Expert Profile - Monique Levesque- Hartle
Monique Levesque-Hartle, DC, DACBN, CSCS
Functional Medicine Chiropractor
Dr. Monique Levesque-Hartle‘s Bio:
Dr. Monique Levesque-Hartle has been in private practice since 1993. In addition to being a doctor of Chiropractic, she is also a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. She is a graduate of the Master’s Program for Whiplash Injuries as well. One of the things that make our practice very different from many other chiropractic clinics is that Dr. Hartle uses a form of muscle work that combines neuromuscular reeducation and myofascial release to remove scar tissue, adhesions, and muscle spasms from the body without surgery or drugs. Dr. Hartle also uses Cranio-sacral therapy which helps with a variety of different conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, ear infections, and migraine headaches.
Our primary goal is to provide exceptional natural health care that touches the mind, body, and spirit of individuals in a welcoming environment. Our secondary goal is to educate individuals about how chiropractic care will improve their health by addressing current health concerns and motivating the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. The most important aspect of chiropractic practice is preventive or wellness care. In order to keep our patients healthy and prevent future problems, we strongly emphasize nutrition, rest, exercise, stress management as well as regular chiropractic care.
Dr. Hartle has years of post-doctoral training in nutrition and Functional Medicine. She is very passionate about getting to the root cause of the problem and working with patients to correct their metabolic imbalances to restore proper function to their bodies. She provides a comprehensive approach by looking at how all the body organs systems are working together and how they are affecting the health and wellbeing of each patient individually. Patients will learn to embrace a healthy diet, lifestyle modifications, functional medicine, exercise regimens, and a positive mental attitude in order to make lasting changes in their lives.
Dr. Hartle competed in powerlifting at the international level for 13 years. She is a 10-time Canadian National Champion. She took the bronze medal in her weight class at the World Bench Press Championships and placed 5th overall in her weight class at the Women’s World Powerlifting Championships. She played women’s tackle football for the Fort Wayne Flash for four years. She has retired from competitive sports and now enjoys recreational cycling and curling. She continues to use strength training to maintain optimal health. The thing she most enjoys is spending time with her family.
What life events or challenges that you’ve experienced (could be minor, could be major) – whether you’ve experienced them directly or via someone close to you, have had any type of impact on your desire to work with patients with mental health challenges?
My mom was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer in 1982 when I was 12. She was given 6 months to live. We were very fortunate in that she was with us for 2 years after her diagnosis. We did a lot of nutrition work which significantly prolonged her life. I watched her slow and steady decline during that time until she passed. I was 14 years old when she died. I not only lost my mother that day, but also my best friend. I was one of her caregivers and also cared for my younger brother.
We lived on a farm and there were many daily chores to be done and animals to take care of too. I struggled with severe depression for almost a year after that. I had to force myself to get out of bed every day to take care of my brother and the animals as well as go to school. Back in those days, you didn’t go to counseling… you just “suck it up buttercup.” (My younger brother and I still joke about that saying to this day.)
At one point I was suicidal and didn’t know where to turn. The only thing that saved me was my faith. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other until I slowly climbed out of the abyss. Years later I was diagnosed with adrenal issues which stemmed from that childhood trauma. I have done a lot of nutrition work and was in counseling as an adult for 8 years. I know first-hand that nutrition work and counseling are a powerful combination to get you on the road to recovery. Your body and your mind are intimately connected and you can’t have true wellness without both physical and mental health.
How did those events impact you emotionally/morally? How, if at all did those events impact the way you view how our current system teaches us to treat patients with mental health challenges?
I did not seek help for years after the loss of my mother. It saddens me now that I wasted so much time and could have been much healthier and happier much sooner. We have made great strides toward obliterating the mental health stigma in the last decade but there is still a long way to go. Seeing a counselor should be as common as going to a dentist for a dental exam or seeing your chiropractor for maintenance care. It should be part of our self-care and not something that is seen as a sign of weakness. My goal is to help people feel comfortable talking about their mental health issues and seeking help with them so that they can get on the road to health much faster. Our brain is the most powerful organ in our body, we need to take better care of it. We need to end the stigma!
When and why did you decide to actually focus on working with patients dealing with mental health issues, specifically, and how was your decision shaped by the experiences above?
I learned early on in practice that the mind and body are connected and what happens to one affects the other. I have had many patients that were unable to recover from a physical injury because they had a mental health issue, such as anxiety or depression or sometimes simply anger that was blocking their healing. We were unable to resolve their physical issues until they addressed their emotional issues. The “suck it up buttercup” attitude does not help anyone. We need to address mental health issues head-on. Conditions like anxiety and depression (to name a few) affect our physiology too. They change our body chemistry as much if not more than our diet and exercise do.
Unfortunately, until recently, mental health had such a stigma that people would suffer in silence rather than seek help. For years I have been asking my patients about their mental health and referring many of them for counseling. I have learned that you need a healthy mind, body, and spirit to be truly healthy.
What methods or practices do you utilize to help individuals get/feel better?
I do a thorough medical history with every new patient. I ask about their lifestyle habits, diet, nutrition, family and past medical history, sleep, sexual function, energy levels, exercise habits, bowel function, etc. I also ask about their mental health, stress levels, anxiety, depression, etc.
I use a metabolic assessment questionnaire (MAF) to establish a baseline for the physical and emotional symptoms the patient is experiencing. From there I order blood tests, stool tests, salivary tests, food sensitivity tests, hormone panels, or a combination of all of them to understand what is happening inside the patient’s body. This allows me to determine the cause of the problem so that I can be specific in my recommendations.
Once I have all the information, I prepare a nutrition report that is individualized for each patient. It includes their lab results (what the test is for, what their result means, and what we are going to do about it), what their MAF result means, a supplement regimen, diet recommendations, exercise recommendations, and stress management tools. A synopsis is provided at the end of the detailed report to make it easy for patients to follow. I also refer patients for counseling when they need it if they are not already in therapy.
We also use chiropractic care, myofascial release, massage therapy, and craniosacral therapy, in addition to functional medicine for those who need it. Another doctor in our clinic practices acupuncture as well. He has great success with anxiety and depression.
Our goal is to address the underlying cause of the presenting problems and not just mask the symptoms. The body has a self-regulating process to maintain homeostasis or balance. As a functional medicine practitioner, my job is to educate my patients about how to take care of their bodies and to provide the tools and nutrients the body is missing so that the body can heal itself and get back in balance. The majority of our patients see improvement in as little as a few weeks.