Category: Articles and Recipes

Heartburn and Discontinuing Acid Blocking Medication

Why Do We Need Strong Stomach Acid? 

  • Essential in absorbing certain nutrients, such as protein, vitamin B-12, and minerals 
  • Kills bacteria and other pathogens in the stomach to prevent infection 
  • Acid blocking medication increases risk of osteoporosis and fractures, pneumonia, Clostridium difficile and other gastrointestinal infections, vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, chronic kidney disease, and dementia.   

Five steps to fixing your heartburn:   

  1. Manage symptoms 
  2. Identify causes of heartburn 
  3. Change diet and lifestyle factors 
  4. Repair stomach lining, look for infection, and support a healthy microbiome 
  5. Wean medication slowly 

Step 1 – Manage symptoms 

At first, if you are on an acid blocking medicine stay on the lowest dose you can tolerate.  To treat occasional breakthrough heartburn symptoms, choose one at time from this list:  

  • Chew 2 DGL wafers (this black licorice wafer also helps heal stomach so its good to chew 2 three times a day regardless of symptoms) 
  • Chew two Tums 
  • Drink 2 dissolved Alka-Seltzer 
  • Drink baking soda in water (1 teaspoon baking soda in 4 ounces of room temperature water) or plain seltzer water 

Step 2 – Identify causes of heartburn 

  1. Hiatal hernia (diaphragm dysfunction, belly fat) 
  2. Infection – H. Pylori 
  3. Gastric acid over-secretion and under-secretion both can create heartburn 
  4. Hypersensitivity to a normal amount of acid (lack of mucus in stomach) 
  5. Pancreatic insufficiency (digestive enzymes) 
  6. SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth 
  7. Stress, improper breathing, posture, spinal alignment 
  8. Diet and Lifestyle – see step 3 

Step 3 – Change diet and lifestyle 

Start with “low hanging fruit” – things that are relatively easy. Eliminate as many of these as you can.   

  • Acid foods such as citrus and tomatoes 
  • Alcohol  
  • Caffeinated products 
  • Chocolate 
  • Dehydration 
  • Eating quickly and unconsciously, not chewing 
  • Eating too close to bedtime  
  • Fatty foods 
  • Food sensitivities – Consider testing (wheat & dairy?) 
  • Overeating 
  • Raw vegetables in excessive amounts 
  • Smoking 
  • Spicy foods 
  • Sugar are refined carbohydrates 
  • Tannins in black tea 
  • Wearing restrictive clothing 

Step 4 – Repair the stomach lining, look for infection, support a healthy microbiome 

Your doctor will create an individualized protocol based on your symptoms, history, and lab testing.   

Step 5 – Weaning medication slowly 

Go slow – this process will take weeks or months and depends a lot on steps 1 – 4.  Stopping your medication abruptly can cause rebound acid hypersecretion.   

If you are on a PPI, in collaboration with your doctor, you will wean the dose and frequency of the PPI first, then you’ll switch to an H2 blocker then wean it slowly.   

H2 Blockers – partially stop stomach acid secretion 
– nizatidine (Axid) 
– famotidine (Pepcid, Pepcid AC) 
– cimetidine (Tagamet, Tagamet HB) 
– ranitidine (Zantac)   
PPI – almost completely stop stomach acid secretion 
– omeprazole (Prilosec, Prilosec OTC, Zegerid) 
– lansoprazole (Prevacid) 
– pantoprazole (Protonix) 
– rabeprazole (Aciphex) 
– esomeprazole (Nexium) 
– dexlansoprazole (Dexilant) 

When your digestive enzymes and/or hydrochloric acid are low 

Heartburn symptoms can happen from having low digestive juices – both hydrochloric acid from your stomach, digestive enzymes from your small intestines and pancreas, and bile from the gallbladder.  People low in digestive juices can have not only heartburn but often bloating, feeling overly full, abdominal pain, and other digestive symptoms.   

Your doctor can test for and explore the use of digestive enzymes, bile, hydrochloric acid capsules, and the proper use of apple cider vinegar and digestive bitters.   

Relaxation Therapy with Deep Breathing Reduces Heartburn Symptoms 

Do not underestimate the impact of stress on your digestive tract! 

Your Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), the muscle at the top of the stomach that closes when the stomach is digesting is affected by stress.  When it doesn’t close at the right time (during digestion), it allows acid to reflux up into the esophagus.  In a study, deep breathing exercises decreased severity and frequency of reflux episodes.  

The LES, and the rest of your digestion, is controlled by the vagus nerve, an important part of the gut-brain connection.  The vagus nerve controls the rest-and-digest side of your nervous system which in turn balances the flight-and-flight part of our nervous system.   

Take many moments each day to check in with your breathing.  Work on only breathing through your nose.  Practice a slightly slower exhale to calm your vagus nerve.  Check in with your posture’s effect on your breathing and diaphragm.  Get up, stretch your ribs and back.  Do a few twists or even better take a yoga class!   

Read more about heartburn from Dr. Haynes: 

Unveiling the Surprising Side Effects of Cardiovascular Disease

When we think of cardiovascular disease (CVD), we often picture heart attacks and strokes. But did you know there are hidden consequences that can quietly impact your life in unexpected ways? Let’s dive into these lesser-known effects that go beyond the heart and explore how a holistic approach, including a visit to a naturopathic physician, might be beneficial.

  1. Mind and Memory Matters
    It turns out that your heart health can affect your brain. Cardiovascular disease may increase the risk of memory problems and conditions like Alzheimer’s. If you find yourself forgetting things more often or feeling mentally foggy, it could be related to your heart.
  2. Emotional Rollercoaster
    Heart issues can bring more than just physical challenges; they can take a toll on your mood. Stress, anxiety, and even depression can become unwelcome companions on your health journey. Don’t ignore your emotional well-being—addressing it is as crucial as taking care of your heart.
  3. Sleep Snags
    Ever noticed that heart problems can disrupt your sleep? Conditions like heart failure might cause shortness of breath at night, affecting your rest. Poor sleep can then worsen your heart health, creating a loop. If you’re struggling with sleep, your heart might be trying to tell you something.
  4. Intimacy Interruptions
    Surprisingly, heart conditions can impact your love life. Reduced blood flow can lead to sexual difficulties, and medications may add to the challenges. It’s an aspect often overlooked but important to address for a full picture of your well-being.
  5. Tired All the Time
    If you’re feeling persistently tired, it might not just be a lack of sleep. Heart problems can lead to chronic fatigue, leaving you drained both physically and mentally. Don’t ignore this symptom—your heart could be working harder than it should.
  6. Kidney Connections
    Your heart and kidneys are team players, and when one isn’t doing well, the other can suffer. Heart issues can harm your kidneys, and kidney problems can worsen heart conditions. It’s a tandem act that emphasizes the need for a comprehensive approach to your health.
  7. Painful Legs
    Cardiovascular disease isn’t just about the heart—it can affect your limbs too. Peripheral Artery Disease can cause pain and cramping in your legs, impacting your ability to move comfortably. It’s another way your body signals that something might be off with your heart.
  8. The Cost of Health
    Lastly, the impact of heart issues goes beyond you—it affects economies too. Treating heart problems, coupled with lost productivity due to illness, puts a financial strain on healthcare systems and societies.

Considering these hidden consequences, it’s essential to approach heart health holistically. A naturopathic physician can be a valuable partner in your journey, offering natural and comprehensive approaches to complement traditional treatments. From dietary adjustments to stress management, they focus on your overall well-being.

In essence, don’t just listen to your heart; pay attention to how it’s affecting the rest of you. Taking a holistic approach, with the guidance of a naturopathic physician like Dr. Nicole Maxwell, can make a significant difference in managing the lesser-known consequences of cardiovascular disease and promoting your overall health and happiness.

We can add links to other articles like the cardio labs one

The Far-Reaching Effects of Hormones on Your Body

Many people are aware that sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA influence more than just reproduction and menstrual cycles. While common knowledge acknowledges their impact on bone density, brain health, and cardiovascular risk, emerging medical perspectives recognize that these hormones have even broader effects.

Our Changing Brain Architecture Throughout the Menstrual Cycle

Recent studies have revealed intriguing insights into how the architecture of our brains changes during different phases of the menstrual cycle. These hormonal brain differences could potentially explain the increased incidence of early-onset dementia in women who experience early menopause. These new studies suggest that our thought processes may also vary depending on the cycle phase, potentially influencing behavior. Hormonal fluctuations and physical changes in the brain may contribute to reported instances of “brain fog” at specific points in the menstrual cycle. Although some studies indicate no difference in task performance, patients often report changes in effort. Animal models also suggest increased brain connections before ovulation, aligning with women’s experiences of feeling their best during this period. This research opens new avenues for exploring the validation of reported brain changes throughout the menstrual cycle.

The Impact of Menstrual Cycles on Immunity

Surprisingly, a Long COVID study delved into the sex differences and hormonal influences on the immune system. Hormonal fluctuations during menstruation, early follicular phase, and PMS (end luteal phase) favor the TH1 immune pathway, which is effective against viruses but can escalate inflammation, autoimmunity, and cancer risk. This phase also leaves individuals susceptible to bacterial and parasitic infections. Conversely, during the late follicular phase, ovulation, and luteal phase (higher estrogen and progesterone levels), women favor the TH2 immune pathway. While this pathway protects against parasites and bacteria and is anti-inflammatory, it may enable stealth viruses to replicate. These immune system changes potentially explain the higher incidence of autoimmune diseases in women, with patients often reporting flares of symptoms around ovulation.

In summary, we are entering an exciting era of research that focuses on the monthly changes experienced by females, recognizing that these changes extend beyond reproduction to impact the entire body. The evolving understanding of these hormonal dynamics is poised to reshape the field of medicine.



Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail and How to Make Them Last All Year

As the New Year begins, people set intentions for self-improvement through the time-honored tradition of New Year’s resolutions. Among the most prevalent resolutions are those related to health. These resolutions reflect a genuine desire for better well-being and understanding the pitfalls can help navigate the journey to success. The unfortunate truth is that many of these resolutions fall by the wayside within a few weeks. Because of this, many people have given up on making their resolutions all together. Let’s delve into the reasons behind this phenomenon and explore effective strategies to make your resolutions stick this year.

Why Resolutions Often Fail

  • Lack of Specificity: One of the primary reasons resolutions falter is their lack of specificity. Vague goals like “eat healthier” or “exercise more” lack a clear roadmap, making it easier to lose focus and motivation.
  • Overambitious Targets: Setting overly ambitious goals can lead to burnout and frustration. Rapid, drastic changes are often unsustainable. Gradual changes are more likely to become lifelong habits.
  • Lack of Planning: Failing to plan is planning to fail. Without a well-thought-out strategy, it’s easy to succumb to old habits. Planning ahead minimizes the reliance on willpower alone, making it easier to adhere to the chosen path.
  • Unrealistic Expectations: Unrealistic expectations can quickly lead to disappointment. Weight loss, for instance, is a gradual process, and expecting rapid results may result in discouragement. Instead, celebrate small victories and appreciate the overall improvement in well-being, not just the numbers on a scale.
  • Lack of Accountability: Going it alone can be challenging. Sharing resolutions with a friend, family member, or health care provider creates a sense of accountability. Having a support system can offer encouragement during challenging times and provide an avenue for sharing successes and setbacks.

Strategies for Success: Turning Resolutions into Habits

  • Set SMART Goals: Make resolutions Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART). For instance, a SMART goal would be to “lose 10 pounds in three months by walking 30 minutes five times a week and eating one additional serving of vegetables daily.”
  • Start Small and Build: Begin with manageable changes and gradually build upon them. Small victories create momentum and instill confidence, paving the way for more significant adjustments over time.
  • Create a Plan: Develop a detailed plan outlining how the resolution will be achieved. This might involve creating a weekly meal plan, scheduling specific workout times, or seeking guidance from a healthcare professional or fitness expert. Be flexible with yourself and willing to adjust the plan if the first attempt isn’t working for you.
  • Focus on the Process, Not Just the Outcome: Shift the focus from immediate results to the process of self-improvement. Celebrate the journey, acknowledging the positive changes in habits and behaviors, even if the end goal is not yet reached.
  • Build a Support System: Share resolutions with friends or family who can provide encouragement and support. Joining a fitness class, online community, or partnering with a workout buddy enhances accountability and motivation.
  • If at first you don’t succeed – try, try again: Many resolutions are often abandoned after “falling off the wagon.” If you feel that you haven’t been successful when first attempting to achieve your goals, give yourself some grace. Improvement is the goal, not perfection.

Navigating Common Health Resolutions: A Practical Guide

  • Weight Loss: Instead of fixating on a specific number on the scale, aim to adopt a balanced, sustainable approach to nutrition and physical activity. If you already have healthy habits in place, consider seeing your healthcare provider to investigate non-lifestyle causes of weight gain. Celebrate non-scale victories like increased energy levels and improved mood.
  • Exercise More: Rather than committing to intense daily workouts, establish a realistic exercise routine that aligns with personal preferences. This could include activities like walking, cycling, or dancing. Consistency is key, so find enjoyable activities that can be sustained over time. If you don’t know what you enjoy yet, consider taking a few different types of exercises classes to see what they’re like.
  • Healthy Eating: Shift the focus from strict diets to creating a balanced, varied, and enjoyable meal plan. Gradually introduce more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while minimizing processed foods. Experiment with new recipes to keep meals interesting and satisfying.
  • Quit Smoking: Quitting smoking is a significant achievement that often requires professional support. Explore smoking cessation programs, counseling, and alternative therapies like herbal medicine and acupuncture to help curb cravings. Enlist the support of friends and family and focus on the numerous health benefits of quitting.

A Journey, Not a Destination

As the New Year unfolds, health-related resolutions can transform from fleeting aspirations into lasting habits by embracing realistic goals, cultivating patience, and building a supportive environment. Remember, the journey to improved health is ongoing, and each day offers an opportunity for positive choices.

Boise Natural Health Clinic now Carries Beyond Balance Product Line!

Boise Natural Health Clinic is now partnered with Beyond Balance Inc to provide gentle herbal formulations for our chronic complex patients. 

Chronic complex illness is complicated

As many of my patients know, chronic complex illness can not only be difficult to recognize and diagnose, but also difficult to treat. There are so many different factors that play into a body’s ability to tolerate various herbal, nutritional, and even pharmaceutical products. Oftentimes, patients’ bodies are very sensitive and what is well tolerated in one person (or even at one time in a single person’s life!) can’t be tolerated in another person (or time!). This is where Beyond Balance comes in.

We need products to use in sensitive patients

Beyond Balance was created and formulated by an herbalist, Susan McCamish, and is used comprehensively throughout the US, Europe, Canada, and Australia. Her formulations are targeted at supporting the body’s abilities to detox and heal at a cellular level using herbs. These supplements are formulated to be used at very low doses and tend to be very well tolerated in even the most sensitive patients. I typically use Beyond Balance in my Lyme, mold, and co-infection treatment plans.

Successful case study of patient with severe allergic reactions

Over the years, I have used multiple of their formulations, but my most significant response was in a VERY sensitive patient who would have a sensation of a severe allergic reaction to multiple everyday odors/environments. We had tried multiple detox supportive supplements, which all caused the same reaction in her. We even tried using food as medicine and found she reacted to adding a tablespoon of cilantro to her diet! We decided to try Tox-Ease GL, which is a very gentle detox formulation by Beyond Balance. We started at 1 drop once a week and, as she could tolerate it, she increased her dose. I’m happy to report that now she can live her life relatively unbothered by her symptoms (they are almost completely gone!) and even engage in activities that would previously trigger her! She’s not even on the supplement anymore. These products are easy to take and effective!

If you are struggling with chronic complex illness, call for a free phone consultation with Dr. Falkner to see if she might be able to help. 

Unlocking the Power of Pregnenolone for a Better Life

Are you feeling tired, stressed, and overwhelmed by the challenges of life? You might be experiencing the effects of adrenal fatigue and hormone imbalances. But don’t worry; there is a natural solution that can help you feel smarter, happier, and more energetic – pregnenolone.

Pregnenolone, the hormone precursor you may not have heard of, is like the conductor of an orchestra, orchestrating the harmonious performance of your body’s hormones. Let’s dive into the world of pregnenolone, its incredible benefits, and how it might just be the key to rejuvenating your quality of life.

Pregnenolone: The Unsung Hero

Pregnenolone, much like its sibling hormone DHEA, is a steroidal hormone produced within your body. It’s synthesized from cholesterol and primarily produced in the adrenal glands, but you can also find it in the liver, skin, brain, testicles, ovaries, and even in the retinas of your eyes.

Now, you may have heard the word “steroid” and associated it with bodybuilding or athletes, but steroids are a large family of biochemicals that play vital roles in determining your sex, managing inflammation, and regulating growth. In this family of hormones, pregnenolone is the grand precursor from which most other steroids are derived, including DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, estrogens, and cortisol. Remarkably, pregnenolone comes with little to no significant side effects, making it a safe choice.

A Memory Boosting Miracle

If you thought pregnenolone was only about hormones, think again. This incredible hormone is like a secret weapon for your brain. In fact, in laboratory mice, pregnenolone has been found to be a whopping 100 times more effective at enhancing memory than other steroid or steroid-precursors. It’s like a memory enhancer on steroids (pun intended).

But it doesn’t stop there. Pregnenolone isn’t just about memory; it’s about making you smarter and happier. It enhances your ability to perform at your best, whether at work or in daily life, while boosting your overall sense of well-being. Plus, it’s a stress-buster. When high stress-induced fatigue is getting the best of you, pregnenolone steps in to save the day.

The Age-Defying Hormone

As we age, our bodies undergo various changes, and one significant shift is the decline in hormone levels, including pregnenolone. By the time you reach the age of 75, your body produces a staggering 60% less pregnenolone than in your mid-thirties. This decline makes pregnenolone a key biomarker of aging – it’s like counting the rings of a tree, but for your body.

But pregnenolone isn’t alone in this hormonal decline. Other essential hormones, such as DHEA, estrogens, testosterone, progesterone, and growth hormone, also experience a similar decrease with age. This hormonal decline is often accompanied by a decline in your quality of life. You may notice a decrease in energy, memory issues, changes in your vision and hearing, joint problems, heart issues, and even a decrease in your libido.

However, there’s hope. By supplementing small amounts of hormones like pregnenolone, you can slow down these age-related processes, effectively rejuvenating your body’s functions and improving your overall quality of life.

The History of Pregnenolone

The fascinating history of pregnenolone dates back to the 1930s, with research and usage becoming more prevalent over the years. In the 1940s, human studies were conducted on factory workers, testing the effects of pregnenolone on anti-fatigue and autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The results were remarkable – improvements were observed, and safety was confirmed.

However, pregnenolone’s journey took a different turn when a pharmaceutical agent named cortisone, introduced by Merck in 1949, was touted as a cure-all for rheumatoid arthritis. Soon after, more potent synthetic steroids like dexamethasone and prednisone were developed, overshadowing pregnenolone.

Despite the initial successes of pregnenolone, research came to a halt in the 1950s due to the popularity of these synthetic alternatives. These steroids, while fast-acting, brought about serious downsides, including compromising the immune system and inducing conditions like osteoporosis.

Where Pregnenolone Resides

It’s fascinating to note that pregnenolone is much more abundant in nervous tissue than in the bloodstream. In animal studies, it was found in the brain in concentrations ten times larger than other stress-related hormones, including DHEA.

The Promise of Pregnenolone

In a world where we’re all seeking ways to improve our quality of life and combat the challenges of aging, pregnenolone emerges as a potent ally. It’s a safe and natural way to enhance memory, reduce stress, and potentially balance other hormones in your body. Its fascinating history, incredible benefits, and untapped potential make it an exciting avenue for further exploration.

If you’re seeking a brighter, healthier future and a more vibrant you, discover the hidden power of pregnenolone. It could be the key to revitalizing your life. For personalized insights into your hormone levels and the potential benefits of supplementation, schedule a consultation with Dr. Nicole Maxwell at Boise Natural Health Clinic. Your journey to enhanced well-being begins here.

It’s Time to Stop Taking your Extra Zinc

During covid, many of us started taking zinc supplements to help our immunity.  But now, many are overdoing it!  It’s common for me to see people taking a high dose such as 50 mg or more daily for years on end! 

Functions of Zinc:

  • Part of immune system to fight off invading bacteria and viruses
  • Helps make DNA and proteins
  • Speeds wound healing
  • Part of thyroid function
  • Maintains a healthy prostate
  • Important for proper sense of taste and smell

Zinc can be Harmful:

  • Too much for too long can LOWER your immunity
  • An excess can lower copper levels
  • GI symptoms – nausea, dizziness, headaches, upset stomach, vomiting, and loss of appetite
  • Can cause low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol
  • Too much can make prostate cancer worse

Copper Deficiency Caused by high Zinc Levels

Low copper can cause symptoms of anemia, low body temperature, bone fractures and osteoporosis, low white blood cell count, irregular heartbeat, loss of pigment from the skin and thyroid problems.  Copper needs to be balanced with not only zinc but also manganese.  If you are taking zinc, you should be taking copper and a multimineral too! Adults need about 900 mcg of copper daily.  1 – 2 mg daily is a common daily dose when supplementing.    

How Much Zinc do Adults Need?

Adult females 8 mg

Adult males 11 mg

(see Resources below)

Worried you’ve Overdone it? 3 Options for Testing

  1. Your doctor can order blood tests and you can see if insurance will cover. 
  2. You can order your own zinc and copper blood tests at  Inexpensive tests but no insurance coverage.  Individual mineral tests run $10 – $60

While you are testing – consider running a couple more important mineral tests:  ferritin, mercury, and lead.   Ask your doctor to make a list for you if you want to add others.

Look for Zinc in your Diet

Whole foods have zinc and other minerals – beef, chicken, nuts, dark leafy greens, whole grains, beans.  It takes at least 4 cups of plant foods per day to meet your minimum requirements. 

A great article about foods rich in zinc:

When to Add more Zinc

  • When considering a multivitamin, look for one that contains no more than 15 mg/zinc/day.
  • If you are coming down with an infection or recovering from an injury or surgery, extra zinc might makes sense.  Check your multi first and take that amount into account for your daily total. Adults can consider taking total of 25 – 50 mg once a day for a about 1 month.  Take a low dose copper supplement  – again, check your multi first. 
  • Take zinc supplements WITH FOOD due to nausea which is a common complaint. 


Methylene Blue – The Oldest New Med: for Energy, Chronic Infections, and More!

Methylene blue is one of the oldest synthesized medications to exist. It was originally made in 1876 for malaria. It was approved by the FDA for a condition called methemoglobinemia, which is a relatively rare condition. In simplest terms, methylene blue helps increase the oxygen carrying capacity of the red blood cells.

So, what can methylene blue be used for?

– We have found that not only is methylene blue great for saving lives and fighting malaria (its official uses), but it’s an amazing mitochondrial support that also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant uses. Methylene blue has been in the news recently for these “anti-aging” actions. By boosting the mitochondria (remember in 8th grade biology- “mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell” – it generates the energy currency our bodies run on), we increase energy production in the body.

– We also use methylene blue for neurological protection and health, including for concussions, dementia, depression, chronic fatigue, and long COVID neurological symptoms. Methylene blue is especially good for chronic fatigue due to its anti-inflammatory effects, its mitochondrial support (it enables us to skip steps in energy production!), and its ability to also boost mood.

– Lastly, we can combine methylene blue with other meds and supplements to better treat difficult infections like mold, babesia, bartonella, viruses (including potential for long COVID and EBV), and even pain.

We can give Methylene Blue both orally and IV. Unusually, methylene blue is well absorbed and crosses the blood brain barrier easily orally. However, side effects can include nausea (much better with lots of water), headaches, fast heart rate, and blue/green urine and/or saliva.

Methylene blue has a long history of use for various conditions safely. We can use this as another tool to enhance brain function, energy, mood, and fatigue!

Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder During Menopause: Herbal and Hormonal Treatments


Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years, typically occurring in her late 40s or early 50s. However, for many women, this transition is not just about physical changes but also emotional ones. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression can compound the emotional challenges faced during menopause.

Understanding SAD and Menopause

SAD is a subtype of depression that occurs at specific times of the year, usually during the fall and winter months when there is less natural sunlight. Its symptoms include low energy, moodiness, and difficulty concentrating. Menopause, on the other hand, brings about hormonal fluctuations that can affect mood and emotional well-being. Combining the two can be particularly challenging, as hormonal changes can exacerbate SAD symptoms.

Herbal Remedies for SAD and Menopause

1. St. John’s Wort: This herbal supplement is commonly used to alleviate symptoms of mild to moderate depression, including those associated with SAD. It may help regulate mood and improve overall emotional well-being, including feeling physically attractive. It may take 8 weeks to notice effect. It may also help with hot flash frequency.

2. Saffron: Saffron is a spice known for its mood-enhancing properties. Studies have shown that saffron supplements may reduce SAD symptoms and improve mood during menopause while also reducing hot flashes.

3. Black Cohosh: Often used to manage menopausal symptoms, black cohosh may also help alleviate mild depression and anxiety. It’s believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system. There is an even more powerful effect when combined with St. John’s Wort.

Hormonal and Other Treatments for SAD and Menopause

1. Exercise: Multiple studies have shown that physical activity alleviates SAD symptoms and improves mood! 

2. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): HRT involves replacing the needed hormones (thyroid, estrogen, progesterone and sometimes testosterone) that decline during menopause. Some women find that HRT can help stabilize mood swings and reduce the emotional impact of menopause, which can indirectly alleviate SAD symptoms.   Read more about hormones here.

3. Light Therapy: When natural sunlight isn’t available, light therapy is a simple, non-invasive treatment for SAD. Intentional exposure to bright, artificial light can help regulate circadian rhythms and reduce SAD symptoms.  During the day use bright Daylight bulbs for working.  Then at night use warmer Soft White for a more relaxing experience.  You can also use more directed light for 20 – 30 minutes using a light box – look for one with 10,000 lux of light that produces as little UV light as possible.

4. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): These are prescription antidepressants that can be effective in treating SAD. SSRIs work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, which can improve mood and reduce depressive symptoms. SSRIs can help with hot flashes too. 

Combining Approaches

It’s important to note that treatment effectiveness can vary from person to person. Some individuals may find relief through herbal remedies, while others may require hormonal treatments or a combination of therapies. Always consult a healthcare provider, like myself, before starting any treatment regimen, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking other medications.


Menopause can be a challenging phase in a woman’s life, and when combined with Seasonal Affective Disorder, it can lead to emotional upheaval. Fortunately, there are various treatment options available, including herbal remedies and hormonal therapies, that can help alleviate the symptoms of both conditions. Finding the right treatment plan may require some trial and error, so it’s essential to work closely with a healthcare provider to develop a personalized approach that suits your unique needs and preferences. With the right support, women can navigate menopause and SAD with greater ease and improved emotional well-being.

Dairy 101

Trouble digesting dairy is not really a disorder, it’s just a natural variation in how our digestive system works. Most people in the world have trouble digesting dairy past infancy and symptoms can get worse with age.

Here are some tips and tricks to survive in a dairy filled world.  

Learn Your Dairy Vocabulary

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose is a sugar in milk that requires our body to make lactase, a digestive enzyme to breakdown and absorb lactose.  About 65% of adults worldwide can’t breakdown and absorb lactose. 

Secondary lactose intolerance, which is often caused by damage to your intestines, might be reversible after your small intestine recovers.  The damage can be sudden, often caused by radiation therapy, celiac disease, inflammation in colon, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, infections in the intestines, and other food intolerances. 

Dairy allergy

A true allergy to dairy food is rare.  These sudden and sometimes extreme reactions are mediated by IgE antibodies, which can be tested for.   May need to carry an Epi Pen. 

Dairy sensitivity or intolerance (milk protein intolerance)

This is a common intolerance to milk proteins such as casein and whey (as opposed to intolerance to the sugars with lactose intolerance).  It can be measured by immune marker IgG. 

Symptoms are often gastrointestinal related but can also show up in other body systems such as headaches, fatigue, frequent infections, respiratory problems and more.

For more information about food testing, here’s another BNHC article:

Are Foods Causing Your Symptoms? Understanding Testing Options – Boise Natural Health Clinic

Pareve or Parve

If a label says Pareve or Parve, it is milk-free to conform to Jewish food laws.

Whey, casein, caseinate, lactalbumin, lactose

These are all forms of dairy that are added to foods for flavor or to improve nutritional content.

Ingredients that do not contain dairy (but sound like they do)

Calcium lactate, calcium stearoyl lactylate, cocoa butter, cream of tartar, lactic acid, oleoresin, sodium lactate, sodium stearoyl lactylate. 

Hidden Sources of Dairy

Battered fried foods, biscuits, breads, breakfast cereals, cakes, chewing gum, chocolate, cookies, cream sauces, cream soups, custard, deli meat, ghee, gravies, hot dogs, ice cream, imitation sour cream, instant mashed potatoes, malted milk, margarine, muesli, muffins, nougat, packaged soups, paneer,  pies, puddings, sausages, sherbet, soy cheese, tuna fish (canned), soup mixes. 

Another source: restaurants may put butter on steaks after grilling to add flavor. 

Dairy Substitutes

  • Dairy free cheese, milk, creamer, sour cream –We are in the hey-day of dairy free products, and they have improved so much in recent years.
  • Avocado – the texture and fat make it a great pretend cheese
  • Look for the word “vegan” on packaging as an easy way to tell if dairy free.
  • The Treasure Valley has some awesome creamy, non-dairy options for ice cream:

When You Want to Indulge – some kinds of dairy may be better

People generally do worse on milk, soft cheese, and especially ice cream.  However, there is less lactose and you are likely to have less symptoms with drier, aged cheeses (such as parmesan), fermented dairy such as yogurt, and goat or sheep milk products (instead of cow). 

If you do have dairy, choose smaller servings and eat with other food to help digestion.

Lactase & Enzyme Supplements

These are tablets or drops you take before consuming lactose that provide the enzyme to break lactose down.  Potentially worth a try if you are just lactose intolerant.  Won’t help with a dairy protein sensitivity. 

We recommend Enzymedica Digest Spectrum which has high-potency enzymes to support digestion of foods containing both gluten and dairy, as well as vegetables and beans.  You can shop on your BNHC Fullscript account:

Link to Fullscript – Digest Spectrum Enzymedica

Is Dairy Addictive?

It’s not just cravings, we can get hooked.  A protein found in cheese comes from casein which, during digestion, releases casomorphins, a substance chemically similar to opioids.  These casomorphins can attach themselves to the same receptors in our brains as heroin and other narcotics resulting in a little hit of dopamine and increased cravings.