Category: Miscellaneous

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.

Staying Healthy while Traveling – 4 Tips

by Joan Haynes, ND

If your vacation plans this summer involve travel to a foreign country, here are some tips to ensure your health stays in tip-top shape while you’re gone. Foreign lands mean foreign bugs, ones that our immune systems are less adapted too. If you are headed to a place where parasites are common, some extra precautions can be very helpful.

1. Prepare your digestive tract & prevent gastrointestinal illness

Take probiotics

Increasing your healthy intestinal bacteria for a month before your trip will leave you less susceptible to pathogens. We recommend HMF capsules one cap twice per day. This brand can tolerate room temperatures for up 30 days without refrigeration. If you are headed to a hot area without a fridge or air conditioning, buy a brand that is heat stable.

Make sure your digestive function is strong

Normal stomach acid is our best defense against pathogenic organisms. If you have symptoms such as gas, bloating, heartburn, or indigestion, check with your doctor to see if supplementing with hydrochloric acid is appropriate for you.

Don’t drink the water (or eat the salad, or iced drinks, etc!)

Hydration is very important of course, and if you are travelling to an area that has contaminated water, vigilance is required to avoid gastrointestinal illness. The best solution is to bring your own water filter and treat your water yourself. REI has some great options. If you choose to go the bottled water route, make sure that you are the one opening your bottles and check the seals. It is not uncommon in impoverished countries for locals to refill old bottles with unclean water and resell it. Similarly, do not believe any claims that the water or ice is boiled or treated. I could have saved myself a week of misery in Nepal if I had been less naïve! Peel your own fruit, insist that your food is steaming hot when it’s brought to you, and eschew raw salads and ice. You will be a less frequent visitor to the latrine.

Consider Hepatitis B vaccination if travelling to endemic areas

Hepatitis B causes an acute viral infection of the liver. Severe malaise, fatigue, and abdominal pain are common symptoms. It is transmitted when food preparers don’t wash their hands properly after using the toilet. The vaccine itself is one of the more benign ones, and could save you from ruining your vacation.

2. Prepare your circadian rhythm with melatonin

Jet lag can slow down the best of us. If you are travelling across several time zones, melatonin can be extremely helpful in “resetting” the circadian clock. Take 3 mg at the time that locals would be going to bed (and go to bed yourself). This should help induce proper sleep and wake times for that time zone.

3. Support your immune system

Get adequate sleep, and go easy on the sugar and alcohol. If you are concerned about a tendency to get sick, take an immune stimulating product such as Biovegetarian by Priority 1. As a preventative, the dose is 2 tablets per day. To treat acute illness the dose is 2 tablets 3-4 x/day.

4. Bring a travel kit and add your own natural medicines

Additional natural remedies you may wish to add:

For gastrointestinal illness:

Arsenicum 30C A homeopathic remedy that treats vomiting or diarrhea. At the first sign of getting ill, let 3 pellets dissolve under your tongue. Use every hour or two when awake until symptoms resolve.

Charcoal caps Charcoal absorbs toxins in your digestive tract. If you feel you ate or drank something that upset your system, take 2 caps (for a child) or 4 caps (for an adult). You can take 2 more capsules in another 1-2 hours. The charcoal will turn your stool black.

NF Phytofuge These capsules contain several different herbs that kill off parasites and pathogenic bacteria. They can be used as a preventative measure (1-2 caps per day) as well as to treat an acute infection (1-2 caps 3-4x/day).

Probiotics HMF caps or Probiotic Pearls (shelf stable) from the Co-op. Take 1cap with each meal to ensure healthy gut bacteria.

For trauma:

Arnica 30C

A homeopathic remedy that treats acute injuries by helping to reduce pain, swelling and bruising. Take 3 pellets under the tongue as soon after the injury as possible. This can be repeated every hour until symptoms subside.

Traumeel gel

A homeopathic topical gel that works similarly to arnica. Apply to affected areas every 2-3 hours as needed for pain and swelling.

For sunburn:

Aloe gel Soothing and healing to the skin following a burn. Do not apply to blistering or broken skin. Available at the Co-op.

For sleep/ jet lag:

Melatonin Take 1-3 mg at bedtime in your new time zone.

For colds/flu or general immune support:

Biovegetarian 2 caps per day as preventative, 2 caps 3-4 x/day for acute illness Consider purchasing a homeopathic first aid kit and book for other illnesses and injuries such as sunburn, insect bites, earaches etc.

All products are available at Boise Natural Health unless otherwise referenced. Happy Travels


Warming Sock Treatment

Warming Sock Treatment

A natural method of stimulating the immune system and helping to zap a cold or flu is called the “wet sock” or “warming sock” treatment. This hydrotherapy treatment, which is commonly prescribed by Naturopathic Physicians, involves putting on ice-cold socks and … are you ready for this? … sleeping in them! It may sound strange, but it works because it rallies the body’s defenses, and the best part about it is that it uses the healing power of nature and doesn’t cost anything. The treatment is known as a “heating compress,” meaning that it’s up to the body to heat the cold, wet socks. The body reacts to the cold socks by increasing blood circulation, which also stimulates the immune system, which is then ready for battle against the affliction or condition.

This non-invasive treatment acts to reflexively increase the circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head and throat. It also has a sedating action, and many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment. Warming socks are also effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections. It’s best to start the wet sock treatment on first day of an illness, ideally repeating it for three nights in a row. People with chronic conditions or a compromised immunity should consult with a doctor before starting the wet sock treatment.

The wet sock treatment is used in conjunction with other modalities to treat acute inflammation and infection and is only one component of an integrated treatment plan that includes hydration, proper nutrition and immunity-boosting supplements. Boise Natural Health practitioners can work with you to formulate a comprehensive immunity-boosting plan.


Sore throat or any inflammation or infection of the throat, neck pain, ear infections, headaches, migraines, nasal congestion, upper respiratory infections, coughs, bronchitis, and sinus infections.


Use with caution in diabetes, Raynaud’s phenomenon or syndrome, arterial insufficiency or advanced intermittent claudication.


1 pair white cotton socks

1 pair thick wool socks


Warm bath or warm foot bath


  1. Take a pair of thin cotton socks and soak them completely with cold water.  After wetting the socks, wring them out thoroughly so they do not drip. You may consider placing them in the freezer for 10-20 minutes (during the duration of step 2) to enhance the cooling effect.
  2. While the socks are cooling, warm your feet in a warm bath for 5-10 minutes.  This is very important as the treatment will not be as effective and could be harmful if your feet are not warmed first.
  3. Dry off feet and body with a dry towel.
  4. If needed, remove the cotton socks from the freezer, and bend or thaw them to the point where they can be worn. Place socks on the feet and cover the cold socks with a second pair of thick, dry wool socks.  Go directly to bed.  Avoid getting chilled.
  5. Keep the socks on overnight. You will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry by the morning.


Recommendations for Preventing and Treating the Flu

Joan Haynes, ND


  1. Read the “8 Natural Tips to Prevent a Cold” on WebMD for the basics.
  2. Boost your immune system
    • Eliminate or reduce sugar. Sugar decreases the activity of white blood cells, your primary immune defense system.
    • A quality multivitamin, fish oil and probiotics will go a long way to ensure your immune system has what it needs.
    • Eat nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables daily. Alternatively, a green drink such as Nanogreens can help supplement the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables.
    • Eat garlic – try to get a clove in every day.
    • Correct a Vitamin D deficiency if you have one.  If you don’t know your vitamin D status, take 2,000 iu a day.  Testing is available through our office.
    • Rotate immune supporting herbs such as astragulus, mushrooms extracts, and echinacea.
    • Alterative Tea is an herbal preparation designed to help immune support while gently detoxifying the body.  1-3 cups daily is used for immune support.  Available at Boise Natural Health.
    • Exercise daily and reduce your stress!
    • Use essential oils regularly – in the air, on your skin orally.
  3. Take something to prevent the flu.  If you aren’t getting a flu vaccine, consider an alternative.  Homeopathic flu prevention preparations such as Muccococcinum are available to the public at our clinic.  Similar preparations are available at better vitamin shops and natural food stores.

Symptoms of the Flu

  • Common symptoms of the flu include:
  • Fever
  • Runny Nose
  • Cough
  • Body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

Treating the Flu

Below is a list of treatment options you can choose from. Because some products are contraindicated in children or pregnant women, it is suggested that you consult your physician regarding what would be best for you.  Early treatment is best.

  1. Stay at home from work or school until all fevers subside for 24 continuous hours.
  2. General immune support with herbs and nutrients in combination products such as Biovegetarian or Wellness Formula.
  3. Elderberry has been shown in studies to reduce the duration and severity of the flu.  Boise Natural Health carries a high quality elderberry extract that tastes good.
  4. Specific herbs for cough.  We can create a tincture for you.
  5. Homeopathy.  Specific remedies can be useful to lessen symptoms and shorten duration.
  6. Warming Socks Treatment. Please ask for a copy of instructions for this very simple and effective treatment.

When to See your Physician

  1. Most people with the flu will recover without medical help. However, if you or your child have any of the following severe symptoms, please seek medical care:  prolonged illness longer than 5-7 days, shortness of breath, chest pain, intractable vomiting, confusion, sudden dizziness, dehydration, any progressively worsening symptoms, or in a child, non responsiveness, bluish skin color, or fever with rash.
  2. If you need help creating a treatment plan, call our office and set up an appointment.