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Becoming Your Own Health Detective with Dr. Alison Goggin

Welcome to Episode 9 of Season 6 of The PCOS Revolution Podcast:

Becoming Your Own Health Detective with Dr. Alison Goggin

As most of us know, getting to the root of your PCOS symptoms require a little detective work.  Functional medicine is simply looking at the body as a whole and addressing issues from a holistic perspective. During this episode, learn more about functional medicine and how it can help with PCOS and hormonal imbalances.

This week on PCOS Revolution Podcast, I am having a conversation with Dr. Alison Goggin. Dr. Goggin practices chiropractic and functional medicine along with applied kinesiology in St. Louis, Missouri. She utilizes different treatments to help women reach their goals in working with thyroid and hormonal issues.

In this episode, Dr. Goggin and I talk about her approach to women’s health. We dive into functional medicine and balancing hormones. She shares insight about her own journey with hormonal issues as well as lifestyle recommendations for women with PCOS.



READ the complete transcript here:

Read Full Transcript

Farrar Duro 0:01
Hello everyone and welcome back to the PCOS Revolution podcast. Today I have a special treat, we’re talking with Dr. Allison Di Barto Goggin. She practices Chiropractic and functional medicine, along with applied kinesiology in St. Louis, Missouri. She is going to be talking to us today about her approach to women’s health. It’s a very unique approach at something that you’re going to get a lot out of. She utilizes different types of treatments to help women reach their goals and working with thyroid issues and hormonal imbalances along with IBS and SIBO issues. Welcome Dr. Allison, great to have you.

Dr Alison DiBarto Goggin 0:20
Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here.

Farrar Duro 0:22
Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to really start working with hormonal imbalances and if you had any issues yourself.

Dr Alison DiBarto Goggin 0:34
What really inspired me is that when I was in chiropractic college, I thought I was going to be a sports chiropractor, because that’s what I was really interested in, then I got pregnant with my daughter, and that really changed everything. Being surrounded by a lot of naturally minded women, I was able to research and find out all my options that I had no idea existed. I ended up having a home birth with my daughter with the doctor in our area, and it was amazing. All I can think is that I wanted to share this with everyone and make sure that every woman knew she had options, that she wasn’t alone that we could work through things together. It really inspired me to learn as much as I could on that and in women’s health and I completely stepped away from sports and the physical side of everything, to focus on functional medicine and hormones.

Farrar Duro 1:53
I think for people listening sometimes it’s such an overwhelming thing to think about an at home birth, but it’s definitely possible, I had one with my son too. It’s one of those experiences you’ll never forget, it’s the best thing ever and when you’re working with women who are trying to conceive also or pregnant, there’s a lot of hormones going on, a lot of changes happening in the body. My husband does triathlons and marathons, and I think pregnancy is definitely like a marathon, it’s not a sprint. Then there’s the postpartum which is like the fourth trimester that we have to keep in mind. As far as working with the treatments that you do, how do you address hormonal imbalances in your practice?

Dr Alison DiBarto Goggin 2:43
That’s a great question. The way I look at hormone imbalances really is the question of why is it happening? Whereas I want to look at all of the organs, how is the brain functioning? How is the adrenal doing? How is the digestion going? A lot of people come to me and say, Oh, I have estrogen dominance, and I’m taking these supplements. And I’m like, how do you know, why do you even know? Is it by sometimes only? Or do we do testing? Ideally, we do testing first to double check, make sure, because one thing can look like another thing, that’s from another thing. My goal is always to figure out right away, what is actually happening? what is going on with someone’s body before we start guessing and playing around?

Farrar Duro 3:28
I totally agree. And I know with PCOS, it can look a whole lot like thyroid issues, and they can overlap. And then there’s other coexisting things. When somebody comes to you with PCOS, what is your starting point with them, usually, as far as testing goes?

Dr Alison DiBarto Goggin 3:46
My starting point comes to the blood work, most people bring their blood work to me from previous doctors, because they’re told, there’s nothing wrong with them, everything looks great, your thyroid is perfect. Then, when we look at it on the funtional perspective, our ranges are much smaller. We can catch thyroid issues, we can catch hormone issues or insulin issues before they become something that’s full blown where surgery or medications are required. Sarting with blood work is a great way to do it, and then going into what’s going on with that person. Some people need saliva hormone testing, some people need stool testing, some people need auto immune testing. It really depends on what’s going on with that person.

Farrar Duro 4:29
For sure, I was watching one of your Facebook Lives about PCOS and how you talked about the cycle and it was a great Facebook Live, because you said that you don’t have to have cloudy cycles, and it doesn’t have to be like this, you might think it sounds crazy, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Every day we see in practice people go my cycle’s, just normal, it’s just cloudy and painful, isn’t that normal? It’s actually not normal, you can change your cycle. You talked about working with diet first, which is important. What’s something that maybe other women with PCOS don’t know that you’ve seen come up again and again in your practice?

Dr Alison DiBarto Goggin 5:19
That’s a good question, too. I don’t know if there’s anything that women who struggle with this don’t already know, because they do so much research. One thing I do know is that women feel like they’re set to this issue. Because my mom had it, and my grandma had it, or this is just the way it is. And just like you said, just because something’s common, just because you have horrible PMS, or you’re skipping periods or you’re infertile doesn’t mean that your genetics are going to determine everything so we can break through those things for your physiology.

Farrar Duro 5:58
Definitely. I think that there’s a lot of negativity associated when you first get that diagnosis, or maybe think you have but you are not really sure because no one’s clearly said anything to you. It just seems like you’re doomed, like there’s no way I’m going to ever get through this. I think that is important and not to have self blame as well. There’s the first reaction sometimes like, this is something I did to myself. And it’s like, No, absolutely not.

Dr Alison DiBarto Goggin 6:31
Absolutely.

Farrar Duro 6:35
As far as your personal experience, what you mentioned that on your Facebook life to you had some hormonal issues yourself, how did you go about correcting those and what was going on?

Dr Alison DiBarto Goggin 6:49
it’s a lifetime, right? Health is a journey. It’s definitely not a destination, there’s always layers. Even today, I’m going through layers of my personal issues, and it’s very eye opening. When I started, it was definitely supplements, blood sugar, things like that. And last year, I was working with a number of different doctors to correct everything, but we were not getting to the bottom of it. I was taking a lot of iron because I had symptoms of iron deficiency and all of these other things, I finally ordered my own blood work because no one else was doing it or letting me do it, and it came back that I was on iron overload. I was having all of these issues and taking all of the wrong supplements, literally killing myself thinking I was doing the right thing. It took about three months and then I followed a different protocol. I had actually asked five doctors, I showed them my blood work. I said what do you think’s going on? And I got five different answers. So I was like, Well, what am I supposed to do? Honestly, I followed my own intuition. I trusted my body, I trusted my training and did the protocols that I know that work. Three months later, I read in my blood work and everything was back to normal, I had just completely reversed my cholesterol, my A1C, my insulin, everything was looking great. Again, my iron was perfect. The next step was looking at my gallbladder, looking at my intestine. I’m doing testing consistently now and still waiting for results. Doing all of those things slowly but surely is peeling back those layers to find out I’m having a hormone issue, but where’s it really coming from? Now we’re looking at gut issues and how the bacteria is interfering and parasites and H. pylori and things that were never addressed originally, that maybe I could have dealt with 10 years ago. But here we are today.

Farrar Duro 8:53
Definitely it’s a process, It’s always a learning process. It’s great that we have the tools to do that now to it’s not just all about, well, that’s it, here’s your blood work, and then go ahead and go about your way. But there are there’s a lot of confusion out there, too. I think for some people that don’t know what functional medicine is, what would you tell them if they’re listening to this and not familiar with it.

Dr Alison DiBarto Goggin 9:20
Functional Medicine is a really simple term. A lot of people like to use the term integrative medicine which is essentially a way of looking at the body as a whole. When you go to your primary care doctor, they’re just doing the basics, then they refer you out to a specialist. So you have your dermatologist, your endocrinologist, your cardiac specialist. And that’s wonderful. I’m so grateful that we have all these people that we can use and together help people feel their best. In functional medicine, our goal is to be every specialist in one, is the best way that we can with diet, lifestyle and nutrition testing. Really looking at the body as a whole. Instead of just looking at thyroid, or just looking at the ovaries, how do we address the whole body. A lot of functional medicine people are known for doing out of the box testing, I was talking about stool testing, saliva testing, urine testing. We try to provide as many options for people as possible to.

Farrar Duro 10:25
There’s urine testing to the Dutch test now that we’re using with really great results, we’ve had a few episodes where we talked about that. And it’s just part of your toolkit, you can expand and it is like looking inside of a house with 16 windows instead of four, and you can really start to see things illuminate. If you can share an example from your practice that you’ve seen, functional medicine work the best with what would that be?

Dr Alison DiBarto Goggin 10:57
Oh, so many stories just ran through my head, a specific patient story, or anything in general?

Farrar Duro 11:06
Sure, whatever you like to share.

Dr Alison DiBarto Goggin 11:16
In my practice, I have a lot of success using my protocols, glandulars are very, very helpful to rebuild organs. The problem is that once you’re done with the protocol, you have a couple months before everything starts to fall apart again, and the biggest key that I found was missing in my practice was addressing inflammation, and addressing autoimmune conditions through inflammation. Once I started adding in those protocols to support healthy inflammation responses, everything else seemed to just fall into place, and people recovered so much more quickly and easily and the rate came off and blood sugar was easier to manage. Hormones started to balance over time because you can’t fix a cycle and then one cycle, we gotta wait, three or four let the pituitary reset. I think the inflammation is a key piece in healing the whole body and allowing it to recover, resetting the immune system, so it can stop attacking itself and making sure that you’re not ignoring those major pieces, like the liver, the gut inflammation, the adrenal is checking for anemia. When we do all of those things it can be very simple process. I’ve had people do 30 day protocols and call me two months after that, and they’re pregnant, and it’s so uplifting. I had someone go through that protocol, and honestly, their whole family told them, “Chiropractic doesn’t work, nutrition’s stupid. Just take your medicine.” And she showed up to the IVF clinic after being on birth control to go through that process, took a pregnancy test, and she was pregnant.

Farrar Duro 13:09
Oh, wow, on birth control. That’s pretty incredible.

Dr Alison DiBarto Goggin 13:13
For Pre-IVF steps, you just had to be on it for a little bit. And she was just mind blown, like, “How did this happen?”, and just healing the body from the inside out. When the patient does that work, they take care of themselves, and they do the work necessary and they believe in their own body, those changes happen. The more women that come back and say that they’re pregnant, while going through IVF, while working with those people or even before starting that process just fuels me to tell people like nutrition is real eating real food is real, all things work together yet as possible.

Farrar Duro 13:57
For sure, definitely. The more that we talk about this, it will definitely turn some light bulbs on for a lot of women to actually be their own detectives as well. I always say if you can get all your test results you got you own dose. Get everything you’ve ever had done and put it in a book or binder, those are tools that you can actually use when you talk to other providers, or nutritionist or chiropractor, acupuncturist wherever you’re going. It’s like putting a puzzle together, you have a few pieces that you already had, and then you actually look for the pieces that are missing. Sometimes it’s a vitamin D deficiency that was never really addressed, or a thyroid issue that never was completely looked into because maybe it was only halfway done as far as the panel goes or, something very simple, like, there’s plastic exposure from something that we’re wearing, but there’s ways that you can find out. I really think now there’s just less and less that’s unexplained, which is the great thing. If you can think about one lifestyle recommendation you give for PCOS, your favorite recommendation, what would that be?

Dr Alison DiBarto Goggin 15:18
My favorite recommendation is twofold where one blood sugar is king, because it affects your adrenal, affects your immune system, affects your brain, affects your energy hormones. Most women are skipping breakfast putting themselves last. Most of my patients say: “Ican’t eat breakfast, I have to feed my kids”. But eat with your kids, show your kids it’s healthy to eat food. Show your kids, your family that is good to eat healthier foods, healthier options. When women make those changes for themselves. Everyone else tends to fall in line. Putting yourself first is the most important thing and raising up everyone else around you will happen on its own. But until you are eating consistently, eating healthy amounts of proteins, fats and carbs, getting real whole food sources nothing else is going to change. Stop putting yourself last, be consistent, because eating healthy one day doesn’t fix everything, we have to do it every day, we have to eat consistently every day, and you’ll sleep better your energy will be on point, your adrenal will start to trust you, we have to teach our bodies to trust us again. That consistency and blood sugar is king.

Farrar Duro 16:39
That’s so true. Actually one case I can think of right now is that one of our patients didn’t have blood work for a while and her panel, we actually got all for work, blood work in and it was a really complete panel of everything in the world, and it looked like she’d been trying to lose weight for about six months to a year and nothing was coming off. She did diet, exercise, nothing was working. What it came down to is that her thyroid had been off by for quite a while and had not been tested. And so just like hearing like, Oh my gosh, my thyroid is the issue, unless I get this under control, I’m not going to lose weight, my cycles are not going to be regular and my moods are not going to be stabilized. All those things are so important. And the question came up well, Should I continue to work on my glucose balance because that was a little off, but it wasn’t as off as a thyroid. Of course, this is so important, we can’t just work on a part of you. It has to start with your blood sugar balance and eating protein with each meal, adding in vegetables with your breakfast or lunch and your dinner, just adding in a few to start with. Those things are crucial. I think it’s just that we are so used to compartmentalizing our bodies, saying we’ll just work on our ovaries, we’ll just work on our thyroid and it’s all part of the same picture, that’s what I really love about integrative medicine and functional medicine. It takes into account everything and I really like what you’re doing there and adressing that. Can you share with us one of your personal habits that contributes to your success with balanced hormones? We know it’s some of that diet for sure, but any other tips?

Dr Alison DiBarto Goggin 18:38
The biggest thing for me personally is managing my energy and my adrenal health. As much as it sucks, and it’s horrible. I am not a morning person. I hate getting up in the morning. I love my snooze button. I’m very guilty. I know that to support my dreams and keep my hormones intact. Slight link directly that when I wake up in the morning on time, I don’t hit snooze, I do my morning routine. So I do my journaling, my meditation, a little bit of reading, I eat breakfast every morning, and then I do my workout. That consistency has completely overhauled my adrenal, my brain, my energy and my hormones. I was surprised I was a little upset cuz I still want to sleep in. But when I’m consistent with taking care of me, and getting up doing the things that I need to do everything has changed.

Farrar Duro 19:39
I am curious, have you found that you don’t require as much sleep as you used to? Or did that change for you? Or is it more?

Dr Alison DiBarto Goggin 19:45
I’m still in process of changing, I would say that I’m sleeping better. Instead of my six to eight-ish hours of being all night or in and out. I’m definitely sleeping more deeply more restful. I was told that I’m actually going to bed earlier and on time, I’m not letting my body get that second wind, because I’m definitely a like, let’s hit it at 11:30pm and start working again until one o’clock in the morning. No, don’t do that. I would say I’m not getting a sleep or needing less sleep. I’m saying my sleep hygiene and my lifestyle is so much better, cleaner supportive, and that is a beautiful thing.

Farrar Duro 20:33
Awesome, it’s so important, really can’t stress it enough for sure, and putting yourself first. If there’s nothing else that that’s more important sometimes when you’re going through adrenal fatigue and suffering with hormonal imbalances to start prioritizing your sleep, your nutrition, and every exercise all of it. If you can recommend the book that would be helpful for our audicence what book would you recommend?

Dr Alison DiBarto Goggin 21:07
One thing that I’ve learned, and I think everybody learns, especially in practice is that we can get people to 100%, sometimes really quickly and really easily. And then there’s other people that are being in our heads against the wall, the patient doesn’t understand, even we don’t understand what’s really going on. Last year, it brought me to write my book “Healing The Woman Within” and start to really ask people these questions. Last week, a patient messaged me and said, I’m raging, my hormones are crazy, my husband wants to move out, what do I do? We talked about oils, talked about food, we talked about all the things she can do physically. Then my next question was, what are you stressed out about? what’s not working in your life? Why do you feel this way? What are you fighting, and doing that internal work, working with a therapist, a life coach everything you want, that’s what’s going to help people break through to the other side. Because you can eat healthier, you can eat consistently all day long. But if you don’t have a good relationship with food, or your body, or you were raised on your mom doing these wacky diets, and you still don’t know how to eat, because you mentally don’t want to eat, because you’re afraid of food, like your mom was, you still have to break through those things. I think it’s really important for women to really dig deep, physically, but also emotionally, spiritually, and the relationships to bring themselves back to being a whole person.

Farrar Duro 22:37
Very cool. Well, definitely will post a link to that. I’m so excited that you did that. Congratulations on your book. We just need more of that in the world, I think. If you could share a parting piece of guidance with our audience and the best way to connect with you, what would that be?

Dr Alison DiBarto Goggin 22:55
I have program that goes with my “Healing The Woman Within” book and I’m going to be giving that for free in July on Amazon. I’ll send you that link as well, so everyone can have access to it. I think my parting piece of advice, like you talked about with bloodwork is to have a team but not be afraid to ask for a second opinion because someone brought me bloodwork two weeks ago, and they said, Oh, my liver is fine. I said, Can I look at it? No, the medical range Max is 20. And hers was in the thousands. And I’m like, there’s something wrong here. We can’t just accept normal as an answer, you still have to keep digging. Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. Get somebody’s eyes to look at your blood work or your saliva test, keep looking for answers. You can find me at little black bag medicine on Facebook, or my website, www.littleblackbagmedicine.com. I do weekly, Facebook Live sometimes daily and just to check in, provide information resources and support you along the way.

Farrar Duro 24:09
Awesome. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you coming on for the show today. We’ll definitely provide those links, check out her Facebook page too, it’s great. I appreciate everybody’s time today and we look forward to our next episode. Until then take care of yourself everyone. Bye bye.

Episode Spotlights:

  • What inspired Dr. Goggin to start working with hormonal imbalances (0:50)
  • How she addresses hormonal imbalances in her practice (2:40)
  • Determining what is going on with someone’s body (3:25)
  • Starting with blood work (4:15)
  • How Dr. Goggin went about correcting her own hormonal issues (6:50)
  • What is functional medicine? (9:20)
  • Dr. Goggin’s favorite lifestyle recommendation for PCOS (15:20)
  • One her personal habits that contribute to her success (18:37)

Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

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Disclaimer: The information in this podcast is intended for general audience only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or replace professional medical advice.

About the author, Farrar

Farrar Duro here, reproductive acupuncturist at Florida Complete Wellness and founder & host of The PCOS Revolution, a cutting-edge podcast where I interview PCOS experts and cysters who share their pearls of wisdom on how to kick PCOS symptoms to the curb once and for all!

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