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.

Sugar Addiction

We all know that sugar is addictive. It’s an obsession! We love the way it tastes, feels and what it does to us.

It has a real impact on our body chemistry. We get a little shot of dopamine or serotonin, depending on who we are. Pleasure. It smacks us right in the pleasure centers of our brains and drags us out of whatever funk or low energy state we might be in.

Bad news: it’s temporary. It…

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Sugar is a Toxin

The Straight Facts About Sugar

Sugar is essential for life but in very small, micronutrient doses, not in the massive quantities that average Americans consume. We were designed to manufacture all of the sugar our bodies need for energy production from a “real food” plant and protein-based diet. Take a look at diabetes, for example, an epidemic in our culture and cause of great human…

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Paleo Diets: Can We Thrive Doing What Our Ancestors Did?

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Paleo Diets Were Diverse Human Diets

As my son said to me, “none of the Paleolithic people made it, mom!” Of course he was trying to be funny, but his point is well taken. Our Paleolithic ancestors were not always so well off and today’s indigenous cultures face tremendous stresses. Attempting to model our behavior after what we think our ancestors did makes no sense when their…

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We Must Feed Our Energy Recovery: We Are Our Food

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We Literally Are What We Eat

Few modes of healing have the power to transform us as quickly and profoundly as eating the right foods for our bodies. I have literally thousands of stories to tell, including my own, to substantiate this claim. And, hey, who can refute the fact that the molecules we put into our mouths become—quite literally—who we are. That’s just simple, plain, hard…

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Embodied Wholeness Through Movement

Writings by Dr. Karyn Shanks on Self-Healing Functional Medicine and Nutrition

I started running as a teenager, inspired by the notion that I could replace bad habits with something more positive and possibly good for me. It was awful at first and I hated it, but I’m stubborn. So I started with one block, then two, gradually, painstakingly increasing my distance. It was not fun but I was intrigued as I felt just a flash or ripple of empowerment when I accomplished the…

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Energy Recovery Step One: Honor Yourself

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Most of us do honor ourselves in some way through our actions and intentions every day.

Let’s remind ourselves of the ways we currently honor ourselves daily:

Reflect on something that you do for yourself daily, no matter how small you think it is. Perhaps you make a nice cup of coffee or tea for yourself, enjoy a long hot shower, leisurely read the paper, take time to eat lunch, talk to a…

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Five Ways to Harness Your Intuition

“I have been a seeker and still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teachings of my soul.”    


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…

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Self-Care Allows Us to Step Into Our Power

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“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

-Steve Jobs,…

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Heal Yourself: Through the Nine Domains of Healing

Whoa, we are complex beings! It can be daunting to consider, (nine domains, really!?) but I find it exciting as well as reassuring. I work with many very sick people with difficult problems and there are always inroads to their healing, we just have to consider the high priority places to start our work.

Our complexity means that we are incredibly interesting and that there are always options…

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