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.

The Healing Power of Empathy: I Need to Love and Trust My Healthcare Providers

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Empathy heals.

I believe that it is the empathic connection that I’ve forged with my healthcare team that has ignited my own healing. While they may be smart and skilled and filled with great ideas, it has been their interest in me, in getting to know me, in hearing and understanding my story, in encouraging me and rooting me on, that has been the foundation and the power of our work together.…

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Healing Foods: My Favorite Healthy Fats

You’ve gotten the word that fats are good now, right? How did we get so far off track with this vital aspect of our nutrition for so many years? I avoided fat for decades (eek!), thinking it would make me fat and clog my arteries. I’m convinced my behavior contributed to my own major health melt down, thankfully resolved with excellent nutrition, including lots of health fat.

Healthy Fats are…

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Where Have All the Butterflies Gone?

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I so miss the monarch butterflies. We used to have hundreds of them in our yard at any given time during the late summer, when milkweed was at its peak. Now, sadly, monarch sightings are a rarity. Something terrible has been happening. The monarch butterfly’s habitat has slowly been shrinking because of the extensive use of glyphosate, otherwise known as Roundup, the most popular herbicide on…

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Learning to Say “No” and “Yes” to Heal Our Lives

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Creating Boundaries is Part of Good Self-Care

I used to not know how to say “no” to the people in my life–my clients, my family and friends. I didn’t want to disappoint them. I felt that to be the perfect everything (ha) and to earn the love and approval of the people in my life, I had to take care of everything, always be available, never ruffle feathers, and meet everyone’s demands and needs.…

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Five Ways to Harness Your Intuition

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My intuition is the voice within, the voice we all know, that tells us the truth. Time and time again my voice within is the strongest and the wisest. Not because I am a sage or have superior intelligence or am all knowing. It’s because I’ve learned that I have a higher self, a wise self, a self who knows what is best for me at all times, and who I can access if I just stay quiet and listen.…

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Protein: How Much Do We Need to Support Optimal Health?

Karyn Shanks Liftoff Functional Medicine and Healing

How much protein do we really need? 

So many rules, my goodness! For food, for behavior, for life!

So, let’s start this little lesson with a few deep breaths. It’s all okay. We don’t need to be perfect. But it’s good to be smart. The scientific literature has a few things to teach us about the amount of protein we need to consume in our diets to support robust health and what I have learned has…

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Healing Our Lives Means Embracing Failure

karyn shanks md liftoff functional medicine healing failure is our true teacher

My whole practice of medicine—my identity as a physician, my philosophy of what constitutes healing, and my approach to my clients—is built on a series of failures.

I tried to become an academic physician after my three-year residency in internal medicine. You know, ivory towers and the “truth.” I wanted to be part of that, where innovation and great wisdom came to bear on what we did for…

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Five Ways We are Wired for Successful Change

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“Change is inevitable. Struggle is an option.”         -Bumper sticker on a car in Iowa City

Like everyone I know, I struggle against change. But over the years I’ve learned to soften, to allow myself to flow with change instead of constantly bumping heads with it.

I’ve found I’m not alone. Through my work as a physician, I’ve discovered that healing is all about change. But we hold ourselves…

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All-Star Recipes: Chia-Flaxmeal Bread

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There is almost always a loaf of this great seed and egg bread in my fridge. It’s perfect for those of us on nutrient-dense, low carb food plans. There are no grains, no added sugar and it has a very low carbohydrate content. It is quite nice toasted and spread with nut butter or avocado or topped with a poached egg.

This bread does contain eggs and seeds, so those who are sensitive or…

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The Gut-Immune Restoration Intensive Nutrition (GRIN) Food Plan

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The Gut-Immune Restoration-Intensive Nutrition (GRIN) Food Plan

For Inflammation and Autoimmunity

The Gut-Immune Restoration-Intensive Nutrition (GRIN) food plan is designed to help those with chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions take their healing to a deeper level. Some do well with the basic Liftoff Foundational Food Plan. Others need to go further to heal and repair tissues.

The…

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