An interview with Diane Mueller

I’m really excited for today’s guest because we are talking about something that we don’t talk a lot about. A lot of women come to me because of typical hormone imbalances, symptoms, or thyroid issues, that type of thing. For the majority of women, we have major breakthroughs, we heal their gut, get their liver functioning better, thyroid balanced, and sex hormones into balance. They feel better than they’ve felt in years. 

Then there are a few that struggle. They are 3-4 months into this journey and are barely making headway. I feel bad for those women because it’s probably some deeper root cause issues that haven’t been evaluated and addressed. My guest today is going to talk about that stuff because for a few of you out there, this might be the missing piece of the puzzle of what’s really going on with your health. Mold and Lyme disease are typically not evaluated because they’re not easy to evaluate.

In this interview, we are going to talk about…

  • The Symptoms of Mold Illness (CIRS) and Lyme Disease.

  • What to do if you think you might have one or both of these illnesses.

  • Some of Diane’s biggest ah-hah moments when she decided to heal herself.

  • Actions you can take today to use your mind to improve your health and healing.

About Diane Mueller

As a survivor of mold illness, Lyme Disease, and chronic IBS symptoms, Dr. Diane Mueller is passionate about helping others restore their health and passion for life. Just like many of her patients, Dr. Diane struggled with chronic fatigue, extreme digestive dysfunction, and chronic pain for many years with conventional medicine only offering mildly palliative treatments. Dr. Diane’s journey to healing herself led her to complete two doctorate degrees in holistic health care. She has a Doctorate degree in Naturopathic Medicine as well as a Doctorate degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. In addition, she is certified in functional medicine.

Dr. Diane is relentless in finding the root cause of her client’s chronic issues and is incredibly empathetic having gone through so much struggle with her own health. She and her team work to help people end chronic diseases and live a life full of health, happiness, and purpose. With her husband, Dr. Miles, she co-founded a mindfulness-based functional medicine certification program where they certify practitioners around the world in advanced functional medicine testing and the most up-to-date research protocols.

Welcome Dr. Diane to The Functional Gynecologist Blog!

Dr. Diane:

Hi, Dr. Tabatha. I’m so excited to be here. Thank you for having me!

Dr. Tabatha:

I think this is such an important conversation because I see a lot of women who’ve been searching for answers for many years. They start working with a functional medicine practitioner, they get a few wins here and there, but they’re not really making a full recovery. I feel like you might be the missing piece for these women. So I’m excited to talk to you today.

Dr. Diane:

Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think this chronic disease epidemic is such a serious thing. There are so many root causes that are just not being talked about in medicine yet. People are being told that they’re either fine, or they have to live with their symptoms. It’s not true. They just haven’t found the root answers and the root causes yet.

Dr. Tabatha:

Yeah. So how did you find the root causes? I would love for you to share your story with my listeners.

How Did You Get on This Path and How Did You Figure All of This Out?

Dr. Diane:

I think it is so common for many of us to end up in this profession when we have our own stories and struggles. For me, it started with some chronic digestive issues. When I was really young, I had pretty severe chronic constipation. I remember even in high school having times where I would go sometimes 10 days without a bowel movement. That comes with a lot of distension and pain. That was a huge part of what made me get into medical school. I was really struggling and I was just given the classic IBS label because none of the tests diagnosed anything.

That got me into holistic medical school because I wanted other ways of looking at the body. I really wanted to find out other ways of healing. While I was in school, I started getting really, really crazy symptoms like pain (sometimes it would feel like my legs were being sawed off.) I would have these crazy depression events where I couldn’t leave my house because I was so chronically fatigued. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at the time. I wasn’t walking much, but I would take five-minute walks around the block. Sometimes I would get about a block away from my house and it was like my brain would almost dissociate from my body. I would have episodes where I would forget where I lived. I’d be really scared for 30 seconds and then something would shift I would feel normal in my head again.

I had all of these really crazy things happen, but all of the lab tests were pretty normal. It was written off as medical school disease syndrome because these programs are so intense. It wasn’t until I got out of school and my symptoms weren’t any better that I realized that something was really wrong. I thought, surely I must be dying. That’s when I really started doing more investigative research. I discovered Lyme disease, mold illness, and several other parasites and gastrointestinal things that were root cause problems for me. Once I started doing lab tests that were outside of the normal tests, I started getting real answers to what was causing me to feel this way.

Dr. Tabatha:

Wow, I think that’s such an important point. Just because you had labs done and they were normal doesn’t mean you had the right labs done, because there are so many new tests and capabilities out there that conventional medicine just has not adapted. 

So Tell my Listeners What are the Main Tests That You Did?

Dr. Diane:

It’s really, really important to understand when you are requesting lab testing like this, that you need to work with a practitioner that can interpret the results and look at your health from a big picture perspective. They can order tests that are going to get you real answers.

For instance, the classic Lyme test that’s standardly ordered is called the Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). There are actually some studies that are showing that this standard test has a 66% chance of a false negative. You shouldn’t just get tested for Lyme Disease because with the standard test, there’s a 66% chance that if you’re positive, it’s going to show negative. You aren’t going to get real answers.

You want to use a combination of specific tests to look for Lyme Disease and mold illness. These are tests that a functional medical professional who specializes in this type of thing can order and interpret.

Dr. Tabatha:

That is great information! Like you said, you don’t want to go out and ask your regular doctor for those tests because they’ll look at you sideways. You made another point that I just want to reiterate you need a functional practitioner to help you interpret these results and know what to do with them. They’re not super straightforward. It’s not like checking your blood sugar. There’s so much more involved.  I think it’s really important to work with someone like you or your husband.  If someone wanted to work with you who was like me and had Hashiomotos and IBS, what would that look like?

What Does It Look Like to Work With You?

I think one of the most important things for people to wrap their brains around that’s so different than the medical culture we live in is the connectivity of our bodies. When we’re talking about some of these disease processes, the first thing my husband and I look for is root causes. I say that plural, because, in 12 years of practicing medicine, I’ve never seen a singular root cause. I’m sure it could exist, I have yet to see it. For example, from a Hashimotos perspective, somebody has to have a gene, in order to get Hashimotos Thyroiditis, and that gene has to be turned on.

There are so many different things that can cause a disease-promoting gene to turn on such as Lyme disease, mold, toxins, other environmental toxins, and other infections to name a few. I think one of the most important things for listeners to get out of this is to really start orienting the mind to the idea that no matter the “diagnosis” we want to get to the root causes.

Dr. Tabatha:

Yeah, that is such a great point! I can just picture all of the things that were going on in my life to create that perfect storm for me in medical school, but I was a conventional gynecologist, I wasn’t trained to sit down and have an hour-long conversation with my patient. That kind of stuff could never be figured out. When I was practicing conventional medicine I was very much focusing on symptoms. What are your complaints? What do I have to do to stop your complaint. Not what happened when you were a teenager to activate this disease process and what has contributed to it since then?

I look back for myself and I can pinpoint mold exposures and other toxins. I had a ton of cavities filled while I was pregnant as a teenager and stressed out to the max, swimming in a chlorinated pool, all of these things. It was only because I went through functional training that I now know you have to look at the patients whole life to understand what is going on now to figure out what tests to order, because there are a lot of them. How long is the process usually? Are we talking three months, a year, two years?

How Long is This Process Usually?

It really depends on the root problems involved. Most commonly my patients take six to 12 months to say heal. By heal, I mean autoimmune markers to return to normal and symptoms to be normalized. With Lyme disease, it could take one to two years of treatment for them to be truly healed. So it really is so individualized. After we get some of the lab work back, then it’s a lot easier to sit down with our patients and say, this is what you can expect as far as treatment length and treatment time because it really is going to be dependent on the individual root causes.

Dr. Tabatha:

 I’m so glad you said that because we shouldn’t treat everyone the same. We all have different root causes that need to be dealt with. They could be completely different from one another, even if the main diagnosis is the same. Neither is the journey to healing. You didn’t get to this point in your health overnight, and you’re not going to return to amazing health overnight.

For myself, it was like a 20-year journey, but obviously, I don’t want it to take that long for my listeners. That’s why it’s helpful to find somebody who knows what they’re doing to get you moving in the right direction instead of just guessing.

It Seems Like Lyme Disease is More Common Than We Think, Wouldn’t You Agree?

Dr. Diane:

It’s overlooked, because there’s still so much medical belief that you have to be from the New England states, where it’s a little more endemic. In fact, there’s this songbird that’s known for carrying the larvae of infected ticks in its belly. It flies all over the world, and in its poop, are the larvae of infected tick. They get onto the earth, they hatch, and all of a sudden you have ticks in a new area that are infected with Lyme Disease.

It’s just devastating because doctors have this belief that you have to be from a specific area, have the bulls eye rash (which is only there 25% of the time) for someone to have Lyme Disease. I think that’s why it’s so commonly missed. There also isn’t a lot of knowledge of the unusual symptoms. One of the things we see with Lyme is it can get into the brain, it can change a hormone called MSH, or  Melanocyte-Stimulating hormone. MSH has the capacity to change the signaling from the brain to the female and male genital glands that are basically secreting these sex hormones. It has the ability to change thyroid secretion and adrenal secretion. All of that can actually come from Lyme disease. It’s being missed, in part because we oftentimes think thyroid disease is only caused by thyroid hormones.

Watch the complete video interview here.

Dr. Tabatha:

Wow. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised by what you just said. That’s why we do this podcast. Women need to know that conventional medicine does not have all the answers. Until big pharma, comes out with some branded medication to treat Lyme disease there’s gonna be no research, no funding and no interest in it whatsoever. You really do have to look outside of conventional medicine when it comes to this.

I would love for you to share a picture of what somebody looks like before and after you take care of their Lyme disease or their mold exposure.

What Does it Look Like Before and After of Someone Works With You

Dr. Diane:

Lyme Disease and mold illness are known as the great mimickers because there are so many symptoms that are involved. I’ve seen people with mold illness who had GI distress. It’s really common to have sleep disorders and night sweats with mold. A lot of times women will think they’re having hormonal problems, especially things like early onset menopause because it’s night sweats and temperature dysregulation and flushing during the day that really mimics a hot flash. I do testing and it turns out it’s Lyme disease or mold illness that’s the root cause. Migrating pain is really, really common in Lyme disease. Meaning it’s in the shoulder one day, the hip another day, stationary pain that feels like rheumatoid arthritis is really common in mold. 

Before Patients Work With Me to Heal Lyme Disease or Mold Illness

Before people work with me some people are functioning, but have symptoms they can’t figure out. I have people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s that we now know can be misdiagnosed. They actually had Lyme Disease and mold illness. Typically, that’s not figured out till autopsy.

I’ve seen a pretty wide range of before scenarios. Anything from I’m functioning, I don’t feel well, but I can at least get through my days and do my work all the way to I’m on disability, I’m living in a home and I have to have support.

After Patients Work With Me

After can look like everything’s normal. Some of my patients are experiencing the best health of their lives. It only happens when we figure out the root cause.

Dr. Tabatha: Wow, that is so exciting to hear! You can go from being disabled to feeling the best that you have in years IF you find the root causes and treat them.  You explained that Lyme disease is more common than we realize, but what about mold? I often hear people say, my house is new, or I don’t smell any mold, or I don’t see any mold. 

Can You Talk About Mold Exposure a Little Bit?  

Dr. Diane:

I’m so glad you asked me this. It’s a really important question. It’s estimated that at least half of the buildings in the United States are water damaged. There are a few things to understand. 

#1. You Can Have Mold and Not Smell It

The smell of mold is basically the volatile organic compounds (VOCs), similar to what some paints have, but it’s important to understand that not all molds will actually secrete that. So just because you don’t smell mold, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t mold. It could just mean that the mold present doesn’t produce a VOC. It doesn’t mean there’s not a mold present. 

#2. Standard Testing is Not Good at Detecting Mold

The standard tests that happen when we buy or sell homes aren’t not very good for detecting mold. There are a couple of reasons for that. Some molds don’t need a chronic water source to grow. They can grow very, very quickly, and they can be there. They don’t have to have that sustained continual water source other molds do. Black mold is actually really really dense and heavy so it falls out of the air and lands on surfaces. Unless your inspectors are doing air and surface samples, you’re going to miss the most predominant mold.

Petri dish tests are very common, but they aren’t very reliable either. It takes a long time for black mold to grow.  In this petri dish test, what tends to happen is you can get a very quick growth of some of the non-toxic molds,  then something like black mold won’t have the space to grow, because it takes a few weeks, or people don’t leave those these dishes out long enough. So that’s also not a very good test.

I’ve also seen that the person doing the testing, just wasn’t doing a good job.  One patient in particular got her home tested, it came back fine. She got a little better, but we weren’t seeing much progress. We went back and did more testing. It turns out, she had mold. I’ve never been wrong yet when I think that I’m dealing with mold illness.

You really need to be working with an inspector that understands the biological problems with mold, and is not just doing things like taking samples on the inside air and comparing that with the outside air. Because I see over and over again that mold is getting missed.

Dr. Tabatha:

Yeah, when an inspector is doing an appraisal for a home sale, he’s trying to sell your home, he’s not trying to help you figure out your medical problems.

Environmentally Conscious is not Biologically Conscious

Dr. Diane:

Another thing to keep in mind is that environmentally conscious is not biologically conscious. As we’ve moved into LEED-certified buildings, we’re making sure there’s not a loss of energy, which I agree is wonderful for the environment. What a lot of people don’t realize is one of the things that actually keeps mold from growing is airflow. When we are sealing our buildings and making them so environmentally conscious, we are actually making them biologically unconscious. It’s a good idea to open your windows at least once a week to get airflow into your home if you have a home that is newer construction.

Dr. Tabatha:

Wow, that’s a really good point. I love opening the windows. Get the air flowing, get those toxins out of there.

Do You Always Have Your Patients Mold Test Their Homes?

Do you have your clients always do mold testing throughout the home, in addition to the personal urine testing and blood tests that you’re talking about?

Dr. Diane:

Usually, I’ll start with the personal urine test to see if it is a problem with them. If they’re not showing any problems of mold buildup in the body and the urine test doesn’t show mold, then I’m not worried about their house. You can actually have mold in a house, but if someone doesn’t have the genetics that predisposes them to have an issue, then you might not see any symptoms, because they are handling it with their body’s natural detoxification systems.

Dr. Tabatha:

Oh, my gosh, I bet there’s somebody reading right now, who was so happy you said that because I’ve heard from so many women who are the only one who’s got a problem with something. We’re all individuals, all our genes are handling and detoxing things so uniquely from the person next to us. We need to give each other some grace. Is that why you wrote your book?

Tell Us About Your Book and Why You Wrote It

Dr. Diane:

There are so many reasons why I wrote my book Use Your Mind to Heal Your Mold and Lyme Disease. It is a mind-body approach to Lyme and mold illness and to the symptoms that are created from these disease processes. We wanted to bring awareness to people about the power of the mind.

As somebody that’s a survivor of IBS, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. I understand so well what it’s like to be told it’s all in your mind, or you’re depressed, or here’s an SSRI. I was put on antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, etc. The title is in no way saying this is in your mind. However, these diseases can cause your fight or flight systems to get ramped up. Unfortunately, when the nervous system is in this fight or flight, it is not sending the signals to heal.

We’re saying the mind is a powerful ally. It’s a tool that is actually free. We have all of these things that we need to do that cost money, but we have a powerful tool, and it’s free to use. The book is full of physical things we do, the supplement protocols, the lab testing, all of those kinds of things, but it’s also full of research and studies that have really shown what we can do to retrain the mind to stop sending out the fight or flight signals and instead heal and digest so our patients can get feeling better.

Dr. Tabatha:

Oh, my gosh, that is so important right there. That is the missing piece for a lot of people. They never get out of that fight or flight mode so their body continues this inflammatory cascade. So they stay inflamed and breaking down when what they really want is to heal and restore. That is awesome. I love that you do that with your clients. People can read your book and figure out how to do this, right?

Dr. Diane:

Yes! absolutely! We talk in there about how to get lab tests that I actually do have. I don’t include the labs in the book, I include a link to a web page, which I did, purposely because as we know, in medicine, there’s always that next test. I wanted the ability to update the resources without having to release a new edition of the book. In fact, I’ve already updated the website since the book was published in May of 2021 because there’s a new test on the market. There are lots of additional resources in the book like other things to look for and how to look for a good practitioner for yourself. We cover all of these types of topics. It’s written as a survivors’ guide to look at the different aspects that we’ve seen in our clinic and help people survive and thrive.

Dr. Tabatha:

Oh, that’s so awesome. I love that! I would encourage everybody to read it and find a practitioner like yourself or your husband because this is not an endeavor you can do on your own whatsoever. I want women to realize that they need a guide. They need someone to help them through that. But the book is a great starting point to really help you understand what the journey is going to look like, and get control of that mind piece that you’re talking about because I think that is so essential.

So people can work with you all over the place. They don’t have to live in Colorado, right?

Do People Have to Live in Colorado to Work With You?

Dr. Diane:

No, we work with people all over the country and even all over the world. For our international patients, it can be extra work for them to find the lab testing. We will give you a specific list of everything you need. We have quite a few clients in Europe, Asia, and even in the Philippines. The Philippines is the hardest to get access to the right tests. As we do more international testing, we’re starting to put together a database of testing centers that we know work. We can mail a lot of things, so we aren’t super limited.

Dr. Tabatha:

Yeah, exactly. I know, I have patients in Australia, and it may take a while to get the test to them, but they get it. So where can my readers find you and connect with you?

Where Can My Readers Connect With You?

 

Dr. Diane:

My clinic is called Medicine with Heart. And if you’re a practitioner, I also have an online training program, where we teach people how to treat these complex, complicated diseases. And that can be found at https://www.mindbodyfunctionalmedicine.com.

Dr. Tabatha:

That’s so awesome that you are healing other people and you’re training practitioners to have this complex thought process to really figure out these root causes. I think that piece is missing in a lot of training programs. If you are thinking that you may have an issue with Lyme Disease or Mold Illness, it’s important to get a practitioner that deals with it on a regular basis and not once in a while right?

Dr. Diane:

If what is going on with you is Lyme Disease or mold, it’s a very nuanced treatment and testing plan. Find a practitioner, that’s going to help you because there are so many details around the treatment order, and some of that is dependent upon the certain combination of root causes. And that unique combination is actually going to make a difference as far as treatment order and the way supplements are arranged. It’s a very difficult thing to put into context in a book.

That’s why I feel that it’s important to work with somebody that knows these diseases inside and out and hasn’t just read a book and decided they’re going to start treating this. These things are pretty complicated. If done in the wrong order, people can start releasing toxins before their body is ready to do that. That can make people feel quite a bit worse. It really is important to work with somebody that’s qualified and has studied these illnesses and in great depth.

The often talked about bulls eye rash is only present in 25% of Lyme Disease cases.

Dr. Tabatha:

I can’t agree more. I personally don’t treat Lyme and Mold illnesses. I send it to an expert like you because everyone deserves to feel amazing and it’s important to have someone who really knows what they are doing with this.

Dr. Diane:

I’m so glad you said that. It can seem impossible when you wake up every day and you feel so horrible. Some days, just making dinner or taking the kids to school or going to the office can feel impossible it’s so bad. It’s not impossible. The body has the most amazing ability to heal. You just need someone who is able to interpret the messages it’s sending. That’s why working with somebody that’s functional and holistic, that understands testing and root causes beyond the standard conventional tests when it comes to complicated, chronic situations is so essential.

Dr. Tabatha:

I love it! Thank you so much for all your wisdom and for taking the time to share it with us.

Dr. Diane:

Thank you so much for having me here. Dr. Tabitha, I’ll be talking to you soon.

To Wrap it All Up

I hope you got so much out of that interview. I always want you to take away one golden little nugget for each week that you can start incorporating and adding to what you’ve been doing. For me, it was getting out of that sympathetic fight or flight mode that your nervous system is in. I think that we’re in it so much, that it starts to feel normal. It’s not and it’s not a healthy place to be because it’s always in a catabolic, destructive, inflamed type mode, as opposed to the parasympathetic, restore, digest, repair mode of healing. I would really encourage you guys to get control of that brain of yours, because we have the ability to shift out the stress response, even though it happens automatically. I would love for you to read Dr. Diane’s book or focus on getting control of stress.

If you feel like you are doing all of the right stuff and you are still struggling, then I would reach out to Dr. Diane and get checked out, because Lyme Disease and Mold Illness is more common than you think. I would love for you to have a breakthrough if you’re struggling. Definitely check her out or reach out to me I can help you with so many things. I don’t do Lyme and mold myself. Sometimes, we’ll diagnose it and get someone like Dr. Diane involved.

I am here for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Shoot me your questions and your comments. I want to know what you guys are struggling with and what you want help with because I do this for you. Let me know what you need from me and this blog.

P.s. If you do want to work one on one with me to reclaim your health, I would be super honored. You can schedule a call to learn more here.