How Epigenetics Led Us to Functional Medicine
Everyone has a story, right?
The twists and turns of one’s life path hides in our cells, our energy, genetic expression, and not always in ways others easily see.
I caught up with an old friend over the phone the other day, and she recounted her battle with diverticulitis. She rapidly lost weight and received several compliments on how “good” she looked. She said it infuriated her because she was far from healthy. She silently suffered and lived in terror, frightened of food. She lost trust that food would nourish and support her system. However, to the outside world, she looked healthy!
That mirrors the early life of Dr. Chris George and Dr. Emilea Finley. To the external world, they were the picture of health and athleticism. On the inside, they were far from healthy.
Dr. Chris spent his formative years in Holcomb, Kansas. Although Chris was born with spina bifida and hospitalized several times throughout his childhood, he managed to excel at cross country and track. After high school, Dr. Chris attended Butler Community College in El Dorado, KS where he continued his competitive running, and he earned All-American honors in track and the half-marathon.
Dr. Chris transferred to Adams State University in Alamosa, CO to finish his undergraduate degree in exercise physiology. There, he ran cross-country and track. While Chris experienced success in college athletics, he was plagued with 3 stress fractures causing devastating setbacks in his training.
“A fast young man that could run like Forrest Gump, but running that much strains the body. What can you do??” - Joe Blow Public
Of course, Dr. Chris can reflect on his childhood and see the warning signs of issues lurking.
At 12 years old, a deadly mold exposure sentenced him to a 14 day stint in the hospital. His dentist bills certainly hit the family’s budget as he was prone to cavities and other dental issues. He believes he suffered an undiagnosed stress fracture at the age of 14. Spina bifida generally indicates a genetic trait for weaker bones, auto-immunity, and arthritis. In addition, his diet primarily consisted of processed, nutrient deficient foods.
Toxic mold exposure + fragile bones + poor diet = breadcrumbs.
Dr. Emilea grew up in another small Kansas community where her mom exposed her early on to swimming. She grew up a competitive swimmer, and as she began to mature, her love for running took over.
She experienced a successful high school running career despite developing anemia and food allergies. Following graduation, she accepted a scholarship to run for Wichita State, and shortly thereafter, Emilea received the diagnosis of hashimoto's thyroiditis. Throughout college, she struggled with maintaining a healthy weight, gut dysfunction, and chronic fatigue.
Allergies + auto-immune diagnosis = breadcrumbs.
Dr. Hansel and Dr. Gretel (aka, Chris and Emilea) followed these breadcrumbs along a rocky, dark, and, ultimately, rewarding path. Several path illuminating and path altering practitioners, professors, and friends showed up along the way to help Chris and Emilea heal, expand their knowledge of healthcare techniques, and uncover their root causes to achieve wellness.
Both Chris and Emilea received treatments in high school from functional medicine doctors utilizing the BSI technique. BSI stands for Bio-Systems Integration or also known as CPK or Chiro Plus Kinesiology. This technique opened their eyes to possibilities within the healthcare field.
Dr. Chris shadowed Dr. Allan Lindsley while attending Butler, which inspired him to change his major from pre-med/chemistry to kinesiology knowing that the BSI technique was in his future.
However, his path continued to wind as he found himself working with intellectually and physically disabled individuals in Colorado Springs after graduating from college. He eventually found himself in the oilfields of Colorado, Wyoming, and North Dakota to support his growing family. He enjoyed problem solving as a technician in the oil field and getting to the root cause of a problem. The fire he felt about problem solving in the oil field reminded him about the incredible passion he developed for BSI several years earlier.
Chris set out to relocate to Overland Park, KS where he enrolled in Cleveland University to continue his lifelong goal of becoming a chiropractor, and ultimately specializing in Bio-Systems Integration, Quantum Neurology, Acupuncture, and Neuro-Emotional Technique.
Cleveland University allowed Chris and Emilea’s paths to cross. Emilea’s health issues and endless pursuit to understand what triggered her genes to express the way they did drove her to change her desired career from, ironically, pharmacist to chiropractor. She graduated from Wichita State with a degree in biochemistry and found herself shortly thereafter at Cleveland University.
Emilea understood that pharmaceuticals may help manage symptoms but offered no solution. Like Chris, she gravitated towards BSI as it encompasses a non-invasive, biofeedback approach to determine and treat a patient’s unique cause of pain. This technique also allows Chris and Emilea to expand into the teladoc space and allow for virtual doctor visits as they utilize the technique created by Dr. Milton Dowty that tunes into the client’s frequency and determines their stressor priorities and subsequent protocol.
With the help of all their professors, practitioners, research, and different techniques, Dr. Chris and Dr. Emilea were better able to see their health from a bird’s eye view and transfer that approach to their practice. They are able to see the entire path and not just the cliffs, boulders, twists, and crumbs. They are able to understand how exposed stressors turn on genetic predispositions.
This is referred to as epigenetics, and the following explains the epigenetic definition according to the CDC:
“Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work. Unlike genetic changes, epigenetic changes are reversible and do not change your DNA sequence, but they can change how your body reads a DNA sequence.”
For Emilea, her overtraining, toxic and prolonged exposure to mold, as well as babesia, borrelia and parasites triggered Hashimoto's Thyroiditis autoimmune disease. Both Chris and Emilea grew up in rural, agricultural areas where herbicides and pesticides heavily exist in the air, water, and food.
Chemicals such as glyphosate disrupt our endocrine system by mimicking estrogen as well as glycine, an amino acid. Glyphosate then weakens bones and joints due to this chemical embedding itself in our collagen matrix. Not to mention, these chemicals wreak havoc on our terrain, acting as an antibiotic and damage our mitochondria.
While some may fear their genetics and see their environment and other stressors as a frightening premonition for a miserable life yet to endure, Dr. Chris and Dr. Emilea get excited. They see their life and the life of their patients as just beginning to thrive. They see the untapped potential yet to be released.
Dr. Emilea has recently set a personal goal of breaking the 5k record for her age group in Kansas. She keeps improving her performance and her health while still testing high in Borrelia, the bacteria that causes lyme disease, and other coinfections of lyme disease. Chris trains right alongside her, injury free! They see that their bodies and performance has yet to reach its max potential! How freaking exciting is that?!?
They continue improving their health, life, and performance through functional medicine, so Chris and Emilea translate the functional medicine approach to patient care. They utilize all their techniques and education to discover and treat the root cause of pain and disease as well as helping clear emotional barriers to their patient’s recovery.
Dr. Chris and Dr. Emilea want everyone to understand that genetics does not equate to your fate. You’re not doomed for that diagnosis. With a little awareness, intention, and some help, you may help your genes express in a healthy, positive manner.
If you are KILLING IT as an athlete, a friend, an employee, a parent, and yet, you could show up EVEN MORE in your own life. You could have better quality in your years and hopefully more years in your life? Sign me up!!
Unfortunately, most of us silently struggle and KNOW there’s a better way to live. Do not settle for the cliches as truth - running strains your joints, women runners peak in high school, your body breaks down as you age, it’s in your genes. You know what else is in your genes and your potential future? Breaking personal records. Thriving. Wellness…
That’s where these doctors are at personally these days. Their athletic performance keeps climbing to new heights along with their age! Their energy levels keep climbing while their injuries have diminished leaving more injury-free days of training.
You may already feel like you reached your peak. You may feel as though your body performs like a well-oiled machine. We at Apogee Wellness believe you may still have untapped potential! We are living that truth everyday and here to help you on your journey to wellness!