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Episode 14: Dr. Christine Schaffner

Overcoming chronic pain

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Show Notes:

Dr. Christine Schaffner is a board-certified Naturopathic Doctor who has helped thousands of people recover from chronic or complex illnesses. Dr. Schaffner goes beyond biological medicine, drawing from all systems of medicine and healing modalities to help patients reclaim wellness.

With her diverse skill set, Dr. Schaffner seeks to improve access, outcomes, and speed of recovery for patients who travel from around the world to access her innovation and expertise.

In her podcast interview with Bioenergetics Beat Host Heather Gray, Dr Schaffner discusses pain as one of the most prominent and prevalent chronic illnesses. In seeking relief for her patients, she focuses on the fascia; the thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fibre and muscle in place. In a wide-ranging and revealing discussion, she touches on scars from injury or surgery as a lingering disruption of fascia function and explains why body history is a factor in seeking ways to relieve present pain. Dr. Schaffner discusses injuries as a target for toxins and the effect of metals that are both essential to our diet and at the same time potentially damaging in the electromagnetic field of the human body.


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In this enlightening episode of our health podcast, we are honored to welcome Dr. Christine Schaffner, a distinguished naturopathic doctor from Immanence Health Clinics. Renowned for her expertise in tackling chronic and complex illnesses, Dr. Schaffner dives deep into understanding the body’s internal environment and its intricate connection with subtle environmental factors. Her approach, deeply rooted in biological medicine, aims to guide patients on a transformative journey to reveal their brightest light, healing from the inside out.

Throughout the episode, Dr. Schaffner shares insights from her renowned online programs and various healing modalities, discussing how these have revolutionized the way patients heal from chronic diseases. Whether you’re a pre-medicine student, a healthcare professional, or someone struggling with health issues, this episode offers valuable perspectives on holistic healing and wellness.

Heather Gray: Thank you everyone. And thank you for joining us on another awesome episode of Bioenergetic Beats. I’m Heather Gray, a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and Certified Bioenergetic Practitioner. And this episode today is brought to you by NIKKI, Unleash the Wellness Within. It’s a non-invasive, easily affordable and highly effective approach to optimize wellness. It’s a wearable device that puts frequency better based life in your hands and on your wrist. Make sure to stick around to the very, very end. Well, one, you’re not gonna wanna miss one minute of what this awesome doctor is gonna drop on us today, but we always have an incredible giveaway at the very end. So you’re gonna wanna stay tuned till the very end. I’m not gonna give it away though. Everybody, let’s welcome our guest, Dr. Christine Schaffner. Yay!

Heather Gray: We’re going to be bringing down the pain today because so many people are dealing with pain and that’s one of my favorite frequencies on this little device is the pain frequency. But doctor, tell us a little bit about your history with pain and why, you know, how you work with it and what some of your specialties are.

Dr. Christine Schaffner: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for having me, Heather. I always love sharing information and dialoguing with you. It’s been so fun getting to know you. And so, you know, my story with pain, you know, really is when you work with patients with chronic illness, really the complexity of chronic illness and the multi-systemic, basically, systems that are affected by the underlying root causes of why people have chronic illness. You know, pain is really like a top three to five symptom that most of my patients come in with. And we can break down kind of like my perspective, but there obviously can be injury and structural issues. There can be also head injury, which creates a whole other type of, you know, effect in the nervous system. So you could hear it as traumatic brain injury. And then I’m looking at the day in and day out impact, essentially, chronic infections, toxicants, and even trauma and their impact in, you know, really the body. And when we break down, I think the best place to go with this conversation to understand kind of why these things cause pain, we look at the umbrella term of what we call the fascia and how this is a space that these, you know, traumas and toxicants and pathogens really kind of make a home and they travel amongst. And this is where they kick up inflammation. And when we talk about the fascia too, we know that it is a very complex fabric that touches every cell, you know, in our tissue and like connects us to kind of every part of ourselves. And that’s why you can maybe have an injury in your hip, but you also have shoulder pain, or you can have a scar in your head and you can have hip pain. Wait, wait, what? Yeah, no. Out of that world? I know, I know that we’re going to get there, right? And so, you know, let me just break it down, right? So again, you know, this is part of, I think, you know, where my training in naturopathic medicine and bioregulatory medicine, the strength of it is not only that we look at this beautiful network called the autonomic nervous system and how that innervates the body and, you know, is a really big part of healing and regulation in the body, but there’s a language and understanding that I think is a really important understanding because in my mind, I think that the fascia is just as important as the autonomic nervous system and maybe even more important as we get to learn about this beautiful complex fabric. And so this is like an umbrella term, because often, you know, when we study anatomy, right, we think of like veins are blue and arteries are red and, you know, nerves are yellow and lymph is green and all these, you know, compartments are not connected, but every, you know, compartment in the body is in communication and really it’s this, you know, umbrella term of the fascia that really connects all these tissues together. So I, you know, if you want to really nerd out on this topic, I really always, you know, give a lot of credit and pay homage to Dr. Jean-Claude Gumberteau, who wrote the architecture of human living fascia and he has really cool YouTubes where he does, he’s a hand surgeon from France rather, and he’s really educated us that this is not just a structural fabric, but it’s a fabric of communication. And through his live videos of looking at, you know, surgeries of the hand, we get a very different picture than dead tissue, you know, when we look at the living tissue, which is a, you know, an obvious thing, but, you know, until we have the technology to observe this, you know, we observe what we know, right? And so what he really, you know, shared with us is this, you know, fabric touches every cell, as I mentioned, and, you know, connects us and it delivers what we call this fourth phase of water or this plasma form of water, H3O2, this gel-like water that hydrates your tissue. It basically is this irrigation system when you think about the fascia. And then when we look at the lymphatics and we look at even the blood and the circulatory system, there are some papers, and I really do ascribe to this idea, especially in clinical practice, that the lymph and the circulatory system are also part of this fascial network. And then when you can kind of, you know, we’re talking bioenergetics here, right? So we can geek out on this stuff. So the fascia also is, you know, the most abundant protein in the fascial network is collagen, which is this basically helical structure of three amino acids. And it generates when we actually are moving what we call a piezoelectric effect. And so it generates electromagnetic energy. And then, you know, with a biophysicist like the late Mae Wan Ho, she really said this is a liquid crystal communication network that allows not only protons and electrons to flow through these networks, but also photons, which is light, even maybe sound. And, you know, again, the health of our fascia is the health of our body. And so when we’re in chronic pain, we have to really look at the system and I can kind of break all the things that affect this fabric and then can lead to pain and inflammation. But that’s like an overview without, you know, going too in the weeds. But I just wanted to give some highlights of really, you know, what I think is important to note that you might not have maybe heard of yet.

Heather Gray: So that is how we can get the shoulder injury, but have pain in our left hip is because of the fascia and having everything connected.

Dr. Christine Schaffner: Yeah, there’s kind of like this tensegrity concept, you know, in the fascia, and I like to just kind of break it down and think of saran wrap, and we’ll talk about scars in a moment, but just to really answer your question. So let’s just say you have like a breakdown in like either the ligaments or just the joint, that you have a lot of inflammation in that area, and then all of a sudden you start kind of holding this shoulder differently, you start moving with it differently, just think you have a big crinkle in that saran wrap, and that, as we know, when we look at saran wrap, it’s not just the crinkle, there is a kind of a kind of a whole kind of basically global effect that a crinkle on a saran wrap can have like in other kind of parts of the saran wrap, if there’s like a sheet of it, right? It’s really annoying to have a crinkle in the saran wrap. So one of the things where we focus on, especially like in my checklist, when I start seeing a new patient, we think about what are people’s surgical history, you know, what is their history that they might have a scar, because believe it or not, if you’re struggling with pain out there, scar tissue has a really profound impact on this, you know, fascial fabric and can be actually affecting your pain levels and, you know, making a crinkle if you’re saran wrap, for lack of a better word, right? And, you know, again, you can look at these pictures, but, you know, what, you know, nature created for us is this beautiful fabric, but when we get an injury, thank goodness our body knows how to repair and plug those areas of injury or where we’ve had surgery, but they’re very different from what our original fabric looks like. They’re more like dense, irregular, less movable, so scar tissue can be kind of this traffic jam that we call it in the fascial fabric where we can bioaccumulate over time more toxicants, you know, more pathogens, and then through, because there is structured water in that tissue, there is thought of what we call fascial memory, and I do see that in practice, and I am very much attuned that we do hold emotions, you know, that are not in our brain, but in our body, and that’s why, you know, I do a technique called scar therapy, and when we treat scars, we can see emotional releases. We can see pain improve. We can see, again, you inject a scar in the shoulder, and, you know, heart palpitations go away, or you inject a scar, and, you know, there’s an emotional ripple effect, or you have just, you know, again, more basically flow and flexibility and movement in your body, and so, you know, I don’t want to, you know, like miss an opportunity to, you know, teach about that, because I think that’s really important, and then, you know, we can kind of talk about, you know, and break it down. Heather, I know you know this very well, but the impact of, you know, basically Lyme and co-infections and parasites and viruses and fungi, like, can have on this fabric, as well as toxicants, and I already mentioned trauma, and I’m happy to just start keep talking, or if you will pause a moment and let you digest some of this before I keep educating.

Heather Gray: It was fascinating when we were sitting together at Mindshare and Kelly looked at my scarred up legs and, you know, nobody ever points out my scars, right? So it’s not that I’m like self-conscious of them. I was a klutzy kid and had overactive scar tissue and so that’s a whole nother ballgame. But it’s just fascinating with my history of trauma, chronic illness, and pain. And I’m like, huh, that’s something I haven’t worked with is scar tissue therapy. And that could be a whole nother layer of releasing some of this pain, like trauma.

Dr. Christine Schaffner: Oh, yeah, yeah, absolutely. And we can do the, you know, injections, which is called neural therapy that came out of Germany. If you can’t find a neurotherapist, because unfortunately this education is still very, you know, much niched and not, you know, every even alternative practitioner knows about this yet, but acupuncturists have a way of needling scars and helping to break down some of the scar tissue. There can be different topical creams that just create different lymphatic fluidity in that area and, you know, support that tissue. You know, Eileen McKusick, who I know you know, she has taught me that she uses tuning forks to basically alleviate some of the kind of pent up energy in that scar tissue and to kind of bring, you know, more like lymphatic flow and circulation to that tissue. Light therapy, like red or infrared light can help. And then I know I’m missing one on my mind, but these are like some tools, like if you don’t have access to somebody who might inject these scars, these are some other things that you can do in the meantime.

Heather Gray: Do you notice that it matters whether it’s a little scar or a big scar? Do some of the little scars, you know, matter much or do they just cause injuries?

Dr. Christine Schaffner: Much? Or do they? Yeah, you know, you know, wait, well, I’ll give you the example, you know, we all have a belly button, which is kind of, you know, an interesting experience, right? We’re like our, the connection to our mother, we’re cut the umbilical cord, and then we’re, you know, create a tie, and that creates, you know, basically our first scar. And that’s a seemingly little scar for most people, but that can have a profound impact on people’s ability to emotionally process their birth, their connection with their mother, also digestive issues might improve, you know, with treating that scar. And then, you know, the little scars that I often treat are gallbladder removal scars, or laparoscopic scars. So when people, you know, have surgery for like, endometriosis, yeah, or just like appendicitis, or, you know, all of these, and these little scars, they seem like, oh, how could this matter, you know, in this big sea of my body? Like, how does this matter? And they absolutely can create releases, and energetic shifts, and, you know, physical shifts as well in the body. So it doesn’t matter, like the longer scars, sometimes, you know, you think, you know, like, it has to be like, you know, bigger, you know, impact than a smaller scar to have a, you know, more of a therapeutic effect. But that’s not always the case.

Heather Gray: Uterus removed.

Heather Gray: Huh, fascinating. Well, we’ve heard a little bit on how Dr. Schaffner deals with pain. We’re going to show you a little bit on how we deal with pain in this commercial break. Don’t go anywhere because like I said, we’re giving away some cool stuff at the end, so come right back.

Heather Gray: Thanks for joining us again. Don’t go anywhere. Again, there’s some fun stuff coming up at the end, but also so far we’ve talked about pain and scars and trauma and toxicants and fascia. And we’ve been all over the map. And she missed a lot, but yeah, we’re digging deeper into pain. So, you know, usually there’s a little bit of a story too, right, Dr. Schaffner? I’m like, why it is that you work with pain the way that you do. So, I mean, what is your story? What is your background? How did you get into kind of working with pain?

Dr. Christine Schaffner: Yeah, you know, it’s really my patients, they’ve taught me. And I think when we really look at the modern, you know, illnesses, the modern chronic illnesses of these times, you cannot not look at pain, you know, because most of our patients are coming in with us, you know, many people, because of the like, increasing exposures and the environmental impact of toxicants in the body, and then the stress of that puts on the immune system. And, you know, the chronic inflammation that gets kicked up, to truly look at the root cause, you often have to look at these layers. And this all just became, you know, again, from the patients I saw, and, you know, my, you know, really devotion to treating the root cause and giving people solutions and always giving people hope and a path forward rather than, you know, you just have to be on painkillers or opioids or things that just like disconnect you from your body. And, you know, the, the, you know, we haven’t touched too much on, you know, like the infections and toxicants, which I’m happy to, but, you know, the trauma piece is huge with pain, because it’s like the chicken or the egg, right? You know, like the vulnerability sometimes that people have when they have a chronic illness, there can be, you know, just like a propensity, like because of, you know, past trauma, or even ancestral lineage, or, you know, who knows that makes people a little bit vulnerable, just like, you know, epigenetic snips could make you vulnerable.

Heather Gray: just going to say, I get told all the time, Heather, why do you got to make a mountain out of a molehill? And then I finally saw it in my DNA. I saw it in my genetics. I was like, there is the reason why I make a mountain out of a molehill. I’m actually predispositioned to, you know, have to have these things that wouldn’t knock anybody around completely knock me off center. Now, through genetics and a lot of lifestyle changes and system regulation, I’ve actually been able to elucidate that. Yeah.

Dr. Christine Schaffner: Yes, exactly. Yeah, but you want to know what you’re working with, right? And that holds kind of a blueprint or a story. But there’s, of course, potential always within whatever those genetics show you. And so kind of my point there was just, OK, like it’s the chicken or the egg, right? We can have these vulnerabilities. But then again, also being sick for so long creates a trauma and a stress. And what I found is that obviously when you’re really symptomatic and there’s a lot going on in your body, it’s really hard to just lean into that, right? Even if you’re really ascribing to a natural route or kind of a root cause route, you still have these moments of not wanting to really lean into what that pain is communicating. What my patients, again, have taught me is that our bodies are really the biggest barometer of our emotional and spiritual and mental health, right? And the more that we can look at what is the pain trying to communicate with us, there can often be a huge kind of opening for somebody to really kind of finally deal with their trauma or deal with the emotional heartbreak or whatever it is for that individual. And I work with lovely people alongside me who can really help to move that through and out of the body. But that really can shift things. I’ve seen time and time again. And so it’s not a small thing. It’s rather a big part of the human body.

Heather Gray: healing process. Absolutely. And it’s so fascinating. I’ve been saying it for a while now is, so the functional practitioners have been saying it like myself for a long time, you know, we get to the root cause. And it’s funny because, you know, doctors, Western med thought they had all the answers. And then we got functional med coming in and saying, no, we’ve got the root cause. And then now we’ve got the bioenergetics and the emotional piece and going, no, no, no, sillies. We’ve got the root cause, right? Because really, if you’re not addressing that bioenergetic field, if you’re not addressing those stored, stuck emotions, the scar tissue, the fascia, right? You’re missing out on a huge.

Dr. Christine Schaffner: Yeah, absolutely. I think we’re in a really exciting time, Heather, in that, you know, again, as you mentioned, like, you know, all of these fields of medicine have their place and kind of also meant, met kind of where people could really hear, you know, what people were, you know, communicating with them. And I think as, you know, we evolve, there’s some weird way we’re in a tipping point, I think, because people understand, you know, electromagnetic fields from like phones and cell phones and, you know, Wi-Fi, there’s some kind of like in their subconscious, or maybe even conscious brain, that, you know, we can communicate with invisible fields of information and energy. And then when you start learning about the body in this way, and how we are electromagnetic light beings, and that we communicate with electromagnetic fields, we communicate with biophotonic energy, sound information, it’s bi-directional as we’re communicating within our bodies, as well as the greater environment and the greater fields around us. There’s a whole new story of looking at root cause and that the root cause can be really in the fields of the body, rather the downstream biochemistry, where we think it’s all about the biochemistry, because we can move that around. And we can, you know, sometimes create a therapeutic effect, but to really go to that true root cause, we have to look like a little bit like where the operating system is. And I believe it’s, you know, I’ve spent a lot of my life’s work educating myself so I can continue to build out my framework and narrative to understand, you know, how is that a part of healing and how to integrate that into the, you know, clinic and to patient care. And it’s a very exciting time.

Heather Gray: That is a very exciting time. So you had covered a few things, viruses, toxicants, injury, but what are some of the more common reasons for pain that people come in?

Dr. Christine Schaffner: Yeah, you know, so, you know, again, I mentioned this fashion, and I want to just kind of tune into again, because it’s all related to what we call the extracellular matrix. And this extracellular matrix is this environment of, you know, the space between the cells. So there is basically this interstitial fluid or pre-lymph that is bathing the cells that is really coming out of the circulatory system. And so what that, you know, pre-lymph is all about is, you know, oxygenating and bringing nutrition to the cells. But often we encounter in our environment, toxicants and pathogens, and that can start to bathe, you know, that space too. And we know that there are certain infections, let’s just use spirochetes, like, you know, Borrelia, in the Lyme co-infection kind of complex, they really navigate and they are, you know, basically configured in a way to basically break down collagen and elastin and traverse through this fabric. And, you know, where they land, they love scar tissue, they also love areas of injury. So it’s kind of not fair, but like, if you’ve had a traumatic brain injury, if you’ve had a chronic neck injury, if you’ve broken, you know, some bone, like you actually might have more Lyme spirochetes in that area that then kick up, you know, inflammation, you know, so that, you know, can be part of the, again, not only some of the structural things that need to be, of course, tended to, but the chronic inflammatory response as often because there’s an like underlying infection that your body is trying to clear and just can’t. And then there are heavy metals, and so heavy metals also kind of traverse the space. The extracellular matrix is like, because of the electrolytes and everything in that fluid is a negatively charged space. And

Dr. Christine Schaffner: heavy metals are often positively charged, like aluminum has a very strong, like often 2 plus or 3 plus charge that it will basically through electrostatic, you know, basically communication, it will bind to those negative charge proteins in the exocellular matrix. So you think about, okay, day in and day out, this isn’t, you know, a big deal. But if it’s actually, you know, again, because of our environment, and, you know, the bioaccumulation of stress over time, there’s often kind of we always use, you know, analogy of like a rain barrel or a bucket that there is a threshold that your body can only, you know, withstand, and then it starts to break down or create more inflammation, or the body can’t regulate and get on top of and then you become very symptomatic and need help. And so that’s kind of, again, just a snapshot. One thing that’s emerged, especially over the last maybe five or six years is that mast cells love to basically survey that space, you know, mast cells are kind of our front line of our immune system, they love the mucosa and epithelium, but they live in the connective tissue, and they live in this, these extracellular environments. So

Dr. Christine Schaffner: if that extracellular environment starts becoming overflowed with toxicants and pathogens and your your traumas, the mast cells start to become hypervigilant and then they start to become you know again more easily triggered and release chemical mediators and histamine that perpetuate and create more pain and inflammation and even nerve pain. And so what we’ve learned you know again just through the biochemistry is that sometimes antihistamine strategies can sometimes be pain relieving or neuropathy relieving strategies because of calming down those mast cells while you’re going to the root cause of why people are overwhelmed and overloaded to begin with.

Heather Gray: And there’s so many different reasons and causations for pain. And that’s why, you know, there is no magic bullet, right? There’s no one size fits all for everybody because it just kind of depends on what’s, what is truly your root cause of pain. And there might be multiple root causes for, for the pain, you know, for the pain. Correct.

Dr. Christine Schaffner: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. You know, I always say when people come to see me, like, if this was just one thing, this would be easy and you wouldn’t need to, you know, really be on this quest, you know, to, you know, uncover your health, but, you know, the problems are complex. They’re multifactorial. There’s never really one root cause. And as you start peeling the root causes away, they kind of allow other, you know, root causes to be, you know, shown or, you know, be prioritized. And so, you know, there is this, you know, interconnection between toxic and trauma and pathogens, basically pathogens. And as you treat one, the others, you know, move and shift to the surface. And it’s not, you know, getting worse. It’s just an unfolding and releasing. And the more that you can move through that and not be afraid of that, or again, you know, use tools like the NIKKI or use your drainage remedies and binders or whatever that looks like, your lymphatic therapies, your, you know, your wonderful body workers who know how to just move, you know, the fascial, you know, fabric through their hands, you know, there’s many, many paths to, you know, move through this. But the biggest thing is to, I think, I think the most comforting thing for people is to have a narrative and understanding that there’s, their body’s not doing something randomly, and it’s attacking them and it’s against them. It’s actually a very wise, intelligent, you know, organism. And the more that you learn to listen and be a detective and supportive, you know, a lot, you know, starts to move for you. Haley, that’s just my experience of what I’ve seen. Absolutely.

Heather Gray: Absolutely, what a great way to actually start to wrap this up. So where can people find more about you? Where can people?

Dr. Christine Schaffner: Yeah, where can people find you? Oh, thanks, Heather. I have a website, drchristineschaffner.com. You can find out more about me. I have a podcast, and then I have a clinic in Seattle, and we do telemedicine as well, and that’s called Immanence Health.

Heather Gray: I love your podcast, too. So you’ve got so many great guests. And that’s how I met Eileen McKusick. Well, that was from your summit. And oh my gosh, people highly go back and look up her summits. This woman is a gem. She’s a plethora of knowledge. And any time that you can spend with her and listening to her, you’re going to learn a ton. Trust me. Thank you so much for joining us. Make sure to go to WeAreNikki.com forward slash podcast and enter in bio beats to get 10% off. And because we love our customers so much, we want to show our appreciation. We give away a NIKKI every single episode. So make sure to go to the show notes to learn how to enter in that drawing. And make sure if you’ve learned anything, even just one little nugget, like, share and subscribe, right? Because that’s how we get this information out there. That’s how we start changing the paradigm. And we really get people healing, right? Instead of just throwing up mandates on symptoms. So everybody, thanks for joining us. Stay tuned.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does understanding the body’s internal environment help in treating complex illnesses?

Dr. Schaffner explains the crucial role the internal environment plays in health and disease, offering insights into how balancing this environment can lead to significant improvements in treating complex and chronic illnesses.

What are some subtle environmental factors that can impact our health?

In this episode, Dr. Schaffner discusses the often-overlooked subtle environmental factors that can influence our health, emphasizing the importance of holistic approaches in biological medicine to address these aspects.

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