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.

Kissing uncertainty.

heal, unbroken, resilience

Dear One,

Isn’t that exactly what it is when we step up to our challenges and responsibilities—kissing uncertainty?

Uncertainty is risky business.

We might be wrong.

We might be criticized or ridiculed.

It might be excruciatingly hard.

Uncertainty scares us because that’s how our primitive brains are wired—the urge to stay put (or keep walking) kept our ancestors alive.


But you know…

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How to Practice Human Flourishing.

self-care, heal

I spent the past three days attending the Institute for Functional Medicine’s Annual International Conference. This year’s theme was perfectly timely: Resilience.

A huge part of resilience—having the strength, energy, and adaptability to thrive through life’s challenges—is wellbeing.

Resilience is hard when we’re struggling.

I want to briefly share with you encouraging thoughts by the final…

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Leaky Gut: a hidden solution for healing?

leaky gut

We’re always looking for these, aren’t we?

Those aspects of ourselves so pivotal to who we are and how we function, that with careful tending we unleash vast healing potential. To relieve all kinds of pain and suffering. To reverse chronic illness.

There is such a pivot point hidden within us.

Today I’m going to tell you about the gut mucosa, a powerful internal boundary between us and the…

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Can you feel it?

butterfly, unbroken, heal, trauma, Karyn Shanks MD

Dear One,

As I watched the inauguration this past week, I was amazed at the powerful shift I felt inside me. So hunkered down for the past several years, protecting myself in a bubble of soothing softness and prayerful hope for deeper understanding, peaceful reckoning, and global healing, I didn’t realize I was holding my breath. Just a bit. For years.

And that was it. I was able to…

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Pain is my wise teacher.

Unbroken, Karyn Shanks MD, Science of Directable Human Potential, epigenetics

Pain is my wise teacher. But not my destiny.

When I was 50, I completely decompensated from surgery to repair a torn tendon in my shoulder that left me exhausted, sick, and with such exquisite back and hip pain I struggled to walk. The simple bending and twisting of unloading dishes from the dishwasher or reaching for a book on the shelf—all my ordinary everyday activities—were…

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Re-Energize Your Immune Resilience

heal, unbroken, karyn shanks md

This is part 3 of my Body-Soul Resilience 2021 series. Become a subscriber to have these drop right into your in-box.


Dear One,

Did you know our bodies manufacture a million new white blood cells every ten seconds?

And get a completely new immune system—literally trillions of cells and immune molecules designed to rejuvenate and keep us safe—every few months?

What does this tell us?


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Body-Soul Resilience

Body-Soul Resilience

Shine, Grow, and Stay Safe in the New Era

Every life challenge pushes us toward mastery over our circumstances.

2021 is on our horizon.

We’ve got six weeks ‘til the new year and none too soon, eh?

I so need the hope and inspiration of this new beginning, don’t you? Like a portal to our rich future—filled with promise and potential.

2020 was hard. For everyone. On all fronts.

We’re exhausted. We’ve worked our tails off.

Many of us have…

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There’s Only One Reason We Don’t Heal

self-care, heal

Dear One,

I’ve come to realize there’s only one reason we don’t heal.

Or succeed.

Or get ourselves unstuck from our problems and predicaments.

You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?

That’s right—it’s in our stories.

Our stories about what’s possible and not possible.

That’s it. Nothing else.

You know these stories, right?

They go like this:

I can’t. I don’t have time. I’m stuck in…

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Heal Your Stories, Heal Yourself

heal, healing stories, karyn shanks md,

Everyone has stories to get out of their way.

Carrie’s Story

Carrie was told a story that nothing was wrong, though she was sick and suffering and knew in her bones what her doctor said wasn’t true. But the very same story was repeated many times by experts who must have known more than she did.

She was sick and suffering. She knew that. She knew her life had suddenly changed when she developed…

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Reclaim Joy

I want you to remember how joyful life can be. And how it’s possible to live both a hard life and a joyful one at the very same time.

I’ve come to learn that joy is a practice.

It’s not an innate state of mind. Or a gift for the lucky few.

Rather, it’s the result of a steady daily practice to reclaim the energy sapped by the hard work of living.

Living has been hard these days, eh?


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