests, nutrition plans, doctors, coaches, online patient portal, supplements, etc., to help patients improve their health. They provide a holistic approach, that helps patients make and sustain real lifestyle changes while becoming more in tune with their bodies.
This post is part of a series of incredible health stories our members have shared with us. Read about how a whole-body approach and a doctor that works to understand the root cause of your symptoms has helped cure chronic migraines , digestive issues , and extreme bloating .