Dr. Mihaela Gruita
Meet Dr. Gruita
With my natural love of science and inspired by my aunt Lidia, a trusted source of medical wisdom in my Romanian hometown, I pursued pharmacy. In 2001, I graduated with my doctorate degree in pharmacy from University of Southern California.
My training, pharmacy residency, and professional experience as a researcher have heavily influenced my approach to medicine:
Never focus on individual symptoms—a patient must be treated as a whole—and each patient is unique, responding to treatment differently.
A long road to health
Ultimately, my immune system became so weak that if someone sneezed a football field away from me, I would get sick. My seasonal allergies intensified and my joint pain worsened to the point that I could not even hold a cup in my hand. I could no longer tolerate high-heeled shoes and the post-workout body aches were unbearable. I stopped sleeping through the night—waking up almost hourly. Mornings were a drag. Working at a job I had loved became intolerable.
What I thought was just career boredom, with time, proved to be a cry for help. My body was running on fumes. My immune system was shot. It wasn’t boredom. It was burnout.
Then I hit a wall. My weight plateaued.
To make matters worse,
I had gained considerable amounts of weight during my residency that wouldn’t come off. For over six years, working with personal trainers at full effort, I managed to lose 30 pounds. Then I hit a wall. My weight plateaued. I ate well and certainly worked out. Nothing helped. Frustrated with my lack of progress and convinced I should be doing more, I decided to “get serious.” I decided to train for a marathon.
For five months, I ran 30 miles a week, cut my sugar intake drastically, and significantly increased protein consumption. Race day came. At the end of the race, I was overcome with emotion. Tears of appreciation flowed, as I reflected on what, by the grace of God, I had accomplished.
when the emotions settled, I realized I had only lost one pound during those five months of grueling workouts and “optimal” dieting! It was clear: I was hurting physically and emotionally.
Simultaneously, there were signs my brain was shutting down. I started to experience a distinct lack of focus, poor concentration, and short-term memory loss. At work, I had days when I couldn’t read one sentence. Because my job entailed lots of reading, I was extremely scared. I felt old, but I was only in my 30s. I was confused and frightened, especially since no doctor thought there was anything wrong with me.
I felt old, but I was only in my 30s. I was confused and frightened, especially since no doctor thought there was anything wrong with me.
Salt in the Wound
In 2015, a relocation with my family, triggered a lot of stress and sadness, which pushed my weak health over the edge. During this months-long process, I went through two rounds of antibiotics and steroids for upper respiratory infections, hundreds of pain meds for numerous headaches and toothaches, and a few more rounds of antibiotics and steroids for seasonal allergies gone rogue.
Out of desperation and frustration, I went to see a functional medicine practitioner. He listened. He assured. He diagnosed me with adrenal fatigue. What? I had never heard of that.
Conventional western medicine doesn’t recognize “adrenal fatigue.” But, when we checked my labs to confirm the diagnosis, it was staring me in the face. My morning cortisol level—the hormone that gives us energy in the morning—was too low, while my evening level was too high. This explained why I couldn’t peel myself off the bed in the morning and why I couldn’t calm down to sleep at night.
I was surprised
and relieved. Surprised because my diagnosis was something completely new for me and relieved because I finally had validation that my illness wasn’t all in my head.
Now, two years after diagnosis and appropriate treatment, my body is about 80% better and 32 pounds lighter. I have been so impressed with my results that I don’t want anything but to help others the way I was helped. Devouring all the information I could find on functional medicine principles and adrenal fatigue, I became dedicated to transforming health through functional medicine. I attended Functional Medicine University to deepen my understanding and sharpen my skills. Now, I strive to combine my new-found love of functional medicine with my formal education in pharmacy.
There are so many women and men who suffer from chronic health conditions that are poorly understood by conventional medicine. These people struggle to get answers. My dream is to help people struggling under the weight of chronic illness to find solutions and carry the burden with them as they pursue their best possible health.
My health was in the gutter, and something had to change.
I don’t want anything but to help others the way I was helped. . . Now, I strive to combine my new-found love of functional medicine with my formal education in pharmacy.”