5 Dimensions Of Healing – Live Video
It was a pleasure chatting with Christina Tidwell of Live Well with Christina Tidwell about the 5 Dimensions to Healing and my own autoimmune journey! Join us in our conversation and share any questions you may have about what it takes to start your own healing journey!
Kara is a Functional Medicine Practitioner and founder of Life Hub Center who utilizes systems biology and health coaching to help improve the health and lives of individuals suffering from autoimmune and chronic conditions. Diagnosed with Grave’s disease herself, she is passionate about helping people find real, sustainable health and tapping into their bodies own innate healing capacity. Join us as we speak about autoimmunity, functional medicine and the 5 dimensions of healing!
Transcript to 5 Dimensions to Healing
Christina: [00:00:02.00] Hello, I have Kara the founder of life hub center on the podcast today to speak about autoimmune disease, functional medicine and the five dimensions of healing. So Kara is a functional medicine practitioner who utilizes systems biology and health coaching to improve the health and lives of individuals suffering from autoimmune and chronic conditions, and diagnosed with Graves’ disease herself she is passionate about helping people find real sustainable health and tapping into their body’s own innate healing capacity. So thank you so much for being here with us today Kara.
Kara: [00:00:36.14] Thank you Christina, I’m really excited to be here and join you in your video and podcast.
Christina: [00:00:41.15] Yes, and I should know you’re in Seattle now like me as well, so coming live to you here from Seattle in your beautiful kitchen.
Kara: [00:00:51.05] Oh yes and this is a rare day where we actually have some sun.
Christina: [00:00:54.25] I know.
Kara: [00:00:56.04] I’m in my kitchen because I found the brightest place for today and this was it!
Christina: [00:01:00.16] Yes I know we have to just gravitate towards it in Seattle. So tell us a little bit more about your personal health journey and your experience and kind of what led you to the work that you do right now. I know a lot of us that get into this field it’s because we’ve gone through our own experiences but maybe had a family member with it. So tell us a little bit about what led you to down the path that you are on now?
Kara: [00:01:26.26] Yes absolutely! So I’m a 30-year veteran in allopathic and traditional health care. I’ve been running large practices in kidney disease, dialysis, nephrology, hospitalist work and orthopedics. Back in 1992, I had just had my second child and was going to grad school and I was working really hard! About a month after he was born I started not feeling very good. I started losing a tremendous amount of weight. I was really happy about it actually at that point. I just had a baby I thought “oh this is really easy, this is great” – but something was definitely off.
My resting heart rate was about 120, my hair was starting to thin and I was eating like crazy. I chalked that up to breastfeeding and working. Anyway, I kind of had an urgent situation and I went to the doctor. I was completely shocked, I actually a fortunate situation in that I didn’t have to visit ten doctors over five years of a period of time to figure out what was wrong with me. He was a really good family practice doctor in California. He said, “you have Graves’ disease”. I had no idea what Graves’ disease was at that point, and it was just explained to me that my body was attacking my thyroid. And so I went on some medication and I was in remission for a couple of years but it came back. The other thing that came out was I subsequently got diagnosed with celiac disease. Then I got diagnosed with pernicious anemia. I don’t know why but it took the third diagnosis to say “this is not normal!”
I knew there is something going on here and every time I just try to fix one problem like by ablating your thyroid, another problem would crop up. I didn’t realize at the time that was because I was never addressing (and even the physicians were never addressing) the underlying cause of the autoimmunity. So here I was working in traditional medicine but I started digging in and decided to take control of my own health. I wanted to figure out what was going wrong and what I could do to stop it because this was not the vision that I had for myself in my life. I had a totally different vision!
So just to kind of get through the story a little bit I decided to go to Duke University. I went through their integrated health coaching program – it’s in their integrated medicine department. Then after that I went through the Institute of Functional Medicine. They have a program called applying functional medicine and clinical practice. I’m also going through The School of Functional Medicine.
What I decided to do was help other people on their journey to figure out why they have autoimmune diseases, and all the different facets and dimensions – basically look at the root causes of that illness and figure out what it will take to heal their body. If you think about a tree, you can’t just paint the leaves green – which is what I really kind of felt was happening to me. You really have to start with the roots and nurture the roots and figure out what’s going on with the roots that are causing illness.
There was one really pivotal moment that totally changed my life and brought me to the point that I’m at today. I asked this doctor once I said “tell me why this is happening – this is really upsetting to me! Tell me why this is happening!” God bless his heart, he said, “it doesn’t matter the cause, the treatment is the same!” It was like the sky opened up for me because I realized that this was my calling and perhaps all of these things happened to me to give me perspective and knowledge to be able to help other people in their healthcare journey! I didn’t believe it what he told me.
Christina: [00:05:14.16] Yes, because you just knew when he said that to you, just something in you knew that that couldn’t possibly be the way to look at it or that couldn’t possibly be right?
Kara: [00:05:25.03] Yes, and as much as the physicians were helping me and I appreciated their help, I just didn’t feel like the answer was on a prescription pad. I just thought “well I’m not deficient in something that they’re writing on that prescription pad.” I live a clean life. At that point, I thought that I ate really well. I always been an avid exerciser. I’ve had a good emotional aspect to my life and so I was still left thinking there’s got to be something that I’m not doing or I’m not aware of. I realized at that point (in those 10 or 15 minutes doctor visits) that it was going to be incumbent on me to figure this out. This was all a little bit before the emergence of functional medicine.
So when functional medicine really became more well-known and when there were training programs, I was like “this is exactly what I’m talking about!” Let’s look under the iceberg. Let’s figure out what’s happening! Let’s look at nutritional deficiencies! Let’s look at food sensitivities, the microbiome, all of the information about our microbiome and our DNA and our SNPS. This was all emerging at the same time that I was going through all of this.
Poor detox, poor methylation, not clearing, the impact of sleep and stress and constipation – it just made so much sense to me that this was the way that I was going to heal my own body and this is what I was going to do and this was my life’s mission. I had a 30-year foundation of healthcare and this was going to be basically the rest of my profession was – helping other people get through their autoimmune issues and other chronic care issues too.
Christina: [00:07:06.22] Yes, and that’s amazing and I think just for anyone that’s listening and doesn’t know what functional medicine is because a lot of people have heard of integrative medicine, holistic medicine or whatever, but the actual term functional medicine still isn’t super widely known and so if we’re thinking of defining what functional medicine is I usually just say taking a systems approach or root-cause approach kind of looking at not only what do you have but why do you have it, but how would you I guess kind of define functional medicine for someone who doesn’t know what it is?
Kara: [00:07:46.16] Yes, so there’s a really great little comic that goes around. It’s this big elephant and everyone is standing around this elephant and they’re all just looking at one part of the elephant. That reminds me of specialists. So a cardiologist is listening to your heart (and you know that field well), a podiatrist is looking at your foot, a dermatologist is looking at your skin. When it comes to autoimmunity, what autoimmunity means is that it actually means the same thing for everybody, it just manifests in a different body part for people.
So what functional medicine does is it takes a [w]holistic view and it says something is disordered in the body, something on a cellular level is not going right with the body, the body is not functioning optimally and so let’s go ahead and heal the body from the cellular level and the impact will be felt in that not only will this skin clear up but the gut issues will go away, the headaches will go away, the sleep will be improved, the digestion will be improved all of these things. So it’s very all-encompassing in a client’s treatment, it’s not just specifically looking at a rash on a hand and just saying well here’s some hydrocortisone for the rash – it’s really getting down to why that rash is there and what are things that are looking underneath the surface that we may not even know about yet at this time.
Christina: [00:09:25.09] Yes exactly and I think I know that comic of the elephant that you’re talking about, well maybe I’ll find it and I can put it in for people, exactly. And you and I both have come from a background of conventional allopathic medicine, getting into that and mine with nursing and kind of seeing the ways in which our conventional health care system does really great things for acute illnesses and like broken bones or infections or if you had a stroke or things like that where you need immediate care, but then for these more chronic issues or more whole person care and preventive care it really does fail us in a lot of ways and a lot of people fall through the cracks and are left feeling like you did in that visit with your doctor where it was kind of like there’s got to be something more, there’s got to be more than this, like this can’t be the only tool in the toolkit there’s got to be more.
And so with functional medicine and more holistic approaches, it’s kind of adding more tools to the toolkit, so saying yes, like I was just speaking to someone who had a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome and they were told okay you have irritable bowel for the rest of your life, that’s what you have. When really that’s just a starting point, if you’re working in something like functional medicine it’s more like okay why do you have this, what else is going on in the body and utilizing other tools.
So maybe if you could give us an example like either of yourself, some of the things that have helped you along the way or like clients that you worked with in terms of kind of using this approach to autoimmune disease or chronic disease, kind of like working to get to the root cause rather than just using only prescription medications, like just an example so people can kind of have something to grab onto or see what that looks like.
Kara: [00:11:25.13] Yes, so one of the first things that I did before I really even knew what I was doing and this is even before I was diagnosed with celiac disease – I think I was undiagnosed with celiac disease for probably 40 years of my life. As a child, I remember having such frequent stomachaches and in all my pictures I had this big belly and I thought it was pretty normal to like have stomach flu once a month! So these things were like percolating inside of me and then came out in the form of a diagnosis. Years ago before I even knew I had this, I was a little bit of a trendsetter so when paleo came out I started reading all about ancestral nutrition. I always liked a good steak so I thought well this kind of makes sense to me.
It makes sense to me in terms of how humans evolved as a species. It made sense to me that people would like sprint for a while and then they would rest and this whole hunter-gatherer concept, so just intuitively I was really drawn to an ancestral nutrition template and lo and behold like 80% of my daily aches and pains and symptoms just went away. So I knew there was something about what I was feeding myself and the quality of the food that I was feeding myself that made a huge difference. That was about 80% of what took me on my healing process, and then fixing the other 20% took a little bit more work. But that was really like the light went on in terms of the quality of our food.
And the other thing that really moved me a lot was that documentary Food Inc. It’s one of the documentaries that I actually ask all my clients to watch, like Food Inc. and then the documentary called Stink which is about all the chemicals that are in our environment. If you can kind of do those two things, you could possibly be really self-sufficient in most of your healing, so nutrition was just one of the dimensions that helped me start to heal.
Christina: [00:13:27.20] Amazing and that’s a huge one, and I like how you said that that really like instantly kind of gave you eighty percent of healing or eighty percent of your life back and then there was a little bit more work in that twenty percent kind of digging a bit deeper and seeing what was going on, but I find that’s often the case and nutrition can be such a great tool for all of that. And definitely, something I work with people too it’s kind of nutrition and then also gut health, we talk about gut health a lot and I know that’s one main thing for you, and I know for you, you speak about the five dimensions to healing.
So those five pillars there which you kind of go through with your clients to make sure that you’re looking at all these different areas of their lives, so maybe if you want to just go through those and tell people about those specific areas so they have an idea of kind of this whole person approach.
Kara: [00:14:26.16] Yes, so it’s a holistic approach in that I’m looking and working with someone in every facet of their life, because if someone is doing all of the right things nutrition wise and sleep wise but they have this horribly stressful job, they’re really not going to get to a hundred percent and they’re going to derail a lot of the work they’re doing. So what I’ve done is I’ve grouped all of the aspects of the kind of support that I provide with my clients into what I call five dimensions, so the first dimension would be everything that’s mindful awareness, is the sense of being present and paying attention and calming ourselves in situations mind-body work, spirituality, and religion because that’s a very important part of healing and also just our emotional well-being.
The words that we are saying to ourselves, the mindset, our belief systems that became ingrained in us when we were children that we don’t realize is carrying us through to our adult life, a sense of worthiness, sense of deserving to be healthy. That’s actually dimension number one it’s probably one of the most important parts in the healing journey is what you’re constantly saying to your own body, and what you’re even saying to your own body when it’s sick are you saying did you fail me, I have a broken body, I can’t do this every day that you wake up is just such an amazing gift and even if we are ill trying to reframe that into some kind of positivity. I mean for example if I didn’t get sick I wouldn’t be here talking with you today and I wouldn’t have the ability to help the clients that I’m helping right now, so mind-body work is one dimension.
The next mention is big it’s all nutrition, digestion and the gut microbiome, digestion is really complicated it’s not just putting food in our mouth it is putting food in our mouth, having the right enzymes to break it down, having the right acid in our body and then absorbing it and then also getting rid of the waste that’s a big part, so we work a lot in that area. And then also having the cofactors to be able to digest and absorb and break down our food so we get the right nutrients from it. The third dimension is movement and sleep, even if you’re really critically ill or you have some kind of musculoskeletal, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis movement is so important, so working with someone to get them to move in a way that is safe and healthy for their body.
Also in that dimension is sleep, sleep is absolutely critical, prioritizing sleep that is one of actually the first areas that I work with my clients on because sleep is the time when your body is repairing itself. So sometimes we have to do a little bit of triage with some supplements to get clients to go to sleep and to stay asleep and have a really restful sleep, I might actually monitor my sleep because it tells me if I’m on track or if I’m getting off track, so I do recommend that. So number four is what I call the clean and green space and this is your physical surroundings, not only are your surroundings clean but are you surrounding yourself with things that are not toxic.
We are constantly exposed to toxic things in our life they say like women if you wear makeup and do your hair you are exposed to over 200 chemicals just in the 30 or 60 minutes it takes you to get ready, so is your environment clean, green and non-toxic, but also is your space healing, do you walk into your space thinking oh I’m at home, I feel at peace, I’m inspired, I’m relaxed or do you walk in and see chaos everywhere and it just stresses you out. So looking at your spaces – your workspaces, your home spaces, looking under your cabinet and finding out what toxins are looking there and probably can simplify our lives and also be healthy in the process.
And then number five is your relationships, your community, your support people when we talk about toxicity we’re not just talking about chemicals we’re talking about maybe people that you’ve allowed to come into your life or stay in your life that are not contributing to your healing and figuring out how to either work around those relationships, move out of those relationships, but making that a priority to surround yourself with individuals that are going to support you in your healing process. So that’s a lot, but those are basically the five dimensions of healing and the thing is that we address all of those, I address all of those with my clients because every single one of them is extremely important to their healing process.
Christina: [00:19:14.16] Yes I love that, I love how you combine the aspects of coaching that we would, kind of looking at this whole picture with functional medicine because functional medicine and integrative medicine all these things are wonderful, but if we’re just following strict protocols and not thinking how they work in our lives or looking at all these different pieces that make a difference, then it doesn’t work as well either so I love your approach on that and your take on all of that. And I like how the first piece is that mindset piece as well, because I think a lot of times people with autoimmune disease or chronic disease, over time we’ve kind of told ourselves like that our these are broken or that our bodies are failing us or they’re not good enough or when I was having a fever of flare up I was telling you this a couple like a month ago or so, I was at my acupuncturist and I was saying some of these things like I just can’t believe this happened, I got a cold and this happened and my body and she was saying well you know your body is trying.
It’s trying to do something right now, it’s trying to do something for you, it’s just gotten a little bit confused or it’s not doing exactly what we want to do so we have to help it and it actually made me like kind of emotional that I was like my whole body is trying to do something for me but it’s not doing the right thing the right thing. And I realized how much of that on a daily basis we have that sort of self-talk, and for you how has that mindset piece helped you personally?
Kara: [00:20:52.14] Well I think by nature I mean I’m the oldest of six siblings, I’m a mom of four and pretty quickly in my career I started becoming the boss, like I was this type A kid in high school, I was captain of my track team like I had to just do everything, I had to be in control. I graduated college in three years and I mean just like looking back I’m like really this is kind of ridiculous and then admittedly I was not like the most natural person to meditate, because the whole time I’m meditating I’m thinking I can be getting stuff done right now. But what I realized was that every day that I devoted starting out some of my day, whether it was two minutes or twenty minutes if I started out my day with some cleansing breaths, with a step outside to ground myself, to listen to certain kinds of music and tones I really liked a lot of healing tones my day miraculously went a lot better and I felt a lot better.
And what this also taught me was that you saying I don’t sweat the small stuff, I’m a work in progress we all are so every day its work with me not just with the small stuff, but what I do is I look at these small things and I think is this worth risking my health to have a reaction to, because with autoimmune if you have a really strong stressful reaction you don’t know that that’s going to be the trigger to having this here, and so it changes my perspective in terms of this is just not worth being sick over, this is not worth it.
So incorporating my body, not sweating the small stuff and being present and that’s the mindful awareness that’s really important, that when I’m here with you Christina I’m here with you I’m not thinking about anything else, and when my kid needs me I’m only with them and I’m not anywhere else and you just get so much more out of it and it’s just very calming to our body. I mean there’s a process that’s happening in our brain with our hypothalamus and our pituitary and our adrenal glands and our thyroid and our reproductive plants, but besides that, it’s just calming to the body to have that awareness.
Christina: [00:23:21.26] Yes definitely, and like you said physiologically it makes such a big difference because that’s when we’re kind of in the parasympathetic rest and digest, where literally our body is allowed to do some of these processes that when we’re in that sympathetic it’s just so much harder to do. So if people have made some changes to their diets and they’re feeling maybe a little bit better, but they still feel like there’s some issues maybe hormonally going on or they’re dealing with thyroid issues or detoxification or maybe they’re not even sure what they’re dealing with, they’re just like I feel a little bit better but not completely.
What do you think then are kind of like next steps for people to investigate, I know everyone’s so different so that’s kind of a hard question, but from a functional medicine place and if someone is in that place, where would you kind of suggest that they start?
Kara: [00:24:17.00] Yes, so there’s so much information that actually we can look at in annual physical lab work that be available from your doctor, a lot of my clients I asked them actually to provide all the lab work that they have even going back five to seven years because the trends are important, and the way lab work markers work and their relationship to each other is important. In functional medicine we look at different ranges we look at optimal ranges and not reference ranges, reference ranges are meant for 95% of the population but we’re not trying to live like 95% population – we’re trying to live optimally.
So what the next step is looking at lab work, we look at food journaling in terms of the impact on sleep and mood and bowel movements and emotional state and then we move down the line in terms of there’s a number of different functional tests that are just so helpful, we can look at micronutrient deficiencies from a cellular level not just what’s in our serum and our blood but what’s actually going into the cell. We can look at different heavy-metal tests to see if there’s mercury perhaps walking and methylation cycle which walks B12, which will just completely tank you and there’s just a whole litany of different kinds of tests.
So to make it not overwhelming I will start with what the client has and go from there and then go into more of the esoteric functional medicine testing when it’s really necessary at that point and with the client as the boss. We all know our own bodies, sometimes I think we even intuitively know what’s going wrong so the client gets to decide what tests they want and when they want it and I’m just really there as their by letting them know that these resources are available.
Christina: [00:26:09.17] Amazing, perfect I think that gives people just a little bit of an idea of that there are even just that there are some more tools or things to investigate once you start that process, and because oftentimes I’ll have people come to me and say well I tried a whole 30 or AIP and like I felt pretty good and then I stopped feeling good or I felt worse or and then from there it’s troubleshooting. It’s not necessarily restricting more or things like that we don’t want to do that, but it’s troubleshooting and then it’s helpful to know that there are these different resources and tools available to people.
So if people want to find you how do they find you and I know you have a lot of awesome free resources as well and a great membership site too, so tell us how we find you and how we can interact with you and get some of this amazing goodness.
Kara: [00:27:00.10] Thank you, so what I try to do is make my information available to anyone at whatever point that they’re at, if you’re looking for one-on-one functional medicine support you can go to my website which is LifeHubCenter.com you can read all about the kinds of things that I do about me and you can even hit the schedule button and get yourself on for a complimentary meet-and-greet, and I would love to just get on the phone with you 15-20 minutes and learn about you and let’s talk about if there are some things that I see that can help you.
I also run a Facebook group and it is called healing autoimmune through functional medicine and you’ll probably put the link on that and feel free to join the group and invite your family and friends so they can understand what you’re going through. And in the Facebook group I give information about a membership site, and that membership site really kind of sits between one-on-one coaching and then the open Facebook group, so it goes into more of a deep dive and it allows me to work with a smaller group of people that want to invest just a tiny bit of amount of money into their health.
Christina: [00:28:08.23] Yes perfect, it’s great to have kind of those options based on where people are at and if they’re just wanting to kind of dip a toe into the functional medicine world, in your Facebook group I’m in there too it’s awesome there’s a lot of great resources that you share so I would encourage anyone to get on board there.
And thank you so much for all of this and on all your information and there are so many different topics that I would love to speak to you about on a podcast to kind of like dive deeper, but I hope that this gave people a good overview of sort of this whole person approach to functional medicine and a couple tools that they might be able to utilize if they’re at this place where they’re thinking about it. So any last thoughts or anything you would want to share with people going through this journey having kind of come out the other end yourself?
Kara: [00:28:52.21] Well we’re always working on the journey, it never ends it becomes a lifestyle and something we just have to decide to embrace. Symptoms are a blessing not a curse and our bodies are really smart, they’re not doing things because our bodies are out of control or dumb, so have faith in your body, have faith in your ability to heal and I would love to take you up on going on a deep dive into one of the topics we talked about at some point, so thank you so much for having me.
Christina: [00:29:21.10] Of course yes, so stay tuned everybody we’ll definitely do that, maybe we’ll get some feedback as to what people are most interested in learning about and then we’ll do one of those. So thank you so much for being here Kara and we will speak soon.
Kara: [00:29:34.26] Sounds good, thank you everybody.