Chronic Problems, Holistic Solutions: Q&A with Dr. Karolina Baker
by Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
According to a recent projection from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about six in 10 adults across the U.S. live with a chronic medical issue. Many of these illnesses contribute to high disability or even mortality rates, and for those millions of sufferers, healing can often seem too far out of reach.
This rampant, debilitating healthcare burden is what motivates Dr. Karolina Baker, M.D., to provide long-term wellness solutions that actually work. Her functional medicine practice, Aven Clinic, treats chronic illness through a holistic lens—considering the internal root cause, rather than just masking the symptoms. In this month’s Community Spotlight, Dr. Baker shares her unique, alternative insights on relief from chronic disease.
Natural Awakenings: Which factors initially drew you to practicing functional medicine as opposed to the conventional healthcare mode?
Dr. Karolina Baker: Starting my career as an emergency physician, I could cure patients of acute illnesses, but I referred them to a primary care physician for chronic conditions. However, after shifting to become a primary care doctor, I began to deal with more chronic issues.
That’s when I realized conventional medicine fails to alleviate many chronic conditions, including chronic pain or fatigue, obesity, autoimmune diseases, JBS, anxiety, depression, ADD, thyroid issues and more. Conventional medicine assigns symptoms to the illness, then treats those symptoms but fails to resolve the underlying causes.
Because of this, patients often face an endless stream of pills or procedures without much hope of healing. There is minimal focus (if any) on the root causes of these now-too-common chronic health issues. However, I realized that I can utilize a functional medicine approach to determine the cause of a patient’s symptoms, allowing me to prevent further suffering.
NA: Can you summarize your professional background in medicine, and what makes you so passionate about this career path?
Dr. Baker: I am a Board-Certified Family Medicine Physician with over 18 years of clinical experience. I also completed two residency programs—Family Medicine in Miami, Florida, and Emergency Medicine in The Netherlands.
After my graduation from Poznan University of Medical Sciences in Poland, I worked in emergency departments, urgent care centers, primary care practices and mental health facilities all over the world. My career has taken me around the United States, as well as to England, The Netherlands, Aruba and Poland.
I also completed an Integrative Psychiatry fellowship and an Institute of Functional Medicine training, and I am certified in the Walsh protocol treating mental health conditions. I combine this unique background and range of experience to offer personalized healthcare modalities with compassion and competence. I believe that a fundamental part of the doctor-patient relationship is making the time to address all concerns.
NA: What particular ailments do you specialize in treating, and which treatment modalities do you gravitate towards in your practice?
Dr. Baker: I create customized Functional Medicine programs for my patients which cover the essential pillars of health—nutrition, detoxification, hormones, fitness and mentorship. These health restoration programs are comprehensive, personalized plans of action to help my patients to regain and optimize their health naturally.
I give my patients tools and educate them on how to take control over their health without being dependent on a healthcare system. Using this protocol, we can address chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, weight issues, skin eczema, allergies, thyroid problems, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, ADHD, insomnia, and PMS or PMDD, just to name a few.
NA: How do you create a collaborative treatment plan that empowers clients to take an active role in their own well-being?
Dr. Baker: I host free monthly seminars, focusing on natural, holistic solutions to hormonal imbalances and inflammation. If you deal with stubborn weight issues, fatigue or brain fog, hormonal imbalance, chronic inflammation, headaches, chronic pain, diabetes or high blood pressure, these seminars are created for you.
You will learn about the most common underlying causes of hormonal issues and inflammation, which lab tests can help identify the root cause of the problem, and the reason why taking a medication is often not an effective long-term solution. Instead, you’ll discover that actually works for treating chronic health conditions.
These informative and useful lectures are excellent opportunities to learn how functional medicine locates the root of a problem to transform bodies and lives. Then, after attending a seminar, I invite you to schedule a comprehensive wellness evaluation in my clinic.
I work with my patients to create a personalized treatment plan based on a thorough intake, specialized tests and relevant clinical insight. I evaluate nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, inflammation markers, gut health, reactions to stress, potential allergens and genetic predisposition. My goal is to ultimately help others restore their quality of life and recover from chronic or mystery illnesses.
Together, the patient and I will work to relieve their unwanted symptoms such as chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, body aches, digestive issues, lack of motivation, lack of focus, feelings of hopelessness, despair or unworthiness, and so much more!
NA: What would you tell someone who has not found relief with conventional care, but might also feel hesitant to try functional medicine?
Dr. Baker: You’re not alone. More of us than ever before experience some form of chronic illness. I know how it feels like to suffer, so I have no judgement toward those I work with. Patients aren’t healing because conventional diagnostic tools focus on just the symptoms without taking the root cause into account. However, both doctors and patients alike want to change this approach and move beyond the pharmaceutical model.
My mission is to help as others heal from chronic suffering. With the right support, our bodies are incredibly resilient and capable of healing. Ultimately, I want to empower as many patients as I can to reach their full potential and embrace vibrant, abundant lives.
Dr. Karolina Baker is the lead practitioner of Aven Clinic Functional Medicine, located a 3976 Destination Drive, Suite 102, Osprey. For more information, visit AvenClinic.com. To schedule an appointment or evaluation and to learn more about monthly seminars, call 941-500-2093.