Author: Joan Haynes

Low Blood Sugar – Could it be Causing Your Anxiety and Weight Gain?

by Joan Haynes, ND

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is one of our most commonly encountered nutritional disorders and accounts for a variety of symptoms.  A thorough dietary history and lab work can be useful in determining the diagnosis.  Treatment always begins with dietary modifications but factors beyond food may be involved.

When blood glucose levels fall too rapidly, two things can happen:

    1. The body compensates by releasing adrenaline (epinephrine). Symptoms of “fight or flight” develop:
      • Anxiety
      • Panic
      • Irritability
      • Hunger (also lack of hunger or even nausea)
      • Rapid heart rate and palpitations
      • Tremor
      • Sweating
      • Weakness
      • Abdominal pain
    2. If the blood glucose level is not corrected, symptoms of inadequate cerebral glucose levels develop:
      • Headache
      • Fatigue
      • Blurred vision
      • Mental confusion
      • Impaired memory
      • Seizures
      • Unconsciousness

Causes of Hypoglycemia

Most low blood sugar problems are caused by a diet too high in simple carbohydrates and going too long between meals.  But there are other factors as well.  Hormones may also be playing a role; patients with an under-functioning thyroid or with impaired adrenal function are much more susceptible to blood sugar swings.  Low blood sugar is also more common in patients with malabsorption problems, food sensitivities, and nutritional deficiencies.

To Correct the Problem

Dietary intervention is the most important aspect to recovery.  Patients with reactive hypoglycemia frequently crave refined sugar or other refined carbohydrates.  Eating these foods may provide transient symptom relief, but can also trigger additional episodes of rebound hypoglycemia and more carbohydrate cravings.  This repetitive cycle may lead to overeating and obesity.  Several nutritional supplements have been shown to help including chromium, magnesium, and l-carnitine.  Lab tests such as blood glucose, thyroid and adrenal studies may also provide additional information needed for full recovery.

Consider coming to Boise Natural Health Clinic for lab work, dietary interventions, nutritional supplements, and hormonal therapies that can help you get your symptoms under control.

(Thank you Alan Gaby, MD for your useful book, Nutritional Medicine 2011.)

Complementary Approach Extends Cancer Patient’s Life

Dear Boise Natural Health Clinic,

Thank you very much for what you did to help Anna in her battle with cancer. Four years ago the doctors told us she had very little chance of surviving more than a year due to her colon cancer. Then they discovered that there were large tumors in her liver. They told her she probably wouldn’t survive more than a month or so.

Her oncologist Dr. Zuckerman suggested some surgery, chemotherapy and an appointment with your office. After meeting with you and discussing the recommended treatment, we subsequently spoke with the doctor who wholeheartedly recommended your treatment program.

Treatments consisted of radiation seed implants in the liver, chemotherapy, and your program, which included mushrooms and heavy doses of melatonin. The doctors had little hope of success, but then noticed that the large tumors in her liver were shrinking and apparently dying. The doctors were calling this remarkable, considering the advanced stages of the tumors. Dr. Zuckerman told me he felt the natural healing program was a large part of the success.
Although Anna was told four years ago that she would only survive a few weeks, she actually survived three more good years without any symptoms, for which I will be eternally grateful. It is quite possible she would have survived much longer if they had caught a new tumor in its early stages.

I still call her the miracle woman, but in actuality I attribute her additional four years of success in her battle with cancer to her faith, her medical treatment plans and to her natural health program provided by Joan Haynes. I feel all three of these were very important, and I feel without any one of them her success would have been limited to months instead of years.

Thank you again Joan, I will tell as many people as I can about how you helped as.

Sincerely,

Glenn Morgan

Why Boise Natural Health Clinic Has a Fragrance-Free Policy

by Joan Haynes

You may have noticed this sign in our office:

FRAGRANCE-FREE POLICY

To protect the health of our

chemically sensitive patients and staff,

we ask that while visiting

Boise Natural Health Clinic, you do not wear any

fragrance that is perceptible to others.

 

Fragrances Can Have a Negative Effect to Yourself and Others

You may not realize you are making yourself or other people sick by your fragrances.  Because people do not want to offend you or are afraid of being accused of being “sensitive”, your friends or family may not tell you that they get sick from your laundry detergent, lotion, hair products, or perfume.  We commonly get people in the office who have no idea that their overpowering fragrance can be perceived even in the back office as soon as they walk into the building or that we need to air the building out as soon as they leave.

People can develop headaches, brain fog, dizziness, nasal congestion or sneezing, nausea, or even pass out when exposed to fragrance.  Studies have been done linking some of these chemicals to health problems with the immune, nervous, detoxification, and hormonal systems as well as cancers.

What is a Fragrance?

Perfumes, colognes, and deodorants obviously have fragrance.  But so do most seemingly harmless personal care products.  Even those marked “fragrance-free” or “unscented” may contain a fragrance along with a masking agent that prevents the brain from perceiving odor.  There are over 3000 chemicals that are used as fragrance most of which have not been tested for toxicity alone or in combination.  The industry is unregulated – fragrances are considered “trade secrets”.  Just because it is on the market, do not assume it is safe.

How to Avoid Exposure

We get exposed to dangerous chemicals in our environment all the time over which we have no control, but we have complete control over what we use on our body and in our home.

  1. Stop using scented laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets. It can take many washings to get the smell out, especially of synthetic fibers.  If clothes are permeated, you may need to hang clothes or linens in the sun for a few days – UV light is an amazing detoxifier.
  2. Get rid of any artificially scented candles, or air fresheners including plug-ins. Some contain acetone, benzene, lead, carbon monoxide, toluene and more!
  3. If you like fragrances, use essential oils instead of synthetic perfumes. But be careful, essential oils can smell too strong for some people and can affect people with seasonal allergies.  You may need to dilute the oil before using on your skin as they can burn.  Essential oil sprays make good deodorants.
  4. There are very few occasions that you need to use toxic cleaning supplies in your home. Learn to use baking soda and vinegar to clean.
  5. If you are exposed to strong fragrances in your work place, you have every right to ask for a fragrance -free policy to be implemented. Stand up for yourself!
  6. Environmental Working Group is the best place to go for more information. This non-profit organization has amazing Consumer Guides for non-toxic household and personal care products.

Hair Thinning in Women – Identifying the Cause

by Joan Haynes, ND

Hair loss in women is usually a symptom of an underlying health condition.  It can be emotionally devastating to women.  A thorough work up can reveal the contributing factors.  Knowing the cause of the hair loss leads to an individualized treatment plan.  Often women’s other nagging health problems improve with a whole body approach.   Over my years of practice, it has been so satisfying to see women return to health and regrow their hair.

Here are the most important considerations when evaluating a woman’s hair loss:

  1. Anemia is low iron in the blood and is easy to tests to for with blood work. A complete blood count (CBC) and most importantly a serum ferritin which is your storage form of iron. A ferritin level below 90 is associated with hair loss.  I routinely see values in the teens!
  2. Hormones play a big role in hair. Women may have deficiencies or excess of any hormone –  testosterone, estrogen, or progesterone, DHEA, cortisol, or prolactin.  Clues to a hormone cause are acne, hair growth on face, infertility, PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), irregular menses, menopause, PMS, and hormone use.  Read more at Testing for Hormones Imbalances.
  3. Thyroid conditions often cause hair loss and many other symptoms. It is useful to be thorough when testing thyroid.  Blood tests to consider for a full thyroid work up: TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies.
  4. Autoimmune conditions can be tested for such as an ANA which will test for multiple autoimmune conditions including systemic lupus erythematous.
  5. Stress is one of the most common causes of thinning hair and sometimes the hair loss happens even after the stress has passed.
  6. Scalp and skin conditions might be the problem if there is any itching, redness, bumps, or broken hairs. Exposure to chemicals and fragrances can cause skin reactions.  A dermatologist can do a punch biopsy to test for things like psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and look for infections.
  7. Family history could be a factor if female relatives with similar problems?
  8. Personal history is important to review. Any recent diet change, weight loss, surgeries, or illness?  Is the hair loss sudden or a gradual loss?  Losing more in certain spots or all over scalp?  Any hair loss or growth on the rest of the body?  Do you have any ongoing health issue and/or have other symptoms coincided with the hair loss?   Are you taking any medications or supplements?

To understand more, WebMD has a great article:  At Boise Natural Health Clinic, we can order the lab work that you need and many lab companies will bill your insurance.

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.