Author: Joan Haynes, NMD

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:


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.


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


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.

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.

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.


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


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.


* 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.

Heartburn – Get Relief with Naturopathic Medicine

by Joan Haynes, NMD

Up at night with heartburn?  Worried about the side effects of acid blocking prescriptions?  Learn what other options you can explore to tame the discomfort and optimize your digestion and thereby your overall health.

Conventional medicine offers patients little insight into the cause of heartburn and instead puts a band aid on the problem by prescribing stomach acid-blocking medications such as Pepcid and Nexium.  Often patients take these medications for many years, leading to nutritional deficiencies and diseases such as osteoporosis and dementia. There are other options. 

Here are factors your naturopathic physician considers in patients with heartburn:

  • Evaluate food and lifestyle factors
  • Improve digestion
    • Consider enzymes, bitters, bile acids
    • Asses stress reduction needs
  • Correct nutritional deficiencies
  • Screen for gallbladder and pancreatic problems
  • Soothe and repair inflamed tissue with natural remedies
  • Screen for H. pylori and dysbiosis – imbalance in the gut flora
  • Evaluate for hiatal hernia
  • Promote smoking cessation if needed
  • Evaluate if weight loss is needed
  • Screen for more serious diseases such as ulcers or inflammation in esophagus

Reducing or eliminating acid blocking medications can be uncomfortable and even impossible without laying the proper foundation for healing.   It often helps to get professional help through the many variables – the naturopathic physicians at Boise Natural Health Clinic can all help navigate your way to pain-free digestion. 

Winter Salad

from Joan Haynes, NMD

Winter Salad – Roasted Cauliflower, Dates, Red Onion & Parsley

Lettuce based salads can feel cold in the winter, this salad is lower carb, crunchy, and fresh tasting.  Great for dinner or left over the next day for a packed lunch.

Recipe from Carmen at

Servings: 4


Roasted Cauliflower

  • 1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano


  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tahini (sesame seed butter)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper


  • 1/3 cup dates, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts toasted


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius)
  2. In a bowl toss the cauliflower florets in olive oil and then sprinkle with paprika, oregano and salt. Toss the florets with your hands to make sure they are evenly coated. Lay the cauliflower out on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender and golden in color.
  3. While the cauliflower is cooking, in a bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, apple cider vinegar, tahini, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Once the cauliflower is cooked, remove from the oven and place it in a bowl along with the dates, red onion, pine nuts and parsley. Pour the vinaigrette overtop and toss until all coated. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Our Winter Holiday Gift to You – Recipes!

Our practitioners and staff have gathered some healthy & yummy recipes for you. All these recipes are wheat, dairy, egg, sugar, and soy free but are full of flavor! Enjoy!

Click here  to print them all at once.

Winter Salad

from Joan Haynes, NMD

A lettuce salad can sometimes feel too cold in the winter, this roasted cauliflower with dates, red onion, parsley and tahini dressing is delightful for dinner and leftover lunches.

Immune Boosting Soup

from Nicole Maxwell, NMD

Loaded with proven immune stimulating plants like shitake mushrooms, ginger, and garlic this comforting soup will help prevent and even help treat colds and flus.

Ruby Beets with Balsamic Glaze & Fresh Herbs

from Emily Yuen, ABT

Full of color and antioxidants, beets are one of my favorite foods.

Apple Cider & Herb Brined Turkey

from Emily Dickerson, NMD

Brining a turkey produces very flavorful, juicy, and tender meat. This is from my favorite book I recommend to my patients.

Turkey Broth

from Denise Bartus, Office Manager

When you are done with your holiday turkey, here’s an easy way to make turkey broth in an insta-pot.

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Variations

from Kara Ferguson, Finance Manager

I love Brussels Sprouts – this is such a quick way to make them.

Nervines:  Herbs to Take the Edge Off

by Joan Haynes, NMD

Life can be stressful (sometimes overwhelming) and when we come home from our demanding work day to our demanding home life, lots of us reach for an alcoholic beverage to help us relax.  But instead, consider a cup of tea that accomplishes the same goals, but without the long-term negative side effects on your body.  In fact, nervine herbs would be good through out the day, not just at the evening.

Nervines are a category of herbs that help support the nervous system.  They can relieve muscle tension, calm anxiety, and some can help us sleep.  They can be taken in capsules, tincture or tea.  You can mix and match combinations to get the effect you want.  Many are also good for children.

Here’s a list of nervines from Mountain Rose Herbs:

Common Nervines

  • Oat tops – Very gentle tonic herb that helps support the nervous system without a perceptibly calming action. Can help reduce fatigue and support nerve functioning over time. Great for anyone who is overworked or relies on caffeine to get through the day.
  • Skullcap – Wonderfully gentle and nourishing to the nervous system. Helps relieve occasional tension and stress, circular thoughts, and nervousness. Can be used throughout the day during stressful situations or at night before bed to calm worried thoughts.
  • Chamomile – A classic, relaxing nighttime tea, this nervine herb is also helpful for relieving mild daily mental stress.
  • Lavender – Calming herb that is often used in aromatherapy applications for its mild calming action. Lovely when used in the bath, massage oils, pillows, room sprays, or body fragrance to uplift the spirit.
  • Lemon balm – Sunshine in plant form, this herb helps with nervous exhaustion, gloom, and restlessness while also providing pure aromatic pleasure. Simply rubbing a leaf between your fingers and smelling its citrusy oils can elevate the mood.
  • Catnip – Gentle, calming herb for sleeplessness in children and the elderly.
  • California poppy – Used for its calming properties, this plant helps promote relaxation in those seeking rest.
  • Passionflower – This stunning plant is helpful for relieving general tension, occasional nervous restlessness, and supporting restful sleep.
  • Hops – With a distinctive flavor and action known well by beer drinkers everywhere, this plant supports relaxation (although the effect can be considered hypnotic) and helps calm a nervous stomach.
  • Valerian – When sleep seems impossible thanks to nervous energy at night, this potent herb can support relaxation for many busy-brained folks. For some people, however, valerian can have the opposite effect of relaxation, causing more anxiety and stimulation, so if this happens to you, we recommend seeking another herbal ally.