2355 Canyon Blvd.   |   Suite 102   |   Boulder, CO 80302

Author: Dr. Terri Rebibo Fox

Dr. Terri Fox is a holistic, integrative, functional medicine doctor in Boulder, Colorado. She works on your behalf as a medical detective searching for the underlying dysfunction, instead of just treating your symptoms. She has expertise in fatigue, bio-identical hormones, sleep disorders, gastro-intestinal dysfunction, and Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome from mold toxicity and Lyme disease.

Inflammation May Be Aging You Faster Than You Think

Inflammation may be aging you faster than you think and if you want to live a long, healthy, active life – decreasing your inflammation is critical.

Inflammation is a natural, healthy part of the healing process. However, sometimes this inflammatory response is triggered and can’t (or won’t) turn itself off.

An overactive inflammatory response can lead to chronic inflammation, which may increase joint pain, brain fog, swelling, weight gain, and a multitude of other symptoms.

But more than that, chronic inflammation can make you age faster. The condition inflammaging describes a natural increase in inflammation that happens as you get older – but just because some inflammation is inevitable doesn’t mean you have to lose your quality of life.

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado applies a functional medicine approach to inflammation. Our experienced doctors search out the cause of your inflammation and work to decrease your inflammation levels.

Keep reading to learn more about inflammaging and how Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine helps you decrease inflammation and age gracefully.

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is a natural and critical part of the body’s immune response. When your immune system detects an infection it sends immune cells to fight off the offending agent and start the healing process. 

Your white blood cells release hydrogen peroxide and other toxic substances to try and kill the invader. The blood vessels open up to let the inflammatory mediators into the tissues to fight the virus, bacteria, parasite, or fungus. This makes your blood vessels leaky and can lead to puffiness and edema.

You’re probably more familiar with the immune system’s healing process from the outside perspective. Fever, swelling, rashes, sneezing, and many other signs of sickness are the result of your immune system’s battle against foreign invaders.

Not all inflammation is bad. A fever fights off your virus, swelling marks the arrival of healing white blood cells, and sneezing gets rid of dust and pollen in your nose. The problem is when inflammation becomes systemic or chronic. 

How Inflammation Speeds Up Aging

A certain amount of inflammation is unavoidable as you get older. Pro-inflammatory markers increase because of dysregulation in the immune response. 

So, low-level systemic inflammation is more common the older you get and that is why inflammation may be aging you faster than you think.

The term inflammageing describes the natural increase of inflammatory markers with age. Inflammaging is a risk factor for several diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, all forms of dementia, obesity, and arthritis. It also contributes to a shorter overall life expectancy and chronic pain. 

While some inflammation is inevitable, you can decrease your risk of disease by recognizing the symptoms early. 

A few signs you’re experiencing a systemic response to inflammation include:

When people look and feel older than they are – chances are they have chronic inflammation. Inflammation is part of what distinguishes the difference between your chronological age and your biological age. If you ignore the signs, your health will steadily worsen as your body struggles to return to optimal health.

Thankfully, chronic inflammation isn’t a permanent state. You can make a dramatic difference in your health as you age by improving your gut health.

The GI Tract and Inflammation

Inflammation often starts in the gut because the gut is where you come into contact with the outside world the most.

Food allergies and sensitivities are common causes of chronic inflammation. They increase inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract as the body attacks the offending food.

When your immune system forms an antibody for a certain food, your body responds the same way it would to a foreign invader. It tries to destroy and expel the food before it can do any harm.

The food sensitivity and food allergy response increase inflammation levels in the gut, which eventually spreads to the rest of the body.

Some foods are more likely to cause inflammation than others, including processed sugar, gluten, dairy, corn, and soy. These foods are inflammatory in everyone, regardless of if you have an antibody to them or not. The reason these foods are inflammatory has to do with the way we grow and process our food.

Other common causes of inflammation are toxins in your environment and chronic infections. The amount of toxins and harmful substances in the environment has been exponentially increasing and these toxins are inflammatory. The more we are exposed, the more inflammation we will have.

Does Inflammation Cause Weight Gain?

Weight gain and inflammation often go hand in hand. A high level of inflammation or toxins can contribute to weight gain.

If your body can’t detoxify a toxin, it will increase the number of fat cells in the body in order to dilute the toxin and make them less damaging to your cells. Toxins stored inside fat cells make inflammatory changes to the tissue. They are slowly released into the body over time and the inflammatory response gradually increases as a result.

So, inflammation can be the root cause of weight gain – but that isn’t always the case.

How to Reduce Gut Inflammation

A food sensitivity and allergy panel is critical to get to the root cause of inflammation. As is doing a comprehensive stool study. Together, these tests reveal the health of the microbiome and its diversity as well as any infections or imbalances in the gut.

Seventy percent of your immune system lives in your gut and microbiome. If you have a chronic state of infection in the gastrointestinal tract, your immune system is busy fighting these infections and doesn’t have as much capacity for other infections you may encounter. Furthermore, the immune response in your gut creates a state of chronic inflammation.

If chronic gut inflammation goes untreated, the inflammation seeps out into the rest of your body and creates disease. Chronic yeast infections, parasitic infections, or gut dysbiosis are common and often silent infections in your gut. An untreated chronic inflammatory response in the gut will affect the whole body and may result in neuroinflammation, arthritis, weight gain, etc.

Some good anti-infammatory supplements are NrF2, curcumin, Boswellia, omega-3 fatty acids, green tea extract, and CBD. Order through Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine to get high-quality supplements from Fullscipt and Wholescipts.

Your biggest immunomodulator is your microbiome. A healthy microbiome will increase good immune responses and decrease immune dysfunction such as inflammation, auto-immunity, and allergies. Again, the microbiome is CRITICAL to aging gracefully.

Contact Boulder Holistic

Inflammation may be aging you faster than you think – but that doesn’t mean you can’t age gracefully. Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado finds the cause of your inflammation with functional medicine to reduce pain, increase longevity and prevent disease.

If you have signs of inflammation or want to learn what functional medicine can do to help, contact Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine to schedule a consultation!

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Have a question? Need to schedule an appointment? Send us an email. We'll get back to you right away.

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2355 Canyon Blvd
Suite 102
Boulder, CO 80302

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Need an appointment, prescription refill or have questions? Call us from 9:30am to 4:00pm.

Is Your Testosterone Low? Everything You Need To Know about Men’s Hormones

Low testosterone in men can lead to fatigue, weight gain, erectile dysfunction, and difficulty building muscle. Some studies even show a connection between low testosterone and depression.

While testosterone levels naturally decrease with age, some men experience a dramatic onset of low testosterone symptoms that could indicate a hormonal imbalance.

If you have low testosterone, you may be able to boost it with diet and exercise. But lifestyle changes are not always enough, and you may need a more potent dose to balance and boost testosterone levels.

If you wondered how to increase testosterone safely, bioidentical testosterone at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, might be the treatment for you. Keep reading to learn more about how to optimize men’s hormones to feel strong, youthful, and vibrant again.

How Do You Know If Your Testosterone Is Low?

A little hormone fluctuation is normal. Male hormone levels fluctuate a little throughout the day, testosterone increases in young men going through puberty, and decreases as a man enters his late thirties, forties, or fifties.

Some symptoms of low testosterone include:

  • Low libido
  • Inability to build muscle mass
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Decreased strength of the erection
  • Decreased ability to orgasm
  • Low sperm count
  • Increased recovery time when exercising
  • Decreased endurance when exercising
  • Low motivation

Some studies show that low testosterone may increase overall mortality risk in men. For men who have low testosterone and sexual dysfunction, the risk is even higher. Thankfully, bioidentical testosterone can be used to combat low testosterone levels.

What Is Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?

Bioidentical hormone therapy uses naturally-occurring testosterone from plants and other lab-derived sources to support men’s hormones. These hormones are physiologically identical to those found in the body.

The primary male hormone – testosterone – is necessary for development and reproduction. Low testosterone in men can lead to fatigue, weight gain, erectile dysfunction, and difficulty building muscle.

Functional medicine uses bioidentical hormones to reduce hormone-related symptoms and get you back to optimal health.

Are Bioidentical Hormones Safe?

When pharmaceutical testosterone first became available over 20 years ago, several studies seemed to show a connection between testosterone treatment and prostate cancer. But further examination showed that it wasn’t the testosterone increasing cancer risk, but rising levels of estrogen.

Whenever you add hormones to the system, they can convert to other hormones and metabolites. Testosterone can convert to estradiol (estrogen) or DHT.

When male estrogen levels increase, it may increase the risk of prostate cancer depending on your genetic makeup. If estrogen levels increase, Dr. Fox will add herbs that block the conversion of testosterone to estradiol. But you need to carefully monitor estrogen levels during bioidentical testosterone treatment for testosterone therapy to be safe.

Testosterone can also convert to DHT (dihydrotestosterone) which can potentially increase hair loss or adversely affect the prostate. Dr. Fox will monitor these levels through regular blood draws. If the testosterone converts to DHT, she will use herbs that block that conversion.

Dr. Fox at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, will work with you to find the exact cause of your testosterone imbalance and introduce testosterone carefully to ensure your testosterone treatment is as risk-free as possible.

What Causes Low Testosterone In Men?

Man running after treating his low testosterone

The most common cause of low testosterone in men is adrenal dysfunction. Your adrenals are two bean-like glands found on top of each kidney. They are part of your survival instinct, prioritizing body functions based on perceived threats. 

For example, if you were to be attacked by a tiger, your adrenals would activate fight or flight, your sympathetic nervous system. They start pumping in adrenaline and cortisol to increase your chances of escaping or killing that tiger.

Testosterone and cortisol (the stress hormone) convert directly to each other. So when you are “burning the candle at both ends,” your testosterone converts to cortisol to help you push through the stressful situation. 

Often, if your testosterone is low, Dr. Fox will have you do an adrenal panel to get to the root cause of your hormonal imbalance.

Another way to improve testosterone levels is by taking DHEA, a precursor to testosterone. You will want to check your levels first. If testosterone levels are low, taking supplemental DHEA can help give you a natural boost. 

Testosterone levels can also be affected by cancer, pituitary disease, certain medications, alcohol and drug abuse, and testicular injury or infection – although these are rare. If you are experiencing any signs of low or imbalanced testosterone, talk to Dr. Fox at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine so she can investigate further!

What Is The Link Between Low Testosterone & Depression?

Studies show a connection between low testosterone and depression.

The two imbalances share a few common symptoms, including fatigue, anxiety, low sex drive, sleep problems, irritability, and trouble concentrating. 

However, low testosterone often causes notable physical symptoms like decreased endurance, low libido, and an inability to build muscle. The most common symptoms of depression, on the other hand, are apathy, lack of motivation, and anhedonia (the loss of the ability to feel pleasure).

Does low testosterone cause depression? Experts are still in debate. Depression is a common symptom of low testosterone and easily treated with bioidentical hormone therapy. If you feel depressed, have your functional medicine doctor check your testosterone and other androgen levels. 

How To Boost Testosterone Naturally

Hormone replacement therapy at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado starts with a blood draw to see your free testosterone, total testosterone, DHEA, DHT, and estradiol levels as well as an adrenal panel. Dr. Fox will then use the results to determine the root cause of your imbalance hormones. 

Testosterone comes in two forms – total testosterone and free testosterone. Total testosterone levels are a combination of free testosterone and protein-bound testosterone. Free testosterone is the one that binds to receptors on the cells and influences male hormonal health. 

The free testosterone is the one you want to check and optimize.

Once she’s determined the cause of your low testosterone, Dr. Fox may prescribe bioidentical testosterone cream. Testosterone cream is the best choice for treating low testosterone because it provides a consistent daily dose of hormones. Once on the testosterone cream, you will feel more energy, strength, endurance, and vitality!

How Long Does It Take For Bioidentical Testosterone To Work?

Bioidentical testosterone effectiveness varies from person to person. You may start to see improvement in your low testosterone symptoms within three weeks, but it may also take a couple of months. 

Dr. Fox often recommends you try hormone replacement therapy for six months to see if it will be an effective treatment for you. 

Dr. Fox uses herbs to prevent testosterone from becoming estradiol and DHT. Because bloodwork is the crucial component that keeps your hormone replacement therapy on track, Dr. Fox recommends blood draws at four weeks, three months, and six months to adjust levels and ensure that the bioidentical testosterone cream is achieving the desired results.

Man lifting weights after boosting testosterone naturally with functional medicine

Contact Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado

Bioidentical testosterone therapy for men at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, can treat low or unbalanced hormone levels. Dr. Fox , who has over 20 years of functional medicine experience, uses a functional medicine approach to treat low testosterone and androgen deficiency. She looks for the root cause of your hormonal imbalance and supports you on the journey back to optimal health.

If you have low testosterone, contact Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado to schedule a consultation for bioidentical testosterone therapy!

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Have a question? Need to schedule an appointment? Send us an email. We'll get back to you right away.

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2355 Canyon Blvd
Suite 102
Boulder, CO 80302

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Need an appointment, prescription refill or have questions? Call us from 9:30am to 4:00pm.

Mold Toxicity Symptoms & Treatment

Most people have some experience with mold, but what does toxic mold look like? The black gunk in a window frame, the moldy smell in a damp basement, or the fuzz on food left in the fridge for too long.

Not all molds are inherently harmful. Some strains of mold are common outdoor molds found in nature, serving a critical purpose for the planet. They aid in the decomposition of the planet and are a natural part of nature’s cycle of regeneration and recycling (check out the Netflix documentary Fantastic Fungi – it’s great!).

But in large quantities, mold can make a susceptible person very sick. Only about 25% of the population is mold sensitive, so it’s quite common for only one person in a house to get sick from mold.

What is toxic mold? The most common cause of mold toxicity is from water-damaged buildings. The mycotoxins that result from water damage are pathogenic, or disease-causing, to humans. They are poisonous and can be deadly. Some of these mycotoxins – trichothecenes in particular – have even been studied as chemical warfare agents.

Imagine a substance that lives inside the body and tries to decompose it from the inside out. Ew!

We are often asked when to see a doctor for mold exposure. The great news is that mold toxicity is completely treatable. Are you experiencing symptoms of toxic mold exposure? Dr. Fox at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado is an expert in the treatment of toxic mold and mold toxicity. Working with Dr. Fox will help get rid of the mycotoxins in your body and get you back on the path to vibrant health!

Keep reading to learn more about Dr. Fox’s functional medicine approach to removing mold toxicity and mycotoxins from the body.

How to Test for Mold Toxicity

If Dr. Fox suspects that your symptoms are due to toxic mold exposure, they will suggest mold testing for both your environment and body. Mold toxicity testing is not generally covered by insurance. Some biomarkers can be found with blood testing, but Dr. Fox recommends a urinary mycotoxin test.

Based on the results of your tests, she will then implement a mold detoxification program to get you back to optimal health. Illnesses from mold exposure are reversible and Boulder Holistic is prepared to help you through every step of the process.

Symptoms of Mold Toxicity

What are the symptoms of mold toxicity? One of molds most toxic traits (pun intended) is its effect on the immune system. Mold attacks the immune system, suppressing the good immune signaling that helps your body fight off harmful pathogens and increasing inflammation across the body.

The increase in systemic inflammation contributes to a multitude of mold toxicity symptoms including:

  • Brain fog
  • Achiness
  • Weight gain
  • Frequent illnesses like colds, flu, and viral infections

Because mold toxicity creates so much immune dysfunction, some latent (inactive) infections can become opportunistic and reactivate. For example, in the presence of mold, Lyme and Lyme co-infections can reactivate and thrive. Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) and mono also worsen in the presence of mold. It can be difficult for the body to clear these infections in the presence of mold so the mold has to be treated first.

What are common symptoms of mold toxicity?:

  • Rash
  • Migraines (which answers the question, “can mold give you headaches?”)
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Brain fog
  • Anxiety  
  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Multiple neurological issues

Neurological symptoms of mold exposure often include:

  • Involuntary muscle movements
  • Tics
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Tingling

Other common symptoms are:

  • Ice pick sensations (stabbing intermittent headaches)
  • Visual changes
  • Hair loss
  • Chronic congestion, cough, or throat clearing

As you can see, mold disrupts all of the systems in your body. Allergies get worse when there’s mold in the system. Mycotoxins are also endocrine disruptors, they can wreak havoc on your hormones. We’re often asked “how long do mycotoxins stay in the body?” or “how long do mold symptoms last?”. If you are susceptible to mold and currently exposed, you may have been sick and getting sicker for a long time. Are you currently experiencing some of the above toxic mold symptoms? Keep reading to learn about mold toxicity treatment.

Mold Toxicity Treatment: The 3 Phases of Mold Detox

Everyone’s ability to detox from mold is different. Some people are unable to naturally detox or metabolize mold so that it can be safely removed from the body in the urine, stool, and sweat.

An experienced mold expert moves slowly to support your body through the process while also ensuring that all mold is removed from your system – for good!

Your body and your cells want to get rid of these toxins. When you open a pathway out, your cells may try to dump more toxins than the body is prepared to dispose of in the urine, stool, and sweat. If you try to mobilize more than the body can safely get rid of, you might end up exacerbating your symptoms.

Going too fast causes a process called die-off. Mycotoxins and neurotoxins from mold can mobilize and potentially land somewhere worse than where they started. If your symptoms get worse during a mold detox, slow down and back off on the dosing. You won’t get better faster by suffering.

Is there a standard mold detox protocol? Boulder Holistic breaks down its mold detoxifying process into three parts:

  1. Mycotoxin detoxification
  2. Antifungals and biofilm
  3. Repletion

Dr. Fox has personally helped her patients go from chronically ill to perfect health with a few simple steps. Keep reading to learn more about each phase.

Phase 1: Mycotoxin Detoxification

The first step is beginning to “bind” the mycotoxins and neurotoxins that mold emits so your body can then dispose of them in your stool. This is done with the binders that are specific to the mycotoxin results from your mold toxicity tests.

In general, glutathione can significantly aid in mold metabolism. Other forms of detoxification may also be added to support organ detoxification for the kidney, liver, and lymphatic system  A compounded nasal spray helps to kill any colonized mold in the sinuses.

Binders, such as activated charcoal, bentonite clay, and cholestyramine can help bind and pull these toxins from the body. They should only be used two hours after other medications and supplements, as the binders can bind them and pull them out of the stool.

Phase 2: Anti-fungals and Tackling the Biofilm

At this stage your body is learning how to detox and pull out the toxins that mold emits. But if the mold in your body is colonized, nothing up to this point has begun to kill mold in the system.

Colonization means that mold has now grown and set up a community and home for itself in your body. “Colonization” often occurs in the upper respiratory tract or the GI tract. There is no way of knowing if the colonized mold in your body is from a previous or current exposure.

In order to treat mold toxicity, any potentially colonized mold needs to be killed with anti-fungal medications and or anti-fungal herbs.

Once the first period of detoxification and anti-fungals is complete, the next step is getting through the biofilm.

Biofilm is like the house the mold lives in that shields its colonies from your immune system and anti-fungal medications. It secretes the biofilm – a glycoprotein matrix – as it replicates and builds communities.

If you don’t get through the biofilm, you won’t be able to completely get rid of the mold.

The thick layer of biofilm requires specific agents to digest or dissolve it. That way medications, binders, and the immune system can get in and finally get rid of all the mold in the body.

When opening biofilm, you must be careful not to flood the system with more mycotoxins and mold than it can tolerate. This should be done under the guidance of your mold expert.

Phase 3: Repletion

Mold toxicity depletes your system. It puts strain on the organs as they struggle to detox the body, compromises your immunity to make you more susceptible to other illnesses, and often causes a significant emotional response.

So, naturally, after you detox and cleanse your systems, you need a full body reset. Repletion, mitochondrial resuscitation, and clearing out any yeast overgrowth are three ways your functional medicine doctor will help your system to get to optimal health.

You might also consider limbic retraining to help your nervous system recover from biotoxin illness. Biotoxin and chronic illness overwork the limbic system in the brain, causing it to become overactive and resulting in anxiety and depression. A few ways you can support your nervous system during your recovery are meditation, DNRS, the Safe & Sound Protocol, and the Gupta program.

Remember – Go Slow!

If you are struggling with toxic mold exposure or believe you’re feeling symptoms of mold toxicity, you may think that acting quickly is the best way to rid yourself of mycotoxins. But you need to move slowly to prevent a relapse or exacerbation of symptoms.

Other ways you can support your body’s natural detoxification systems include:

  • Infrared saunas
  • Detox baths with Epsom salts and baking soda
  • Ionic foot baths
  • Dry brushing
  • Red light therapy
  • Lymphatic drainage
  • Acupuncture

Getting out of the mold exposure is critical. Your recovery will move more quickly once you are out of the moldy environment. Sometimes the building can be remediated with a good IEP, and sometimes, you will need to leave the building. This part can be tricky but your mold expert will guide you.

Focus on getting rid of the mold, follow your functional medicine doctor’s instructions, and you will be back to vibrant health again in no time!

Contact Boulder Holistic

Women happily drinking smoothie after recovering from symptoms of mold toxicity

If you or someone you love suspects that mold is responsible for your chronic illness, don’t panic! Dr. Terri Rebibo Fox at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado will work with you to detox, cleanse, and rebuild. Mold toxicity may uproot your life for a time but functional medicine searches out the cause to get you back to living your life with optimum health.

If you found this blog post by searching “doctors who treat mold illness near me” or “mold doctor near me”, you’ve come to the right place! Dr. Fox has over 20 years of experience in treating symptoms of mold toxicity and implementing a plan for mold toxicity treatment. Are you experiencing symptoms of mold toxicity and interested to learn more about mold toxicity treatment? Contact our office to schedule your initial consultation today!

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Have a question? Need to schedule an appointment? Send us an email. We'll get back to you right away.

Get Directions

2355 Canyon Blvd
Suite 102
Boulder, CO 80302

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Need an appointment, prescription refill or have questions? Call us from 9:30am to 4:00pm.

Bioidentical Hormones: What Women Need to Know

We are hormonal beings. Hormones are powerful and connected to every part of your body in a beautiful, delicate balance. They control many of the body’s essential functions including your mood, energy level, survival instinct, libido, anxiety, and sleep.

For example, when a man’s estrogen goes up, he may get weepy and easily moved to tears. If a woman’s testosterone is too high, she may go into a rage and lose her temper. Unbalanced hormones affect us all and your symptoms are clues to the true cause.

Both men and women have a mixture of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. However, the primary hormones in women are estrogen and progesterone, and in men, testosterone.

A little hormone fluctuation is normal. Estrogen and progesterone have to rise and fall for a woman to menstruate. Testosterone increases during puberty and then levels out in adulthood. These changes are completely normal. But sometimes hormones become unbalanced and the fluctuations irregular.

Bioidentical hormones allow functional medicine doctors like those at Boulder Holistic in Boulder, Colorado to balance your hormones so that your body functions optimally. Keep reading to learn more about bioidentical hormones and how Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine uses integrative medicine to support you.

What are Bioidentical Hormones?

Hormones are messengers that communicate with our cells. They are created by the endocrine glands and travel through the bloodstream and tissues to control many important functions in the body.

When your functional medicine doctor discovers that your hormone levels are too low or unbalanced, they may suggest you take bioidentical hormones.

Bioidentical hormones are physiologically identical to the hormones found in your body which makes them the perfect natural solution to unbalanced hormones. Many are derived from plants including wild yams, cacti, and soy. The most common hormones synthesized are the three sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

Some bioidentical hormones are approved by the FDA and others are not. Bioidentical hormones are compounded or made by a compounding pharmacy. They are a more natural form of hormones tailor-made for you and your unique clinical picture.

How Boulder Holistic Uses Bioidentical Hormones

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine prefers natural bioidentical creams for testosterone and estrogen. The cream mimics your own physiology where the hormones are highest in the morning and slowly taper throughout the day – a smooth curve.

For progesterone, a capsule is often the best option. A progesterone cream doesn’t appear to have the same GABA-energic effects in the brain as the capsule does. Progesterone in an oral capsule binds to the GABA receptors in your brain, leaving you calm and relaxed.

Progesterone and testosterone are generally considered safe when guided by a good functional medicine physician.

Bioidentical hormones for estrogen are used only when absolutely necessary because adding estrogen to the system can increase your risk of disease. The risks and benefits must be weighed carefully with your functional medicine doctor.

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine does not use hormone pellets as the dose cannot be adjusted once they are implanted.

Bloodwork is a necessary part of treating unbalanced hormones because your doctor will need to make frequent adjustments to the hormone dosages. The adjustments help your doctor tailor the treatment to your body and ensure that the hormones are not converting to metabolites that are potentially harmful to your health.

What Are Signs That You May Benefit from Bioidentical Hormones?

Bioidentical hormones are most often used for hormonal imbalances related to perimenopause, menopause, premenstrual syndrome, and heavy, irregular, or painful periods.

The three hormones that your functional medicine doctor will check for signs of an imbalance are progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone. Keep reading to learn the signs of sex hormone imbalance to see if you might be deficient as well as possible causes of your hormone imbalances.


Progesterone is one of the main female hormones. Together estrogen and progesterone control a woman’s menstrual cycle, with predictable fluctuations during each part of the cycle.

Specifically, progesterone thickens the lining of the uterus to hold onto a fertilized egg. A progesterone deficiency can contribute to miscarriage, menstrual irregularities, and mood swings.

Signs that may indicate a need for bioidentical progesterone include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Impatience
  • Night Sweats
  • Irregular periods
  • Painful periods
  • Heavy periods

Progesterone deficiency is most commonly caused by adrenal dysfunction or sustained amounts of stress over a period of time. Two days before your period comes, your estrogen and progesterone peak and then drop off. Low estrogen leads to weepiness and low progesterone causes anxiety and anger.

Premenstrual syndrome (more commonly referred to as PMS) is a common occurrence in the days leading up to your period, but if symptoms last longer than two days, you may want to get your hormone levels checked.

If you are experiencing any signs of low or imbalanced progesterone, talk to your provider at Boulder Holistic so we can find the cause!


Estrogen is the other main female hormone. It regulates a woman’s menstrual cycle and supports placenta and fetal development. During perimenopause and menopause, estrogen levels begin to fluctuate and eventually drop off.

Signs that might indicate a need for bioidentical estrogen include:

  • Weepiness and depression
  • Hot flashes
  • Night Sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Tender breasts
  • Trouble concentrating or brain fog
  • Amenorrhea (irregular periods)
  • Painful sex
  • Hair loss

Low estrogen levels are typical prior to and during menopause. But estrogen hormone fluctuations can also occur from thyroid issues, stress, too much exercise, a poor diet, or problems with your ovaries. If you are experiencing signs of imbalanced estrogen, talk to your provider at Boulder Holistic so we can investigate further!

Testosterone for Women

While women’s primary sex hormones are estrogen and progesterone, testosterone is an androgen (male hormone) and important for balance in a woman’s body too. Testosterone levels regulate sex drive, muscle growth, mood, and workouts. If your levels of testosterone are low, you may benefit from bioidentical testosterone cream.

Signs that may indicate a woman needs bioidentical testosterone include:

  • Low libido
  • Inability to build muscle mass
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Decreased ability to orgasm in women
  • Increased recovery time in exercise
  • Decreased endurance with exercise

Most commonly, low testosterone is caused by adrenal dysfunction. Testosterone and cortisol (your stress hormone) convert directly to each other. In the presence of sustained adrenal output, or “burning the candle on both ends”, your testosterone will convert to cortisol for you to maintain your cortisol levels.

Because your adrenals are your survival instinct, they take biological precedence. For example, “Forget your libido! The tiger is coming, get up and run!”. If your testosterone is low, your functional medicine doctor will have you do an adrenal panel as well to get to the underlying root cause.

Testosterone levels can also be affected by cancer, pituitary disease, certain medications, alcohol and drug abuse, and testicular injury or infection, although these are rare. If you are experiencing any signs of low or imbalanced testosterone, talk to your doctor at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine so we can investigate further!

Contact Boulder Holistic

Bioidentical hormones are used to balance low or unbalanced hormone levels in both men and women. Functional medicine takes a natural approach to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Your provider at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine will search out the cause of your imbalance and come up with a treatment plan for your unique symptoms.

If you think your hormones might be causing your health problems, contact Boulder Holistic in Boulder, Colorado to schedule a consultation!

Email Us

Have a question? Need to schedule an appointment? Send us an email. We'll get back to you right away.

Get Directions

2355 Canyon Blvd
Suite 102
Boulder, CO 80302

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Need an appointment, prescription refill or have questions? Call us from 9:30am to 4:00pm.

How to Heal Your Gut using Functional Medicine

A staggering 60 to 70 million Americans suffer from gut dysfunction.

Many people with gut dysfunction don’t seek medical help, preferring to deal with symptoms of bloating, gas, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea on their own. Others simply wait for the symptoms to pass without considering what these signs might reveal about their health.

Gut dysfunction includes many common gut disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), dysbiosis, parasites, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), etc. These disorders not only affect the quality of your life but can lead to more severe health problems in the future.

A comprehensive stool study and food allergy and sensitivity panel reveal many clues about your overall health. The doctors at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, CO use the results of these tests to heal your gut using a holistic approach.

Functional medicine digs for the root cause of your digestive issues. Keep reading to learn more about how to heal your gut using functional medicine.

Healing Your Gut: The Microbiome’s Role

To heal the gut, you need to start with the microbiome. Your gut houses your microbiome – an incredibly diverse variety of beneficial bacteria that holds the key to brain health, mood stability, a strong immune system, and so much more. A healthy gut microbiome consists of 39 trillion bacteria cells – more bacteria cells than human cells!

The diversity of these beneficial bacteria is critical for optimal health because each strain of beneficial bacteria in the gut has a distinct health benefit. One strain controls your mood, one your metabolism and weight, another affects allergies, etc. We don’t yet know which strain has to do with which medical condition, but we do know that you want a wide diversity of bacteria in your gut for optimal health.

Experts are slowly learning what each bacterial strain can do. For example, one strain may have something to do with your metabolism, another with mood, another with atopy or allergies, and yet another with immune function.

When it comes to immunity, the microbiome is our biggest immuno-modulator. It increases beneficial immune signaling and decreases immune dysfunction – such as allergies, inflammation, and auto-immunity.

In the preceding sections, we will look at leaky gut, acid reflux, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). These common gut dysfunctions appear when your gut is thrown out of balance. The dysfunction could result from an illness, medical treatment, food intolerance or allergy, or a myriad of other reasons.

In the functional medicine approach to healing gut dysfunction, you focus on getting as many strains of good bacteria permanently colonized as possible to optimize your health. Whatever the source, Dr. Fox at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder Colorado can use a functional medicine approach to root out the cause of your digestive issues. Keep reading to learn more about how to heal your gut using functional medicine.

A Little Gut Anatomy

Your gastrointestinal tract is one long tube that starts in your mouth and ends where your stool comes out.  The food you eat gets broken down in your mouth, passes into the esophagus, and then into the stomach. The hydrochloric acid in your stomach breaks down your meal from macro to micromolecular substances that can then be broken down further into microscopic molecules that your body can take in as food.

From there, food passes into the small intestine which is responsible for absorbing nutrients into the body as fuel. A healthy small intestinal lining has microvilli where the receptors are located to absorb nutrients.

The small intestine is about 20 feet long and is intricately folded into itself to fit in your abdominal cavity. When spread out, the surface area of the small intestinal wall is almost the size of a tennis court!

Once the food enters the small intestine, a signal is sent to your pancreas to release its digestive enzymes. These enzymes break down your proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into small enough particles that they can bind to a receptor on the small intestinal wall.

Bile is released from the gallbladder which breaks down fats and emulsifies them in a way that they can then be absorbed into the body. Bile also carries systemic toxins into the GI tract in order to detox and get them out of the body via the stool.

Once the food is sufficiently broken down and nutrients absorbed, your food ends up in the large intestine or colon. The colon is responsible for pulling the water out of the indigestible food. The microbiome is located in your colon so it can assist in food breakdown, create essential vitamins, and train the immune system to recognize potential threats.

Common Gut Dysfunctions

As you can see, the digestion of food relies on many functions working smoothly and cohesively. When even one part of the system is disrupted, you may experience symptoms of gut dysfunction.

In this article, we will focus on what causes leaky gut, GERD, SIBO, and parasites.

1. Leaky Gut (Increased Intestinal Permeability)

Your gut lining is naturally semi-permeable to allow water and nutrients to flow from the digestive system into the bloodstream. If the small intestinal lining gets too porous, dysfunction is the result.

Leaky gut, or increased intestinal permeability, can be caused by antibiotics, steroids, NSAIDs (like Advil), infections, and food allergies. You may not know that you have a leaky gut since it is usually asymptomatic.

As the small intestinal lining becomes more permeable, substances are free to move between your small intestinal cells and encounter your immune system before they are properly broken down.

The danger of having a leaky gut is that it creates an environment for autoimmune disorders, food sensitivities, and allergies as the body mistakes the strange substances in the bloodstream for harmful pathogens. This is called molecular mimicry.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is often referred to as acid reflux. This is when hydrochloric acid splashes out of the stomach into the esophagus, causing a burning feeling in the upper chest and throat.

GERD is partially the result of a lax lower esophageal sphincter. One reason why your sphincter may become lax is a type of medication called a proton pump inhibitor. These medications block your stomach’s ability to create hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid is one of the triggers for the lower esophageal sphincter to close tightly.

The signal for the stomach to secrete its protective layer comes from the acid itself. So, when the production of acid is blocked, the parietal cells stop secreting their protective layer.

If you have chronic acid reflux, proton pump inhibitors may only prolong the issue. At Boulder Holistic, we use mucilaginous herbs like marshmallows, licorice, and slippery elm to line the lower esophagus and stomach and decrease inflammation. Adaptogenic herbs also help retrain the parietal cells to secrete their own protective mucous layer.

A lack of stomach acid, or hypochlorhydria, is the cause of many gut dysfunctions. Without stomach acid, your body is not able to break down food properly or absorb essential vitamins and nutrients. Over time, a lack of stomach acid can result in indigestion, malnutrition, and bacterial overgrowth.


You may know that when you take antibiotics, you flush the system of both good and bad bacteria. The antibiotics don’t distinguish between the two.

Small intestine bacterial overgrowth or SIBO is when bad bacteria and other harmful substances take over the walls of the small intestine. These substances create a biofilm to protect it from your immune system and to keep it from being flushed from the body during digestion. SIBO is characterized by chronic gas, bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea.

Small intestine fungal overgrowth (SIFO) is a similar issue that results from an overgrowth of yeast or mold.

When Dr. Fox at Boulder Holistic treats SIBO/SIFO, she uses a unique approach through immunomodulation to help heal your SIBO/SIFO for good!

4. Parasites

Parasites are more common than you might think and difficult to find. They don’t always show up on stool studies because they reproduce on a certain cycle and are only detectable during reproduction.

Some signs that your gut dysfunction might be related to a parasite include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, gas bloating, nausea, and even constipation.

If Dr. Fox has treated your gut dysfunction symptoms without any visible results, she may consider a parasite cleanse protocol to rule out any undiscovered parasites in your gut.

Diagnosing Gut Dysfunction

But first, your doctor needs a clear picture of your overall gut health. Your functional medicine doctor at Boulder Holistic will use both a stool study and a food panel to uncover the root cause behind your gut dysfunction.

The Stool Study

A comprehensive stool study provides a wealth of information to your functional medicine provider. It reveals where your gastrointestinal (GI) tract might be imbalanced using different markers that your doctor uses to diagnose and treat your gut dysfunction.

Some markers show whether or not you have enough hydrochloric acid in the stomach to break down your food from macro to micro-molecular size. Others show your enzyme levels which indicate how well your body digests food so that your body can absorb them into the system as nutrients. The study also has markers for bile acids that are necessary to emulsify the fats in your diet and take them into the body as food.

More significantly, the stool study shows the diversity – or lack thereof – of your microbiome. It gives your doctor a sense of the levels of beneficial bacteria but also shows areas that need improvement.

Unhealthy overgrowths of yeast, parasites, or disease-causing bacteria indicate a need for a gut reset. Your doctor will also look for markers that point to a more serious problem such as colon cancer, Crohn’s disease, or colitis – all of which require a colonoscopy to rule out.

All of the information in your stool study makes it easier to get rid of the bad stuff and replace it with the good stuff – healing your gut!

Boulder Holistic uses GI effects (Genova diagnostic) or GI Map for your stool study. However, there are many other great options out there.

The Food Panel

A food panel reveals your food sensitivities and allergies. Both food allergies and sensitivities can cause inflammation, IBS, bloating, and many other uncomfortable gut disorders.

An alternative to a food panel is to try an elimination diet. During an elimination diet, you remove all inflammatory foods for six weeks. Common inflammatory foods include dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, corn, refined sugars, nuts, and legumes.

Once you’ve successfully removed all of these items from your diet for six weeks, you add one back in at a time for five days in a large quantity to elicit a response if you have one, as a diagnostic procedure.

Another common test – separate from a food panel – is the DQ2 and DQ8 genetic test that shows your susceptibility to celiac disease.

Boulder Holistic recommends IgG, IgA, and IgE testing for food sensitivities and allergies. However, there are many other great options out there.

How Boulder Holistic Treats Common Gut Dysfunctions

The functional medicine approach uses the information from the stool test and the food panel to find the cause of your gut dysfunction. Both tests reveal a lot about your health and give your doctor an idea of where they should start treatment.

Each type of gut dysfunction requires a unique approach. Here is how Boulder Holistic treats two of the most common gut dysfunctions: irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and dysbiosis.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a term used to describe chronic gut dysfunction. You might experience diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, or all of the above.

Essentially, an IBS diagnosis indicates that something is irritating the GI tract but the cause is still unknown. Functional medicine searches out the cause using the food panel, stool study, and other studies to better identify what is agitating your GI tract.

Gut Dysbiosis

Gut dysbiosis is an imbalance in the gut flora. The imbalance might be caused by antibiotics, illness, a parasite, or any number of unforeseen life circumstances. But the bottom line is that bad bacteria take over all available space in the colon where the good bacteria were before.

Even if you take a probiotic, the bad bacteria will prevent the good bacteria from sticking or permanently colonizing. To rebalance the gut, you need to kill off any pathogenic or bad bacteria. The stool sample is used to find bad bacteria as well as the best herbs to remove them from the colon.

As you kill off the bad bacteria, you add the good bacteria back in. You want to expose the gut to as many different beneficial bacteria as possible during this process. As you do that, the good bacteria stay in the colon, hopefully permanently colonizing, and the gut begins to heal.

Make an Appointment at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine

Boulder Holistic is a functional medicine practice in Boulder, CO, that uses integrative medicine to address gut dysfunction. Their experienced doctors search out the root cause of your unique symptoms to heal your gut naturally.

Contact our office to schedule an appointment or ask questions about what Boulder Holistic can do for you!

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