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Episode 38: Functional Medicine 101 with Shane and Natalie Plummer of The Boise Bubble Podcast

Podcast Drop Date: 6/14/2024

In this special episode of the Functional Medicine Foundations podcast, Shane and Natalie Plummer from the Boise Bubble podcast interview Amber Warren to explore the world of functional medicine. Amber explains its holistic, patient-centered approach, focusing on identifying and addressing the root causes of disease rather than merely treating symptoms. She contrasts functional medicine with conventional medicine, highlighting functional medicine's emphasis on personalized care, comprehensive evaluations, and long-term health solutions. The discussion covers the importance of considering genetics, environment, and lifestyle factors in patient care, the role of education in empowering patients, and inspiring success stories demonstrating functional medicine's transformative impact. Amber also addresses common misconceptions and shares her vision for an integrative healthcare future combining functional and conventional medicine.



Amber Warren, PA-C: Welcome to the Functional Medicine Foundations podcast, where we explore root cause medicine, engage in conversation with functional and integrative medicine experts, and build community with like minded health seekers. I'm your host, Amber Warren. Let's dig deeper. Hi, guys. Um, we're doing something a little bit different. We just finished a wonderful podcast with our friends Shane and Natalie Plummer of the Boise Bubble. Bubble podcast? Um, and Natalie runs Hello Meridian. They actually interviewed me to just talk about and kind of spread the knowledge about functional medicine, what it is, the why behind it, how we're different, but how we're also just trying to fix the current health care crisis that we have in our country. Um, so we wanted to share it with you guys and so that you can share it with friends, family members and colleagues. We think you we hope you'll find it really valuable. Um, so here it is up next.

Shane Plummer: We're here with Amber Warren. A functional medicine of of Idaho. Hello, Amber.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Hi, guys. Thanks so much for having me.

Shane Plummer: No, thanks for coming on to the podcast. We, um, functional medicine is something that's been really interesting in our lives. Um, it's just such a shift from the traditional way that we used to get care. And, uh, it's been so great for us that we wanted to kind of bring you on and let other people understand some basics of functional medicine, what it is and how it differs from the traditional health care system. Um, and maybe share some of our story along the way and just spread the word of some of the positive benefits that we've had thus far.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah, thanks. It's an honor. And it's been an honor to get to get to know both of you and especially you, Natalie, and kind of do a deep, deep dive. Yeah, I could I mean, we should get a time warning because I could talk all night about this topic and kind of functional medicine. And our stories.

Shane Plummer: Run long, too. So it's good to kind of be concise with the.

Natalie Plummer: Reasons that I love that you have a full podcast on it, because you do deep dive so much. And, um, I'll just say that we we have also recorded, um, a podcast with you that's coming out probably around the same time this comes out, um, that really deep dives into our particular stories with working with you and, and some of our, um, our experience. So that that is something that we can send people to. But I have I've learned so much just listening to your podcast and obviously meeting with you and, and and Shannon, I've talked so much about how, like our view of health care has changed so much just from knowing there's a difference between functional, well of traditional medicine and then a medicine that focuses on root cause, which is kind of what you know, you're all about. So can you tell us, you know, in layman terms, what's the difference?

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah. So functional medicine, we take a lot of pride in saying it's really the why and not the what, right? We we do we care about the label. Yes and no. Unfortunately, in today's world we need a label because we need diagnosis codes to try and get some of this medicine covered or to be legit to submit to medical boards. Right. But we really want to know the why behind it. And we'll dig and dig and dig. And I always tell my patients, I'm not giving up on you. The only reason this process will stop is if you stop showing up. But we will keep digging to find it out. And I honestly, it honestly breaks my heart that there is such a division in what even just you guys said, right? Conventional versus functional medicine. Why can't they be more entwined? Right? I actually think this kind of medicine should just be good medicine. I actually think there should be supplements in every clinic. I think a health coach and a nutritionist should exist in health care clinics across America, across the world. And it breaks my heart that that they aren't. And there's obviously so many different reasons and layers as to why. But yeah, it's really trying to find root cause.

Amber Warren, PA-C: And I think the other thing to remember in functional medicine that I'm always educating my patients on is we talk about, um, this like pin tac theory. And if you're sitting on five tacks, right. If you only remove one, if you only fix the thyroid or the testosterone deficiency in your case. Shane. Right. Your symptoms probably won't get go away. You might get a little bit better and notice benefits some days of the week, but I think we take so much pride in casting a wide net. I tell my patients, I'm going to get a lot of labs on you, and we're going to do a lot of functional medicine tests. And yeah, it can get expensive, but I'm casting a wide net because you won't actually find true health until all five tacks are removed from your bottom. I mean, it's kind of a silly metaphor, but I think it really rings true with people. And I think it's another way of saying, like, I'm willing to do the work I'm all in. But you also have to be willing to do the work physically, emotionally, financially. Right? Because it's you guys have walked this journey and it's it's no cakewalk for most people.

Shane Plummer: So listening to the way that you describe it of root cause analysis versus just treating the symptoms, finding out what's really wrong, what's going on, I think that before I knew about functional medicine, I was naive and just that's what I assume that my traditional doctor was doing. I assume that that's what all doctors did. Yeah, all doctors were interested in. Maybe I just watched House for too many years. I love house, but like some.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Critically thinking and analyzing.

Shane Plummer: Really wanting to understand.

Amber Warren, PA-C: And there's a team that gets together and talks about it.

Shane Plummer: Yeah, but there's a team.

Shane Plummer: That's talking about my testosterone or trying to puzzle out what's going on so that they can feel the satisfaction of helping me. Yeah. And I was so disillusioned to find out that that's not at all what's happening. Right. That's not the game that's being played at my or at my old doctor's office. Don't you think.

Natalie Plummer: Though, that doctors believe that's probably what they're going to get to do though? Like, do you think doctors, even as they're thinking, I want to go to medical school, do you think they realize the limitations that are actually going to be put on them to actually practice medicine?

Amber Warren, PA-C: No, no, I don't, and I think that's probably because it's just such an ever changing, evolving environment where it's just so much more about the money and revenue. And we have a fee for fee for service system where it's like, see more patients. The only way people make more money is to do more surgeries and see more patients and sell more drugs. Um, and unfortunately, it's a system that has to come crashing down and you almost have to start at ground zero and start over instead of just fix the system because you think that's kind.

Natalie Plummer: Of what we're at.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Do you think? Well, I think we're getting closer.

Natalie Plummer: I mean, because I feel like it's this vibration that is, I mean, especially with the rising cost of everything but the rising cost of insurance and like our insurance costs about the same as our mortgage. And that's significant.

Amber Warren, PA-C: And then and do you feel like you're actually benefiting from your conventional insurance.

Shane Plummer: No. Yeah. No. My out of our out of pocket last year even paying that premium was significant. Yeah. I couldn't believe how much we paid. Yeah. Um.

Natalie Plummer: We've paid more just for having babies with full insurance than both of our college degrees combined. People talk about like going into debt for students. I mean, and you do go for student loans. But like for us, every major financial hit was that our insurance did not cover things that they just so clearly should have covered.

Shane Plummer: That's the story of our financial life. Every time that I felt like we were getting ahead, that we were getting a good foundation of savings, health issue, boom, medical trauma, something happened that just wasn't covered. Digging and digging and digging. And you think, why am I paying these thousands and thousands of dollars, tens of thousands of dollars per year? Yeah. What am I getting out of this exactly? I don't understand.

Natalie Plummer: Like, why couldn't we take that money and actually put it towards someone if and only.

Amber Warren, PA-C: It was that easy?

Natalie Plummer: Yeah, right.

Amber Warren, PA-C: And so it was that simple.

Natalie Plummer: But I feel like that vibration and maybe it's because we're a rising generation that's also had the internet. So we're interconnected to know things that, you know, our parents didn't know. But I feel like it's a vibration of realizing the system is so broken and we're all victims in it. Yeah. Um, because I hear this conversation so often, but I don't know what it looks like for it to just break down. What we just decided was like, we don't want to be part of the what's the cat carnage? I can't anyway. Circus.

Shane Plummer: What are you trying to say?

Shane Plummer: Monkeys? The fallout, the collateral damage, the collateral. There you go.

Natalie Plummer: That's it. Collateral damage. That's why he's part of the podcast.

Natalie Plummer: Yes.

Natalie Plummer: Um, but we didn't want to do that. And that's why we started really moving, um, somewhere else, and we, you know, I don't think we had to send, like, a fruit basket or something to whoever said, go to functional medicine in Idaho.

Shane Plummer: It was it.

Shane Plummer: Came to me all of a sudden I was working at my previous employer. It had to be 4 or 5 years ago. It was before Covid and she was very healthy. She was an incredibly healthy person and we were just sharons. And I was talking to her about sleep.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah, about.

Shane Plummer: Sleep. And she told me that she started going to Functional Medicine of Idaho. And I said, what is functional medicine of Idaho like? Is it all medicine functional? I don't understand what that means.

Amber Warren, PA-C: And that is true. It's a good.

Shane Plummer: Point. But she was the first person who used that term. And then we had another friend that was coming. And um, they had very different results. That second friend told us about the testing like that. Their blood panels were very different, very different from when they went to their traditional doctor. Yeah. Um, that the level of testing was so much more robust and deep that that it turned up so much more information to work with. Um, and I thought, that sounds interesting, too. Why isn't my doctor taking more tests?

Natalie Plummer: Okay, well, fruit baskets to them.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah, yeah. Don't forget. Write that down.

Shane Plummer: Yeah. Yes. Fruit.

Natalie Plummer: Healthy organic.

Shane Plummer: Fruit. Fruit. Yeah.

Amber Warren, PA-C: I was gonna say no. No cookies, no sugar cookie boxes to them. Yeah. You know, um, I think that it's it's unfortunate that it's not more well known. And, and we were talking about all the complications and the different layers, but I honestly, I, I do see hope. And maybe it's because I'm always trying to be a glass half full person, but, you know, part of our move and we don't have to really get into this, but part of our move to opening our center for optimal health, the Eagle Clinic, where you guys are now seeing was because we started to see the writing on the wall. And without putting too much of a target on our our already targeted back, you know, we did have some experiences where insurance started to say, you guys are ordering too many tests, you get too many vitamin D's on your patients. Like during Covid that came up right? And they start to even put more tightly wound red tape around us. And actually we started to see a drop in reimbursement from insurances because we were problem children. And we said we can't continue to exist in in this world if they're going to continue to come down on us for this. So we had to go cash and we had to open up this cash clinic where we could practice medicine in that freedom and not feel like that. Some guy in a suit and a tie making three mil a year, sitting at the top of a skyscraper, could tell me, with no medical degree, how to practice medicine or how to get my how to get my female patients better.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Um, so that and and I also wanted to mention by doing that, we also have been kind of helping to market some of these new. I don't even think you can call them insurances, but health plans. Right. Um, I think I can go ahead and mention a few. There's Samaritan Ministries, Liberty Health. I know Medicare is one of them, Christian Health shares one of them. And I'm really impressed with what they cover. Some of them cover supplements or at least offer like a supplement stipend. Um, we have some of them that cover, like our new blood purification protocol protocol, which is an IV that, like, cleans out toxins from your blood stuff that we would never, ever consider even saying, try and try and submit it and see if it's covered. So I think that that people are recognizing that there's a better way. And guess what? The premiums are like less than half of what we see with some of these conventional insurances. Right. Because really what we just need is as families and as Americans, is that catastrophic coverage. If we get in a car accident or have a horrific fall. Right. And so we do have to find out how do we still get. Major, major medical coverage. But but have wellness care and not just sick care, because that's the world we're living in is.

Amber Warren, PA-C: And it's so fun to cover sick care that out.

Natalie Plummer: I'm so glad that the oh man.

Shane Plummer: Yeah, I kind of want to go in a couple of different directions, but one of them makes me think of the cost like, yeah, the cost is a barrier already. There are people that are listening to this and think, oh, cash services, my insurance isn't going to cover it. I'm tuned out. How do you make the case or how do you help somebody get past that to go to a cash based service?

Shane Plummer: Well, and also because you had mentioned.

Natalie Plummer: This, the different options you have here to.

Amber Warren, PA-C: For sure.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah. So so we definitely didn't want to drop our insurance. Although to be honest, we were in some financial situations where we were like, man, we might have to just drop insurance and go all cash because we don't know if this is going to be sustainable. Um, literally. Thank God we didn't have to do that because we feel our heart. And honestly, the physician that my husband and I bought this practice from really wants to make this medicine affordable. And we have carried on that mission for her, because how do you get people? Well, if you can only cater to the rich like you just can't, like my family of five. Couldn't afford cash pay functional medicine. Yeah. If we had to we just we would we'd have to make who's the sickest of the.

Shane Plummer: Family in the Valley.

Amber Warren, PA-C: No they can't. So we've kept our cash pay. So both our Boise and Meridian clinics are still our insurance based clinics. We try and take as many insurances as we can. Um, but we've actually developed this membership model, and I know there's been some frustration about it, but it's $39 a month. We'll bill your insurance for all your visits and everything we can, all your tests, imaging whatever we can, it's a $39 a month membership fee. Now, you don't get nothing out of that membership fee. It's discount on supplements, discount on specialty testing, pretty good discounts. You get access to the sauna. You get access to our detox foot bath. You get access to some other really cool things that we're developing within our wellness center here. Um, so we're trying to make sure that there's a really good value in that. That's just going to add to your ability to heal and get well and add to that that health care journey. So that's how we're doing things. And the reason isn't because we're greedy and we just need to make more money. The reason is we have to be sustainable in this world and in this model of care, because we don't ask our providers to see 30 patients a day, a really heavy day for our practitioners. Here is ten, maybe 12. That's a big day. That's like a day where you're like, whew, I'm going to have to go home and chart, right?

Natalie Plummer: Yeah. I mean.

Natalie Plummer: Uh, having, you know, being one of your patients and knowing what you put into every single one of these meetings like that would be exhausting. And mentally.

Amber Warren, PA-C: It's.

Natalie Plummer: To, like, be figuring out, because that's what I keep. Every time I go in, I'm like, you are processing what I'm telling you. And we go way more into this on the podcast that we did with you. But like to figure out root cause is to figure out how everything works together and to puzzle that out. And like, you're not doing that in a 15 minute visit. Nope. You're doing that in an hour visit and then you're figuring it out on after that.

Amber Warren, PA-C: I can't walk in with like, your labs. You had a lot of imbalances on your labs, right? Natalie? I can't walk into that visit not being prepared. Yeah, I have to spend time that morning. You know, I start seeing patients a little later in my day because I'm brightest in the morning, and that's when I'm prepping my labs, prepping my new patients. I look at your list of I'm trying to put together the puzzle piece in my mind. Right. So yeah, it's heavy, like, I love you, but I couldn't see 12 of you in a day. Yeah, it would be really hard.

Natalie Plummer: Like specifically.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah. Like just with your complex history, right?

Natalie Plummer: Am I more complex than most?

Amber Warren, PA-C: Um, no. You're right. Well, kind of. Yes.

Shane Plummer: Don't answer that. Can't lie.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yes. Don't answer that, girlfriend.

Natalie Plummer: Shane, am I emotionally complex? More than others? No.

Shane Plummer: You got to be careful what.

Shane Plummer: I validate and what.

Shane Plummer: I don't validate. Um.

Amber Warren, PA-C: So there's a reason I limit the new patients I can see in a day. Because those new patient intakes are heavy. Yeah, like I go deep, like I ask, I need to know trauma. I need to know I, I mean, it's crazy, but like, hey, were you like my men? I love when I ask him this, were you born vaginally? And they're like, I'm sorry. What? Like, could you ask your mom? Because it actually helps me a lot understanding your microbiome. And you're just. No, men don't know how they were born.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Really? Did you come.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Through your mom's vagina?

Shane Plummer: They're, like, sent badge. Yeah, he was born. You're pure vag. Pure. Don't call.

Natalie Plummer: It's that he was born in a hippie commune, surrounded by women tripping on LSD. Topless women, topless women.

Amber Warren, PA-C: No wonder you're so cool.

Shane Plummer: The women were topless. The women there were men there too.

Natalie Plummer: The men were there too.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Were they all right? A whole nother podcast. Okay. Sorry.

Natalie Plummer: Anyway, so Shane knows he was pure vag, but, um.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Oh my gosh how did we get there? Vag birth.

Natalie Plummer: So you're asking these intake intake intake. Yes, yes. And the emotional.

Natalie Plummer: Right. Yeah. I cried.

Natalie Plummer: And I was.

Natalie Plummer: Shocked that I cried. Do you have that kind of emotion all the time?

Amber Warren, PA-C: I mean I'm sorry when you ask, hey, was your childhood happy because you carry that trauma with you for life, you're gonna get tears. The amount of people that were neglected, sexually abused as children is sickening. Like it's, again, we don't need to go there. But yeah, like, yeah, it's heavy. It's heavy for the patient. It's heavy for me to take that on and then to move on and be like, okay, well so now let's talk about when you started your period and what kind of birth control.

Natalie Plummer: And the thing is, is.

Natalie Plummer: Nobody has ever asked those questions. These are not questions.

Natalie Plummer: So what's asked.

Amber Warren, PA-C: What's really cool? Sorry, Shane, I didn't mean interrupt. You know, um, what's really cool is, I mean, I think we talked about this other podcast episode, but part of where we're at as a. Medical community is because we don't there's no there's no root cause. There's no nutrition training in like my PA school or medical school. Right. And so all of my training is advanced functional medicine training. I've paid for all my own courses and got certified in functional medicine on my own. But the best part of the functional medicine training, like I'm certified in most of our practitioners, are through the Institute for Functional Medicine, and Doctor Holehouse and Doctor Masnick both teach in that institute, but they teach before they even teach the science of anything. They teach about this therapeutic encounter. And they like, hammer it into us. And they have questions on our board exam to get certified in functional medicine about this therapeutic encounter. And really it is they teach and I could cry talking about it because I almost have guilt on how I practice medicine my first five six years as a PA because they teach about like how it's not a dictatorship dictatorship. Don't you dare think that you can get above that patient and tell them how to how to live their life and what to do.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Your job as their functional medicine provider is to meet them where they're at and make sure they felt heard, and they even make you go through like scenarios where the average health care provider or health care provider will interrupt their patient within 30s of that patient telling their story, you let them talk minimum five minutes and tell their story. Yeah, you might need to direct some of the more chatty people because you don't have two hours with them, right? You're lucky to have an hour. But they teach this encounter and you have to, like, dig into the science about what this therapeutic encounter does for someone who feels hurt. Right. And how that's the first step in healing. And I like, won't ever forget that part of my training. And they also teach you, this is so cool. They teach you to pray, breathe, meditate before you knock on that door and walk in. Get yourself ready to interact with and be present. Be present and hear what your patient's trying to tell you, and pay attention to their body language and how they're talking to you. It's like the most beautiful thing. And I would pay. Ten times what I paid to get certified during that that training course.

Natalie Plummer: Well, the words, I mean, just to hear you say healing that word alone is we do not hear that word to heal. And I've, you know, I've had some surgeries and I've had just straight up say to some medical, um, personnel, I need you to stop God complex me right now. Like to actually just say that. Yeah. Yeah. Like you need to stop, right? Like I've had to. Because this is the crazy thing. Did you say who know? Like. And you've.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Been. He's realizing.

Natalie Plummer: Like, some things where I've been talked over like.

Shane Plummer: I'm trying to put myself in the position of that doctor to be told that don't God complex.

Natalie Plummer: The reason that I did that go. Um, honestly? Well, to be honest, I felt like I was respected more because I was seen as a person and also kind.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Of is going to stand up for herself. Yeah.

Natalie Plummer: But also, I was empowered to do that because of meeting with you, because the difference of talking with you made me realize what I had been suffering for, for so many years. And when I was talking with this surgeon who was not only talking over me, but talking to my husband instead of me.

Shane Plummer: That was.

Natalie Plummer: Odd. You remember? Yes. And then I was like, no, we're going to pull this. I am the patient. And to realize that, like, this is just a man and he is not God of my medical history. He is just a man who is obviously very limited on his understanding of like these kind of interactions, and that I had the responsibility to pull that back and to remind them, no, I'm not just a number like I'm a person and I'm your equal just because you know more about this particular thing. There's some stuff I know a lot more about, you know, than you do, and I didn't. And I've always thought of myself as a very confident person, but I realize I have not been confident in my, my ability to, to, um, what's the word I'm thinking? Advocate. Yeah. Advocate for myself. Yeah. Um, because I was kind of taught that they know what they're doing and they're going to do the best thing for me. And now that I can question that, I'm questioning it a lot.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah. So have you guys seen those? It's a saying, but I see them I've seen them on like coffee cups. Don't confuse my medical degree with your Google search.

Natalie Plummer: Yeah.

Amber Warren, PA-C: And it honestly drives me crazy because I learned so much from my patients. Those, these these young moms that are home raising children and learning about their kids autism or their kids methylation issues or mitochondrial issues. Brilliant. I will never, ever think that I know more than a mom who's fighting for her kid, a mama bear that's out there ready to get her kid healthy, right? Or her or her spouse or any loved ones right. That's going to fight. So yeah, I just I'm like, how dare you think that you're so much better than another human with a brilliant mind and a brilliant brain and the ability to research, because thankfully, we live in a world where that research is. I mean, you have to know where to find it and know how to dig through the BS, you know, and the research that paid for by Big Pharma. But it's out there. And thankfully, we also live in a world where there's all sorts of Facebook pages where you can get together and talk about your child's autism or, but you know what I mean. Like that. And so there's we live in communities where people are going to help also educate each other. Okay.

Shane Plummer: So when somebody comes to functional medicine and they are seeking treatment for a random thing. Yeah. How would you describe to somebody who doesn't have experience. What are they. What is the experience going to be like? How is it going to be different from going to a traditional doctor?

Amber Warren, PA-C: I mean, I think we kind of already touched on that, right? Summarize it. Prepare for prepare for a lot of open ended questions. Why are you here? Do you have trauma in your childhood? When did you start to feel ill? When did your fatigue start? When did your weight gain start? When did the rash start? What brought it on? What happened? You know, I do a lot of autoimmune disease in my clinic because I worked in rheumatology for a while. And so it's, you know, they say, gosh, yeah, I started the joint pain and the muscle pain and the fatigue started a year ago. And I'm like, tell me what was going on those six months leading up to your pain? Because we're always trying to find antecedents and triggers to help us guide, because unfortunately, people don't have tens of thousands of dollars to just do all the tests. Right. Like what you're experiencing, the part one, that's a very expensive program because of all that it entails. Not everyone can afford all of that. So we try and help to pinpoint what kind of testing do we need to do? Does this person need to be tested for Lyme? Does this person need to detox? Oh wait, you lived in a moldy dorm in college and then you couldn't lose 50 pounds? Okay, I think testing for mold and getting your liver to start to detox is probably a fruitful thing for you. So that's if you're going to a good functional medicine practitioner. And trust me, there's some ones that aren't so good. Right. And that's kind of the danger to anybody can call themselves a functional medicine PA or a functional medicine nurse practitioner. Right. So I think something for your listeners to who this is a very new concept for them. Do your homework, find the right people. There are fabulous functional medicine providers even in the Treasure Valley. It's not just us. There's really, really good ones throughout the Valley. Um, but you don't have to have any kind of specialty training to say you're doing functional medicine. You can read a book on functional medicine and start practicing it. So be.

Natalie Plummer: Leery.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah. So be be leery that. Yeah, yeah. So, you know, we we really hire people that either have, um, experience in functional medicine or they are certified by the Institute for Functional Medicine. The example I threw out or we have this really cool tiered system and we don't have to get into it. But basically we have we offer, you know, primary care. My husband calls it functional medicine light. So we hire primary care providers, people that are sick of the 37 patients a day at urgent care and want to come, you know, learn how to not have to throw an antibiotic someone and maybe run to the supplement counter and see what else we have for them. So we have our functional medicine light that are brilliant, brilliant practitioners, good at knowing how to treat a sinus infection without antibiotics if it's appropriate. Um, and then they get to come on board with us and jump into visits with us. Those of us that have a little more experience and start to do more of the functional medicine intakes, like you guys coming to see us wanting a deep dive on your health. Right. Um, and, you know, we were talking about you were saying, Natalie, how and I think you're right, how you think you go into medicine and you think there's going to be all this teaching and all these colleagues to join hands with and learn from? Um, you know, every two weeks we have an education session where we block part of our we block a big chunk for lunch, and one of us teaches on our specialty, or we bring in another specialist from the country, or we just have or from the community, or we just have a round robin. Hey, throw us your hard cases. Like kind of a, you know, roundtable discussion. Um, I.

Natalie Plummer: Loved when you told me about that because as we talked about in the other podcast, I'm so complicated and so many of the things that are going wrong with my body are the the healing element or the I guess the more the medical element was exacerbating other things. And to think that it wasn't just you who was going to be hearing this if you were couldn't figure it out that you actually had all these other specialists like that was so. Um, comforting.

Amber Warren, PA-C: To. We're lying to.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Ourselves if we say we can be good at everything, right? Like I do my own way.

Natalie Plummer: But I'm a woman.

Natalie Plummer: So I'm required.

Amber Warren, PA-C: To do that. That's true, that's true. I can have it all. I can do it all. I can know it all. Sure.

Amber Warren, PA-C: But yeah. So each of us, and I do love that because each of us here at FMI and even at center for Optimal Health, we kind of have our own like little specialties. Like, I don't do Lyme disease, I don't touch it. I love metabolic weight loss, I love women's hormonal health. I even love doing some men's men's hormone health. I love autoimmune disease, but I can't know it all. I can't do a deep dive on it all because it's so complex and humans are so complex and so beautifully designed that that I kind of like to focus on my niche. And then, yeah, hey, and I refer patients to doctor halls all the time for complex cardiovascular disorders because he is so good at cardiovascular disease. Um, so yeah, I think that and that's another way that I think we've been able to really, I mean, just become kind of functional specialists and being able to, you know, to just work together as a team. And, um, yeah, it's a really it's a really beautiful. I still sometimes step back from when we started it all with seven of us, seven employers, two practitioners.

Natalie Plummer: Aren't you over 30 now?

Natalie Plummer: Like, what do you have?

Amber Warren, PA-C: I think we're at like 97. 97.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah. We have 97 employees. Huge growth.

Natalie Plummer: Oh my gosh. It's been significant.

Amber Warren, PA-C: And it's honestly it's it's it's people want this kind of medicine. They're like.

Amber Warren, PA-C: You guys.

Amber Warren, PA-C: They they want it. They demand it. Yeah yeah. They're so sick of the conventional way I think Covid taught a lot of people, wait, you're just going to not like, teach me how to be healthy? Hold on. There's got to be more to this story. Um, and the growth of the Treasure Valley has helped us as well. I'll be honest. You know, there's there's there's a couple of different reasons for that.

Shane Plummer: But so clap back to the intake and the questions.

Natalie Plummer: Sorry. We clap back.

Shane Plummer: Yeah. Just wanted to clap back.

Natalie Plummer: Clap back means something different.

Amber Warren, PA-C: But I think it can.

Shane Plummer: All right. Well I'm going to circle back okay. To we'll let our audience excoriate me. But for miss uh, misuse of clap back. Okay. Um, no, but the intake form. I was thinking about it.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Oh, you're talking the form, the actual, the original. You have to fill out form.

Shane Plummer: When I filled it out, I remember it was 26 pages. I couldn't believe how many pages. Seriously.

Natalie Plummer: I'm like. Like, I don't even know you.

Natalie Plummer: Guys about myself.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Shortened it. I was dramatically even since. No, no, no, hold on, let me. I'm sorry. Well, this.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Is what happens when you.

Shane Plummer: By the end of it, like I was so frustrated because I thought I would bet $100 that we don't touch on a third a quarter of these things. Um, but we did. You did? I was so surprised at how prepared Doctor Holthouse was when we met for the first time, that he had actually read those things. We look at it, he had him pulled up on his screen when we were talking through, like it led to a much better conversation to start us out on the right foot. And that's just a microcosm example of, um, just the approach that I like here, as opposed to my experience outside our experience. I would say back with traditional medicine.

Amber Warren, PA-C: You good to hear.

Shane Plummer: You said something about, um, target on your back, which I thought was kind of an interesting, uh, phrase. I thought, who you gather ill will from in this industry. Why do you say that?

Amber Warren, PA-C: Because we're. Because this industry is only incentivized if people stay sick. Right. And you look at even just like the American Academy of Pediatrics, and it's really actually concerning when you start to dig in and see that they're tied in with the big food industry and big pharma industry, right. And we're not in the industry of keeping people sick. You know, my goal is to get all my patients to where I only touch base with them once a year, if even that, or they go see my functional medicine light providers once a year for their annual wellness, and they don't need me anymore. That's the goal, right? Um, we are expensive to insurance companies because we get a lot of labs, and we do our darnest to try to use the right codes to get those labs covered. They don't like that vitamin D is is expensive to get on every single patient that walks on this door. But guess what? You look at the Covid data, your mortality rate, your risk of dying. If you have a vitamin D level over 30 is basically 0%. So of course I'm going to get a vitamin D on everybody because my job is to save lives. Right. And so um, that's that's yeah, we're expensive to them. And to be honest, I think there's also we go against the grain because we make other health care practitioners jobs harder because they come in on supplements, they come in off their meds, they come in right there, they're not there. They come in kind of fighting the conventional system. I don't like that. I want to have a really great relationship. We have wonderful conventional specialists in our in our town. But, um, we're going against the grain. And our patients like it. They want they come to us wanting to get off. They want off their metformin. They want to get off the meds. Um, they want off their statin. Because guess what? Statin does increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease. We touched on Alzheimer's in our other podcast. Right. And that's its own epidemic.

Shane Plummer: So does it result in specific challenges? Uh, lack of cooperation? Um, yeah.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah. And I think because my other challenge is and that's why I'm so thankful that we have family practice practitioners here that can do those annual wellness exams, because if I do a detox protocol or get them on supplements for their their thyroid or for their high blood pressure and get them off their blood pressure med, that's giving them fatigue and erectile dysfunction. Um, if they if I ship them back to their primary care provider for their annual wellness exam or their blood pressure check, they're going to think the supplements are hogwash and get them off of them. So it's an ongoing battle, right? Or if I get them off their birth control and get them on natural bioidentical hormones, then they're like, you're not listening to me. And they write them off. So yeah, it's it's for sure difficult. Again, the tide is turning. I am so thankful to see more and more health care practitioners at least open, and we have really great relationships with a lot of them, but just open to what we're doing. I'm blown away. How many conventional providers now refer to us? Hey, I don't think I can help you go see them. Hey, you don't want to take a statin. I respect that because it's your body. It's your decision. It's your money. It's your health care. Go see doctor. Whole house. I've heard really good things about him. Over. You know, at center for Optimal Health. That can do can try A, B, C and D before we have to rely on this statin medication. So yeah, it comes with its own uphill battle. But I'm always up for a good challenge. I'm always you know, we practice evidence based medicine. Evidence. Evidence based medicine is an interesting term now because if you look at a lot of the studies, most of them are driven by big pharma. So. Right, I mean, it's not weird. There's there's really. Yeah. That's a.

Natalie Plummer: Novelty.

Natalie Plummer: Evidence based. Yeah. Is this is the new way to do it.

Amber Warren, PA-C: So I have to follow the data. But I'm also smart enough to know that like who's benefiting off of that data. Right. Yeah. So so but my point is like I think I think we we know the science. We're trained, we're all conventionally trained, right? We're all MDS, DOS, Pas or NPS. We've all done the conventional training. We just saw the holes in it. Yeah, we saw where it was falling short.

Natalie Plummer: You know what I like that you said is that your your goal is that, you know, you work with somebody until you don't have to anymore. So there is a cost, there is an investment. But this isn't a lifetime investment.

Amber Warren, PA-C: That's a good point.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah, that's.

Natalie Plummer: A good for us. We said 2024 was this year of wellness. And I've talked about that. And like the financial implications of this year has been significant I'm sure. Um, but it that is not what we foresee forever. And we honestly couldn't afford it forever to do all. I mean, just what Shane's doing right now with all this testing. But the testing is done one time, you know, and then, you know, later when we need to figure out if it's working and then we move on with our life and then, you know, it can be a once a year type thing, and.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Then we see the effects falling down to your three children. Yeah. And they enjoy better health because of it. And, you know, 60% it's probably higher now I think the statistic is like four years old. 60% of our country is pre-diabetic. 25% of children are now pre-diabetic. Let's look at the cost of becoming a type two diabetic. And all those meds and all those insulin and all those med checks. Right. And then what that does to the cardiovascular system and how it increases your risk of organ failure and cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and losing eyesight. I mean, we can add up all those costs. And it's unsurmountable on the impact on our health care system, but getting someone to intermittent fast pull sugar from their diet, pull refined processed grains from their diet, that's basically free. I mean, I get it. Food, health, healthy food, healthy organic food is expensive. I get that. I'm not going to pretend to not understand that. Um, and that that in and of itself is its own public policy issue. But, um, you just can't even deny the cost savings there.

Shane Plummer: So I was talking to a friend when I first started the PA one, and I was talking to him about the cost because, I mean, let's be honest. I mean, it's it's it's not cheap. And I kind of expected him to say, geez, dude, that's crazy. But his response was, well, I don't know, what do you pay in the cost in the long term? And if you can pay, you know, X number of dollars right now, but it saves you ten years of life down the road. What would you pay for ten years of life? Would you drop this kind of money? Yeah. And I'm like, absolutely, I totally, totally true. It was a great perspective. Yeah. Granted, not everybody has the means to do that, but it is interesting to think about it differently. What are your costs in the long term to maybe change some decisions in the short term?

Amber Warren, PA-C: I mean, just cost of meds alone.

Shane Plummer: Yeah.

Amber Warren, PA-C: And if you get sick or you get hospitalized, I don't I mean, the last time I had to have a surgery and I broke my ankle, it wasn't cheap. It was like $35,000, but it was in and out in three hours. Like. That's insane.

Shane Plummer: Yeah, but it made me start thinking differently about how do I prioritize health care. Yeah. And healthy living right now, compared to some of the other things that I choose to spend my money on. I mean, hobbies, yeah. Um, all sorts of things.

Amber Warren, PA-C: And if you don't invest in your health, would you even be able to enjoy those hobbies in five, ten years?

Natalie Plummer: Because it's not just adding years?

Natalie Plummer: Like, I'm not thinking. I honestly, I don't want to live to be 100. Like I just don't. Sorry. That's just I don't really want to.

Shane Plummer: I do 100. I know you.

Natalie Plummer: Say this, but like.

Shane Plummer: What do they call them, a centenarian?

Natalie Plummer: Yeah, I know, that's just I don't.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah. It doesn't sound very appealing.

Natalie Plummer: About being, you know, 90 to 100. It's not the decade. I'm like striving for what I'm striving for is to feel great at 70, you know, to feel like I still can enjoy life at 70 and maybe 80. And then, you know, we'll figure out from that point. But to if you don't, I mean, everyone knows if you feel if you have a cold, all you're thinking about is, I need to be done with this cold. And I feel like sometimes that's just what, like, old age seems like to me, is you just feel awful all the time. A lot.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Of people feel awful.

Amber Warren, PA-C: All the time.

Natalie Plummer: I don't want to feel awful all the time. Yeah, like I feel awful in so many. I mean, well, I'm starting to feel better now. And like, when you realize how we talked about this on the other podcast, when you realize how crappy you felt for so long, but you just became white noise. And then to get out of it, you realize, oh my gosh, what else am I not understanding about my own body?

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah. It's so true.

Shane Plummer: Um, I was just thinking of a question that Doctor Holthouse asked me. Um, when I started the PA one. He says, what are your goals? How would you describe your goals? Like what is your long term goal? And I thought, oh, for me, it's easy. I want to be able to confidently get up into the mountain and hunt when I'm in my late 60s, ideally 70. If I could be that old guy who's up there with a bird dog and a shotgun hunting pheasants or chuckers at 70 and not feeling okay about not.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Having to pay for it for a week and feeling good doing it. Feeling strong, feeling vital, doing what you love.

Shane Plummer: That is what I want. And I said, if we can make that a target, let's cater this program towards that. He said, oh, what an amazing goal.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah, I thought you probably.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Got him all fired up. He's like, yes I can do this.

Natalie Plummer: And that was so different from my goal because my goal coming to you is I don't want to be afraid all the time. Yeah. I don't want to be so afraid of something is happening in this, this, this thing I can't escape. You can't.

Natalie Plummer: Escape your body.

Natalie Plummer: Yeah, it is with you all the time.

Amber Warren, PA-C: And you were so confused about your body and about what was going on because you were so frustrated and you were so shut down. You were shut down like you even just the second, third visit, Natalie, like you were so much more open and comfortable and just, like, trusting. And those are patients that can heal. Yeah, right. But you were. So I agree with you. You were so I hate the word like damaged. But it's true. You were so damaged and and had become so hurt by the conventional system and not being heard.

Natalie Plummer: Well, what was it like? What? What was I like? We've never talked about this. What was I like my first visit?

Amber Warren, PA-C: Well, you kept looking around like, is this how you do things? You're still with me? Like you were like, are you are you really? You want to know, like, aren't you? And I was like, yeah, no, I, we, I haven't asked all my questions. And then honestly, you left and I was like, I didn't do a dietary intake. Like I didn't ask her what she eats in an average day. Like that's really important. Nutrition is a non-negotiable for me, right? I was like, dang it. And I put a note like God has now. And then we probably started talking about something else. And I still didn't ask you about your nutrition next time. Yeah, but but yeah, you were like, you were kind of you almost went like ghostly white a few times. Like you were kind of in shock and then and then got emotional.

Natalie Plummer: Yeah, I.

Natalie Plummer: Definitely was shutting down. Like, I think one thing I would recommend if you're going to go into these is to understand there's going to be some vulnerability. You have to be. And like I wasn't taught that vulnerability was a safe place in medicine. I immediately realized, and I've talked with my wonderful therapist who won't listen to this because she's not allowed to, I guess. But like, uh, you know, I talk to my therapist about this process, but realizing I saw medical professionals as the enemy. Yeah, because.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Which breaks.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Like it's.

Amber Warren, PA-C: So sad.

Natalie Plummer: It is. It's so and it's. But I really, truly did. And, um, how I've had to change that. Um, and how, like come but being kind of shattered from this idea of like, oh my gosh, I have to like, I have to trust and I'm so past trusting. And if you're interested in this, we go really into it in the podcast that we did with you. Um, but that was, um. I again, I just didn't realize how much trauma I had from so many years of being disregarded. Yeah. Um, and and that that alone was just like this. Hope that I just, I didn't know was possible.

Natalie Plummer: So thank you for that. Um. You're so welcome. Well, that's.

Shane Plummer: A good note. I know that we targeted, like, 30 minutes. I think that we've been talking for, like, four hours.

Amber Warren, PA-C: We really have. Oh my gosh.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah, but it feels like only ten. Like, I could keep. Keep going. Let's go. Let's do a third episode. Let's do it just right now.

Shane Plummer: Amber, how did.

Shane Plummer: People find you? Um, are you on social? Are you on the web? What's the best way to get in contact?

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah. So, um, our website, um,, I think. I don't even know what. I don't even know what our website is. I think.

Amber Warren, PA-C: It's fine. Um, yeah, I just.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Google functional medicine of Idaho. You'll find us. No problem. It'll be the first thing that pops up. And then center for Optimal Health is our kind of offset. We talked about our cash pay a little bit more sexy practice. Um, yeah. We're both both of those entities. The brother sister companies are on on social media, on Instagram, on Facebook. That's where we post a lot of our events, our live events that we have going. Um, and then, yeah, I'm on social too. Amber Warren, PA um, and I try and post, you know, um, really good content that's applicable to kind of what I do in my, my subspecialties.

Shane Plummer: And you guys have a podcast, Functional Medicine Foundations.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Functional Medicine Foundations. Yeah. That was kind of our you know, we were you know, we you touched on this, Shane. We know everybody can't access this kind of care whether you don't live in the Treasure Valley or we actually have a lot of patients that come from surrounding states because they don't have good functional medicine providers in their area. Um, but we realized not everyone can access this kind of care. And so we kind of wanted to we said we have so much knowledge, even in this building here, right, of just these wonderful, wonderful minds. We want to broadcast this, um, to the world. And so that was really it was honestly, really my husband and his heart of wanting to just people to hear. So we started the podcast last year and it's been amazing. Yeah. It's been so cool.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah.

Natalie Plummer: So if people want to hear the continue the, you know, the rest of this story, which the.

Shane Plummer: Sister podcast call it that, the.

Natalie Plummer: Sister podcast.

Shane Plummer: I don't know.

Natalie Plummer: Well, the.

Shane Plummer: Supplemental podcast.

Natalie Plummer: The podcast.

Natalie Plummer: With your that we know that's actually completely wrong. So, um, no, we did a podcast going deep diving into Shane's and my journey. What what number do you know? Like what number of people can look at or we'll.

Shane Plummer: We'll put it in the show notes.

Amber Warren, PA-C: 3737.

Natalie Plummer: Yeah.

Amber Warren, PA-C: 3737 podcast. Look at 37. I'm 99. My team's really good. They win.

Natalie Plummer: The podcast specifically is called.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Um, Functional Medicine Foundation Foundations.

Natalie Plummer: That's right.

Natalie Plummer: So if you want to hear more about, um, our story, um, some of my complexity with health, we do get a little vulnerable on that one. Um, but I do think it's important to, to share that. So if you've found this interesting, then head over to that podcast and listen to the rest of the story. Yeah.

Shane Plummer: Amber, thanks a lot to you and your group. You have a great team. And, uh, we've had a great experience. Yeah.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Thank you so much.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Thank you so much. Um, thanks for for allowing me to. Come on. I'm honored to do it. Awesome.

Natalie Plummer: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Amber Warren, PA-C: Thank you for listening to the Functional Medicine Foundations podcast. For more information on topics covered today. Specialties available at the FMI Center for Optimal Health and the highest Quality of supplements and more. Go to


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