Practitioner Testimony

Carolyn R. Walker, MSN, ARNP

Owner, Prevention & Healing of Iowa "Over 20 years ago (1995) I did not believe I would have been alive today. Symptoms were occurring which I had never experienced before and those I had had were worsening. There were afternoons where I was totally exhausted and would have to put on an alarm clock for a nap just to get me through the evening. A new symptom of depression was creeping into my life which I had not experienced before. I was constantly cold, hair thinning, gaining weight, had heart palpitations, fibrocystic breasts and could not sleep at night. I prayed to live long enough to see my children into their adulthood. 

At that point in time, one-half of my thyroid gland had been removed (turned out to be a benign goiter) and there was discussion of a possible hysterectomy due to very heavy menstrual flow. I was placed on Synthroid, Prozac, various antihistamines and pain medications without relief. I then decided to investigate Functional medicine options where more in-depth labs would be done to evaluate my hormones for imbalances. Once identified and treated with bio-identical compounded hormones and a more natural thyroid medication, my life changed dramatically for the better. It was at that time that I questioned why patients were not offered what seemed to be a more logical option in investigating and treating imbalances in one's health…simply by working with one's biochemistry.

As I pursued my Master's in Nursing in the late 1990's at the University of Iowa, I immersed myself in the international medical literature addressing bioidentical hormones. I conducted a retrospective, descriptive research project of 100 subjects using compounded bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) and found 96 out of 100 subjects still happy and using BHRT 12 months after initiating treatment. This was rare in the world of commercially available HRT where only a meager 20% of women may continue long-term use of HRT due to side effects. There were 37 different presenting symptoms amongst the 100 subjects and 25 of the symptoms were statistically significant in their resolution over time using BHRT.

During my education at the University of Iowa, I also proposed that the compounding pharmacist (who helped me to initially understand BHRT) and I pilot an Adult Education class on BHRT to women. We would teach them about female physiology as well as the difference between various hormone preparations and how they work in our bodies. 

I became a licensed Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner in 2000 and developed a steady practice serving men and women with nutritional and hormone imbalances. Since 2006, I began to see more children on the Autism spectrum of disorders. This evolved due to my personal experience with heavy metal toxicity in me and some family members.

My practice broadened to incorporate other facets of Functional and environmental medicine when in 2001 I found that our son and I suffered from undiagnosed heavy metal toxicity (mercury, aluminum & lead). I discovered this by ordering a nutritional panel which included a heavy metal screen amongst 130 other metabolic markers. Since heavy metal toxicity will always disrupt hormone function, it then made sense as to why my adrenals, ovaries and thyroid glands were struggling against the odds of heavy metals in my body. This awareness was confirmed working in concert with my physician in St. Louis, Dr. Simon Yu as there was no physician in Iowa familiar enough with environmental medicine to help my son and I. 

With detoxification, my health continued to improve. With detoxification, our son's energy level, focus and concentration dramatically improved.

In 2008, I found that underlying many health disruptions in my health was a genetic methylation disorder. This means I cannot make glutathione sufficiently to detoxify many environmental toxins we are all exposed to. This is more complicated than the single MTHFR defect that you hear about.  This explained various times in my life where exposures caused illness that I can now look back and understand. One example was in my teens when my health took its first turn for the worst after having dental amalgams (>50% mercury) placed in my teeth. I went from a healthy 10th grade honors student to missing school due to fatigue, terrible PMS and foggy thinking…these were all new symptoms “out of the blue” at the time. I’ve since helped a couple families to save their children from mental health placement related to depression caused by mercury in new dental fillings. Again, those families with genetic methylation polymorphisms are at risk for illness related to environmental toxin exposures. This is not a focus in current medical training…it is in Functional Medicine though.

From 2008 - 2010, 6 family members of both my husband and my family passed away.  I include this here as I firmly believe emotional distress trumps physical illness and is most likely underlying many health disruptions.

In 2011, new alarming symptoms appeared which were very elevated blood pressure (I am a slim woman and never had that issue before), near-syncope (feeling faint; actually fainting 3 times before diagnosis was confirmed) and worsening heart palpitations (had those since my late 20s). I flew to Phoenix to be evaluated by a brilliant MD, Dr. Bruce Shelton (Homoeopathist). After evaluating my history/physical exam, head/neck thermogram, and heart-rate variability testing he surmised I might have Lyme disease. He was correct as in the next few months I was diagnosed with Borrelia, possible Bartonella (I had been treated with antibiotics when that test was done and there was evidence of this bacteria in my red blood cells), Mycoplasma pneumonia, Chlamydia pneumonia, Epstein-Barr virus (mono virus), Cytomegalovirus and HHV6. This combination of bacteria and viruses along with significant methylation genetic defects stressed my immune system over time so it could not contain these any longer. A test call VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) was extremely elevated due to the inflammation from the above infections in my vessels…hence the elevated blood pressure/near-syncope.

Today, my husband often comments that I'm not the same person I was back in the mid-1990s when my health was initially so challenged. Once my hormones were balanced, the heavy metals had been detoxified/chelated from my tissues, and I realized how abnormal methylation genetics underscored a lifetime of health disruptions, my husband has wondered if I had an "off switch" as I seemed to have so much new-found energy. One of my dreams has come to fruition as owner of "Prevention & Healing of Iowa" in 2006 provide Functional integrative medicine and healing.

My testimony is now being replicated over and over in others as I assist my patients in identifying and treating their nutrient and hormone imbalances, as well as environmental toxicities." I extend my utmost gratitude to the following people who've made a phenominal difference  in my life:

  • Marty Rhea, ND, who has been a dedicated practitioner and true friend over the years.
  • Sue Horton, RPh, tireless advocate for Functional pharmaceuticals
  • Jean Lorentzen, DO, Internal Medicine, who pioneered BHRT in Iowa
  • Simon Yu, MD, Internal Medicine, specializing in environmental medicine, who helped me understand heavy metals and parasites as common issues not understood by other doctors.
  • Irene Dougherty & David Cheung, acupuncturists, Eastern Medicine & NAET.
  • My daughter, who is the first PhD (Biochemistry) in our family, always "wondering" for better answers and wanting to "inspire" others over her lifetime.
  • My son, who has taught me many lessons which finally came together in 2001 when we discovered significant heavy metal toxicity in his and in my body. With that lesson I have been able to help many others where they could not find help otherwise.
  • My son-in-law, a Pathologist, who patiently puts up with me despite his traditional medical foundation. I believe we need both conventional medicine which provides excellent acute care and functional medicine which is helping thousands of people with chronic illness who don’t respond to conventional therapies.
  • My mother, who lived through many undeserved medical indiscretions giving me the insight and strength to search for more logical, safe options in health-care.
  • My husband, who continues to support me in my quest for the truth in healthcare.