Karyn Shanks MD

Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, Body-Mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-five-year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.

Trust Your Body

embodiment, trust your body, you body never lies, transformation, empowerment, self-empowerment, self-healing

Trust your body–it will never lie or judge you.

Have you struggled in your relationship with your body—like me?

I used to be completely disconnected from mine. I thought my mind was in the control seat and my body was just my servant—to submit to my absolute authority. I ignored it, pushed it, abused it, and rejected it, not knowing it was the source of who I was, the answers to all my…

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Coax the Gains

coax the gains, train smart, better performance, athletic performance, functional movement, life school

I love how Life School shows up wherever I happen to be—like at the gym the other day.

My trainer caught me “cheating” on my prescribed workout. I was working on chin-ups and dropped to a smaller band (less support for hoisting my upper body over the bar). I defended my actions by explaining that the larger band was “too easy,” I wanted more of a challenge.

Knowing me, and my tendency to cheat…

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Live the Questions

questions, live the questions, live the questions now, Rilke, uncertainty, be brave, courage

I am no different than you—asking questions. Wanting answers. Needing to understand how it is all unfolding before me. Now. Impatient and occasionally impertinent when the answers do not arrive.

Then I think of Rilke’s quote, which I came across as a teenager. It gave me SO much comfort then, and it still washes over me warmly, soothing my pain for not knowing, reminding me that not knowing…

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Conventional Western Medicine–There’s A Lot to Love

conventional western medicine, conventional medicine, acute care medicine, emergency medicine, functional medicine, holistic medicine

We’re all familiar with the ways conventional western medicine falls short—sizing us up so fast as to not hear our whole stories or treat us as whole people, not seeking root cause solutions to our problems, parceling us out among specialists who look at just one piece of us (often missing the bigger picture that provides the answers), among other things.

But that’s only because we’re…

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Great Ideas–One Drawer at a Time

clutter, ideas, self-empowerment, karyn shanks md, functional medicine

Ever feel stuck? Can’t quite get the project started, or that great idea to emerge? Me too.

Here’s what I do: clean a drawer.

“Is she nuts,” you ask? (Well, yah, but that’s beside the point…)

That’s right, if you need that idea to pop, try cleaning something. De-clutter.

I choose drawers because they’re small, doable in a short period of time, and because, well, I’ve got a lot of “black…

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Doctor Do No Harm

so no harm, good doc, whole person medicine, functional medicine, love and medicine, compassionate medicine

I had a new client come to see me yesterday. This previously well, highly active, Nature-loving woman had been in excellent health until falling suddenly ill eight months ago. It took her docs six months to diagnose Lyme disease. She was the perfect candidate for this diagnosis—extensive exposure to ticks, typical symptoms for Lyme, AND her lab tests were overwhelmingly confirmatory.


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soften, empowerment, relax, relieve anxiety, wisdom, self-healing, self healing

Softening: a simple practice to take the edge off what feels impossible.

What do you do when the overwhelm of life runneth over? Melt down? Succumb to worst-case-scenario thinking? (That is what our brains were designed to do, after all!)

And there’s a certain sensual satisfaction in a juicy meltdown, isn’t there? But I always regret it. It never leads to positive, constructive resolution.…

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Hope’s Wiser Sister: Faith

faith, hope, empowerment, transformation, wisdom, empower yourself

I see many people in my consultation room who, like most of us at some time or another in our lives, have almost given up hope. I say “almost” because something inspired them to come see me. For some it is one last glimmer of possibility that they can heal.

Many of the folks I see have been sick for a very long time, have been to many doctors, and have yet to receive sustainable solutions for…

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Are We ALL READY yet?

all ready, empowerment, embrace uncertainty, be yourself, show up, do the work, commit to yourself

Every find yourself putting things off because you don’t feel All Ready?

Like that perfect time will come, your tool kit will be perfectly stocked and organized, your energy and enthusiasm will be robust, and you’ll dive in with the full support of the Universe all around you, humming and whistling as you go?

Me too.

And how does that work for you?

Things rarely happens that way for me. If what…

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Dieting for Weight Loss is a Big Fat Myth

weight loss, functional nutrition, Functional Medicine, Nutritional weight loss, optimal diet, optimal food plan, intensive nutrition, optimal body composition,

How many of us have gone on diets to lose weight? Only to fail, gain it all back, or, worse, lose the weight but feel worse (remember the low fat diets of the last century? Yah, that happened to me!)…

Ultimately it’s all about optimizing body composition—the inevitable loss of fat that occurs when we live our lives in ways that best suit our unique genetics.

That’s right—the road to optimal…

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