Dr. Zumhagen is a bit of a legend in the Chicagoland area. This gentle giant looks more like Abraham Lincoln than your typical MD–one with years of medical experience. He started his career with Home First, “My wife was interested in a home birth, so that was another thing that got me on the right path as I graduated from medical school in residency. We had our third baby at home and it was such an amazing experience that I thought, ‘this is going to be something I really like to do and seemed very worthwhile.’ I was privileged to be able to work at Home First for 25 years delivering babies at home.”
How did you get into the natural side of medicine after graduating from the University of Illinois?
“When I was a second-year medical student, I read Dr. Robert Mendelsohn’s book, Confessions of a Medical Heretic. It gave me a different kind of perspective on the medical world that maybe pharmaceuticals weren’t going to be the answer to every problem and might be causing problems of their own. It unlocked another piece of my brain that was able to challenge the ‘norm’, rather than just getting caught up and not having any perspective on what was going on.
I really turned a corner, back in 2008 after I attended a Nutrition Response Testing seminar and was introduced to Standard Process for the first time. I had zero exposure to nutrition in my medical training and even though I’d been staying out of the mainstream path, I still didn’t have a very good idea about exactly how this nutrition stuff works. Being exposed to that was very eye-opening, and it felt like a continuation of the work I had been doing.”
Dr. Zumhagen’s approach is integrative, offering nutritional and homeopathic therapies as well as allergy elimination and support for diet and lifestyle changes.
“I found that the nutrition path was providing a lot of answers for myself and those around me. Around the same time, my wife started doing some nutrition work with a chiropractor and it was helping her. I was getting bad migraines so I went to the same guy and he was doing this testing where you push on people’s arms. It sure looks strange, but it worked and that’s what captured my attention. I took some training on that testing and since 2009 I’ve been doing a form of Contact Reflex Analysis in the office and using Standard Process, as well as a couple other lines.”
Dr. Diana Gnat, D.C., Dr. Mark Zumhagen, M.D., and Markay Boettcher, Colon Hydrotherapist, work out of their nutrition-based practice in Orland Park, IL, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.
What was your first “aha moment” after starting nutrition work?
“I am thinking of this fellow who suffered a concussion. His mom called me from the hospital and said, ‘My son, he’s light sensitive, he’s sound sensitive, he’s rolled up in a ball and he can’t talk to anybody.’ He had fallen off his skateboard and had a subdural hematoma, been in the hospital, but the doctor said, ‘Well everything’s stable. We can’t do anything for him, he just has to tough it out and recover.’
When they came in, we tested for three things, I can’t remember all of them, I think there was one enzymatic support for digestion and another might have been Neurotrophin PMG. She called me the next day and she said, ‘I can’t believe it. He’s down in the kitchen talking and laughing with his brothers and I’ve never seen such an amazing turnaround.’ It does happen. The body has that ability sometimes to just give it what it needs and it just takes off running.”
Dr. Zumhagen expresses excitement about the new Turmeric Forte from Mediherb to Jeff West.
Where do you find yourself starting with most cases?
Digestion cases turn up a lot and there’s often a common theme in many instances. I usually find digestion is the key point for almost anybody’s healing because of the input & output connection. If you can balance this relationship, everything else tends to flow as it should. I pay particular attention to digestion on everybody that walks through the door because it’s generally a part of what’s needed so that their body can get into healing mode.
Along with digestion, I work a lot on hormonal balance which covers adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary support. These glands act as what I call the communication control center of the body. If you can get those areas supported it’s another piece where it helps with mood, focus, anxiety, depression, a lot of different symptoms that I find are related to the hormonal functioning of the body.
Dr. Zumhagen uses the Morphogenic Field Technique to better understand an individual’s physiology and biochemistry.
“Many times, people come in with symptoms that sound like a classic thyroid case, but their thyroid blood work is normal. While their [conventional] doctor is thinking more in the direction of Prozac, I find the thyroid symptoms actually are a thyroid problem even though they are not showing up in blood work. In this case, when you come in with nutrition support (Thytrophin PMG, Drenatrophin PMG, Organically Bound Minerals), one of those things will usually turn them around and they’ll feel like a new person. Energy is back, focus is back and they don’t have to be on Prozac.”
Dr. Zumhagen tests the body’s neurological reflexes also known as the Morphogenic Field Technique.
What is it like being a medical doctor who practices “outside the system”?
“I should mention that I’m not a big prescriber. If somebody is on 10 medications, for example, I won’t attempt to take over that role as prescriber and say, ‘Hey, I’m a doctor I’ll just write all your prescriptions for you and we’ll work on nutrition too.’ I try to compartmentalize their care so that, ‘Okay, you’re seeing another internist, continue to be plugged into him and he can continue to work with your medications. I’m going to be your nutrition guy and we’ll work on things [nutritionally] to the extent that we’re seeing some good progress. You can talk to your other doctor as we work on nutrition and as improvements are made, you can start coming off some of those medications.’ That’s my goal.”
Dr. Zumhagen recommends bone broth protein to his patients who are looking for a product to promote a healthy gut, stronger joints, healthier looking skin, stronger nails, or something that is Paleo and Keto friendly.
How does your medical career before practicing nutrition compare to now?
“I think people want answers beyond what not to do. That was my deficit for all the years that I was practicing without a nutritional background. I always could tell people what not to do, I never had a really good focus on what to do. Boy, have I added that in now. That’s what, I think, makes my practice much more exciting now. I feel I have a lot of positive things to help people and that makes a difference.
People don’t want to be overwhelmed by taking a ton of supplements. That’s where I like using Dr. Springob’s testing, the Morphogenic Field Technique; it’s a nice way to focus in on what the body’s most needing andis quite good at narrowing down a protocol anywhere from three to eight or nine supplements. I’ve had people come in, sometimes literally with a box of 25, 30, 40 supplements, I don’t know what the record is, but it seems to be a little overwhelming on the body and if we can find a way to pair that down then you should get results.”
Dr. Zumhagen has been offering Nutrition Response Testing and MFT since 2009.
What would be your one desert island supplement pick?
“I’ll tell you what I almost always test for and I would beg you leave me two products, not one product. I would take Lact-Enz and Drenamin. I guess if I was going to choose between the two, maybe the Drenamin, but I mean they’re so close. I can actually tell if I forget my Drenamin. I’ll be getting to about two or three o’clock in the afternoon and I’ll think like, ‘I’m not focusing. What’s going on here?’ All the sudden I realize, ‘Oh my goodness, I forgot my Drenamin.’ It’s amazing how that just keeps me going. It’s my adrenal support and I think I put a little bit of a load on my adrenals sometimes.”
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If you could slip yourself a note right after graduating medical school before getting into your residency, what would that note say?
“I think that note would say something that took me 25 years to figure out. I wish I could have figured out a little bit early is the role of nutrition in the body’s healing and because the body has so much healing capacity. Even though I was on my guard in my education because of Dr. Mendehlson’s book, it took me a while to break out of that pill-disease mode, the pharmaceutical industry sort of imprints on it and just to realize what the tremendous potential was that the body has given you pay attention to nutrition.”
The knowledge sharing isn’t limited to a consultation with Dr. Zumhagen. Patients are equipped with education in the waiting room thanks to the Weston A. Price Foundation.
“If I could have found a few key authors or if I could say look at the Weston Price website or something with people that are going the low carb/high fat, those kinds of people. Gary Taubes and his wife and Lena Teckholz and many authors that I’ve read now help you to realize what this path looks like. It’s not that low-fat path, it’s the low sugar path.
It’s interesting–when it takes you awhile to figure something out you sort of own it because it came with a little sweat and effort. It almost imprints on you in a way that it may not have if it had been available to figure out in two minutes. I don’t discount the process that I had to get where I’m at and I probably wouldn’t do anything differently in that sense.”
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