Category: Articles and Recipes

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. 

Is it IBS or SIBO?  A New Look at Old Symptoms

It has been estimated that 60-70% of people diagnosed with IBS instead have SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth). Common symptoms of SIBO are bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, restless leg syndrome, interstitial cystitis, brain fog, increasing food sensitivities, hair loss, and anemia.  Sometimes we think of SIBO when patients report that the more fiber and healthy foods they eat, the worse their bloating and gas is or if they try to eat onions or garlic, its like a bomb went off.

What is SIBO?

Simply put, Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth is a chronic bacterial infection of the small intestine. The bacteria that normally reside in the large intestine have abnormally grown in the small intestine.

Why is Overgrowth Bad?

The small intestine is made to absorb our nutrients and food but is not made to tolerate bacteria. As bacteria grow in the small intestine, they cause inflammation to the small intestine lining as well as they get first dibs on all our nutrients before we can absorb them. The bacteria also emit gas as they feed on our nutrients. This leads to increasing food sensitivities, deficiencies of iron and B12, increased gas and bloating, and changes in your bowel movements.

What causes SIBO?

We aren’t completely sure of the cause of SIBO; however, we do know that certain conditions are likely to result in SIBO. Any condition that slows the movement of the GI system (constipation, hypothyroid, surgeries, antibiotics, etc) can make the conditions ripe for SIBO to occur. Another common cause is food poisoning.

How do we Test?

In the past, testing was not as reliable or complete as it is now. There are 3 types of SIBO: hydrogen, methane, or hydrogen sulfide. You can have only one type, or up to all three! There is now a test that can look for all 3 types of SIBO, called TrioSmart. You drink a lactulose solution and then blow into small bags every 15-20 minutes for 2 hours. TrioSmart then measures the amount of the 3 gasses in your breath and gives us results.

How do we Treat?

SIBO is treated by in a stepwise fashion: kill the bacteria in the small intestine, ensure motility of the GI system and do our best to prevent relapse, and then repopulate if needed.

Oftentimes a combination of a unique antibiotic (Rifaximin) plus herbs has the best outcomes. Some herbs often used are oil of oregano, garlic extract, berberines, and multiple others. Treatment protocols usually last 1-3 months, depending on severity and how long these symptoms have been present. Then we shift to relapse prevention and motility via herbs and diet.

Info from siboinfo.com, triosmartbreath.com, 2020 Advanced Application in Medical Practice conference

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

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. 

Bartonella – a Lyme Look-a-Like

Like Lyme disease, bartonella can also cause a host of symptoms that are migratory and spam multiple body systems. There are several species of the bacteria bartonella which can cause multiple diseases in patients, including Cat Scratch Fever (no, it wasn’t just a song in the 80s) and Trench Fever. Bartonellosis has been detected in 49 out of the 50 states. It often is referred to as a co-infection as these bacteria reside in many of the same ticks, mosquitos, spiders, etc as Lyme disease does.

Symptoms

  • Symptoms vary from person to person but tend to affect the gastrointestinal and neurological systems more significantly than Lyme and babesia.
  • Common symptoms:
    • Light/touch/sound sensitivity, plantar fasciitis or pain on heel/sole of foot, anxiety, migratory neuropathy/pins and needles/tingling/burning, “stretch marks” that stay purple/pink and don’t run in the correct position, brain fog, sudden and unprovoked nausea.

Testing

  • Testing is difficult with Bartonella because this bacteria hides INSIDE cells. We often rely on antibodies to bartonella to diagnose it. You can get antibody testing either at a general lab or thru Igenix.
  • FISH testing: FISH testing is looking for the unique RNA code in Bartonella. This is more specific and sensitive than antibody testing alone. This is available through Igenix. https://igenex.com/disease/bartonella/
  • RED Labs* – PCR or DNA testing for Bartonella. This is also available through general labs like Quest or LabCorp.

*Correction from Lyme article – RED Labs also has a unique way of testing lyme/Borellia called phage testing. This test is on the forefront of Lyme detection and can determine if lyme disease is active or if your immune system has just seen this infection in the past.

Treatment

  • Prevention is the best cure! Here are some handy tips from Igenix on how to prevent Lyme disease. https://cdn.igenex.com/wp-content/uploads/2022-Lyme-Disease-Awareness-Month-Tips.pdf
  • Herbal Treatment – There are many herbal treatments for Bartonella, with considerable overlap with Lyme and other co-infections. Japanese Knotwood, Chinese Skullcap, Cryptolepis, and Black Walnut are some of the herbs that are specifically effective in treatment of Bartonella. Herbal formulations are nice in the treatment of tick borne illness because it is much easier to tailor the dose to the tolerance of the patient.
  • Antibiotics – Antibiotics of choice are rifampin, methylene blue, and ciprofloxacin.
  • Ozone therapy – ozone kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
  • Treat other supportive body systems: address the thyroid, adrenal glands, vitamin levels, and multiple other organ systems to ensure your body can fight the Lyme

Oftentimes Bartonella accompanies Lyme and other co-infections. I find it is easiest to assess, through history, which bacteria is causing the majority of issues and start with treatment focused on that specific microorganism and then, as tolerated, expand treatment to the other bacteria/organisms. Again, this doesn’t have to be a lifelong diagnosis, but one that can be treated and managed. Dr. Falkner has attended ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society) conferences as well as has years of experience treating Lyme both naturally and with antibiotics.  Please call for a free phone consult with her if you want to know if she could help in your case. 

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi or Borrelia Miyamotoi (tick borne relapsing fever). This disease was first discovered in the 80s and is often categorized as acute disease vs chronic disease. Lyme disease has been documented in all 50 states, so even states with relatively low tick populations are not spared. Acute Lyme is fairly well recognized and treated in mainstream medicine, but there is contention over the existence of chronic Lyme disease and other tick-borne co-infections. This is because the symptoms are often migratory and span multiple body systems. Because of this lack of clear diagnostic tools and guidelines, it has been estimated that undiagnosed Lyme disease costs Americans $712 million to 1.3 billion dollars per year in treatment and medical visits (Aucott 2015). Lyme disease profoundly affects both patients and loved ones.

Symptoms

  • Symptoms vary depending on each person and how long the bacteria have been in the body. Most common symptoms are as follows:
    • Swollen, painful joints; neuropathies; migraines; POTS and changes in heart rhythms and rate; sudden new onset anxiety; brain fog; fatigue; mood changes, GI symptoms.
    • Many of the symptoms are often migratory in nature (if pain) or come and go with seemingly no reason.

Testing

  • Testing is notoriously difficult with Lyme because of its unique ability to change shape when exposed to antibiotics. CDC criteria is very exclusive and oftentimes does not recognize the changes in the immune system that Lyme can cause.
  • General labs:
    • CD57 – this is a particular white blood cell that is “spent” fighting Lyme and other diseases. If low, likely an infection is causing symptoms.
    • Western blot – Not very specific. Most often will only detect 84% of positive Lyme cases.
    • Antibodies to Borrelia – also not super specific and Borrelia is particularly good at avoiding the immune system and not “following the rules” of the immune system.
  • Specialized labs:
    • Igenix – We use Igenix laboratory as they are the gold standard of Lyme detection. Their testing is much more sensitive than the general labs. Average sensitivity is closer to 90-96%. This means that the test can catch up to 12% of Lyme cases missed by standard western blot testing. https://igenex.com/the-igenex-advantage/

Treatment

  • Prevention is the best cure! Here are some handy tips from Igenix on how to prevent Lyme disease. https://cdn.igenex.com/wp-content/uploads/2022-Lyme-Disease-Awareness-Month-Tips.pdf
  • Herbal treatment – There are many herbs including Japanese Knotweed and Cat’s Claw that are effective in treating Lyme. Herbal treatments are often easier to adjust the dosing to tolerance as well as easier to take long term.
  • Antibiotics – doxycycline is the antibiotic of choice for Lyme.
  • Ozone therapy – ozone kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
  • Treat other supportive body systems: address the thyroid, adrenal glands, vitamin levels, and multiple other organ systems to ensure your body can fight the Lyme.

Lyme disease does not have to be forever. Treatment can take a long time, but there are many examples of patients improving their quality of life when diagnosed and treated appropriately.

Dr. Falkner has attended ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society) conferences as well as has years of experience treating Lyme both naturally and with antibiotics.

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.

Is Autoimmunity Created in the Gut? Studies are Pointing to Yes…

The field of microbiome research is exploding, from autism to autoimmune disease and even branching out into the new field of psychobiotics (probiotics for mood/mental health). Ultimately, we are finding we are much more than just what we eat; many of our health parameters and even our quality of mental health are tightly linked to the bacterial community that lives in our gut. The microbiome refers to the balance of good and bad bacteria populations that live in our large intestine. Many factors can change the microbiome including even how we were born! Other things that can influence the microbiome’s health is eating fermented foods, exercise, food and alcohol habits, smoking, stress, and use of certain medications and antibiotics. An altered microbiome has long been linked to abdominal pain, altered bowel movements, and IBS.

The truly interesting and new info is that we are finally linking the microbiome to autoimmune diseases and diseases that are not classically thought of as GI diseases. Autoimmune diseases are where the body no longer can differentiate between self and foreign invader and will attack particular tissues that have been misidentified as “not ourself”. Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, antiphospholipid syndrome have all been identified as possibly being started by disruptions in our microbiome. What might be more exciting is a Canadian research group was recently given a sizeable grant to study the potential treatment of ALS (Aka Lou Gehrig’s disease) with a specific strain of probiotics! This could be ground-breaking! Researchers are also calling for more research in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders with probiotics as well! I linked a few of the studies and articles below.

Naturopathic medicine always has believed that much of health is created in the gut and the basis of treatment in my practice for autoimmune diseases specifically has always been to begin with digestion. It’s nice to see science following suit and what we intrinsically knew many years ago is being shown to be correct.

Test your Gut Microbiome with a Simple Stool Sample
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29920643/
https://alsnewstoday.com/news-posts/2022/02/25/1-6-million-canada-grant-supports-trial-probiotic-slowing-als-progression/

Nasal Rinsing Reduces Severity of Covid and Other Respiratory Illness

nasal rinsing

SARS-CoV-2 and other infectious pathogens enter the nasopharynx (nose-throat) to replicate.  One way to reduce your risk of covid and other respiratory illness with with  nasal rinsing.  Not just an old-as-time natural treatment, the conclusion of one study of people who tested positive covid revealed “participants initiating nasal irrigation twice daily for 14 days were over 8 times less likely to be hospitalized than the national rate.”   Many people are intimidated but its easy and done correctly, is not uncomfortable. 

Nasal rinsing vs nasal sprays

To be effective, we need to use a volume of water of at least 1 oz (30 ml) to 2 oz (60 ml) or more.  This is NOT the same as nasal sprays which are good for moisturization but are not enough to wash out the nose and back of the throat.

To wash your nose out, 3 things are needed:

  1. Device to get the water up your nose.
    1. Positive pressure squeeze bottle system or machine
    2. Neti Pot which works with gravity
  2. Water. It needs to be distilled or boiled for 5 minutes. Heating it to body temperature makes it more comfortable.
  3. Saline solution.

The easiest way to get started:

NeilMed Sinus Rinse – available at most drug stores or online https://shop.neilmed.com/collections/sinus-rinse

NeilMed makes it super easy!  This company has everything you need including product options and instruction videos.  The saline packets are premeasured and inexpensive. 

If you want to make your own saline solution, here’s a basic recipe.  You can experiment with a little more salt and baking soda for comfort. 

  • 1 cup warm water.  (250 mL) Distilled, sterile or boiled for 5 minutes.
  • ¼ teaspoon of non-iodized salt and a pinch of baking soda.  No anti-caking agents or preservatives

For extra infection control you can add ½ tsp of 10% povidone-Iodine to the above saline solution (do not use if you have an allergy to shellfish or iodine).  Be careful as iodine stains. 

Another antimicrobial choice is to use 1 part 3% hydrogen peroxide with 2 parts of saline solution.

Webmd has a slide show that walks you through how to do it:

https://www.webmd.com/allergies/ss/slideshow-nasal-irrigation

More information:

Another option is Nasal Sprays.  Xylitol & Grapefruitseed Extract products have been studied with covid.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7645297/

This nasal spray called Taffix has been studied with covid.  It works by creating an acidic environment that lasts for 5 hours. 

https://taffixprotect.com/

A literature review about hydrogen peroxide in nasal rinse for covid.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7262503/

Essential oils have been shown in studies to have antimicrobial as well as antiviral effects.  If you use essential oils in your nasal rinse, be careful as the oils can very easily irritate the delicate tissues.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6612361/

Here is a summary of studies on this topic.

https://health-desk.org/articles/what-do-we-know-about-mouth-and-nose-rinses-washes-sprays-or-creams-to-prevent-covid-19

This is an informative 13-minute video of Dr. Amy Baxter talking about lots of ins and out of covid and nasal irrigation. 
https://paincarelabs.com/health-wellness/the-ins-and-outs-of-nasal-irrigation/