Category: Miscellaneous

What’s in Your Supplement?

By Esther Sears, MSN, AOCNP, FNP

First, Why are Supplements Necessary for Most of Us?

Supplements and natural remedies have become a common aspect of health seekers in the past 2 decades as people become more educated on the importance of replacing the nutrients that are often lacking in our foods.  The majority of our food comes from large agriculture businesses which often grow one specific crop.  This depletes the soil of nutrients that crop rotation provides.  Pesticides and herbicides create unhealthy soil as well, further producing contaminated and nutrient poor crops.  For those who are fortunate enough to grow their foods organically, hunt, fish or raise their own protein sources, supplementation may not be necessary.  And then there are the rest of us….

Some Good, Some Bad, and Some Just Plain Ugly

Regulation of supplements falls under the category of “food” rather than “drugs” by the FDA, making regulation much less stringent.  Manufacturers are expected to comply with Good Manufacturing Procedures (GMP).  The FDA does random audits to evaluate compliance with GMP which regulate the design and construction of manufacturing plants, maintenance and cleaning, manufacturing operations, quality control procedures, consumer complaints, testing of products to meet label claims and manufacturing records.  Audits are done randomly.  According to Daniel Fabricant, PhD, past director of the dietary supplementation program at the FDA, almost 70% of those companies tested were in non-compliance with GMP’s.  Compliance issues included failure to test appropriately, or to keep adequate records, adulteration of product, presence of heavy metals, and false labeling claims.  Internet sales put more distance between the consumer and the source and can be a way for opportunists to hijack well-known company labels with fake product.  Try googling “fake supplements” and see how prevalent the problem is!

Getting it Right

So how do you know if you are getting a good supplement?  First, it is important to choose a manufacturer that tests every batch rather than skip batch testing.  This is something you will see a reputable company boast about in their sales pitch.  This ensures the quality of every batch and consistency of their manufacturing processes.  Also look for third party certification such as Natural Products Association (NPA), Consumer Labs (CL), Dietary Supplement Verification Program (USP) or the National Safety Foundation (NFS).  You can also subscribe to The Natural Medicine Database which does independent verification of products and gives a rating of each supplement by each manufacturer allowing you to compare the quality of products.  The Office of Dietary Supplements or the National Centers for Complementary and Integrative Health provide information on supplements uses, precautions, dosing, interactions, etc. but do not provide information on individual manufacturing.  For information on on safety alerts, recalls, and market withdrawals go to the FDA website.

At Boise Natural Health Clinic

In our clinic we recommend and provide pharmaceutical-grade supplements only from reputable sources ensuring our customers the best quality.  Obtaining your supplements from us takes the homework (and the guess work) out of your purchase.  We meet with representatives from companies such as Metagenics, Thorne, Vital Nutrients, and Pure Encapsulations at conferences, and we learn first-hand about their manufacturing processes and quality assurance.  By purchasing your supplements from us, you are also supporting a local business and we truly appreciate this in our customers!

To schedule an appointment with Esther Sears, FNP, APRN, AOCNP regarding optimizing your daily supplement regimen and treatment plans, call Boise Natural Health Clinic at (208)338-0405.

Freedom From Inflammation

by Emily Dickerson, ND

Do you have an autoimmune condition or a chronic inflammatory condition and are not sure what to do daily to live your best life possible? Or are you simply interested in preventing harmful excess inflammation in your life? Dr. Dickerson loves teaching about how to manage and prevent chronic illness by living our best lives possible.

Background: What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is the body’s response to acute injury or infection. Inflammation is one of the body’s principal defense reactions, and involves increased blood flow, swelling, and movement of white blood cells to the site of injury/infection. Inflammation brings the immune system cells to the location at which they are needed.

Once at the site, white blood cells get to work to clean up the area and clear it of infected or damaged cells. Pain is caused by chemical agents released during inflammation that act directly on the nerve cells in the affected area.

I’ve Heard That Inflammation is Bad… What is That All About?

What I have described above is the process of a healthy acute inflammatory response. Inflammation is necessary and beneficial in an acute setting. In a chronic setting, inflammation can be damaging. In a chronic setting, inflammation has a constant stimulus and can cause symptoms such as chronic pain, fatigue, and joint degradation. Inflammation can be triggered inappropriately by things such as autoimmune conditions, allergies, food sensitivities, or toxic exposures, for example. In autoimmune conditions, the body’s immune system reacts to its own cells in an inflammatory manner, attacking them as if they were foreign invaders. Chronic exposure to allergens, food sensitivities, or toxins trigger the inflammatory cascade and can cause chronic inflammation throughout the body, which can impact a myriad of bodily processes.

What Conditions Does an Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle Help?

An Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle would be healthy for everyone, but for some chronic conditions it is essential. Following are a list of examples of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that would greatly benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle:

Autoimmune Conditions:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Psoriasis
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Lupus (SLE)
  • Polymyositis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Grave’s disease
  • Autoimmune hepatitis

Chronic Inflammatory Conditions:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Chronic gastrointestinal conditions: Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, food allergies, food sensitivities
  • Chronic pain
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Dementia
  • Malabsorption

**Please note that although minimizing inflammation can prevent progression, minimize pain, and improve your overall health, it will not reverse permanent damage.

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle:

“Anti-inflammatory” means creating a healthy immune system response and preventing unnecessary inflammation. Diet and lifestyle have everything to do with controlling inflammation. Below are some of the pillars of a healthy, anti-inflammatory lifestyle.

  1. Exercise: Not only does exercise reduce stress and cortisol (pro-inflammatory stress hormone), it also increases circulation, reduces your risk for obesity and cardiovascular disease, and increases glutathione, the body’s extremely potent antioxidant (anti-inflammatory).
  2. Sleep: 8 or more hours of sleep is anti-inflammatory, while less is pro-inflammatory.
  3. Stress: Create a stress management routine. Examples of good stress management strategies: exercise, meditation, epsom salt baths, reading, designating alone time, talking with friends, counseling, massage, bodywork, acupuncture. Find a routine that works for you.
  4. Diet: Eating sufficient fresh produce, balanced with healthy fats, and healthy proteins. Avoid food allergies and sensitivities that can contribute to chronic inflammation. Identifying food allergies and sensitivities can be helpful in tailoring an anti-inflammatory diet to meet your needs.
  5. Toxins: It really does matter what you put in your body, on your body, and breathe into your body. See the Environmental Working Group website to identify possible toxic exposures.
  6. Fermented foods: Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha contain beneficial bacteria that promote immune system health and are an important part of an anti-inflammatory diet. (This is true only for those that do not have a histamine intolerance. For further information, read my article.
  7. Fresh herbs: Herbs carry powerful health and anti-inflammatory benefits. Load up on these while they are in season!

Going Beyond the Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle:

Some conditions and symptoms are not controllable via the Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle alone and may require further workup. Tests to pinpoint hidden causes of inflammation are available. Evaluation for environmental exposures, dietary counseling, food sensitivity testing, or an individualized detox program may be necessary.

Upcoming Events:

Dr. Dickerson is teaching an Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle class on April 27th, 2017 at 6:30 pm. For more information see our event page.

This Spring Dr. Dickerson is guiding patients through a 10 or 28 day detox protocol, with group or individual options available. Starting the first week of May, she will be leading a group cleanse class that meets every Monday throughout the month. Read More.

To schedule a free consult with Dr. Dickerson to discuss your best path toward a lifetime of freedom from inflammation, call Boise Natural Health at (208)338-0405.


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 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.


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.

What do Zion National Park and Your Health have in Common?

By Esther Sears, FNP

Zion was not always the Beautiful Canyon that it Currently is.

One of the greatest experiences I have ever had was visiting Zion National Park in southern Utah this past summer.  While there I learned about how this majestic canyon was formed by the flow of water over millions of years.  Except for major geological events such as earthquakes or major floods, there is probably not one generation that has ever witnessed a significant change in the canyon, and yet it went from being a fairly flat high desert to this incredible awe-inspiring canyon over the course of time.

It Takes Time for Disease to Develop

Like Zion, our bodies also experience subtle changes over time.  Some changes are a normal part of aging but others are the cumulative effects of poor eating habits, medications, exposure to environmental toxins, stress, lack of quality sleep and toxic relationships over the course of our lives.  Our bodies are incredibly resilient and will compensate for many insults which is why we continue to live and function without noticing these subtle changes, while beneath the surface a canyon is slowly being carved.  When the burden of these insults becomes too great, disease results.  It may come in the form of frequent infections like colds and the flu or it may be in the form of chronic disease like diabetes, hypertension, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, obesity, irritable bowel, depression or rheumatoid arthritis.

Functional Medicine looks at Disease Differently

In the world of functional medicine, we know that there are numerous contributing factors to a person’s suboptimal health.  Taking a comprehensive look at the whole person from birth to the present we begin to uncover the root causes of disease and then develop a plan to improve and often reverse disease.  And that is what I LOVE about functional medicine!  These days people want more out of life.  The world we live in is big and beautiful and begs exploration whether it be walking in the neighborhood park and enjoying the sounds of birds, or taking a challenging hike.

This is a picture of me taken at observation point in Zion this past summer.  I am proud to say that at fifty-seven, I could take this amazing 8 mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet over 3 miles with plenty of energy left afterwards to enjoy making dinner at the campsite.

Are you Experiencing Your Best Health?

I would love to help you achieve your best health so that you, too, can enjoy everything that nature has to offer.

To your good health!


What is Functional Medicine?

By Esther Sears, MSN, FNP, AOCNP

Functional Medicine is a science-based approach to understanding the origin, prevention and treatment of disease.  The practitioner seeks to gain understanding of the root causes of disease for each individual by considering their unique history, lifestyle and genetics, focusing on the whole person rather than an isolated set of symptoms.  Both conventional and integrative medicines are employed with an emphasis on diet and lifestyle interventions.

Functional Medicine practitioners ask “Why?” rather than just label and prescribe.  People are often given diagnosis’ of irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and a host of other things along with a prescription but no real information on what they can do to decrease the disease burden or even possibly reverse it.  Using a functional medicine approach, we uncover the root causes of disease and create an individualized plan of care to begin to restore health.

Health is not just the absence of disease.  It is about feeling your best physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally and living life to the fullest.  Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Make the most of yourself, for that is all you have”.

Here are some things to think about when considering your own health:

  1. Am I as healthy as I would like to be?
  2. If I change nothing, what will things look like for me in 5-10 years?
  3. Do I have the energy to play with my kids/grandkids or to do the things I want to do?
  4. How important is my health to me?

If you would like help in achieving your best health, contact us at 208-338-0405  for an appointment today.  For more information go to the Institute of Functional Medicine.

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.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

By Esther Sears, MSN, FNP, AOCNP

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse (RN) who has completed advanced education (a minimum of a master’s degree) and training in the diagnosis and management of common medical conditions, including chronic illnesses. A Family Nurse Practitioner, who may also be referred to by the acronym FNP, is a registered nurse with specialized educational and clinical training in family practice

The license held by a nurse practitioner allows them to practice independently. Nurse practitioners provide a broad range of health care services including performing complete physical exams, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests and prescribing appropriate medications and interventions. Nurse practitioners focus on the whole person and generally spend more time with patients in teaching and health promotion.

A nurse practitioner can serve as a patient’s primary health care provider and can see patients of all ages.

Like other licensed medical providers, nurse practitioners are covered under health insurance. Although Boise Natural Health Clinic does not bill insurance, we provide paperwork to help you get reimbursed.

Disease Delusion by Dr. Jeffrey Bland: A Review

By Emily Dickerson, ND

Recently I have been enjoying the book Disease Delusion by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, PhD. Dr. Bland is a widely known and respected researcher and lecturer, and the founder of the Institute for functional medicine. He has both taught and been on the Board of Trustees at my alma mater, Bastyr University. He is a huge advocate for the integration of natural and conventional medicine, and sees it as the future of healthcare. This book outlines this perspective and is a good reminder of why we do what we do as naturopathic doctors. Naturopathic medicine, similarly known as “functional medicine” in the conventional medical world, addresses the root cause of disease, rather than treating the symptoms. This approach to medicine helps patients to avoid polypharmacy, which often results when medications are prescribed to treat side effects of other medications.

The difference between naturopathic and conventional medicine has been evident to me during my first year of conventional medical school. Both naturopathic and conventional medicine have the patient’s best interest in mind, both have the same scientific background, but the approach to healthcare is innately different. If you are interested in learning more about the unique approach to healthcare of naturopathic doctors and functional medicine providers, and to learn more about the possibilities for improved health through this type of medicine, I recommend that you read or listen to this excellent book. You can also schedule an appointment to discuss your treatment options. I have this book both in both audio and hardcover forms. Available as a free 1st download in audiobook format on!

Dr. Dickerson is available monthly in office at Boise Natural Health and via telemedicine appointments. Appointments available also call Boise Natural Health at (208)338-0405 to schedule.

7 Ways to Help Headaches

By Emily Richmond, ABT

  1. CranioSacral Therapy – now offered at Boise Natural Health.
  2. Find out if you have food intolerances. Here are some ideas on how we can help with that including NAET, food sensitivity panels, and the elimination reintroduction diet.
  3. Hydrate – drink approximately half your bodyweight in ounces daily. If you weigh 150 lbs. you need 75 ounces of water daily, which is about 2 and 1/3 quart jars.
  4. Magnesium – we carry a vitamin & mineral supplement called Magnelevures. Take one packet in water as you feel a headache coming on. If it is a migraine try eating some animal protein and decrease your sensory overload. Turn off the lights, reduce noise, and stop looking at phone and computer screens.
  5. Massage an acupuncture point CO4 – it is located in the web of the hand, between the thumb and the pointer finger, it may be tender. Massage for a 1 minute. See for a picture.
  6. Decrease stress – try Yoga Nidra – listen now to a guided meditation & relaxation training.
  7. Keep your blood sugar regulated. Eat small meals frequently with a healthy fat, fiber and protein with each meal. Spirulina tablets or powder as well as goji berries are very helpful to regulate blood sugar.

CranioSacral Therapy

CranioSacral uses gentle techniques to normalize the craniosacral system and allow the body to self-correct. By unravelling pain and dysfunction at the source, we can naturally help eliminate stress, strengthen resistance to disease, and enhance health in every dimension.
Using a light touch, generally no more than the weight of a nickel, the therapist monitors the rhythm of the fluids that circulates throughout the central nervous system of the patient. Delicate hands-on techniques are then used to release tension. The result of a session is a central nervous system that is more free of restrictions and a body that is better able to return to its greatest levels of health and performance.

CranioSacral Therapy Benefits

CranioSacral Therapy strengthens the body’s ability to take better care of itself. It helps alleviate a range of illness, pain and dysfunction, including but not limited to:

  • Chronic Neck, Back and Joint Pain
  • Headache and Migraines
  • Stress and Tension-related Problems
  • Fatigue
  • Emotional Difficulties
  • Insomnia
  • Ringing in the Ears
  • Concussions
  • TMJ
  • Acid Reflux
  • Trouble Swallowing

Call and schedule a 90 minute appointment with Emily Richmond today.

Lyme Disease in Idaho

By Emily Dickerson

Lyme Disease is not endemic in Idaho, but still present and incidence is on the rise. Lyme Disease is the most common tick borne disease in the United States.  It is a bacterial infection caused by the spirochete organism Borrelia burgdorferi. Transmission occurs mostly commonly via tick bites, though other modes of transmission are thought possible, such as sexual transmission. Lyme Disease is mostly carried by the deer tick (species Ixodes Scapularis and Ixodes pacificus) that live on white tail deer, mice, or other small mammals.

Most people affected with Lyme (more than 80%) do not recall a tick bite, so diagnosis and treatment must look at the broader picture. If there is a known deer tick bite, prophylactic antibiotic use is recommended. Initial symptoms of Lyme Disease include a “bullseye” rash or red rash (> 5 cm) that surrounds the site of tick bite. However, many people do not experience a rash, hence diagnosis must be based on other symptoms. The following generalized symptoms of Lyme Disease may present early on and, if not treated, can become chronic: fever, malaise, joint pain, muscle pain, headache, stiff neck, brain fog, fatigue, or other skin lesions. Symptoms that persist for a long time are known as Chronic Lyme Disease.

Testing for Lyme Disease can be challenging based on stage of the infection, test reliability, and cost. Treatment for an infection based on the symptom picture can often be a reasonable option. Co-infections are common and can include other tick-borne illnesses and chronic viral infections. Additional tick-borne illnesses to test for are babesiosis, bartonella, ehrlichia, and rickettsia. Common viral co-infections include chronic Epstein Barr Virus and Cytomegalovirus. Testing for Lyme Disease and co-infections is possible through the lab IGeneX, which specializes in research and testing for Lyme Disease and associated infections.

Treatment for Chronic Lyme Disease has been very difficult to find in the state of Idaho. Many patients travel to surrounding states to seek care. For this reason, Dr. Dickerson and Dr. Haynes have been doing continuing education that focuses on the testing and treatment of chronic Lyme Disease. If there has been a recent known tick bite and symptoms, we support prophylactic antibiotic treatment that can be prescribed by your primary care provider, and can provide naturopathic treatment plans that support your body while you go through conventional treatment. To treat Chronic Lyme Disease, we are using a new treatment protocol that includes antibacterial (to address Lyme and other bacterial co-infections), antiviral (to address viral co-infections), and immune-supportive herbal combinations that help to fight and clear the infection(s). Optimal treatment of Chronic Lyme and co-infections includes a “whole body” approach to overall health, including addressing gut health and adrenal health. There is research behind our new Chronic Lyme protocol seem promising, and we are excited to share it with you!

For more information on Lyme Disease and how to test, we have provided you with the following links:

  • IGenex Labs Website
    • Additional information on the lab that we are using and the testing available

2)  International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society

  • Excellent resource regarding the latest research regarding Lyme, associated infections, and current treatments.

To schedule an appointment or a free phone consult, call Boise Natural Health at (208) 338-0405.