A post from our Founder, Victoria Fenton:
When I first began in Functional Medicine, I practiced the way I’d been taught. I believed there was a dietary / supplement combination which would ‘resolve’ any ailment. And though I was saying the phrases “systems biology” and “root cause”, I was operating from my education… which I would learn over time had taught me nothing about the true complex systems of a human, nor the multi-faceted root causes which are often at play in health struggles.
Functional Medicine is – still – taught in a Western paradigm. We may study systems biology, but those systems are siloed: partly, because we have to learn somehow, but mostly because integrative medicine arose out of the Western model (and not the Eastern philosophies which tend to view human healing differently). This leaves an education wherein the separate systems of the body remain unintegrated.
For me, I had the benefit of Naturopathic training, and a Chinese Medicine background – so I comprehended that health was founded on the removal of obstructions to wellness, rather than adding in crutches to support health.
But – good nutrition graduate that I was – I started by believing that removing toxins, foodstuffs containing particles that the human system couldn’t cope with, sometimes even removing whole food groups, was the way.
It was my own journey that turned my thinking on its head. Mostly, because this approach doesn’t work. And, long before I was a practicing professional, I was a patient. My own patient. I tried EVERY elimination of everything, with outcomes varying between temporary success doing something completely unsustainable … to the abject failure of eliminations despite faithful pursuit for healing (in my case: gut healing, autonomic nervous system dysfunction healing and immune dysregulation healing).
It took me a long time to realize that “I” wasn’t the problem (not doing it well enough, not strict enough etc.). Instead, the approach was deeply flawed.
The Nervous System: A Gateway to Understanding Health
I was somewhat ‘lucky’ that, in my laundry list of diagnoses, I had a neurological one (actually two: Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia syndrome (both vascular and autonomic in nature) and Dysautonomia). These were diagnosed before my Mast Cell Activation Disorder (immune dysregulation) and before my primary diagnosis of a connective tissue disorder (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Type II) – ironically, the glue that holds this trifecta together.
This was in the time before having EDS was a ‘thing’. No-one knew about it, especially not in the UK. And certainly no-one understood comorbidities (co-existing conditions). So I had to be my own doctor, nutritionist, coach, investigative researcher and advocate. And I tried – hard – to follow others’ guiding principles. But it never worked.
I could learn a myriad of information about molecules in food, but avoiding them achieved nothing but starvation. I could rid my whole life of toxins… until I would go outside and suddenly the environment itself, with the presence of real-world things, was just ‘too much’ for my sensitive system.
Through a series of happy accidents, relentless research and genuine attempts to resolve the riddle that was my own wellbeing, I realized that whilst I had multiple diagnoses, they all had a similar ‘message’. Their mode was identical: stress, over-reactivity, intolerance, hyper-vigilance.
And I realized that I didn’t have a set of diagnoses, I had a system state that was simply hyper-alert to threat – and that saw danger everywhere.
The pursuit of elimination of all threats was, therefore, a fool’s errand.
The outside world wasn’t the problem.
My internal state was.
And with that: I knew that the ‘problem’ laid in my nervous system – the information highway which governs communication between systems, and between the body and the outside world.
As I would go on to say to countless clients: the food wasn’t the problem. My body wasn’t receiving the food.
Through its vast network of neurons, the nervous system enables us to perceive, interpret, and respond to the world around us. It regulates our heartbeat, breathing, digestion, immune responses, and even our thoughts and emotions. The intricate relationship between the nervous system and our overall health cannot be overstated.
Nor can the role of the nervous system in syndromal patterns and chronic illness.
Trauma: The Uncomfortable Truth
It is easy to see how my nervous system might have developed illness. A lifetime of trauma compounded by medical misdiagnosis etc. etc.
What I saw was how all of my clients’ issues were also founded in nervous system dysregulation – whether they were dealing with chronic illness, or merely dealing with a niggling health issue which prevented them thriving in the way they’d like.
It’s true that when you have a hammer, all you see is nails… but there was something compelling in the nervous system approach. Everything seemed to begin there. So I studied it.
I studied the compensation strategies that are formed when we experience early life trauma.
I also studied the tendencies and personality patterns that arise when we have simple experiences of needs not being met.
I investigated the links between physiological systems, psychological beliefs, neurological systems and behavioral and emotional outputs.
I realized that we, as a population, have the wrong definition of both trauma and of healing.
Trauma isn’t the problem: trauma imprints – the lingering signatures of traumas ineffectively metabolized are.
Moreover, everyone can benefit from approaches that integrate trauma imprints – whether their goal is resolving a chronic illness, becoming their ultimate self, or simply longevity and healthspan.
Every human goal can only be achieved by an approach which supports the whole nervous system.
Identifying the Model
The moment I realized this, I knew that Functional Medicine wasn’t enough. I attempted to disregard some of the medicine and the biohacking practices – but eventually realized that the human body is the foundation of the nervous system, so healing and optimization approaches must include it.
I incorporated trauma work into what I do, but realized that dancing in the waters of the nervous system’s unintegrated trauma patterns requires specialist training.
I also felt into the relational dynamics and the reality that true healing and integration MUST come in a relational field. Bodywork and touch practices which could leverage integration from the non-verbal, but also work on trust dynamics were important.
Self-awareness and learning to love oneself was key – hence systems such as Human Design which highlight and allow for freedom with the pursuit of identity.
Communication of the nervous system is essential too – and that’s where chiropractors come in. They’re essential to, as one client once said, ensure that there’s no kink in the wires preventing nervous system flow.
Spiritual connection was also essential. We are not here to heal from the human perspective alone. Consciousness and our connectedness is essential to integrate.
So I knew the model: integrative, multi-disciplinary care which included all elements of support for the human being – body, mind, nervous system, relationally and spiritually.
Then began the journey for me to find the allied professionals, practitioners and humans who were already the beacons of this practice in their own right, but who also valued and recognized the merit of teamwork, aligned partnerships and truly integrated containers to hold client evolution.
That was when Aletheia was truly born. An allyship of aligned, trauma-informed (and trained) healing professionals who all know the intimate reality of complex systems, nervous system communication, unintegrated wounding, relational dynamics, consciousness evolution – and more. Moreover, an allyship of humans who place three things at the foundation of their work:
- Safety – nervous systems can only release imprints of stress and trauma when in an environment of safety. Our experts know how to be that environment, and how to support our clients to create that within and for themselves
- Trust – all of our experts would never call themselves an expert! The trust they have is for the client’s complete capacity, and the current situation that the client finds themselves in. Everything is there FOR us – and our experts are there to support our clients to discover and unveil their magic underneath their current reality
- Love – the purest frequency, the only medicine necessary, and the default for all business and client decisions at Aletheia. If it doesn’t add – to the client, to humanity, to the global consciousness – we don’t do it. If it isn’t coming from a place of healing trauma and supporting the expression of souls – we don’t do it. If it isn’t infused with love – we don’t do it
Interested in joining us? As an aligned professional – or as a client interested in exploring our work? Contact us today.
Thank you for taking the time to read about our work here at Aletheia,
Founder, CEO & Clinic Lead