Author: Joan Haynes

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

Neuromuscular Sensitivity Testing (NST)

The testing component of NAET.  Utilizes kinesiology (muscle testing) to determine the body’s response to different substances. 

Highly accurate when performed by a trained practitioner

Easy and non-invasive

Done in office

Can also be used to diagnose other sensitivities – airborne and chemical

Only test up to 15 – 20 foods at one time, requires multiple visits

Fee

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.

L-Theanine A Supplement for Children (and Adults) with Anxiety and Trouble Focusing

by Joan Haynes, NMD

Adjusting to the classroom can be challenging.  L-Theanine is a simple supplement that families can try with their children to help them relax, focus and learn.  I’ve been using it with kids and adults for over 20 years and find it a gentle and effective supplement.  Along with dietary support (whole food, blood sugar regulation, avoiding food sensitivities, quality multivitamin), L-theanine can help kids make the most out of their day.

L-Theanine is an amino acid from green tea which fosters a state of calm, attentive wakefulness.  It helps restless & anxious students by lowering levels of the stress hormone corticosterone.  When stress levels are high, it interferes with memory and learning.

How L-theanine Works

From a recent Psychology Today article. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201708/what-you-need-know-about-l-theanine

L-theanine promotes relaxation and facilitates sleep by contributing to a number of changes in the brain:

  • Boosts levels of GABA and other calming brain chemicals. L-theanine elevates levels of GABA, as well as serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters, and they work in the brain to regulate emotions, mood, concentration, alertness, and sleep, as well as appetite, energy, and other cognitive skills. Increasing levels of these calming brain chemicals promotes relaxation and can help with sleep.
  • Lowers levels of “excitatory” brain chemicals. At the same time it is increasing chemicals that promote feelings of calm, L-theanine also reduces levels of chemicals in the brain that are linked to stress and anxiety. This may also be a way that L-theanine can protect brain cells against stress and age-related damage.
  • Enhances alpha brain waves. Alpha brain waves are associated with a state of “wakeful relaxation.” That’s the state of mind you experience when meditating, being creative, or letting your mind wander in daydreaming. Alpha waves are also present during REM sleep. L-theanine appears to trigger the release of alpha-waves, which enhances relaxation, focus, and creativity. One of the appealing aspects of L-theanine is that it works to relax without sedating. That can make L-theanine a good choice for people who are looking to enhance their “wakeful relaxation,” without worrying about becoming sleepy and fatigued during the day.

Dosing  *

At Boise Natural Health Clinic, we find these amounts helpful:

50 mg is a starting dose for elementary school children. 

100 -200 mg may be more appropriate for high school children and adults.

L-Theanine can be given each morning and if needed a second time at the end of the day to promote relaxation, focus, and eventually sleep. 

* L-Theanine may not be appropriate with certain medical conditions or medications, so check with your provider before giving it to your child or taking it yourself. 

Using L-Theanine is an example of Targeted Amino Acid Therapy which is used to treat many common disorders such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, inattentiveness and more.  For more information, call for a free consult. 

Well-Prepared Natural Travel Kit

by Joan Haynes, NMD

Buy a basic first-aid travel kit and add your own natural medicines

Additional natural remedies to add:  (products mentioned by name available at BNHC)

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.

Botanifuge (Professional Formulas)   These capsules contain several different herbs that kill off parasites and pathogenic bacteria. They can also 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 Take 1cap with each meal to ensure healthy gut bacteria. BNHC has a variety to choose from.

For physical injuries – bruises and minor trauma:

Arnica 30C 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.

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

For sunburn:

Aloe gel Soothing and healing to the skin following a burn. Do not apply to blistering or broken skin.

For sleep/ jet lag:

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

Magnesium – 150 mg caps, take 1 – 2 after dinner to help sleeps. Can also combat constipation.

For more about how to decrease jet lag, see Dr. Maxwell’s article.
https://boisenaturalhealth.com/how-to-decrease-jet-lag/

For colds/flu or general immune support:

Biovegetarian (Priority One) (a multi-ingredient general immune support) 2 caps per day as preventative, 2 caps 3-4 x/day for acute illness.

For constipation

Most people experience constipation while traveling. Instead of waiting till you are uncomfortable, consider taking 1 cap of a combination herbal laxative before bed each night. You could also take 150 – 300 mg of Magnesium

For anxiety

Rescue Remedy 5 – 10 drops under your tongue. Great for fear of flying, crowds, too much family. Can also put dropperful in a water bottle and sip on as frequently as you want. Safe for children.

Lavela (Integrative Therapeutics) Great for flying and driving anxiety as well as family stress!) – this is a concentrated oral lavender capsule that works for stronger, longer anxiety relief. Can get burp a little lavender, but it’s not unpleasant. 1 cap twice daily.

Lemon Balm tea – bring your own tea bags with you when you need to calm your nerves. Sweeten with a dash of honey if you wish. Great for adults and children, tastes good.

Homeopathy

Consider purchasing a homeopathic first aid kit and book for other illnesses and injuries such as sunburn, insect bites, earaches etc.

Happy and Safe Travels!

Staying Healthy While Traveling

by Joan Haynes, NMD

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 fresh fruit, salad, or drink iced beverages, 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. Peel your own fruit, insist that your food is steaming hot when it’s brought to you, and turn down raw salads and ice. You will be a less frequent visitor to the latrine.

You must however, stay hydrated.  Many symptoms of jet lag and travel fatigue are simple dehydration!!!  Here’s an article about dehydration symptoms and another about electrolyte replacement

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.  Read more about jetlag

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.  Another favorite product is Liquid Herbal Resistance by Wellness Formula. 

Essential oils have antimicrobial properties.  Inhaling and applying them during travel can significantly reduce the number of microbes.  Be careful with direct skin contact and some oils can burn and they may need be applied with a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oils. 

Read more about how to create a Travel Kit that incudes natural remedies. 

Dry Skin Brushing

by Joan Haynes, NMD

Skin is the largest organ of our body.  With regular skin brushing, you help your lymph system to improve its circulation to rid your body of toxins.  It also increases cell renewal by removing dead skin layers and can even reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Buy a natural, not synthetic, bristle brush that is neither too stiff nor too soft.  It shouldn’t scratch, but you should feel some friction against the skin.  Buy a brush with a long handle so that you can reach all areas of your body.

Here’s how to do it.  The whole process should take less than 2 minutes.

  1. Start by undressing just prior to your bath or shower.
  2. You will use the brush to lightly stroke your skin with the movements going toward the heart.  This is the direction your lymph flows.
  3. Start with circular movements on the soles of the feet.
  4. Then brush up the ankles, calves, thighs, buttocks, and lower back.
  5. On the abdomen, begin at the lower right area, then brush in a circular motion up, across, down, and around in a circle a few times.
  6. Next, brush your breasts in circular movements, being careful to avoid your nipples.
  7. Next, brush your hands upward toward your arms and shoulders.
  8. Finish by take a warm bath or shower followed by a cool rinse at the end to invigorate your circulation and stimulate surface warmth.

For best results, do this practice before every shower or bath.  You can also use the power of positive suggestion to send a moment of love to each part of your body that you brush. 

Homemade Electrolyte Drink

Recipe

In a large glass such as quart jar:

  1. Filtered water (and optional ice).  Fill 9/10ths of the way full. 
  2. Sugar sweetened beverage such as lemonade*.  Fill remaining 1/10 of jar. 
  3. ¼ – ½ tsp pink Himalayan salt or commercial electrolytes**.

The Importance of Electrolytes:

Electrolytes are minerals in your body that have an electric charge.  They are in your blood, urine, tissues, and other body fluids. Electrolytes are important because they help

  • Balance the amount of water in your body
  • Balance your body’s acid/base (pH) level
  • Move nutrients into your cells
  • Move wastes out of your cells
  • Make sure that your nerves, muscles, the heart, and the brain work the way they should

Sodium, calcium, potassium, chlorine, phosphate, and magnesium are all electrolytes. You get them from the foods you eat and the fluids you drink.

https://medlineplus.gov/fluidandelectrolytebalance.html

Notes:

* The sugar here is important especially if you are already dehydrated or have a headache or muscle cramps.  The sugar speeds up the rate of absorption of the electrolytes.   I like organic lemon or limeades sold in glass jars.  Do not use an artificial sweetener.  You can make your own lemonade using honey and fresh lemons.

** There is unfounded fear and misconceptions about salt.  Most adults need up to 1 teaspoon a day.  If you aren’t eating many processed foods, you need to add it to your diet, especially if you have any adrenal issues.  If you have salt-sensitive hypertension, you may need more potassium and magnesium than sodium. 

Drinking with a reusable straw helps people drink more.  Look for fun and functional lids and straws at your grocery store made for mason jars.  These make it easy to carry with you.