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Meet Ann Marie Barter of Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic in Lakeside Neighborhood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ann Marie Barter.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
When I was a newborn, I went into a coma-like state 48 hours after my first round of vaccines were administered. I was in that unconscious state for a week after I was born. After the initial scare, it seemed like everything was fine until I started school.

In the first grade, I had a terrible time learning to read. It was challenging for me to see the words on the page and comprehend what they meant. My Mom would work with me every night to help me learn to read until I had mastered it.

Trouble struck again when I was 15 years old. I had terrible acne and horrible periods. Finally, after all sorts of acne treatments had failed and it was hard for me to get out of bed in the morning due to terrible cramping, it was time to get some professional help.

Unfortunately, the doctor said, “Welcome to womanhood” and, “that every woman has terrible cramps.” She also suggested a topical cream for my acne she thought would work well, although coincidentally her neighbor was the pharmaceutical sales rep for it!

She did run some labs on me and told me the dreaded words when you just know something is wrong but no one can confirm it, “Your labs are ‘normal.’”

Well, the acne cream did not work and so the next approach was Accutane and oral birth control pills. I declined this treatment feeling completely defeated and thinking to feel badly all the time was something that I would just have to live with.

About two years later, I remember waking up with terrible period cramps and asking to stay home from school. I was unable to stand up completely and figured the cramps were just a little worse than usual that day. My Mother insisted we go to a different doctor immediately. That doctor insisted I go to the ER! I had mistaken my period cramps for my appendix rupturing! In the midst of the surgical removal of my appendix, the doctors were all proclaiming that I was in “great shape” and “completely healthy.” At the ripe old age of 17, I knew that something wasn’t right when I was having organs removed!

The final straw happened about a year later when I started breaking out into hives on my face, down my throat and my breathing became labored. I was finally able to see that I was really having some health struggles.

Once again, I found myself in the ER where treatment was just consistent dosing with IV antihistamines. Once finished the symptoms came back the next night. This finally proved to me that I needed to go outside of the traditional medical model to find out what was really going on with my health!

That is when I found alternative medicine and actually received a chiropractic adjustment. My life completely changed. I had no idea how tired, moody, and bloated I had been. I learned about food sensitivities and allergies, pathogens in the gut, hormone balancing, brain health and finally felt like I had the tools to change my life. My life did completely change for the better. I not only no longer struggled with the health issues that I had struggled with previously, but I didn’t realize how good I could actually feel. After I graduated from college, I walked into my “dream job” at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. Not too long after that, I realized that I was truly passionate about health, not negotiating jet systems! I upgraded my business degree for more schooling and then received my Doctorate from the University of Western States with a focus on nutrition and chronic health conditions. I founded Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic in 2010 in Niwot, Colorado. I later moved the practice to Longmont and then expanded to Denver. I am so passionate about helping people get their health back, especially when they’ve been told their lab work is “normal” and they should settle on not feeling well. We don’t have to accept a low bar with our health!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My road to where I am now has been challenging. I worked full time at Lockheed Martin while taking my pre-requisites for my Doctorate program at night. My job at Lockheed involved travel, but the classes and associated labs that I took at night did not allow for me to miss any classes. My schedule was so packed that I took up fasting because I had no time to prepare or eat food regularly. When I was finally able to be in chiropractic school full time, I met a man that I thought I would be forever. We got engaged. The road was rocky between us but I assumed it was the demands of school. I convinced myself that all relationships have ups and downs. I never told anyone that I felt empty inside or alone in t relationships yourself that this is a good match. Between the emotional challenges of being in a difficult relationship as well as the rigors of school – I was described as “having the weight of the world on my shoulders.”

As I was graduating, I knew I did not belong long-term in Portland, Oregon. Everything seemed to be falling into place until I received that phone call that would change my life. My mom called and told me that a radiation technician let her know that she had metastatic cancer. She had not talked to a doctor yet and had no idea what the diagnosis meant. My mother, my best friend, was diagnosed with Stage 3C ovarian cancer. I felt like my world was crashing down on me and for the first time, I needed emotional support. My fiancee was unsupportive. I knew that time could be running short and I was very far away from her when she needed me. I made the hard decision to break off my engagement, leave Oregon, and start a practice in Colorado. I would classify that time as the hardest two years of my life. When I started my practice in Colorado, I initially had a business partner. The partnership did not work well and created a lot of tension. We decided it would be best to go our separate ways, but that happening in the first year of practice it was incredibly challenging. Soon after, my mom passed away. I watched her suffer while I tried my best to be a healer to other people. After dealing with all of the challenges of starting my practice and then the incredible loss of my mom and business partner, I’ve realized that you don’t recover, you fall into a new normal.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We are an Alternative Medicine Clinic that specializes in functional medicine. We work with many challenging health conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis to name a few. Many of these conditions are hard to treat with the traditional medical model. Most of these conditions should be treated as metabolic conditions, not just the sum of their symptoms. We work with many frightened and frustrated patients. Many of whom have been tested for everything under the sun with test results consistently coming back “normal” so they are told the symptoms they are experiencing are “in their head” or just “the way things are” for them. In functional medicine, we use a different set of reference ranges to interpret diagnostic test results. It gives us a much clearer picture for individuals than results based on population averages. This allows us to tailor holistic protocols for specific individuals.

Many of the diseases and conditions we see today can be treated effectively when we figure out the root cause of the disease or the condition. Many people are walking around with dysregulated blood sugar, unbalanced gut microbiomes, important micronutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, chronic infections and inflammation, the list goes on. And when all or many of these issues are present you end up with a patient who feels miserable but often can’t get definitive answers. We treat using a host of specialty diagnostic testing, functional blood chemistry, nutrition and lifestyle mediation, and only the highest quality therapeutic grade nutritional supplements, nutriceuticals, and medicinal herbs.

What I am most proud of is how many people’s lives we’ve positively impacted over the years. I am so passionate about what I do because I know if we can regulate people’s metabolisms by regulating their blood sugar, then we start addressing their specific symptoms, we can have them back on the road to great health pretty quickly. When people have been dealing with chronic pain or illness, when they finally start feeling like their old selves, it’s a beautiful thing to watch and be a part of. I’m grateful to be a part of their road to recovery.

In the near future, we are releasing a podcast called Fearless Health! We have a line up of amazing practitioners and it is targeted to patients. I want people to understand that they have different options than what they have been told by a traditional doctor and to help people see that they do and helping them understand what types of different options are available to them. Eventually, the plan is to medically integrate our clinic to have a wide range of alternative-minded MDs and nurses, as well as other holistic-minded practitioners to have one-stop shopping in the Denver-metro area!

What were you like growing up?
As I mentioned earlier, when I was a child, I overcame some learning disabilities. That made me a pretty determined kid, as I always felt like I needed to do better, try harder. I was friendly, yet competitive. As I grew up I competed in sports and became a competitive dancer. I learned to work and thrive in groups and on my own, which I think has really helped inform who I am as an adult.

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