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Category: Boulder Holistic Blog

5 Proven Benefits of Quercetin: The Natural Compound You Need to Know About

Quercetin is a brightly-colored phytochemical with powerful antioxidant properties. Phytochemicals are natural compounds found in plants that contribute to their color, flavor, and aroma. You may know them better as flavonoids.

Flavonoids are the reason why colorful fruits and vegetables are so good for your health. These naturally-made chemicals help plants fight off harmful fungi, bacteria, and viruses. And by eating quercetin-rich plants, you can support your body’s ability to do the same!

Quercetin has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties. While many of its benefits are still undergoing research, the five proven benefits of quercetin definitely make this flavonoid an essential part of a healthy diet.

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, promotes a whole-body approach to health that includes a balanced diet and powerful supplements (like quercetin). Keep reading for more information about quercetin, including benefits, quercetin-rich foods, and more!

5 Proven Benefits of Quercetin

Phytochemicals like quercetin may provide desired health benefits in humans beyond basic nutritional needs. Quercetin’s benefits range from preventing seasonal allergies to reducing high blood pressure. It can even reduce the risks associated with many chronic health issues. Keep reading for the five proven benefits of quercetin.
  1. Prevents and Relieves Allergies

Seasonal allergies are your immune system’s response to something in your environment. During an allergic reaction, your mast cells release histamines into the bloodstream. Your body responds by causing allergy symptoms like runny nose, swelling, and itching.

Quercetin prevents and relieves allergies by supporting mast cell stabilization. Mast cells are a type of white blood cell and a key player in your body’s inflammatory response. By stabilizing mast cells, quercetin provides some relief from seasonal allergies.

However, studies have found that quercetin is more effective at preventing allergies than relieving symptoms. Quercetin inhibits the production of leukotrienes which causes allergy symptoms to appear. But it might not stop allergy symptoms once leukotriene levels are raised.

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine recommends 1 capsule of quercetin (200-500 mg capsules are standard)  2 – 4 times daily to help with allergies. 

2. May Lower Cholesterol

Quercetin may also help lower cholesterol. While lab studies are still confirming quercetin as an effective treatment for cholesterol, a few promising studies show that this flavonoid reduces LDL cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol is also known as “bad cholesterol” because an excess of these low-density lipids can lead to clogged arteries and heart disease. People with a naturally high quercetin intake also typically have lower LDL cholesterol levels.

3. Anti-Aging Properties

As you age, your cells gradually lose the ability to divide and grow. New cell growth is essential to many bodily functions, including healing from an injury and fighting off sickness. Abnormal cell division, when the cells don’t stop dividing, is a known cause of cancer.

Quercetin may ward off aging by acting as a senolytic compound. Senolytic compounds remove aging cells from the body and effectively reduce your risk of developing life-threatening diseases as you age, including cancer, osteoarthritis, and Alzheimers.

Quercetin also supports gene expression and methylation. Overall, quercetin is a powerful anti-aging tool.

4. Supports Your Immune System

Quercetin has many antiviral properties. At the start of a viral infection, quercetin can slow down the virus. It also inhibits the spread and decreases inflammation during an infection.

High ACE receptor expression can speed up the spread of a virus in your body. Quercetin prevents viral compounds from binding to ACE receptors to limit the reach of the infection.

It also acts as a zinc ionophore, which means that it helps your body absorb zinc. Zinc deficiencies increase your risk of developing viral infections.

5. May Lower Blood Pressure

Studies are still trying to prove the link between quercetin and blood pressure, but a few promising studies do show that quercetin may help reduce blood pressure.

People with high blood pressure benefit from a high quercetin intake. One 2022 study on the results of quercetin on systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) revealed that the compound lowers SBP in normotensives and DBP in (pre)hypertensives. 

In general, quercetin is thought to support a healthy cardiovascular system. However, taking quercetin with high blood pressure medications can cause your blood pressure to drop too low. Always consult with a doctor before adding to your current treatment.

Natural Sources of Quercetin

You probably already eat some quercetin-rich foods. This phytochemical is present in large quantities in kale, citrus, onions, buckwheat, apples, olive oil, dark cherries, parsley, and berries. Many of these fruits and vegetables are considered superfoods because of the high concentration of quercetin. 

Quercetin is absorbed best when it comes directly from your diet. However, you can take supplements if you are struggling to increase the amount in your diet. 

Since quercetin is not water-soluble, your body may find it difficult to absorb it without a little help. Quercetin is lipophilic, so healthy fats help with bioavailability. Vitamin C also helps you absorb quercetin.

Work with Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine

The benefits of quercetin are one of the advantages of a healthy, balanced diet. Supplementation may boost your levels, but it doesn’t negate the need for fruits and vegetables. Consider adding quercetin-rich foods to your daily diet to support a healthier body and mind.

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, recommends quercetin doses at 250 mg once or twice daily – up to four times for people with MCAS. If you want personalized recommendations based on your diet or health needs, contact Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine to schedule an appointment today!

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Methylation and Mental Health: Why We Should Pay Attention to Our DNA

You might not know it, but a crucial bodily process is often overlooked when it comes to mental health. Methylation and mental health are naturally intertwined, and supporting methylation could revolutionize mental health care.

Mental health disorders are rising – about one in five adults is currently diagnosed with some type of mental health disorder. Knowing that, mental health experts are doing all they can to figure out what causes them and how they can help.

Methylation is part of the production and metabolism of neurotransmitters – chemicals that regulate mood, behavior, and cognition. It helps to ensure that neurotransmitters, like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, are produced and metabolized in the proper amounts, which is essential for maintaining good mental health.

It also helps to regulate gene expression in the brain, which can influence mental health outcomes. Research has shown that changes in methylation patterns can lead to altered gene expression, which can contribute to the development of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado uses a holistic approach to mental health which is why methylation is such a central concern. Keep reading to learn more about methylation and why it’s essential to a healthy brain.

What is Methylation?

Methylation is a process by which a methyl group – consisting of one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms – is added to various molecules in the body. This process is involved in a variety of important biochemical reactions in the body, including detoxification, cardiovascular health, and hormone regulation.

Methylation and Detoxification

Methylation is critical for the proper function of the liver – the body’s main detoxification organ. Specifically, methylation is involved in the processing of toxins, drugs, and other foreign substances that enter the body. It helps to convert these substances into a form that can be eliminated from the body, which is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being.

Methylation and Cardiovascular Health

Methylation also supports a healthy heart by regulating the homocysteine levels in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid that can be harmful when present in high amounts. Methylation helps to convert homocysteine into other beneficial compounds, which helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Methylation and Hormone Regulation

Methylation is also involved in the production, metabolism, and activation of various hormones in the body, including estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol. It ensures that these hormones are produced and metabolized in the proper amounts, which is important for maintaining overall hormonal balance.

“As research progresses, we’re learning more about the role that methylation plays in the brain, including the ways that it influences our emotions, thoughts, and behavior.” – Dr. Terry Wahls

Overall, methylation is a critical process that is involved in many important biochemical reactions in the body. By understanding its role in detoxification, cardiovascular health, and hormone regulation, we can better appreciate the importance of supporting methylation through proper nutrition, supplementation, and lifestyle habits.

What is DNA Methylation?

Methylation is part of a study called epigenetics. Epigentics is the study of how your behavior and environment affect how your genes work. 

DNA methylation is when your body adds chemicals to your DNA. The added chemicals can effectively turn the gene “OFF.” Genes that are turned off no longer produce the necessary proteins that your body needs to function.

The effect of DNA methylation on your mental health can be drastic.

For example, if serotonin is not methylated, it becomes inactive. People with depression often suffer from a lack of serotonin and take medications designed to keep your brain from reabsorbing serotonin (SSRIs). The SSRIs increase the amount of serotonin available to receptors and thus improve your mood.

The epigenetic changes that cause your serotonin levels to drop, or alter your liver, heart, and hormone regulation, can be caused by normal development and aging. However, they may also be a product of your environment and lifestyle.

Poor Methylation Symptoms

Because methylation affects so many of the body’s systems, it can be hard to recognize when methylation is out of whack. Your body can under-methylate or over-methylate, and each imbalance has its own symptoms.

If you don’t methylate well, DNA and RNA expression is altered. Eventually, poor methylation can lead to disease and other symptoms.

Some symptoms of poor methylation include:

  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Addiction
  • OCD and perfectionism
  • Digestive issues
  • Frequent headaches
  • High libido
  • Low pain threshold
  • Delusions
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor short-term memory

Over methylation has distinct symptoms. The problem with over-methylation is that you produce too many methyls and your body can’t use them all. 

Typical symptoms of over-methylation include:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia and schizophrenia
  • Sleep disorders
  • Self-mutilation
  • Low libido
  • High pain threshold
  • Poor concentration

Both under and over-methylation come with their own problems and symptoms. But once you start treating them, you can see results within three to four months!

How to Improve Methylation for Better Mental Health

At Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine, we use several holistic approaches to support methylation for mental health. The functional medicine approach looks at the whole body. So, to make lasting changes to your methylation, you need to implement several lifestyle changes. 

These include:

Eating a nutrient-dense diet: Consuming a diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly B vitamins, folate, and magnesium, can help to support methylation. Foods that are particularly rich in these nutrients include leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and lean protein sources.

Reducing stress: Chronic stress can have a negative impact on methylation, so it is important to take steps to reduce stress levels. This can include practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing, engaging in regular exercise, and getting enough restful sleep.

Supplementing with methyl donors: Methyl donors, such as methyl folate, methylcobalamin (vitamin B12), and trimethylglycine (TMG), can help to support methylation. It is important to work with a qualified healthcare practitioner to determine the appropriate dosages and combinations of supplements.

Avoiding toxins: Exposure to toxins, such as heavy metals and pesticides, can disrupt methylation. It is important to minimize exposure to these toxins by eating organic foods, using natural cleaning and personal care products, and avoiding exposure to environmental pollutants.

By incorporating these holistic approaches into your daily routine, you can help to support methylation for optimal mental health. 

Contact Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine

Methylation is a complex process and should be approached under the guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner, particularly if you have a history of mental health conditions or genetic mutations that affect methylation.

Contact Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado to schedule an appointment to learn more about how methylation may affect your mental health. One of our experienced doctors will meet with you to discuss a treatment plan that addresses your unique symptoms. We offer MTHRF testing as well as comprehensive methylation testing to get you started on your road to better mental health.

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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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The 3 Stages of Menopause: The Importance of Teaching Women About Menopause

My mom didn’t talk about it and I imagine hers didn’t either. For generations, the women in my family failed to mention what to expect during menopause – and you probably feel the same. The three stages of menopause were a mystery, even though all women will go through them at some point.

When we educate ourselves about menopause, we are more capable of understanding and supporting the women in our lives who will inevitably experience menopause. If you’re a man and don’t think this article pertains to you – I urge you to read on. All of us are affected by menopause. We either go through it ourselves or watch our mothers, grandmothers, wives, and lovers experience this powerful change.

Keep reading to learn more about menopause, including a brief look at each of the three stages, common menopause symptoms, and how to ease the transition from perimenopause to postmenopause.

Why We Don’t Talk About Menopause

I’m a child of the late 60s, and I didn’t learn anything about the three stages of menopause during my grade school sex education. They taught us about our period and how not to get pregnant – that’s it!

Unfortunately, even in the early 2000s, not much had changed. My daughters who are in their late 20s know no more about menopause than I did!

We all know women (or are women) who will experience menopause if they have not already. So, why is there very little information shared about this hot topic?

Menopause is part of the larger cycle of womanhood. Most people know that women go through a monthly cycle. But not everyone sees the larger cycle which begins with a woman’s first period and ends with menopause.

Many women have mixed feelings about menopause. Maybe they are ashamed, embarrassed, or confused about the changes happening in their body. Some may even dread the change because it reminds them they are getting older.

Menopause doesn’t have to be scary or confusing. The transition is as natural as tides rising or the moon cycling from new to full.

When I was in medical school, I was shocked by the lack of information on how to recognize and handle the phases of menopause. So, to set the record straight, the three stages of menopause are perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.

Menopause Phases

The average age women go through menopause is 51 – but menopause doesn’t happen according to a schedule. You are in menopause when you have gone a full 12 months without having a period.

A woman typically starts to see menopause symptoms in her mid-40s, but it can happen earlier in some and later in others. All women go through menopause, and the gradual transition from perimenopause to post-menopause may last anywhere from seven to fourteen years.

1. Early Stage of Menopause

Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause. The early stage of menopause can last anywhere from several months to several years.

During perimenopause, your hormones fluctuate in a way that causes irregular cycles, heavy periods, or skipped periods. Some of the other symptoms of perimenopause include insomnia, anxiety, depression, mood swings, brain fog, and vaginal dryness.

2. Menopause

Menopause is when our period is gone for good. We are no longer ovulating, and our reproductive years are behind us. Some other symptoms that may develop in menopause are worsening sleep, joint pain, brain fog, weight gain (especially around the middle of the abdomen), painful intercourse, and loss of libido.

3. Late Stage of Menopause

Post-menopause is life beyond menopause. Hormones remain low for the rest of your life – if you choose not to undergo hormone replacement therapy. People in postmenopause are at an increased risk for certain health conditions, including heart disease and osteoporosis.

Each woman’s experience with menopause is unique. Some women have a multitude of symptoms that severely affect their quality of life, while others may have no symptoms whatsoever. Here are a few common symptoms to help you gauge if you’re in menopause.

Common Symptoms of Menopause

Your ovaries naturally slow down estrogen and progesterone production as you age. The symptoms of all three stages of menopause are caused by decreasing levels of these hormones in the body.

Symptoms related to estrogen fluctuation and loss include:

  • Night sweats
  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Loss of libido
  • Painful intercourse
  • Weight gain
  • Joint pain
  • Depression

And symptoms related to progesterone fluctuation and loss include:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings

The three stages of menopause are easily recognizable once you know what to expect. However, that doesn’t make the symptoms any less of a nuisance. Keep reading for a few ways you can tackle the worst menopause systems.

How to Tackle the Worst Menopause Symptoms

Functional medicine uses a whole-body approach to address the symptoms of menopause. We look at your lifestyle, hormone levels, and overall health to support you during this whole body shift.

Here are Dr. Amy Reidhead’s tips for tackling the worst menopause symptoms.

1. Weight Gain during Menopause

Weight gain during menopause isn’t inevitable, but managing your weight during menopause can be tricky. Hormones, toxin load, and inflammation all affect how your body holds onto fat.

However, you can mitigate some menopausal weight gain by modifying your diet and exercise routine.

Protein is essential to maintain muscle mass and health postmenopause. Carefully monitor your protein intake to ensure you get an adequate amount – about 2.2 to 2.4 grams per kilogram of body weight. At the same time, make sure your healthy fat consumption doesn’t exceed 30% of your total daily calories.

Avoid simple carbohydrates and processed foods, but some carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are OK!

Intermittent fasting – where you eat during an 8-hour window and fast for a 16-hour window – can be helpful for menopausal weight gain. However, not all women respond well to intermittent fasting. Hormonal fluctuations can lead to hypoglycemia and put more stress on the hormone/adrenal systems.

When it comes to exercise, moderation is the goal! Not too much, not too little.

Resistance training is essential in the menopausal time to preserve bone health. Walking, hiking, and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise are all helpful, but don’t over-exercise!

Too much exercise is stressful for your body. Our adrenals take over the production of some of our sex hormones during menopause. If the adrenal health is compromised, your efforts to lose weight during menopause may backfire.

2. Hot Flashes during Menopause 

Hot flashes and nausea are symptoms of menopause. While you may not be able to get rid of hot flashes, you can limit how they affect you.

Dress in layers to maintain comfort throughout the day. Keep the bedroom cool at night and wear breathable pajamas or no pajamas. Avoid alcohol as it may contribute to hot flashes.

Some supplements are beneficial during menopause, but what works for you may not work for everyone. Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine usually recommends Medcap Menopause and MenoFem by Xymogen, or Estrovera (a form of rhubarb) by Metagenics. Supplements like maca, black cohosh, vitex, dong quai, and evening primrose oil may also reduce hot flashes.

Adrenal support and low-dose estrogen replacement therapy (especially bioidentical transdermal therapy) can also help with hot flashes. If your menopause symptoms significantly affect your quality of life, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is one way to bring your body back into balance.

3. Insomnia and Mood Support during Menopause

Sleep hygiene is an essential part of any balanced lifestyle, especially during menopause. You can practice a few lifestyle changes to support good sleep hygiene, including a regular bedtime, white noise, and cool temperatures in the bedroom.

Micronized oral or topical progesterone can reduce menopause-related sleep issues. Progesterone also has GABA-like properties that may lessen anxiety and improve mood.

Boulder Holistic recommends sleep support supplements like SomnoPro, Melatonin, and CBD SLP to promote good sleep during menopause.

4. Libido Loss and Painful Intercourse during Menopause

Estrogen is a powerful female hormone. Without it, our tissues and skin dry up, and our vaginal tissues become dry and pale. It also has powerful anti-inflammatory qualities, which is why joint and intercourse pain are common in menopause and postmenopause.

When you replace Estrogen – specifically E3 in the vaginal area – you can alleviate some of the symptoms of low Estrogen, including vaginal dryness and painful intercourse. Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder Colorado usually recommends Bezwecken hydration pearls or compounded Estrogen vaginal suppositories.

Topical Estrogen may also prevent painful intercourse in postmenopausal women. Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine recommends one called Biest that combines E2 and E3. Both types of Estrogen help combat symptoms of estrogen loss in women.

However, Estrogen isn’t the only hormone used for libido loss and painful intercourse. Topical Testosterone therapy supports a healthy libido. And topical DHEA may help those wary of estrogen replacement therapy, or those with a high breast cancer risk.

What Are the Signs That You Need Hormone Replacement Therapy

Much of the fear around hormone replacement therapy came from a poorly conducted study by the Women’s Health Initiative in the early 2000s. It showed that HRT had more detrimental effects than benefits.

Because of this study, many women still are afraid of HRT and may be suffering needlessly. 

But since the early 2000s, the WHI study was reanalyzed, and new information shows HRT is beneficial for younger women and early postmenopausal women (50+). HRT can protect cardiovascular health, prevent coronary artery disease and reduce all causes of mortality.  

The current understanding of hormone replacement therapy supports bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

Estrogen is safest when given transdermally through a cream or patch. For safety, transdermal Estrogen should always be used in conjunction with progesterone. Progesterone is safe in oral or transdermal applications, but the oral route seems to help more with sleep and anxiety. Testosterone is commonly given transdermally as well. 

Hormone replacement therapy requires careful monitoring by your physician to maintain optimal levels and to offer the best safety practices possible. I often use both LabCorp Labs and the Dutch test to monitor hormone levels and metabolism to provide the best-individualized care for my patients. 

When you work with an experienced medical professional, HRT for menopause is safe and effective. It can help mitigate symptoms during all three stages of menopause, from the first hot flash to your final period.

Contact Boulder Holistic

Menopause doesn’t need to be a mystery. The symptoms of each stage are clearly marked and treatable. Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder Colorado employs the functional medicine whole-body approach to treat all three stages of menopause. Adjust your diet and exercise, develop a healthy sleep routine, and supplement with herbs and HRT! 

Contact us to learn more about your menopause treatment options at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine!

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The Functional Medicine Approach for Improving Your Mental Health

Mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, ADD, ADHD, and PTSD are on the rise. One in five children and adults will experience any of these mental afflictions in a given year.

Functional medicine offers a unique approach to mental health support. Instead of treating the symptoms, it treats the root cause of mental health.

What we get wrong about mental health is looking at the mind as separate from the body. Functional medicine uses the “whole person approach,” which means treatment isn’t focused on an isolated organ or system. Instead, it treats the whole person, including the body and the mind.

Using the whole-person approach, functional medicine attempts to restore health by improving function. It’s hard to imagine, but the brain and mental health have ties to nearly every system in the body. Brain health is dependent on the gut, hormones, the presence of inflammation, immunity, nutrition, metabolism, and overall toxin load.

So, it makes sense that to treat mental health with functional medicine, you would need to address all of the body’s systems.

At Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder Colorado, the functional medicine approach for improving your mental health finds the cause to treat the symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about how each system supports your mental health and a few ways to improve your mental health naturally.

What is Integrative Mental Health?

Integrative mental health care is a multifaceted approach to mental health. It involves a blend of medications, psychotherapy, complementary therapies, and lifestyle changes – all meant to support your mental health.

Whether you have depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, or any number of mental health conditions – integrative mental health care is a comprehensive approach that will mitigate symptoms and help you feel more like yourself.

Before you apply an integrative mental health care plan, you need to figure out which systems are working well and which need a little extra support.

A healthy brain depends on a healthy body. A functional medicine doctor analyzes your gut and assimilation, hormones and neurotransmitter communication, the presence of inflammation, and immune dysregulation. They will also examine your overall nutrition, energy metabolism, and toxin exposure.

The first step is to focus on your gut health by clearing out inflammatory foods and uncovering hidden food triggers. Next, you support the endocrine system and balance your hormones. You should also address the body’s toxin and infection burden, and implement targeted detoxification strategies to address the root causes, triggers, and drivers of these conditions.

If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine can help you balance the body’s systems – starting with the gut.

The Gut-Brain Axis

Image of food inside the outline of a womens head to signify the gut-brain connection for mental health.

Many functional medicine doctors view gut health as one of the key foundations for mental health and brain health.

You may have heard your gut referred to as your “second brain.” Every person has a nervous system inside their intestines that uses the same chemicals and cells as the brain to tell us when something is wrong.

Recent research is helping to establish a connection between the gut and the brain. Most of you already know that physical symptoms like constipation and diarrhea can be the result of anxiety or stress. But many people don’t know that you can reduce anxiety and depression symptoms by supporting your gut.

At Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine, we routinely perform comprehensive stool analysis to evaluate the gut microbiome, support digestion, address infection, and restore gut barrier integrity. We also focus on rebuilding the gut microbiome to support immunity and help with neurotransmitter and hormone production and balance.

Nutrition & Mental Health

Hippocrates said, let food be thy medicine. The fact that nourishing your body with real food can also result in mental benefits is incredible.

In recent years, a surge of research has emerged on the effects of nutrition on mental health. The brain depends on nutrients to make neurotransmitters, and hormones for the nervous system to function optimally.

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine performs micronutrient testing to address nutrition status and support healthy brain function. A few essential nutrients for mental health include iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, Vitamin D, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.

We also recommend food sensitivity testing to investigate potential food-related triggers that may affect your mental health. Food sensitivities and allergies have increased dramatically in recent years. Studies show that men, women, and children with food allergies are more likely to suffer from mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

You should also plan to avoid certain inflammatory foods while healing from a mental health disorder. Foods that contain artificial dyes and flavorings, processed foods, unhealthy oils, and fast food exacerbate poor mental health.

On the flip side, some foods support a healthy brain. A few examples of foods that are good for your mental health include foods that represent every color of the rainbow, dark leafy greens, crucifers, healthy fats like those in wild-caught salmon, and some nuts and seeds.

Hormones and Mental Health

People used to think that brain function was pretty cut and dry – the brain was home to thoughts, dreams, and enough emotions to drive anyone crazy. But further study has revealed that the brain isn’t a standalone organ. It transmits signals to the rest of the body using hormones and neurotransmitters.

Most people know a few basic neurotransmitters – serotonin is “the happy hormone” and dopamine is “the reward hormone.” But there are other signaling hormones like GABA, glycine, glutamate, PEA, histamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine that play major roles in mental health.

Image of a women with clouds to signify link between hormones and mental health

Hormones are part of the endocrine system, which includes the thyroid, adrenals, spleen, and reproductive organs. Your thyroid helps to control your metabolism and energy levels. Your adrenals produce cortisol – the stress hormone – which is triggered during fight or flight situations. And your sex hormones help you grow, develop, and reproduce.

Thyroid, stress, and sex hormones are crucial for brain health. When you have too little or too much of one hormone in the body, the others compensate. So balancing your hormones can be complicated without help.

Lifestyle Changes for Mental Health 

Integrative mental health care emphasizes a holistic approach. Some lifestyle changes are necessary to support a healthy brain – namely, sleep and exercise.

Sleep is an underestimated aspect of a healthy lifestyle. With all the emphasis in American culture to go, go, go, most people rarely spend any time thinking about sleep. But sleep deprivation can adversely affect your mental health.

Tactics to help improve your sleep hygiene includes:

  • Dim lighting in the hours leading up to bedtime
  • Establish a solid sleep routine where you wake up and go to bed at the same time every day
  • Keep the room cold and use white noise to prevent loud noises from disturbing your sleep
  • Wear blue-light blocking glasses when you look at screens
  • Use a sleep-tracking device to analyze your sleep habits
  • See a functional medicine doctor if you have trouble falling or staying asleep

The second essential lifestyle change for mental health is exercise. Regular exercise is one of the most effective changes if you are looking to improve your mental health.

You don’t have to commit to an exercise challenge where you go to the gym every day for hours at a time to see mental health benefits. Start with 30 minutes of walking every other day. Some studies show that walking is as effective as medication for some people.

The functional medicine approach for improving your mental health doesn’t exclude medications. Many people need prescription medications to help them achieve balance. You can also support your mental health with nutraceuticals.

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder Colorado often recommends the following nutraceuticals: melatonin, 5HTP, GABA, magnesium, glycine, l-theanine, lemon balm, valerian root, Rhodiola, CBD synergies SL or AX. Let us know if you have any interest or questions about natural mental health support supplements. We are here to help.

Contact Boulder Holistic 

Break the chains of mental health using functional medicine

The functional medicine approach for improving your mental health may seem complicated, but the results surpass symptom-based medicine. Your mental health will improve and stay consistent – you will feel better in your body and mind than ever before!

The main advantages of a healthy lifestyle for a healthy mind are:

  • More energy
  • Improved relationships (with yourself and others)
  • Confidence
  • A longer, healthier life
  • Strong muscles
  • Better immunity (get sick less often!)

If you are interested in learning more about integrative mental health care or scheduling a functional medicine appointment, contact Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder Colorado to schedule an appointment today!

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Boulder, CO 80302

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Boulder Holistic

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

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