From Cerebral Palsy to “Top Doc”
I research. I inspire. I love natural health.
I’m Dr Christianson, NY Times best-selling author & Naturopathic physician, father of 2 kids, and happily married to the woman of my dreams for over 20 years. You can call me “Dr. C” for short.
My Philosophy of Health
- Vibrant, joyous health is your birthright. Even if you’ve been at a dead end for decades, things can still get better. I’ve been through that. Never give up or never settle for anything less.
- Your health is in your hands. Conventional medicine is there to help trauma and acute illness. It is not effective for reversing or managing chronic diseases.
- You can heal more than you might think possible. Radical health transformations are possible because your body is always regenerating itself. To change every atom of your body, you just need to improve the nourishment you take in and maximize your ability to eliminate wastes.
Your health is a matter of fact. Your treatment is a matter of opportunity.
Did you know that a small-town kid from Minnesota with multiple, daily epileptic seizures could be on Dr. Oz, The Doctors, Inside Edition, CNN Headline News, (and more)….as a health expert? At the end of the day, I’m grateful to help hundreds of thousands of people all around the world feel “normal” again. That is my life purpose. Helping you reset your health, and reset your life.
Here’s my story from cerebral palsy to “Top Doc” (thanks Phoenix Magazine). If you’d like to skip it, and simply get started, click HERE.
If you’d like to know why I am on a quest to share the best results from over 20 years of practicing integrative healthcare with you, keep reading…..
A fresh approach to living well.
Birth and adoption
My biological mother was an unwed teen who had a difficult pregnancy. I was born with symptoms of cerebral palsy like epileptic seizures and poor coordination. Thankfully, at 6 weeks old I was adopted by the kindest people you’ve ever met…the Christiansons, a farm-family from Northern Minnesota.
Once I got settled in with the Christianson’s, life was good. Mom read to me so much that I picked it up early and became an avid reader by 3 years old.
My parents got me an encyclopedia set which I could read by the time I was 4. (Yes, really). I loved it and spent hours every day reading the books cover to cover. Everything fascinated me, but my big love for much of my childhood was science.
Although I excelled in all things cognitively, I did NOT excel in anything physically. In elementary school, we started moving every few years and I had a hard time being the new kid. I vividly remember that the pain of constantly moving diminished after eating 3 or more cookies that I would sneak from the cookie jar. After years of this, as you can probably guess, I became obese and was getting heavier by the week. Approaching puberty, I became self conscious about my weight.
One memorable day in 7th grade gym class, my life forever changed. A group of boys debated who had the biggest boobs in our class, and one guy nominated me as the clear winner.
He was right. But I was crushed. And that’s when I knew I had to change.
I read every book my library had on nutrition, fitness, and health that sounded promising. Following their guidelines I gave up sugar, processed foods, and created an exercise plan.
Being healthy went from being my biggest frustration… to my biggest obsession. With no prior sports experience I became a varsity football player and my classes’ best endurance runner by 9th grade.
I learned that my gift was being able to quickly digest huge amounts of information, comparing it against my experience, and synthesising new perspectives out of it.
I realized that nothing else matters if you’re miserable in your skin. Being healthy transforms both how you feel and how others treat you. Health is essential. I knew I had to learn how to help others.
Diagnose the true source of discomfort, then champion scientific and natural solutions.
I started pre-med studies because I knew I wanted to be a doctor who used food and lifestyle as medicine. I thought I’d get a conventional medical degree. Yet the doctors that I spoke with told me that with a traditional medical degree, even if I was helping people with diet and lifestyle recommendations, I’d be violating standards of practice if I didn’t focus on medications.
During this time I worked in a natural food co-op. I was the guy who would help ring you up or tell you which herbs were best for bronchitis. One day in the store I saw a magazine article about Naturopathic Medicine which I had never heard of before.
And in the back of the magazine was an ad for a brand new Naturopathic medical school opening up in Arizona. It was a perfect fit and I was accepted as a member of the very first class of Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Sciences.
My class graduated in 1996 and I started my practice that same year.
Discover. Empower. Live well.
During my residency, one patient changed my medical focus. It started when I cared for a teen with disabling fibromyalgia. It was so bad she was about to have to drop out of high school. She also unexpectedly gained 30 pounds and nothing seemed to help.
I knew what her frustration felt like and I wanted to be help. Then I found out she had undiagnosed Hashimoto’s. Because of my research and training, I was able to guide her to reverse it. This experience led me to realize that hormones are powerful chemicals that can keep diet and exercise from working when they’re out of balance.
This experience compelled me to learn all I could from the conventional and alternative worlds about hormones through the study of endocrinology. Since that time, endocrinology became the focus of my medical practice, I’ve trained hundreds of doctors worldwide on it, and I founded the Endocrine Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
Health problems resurface
After about a decade into my medical practice, some of the old complications of cerebral palsy started to catch up with me again. My calf muscles were always way too tight. Between that and my love of being active, I started getting chronic heel and leg pain.
For 17 years total, I was unable to run the way I wanted to. I tried so hard to find some way to have fun outdoors I even took up off road unicycling. Nothing worked, the more active I was, the more I was in pain.
A circle of physicians who care.
I’d tried everything I could including multiple “1st step” surgeries, but nothing helped. My surgeon said I’d need more major leg surgeries, but they would require a year of recovery and they would not be guaranteed to help. For a few years, I was in limbo, not wanting to give up the little bit of activity I could do.
About this time, I developed a lump in my left arm. It was a rare nerve tumor called a schwannoma. Most schwannomas are benign, but some are malignant. The ones that are really aren’t treatable, but even just getting to it wasn’t that easy. If the surgery did not go well, I could lose the use of my arm.
I connected with a doctor who is amongst the world’s leading neurosurgeons. She was optimistic but did say that there were three possible outcomes and we would not know until after surgery.
I had a few months of not knowing whether I’d:
A. Likely regain function after a year of recovery
B. Find an untreatable cancer
C. Lose the use of my arm
As a doctor, I knew this was an example of the many ways in which our bodies are not perfect. You can take care of yourself and be a good person, and still random things can happen.
She felt optimistic, but did say it could take a year for recovery assuming all went well and that the tumor was not cancerous.
The surgeon who had worked on my legs in the past had become a personal friend and I told him about this situation. He knew that the main reason I hadn’t yet done the more extensive surgeries with him is because I did not want to go through the prolonged recovery process. He said that since I had the down time already, we might as well get my other surgeries done right after the arm. So I did. 3 surgeries in 3 months.
The day after my arm surgery was a good day. My surgeon told me the lesion was not dangerous, she got it all, and she was confident I’d regain the use of my arm.
The last surgery was in 2016 and I’ve been able to resume all activities. I’m having a blast being active again. (And feeling incredibly thankful for a great medical team because your medical team can determine much of your health success).
Reset your health. Reset your life.
Now you know why this health thing is so important to me.
- I know how painful it is when you feel your body has betrayed you.
- I know how precious health is.
- I know how critical the right help is.
- Most importantly, I know that it is possible to be beyond hope, but still get better. If you’re beyond hope now, please reread that.
If any of that resonated with you, let’s get going on your journey back 🙂
Best place to start is this quiz to see how well your adrenal glands are working right now. They control your resilience. If you don’t have much, it’s your top priority.