Author: Joan Haynes

Fibromyalgia

by Joan Haynes, ND

Fibromyalgia is characterized by wide-spread pain and chronic fatigue, there is no known single cause.  However, investigating and treating contributing factors often brings relief.   Here are some ideas we can help you explore:

Hormones

Hormones involving the thyroid, ovaries and adrenal glands are essential in regulating energy, mood, appetite, sleep, behavior, and stress response.  Thyroid testing is a blood test which measures TSH, free T3, free T4 and thyroid antibodies.  Your sex and adrenal hormones are best done via urine or saliva testing (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol). Read more at Testing for Hormone Imbalances.

Neurotransmitter Imbalances


Fibromyalgia patients frequently suffer from depression and anxiety.  Research has found that having low levels of the neurotransmitters noradrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine in the brain are common among fibromyalgia sufferers.  Low serotonin in particular has been associated with pain sensitivity and sleep disturbances and in conventional medical practices patients are often prescribed antidepressants with some success.

At Boise Natural Health Clinic we help manipulate neurotransmitters using Targeted Amino Acid Therapy, using supplements such as 5-HTP, tryptophan, and L-theanine.  Neurotransmitters can be measured – we use urine testing to take the guess work out.  READ MORE about neurotransmitter testing.

Inflammation from Food

Widespread body inflammation can be cause by both pro-inflammatory diet and specific food sensitivities.  Here’s an article to learn more: Are Foods Causing Your Symptoms.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Studies have been conducted showing that certain nutrients can have significant improvement on pain levels such as D-Ribose, magnesium, vitamin D and others.  Vitamin D, for example, helps reduce cytokines which are inflammation-causing chemicals.  Omega-3 oils, found in flax seeds and fish, is another researched food shown to reduce inflammation.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Mitochondria are little organelles that live inside your cells and are responsible for the generation of energy.  If not working properly, fibromyalgia symptoms may appear.  Certain nutrients are needed for mitochondria to work.  An Organic Acid Test is a way of measuring your mitochondria function.  Depending on results, treatment may involve using supplements such as coenzymes Q10, creatine, L-carnitine and folate.

Sleep

Without a doubt sleep plays a huge role in fibromyalgia symptoms.  It is during sleep that the body makes growth hormone which rejuvenates our muscles.  Poor sleep can be due to hormone imbalances, nutritional deficiencies and lifestyle factors.  Solving sleep issues goes a long way toward feeling better.

Come Visit Us

Untreated fibromyalgia can be a life-altering illness but there is help available.  At Boise Natural Health Clinic we want to help you uncover the factors that contributed to its onset, not just cover up the symptoms with medication.  A free-phone consult may be the way to begin, 208-338-0405.

Community Help with Sliding Scale

Dr. Haynes, thank you for being so kind, patient, and generous! And, for making yourself available in times of crisis.  I really appreciate your ability to listen and willingness to explain things.  Even when I was worrying over something that now, looking back, seems somewhat minor you always took me seriously which was comforting.  So thank you for getting me started on the path to recovery, I feel so much better than I did before and I’m feeling stronger every day.

You are making a significant contribution to our community for you are helping to fill in the gaps when it comes to the failed medical system.  I don’t know what we would do without people like you on our side.  I think people like you and other alternative practitioners who are working on a sliding scale are like guardians and teachers of the community.

Calcium . . . Friend or Foe?  A Fresh Look at Bone Health and Osteoporosis

by Joan Haynes, ND

Still think 1200 mg of calcium daily will build good bone?  Think again.  That much calcium might only not help, but actually harm.  Excessive calcium might compromise cardiac and kidney health.  Here’s a fresh look at osteoporosis and the host of minerals, cofactors, diet and lifestyle recommendations that are necessary for good bone health.

Careful with Calcium

Health professionals are beginning to question the recommendations on calcium supplementation.  A study published in the British Medical Journal in 2008 showed a positive correlation between calcium supplementation and an increased risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) in older women through calcification of coronary arteries.  Other studies showed too much calcium leads to deposits in the kidneys leading to kidney stones.

Not All Calcium is the Same

The type of calcium is always important to consider.  At BNH we recommend calcium citrate or calcium citrate-malate.  These are highly absorbable forms of calcium and we recommend that women stay under 500 mg a day.  The popular and inexpensive calcium carbonate form is what chalk and Tums are made from.  Calcium carbonate actually blocks its own absorption through buffering stomach acid.

Low Stomach Acid

You might be getting plenty of calcium and other minerals in your diet, but if you don’t have enough stomach acid to break them down, you can’t absorb them.  Symptoms of low stomach acid might be acid reflux, heartburn, burping, gas, bloating, and nausea.  Low stomach acid is associated with an inability to digest meat well and often people’s stomach feels heavy or overly full after meals, despite eating a normal amount.  Sometimes, even if there are no gastrointestinal symptoms, it is useful to screen patients for low HCL if they have poor mineralization health conditions, such as those with anemia, osteoporosis, thinning hair, thin nails, and nervous system problems like insomnia, anxiety, and restless leg syndrome. READ MORE about low stomach acid in an article on our web page.

Bones are MUCH More than Calcium

To build and maintain bone we must also have optimal amounts of vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium, potassium and essential trace minerals such as boron.  Adequate protein is also needed as well as omega-3 oils.

High Calcium Foods are High Mineral Foods

We all know that dairy foods are high in calcium, but many of our patients avoid dairy.  The best food sources of calcium, other than dairy, include whole grains, beans, almonds and other nuts, dark green leafy vegetables like kale, bok choy and turnip greens, also salmon and sardines. It is interesting to note that individuals who avoid dairy due to lactose intolerance do not experience a corresponding increase in osteoporosis.

A Word about Strontium

In my patients that have demonstrated bone loss with a DEXA scan, I recommend the mineral strontium citrate.  This mineral has been shown to increase bone density.  Caution: calcium will inhibit the absorption of strontium if taken together so they must be ingested at different meals.

Alkaline Diet

A diet high in animal protein, grains, and sugar and low in vegetables and fruit can cause an increase in urinary excretion of calcium, leading to bone loss.  These foods acidify your system, causing a leaching of calcium from the bone to keep your body’s pH normal.  A whole-foods, plant-based diet create a more alkaline environment.

Exercise

Always at the top of the list to build and maintain healthy bones is exercise.  Both weight bearing and cardio together have been shown to be the most effective.

Don’t Wait to Take Bone Health Seriously

About one in two women over the age of 50 will develop osteoporosis but what is often overlooked is one in four men over the age of 50 will also develop the disease.  Be proactive with your bone health.

At Boise Natural Health, we can help you design an effective bone health program that includes individualized supplementation and overall health optimization.  Call today to make an appointment 208-338-0405. 

Advanced Hormone and Neurotransmitter Workshop

by Joan Haynes, ND

I’m just recently back from a 3-day conference in Las Vegas Hosted by Labrix Clinical Services, a lab that’s new to us at Boise Natural Health. This conference was three days of very useful clinical information. We started off by learning more about the gut microbiome and how it influences our brain chemistry and hormone balance. We talked in great detail about testing for hormone balance for women – estrogen, progesterone, DHEA and testosterone. Here is a sample hormone test. There was a whole talk about libido, full of useful information.

Adrenal health was covered in most of the talks because of its fundamental role in our energy production. I learned about the Stages of Adrenal Dysfunction and treatment considerations at each stage. One of the speaker’s had a great line:

“If the adrenal ain’t happy, nothing is happy.”

I also learned more about men’s health and especially testing and treatment for progesterone deficiency, not just testosterone deficiency. We also covered inflammation and its role in neurotransmitter production and hormone balance
.

I’ve been doing neurotransmitter testing for many years, and  I’m excited to be offering a new lab,  Labrix to help people identify their underlying imbalance that leads to their depression and/or anxiety. We covered the use of nutrients, herbs and amino acids to raise or lower neurotransmitters such as serotonin, GABA, dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. Here is sample neurotransmitter test to see what’s included.

The lab also offers a genetic test FindWhy™ Weight Control that looks at five genes that are known to have a significant impact on regulation of metabolism, satiety, sensitivity to carbohydrates, and regulation of insulin and leptin systems. B
ased on the results, different weight loss plans are created to overcome predispositions.

Cost for these tests range from $191 to $347 depending on what is ordered.

If any of this new testing interests you, come in and we’ll get started, or you can call and set up a free 10-minute consult to speak with me about how this testing might be useful to you.

How Your Poor Digestion is Preventing You from Losing Weight

by Joan Haynes, ND

Often people suffer from digestive problems for years without realizing how it’s affecting their other problem, their inability to lose weight. Metabolism and food cravings are seriously impacted by a poorly working digestive tract and treating gut problems can be the missing link for successful weight loss.

Instead of going on another white-knuckle diet, fix what is fundamentally wrong with your gastrointestinal system and watch the pounds fall off. Not only will you be slimmer, you will have more energy and will get rid of some of your other chronic symptoms.

Symptoms of Poor Digestive Function

1. Unwanted weight gain or weight loss
2. Constipation and/or diarrhea
3. Reactions to a growing list of foods
4. Bloating, belching, gas, cramp
5. Heartburn and reflux
6. Skin breakouts
7. Low libido, poor sexual functioning
8. Depression and/or anxiety
9. Brain fog
10. Respiratory issues
11. Frequent infections
12. Muscle/joint achiness
13. Autoimmune disease

How to Repair Your Digestion

If you’ve got weight that is hard to get off and keep off, you may need to assess the various causes of your inflamed “leaky gut”. Often more than one factor is involved:

  1. Food
    a. Identify food sensitivities thru blood tests or formal elimination diet.
    b. Eat an “anti-inflammatory diet” and consider anti-inflammatory supplements
  2. Bad Bugs / Good Bugs
    a. Test for and treat gut infections such as parasites, bacteria, fungus and viruses. Read about how we can test.
    b. Boost the healthy microbiome with fermented foods and probiotics,
  3. Digestive juices
    a. Assess and treat low levels of hydrochloric acid, bile, and digestive enzymes.
  4. Stress
    a. Test neurotransmitter production to treat anxiety and depression.
    b. Learn relaxation practices.
  5. Hormones
    a. Test hormones which play a big role in body function – thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol.

It’s Not All in Your Head!!

Having trouble sticking with your good eating and exercise routine? Our digestive tract breaks down food into absorbable nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fats. When digestion is poorly functioning, malabsorption of these important nutrients results in fatigue, depression, and pain such as headaches and achiness, which then counteracts motivation for eating well and exercising. If you don’t fix your digestion, there is little hope for long term weight loss.
90% of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter, is produced by cells that line the intestine. Damage to the gastrointestinal tract will damage the serotonin-producing cells making levels drop. People with low serotonin are often tired and depressed making them reach for foods high in carbs and making motivation for exercise difficult.

You Don’t Have to do it Alone

If you’ve been struggling to lose weight, naturopathic medicine and functional medicine are great options because we take a whole-body approach. Yes, calories matter, but often there is more to the story. Optimizing digestive function as well as assessing hormones and neurotransmitter function can help curb cravings and speed up a sluggish metabolism.

Harboring Bad Bacteria, Parasites or other Pathogens?

By Joan Haynes, ND

I’ve been trying out a new test on patients for that last year with great results. I’ve helped diagnose Giardia in a 2-year case of diarrhea after cancer treatment, a little boy with failure to thrive with C. diff, and a Lyme patient with Microsporidia. These results are exciting
because when I first began my practice almost 20 years ago, the only way we could test for pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract was a culture which left up to 50% of the bacterial species undetectable. I hardly ever ran tests looking for a microbe because it was so expensive and inconclusive. Now we have access to new and affordable testing using DNA, which has transformed the field of microbiology, making diagnosis much easier.

Paraphrased from the lab’s web page: The Gastrointestinal Microbial Assay Plus (GI-MAP) was designed to assess a patient’s microbiome from a single stool sample, with particular attention to microbes that may be disturbing normal microbial balance and that may contribute to illness. The panel is a comprehensive collection of microbial targets as well as immune and digestive markers. It screens for pathogenic bacteria, commensal (friendly) bacteria, opportunistic pathogens, fungi, viruses, and parasites.

If you are harboring pathogens, you might have some of the following symptoms:

Gastrointestinal symptoms:

Abdominal pain

Bloating
Constipation
Crohn’s disease
Diarrhea
Food poisoning
Gastric cancer
Gastritis
Gastroenteritis
Gastroesophageal reflux
Irritable bowel syndrome
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
Ulcer
Ulcerative colitis
Vomiting

Autoimmune conditions:

Ankylosing spondylitis
Reactive and Rheumatoid arthritis
Thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s, Grave’s)

Allergic Disease:

Asthma
Eczema

If you think you might have an imbalance in your microbiome, consider testing.  Look at a sample test here.   The Diagnostic Solutions Lab will bill your insurance, you need to enclose a $179 deposit with the sample.  If your insurance doesn’t cover, or you haven’t met your deductible, you may be responsible for up to $357 in total.

Not Coping Well With Stress? You Might Have a Progesterone Deficiency.

by Joan Haynes, ND

Women with low progesterone often have symptoms of insomnia, PMS, anxiety, irritability, breast tenderness, food cravings, hot flashes, irregular menses, infertility, uterine fibroid, low thyroid, low adrenal function and a host of other symptoms.

Progesterone’s main job during child bearing years is to prepare and maintain the uterus for pregnancy. Progesterone also affects brain function. It produces a sense of calmness and helps promote rejuvenating sleep. But when progesterone levels are low, the body can feel it has too much estrogen, even though estrogen levels can be normal. This is known as “estrogen dominance”.

When woman are under stress, their progesterone gets robbed to feed the cortisol (stress) pathway. This can leave us less able to handle stress and we may find ourselves anxious, overwhelmed and extra grouchy with those we love. We may also end up with adrenal fatigue,which often goes hand-in-hand with low progesterone. These may be the first symptoms of perimenopause and can happen years before other symptoms start to occur.

Testing

Low progesterone levels can be easily determined with saliva or urinary hormone testing.
Read more in my article Testing for Hormones: The Big Five.

No Need to Suffer there is Help for You

If you aren’t feeling yourself, come in and we can see if low progesterone and/or low cortisol are making you feel out of sorts. We can talk about ways to restore your hormone balance naturally, perhaps using bioidentical progesterone, herbs, supplements and dietary changes.

Tired? You Might Have Low Iron

By Joan Haynes, ND

Fatigue can have many causes, but a fairly easy cause to figure out and treat involves iron. Iron deficiency is an under-recognized cause of fatigue and can be missed on standard lab work.

Symptoms which may be linked to iron depletion are:

  • Fatigue
  • Poor work productivity
  • Poor attention and memory
  • Sore tongue
  • Poor condition of skin or nails
  • Hair loss
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Cracks on the corners of mouth
  • Pica – cravings for non-foods such as ice or even dirt

Iron does some important things in the body:

  • Carries oxygen to tissues
  • Needed in the mitochondria which makes energy
  • Helps synthesis of thyroid hormone
  • Converts tyrosine to dopamine (one of our feel good neurotransmitters)
  • Important in immune function

Testing

Most clinics order a CBC (Complete Blood Count) which will pick up the advanced form of iron deficiency anemia with a low hematocrit and/or hemoglobin (the color and volume of your red blood cells). But an earlier form of low iron levels can be detected with a serum ferritin test. The “normal” range for serum ferritin is broad, from 8 – 250 ng/mL, but hair loss, fatigue and other symptoms can occur when the number gets below 90.

Uncover the Cause of the Low Iron

Besides just identifying the problem, we need to discover and address the causes of the iron deficiency. It could be the patient just doesn’t eat enough iron-rich foods, but it could be something more serious. For example: heavy menstrual bleeding, low stomach acid, celiac disease, low B-12 and folate levels, hidden bleeding in the colon (a potential sign of colon cancer), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), chronic disease, inflammation, high lead levels and more.

Iron Supplements

Many people complain about gastrointestinal symptoms when taking supplemental iron, usually the ferrous sulfate form. But there are easier forms to absorb. At Boise Natural Health Clinic we use iron bis-glycinate with Vitamin C, between meals. It can take months for iron levels to come back up.

Iron absorption is inhibited by:

Low stomach acid, acid blocking medication, H. pylori infection, coffee, tea, soy products, wheat bran, wheat gluten, oat, nuts, casein, egg white, whey protein, some herbal teas.

Iron absorption is enhanced by:

Hydrochloric acid and vitamin C

Caution is advised with iron supplementation can be toxic, it is the leading cause of poisoning in children. In general, men and non-menstruating women should not take iron supplements or even a multi with iron in it unless they test low.

If you are suffering with any of the above symptoms, come in for a visit with and we’ll do a thorough health history and run labs to discover if iron deficiency, or something else, could be contributing to you not feeling well.

 

Concerns About Seeing an ND Were Put to Rest Immediately

Had my first consultation with Dr. Haynes this week. She made me feel heard and was genuine in helping find a solution to what I went to see her for. I am looking forward to working with her to learn what may be causing my health issues. Any concerns I had about what it would be like meeting with an ND were put to rest immediately. Boise Natural Health office was professional from the moment you walk into the waiting room. Colleagues of mine were skeptical when I told them I’d be seeing a naturopathic doctor but I am very impressed with the knowledge and teachings of Dr. Haynes as she spent time to not only discuss what might be wrong but discussed what the cause may be as well and what we can do to help remedy issues. I say “we” because I did feel that Dr. Haynes included me in my care and I am confident she will be there with me to help guide and educate as I start down the road to natural healing for my health. Thank you for such a great first visit I am looking forward to many more.
RA

Do You Drink Enough Water?

Joan Haynes, ND

Summer is here, and one thing is certain – it’s dry and hot. Now is a great time to assess your water intake. Did you know that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? Here are 5 warning signs and symptoms of chronic dehydration, and tips on optimizing your water intake so you can feel your best all year long (and stay in that top 25 %!)

  1. Fatigue
    Dehydration is the number one cause of daytime fatigue. Dehydration of the tissues causes enzymatic activity to slow down (slowing the metabolism.)
  2. Constipation
    When chewed food enters the colon, the body absorbs excess water from the colon walls, allowing the stool to form properly. In chronic dehydration, the body sacrifices the ideal consistency of the stool in order to give water to more vital parts of the body. The result: hard dried out stool that is difficult to pass.
  3. Excess weight
    Thirst is often confused with hunger. One glass of water shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study.
  4. Pain
    Pain can be a localized sign of dehydration. Headaches are commonly caused by lack of adequate water. Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day (half of that coming from food and drinks other than plain water) could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.
  5. Brain-fog
    A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page. Obvious signs of dehydration include dry mouth, crinkled skin, excessive thirst, or absence of urination for over 6 hours. These are more serious symptoms, and need to be corrected immediately.

Tips to Optimize Water Intake

  1. How much is enough?
    Thirst is not always a reliable indicator, so its good to keep track. Experts disagree on the exact amount of water each person needs. A commonly used calculation is to divide your weight in pounds by two, then convert this figure to ounces, and drink that many ounces of water daily. Example: 150 pounds/2 = 75 ounces of water per day. A simpler version is the 8-10 (8 oz) glasses per day rule. Learn to read your body’s signs, be willing to experiment, and you will find the right amount for yourself.
  2. What counts?
    Contrary to popular belief, caffeine is only a mild diuretic so a cup or two of coffee and/or tea can count toward your total fluid intake. Avoid energy drinks that often have huge amounts of caffeine and sugar. Alcohol subtracts from your daily fluid total, as it is a diuretic and will cause dehydration. In general filtered or spring water is best but if you are having trouble getting it down, consider using some diluted fruit juice or lemon slices to add some flavor.
  3. What are the best times to drink?
    It is recommended by some that you not drink water with meals, unless you need to, as it is thought to dilute the digestive juices. Good times to drink water are on rising, at least 1/2 hour before meals and 2-3 hours after. If you don’t like waking at night to urinate, stop drinking after 6 pm.
  4. When might I need more?
    You need more if the temperature is hot or if you exercise. A general rule is to add an extra 2 glasses per day for every 5°F over 85°F if you are at rest, and more if you exercise.
  5. What about electrolytes?
    Adding electrolytes is important with exercise and in hot weather. Electrolytes increase water absorption, and replace vital minerals lost in sweating. Instead of Gatorade, consider a healthier version called Recharge available in natural food stores. Coconut water is a good (although expensive) option. Another option is to eat salty snacks on hot sweaty, heavy exercise days.

Here is my own favorite way to get myself to drink water regularly and to rehydrate if I’ve gotten low:

In a quart mason jar or large glass, I fill it 80-90% of the way with filtered water, then I add 10-20% Simply Lemonade (a grocery store lemonade with real lemons and real sugar).  Then I add 1/8 – ¼ teaspoon salt (I prefer Celtic sea salt).  This tasty drink goes down much easier than water and rehydrates me quickly.  I find that adding a straw and ice helps me drink more.

Interested in learning more? Check out Your Body’s Many Cries for Water by Dr. Batmanghelidj, MD.