Well Workers - Joanne Pappas Nottage


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My story

I became a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach (FMCHC) to inspire and empower others to take charge of their health!  I’m especially passionate about helping those in search of a new approach to addressing autoimmune disease, chronic illness and other challenging health issues.  My message is clear – there is hope and you can improve your quality of life!

Why? I feel better now than I have in years and am thriving despite multiple autoimmune diagnoses!  I was diagnosed with my 1st autoimmune disease as a child.  I pursued the path of conventional western medicine for years with many different doctors — yet my overall health continued to decline. After developing new symptoms and more diagnoses, I found my path to better health by adopting a Functional Medicine approach.  

My symptoms and journey to FM began in early childhood. I went from being an active, enthusiastic child with rosy cheeks, to a pale child that got winded after walking a few blocks to the grocery store.

Eventually, I was diagnosed with anemia and subsequently with Rheumatic Fever, my first autoimmune diagnosis. The Rheumatic Fever damaged one of my heart valves so 14 years ago I had open heart surgery and now have an amazing mechanical mitral valve!

Over the years, I developed new symptoms including allergies, asthma, migraines, weight issues, poor sleep, rashes, hives and bald spots – and then in my twenties I was diagnosed with my 2nd autoimmune disease – Alopecia – an autoimmune disease that targets your hair follicles.

During those years, I worked hard to try to get healthy and saw at least 10 different doctors!  I was a motivated and compliant patient but regardless of what I did, I got sicker and sicker every year!  Unfortunately, most of the recommendations were addressing my symptoms and not the root causes. This was very frustrating for me!  As a problem-solving chemical engineer, I wanted to understand what was happening and why.

Eventually, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s - a thyroid autoimmune disease, and later with antibodies for Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder, yet another autoimmune disease. After developing new symptoms and more diagnoses, I finally found my path to better health by adding a Functional Medicine approach.  

My healing journey included an elimination diet and the following testing: food sensitivities, gut health, heavy metals, metabolic process, and adrenal function.  Given my test results, my treatment plan included:


  • Eliminated gluten/dairy and a few other foods and now typically eat a Paleo diet
  • Added probiotics, digestive enzymes and supplements to support healing my gut
  • Heavy Metals detox using a DMSA chelation combined with Infrared Sauna and supplements
  • Targeted supplements, foods and stress management to rebuild my adrenal function
  • Added anti-inflammatory and detox foods/teas to support my bodies efforts to heal

Now I’m passionate about using my experience to help others in search of a new approach to addressing autoimmune disease, chronic illness or other health challenges, learn how to thrive, despite their diagnosis!


FMCHC, Functional Medicine Coaching Academy, Affiliated with the Institute of Functional Medicine

MBA in Marketing, Golden Gate University, San Francisco, CA

BS in Chemical Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

My top character strengths are Kindness, Love of Learning, Love, Curiosity, Honesty

PRofessional background

As an independent Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach, Speaker and Founder of Embrace Functional Health, LLC, I advocate for a collaborative, integrative approach to better health using Western Medicine, Functional Medicine, lifestyle changes and other complimentary approaches.  I work with people one-on-one and in groups and give talks to create awareness for this exciting new approach that changed my life.

Although I had a successful career as a corporate and independent marketing and business development executive, my personal health transformation inspired and motivated me to make a career transition so I could help others on their journey to better health.  

My approach is to provide support, information and nuggets from my experience and training to help people navigate their way back to better health and vitality quicker and more efficiently than I did.

Recent Speaking Engagements Include:

  • Scleroderma Foundation, Chicago Chapter, Patient Education Conference, Feel Your Best: An Insider's Guide to Thriving Despite an Autoimmune Diagnosis!

  • Northwestern University, Alumni Association Webinar, Feel Your Best! An Insider's Guide to Overcoming Health Mysteries

Extensive Professional Experience includes:

  • Success stories from my own marketing consulting firm, corporate positions, and nonprofit work

  • Effective business development, strategic planning, fundraising and revenue growth success

  • Developing, cultivating and fostering long term, collaborative, relationships and business partnerships

  • Excellent presentation, business analysis, communication, negotiation and problem solving skills

  • Advisory Council Member for Young Dreamer Network, a nonprofit inspiring youth through education

  • President and Treasurer on Board of Directors of Woman, Inc, a domestic violence agency in SF

  • Developed research study and recommendations for a Donor Stewardship Program for ACCION Int’l

  • VP Communications on Board of Directors of the SF Chapter of the American Marketing Association

  • Multi-lingual - English, Greek & French, with international projects and multi-cultural experience


While on my healing journey, I learned to meditate along with prioritizing time for my health and wellness! I practice yoga and work hard to make time to walk on the beach, play tennis for exercise and stress relief, and to spend quality time with my friends and family!  When on vacation, I read novels and swim in the ocean!

I love a great, deep tissue massage and continue to explore new Mind-Body-Spirit approaches like Reiki and Guided Imagery as ways to manage and transform my stress as this is an ongoing challenge for me!!!