Dr. Natasha Fallahi, DC, is a doctor, designer, speaker, and artist who specializes in healing autoimmunity through functional medicine, chiropractic, and holistic healthcare. She is founder of The KANARI Life, a fun lifestyle website for autoimmunity and co-founder of KOBA Family Wellness, a private practice in Berkeley, CA. She also serves on our own Board of Advisors and as and Creative Director at Hashimoto’s Awareness..
Like many of us, Dr. Fallahi struggled for years with “unexplainable” health issues like chronic fatigue, pain, low energy, hormonal imbalance, acne, anxiety, and depression and did not find the answers she needed in conventional medicine. After her health was transformed by natural medicine, she dedicated her life and career to helping offers suffering from autoimmunity and thyroid disorders.
What follows is our full Q&A with Dr. Fallahi as well as details about the virtual meetup she’ll be hosting for us!
Your approach to wellness is extremely integrated (culturally, medically, etc.) and some of the approaches may seem in conflict. How do you explain to people that they aren’t?
I always target my message to my audience. So when I speak to someone who is starting out in this process I will often talk about how health and wellness comes from a combination of our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing, and a person can experience dysfunction on all those levels.
We start by addressing the physical dysfunction which could be easing pain in the body, or doing some blood work, or looking at diet. From there, when a patient has begun to experience a new level of wellness on the physical level, we can start exploring the mental and emotional components of health.
It’s really a journey – and so many underlying factors contribute to health. First, a person may get their pain under control and their biochemistry under control. Once they start feeling better, I can begin addressing other factors like cultural or mental/emotional layers. Through this step-by-step journey, a person can experience how there are many contributing factors to their disease. That’s how we make holistic and integrated connections, so there’s not really conflict at any given moment.
If someone comes to me and has already moved forward in their journey I can dive in at the level where they are. But for most people it begins with the physical experience and we move forward from there. That’s true holistic healing.
How does chiropractic care benefit to those coping with Hashimoto’s?
Chiropractic care is most widely known for how it helps people with back pain and neck pain, but chiropractic care was originally used for immune conditions. Historically, chiropractic care was actually a first line treatment for the issues related to immunity because the treatments are based on the function of the nervous system.
The spinal cord is the conduit that connects the brain to every cell in the body and chiropractors use the spine as an access point to affect change elsewhere in the body. It has always been effective but now there’s this whole new understanding of how the immune system is connected to both the nervous system and endocrine system. To put it simply, chiropractic care helps the brain communicate better with the body so healing can happen from the inside out.
What people should know is that chiropractic medicine is a broad field and there are a lot of techniques within it. Sometimes a person will visit with one chiropractor who uses one technique without getting results and feel discouraged. But it may just be that because of what’s going on with that person physically, mentally, and emotionally, another technique would be more effective.
There are a lot of different types of body work, and all the techniques are geared toward helping people heal.
Has your work in the arts shaped your approach to healthcare? It seems very creative.
Definitely! Art is about communication and the human experience, so that has probably been the most profound way I’ve integrated these things. A lot of healing can happen through art and music and storytelling, and finding ways to bring that into healthcare really creates this whole picture of what healing can look like.
At some point health became a very distinct thing apart from science and then we put up this stark division between health and culture, which has done all three a real disservice. Being able to bring them back together is very powerful because it allows people to understand what is happening to them on multiple levels.
For instance, I studied graphic design and multimedia narratives, and that has helped immensely when I’ve been sharing the story of my own health and how healing from Hashimoto’s is possible. And from a neurological standpoint, being in the arts is wonderful because science is more left-brained and art is more right-brained. Part of what I do is making sure people are neurologically balanced.
Talk to me about food and nutrition as medicine when it comes to Hashimoto’s. Diet changes are challenging so how do you speak to that with your patients?
I think every person needs to make changes at a pace that works for them on their own journey. Black and white rules generally don’t lead people to wellness – they can work temporarily in a crisis situation to get a disease under control but real wellness is about so much more than eat this, don’t eat that. When I’m working with patients, I meet them where they are in their journey. I provide information for those who need just that but for others, I’m there to hold their hand through the process of making changes.
I have a coaching program that’s concerned with lifestyle and food. It’s a 12 week curriculum that’s focused on making those kinds of changes step by step with a support person. My motto is that change happens together. It’s a creative curriculum and while it does include recipes, it’s also concerned with day-to-day and cultural issues. How do you eat at restaurants? How do you travel?
It’s been really successful because people who follow the program with me get to work on topics related to not just dietary changes, but how they impact the mind, body, and spirit. The reason we work as a team is because people thrive in a nurturing environment where they have a safe space to share not only victories, but also the challenges they’re facing.
What about the emotional component of autoimmunity? How can people who are taking the right physical steps start healing on the emotional side?
The emotional side of healing involves addressing what’s going on internally and addressing what’s going on externally.
Internally, there’s a lot of introspective work. That can look like journaling or using worksheets to track how a person is feeling on any given day. Overall, it’s about individual awareness and growing your consciousness. Sometimes it’s difficult but it’s about bringing these thoughts and feelings out for your own empowerment so you’re better able to make decisions about your health.
Externally it’s about connecting with a community and having people around you who support your emotional journey. You can be doing all the right physical things but if you’re not doing them from a place of love and support and belonging, the prognosis just isn’t as good. Healing can’t happen if you’re coming from a place of fear or isolation. You need an environment that helps growth and healing.
What would you tell someone who is just beginning their Hashimoto’s journey?
I think the most important thing I would say is that you are a canary in a coal mine. The idea behind this concept is that people with autoimmunity aren’t broken. There’s nothing wrong with them. They are actually incredibly in-tune with their environments.They should cultivate that awareness and sensitivity, embrace that, and love themselves. The coal mine is our environment. There are all these things impacting our environment in a negative way and we are the canaries – the first ones to feel it. This delicate perspective is how my passion project, The KANARI Life, was born… learning how to love and honor yourself for being a KANARI.
I want to reframe the idea of Hashimoto’s as this gift that allows us to share an important message and as something we should trust. We understand when things are right in our environment and when things are not. This gift can serve not only us and our loved ones but also the world as a whole.
RSVP for our latest meetup
We’d like to invite you to join us for our new meetup format on January 25 at 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST to listen in as Dr. Fallahi tells about the 5 things she did that helped her on her healing journey.