Author: Joan Haynes, NMD

Report from Women’s Hormone Boot Camp Continuing Education Weekend

A few weeks ago, I attended a 3 day, multi speaker conference known as “Hormone Boot Camp” that was attended by over 250 health care providers from around the country.  I’ve attended these hormone conferences many times before, usually every other year since med school.  I am a hormone user myself and have many patients on hormone therapy and want to be sure I’m keeping us all safe while we take advantage of the many benefits of bioidentical replacement.   I also want to keep up on new studies, new medications, and new delivery systems. 

10 things I want my patients to know:

  1. Starting hormone replacement at an earlier age is better.   There is little effect and potential harm if started > 10 years after menopause or if > 60 yo.  They now refer to it as the “Critical Window” of the optimal time to start.
  2. In most cases, you do not need to stop hormones until you want to. You don’t need to come off due to an imagined increased risk.   There are many long-term benefits of remaining on hormones beyond controlling symptoms such as hot flashes and insomnia including reduced heart disease, stronger bones, better cognition, less symptoms of aging and more.
  3.  If you start hormones too late, it can increase the risk of dementia.  But if started earlier it can prevent or delay the onset. 
  4. All forms of hormone testing (blood, urine, saliva) are valid for a baseline test, but salivary testing might be best evaluating hormone therapy.   If you are using serum (blood) tests for checking doses, serum estradiol with show up in a lower range. 
  5. Breast cancer risk from estrogen therapy is minimal and some studies even show that taking estrogen may decrease your risk of breast cancer.  Daily alcohol creates a greater risk than estrogen does. 
  6. Even if you have breast cancer, you are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Only 1 out of 31 American women die from breast cancer, while heart disease causes 1 of every 3 deaths.  75% of patients (men and women) hospitalized for a heart attack had cholesterol levels that would indicate they were not at high risk for a cardiovascular event.  At BNHC we can run expanded lipid tests to show much more helpful information to help modify your risk.  Read more in Dr. Nicole Maxwell’s article https://boisenaturalhealth.com/the-low-down-on-lipids/
  7. In women with a family history of breast cancer or BRCA 1 & 2 mutations, hormone therapy does not increase risk of getting cancer.  If personal history of breast cancer, some forms of hormones may be useful for symptom control with little risk. 
  8. Estrogen and progesterone may not be enough to increase libido.  Testosterone is often needed and can sometimes work wonders. *
  9. If you had your ovaries removed, replacing those lost hormones is very important to reduce the risk of bone loss, dementia, and other diseases of aging.  25% of women who have a hysterectomy only (kept their ovaries) will lose ovarian function after the surgery and have an earlier menopause.
  10. One of the speakers Tori Hudson, ND a former professor of mine and the author of books herself says that the book Estrogen Matters by Avrum Bluming, MD and Carol Tavris, PhD is the only book she recommends for both patients and providers! 

* Big NewsI now have a DEA number which means I can prescribe testosterone now.    Come see me if your estrogen and progesterone aren’t doing enough to help with libido!

Symptoms and Testing for Hormone Imbalances: The Big Six

By Joan Haynes, NMD

Hormone imbalances is something we see a lot of at Boise Natural Health. Listed below are symptoms of deficiency and excess of different hormones. Because there is such an overlap between the symptoms of the hormone imbalances, testing takes the guess work out.

Estrogens

Deficiency

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Foggy thinking
  • Memory Lapses
  • Incontinence
  • Tearful
  • Depressed
  • Insomnia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Bone loss
  • Aches/pains

Excess

  • Mood swings
  • Tender breasts
  • Water retention
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Fibrocystic breast
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Weight gain hips
  • Bleeding changes
  • Headaches
  • PMS

Progesterone

Deficiency

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Foggy thinking
  • Memory lapses
  • Incontinence
  • Tearful/Anxiety
  • Depressed
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Heart palpitations
  • Bone loss
  • Irritability
  • PMS
  • Infertility

Excess

  • Sleepiness
  • Breast swelling
  • Breast tenderness
  • Decreased libido
  • Mild depression
  • Candida infections
  • Water retention

Androgens (DHEA and Testosterone)

Deficiency

  • Low libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Foggy thinking
  • Foggy thinking
  • Fatigue
  • Aches/pains
  • Memory lapses
  • Incontinence
  • Depressed
  • Insomnia
  • Bone loss
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Thinning skin

Excess

  • Excess facial hair
  • Excess body hair
  • Loss of scalp hair
  • Increased acne
  • Oily Skin

Cortisol (Adrenal Gland)

Deficiency

  • Fatigue
  • Sugar cravings
  • Allergies
  • Chemical sensitivity
  • Stress
  • Cold body temperature
  • Heart palpitations
  • Aches/pains
  • Arthritis

Excess

  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Bone Loss
  • Tired and wired
  • Weight gain in waist
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Thinning skin

Thyroid

Deficiency

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Goiter
  • Constipation
  • Low body temperature
  • Dry hair
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin
  • Achy joints
  • Infertility

Excess

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Goiter
  • Increased hunger
  • Racing heart
  • Diarrhea
  • Excess energy
  • Bulging eyeballs
  • Mood swings

Insulin

Low blood sugar

  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Irritability of confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Hunger
  • Nausea
  • Sugar cravings

High blood sugar

  • Increased thirst and a dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Tiredness
  • Blurred vision
  • Recurrent infections
  • Patches of darker skin
  • Skin heals slowly
  • Weight loss or weight gain

Testing Options

Some factors that determine which tests to order are symptoms, chronic health issues, family history, cost and insurance coverage.

Sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA) can be measured in saliva, blood, or urine. For menstruating women, collection is best near day 20 of their cycle. (Day 1 is the first day of bleeding). For non-menstruating women and men, the test can be run any day of the month.

Thyroid (TSH, Free T3, Free T4, Thyroid antibodies, Reverse T3) can only be measured in blood.  It is important to avoid biotin for 48 hours prior to testing and time the blood draw about 4 – 6 hours after taking thyroid hormone.

Adrenal (Cortisol and DHEA) can be measured in blood or saliva.  Cortisol starts off high in the morning and lowers in the evening

For current prices and more information – call Boise Natural Health Clinic 208-338-0405.  You can schedule a free brief consult with one of our doctors to see if we can meet your needs.

The Benefits of Humidity

Keeping Indoor Air at 40 – 60% relative humidity will help you feel better in your skin and reduce your risk of flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory illness. 

Every Fall, when the heater comes on, my skin, respiratory passages, and hair dry up.  It’s time to get out the humidifier.  We run it 24/7, all winter long in our bedroom and feel noticeably better!  I’ve cut way back on my lotion use.  My nose isn’t crusty.  I snore less because I can breathe thru my nose better.

Americans spend about 90% of our time indoors. 

What is relative humidity? – it’s the % of moisture in the air compared to the maximum water the air can hold at a given temperature.  Warm air can hold more water vapor than cold air.   40% – 60% is the Goldilocks zone.  Not too humid and not too dry. 

Benefits of moister air:

  • Skin – increased levels of moisture in the hair can help your skin feel soft, supple and more nourished.  Less heel cracking. 
  • Nose, throat, lungs – less snoring, less crusty noses, less chapped lips. 
  • Lower risk of respiratory illness – New research from MIT suggests that the relative humidity in the air in our homes may be an important factor affecting the transmission of COVID-19.  Many past studies have shown that many viruses stay alive in the air much longer at humidity levels below about 40%.  An airplane cabin is held at 20% humidity, one of the reasons we get sick when traveling.

Hygrometers
Low cost and easy way to get the facts on your indoor air. About $15.


Humidifiers

Some people have whole house humidifiers, but if you don’t, consider getting one for at least the bedroom.  I prefer the ultrasonic cool mist versions over the ones with the fans which are a little noisy.  I also like the larger ones, so I only have to fill every day or two.   Keep clean by following the manufacturer’s instructions.  Unplug and empty.  I use 1 cup of water and 1 cup white vinegar and let it sit for an hour.  Be sure to rinse the reservoir and nozzle well too – gunk can build up. 

Hydrate your body orally too!

Read another article by Joan Haynes NMD Could Your Symptoms be Due to a Lack of Water?  Sometimes it’s That Easy!  I share my recipe of home-made electrolyte water. 

Two Simple Ways to Save Money on Health Care


Many insurance plans have high deductibles or limited coverage that don’t cover the tests or medications you need.  These two services below may be able to find you a lower price than your insurance co-pay. 

UltaLabsTests.com

  1. Order and pay for your own lab tests directly online.
  2. Get your blood drawn at Quest Diagnostic in Meridian
  3. Receive results yourself online.
  4. Share results thru BNHC Patient Portal or bring a copy to your visit.

Ulta will not bill your insurance and their receipt isn’t coded for insurance reimbursement.  In exchange, you don’t need a doctor’s order and they have very low prices.  They often run specials you can receive emails about.

Ordering labs can be tricky if you aren’t sure what to order.  If you like reading about health, Ulta offers lots of information that will help you navigate your choices.  Some tests need to happen in coordination with your medication or diet.  When in doubt, consult your provider prior to ordering. 

GoodRx.com

  1. Find fee coupons
  2. Show coupon to your pharmacist
  3. Save up to 80%

Over 70,000 pharmacies participate for most commonly prescribed medications.   When you use a coupon, the pharmacy will not bill your insurance. You will often pay less than your insurance co-pay.  You may be able to submit your receipt for potential reimbursement or credit toward your deductible.  It’s easy to compare pharmacy prices.  Be sure to do your research AHEAD OF TIME so you can tell your provider which pharmacy to send your prescription.  

You might also want to check out Mark Cuban’s new drug company costplusdrugs.com that has comparable offerings. 

Eye Health – Be Proactive

I recently took an Eye Health continuing education class.  It was excellent and I got caught up on the latest.  I learned some interesting and useful science about the eyes.  Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older. Luckily it is a “nutrition responsive disorder”.  

What is a Macula

The macula acts as a color filter through which light passes before it is perceived by the rods and cones in your retina.  It is responsible for some VERY important stuff:

  1. Our central vision
  2. Most of our color vision
  3. The fine detail of what we see

What Damages the Macula

Blue light comes from our light bulbs, computers and also the sun creates free radicals which damage the tissue.  Blue light creates reactive radicals (free radicals) in the retina damaging essential tissues.

Lack of eye resiliency that comes with age and poor nutrition. 

Macular pigments lutein and zeaxanthin quench free radicals and actively protect the macula’s nerve tissue from the damage

Orange Blocks Blue

If you’ve seen blue blocking glasses, you know that blue blocking glasses range from yellow to dark orange.  This makes sense, blue and orange are opposite each other on the color wheel. 

Pigments from Food get Embedded in your Macula

Some plants contain yellow/orange/red pigments such as lutein and zeaxanthin which then get embedded directly in the eye and directly contribute to your vision. 

To filter blue light, eat yellow-orange-red foods

Being Proactive

Macular degeneration is a “nutrition responsive disorder”.  The National Eye Institute has undertaken two Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS) showing that specific nutrients can slow the progression of the disease.  

NIH Conducted a Study which Created a Supplement

AREDS – Age-Related Eye Disease Studies by NIH.  Enrolled for thant 5,000 people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), ended in 2001.  Showed that a specific formula of nutritional supplements containing high doses of antioxidants and zinc could slow the disease in those who have intermediate AMD and those with advanced AMD in only one eye. 

Follow-up study AREDS2 published in 2013 substituted lutein and zeaxanthin for beta-carotine.  Results showed that the AREDS2 combination reduced the risk of disease progression by as much as 19 percent and/or of vision loss by 25 percent. 

Not all AREDS Supplements are the Same

After taking the class, I wanted to start an eye health product and be able to recommend one to my patients. 

In a recent medical journal researchers compared 11 brand-name supplements and found that many of the products were lacking.   Here’s the product I decided on for myself and to share with my patients: 

To order using Fullscript https://us.fullscript.com/protocols/boisenaturalhealth-eye-health

Sources and Resources

https://www.macularsociety.org/

https://www.brightfocus.org/

https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/good-eyesight

Aging: Two Books I’m Finding Useful

By Joan Haynes, NMD

My own grappling with aging draws me, more than ever, toward a deeper understanding of the issues associated with getting older.  Here are two recent books I draw inspiration from, both personally and professionally:

Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life

By Louise Aronson, MD  

Most people alive today will spend more years in elderhood than in childhood – how can we make the best of it?  Part memoir, part medical information, Dr. Aronson’s book is long but easy to read.  She is a great storyteller and I can relate to her views on medicine.  

Here’s a review that captures how I feel about this book: 

“The book that every one of us has been or will be looking for – a passionate, illuminating, brilliant, and beautifully written meditation on aging and caring for elders.  Elderhood is a godsend.”  Pauline Chen, MD, author of FINAL EXAM.

The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline

By Dale E. Bredesen, MD

If you have concerns about failing memory, or perhaps have a family history of dementia, READ THIS BOOK NOW!    Early intervention affects outcomes. 

The book outlines 3 processes that lead to brain decline:

  1. Inflammation from infection, diet or other causes.
  2. Shortage of supportive nutrients or hormones.
  3. Toxic substances such as metals or biotoxins (from mold or chronic infections)

Dr. Bredesen details the basic labs and specialty tests to consider (which we run at Boise Natural Health Clinic) such as evaluation of food sensitivities, hormone levels, microbiome & digestion analysis, and toxin measurements.  

The research-proven ideas and protocols provided by Dr. Bredesen provide useful insights that will optimize anyone’s cognition, the aging process and positively impact almost any chronic disease, not just Alzheimer’s.  

Are Foods Causing Your Symptoms? Understanding Testing Options

Adverse food reactions are very common. If you have health concerns, this article will help you examine whether food might be a cause or contributing factor.

What are Adverse Food Reactions?

Adverse food reactions can be broadly classified into 2 categories:

  1. Sensitivity or Intolerance
    1. Time delayed reaction that occurs within hours to days of exposure
    2. Often IgG antibody mediated
    3. Can sometimes be caused by other factors such as histamine, enzyme deficiencies, infections, “leaky gut” and other often fixable issues.
  2. Allergy
    1. Immediate reaction that occurs within minutes to hours of exposure
    2. IgE antibody mediated response
    3. Often needs immediate treatment (i.e. epi pen)

What are IgG and IgE Antibodies?

Antibodies are a protein on the white blood cell (WBC) that helps the WBC know where and what to attack.  You can make an antibody to any substance.  It is important to know the difference between fast (IgE) and delayed (IgG) when discussing testing options.

Symptoms of Food Sensitivities (IgG Mediated antibodies and other types of delayed reactions)

Food sensitivity symptoms are typically delayed onset reactions;  symptoms can occur sometimes hours or even days after exposure.  Symptoms may persist for days after exposure. IgG antibody testing can be useful to diagnose.

  • General: fatigue, insomnia, food cravings, obesity, water retention
  • Infections: frequent colds, urinary tract infections, sore throats, ear infections, yeast infections
  • Respiratory: chronic nasal congestion, recurrent colds, sinus infections, postnasal drip, fluid in the ears, Meniere’s syndrome, tinnitus, snoring, canker sores, asthma
  • Gastrointestinal: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), constipation, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, gallbladder disease, bloating, gas, heartburn, Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, hemorrhoids
  • Cardiovascular: high blood pressure, arrhythmia, angina, palpitations
  • Dermatologic: acne, eczema, psoriasis, canker sores, hives, unexplained itching
  • Rheumatologic: generalized inflammation, joint pain, muscle aches, fibromyalgia type pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis
  • Neurologic: migraines and other headaches, numbness, dizziness, inability to concentrate, memory issues, brain fog
  • Mental/Emotional: anxiety, irritability, nervousness, depression
  • Autoimmune conditions: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren’s, Crohn’s, Hashimoto’s, etc
  • Miscellaneous: frequent urination or burning, teeth grinding, bedwetting, infantile colic, ADHD or hyperactivity, cranky behavior in children, chronic fatigue

Symptoms of Food Allergies (IgE Mediated Antibodies)

  • Gastrointestinal tract:  nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach-pain/cramping
  • Respiratory tract: swelling of the airways to the lungs, tightness in the chest or shortness of breath; and /or wheezing, swelling of the lips, tongue or mouth, anaphylaxis, reduced airflow in the nasal passageways, runny, stuffy nose, dry, staccato cough, itching or tightness in the throat, extra mucus production
  • Skin: itchy rash or hives, swelling, itching in the ears or mouth
  • Eyes: watery, swollen, itchy eyes

Diagnosing Adverse Food Reactions

Testing Method Benefits Limitations
Elimination Reintroduction Diet

The most common potentially reactive foods are removed from the diet all at once for 1 – 3 weeks, then systematically reintroduced to determine which foods are problematic

Highly accurate if done correctly.

No fee.

Can be done as part of a cleanse or weight loss program

Can help identify which foods cause which type of symptoms

Hard to do correctly (requires self-discipline, attention to detail, limited diet)

Only picks up common foods

Can take several weeks to complete.

Most effectively done under the supervision of a trained practitioner to avoid mistakes.

Not appropriate for testing IgE allergies due to possible severity of reactions

IgG Blood Test

Food sensitivity or intolerance, delayed reaction antibody test

Easier than the elimination diet

Tests 96 different foods (more if desired)

Can be combined with IgE testing

Only picks up IgG mediated reactions, will miss IgE reactions and intolerances caused by other factors

Results need confirmation with a Formal Elimination Reintroduction Diet

Fee.  Blood draw or finger prick.

IgE Blood Test

Immediate reaction antibody test for true food allergies

Safe way to screen for potentially dangerous reactions Misses delayed (IgG) reactions

Fee.  Blood draw.

Carroll Food Intolerance Test

 

Evaluates food that is not well metabolized by the body Fee.  Finger prick.
Skin Testing

Performed at allergy clinics

May be useful for environmental allergens and/or immediate food reactions. Not useful for delayed food reactions.

Scratching, or injecting allergens under the skin

Conditions that May Cause or Contribute to Symptoms and Adverse Food Reactions

Many factors go into the development of and recovery from food sensitivities.  By healing the gut and addressing underlying conditions, there is more possibility of tolerating foods.

  1. Deficient stomach acid or pancreatic enzymes
  2. Leaky Gut
  3. Dysbiosis – lack of good bacteria, pathogenic microorganisms including yeast
  4. SIBO – small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
  5. Celiac Disease
  6. Helicobacter pylori infection
  7. Gallbladder disease
  8. Prostaglandin mediated responses – inflammatory foods
  9. Blood Type
  10. Epigenetics – the modification of your gene expression

How Do I Learn More?

To set up a free 10-minute consult with a BNH Clinic provider to help determine if food allergy or intolerance testing is right for you, please call our office at 208-338-0405.

Test Your Gut Microbiome with a Simple Stool Sample

By Joan Haynes, NMD

Your unique make up of the bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungus that compromise your microbiome have a profound effect on how you digest food, fight disease, and even your mood and behavior.  The GI MAP test offered by Diagnostic Solutions provides an easy and affordable way to understand what may be growing inside you.  

Some of the conditions and symptoms associated with a disturbed microbiome:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Asthma
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Bloating
  • Cancer
  • Chrohn’s disease
  • Constipation
  • Depression/Anxiety
  • Diabetes
  • Diarrhea
  • Eczema
  • Food sensitivities and allergies
  • Frequent illness
  • Gastritis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Obesity
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
  • Ulcer
  • Ulcerative colitis

If you think you may have an imbalance in your microbiome, consider testing.  Learn more about the GI MAP test see a sample test here. https://www.diagnosticsolutionslab.com/tests/gi-map.

Just as important as running the test is knowing what to do with the results:

Our naturopathic medical doctors at Boise Natural Health Clinic have been extensively trained in interpretation and treatment of altered gut microbiomes.   If you would like to be tested, just call and we’ll set you up for an appointment.

Tired and Overstressed? Consider Daily Adaptogenic Herbs & Mushrooms

by Joan Haynes, NMD

A lot on your plate? Not coping as well as you’d like? Adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms can help. I’ve personally been taking some form of adaptogens to help me cope with the pressures of my busy life for over 20 years. I find them very useful and recommend them frequently to patients.

Adaptogens are herbs and mushrooms that act to provide energy and balance to the body. Some of these plants enhance mental performance, others make our stress response calmer and more efficient. They support the natural circadian rhythms and promote restful sleep. Many also support immune health and others impact digestion.

Each adaptogenic herb or mushroom has a slightly different action. Here’s a list of the most commonly used:

Rhodiola
(Rhodiola Rosea)
  • Ashwagandha
  • Schisandra
  • Holy Basil
  • Rhodiola
  • Eleuthero
  • Licorice

Mushrooms:

  • Reishi
  • Turkey Tail
  • Chaga
  • Lions Mane
  • Cordyceps
  • Maitake
  • Shitake

Here is a link to one of our vendors Gaia Herbs that explains the actions of the different herbs:
https://www.gaiaherbs.com/blogs/seeds-of-knowledge/5-amazing-adaptogenic-herbs-for-adrenal-fatigue

Another one of our vendors, Wholesun Wellness, provides top-notch mushrooms to our clinic.
Here’s some great info to learn more. https://www.wholesunwellness.com/

When the Immune System Overreacts: Naturopathic Treatment of Autoimmune Disease

by Joan Haynes, NMD

One in twelve people and one in nine women will be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in their lifetime.  Because of our whole-body approach, naturopathic physicians have a lot to offer patients with autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, lupus, and multiple sclerosis.  

Reducing the “Total Load”

In order to return to better health, we need to identify and correct the different stress factors that started and are keeping the disease process going.  Here are 4 areas I often start with in the first appointment:

Digestion

The first order of business is a well-functioning digestive system.  Recent research points to intestinal inflammation as a primary trigger for the dysregulation of our immune system in autoimmune disease.  

Pathogens, Toxins, Heavy Metals

Evaluation for microbial and environmental exposures for that are thought to trigger autoimmune disease.

Hormones

Evaluation of thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones to identify imbalances that affect the quality of life and our healing capacity.  

Nutrition

Encourage overall anti-inflammatory effect with an organic, paleo, whole-food diet.  We also test for food sensitivities (a primary source of inflammation) and correct underlying nutritional deficiencies.  

Returning to good health takes time.  Naturopathic physicians offer our patients longer appointments and the integration of the best of medical science with a more natural approach to treatment.   Call for a free consult to see how we can help.