Providing our patients for Functional Medicine; Experience, Passion, Dedication, Personalized Interactions. To say we LOVE what we do would be the understatement of a lifetime.
I am a board certified neurologist who has been in practice since 1998. I completed my medical education at Emory University in Atlanta, GA (1992), and post-graduate training at Emory Affiliated Hospitals, The University of Virginia, and Vanderbilt University. In addition to my M.D., I have a Masters in Public Health (Emory-1991). Originally from New Jersey I live and work in Springfield, MO. I am married and have three grown children. I became interested in Functional Medicine while exploring my own health and performance as a cyclist, runner, and triathlete.
- Listed in 417 Magazine’s Physician of the Year (Neurology), multiple years.
- Board Certified, American Academy of Psychiatry and Neurology
- Member, American Academy of Neurology
- Member, American Medical Association
- Member, Institute for Functional Medicine
As Practice Manager and Functional Medicine Program Coordinator I have seen Sharlin Health & Neurology grow, evolve, and innovate health care delivery, and more importantly help our patients get the results they desire. I come from a family with a strong management and business background which played a big role in my educational and professional choices. I have a Bachelors in Health Administration, and over 10 years of experience in management and customer service. It has been an incredible journey to be with this clinic from the day we opened in November 2015.
I am an athlete and enjoy pushing my body and mind to reach a higher level of excellence. I have competed in Tough Mudder races, Urban Warrior races, MS 150’s, as well as various other running and cycling events. I was a competitive cheerleader, as well as a dancer. When I met my husband in 2011 his commitment to health and fitness matched my own, and this made it easy to stay on track. Today, we share this with our two children by setting the example for them. This passion to provide a well-balanced life for my family carries over into my working life, and my interactions with our team and patients. Here at Sharlin Health & Neurology we are interested in the entire person, mind, body and spirit. I think it is important to have all aspects of your life in working harmony so that we can provide the same experience to our patients.
I am a Licensed Occupational Therapist and have been in practice since 1984. I began my practice specializing in hand and upper extremity rehabilitation. In 1991, I was the first therapist in Springfield, MO that attained the designation of Certified Hand Therapist from the Hand Therapy Certification Committee.
As I continued to work with patients and people with musculoskeletal problems, I became interested in learning specialized treatments and advanced training. In 2004, I earned certification in Manual Lymphatic Drainage and Complete Decongestive Therapy from the Academy of Lymphatic Studies.
Around that same time I became more interested in the treatment of chronic pain. As I looked at what conventional conservative management of chronic pain looked like, I was disillusioned. That began my quest to learn more about how the body, mind, and spirit are affected by chronic pain. I am passionate about learning manual therapy techniques to help patients escape out of what seems like a never ending cycle of pain-depression-fear-anxiety, including limited activities and poor sleep.
Since beginning my chronic pain education journey, I have been trained/hold certifications in the following techniques & treatments; ASTYM (Augmented Soft Tissue Management), PRRT (Primal Reflex Release Technique), ART (Active Release Technique), MET (Muscle Energy Technique), PNT (Pain Neutralization Technique), NKT (Neurokinetic Therapy), MKT (Myokinetic Therapy), Craniosacral Therapy, Total Motion Release, Emotional Freedom Technique, Mindfulness training, and more.
I have been a featured speaker on several occasions at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pain Management, teaching manual therapy techniques to physicians to treat low back pain, neck pain, etc.
I believe in exercise and staying active. I enjoy running, hiking, and practicing martial arts. I have advanced black belts in Tenshi Goju Ryu Karate and am the Chief Instructor for the Springfield Aikido School. I am married, with 6 grown children and 4 grandchildren.
I am a registered and licensed dietitian in practice since 1991. My diverse experience includes pediatrics, sports nutrition, and inpatient clinical nutrition in a variety of settings. In 2009, I became more aware of how our food is raised and grown, the influence it has on our health, and the significance that food policy has on our food supply. My desire for understanding led me outside of a typical dieticians’ role. As a result, in 2012, I facilitated starting up the first food policy council in the southwest Missouri region. Building a connection between agriculture and heath was profound. By doing this I was able to draw from experiences in the community setting that fueled my passion for helping people maintain and improve their health in the hospital. My transformation of understanding is now being applied in the area of functional nutrition. I live on 10 acres in Ozark, MO where I am in the process of developing it into a biodynamic farm. I enjoy staying active on the farm and teaching people the connection between producing their own great food and how easily that food can be prepared in the comfort of their own kitchen.
I have a passion for helping individuals use exercise as a tool for improving their health. My experience as a physical therapist in healthcare settings over the past 20 years has been rewarding. But often I felt like my interventions were too late or my time with someone was limited by the duration of their hospitalization or a typical course of outpatient therapy. This led me to personal training. I believe we need to take an active role in our health, and exercise is essential medicine for maintaining wellness as well as recovering from illness. I enjoy helping people overcome the obstacles that have kept them from being their best. Many of the obstacles that stop us from achieving are more mental than physical. One my favorite things is to watch someone perform a task they told me they could not do. Everyone can improve their health with the right movement prescription.
As the owner of Sessions, a multipurpose training facility located on Hwy CC between Ozark and Nixa, I specialize in customized workouts to meet the specific needs of each client. My clients range in age from 8 to 86. The program at Sessions starts with an individualized assessment that includes a medical and fitness history, functional testing, body fat analysis, and goal-setting. Group sessions are limited to 8 people to allow for ongoing individualized programming.
I am a certified Emotion Code Practitioner, Massage Therapist, and Health Educator. Since 2014, I have been helping others overcome emotional trauma, negative belief systems, and raise awareness of our emotional health.
Like most practitioners, I found this path in search of my own healing. Over the years, I explored different ways I could improve my own vitality through diet, exercise, and relationships. Yet, I sensed there was still a missing link. It was emotions. No one had told me the energy of negative emotions could drain the whole system even when all the other lifestyle factors were dialed in. I set out to understand this more deeply and master ways to address this critical aspect of the matrix. As I released these deep layers of “static” as I call it, I experienced a transformation. I felt whole, and was driven to share my discovery with others.
Healthy patterns must be trained consciously. Throughout the process we need support, self-grace, a sense of worth, compassion, determination, and a vivid goal. I have supported many clients through the ups and downs, the doubts and successes, knowing when to work and rest. At times, it all begins with “I give myself permission to heal,” learning how to get out of our own way, out of the patterns of self-sabotage. I am excited to share my intuition and experience to help you become your best self, and witness as you transform your life.
- Graduate of the National Holistic Institute (Honors), College of Massage Therapy
- Certified Massage Therapist and Health Educator
- Bachelor of Arts Drury University
- Certified Emotion Code Practitioner
- 2014 Drury Wellness Award
- Member of Energy Medicine Professional Insurance (EMPI)
We Take Care of You
Lifestyle Specialist Chuck Renner, Specializing in Manual and Adjunctive Therapies for Chronic Pain and Biomechanical Imbalances
Chuck Renner is a master instructor for Primal Reflex Release Technique, and a board member for the Institute of Integrative Pain Management. He has been trained or holds certifications in Augmented Soft Tissue Management, Primal Reflex Technique, Active Release Technique, Muscle Energy Technique, Pain Neutralization Technique, Neurokinetic Therapy, Myokinetic Therapy, Amino Neuro Frequency Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy, Total Motion Release, Emotional Freedom Technique, Mindfulness training, and more. He has been a featured speaker on several occasions, at the annual meeting of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management, where he teaches manual therapy techniques to physicians, to treat low back pain, neck pain, and other body areas that may be affected.
It is difficult to talk about emotional and spiritual stress resilience without first defining the elephant in the room and the reason we need this practice, which is stress itself. According to the American Psychological Association, average stress levels in the U.S. have risen since 2014, from 4.9 to 5.1 on a 10 point stress scale. There has been a particular increase among adults reporting “extreme stress,” with 24% saying they were highly stressed in 2015, compared to 18% in 2014. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University analyzed data from 1983, 2006 and 2009, and found people’s self-reported stress levels have increased 10-30% in the last three decades.
In our program, we primarily use two types of meditation or relaxation training. The first is mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation, also known as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, was formally brought into the medical world in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD. At that time, he recruited chronically ill patients who were not responding to conventional treatments and put them through an 8 week MBSR program. Since that time, numerous studies have been published about the positive effects of mindfulness meditation. “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally,” says Kabat-Zinn. “It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”
For this type of meditation or relaxation training, you first need to get into a comfortable position. Make sure the television, radio, and phone are off, the pets are out of the room and you have some space for yourself. Next, begin diaphragmatically breathing. What that means is that you want to see your stomach expand when you breathe in, and fall when you breathe out. I think it works best to have a rhythm to your breathing, something like breathe in on a count of 4, pause for a count of 1 and breathe out for a count of 4. You can adjust this rhythm to your own comfortable pace. Then you want to bring your attention to the present moment by focusing on your breath. Concentrate on your breath, feel your stomach rise and fall, feel the oxygen come into your body and your muscles relax as you exhale. Give yourself a few moments to connect to this feeling. Once you have the rhythm down, focus on your breath. Do not try to force thoughts that may wander in and out. When you realize you are distracted, gently focus to bring your attention back to your breath. To help you focus, you can also listen to the sound of your breath. I suggest setting a timer. Try this initially for 5 minutes, twice a day.
Another practice we do is called HeartMath. HeartMath was founded in 1991 by Doc Childre, an internationally renowned expert on stress. Besides founding HeartMath, he is the author of a dozen books on stress, wellness, and heart-based living. He is the creator of the emWave Stress Relief System®, which now includes the emWave2 Handheld®, the Inner Balance® (Bluetooth and Lightning versions) for mobile phones, and the emWave2 Professional Systems®.
HeartMath is a system where, with special equipment and sensors, it is possible to measure heart rate variability (HRV), the subtle beat-to-beat variation which occurs in the normally beating heart. Heart Rate Variability is largely determined by the balance between the sympathetic nervous system (sometimes called “Fight or Flight”) and the parasympathetic nervous system (sometimes called, “Rest and Digest”). People who tend to have more sympathetic tone also have lower HRV or less beat-to-beat variation, whereas those with more parasympathetic tone tend to have higher HRV or more beat-to-beat variation. Like other things that have been described in this book, balance is optimal. HeartMath, however, takes this further. While it helps to optimize HRV, it also aims to seek maximal coherence.
The HeartMath Institute defines coherence as a logical, orderly and harmonious connectedness between parts of a system or between people. Informally, all of us have experienced coherence in social connections when we are sharing ideas with someone with whom we feel connected. Conversely, we always know intuitively when there is no connection.
When folks at The HeartMath Institute discuss heart-rhythm coherence or physiological coherence, they are referring to a specific assessment of the heart’s rhythms that appear as smooth, ordered, and sine-wavelike (up and down). From a physics perspective, quoting directly from HeartMath, “When we are in a coherent state, virtually no energy is wasted because our systems are performing optimally, and there is synchronization among various systems in the body, such as the heart, respiratory system, and blood-pressure rhythms, etc.” The HeartMath Institute takes this even further, to study the coherence between entire populations around the globe.
The Brain Tune Up! program provides each participant who is capable of operating this type of technology an emWave2® handheld device. An exception might be a person with more advanced dementia. The emWave2® can help you make a positive change. This unique training system, with research-based tools and games, helps build inner resilience to more effectively deal with stressful feelings and life’s challenges. Five to ten minutes of daily practice can provide greater ease, mental and emotional flexibility, and more positive attitudes, emotions and perspectives. The emWave2® hand held device can be taken anywhere, and is a perfect tool to use to reduce stress and enhance life. You may wish to purchase your own for your healthy brain toolbox.
Lifestyle Specialist Angela Jenkins, Specializing in Nutrition and Patient Management Within the Brain Tune Up! Food Plan.
Angela Jenkins is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian who has been in practice since 1991. She is the author of the forthcoming Brain Tune Up! Food and Recipe Guide for participants in our office-based functional medicine program. Angela’s diverse experience includes pediatrics, sports nutrition, and inpatient clinical nutrition in a variety of settings. In 2009, her perspective on food was transformed by a heightened awareness of how food is raised and grown, the influence this has on our health, and the significance that food policy has on our food supply. This was just the first step on a journey that led her outside of a typical dietitian’s role. In 2012, she facilitated startup of the Ozarks Regional Food Policy Council in Southwest Missouri. She drew from her experiences in the community, returned to the hospital and clinic setting, and helped her patients improve their health in ways not previously possible. Angela lives on 10 acres in Ozark, Missouri, just a few miles from our clinic, where she is in the process of developing her property into a biodynamic farm. She enjoys staying active. When Angela is not running the Ozark Mountain trails with her dog, Remo, she can be found teaching people how easy it is to produce their own food and prepare it in the comfort of their homes. Her passion can be summed up in a quote from Larry Olmsted, author of Real Food, Fake Food: “Like a stone tossed in a pond, deciding what to eat has a ripple effect that goes far beyond the calories needed to carry us from breakfast to lunch to dinner. When you choose to eat real food, your immediate benefit is that it tastes good. In many cases it is also more sustainable, healthier for the environment, and supports people whose work, methods, and entire communities, make the world a better place.”
In our clinic we assume that most of us, to some degree, have leaky guts. Nutrient imbalances, food additives, infections, toxic elements or chemical exposures (including those from medications), gut microbial imbalance, excessive oxidative stress, excessive alcohol consumption, direct tissue trauma, electromagnetic radiation, and emotional stress can all cause inflammation and contribute to Leaky Gut Syndrome. The frontline of defense to heal a leaky gut is removing the foods and other offending agents that are causing the increased intestinal permeability in the first place, while replacing them with anti-inflammatory and healing nutrients. This is where we will start our new food adventure.
The cornerstone of The Brain Tune Up! Food and Recipe Guide is the popular “Five R’s” approach, as taught by The Institute for Functional Medicine. It is part of what would also be called an Elimination Diet. It encourages consumption of a wide variety of foods that are known to be anti-inflammatory to the human system, while eliminating those that commonly trigger food sensitivities or allergies. The foods that are eliminated are sugar, soy, gluten-containing grains, dairy, corn, peanuts, and meats that are processed or come from farms where the animals are raised in unnatural environments (like feedlots and fish farms). This includes typical store-bought beef, and fish such as Atlantic salmon or tilapia.
Here is a summary of The 5 R’s (more later):
Remove – Any foods, chemicals, or medications that may be causing inflammation, disruptions to the microbes in the digestive tract, and “leakiness” of the gut epithelium.
Replace – With anti-inflammatory foods and additional supplements, if necessary, for digestion (such as enzymes, betaine HCl, bile salts).
Re-inoculate – With prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are foods that support gut bacteria and probiotics are the beneficial microorganisms that help to maintain and defend gut integrity.
Repair – By providing key micronutrients to help heal the gut.
Rebalance – By addressing lifestyle issues, which also affect the gastrointestinal tract, such as sleep, exercise, food choices, and stressors. Evaluate old habits, so as not to fall back on them.
What are anti-inflammatory foods? Anti-inflammatory foods are first-and-foremost represented by a well-balanced diet. This is a diet in which all the nutrients your body needs are represented in optimal quantities, and consumed by you as real, whole food — the kind of food that does not need a label to tell you what it is. This is the kind of food that has a mother or comes from the earth, using best animal husbandry and good agricultural practices. Reflected in this statement is the concept of food synergy or the idea that whole food has superior effects on the body, compared to isolated constituents (like taking supplement vitamins or minerals). Food is information for the body, and those who subscribe to the concept of food synergy believe that this information is best delivered in its natural state. Our cells are evolved to recognize food over isolated components, and assimilate the informational and life-sustaining value of food when it is presented in this way.
There are several essential nutrients, meaning nutrients your body cannot synthesize on its own. These include sufficient carbohydrate consumption (even on a low carbohydrate diet), adequate high quality protein, and fats. Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids, and among the 20 amino acids needed for life, nine are considered “essential.” This is because the body cannot manufacture them on its own. The essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Proteins are needed for tissue structure (like muscle), enzyme production, and neurotransmitter synthesis. Fats have been given a bad rap since Ancel Keys released his Seven Countries Study, which influenced food policy for decades. He was an American physiologist who studied the influence of diet on health and hypothesized that saturated fat causes cardiovascular heart disease. The government bought that argument. The low fat trend that followed is likely a major contributor to the obesity and diabetes epidemic facing this country, and to many conditions that affect the brain, which, by the way, is mostly made of fat!
Fats play a crucial role in energy storage and production, are an integral component of all cell membranes, are essential for the absorption of certain vitamins (A, D, E, and K), and are necessary for hormone synthesis. Taking the food synergy concept further, we should ideally strive for all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to be acquired through food. In a proper anti-inflammatory diet, then, this means eating enough food. By recommending the right kinds of food with an awareness of meeting their nutrient needs, our patients frequently lose weight, even without counting calories. Furthermore, they see improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin and blood sugar levels, and many successfully wean off medications that they have been taking to control these measures. All of this benefits the aging brain.
Finally, anti-inflammatory diets are rich in phytonutrients. This class of micronutrients (the other classes are vitamins and minerals) comes exclusively from plants, and consists of thousands of chemicals with remarkable health-promoting properties. A few examples of phytonutrients include carotenoids, flavonoids, and ellagic acid. Carotenoids are responsible for the colors of vegetables and fruits — yellow, orange, and red. We are all familiar with the orange carotenoids, alpha- and beta-carotene, found in pumpkin and carrots. Lycopenes give tomatoes and watermelon their red or pink color. Ellagic acid is found in berries, such as strawberries and raspberries. Flavonoids include the catechins of green tea, and the flavonols, such as quercetin in apples. These phytonutrients have diverse capabilities, including their roles in fighting off cancer, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
While an anti-inflammatory diet emphasizes consumption of large amounts of green leafy vegetables, cruciferous sulfur-producing vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage), colorful vegetables, and low-sugar fruits such as berries, our anti-inflammatory diet is not, per se, a vegetarian diet. Well-sourced animal-based food delivers certain nutrients that cannot be derived from plants. These include the omega 3 fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid), vitamin B12 (critical for a healthy nervous system), creatine (energy for muscles), carnosine (an antioxidant), taurine (which plays a role in muscle function, bile salt formation, and the body’s antioxidant defense system), vitamin D3 (necessary for proper immune function, while deficiency is associated Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and depression) and heme-iron (an excellent source of iron from meat).
In the final analysis, this a diet designed to optimally feed your brain. The goal is to provide your brain with the nutrients it needs to prevent memory loss and protect this critical organ from what is too often attributed to “normal” aging. When, in your mid-50’s, for example, you cannot remember the names of friends you have known for years, it is not normal aging. To give your brain a tune up, your diet needs to be sufficiently nutrient-dense to support moment-to-moment operations. This is food-as-information. It not only means adequate carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats, but fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, and E), B-vitamins, antioxidants (including vitamin C and alpha lipoic acid), and minerals, such as magnesium and zinc. To be clear, there is an emphasis on food synergy in this plan. We want you to get as many of the nutrients your brain needs to function optimally from the food that you eat. Green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, spinach, watercress and Swiss chard are high in A, C, and fiber. Fiber-containing foods also support gut bacteria, which produce short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, energy for your brain. Just one serving a day of green leafy vegetables has been shown to slow cognitive decline.