Category Archives: A4M Success Stories

Jill Carnahan, MD, ABFM, ABIHM: A Success Story

“Most physicians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of complex, chronic disease, and to apply strategies such as nutrition, diet, and exercise to both treat and prevent those illnesses in their patients.”
Jill Carnahan, MD, ABFM, ABIHM

During her third year of medical school, at age 25, Dr. Jill Carnahan was forced to transition from the role of doctor to patient after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. While she returned to medical school after treatment, within the next six months, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease: likely a result of the chemotherapy’s toxic effect on the gut lining. Dr. Carnahan’s gastroenterologist at the time informed her that diet was unrelated to clinical outcomes. Moreover, not only would Dr. Carnahan require multiple future surgeries, but she also would never be completely cured. Dr. Carnahan was prescribed medications and drugs for the inflammation, but she received nothing to help alleviate or address her symptoms.

Refusing to believe that pharmaceuticals and surgery were her only sole options, Dr. Carnahan embarked upon an intensive study of dietary changes and nutrition, which would ultimately form her career trajectory and professional mission. After consulting with a naturopath, making major changes in her own diet, and seeking out the appropriate supplements, Dr. Carnahan is—more than 12 years later—both breast cancer free and healed from Crohn’s disease. Now, Dr. Carnahan knows that assessing and evaluating the triggers that contribute to sickness and disease—in addition to utilizing the least invasive treatment methods possible—is the reason that functional medicine is highly effective and beneficial.

Dr. Carnahan’s personal journey of resiliency and relentlessness have spurred her commitment to help patients achieve optimal health and wellness through the practice of functional medicine.  “More than ever before, I believe that the human body can regain health if given the right tools… and I am living proof!”

From September 14-16 in Chicago, Dr. Carnahan will speak at Module IV: A Metabolic & Functional Approach to Gastroenterology, along with a panel of other clinical experts—all of whom will discuss comprehensive functional and nutritional approaches to gastrointestinal dysfunction and disease. Faculty members will further discuss topics including the physiology and pathophysiology of gastrointestinal disorders, gut permeability, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, the gut-immune-brain connection, and other digestive and glandular disorders. Do not miss this core module, which delves into the root causes of chronic diseases and disorders—many of which begin in the gut.

Wellness Medicine

The primary, overarching goal of the Fellowship in Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine is not only to instruct participants in the most recent developments in metabolic medicine, but also to allow them to further their professional trajectories and journeys. Many of our Fellows go on to open their own practices or change current practices; several of them write and become published; others share education and disseminate information in a variety of ways.

Nathan Goodyear, MD, one of our previous Fellows, penned an article for LinkedIn titled “What is Wellness Medicine? A life lesson.” Board-certified by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine in 2010, Dr. Goodyear completed the Advanced Fellowship in addition to several electives: Pediatrics, Homeopathy, IV Therapy, Toxicology, and Weight Management. In the article, he discusses the characteristics that distinguish ‘wellness medicine,’ explaining that the very nature of this brand of medicine is defined by its focus and goal: “its focus is the patient and its goal is the healing of the patient.” Dr. Goodyear explains that wellness medicine is rooted in being proactive: working within the parameters of someone’s lifestyle, in order to prevent the manifestation of chronic disease.

Perhaps most importantly, Dr. Goodyear clarifies that wellness medicine and traditional medicine are not dichotomous, nor do they conflict with each other. Rather, the two paradigms of medicine can—and should—co-exist, as they directly complement each other. While the purpose of wellness medicine is to enact lifestyle interventions that can prevent disease, traditional medicine is critical in its evidence-based style that is necessary in both disease diagnosis and management.

To read Dr. Goodyear’s article in full, click here. Learn more about our Fellowship in Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine here.

Q & A With Jill Carnahan MD, ABFM, ABIHM, IFMCP

Dr. Jill Carnahan is a board certified physician in both Family Medicine and Integrative Holistic Medicine. In her practice, she emphasizes an integrative holistic approach to wellness, using both conventional medicine and evidence-based complementary therapies. Dr. Carnahan’s own journey through breast cancer was a powerful force in shaping her passion to teach people how to heal with functional medicine.

Q: Dr. Jill, what sparked your interest in anti-aging and preventive medicine? How has it changed your practice?

A: I was diagnosed with a very aggressive breast cancer at the age of twenty-five. I was able to survive, beat the cancer and go on to thriving and living well through integrative holistic medicine, diet/nutrition principles and functional medicine.

I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I believe that I’ve been given a new chance at life and health so that I can help others! It’s my mission and passion to share that knowledge to help patients in their own healing journey.

Q: Would you recommend a more preventive approach to patient care to your peers?

A: Yes, indeed! We work in a disease-care system, not a true “health-care “system. True wellness and vitality starts with clean organic real food. The foundational healing principles of a whole food, clean, healthy diet are essential to wellness and disease prevention.

So many of the chronic disease epidemics faced today are not cured or fixed with medication, but instead by finding the root cause and transforming patients’ health with basic principles of good sleep, lowered stress, proper nutrients from diet and supplements, and great fulfilling relationships with those we love.

As physicians, we are not going to make a dent in diabetes, obesity, cancer, autoimmune disease, or cardiovascular disease until we get to the root of our patients’ lifestyle factors like diet, sleep and fulfillment/purpose in life.

Q: Based on your experience, what are some of the challenges/considerations for physicians looking to apply a more integrative approach in their practice?

A: Once I decided to take the leap to a private cash practice, there were not too many challenges. I recommend keeping overhead low in the beginning, doing intake and office management yourself, until you grow. Start small and let the practice grow organically.

For anyone starting out, I recommend taking the leap and not being held hostage to fear of stepping out. Patients are looking for physicians who will take time to really listen and guide them to find the root cause of their symptoms, instead of just prescribing medications. They are willing to pay for time and personalized medical care, and there will be no shortage of business for a doctor willing to spend the time to help patients get well.

Q: What is your wish for the future of medicine?

A: I believe that it is essential to address the underlying root cause of illness, and to take a personalized approach to disease. That would include assessment of individual genetics, nutritional status, any underlying metabolic imbalances and infections, and then treat the patient as an individual with an individualized treatment plan.

There is no cookie cutter or one-size-fits-all approach that will work in addressing our patients’ illnesses. Most important, we need to model healthy behaviors, and teach patients to relax, sleep well, eat well and thrive