Author: Nicole Maxwell, NMD

Dr. Maxwell Attends Hormone Boot Camp

Recently I attended the Women’s Hormone/Menopause and Perimenopause Boot Camp held by Tori Hudson, ND.  She’s an author and leader in the field of natural medicine and women’s health.  This was the second time in five years that I had in five years of studying women’s health with the numerous speakers Dr. Hudson invites to her 3-day conferences.  I loved every minute of the weekend and am excited to share this knowledge with my patients! 

During the boot camp, we learned extensively about:

  • The latest scientific research on the benefit, safety and dosing of women’s hormones 
  • Updates in herbal support in women’s health (mental health, vasomotor symptoms, and more)
  • Nutrition and lifestyle interventions that support a woman through the menopause transition and prevent long term issues of aging. 

Not surprisingly, no two women’s menopause transition is alike. I appreciate the challenge of evaluating and managing each woman individually to achieve optimal results and peak health.

Many women begin to experience a variety of physical and mental-emotional symptoms long before they meet the definition of menopause. These changes that appear, usually from around age 40 to 51, are called perimenopause and can occur over as much as several years.

In menopause, as a doctor, we start to think about supporting cardiovascular health, bone health (osteopenia and osteoporosis), cognitive health (preventing mental decline) as well as sexual health and tissue support.

As your care provider, I am ready to help you through this challenging time, armed with the latest scientific updates to support you. 

Premature Pubarche: What Is It And Why Should We Care?


Has your child developed early pubic or underarm hair?  Premature pubarche (PP) is when girls under 8 and boys under 9 have premature development of pubic and/or axillary hair. It tends to happen more in girls.  It is different from “precocious puberty” because it does not include breast buds or testicular development and there usually isn’t increased linear growth (height). One thing to note, PP is a diagnosis of exclusion – meaning we have to rule out other possibilities first, and once that is done, PP is considered a normal variation of development.

What could it mean for the patient long term? PP has been associated with a higher risk of a variety of conditions including obesity, insulin resistance, PCOS, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular issues; and mental health issues (even during childhood).  

If one has PP then we can start helping that child to avoid these potential health issues with diet and lifestyle changes, reducing chemical exposures, appropriate supplementation, monitoring and providing education for the child and the family.

Taking care of kids is a passion of mine.  If you have concerns about your child’s development, please reach out for an appointment. 

Did you know you are a Super Organism?

Every day we carry around 10 times more microbial cells than our own.  As Dr. George Weinstock, professor of microbial genomics says, “You’re not just a human, you’re a kind of super organism because you’re a community of all these things that are with you your whole life”.

Our microbial partners carry out a number of metabolic reactions that are necessary for human health like:

  • harvest energy from foods
  • improve gut motility and function
  • reinforce our gut barrier
  • protect against pathogens
  • synthesize vitamins, hormones, and amino acids
  • influence our brain, liver, kidney, skin and vaginal tract function
  • and much more!

Due to innovations in testing, we can now identify the microbial communities, their genes, and use that information in helping people return to health.  At Boise Natural Health we can test for over 50 different microbes that inhabit your GI tract and review them with you.

https://boisenaturalhealth.com/test-your-gut-microbiome-with-a-simple-stool-sample/.

Here are two easy ways you can start feeding your good gut bugs now and keep that super organism that is you functioning optimally!

1. Feed your bugs resistant starches.  Resistant starches increase our beneficial population and increases short chain fatty acids – food for the good gut bugs.

  • Oats. Oats are one of the most convenient ways to add resistant starch to your diet.
  • Cooked and cooled rice. Resistant starch amount increases over time.
  • Beans and legumes. Soaked and heated.
  • Raw potato starch. 1 tbsp a day in smoothie or overnight oats. Don’t heat.
  • Cooked and cooled potatoes. Don’t reheat – think salad.
  • Green bananas. Replaced with simple sugars as they ripen.

2. Eat a phytonutrient rich diet!  In other words, like mom said, eat your vegetables.  Go for a rainbow of colors at two of your meals. If you’re an omnivore, consider going vegan for two nights of the week or more.  Check out the recipe section on our website or these other websites:  https://www.whfoods.com/foodstoc.php and https://nourishingmeals.com/about

For more help keeping your super organism healthy, feel free to schedule a free 15-minute consult at Boise Natural Health Clinic.

Want to be 3 Years Younger in 8 Weeks?

Old lady happy staring at the mirror

A new research study from the National University of Natural Medicine’s Helfgott Research Institute show’s us how, in a simple and naturopathic way.  Why do we want to be younger aside from feeling better?  Age-associated health decline is associated with cardiovascular disease, stroke, Diabetes type 2 and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Fitzgerald, ND, IFMCP said that if can slow down aging by a single year (with the extended lifespan) then we can save the United States $38 trillion.  That jumps to  $367 trillion by 10 years.  The impact on our economy and our society is tremendous.

Old lady happy staring at the mirror

The simple interventions targeted DNA methylation patterns that predict biological age.   DNA methylation capacity is a major driver of aging and the associated diseases and if patterns are optimized then aging slows down.

Wouldn’t it be great to be biologically a year or even 3 years younger?  The study parameters were quite simple and involved 5 areas:

  1. Diet:
    1. The intervention was plant-centered with targeted foods that support methylation (see footnote 2 for specifics)
    2. Low in carbohydrates
    3. Limited nutrient-dense animal proteins like egg and liver
    4. Mild intermittent fasting (no food from 7pm to 7am)
  2. Supplements:
    1. Probiotics
    2. A proprietary powder combination of vegetables, fruits, seeds, herbs and plant enzymes
  3. Exercise
    1. A minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day, 5 days of the week at 80% maximum perceived exertion (rapid breathing, can’t talk now!)
  4. Breathing
    1. Individuals were taught a relaxation breathing technique to use twice daily. I also encourage the use of meditation apps like Insight Timer, Calm, Headspace, etc. If you use Insight Timer you can find me under the name Nicole in Boise with a photo of a boy on a log
  5. Sleep
    1. Individuals were encouraged to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night

The Horvath NDAmAge Clock showed that the treatment group was, on average, 3.23 years younger than the control group.  And the participants in the treatment group were 1.96 years younger at the end of the program compared to when they started.

Although one significant limitation of this pilot trial is limited statistical power due to the relatively small sample size, I for one am happy to make these simple changes to maintain a healthy biological age.  I realize confirmation of these results is needed in larger study groups (they are currently enrolling for a larger study) and populations beyond middle-aged men.

I hope you find this helpful in supporting a more youthful metabolism in the new year and beyond.  For more individual support please feel free to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nicole Maxwell at Boise Natural Health Clinic.

Getting to the Root of Hair Loss, Strategies Old and New


Many people suffer hair loss, and it can be devastating to our sense of self. Hair shedding is part of a natural balance — some hairs fall out while others grow in. When the balance is interrupted — when hair falls out and less hair grows in — hair loss happens.

The three most common types of hair loss are:

Androgenic Alopecia: this is the most common cause of male and female pattern baldness. It occurs in more than 95% of men and often in a well-defined “M” pattern. In women the hair becomes thinner all over the head, but the hairline does not recede.

Poor nutrition: this can be from diets high in animal fat and processed foods or deficiencies of biotin, protein, zinc, vitamin D or iron. We can help you optimize your diet and decipher your gut health to promote better terrain for hair growth. https://boisenaturalhealth.com/test-your-gut-microbiome-with-a-simple-stool-sample/

Hormonal imbalance: low levels of estrogen and progesterone can cause hair to grow more slowly and become much thinner. We dive further into this aspect here https:// boisenaturalhealth.com/hair-thinning-women-identifying-cause/

We can also provide you with compounded hair loss solutions! This includes using minoxidil, finasteride, items to enhance absorption like tretinoin and azelaic acid, hormones like progesterone, antifungals like ketoconazole and more.

Vitamin B12 & B complex injections at Boise Natural Health!

We are pleased to support our patients with this safe and effective treatment.

Whether you are an athlete looking to optimize energy and performance or are a busy parent or employee experiencing stress or low energy, you now have another option available at Boise Natural Health Clinic. 

Intramuscular injections are a safe and efficient way to get your vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. In Washington State, Dr. Maxwell successfully treated many of her patients experiencing low energy, headaches, joint pain, forgetfulness, mild anxiety or depression, trouble concentrating and weight gain with B12 shots. Whether you are looking to boost your energy, maximize your weight loss, or reduce your pain- these 5-minute injections are a great addition to your healthy lifestyle.

Below are just a few of the benefits of B shots:
• Boost energy
• Aid in detoxification
• Strengthen the immune system
• Improve hair, nails, and skin
• Promote weight loss and healthy metabolism
• Decrease pain naturally
• Improve mood
• Decrease stress

Studies have shown that nutrient injections result in higher levels of vitamin and nutrient absorption. This is because an intramuscular injection allows you to bypass the digestive system so stomach absorption is not an issue.  The nutrients are rapidly delivered directly to where they need to be. Additionally, nutrient shots allow for higher and more therapeutic doses of nutrients to be delivered as compared to what can be digested and absorbed through the stomach. When ingested orally, high doses of nutrients can upset the stomach, an issue which is avoided with nutrient injections.

Nutrient injections can be customized for patients based on specific lab results but popular options available for general purposes include our:

  • B-12: Contains Methyl-B12, great for boosting energy & cognition
  • B-12 & B-complex combo: Methyl-B12 and additional B vitamins.

A potent combination to supports optimal health.  Perfect if you are looking to maintain or improve overall well-being.

More About B-12

Many individuals may be deficient in B12, including vegetarians, vegans and other individuals who might have trouble naturally absorbing B12, especially seniors. As such, B-12 is a staple in every IM injection.

B12 is a complex vitamin that not only improves energy, mood, and stress, it also supports many integral systems in the body. It is crucial in the proper functioning of the brain, nervous system, and the blood. B-12 is also important for memory, the immune system and plays a key role in the body’s metabolism, DNA synthesis and energy production.

Vitamin B12 shots may sting slightly when administered, but most patients claim that the discomfort is minimal. There is occasionally some slight tenderness at the site of the B12 injection for a short while. Overall, individuals have reported minimal negative side effects to receiving B12 shots. 

The amount of B12 an individual needs depends on the current levels of B12 in their body and their specific symptoms. A consultation with a doctor at Boise Natural Health will ensure that you are getting the optimum combination of nutrients for your needs.

Injections can be administered in the clinic or prescribed for home use.

Pediatric Constipation and Encopresis

Constipation is a fairly common issue in children that often resolves itself with a few lifestyle changes.  But left untreated, it can become a chronic problem and even lead to encopresis (involuntary passing of stool, often due to impaction).  Naturopathic health care really shines in helping these children have healthy bowel movements. 

The difference between constipation and encopresis:

When a child is constipated, he or she has fewer bowel movements than normal (<3 times per week) or delay or difficulty in passing stool. Bowel movements can then become hard, dry, and difficult to pass. Your child may avoid going to the bathroom because it hurts. Stool becomes backed up (impacted) in the rectum and the large intestine (colon). When the stool can’t move forward, the rectum and intestine can become enlarged. Over time, liquid stool can start to leak around the hard, dry, impacted stool. This soils your child’s clothing and is called encoporesis

Ruling Out Underlying Health Conditions 

  • Primary care visit (we can do this at BNHC) to rule out other pathologies – this may include referrals for testing like an abdominal x-ray and/or barium enema, and bloodwork.
  • Stool test to rule out bacterial imbalances, parasites, poor digestive function.  Here’s an example of one we run at BNHC: https://www.diagnosticsolutionslab.com/tests/gi-map)

Actions to consider:

  • Food intolerance testing can be very helpful in finding a potential cause of the constipation.  It may take several weeks of avoiding the offending food/s before change takes place.  In general, avoid a high fat, low fiber, high sugar, junk-food diet
  • Read Are Foods Causing Your Symptoms: Understanding Testing Options
  • Fluid intake is essential.  Track the amount your child has and have water available around the house. Avoid soft drinks and fruit juices. If they don’t like plain water, consider herbal teas or snacks of juicier fruits like watermelon or even sucking on ice cubes.
  • Fiber – think legumes, vegetables, and whole grains.  If your child has a dry constitution then think moist fibrous foods vs dry fiber (apple sauce, whole fruit, oatmeal vs bread).
  • Exercise helps the body create motion in the bowels to push stool forward and out.
  • Abdominal massage – gently and slowly rub castor (or another oil) in a clockwise fashion.  Heat can sometimes be useful
  • Try relaxation training or mindfulness techniques.  Constipation and subsequent encopresis may be from stress in the family or with friends or at school.  Mindfulness helps decrease stress and gives the child a tool for life.
  • Encourage a sense of humor among the family to help ease any tension that may have built up around pooping.
  • It’s really important to do child-led potty training to decrease the risk of constipation/encopresis in the future.
  • Biofeedback can be used to help get on a stooling schedule and to help re-learn the body’s signals.
  • Chiropractic care can help rule out or correct structural contributors.

There are a number of supplements that might be helpful:

  • Kid-friendly digestive aids instead of laxatives
  • Probiotics can help to diversify the normal flora and compete with overgrowth bacteria which will aid the mucous layer lining the gut and promote better digestion.
  • Homeopathy can be useful, especially if there is a strong emotional component. 
  • Demulcents and gentle GI herbs can restore rhythm and function.  
  • Calcium and especially magnesium can help.  Some find help by adding fish oil.  

There are so many options to consider as you see in the list above.  Consider scheduling an appointment at Boise Natural Health Clinic and we can guide you through the process and help your child have bowel movements successfully again.

How To Raise Your Testosterone Without Taking Testosterone

Some men have lower levels of testosterone as they age creating a decline in a feeling of general well-being or a decrease in sexual satisfaction – this is called Andropause.  Not all men have low enough testosterone to warrant hormone replacement (HRT) or they have other issues where HRT is not a good idea.  Here are some ideas to increase testosterone naturally, some of them may surprise you!

Curious About How Testosterone Works?

Here’s my previous article that explains testing and how we rule out other causes of low testosterone besides age?  https://boisenaturalhealth.com/understanding-the-role-of-testosterone-in-men-options-for-testing-and-treatment/

Boost Your Testosterone with Diet and Lifestyle

One can stimulate the body to influence the testosterone making pathway.  Try one or all of these stimuli, they are especially effective if the testosterone is borderline or low:

  1. Get started on a weight-lifting routine and work up to lifting heavy weights 3 times per week.  The more muscle you have, the higher the testosterone levels.
  2. Eat healthy fats, especially the omega 3’s like cold water fish or olive oil.  Good fats seem to also increase luteinizing hormone, which stimulates cells in the testes to produce testosterone.
  3. Add honey to your diet.  Aside from being sweet and tasty, it also enhances serum testosterone levels in males via a variety of avenues.  We do need more clinical trials in this area, however, it won’t hurt to add some honey to your tea or coffee daily.
  4. Decrease stress.  Stress decreases cortisol which pushes the pathway away from creating testosterone.  If you decrease stress the pathway will go back to making testosterone.  Consider meditation – it’s a great way to provide lasting benefits not only with lowered stress but better metabolic function overall.  Watch funny videos – laughing a lot helps!
  5. Target body fat below 25% – but not too fast, no more than 2 pounds per week. Obesity lowers testosterone.  A one point increase in BMI was found to be associated with a 2% decrease in testosterone.
  6. Try to have sex (on your own or with a partner) daily in the morning.  Sex helps increase androgen receptor sensitivity so one is responding properly to the testosterone they have.
  7. Consider competitive sports, and surprisingly, competitive video gaming works just as well and rooting for the winning team.

Need more help sorting out your symptoms and hormones?

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Maxwell for further help supporting healthy aging and hormone balance at 208-338-0405. 

Arthritis: A Naturopathic Approach

By Nicole Maxwell, NMD

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in older people as cited in a recent article in the American Journal of Public Health1.  The article states, “Arthritis will play a large role in the health-related quality of life, functional independence, and disability of older adults in the upcoming decades.”

In this article, I focus on Four Foundational Principles for those suffering from arthritis.  Even for those without symptoms or who are younger, these preventive measures are critical to maintaining joint (and other aspects of) health into the later stages of life.  

What is Arthritis?  

From Mayo Clinic: Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis which causes cartilage – the hard, slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones where they form a joint – to break down.

Learn More:  Mayo Clinic article about Arthritis  

Foundation One: Hydration and collagen.

Many seniors tend not to drink as much water because of urinary urgency or incontinence.  However, our joints need hydration (water and oil) to stay mobile and to aid repair.  As simple as it sounds, consider drinking at least 6 glasses of water daily.  Aim to finish hydration by 5 or 6 pm so it doesn’t impede sleep.  One can add a pinch of salt to a large water container to aid absorption.  The next level of optimal hydration is to invest in a water filter that removes harmful pollutants.

Joints also need to be oiled, just like in a machine, and the oil for humans is in the form of essential fatty acids or EFAs.  Consider a tablespoon of fish oil, like cod liver oil, once a day to increase the good fats in your body and decrease inflammation contributing to arthritis.  Since EFAs increase blood thinning, if you are taking a blood-thinning medication, be sure to let your physician know so they can monitor.  

Joints are also made up of collagen which is the rubbery end part of joints and aids cartilage repair.  Consider taking a collagen hydrolysate supplement to support your joints.  Collagen seems to be mostly effective with osteoarthritis and may not be as significant in rheumatoid arthritis.

Foundation Two: Inflammation

Arthritis is essentially joint breakdown and often occurs because of inflammation.  Therefore, reducing inflammation is paramount.  This includes discovering if one has a food intolerance and then avoiding the food or foods creating inflammation.  https://boisenaturalhealth.com/are-foods-causing-your-symptoms/, https://boisenaturalhealth.com/the-carroll-food-intolerance-test/

Other ways to reduce inflammation associated with food: avoiding and/or decreasing refined carbohydrate intake.  Consider limiting net carbs to 150 grams a day.  Check out this article on carbs and arthritis: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324810. Consider replacing carbohydrates with colorful vegetables.

It is also important to check one’s gut health and see if one’s microbiome is helping or hindering the healing process.  https://boisenaturalhealth.com/test-your-gut-microbiome-with-a-simple-stool-sample/

Foundation Three: Repair

You may have heard of glucosamine and chondroitin – these two nutrients are great for arthritis pain reduction.  To be effective, these supplements must be taken regularly for at least three months to notice the benefits.

Foundation Four: Pain Management

It is important to stay active.  Mild to moderate, regular aerobic exercise, including water exercise, helps to reduce pain.  Consider your local YMCA as they have many options for different ages and abilities.

People regularly ask me about pain supplements and my preference for arthritis pain is curcumin from the turmeric plant.  I recommend a bioavailable form of curcumin like Theracurmin. 

Naturopathic Medicine Treats the Whole Person

Do you or someone you know have arthritis?   If you need more help, consider scheduling an appointment with Dr. Nicole at Boise Natural Health Clinic.

Am J Public Health. 2012 March; 102(3): 426–433

The Carroll Food Intolerance Test

By Nicole Maxwell, NMD

The Carroll Food Intolerance test, also known as FIT, helps us to understand the digestive and metabolic capacity of a patient’s body by identifying foods that are not compatible with their system.  

The History: Dr. Carroll practiced from 1917 to 1962 in Spokane, WA.  He was a busy and successful naturopath, however he couldn’t help his chronically ill son Bill.  In his search for better treatment methods, he learned about the work of Stanford physician, Dr. Albert Abrams who had been experimenting with new diagnostic techniques.  Dr. Carroll modified Dr. Abrams’ work to devise the FIT. Dr. Carroll discovered that his son was intolerant to fruit, removed fruit from his son’s diet, and for the first time his son recovered.  The FIT as devised by Dr. Carroll is similar, in some respects, to the bioelectronics testing of Voll, from which many biofeedback mechanisms have evolved.

What is it testing? This new method evaluates foods that are not well digested or metabolized by the body.  Those foods become a source of dysbiosis and can lead to inadequate breakdown of food, intestinal toxemia, and chronic irritation of the body tissues.  Dysbiosis means an imbalance between the types of organisms present in a person’s natural microflora, especially that of the gut, thought to contribute to a range of conditions of ill health.

Diagnosis? The Carroll test does not diagnose a disease, nor does it diagnose an allergy.  It is a determination of a patient’s incompatibility with food groups or combinations of those food groups.

The nitty gritty: A sample of blood is collected and evaluation is done using a specific electric circuit exposed to various foods in contact with a reagent. Fluctuations in the current are detected. Most people evaluated intolerant to one of the following foods or food categories: milk, egg, meat, sugar, fruit, grain and potato. In addition, he discovered that most people had a problem with one or more combinations of food, similarly not well tolerated.*

It works! I have used the Carroll food intolerance test for the last 17 years and have had great success.  I estimate 95% of my patients experience significant improvement when following their results. Do you experience a variety of health complaints and are unable to figure out why?  Do you seem to have multiple food intolerances from other food sensitivity testing or from observation? The Carroll Food Intolerance Test is often the game changer for people to help resolve a variety of complaints, heal their gut to be able to eat more foods, or lessen the load on the body so that the body can move toward health more easily.

We over this modality at Boise Natural Health Clinic to help you have optimal digestion and health.

*http://www.songofhealth.com/carrollhistory.html