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.

Cruciferous Vegetables: Powerful Detoxification Medicine

detoxification, cruciferous vegetables, healing foods, energizing foods, functional medicine, nutritional healing

The cruciferous family of vegetables–your favorites like cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli–are so special in their deliciousness, but also possess magical chemistry that supports many key dimensions of our health, like detoxification, antioxidant protection, and control of inflammation. Through their detoxification attributes, they help us neutralize and eliminate…

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Create a Healthy Microbiome to Heal and Energize

microbiome, gut health, probiotics, prebiotic food, heal the gut, feed the gut, feed the microbiome, energy

After decades of helping clients recover from persistent complex illness, I have come to view the gut as a key part of the solution to energy recovery. The gut and its inhabitants–the microbiome–are central to our health as the seat of our nutrition, immunity, detoxification, as well as important emotional wisdom–all critical drivers of our precious energy.Solving the riddle of persistent…

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Celebrate the New Year With Self-Love

new years resolutions, self-care, self-love

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself.” -Walt Whitman

I love the freshness and promise of each new year, but I’ve never liked the harshness and punitive nature of New Year’s resolutions that feel so judge-y–like we’re not good enough until we drop those pounds or start that exercise routine or accomplish this or that, believing that the new year will bring the magic that we need to create better…

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The Hope for Healing: Where to Turn When Your Doctors Can’t Help You

hope, healing, self-healing, functional medicine

Sue’s Story

Sue had almost given up. Her symptoms began abruptly one summer after returning home from a camping trip with her family. It started with vertigo that became so severe she couldn’t turn her head while lying in bed. She developed pain, numbness, and tingling all over her body. She felt like she was trembling from the inside, but no one could see this. She had headaches, muscle…

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Thrive Through the Holidays

thrive through holidays, holiday stress, self-care, love, functional medicine

I find the holidays to be curiously stressful. There have been many past holiday seasons when I have struggled with sluggishness, irritability, and resistance to the challenges and expectations that seem to be part of it all.

And yet our winter holidays are a time of celebration in the many ways of our diverse traditions–light within the darkness, family, sharing, and coming together. The new…

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Create Vital Energy: From Mitochondria to Sex

path to healing, healing path, energy recovery, vitality, create energy,

We Are Energy

We are energy at our most fundamental level. Energy is the expression of all action, function, and feeling associated with being alive and human. This includes biological energy in all its various forms—passion, vitality, curiosity, and life force—that are all connected, and that we lose when we are ill. The greatest blow of chronic illness is the loss of vital energy and how…

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Energy Recovery 101: Root Cause Solutions for Healing Your Adrenals, Part Two

energy recovery, adrenal fatigue, adrenal healing, adrenal recovery, functional medicine

Root Cause Solutions for Healing Your Adrenals

Part Two: Heal Your Adrenals, Recover Your Energy


A Holistic Framework for Energy Recovery: What We Need for Optimal Energy Production in a Nutshell

  1. Targeted energy nutrients: from food–supports all aspects of chemical energy production and protection of cells and tissues from free radicals (the high energy byproducts of energy…

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Energy Recovery 101: Root Cause Solutions for Healing Your Adrenals, Part One

energy recovery, adrenal fatigue, adrenal healing, energy healing, functional medicine

Root Cause Solutions for Healing Your Adrenals

Part One: Understanding the Big Picture of Energy Production

I’d like to pay homage to our adrenals in this series of articles, the source of our physiological life force energy, and teach you how to nourish them back to their full potential. Supporting adrenal function, as part of a comprehensive energy recovery strategy, will catapult you into…

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Wise Use of Supplements for Inflammation

anti-inflammatory supplements, ginger, turmeric, green tea, fish oil, healing foods, functional medicine, food as medicine, self-healing

Don’t just supplement to treat inflammation–get to the root cause!

Consider the root causes of your inflammation symptoms before reaching for another supplement. No matter how natural or powerful your favorite supplements are, if you don’t consider why you are hurting, aching, and tired you’re missing an opportunity to discover deep sustainable ways to improve your health.

I routinely use food…

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Gratitude: The Decision to Be Happy

I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude lately, both because it has been a respite for me from the climate of fear that has surrounded us this past year, but also because it’s Thanksgiving.

I’ve decided that gratitude is so much more than the spontaneous rush of thankfulness we feel when good and joyful things happen to us.

Gratitude is a decision that we make and practice every day, that…

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