Food Sensitivities Vs. Food Allergies

What is the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity? Food allergies are often referring to a reaction to an item resulting in a serious breathing problem or tissue swelling if ingested and potentially life-threatening responses can make it necessary to carry an Epipen at all times. These severe food allergies are type 1 "IgE" mediated food allergies. When someone references a food sensitivity, it usually refers to a much smaller immune response that compounds gradually over time with multiple food sensitivities. These responses are "IgG" mediated type 3 hypersensitivity reactions. Type 3 hypersensitivities can cause inflammation. Our office understands that living with even minor inflammation is not ideal. Inflammatory conditions caused by food sensitivities such as arthritis, obesity, eczema, sinus conditions, skin rashes, headaches/ migraines, and diarrhea (to name a few) can completely disrupt life. For this reason, we prefer to get to the root of the problem. With inflammation, the cause could be simply eating the wrong foods too often.

Let's explain the different types of hypersensitivity reactions that your immune system can cause. 

Type 1

These are the responses that happen in less than 2 hours. They are a result of IgE antibodies binding with specific antigens to activate cell receptors on mast cells. The mast cells release chemicals in your body. These chemicals are irritating to body tissues and include leukotrienes, lysosomal enzymes, histamines, kinin, and bradykinin- like substances. Dehydroascorbic acid is also released, resulting in inflammation and irritation to tissues. Those tissues can be the trachea, tongue, mouth, lips, and eyelids. An example of this reaction is anaphylaxis when eating peanuts. These are fixed food allergies where any ingestion of the allergenic substance will always cause a response. 

Type 2

These reactions are cytotoxic and cause cell destruction. These involve IgM and IgG immunoglobulins.  These immunoglobulins bind to the surface of the cell, and then the cell is destroyed.  An example of this can be a response to a drug that causes the destruction of red blood cells.   

Type 3

These reactions have been shown to involve IgG antibodies and an example of a type 3 reaction is what we classify as food sensitivities. These are not fixed food allergies, but may be cyclical in nature. Type 3 reactions cause the immune system to deposit the formed complexes into tissues. The deposit can cause tissue injury and inflammation up to 72 hours after exposure to the offending agent. 

Type 4

These reactions are not from immunoglobulins and instead involve T-cells. Inflammation of tissues can occur in 36-72 hours. An example of this reaction is contact dermatitis from poison ivy.  


Now that we understand all four types of hypersensitivity, we will focus on the Type 3 response—food sensitivities. The immune system is your first defense against invaders in the body. If there is a protein that the immune system is exposed to and determines that it is foreign, it will attack this protein. The explanation of this response is rather vague because any complexes that your immune system makes can be deposited anywhere in your body. Some people may have more inflammation in one part of their body than another person.  Some reports estimate that up to 50% of Americans suffer from food sensitivities. Often the inflammation can target the GI tract causing diarrhea and pain. Some of the notably prevalent offenders are wheat, milk, corn, cheese, oats, coffee, rye, eggs, and tea. It is also important to note, people who already suffer from seasonal allergies may have more inflammation from food sensitivities that exacerbate their seasonal allergies. 


These type 3 hypersensitivity reactions can develop as a result of frequently eating the same food.  For this reason, we suggest a rotational diet. We recommend that you only have the same foods 2-3 times per week as opposed to eating the same foods daily. This will lessen the amount your immune system is exposed to certain proteins and can decrease the chances of reacting and causing inflammation. 

At this office, we do food sensitivity IgG testing through a lab called Alletess. They have two different panels- one for 96 foods and a more extensive panel with 212 foods. We can perform either test from a single blood draw. For our younger patients, we also offer a "finger poke" food allergy test which checks against 96 foods.  These food panels help determine to what foods your body has an IgG response.  Once a practitioner sees these results, they can inform you of what foods you need to remove from your diet. This is where the rotational diet becomes imperative. Based on your results, we suggest you eliminate certain foods for 3, 4, or 6 months. Once you begin to reintroduce certain foods, we recommend that you monitor for reoccurrence of inflammatory responses. Often we suggest that patients only introduce one new food per week to adequately determine their delayed response. Identifying inflammation may not occur for up to three days. 

Currently, there is no known cure for allergies, but together we can help minimize responses by avoiding the foods triggering the inflammatory response. Our practitioners are here to partner with patients in determining what the offending agents are and develop a diet plan to help you avoid these foods. Decreasing inflammation in the body is our primary purpose as it will help patients feel better overall!

Thermography: Know the Facts

What Is A Thermogram?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is coming up and the NHIC wants you to know all of your options when it comes to breast health.

Brittany for Therm.jpg

A breast thermogram is a completely non-invasive diagnostic tool which uses thermographic imaging to detect minute changes or irregularities in breast tissue. Because the pictures can see heat signatures at a cellular level, a thermogram can reveal early signs of a tumor before it has had a chance to develop. 

Thermography has been an FDA-approved adjunct to mammography for breast cancer screening since 1982 and while mammograms are still much more popular, thermograms offer patients a wide range of benefits mammograms alone cannot.

Check Out The Facts:

•Data on 300,000 women showed more than 95% of breast cancers are identified with 90% accuracy by thermography. In women under the age of 50 where there is the most devastating loss of life from breast cancer, mammograms, MRIs and PET scans cannot match the diagnostic sensitivity of breast thermography.

• Breast thermography involves no exposure to radiation or breast compression and is painless and easy-to-do!

• Mammograms have shown an average of 80% sensitivity. In other words, 20% of cancers are not detected. In women with dense breasts, large or small breasts, implants, pregnant or nursing, suffering from fibrocystic  breast disease, or over the age of 50—accuracy is even less. None of these variables affect the sensitivity of a thermogram.

•Thermograms can detect tumors with a 2mm diameter, the size of a grain of rice and 10X smaller than the size of a tumor detectable by a manual breast exam. Thermograms can also detect signs of breast cancer 5-8 years before a mammogram. See below.


Schedule your thermogram during this October and we will give you $20 OFF your appointment fee!

Call 616-301-0808 to schedule! 

Is Individualized Healthcare At Risk?

In a world where office visits grow shorter and doctors draw diagnoses from behind computer screens, finding a practitioner who wants to truly LOOK, LISTEN, and TEST in order to uncover and treat health concerns is not always easy. For many patients, even after finding a quality practitioner, the next challenge can surface when trying to gain access to the most specialized treatment options for their individual care. 

One way practitioners can provide specialized treatment for a patient is by utilizing specialty compounding pharmacies. A compounding pharmacy has the ability to formulate prescriptions that are not available commercially. Compounding of specialized medications is important for numerous reasons. It allows for patients with allergies to dyes or other ingredients in commercial products to receive the medication they need without the additives. In pediatrics, compounding can have many applications: preparation of a liquid dosage form when a commercial liquid product is not available, flavoring of commercial liquid dosage forms to improve taste and administration, and medications that are gluten-free, sugar-free or casein-free.


In the last 5 years, compounding pharmacies have come under intense scrutiny from the federal government. In fall 2012, an outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to an injectable steroid medication from a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy gained the attention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA. After the incident, the push toward regulating compounded medications gained momentum. By 2013, Congress passed the Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA), which tightened federal control over compounding pharmacies. As a part of the legislation, the FDA approves what can and cannot be compounded which puts several alternative treatments at risk for being banned. It may also decrease affordability, availability, and may even influence patient access to supplements. 

If you have been a patient of this practice, then you are probably quite familiar with many of the services that the Alliance for Natural Health USA predicts may be affected by this legislation. Here is their list: 

Bioidentical Hormones—Estriol, progesterone, testosterone, and other hormones have been nominated to the “Demonstrably Difficult to Compound” list. This could make access to these hormones much more difficult.

Supplements—The FDA has stated that supplements must be pre-approved to be legally compounded. Many supplements and natural ingredients that have been nominated have been rejected, such as curcumin, aloe vera, boswellia, and acetyl-L-carnitine, to name just a few. 

Chelation and IV Nutrients—Compounded chelation drugs like CalEDTA, Disodium EDTA, and DMSA may be at risk.  It is unclear whether the FDA will allow the compounding of nutrient IV bags—especially due to the threats to compounded supplements.

Office Use— The FDA has made it illegal for doctors to keep compounded medications from 503A facilities in their offices without a prescription, a practice known as “office use.” This has not only increased the cost of these medications, it has also created more hassle for patients. Medications without prescriptions from 503B facilities can continue, but the list of medications that can be legally compounded by such facilities will be limited.

Affordability—Due to the above-mentioned restrictions, and the threat of more to come, it has become extremely difficult for doctors to obtain medications. For example, the price of injectable B-12 has climbed just under 700% from the mid-2000’s.

Interstate Commerce—New legislation limits the amount of interstate shipments that facilities can make to 5% of total sales. This is extremely problematic given that certain pharmacies specialize in specific preparations. A memorandum of understanding released by the FDA increases this amount to 30%, but then states must take over regulatory responsibility over these facilities. Since it is likely that many states will not elect to take on this additional burden, the upshot is facilities will only be able to ship a small portion of their medications out of state, which could create shortages and increase the price of compounded medications further.

Loss of access to these services and treatments will disproportionately affect patients like ours who believe in an individualized, integrative, and often a holistic approach to healthcare. It is important to know your rights as a patient and stay up-to-date on important issues politically that may impact your healthcare. The Alliance for Natural Health has many resources that aim to encourage both patients and practitioners to speak out about these growing concerns. 

Here is what you can do!

More Information


Have you utilized a compounded medication before? Leave us your comments below!

Chronic Neck Pain: A Common Complaint to be Conquered

A recent study published in the Clinical Journal of Pain cited that 1 in 2 people experience neck pain in their lifetime. Hearing this staggering statistic made us ask, "Do patients know what to do when neck pain hits?"  When you find yourself with sudden muscle tension, stiffness and decreased range of motion, it is a real, well...pain in the neck. Most importantly, it should not be masked with pain killers and left to become a chronic problem. 

Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is just one of the many tools in the osteopathic toolbox and when it is used correctly, it has been shown to improve not only the physical condition, but the emotional and mental condition of the patient, as well. The study mentioned  in our opener set out to prove this exact point. The study remarks "CST was shown to be specifically effective and safe in reducing neck pain intensity and may improve the functional disability and the quality of life up to 3 months after the intervention." Particularly in chronic and recurrent neck pain, CST shows these positive effects.

Dr. Auburn performs craniosacral therapy on a staff member at the 2016 Annual Open House. Photo Credit: Chantal Elise Photography

Dr. Auburn performs craniosacral therapy on a staff member at the 2016 Annual Open House. Photo Credit: Chantal Elise Photography

One of the most important aspects of this treatment is that it will generally be performed by an osteopathic doctor. A DO, or doctor of osteopathy, has completed the required training of an MD along with additional special training in the musculoskeletal system, your body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones. The American Osteopathic Association says "Osteopathic physicians focus on prevention, tuning into how a patient’s lifestyle and environment can impact their well being. DOs strive to help their patients be truly healthy in mind, body and spirit — not just free of symptoms."

Your DO may first assess for musculoskeletal imbalances throughout your entire system. After all, the benefits of CST will not be optimized unless other imbalances are also addressed. Once your practitioner begins CST, they will use their trained hands and other senses to diagnose and treat issues in the muscles and soft tissues surrounding the skull. They may lightly manipulate and gently apply pressure to areas of the skull. The doctor will be working with the rhythmic movements of not only the bones of the cranium, but also use touch and light palpation to regulate the flow of cerebral spinal fluid at the base of the skull for a therapeutic effect.

If you would like to learn more about craniosacral therapy and/or osteopathic manipulative medicine, feel free to contact our office directly or leave your questions in the comments section below!



Make It a Sweet '16, Without the Sweets!

If you've been to our office, then maybe you've noticed a few questions about sugar cravings when filling out symptom surveys. Do you have them? Are they mild, moderate, severe? Here's the thing about sugar... it's ADDICTIVE and cravings can be indicative of bigger problems at hand. Your relationship with sugar can tell your health practitioner a lot. That's why you'll see these questions on our hormone imbalance, adrenal fatigue, and candida questionnaire. We will also be sure to ask what your diet consists of during your first office visit.  

Believe us, we know breaking a sugar addiction can be difficult. Some research has compared the addictive properties of sugar to those of hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. So, in order to help you break up with sugar for good, let's look at some of the baggage sugar brings to your relationship. 

Sugar and Candidiasis

Candida albicans is the lesser known name for the yeasty fungus that naturally lives throughout the body. When in balance with the other microbes and bacteria in the system, candida does not cause health concerns. However, a diet high in sugars and carbohydrates is a surefire way to end up with candidiasis or candida overgrowth.  When candida overgrowth occurs, patients find themselves battling a slew of symptoms that can go ignored or misdiagnosed for years.

These include:

  • weight gain
  • foggy thinking
  • aches and pains
  • chronic fatigue
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal discomfort, gas or bloating
  • skin conditions, like eczema, psoriasis, hives, unidentifiable rashes or just itchy skin with no rash at all
  • repeat vaginal infections, urinary tract infections or rectal itching

Sugar and Diabetes

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas gland.  The purpose of insulin is to open channels in the cells all over the body and let glucose (sugar) get into the cell.  It’s like a key that opens the doors to a cell and when the doors are open, the sugar goes inside.  At this point, the sugar can be used to create energy and drive various processes in the cell.  When this doesn't happen, the sugar or glucose collects outside the cells in the blood stream and creates the condition of insulin resistance and later, diabetes.  The reason this mechanism fails can be the result of years of eating a diet too high in sugars or starches like bread, pasta, and potatoes (even if they are healthy). Over time, the cells will require more and more insulin until the pancreas cannot keep up with the demand.  This is when diabetes occurs and medication is needed to work in conjunction with or in place of the body's insulin to get the sugar into the cells.

Sugar and Hormone Imbalance

Hormones are very important chemical messengers produced by one part of the body to tell other organs what to do and how to respond under certain conditions. Some of the most commonly discussed hormones include thyroid, cortisol, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. While often times we address these hormones individually, the truth is, they are greatly impacted by the balance or imbalance of each other. For example, one who consumes too much sugar will see their body begin to store this extra "energy" in fat cells.  Fat cells have an enzymes known to  convert testosterone into estrogen. Therefore, obesity can contribute to high estrogen, low testosterone, and even too low thyroid hormones.

When blood sugar fluctuates a lot, like after eating a donut, bagel, or having a soda, insulin and cortisol fight to keep things in balance. Like we discussed earlier, insulin has the job to lower blood sugar by moving it into cells to be used for energy or stored for later. Cortisol moves sugar in the opposite direction. It takes sugar stored in the liver (glycogen) and puts it into the blood stream. To simplify, insulin lowers blood sugar and cortisol raises blood sugar.

Too much insulin will lower blood sugar too much which is called hypoglycemia. So to prevent this, when insulin goes up, cortisol goes up a little also. This is not to raise blood sugar, but to make sure the blood sugar stays in balance. Unhealthy, high-carb, high-sugar diets will cause lots of highs and lows in insulin and blood sugar throughout the day which can manipulate cortisol into an imbalance. In this type of situation, high cortisol levels decrease your thyroid hormones as well. Before long, all of those little messengers lose their ability to work together sending the needed information, at the right time, to keep the body properly functioning. 

Quick Tips to Fight the Sugar Seduction

Remove temptation. Even if you have the best self-control, a cupboard full of cookies calling your name can be torture. If you are gearing up to leave sugar behind, purge your kitchen of anything that might tempt you to feed the addiction. Also, double check your grocery list and avoid the cookie/candy isles all together. 

Start with soda. If you've fallen into the trap of indulging in daily sugary sodas or beverages, you are not alone. The FDA says about 47% of our added-sugar intake comes from beverages, not including milk or 100% fruit juice. Simply cutting out beverages with added sugar can make a huge impact. 

De-stress. Unfortunately, there is something sweeter about sweets when you're feeling stressed. When a sugar craving hits, first recognize it may be because you're feeling wound up. Focus on your breathing and consciously decide you are in control. Take a quick walk, turn on your favorite music, watch a funny video, or chew a piece of gum. All of these are relaxing and better-for-you options that you can feel good about. 

Eat regularly to keep a balanced blood sugar. Having a small meal or healthy snack every couple of hours can drastically reduce the urge to reach for something sweet. 

Find a better alternative to the junk. After weaning off of processed sugar, junk food and sweets, many patients report a change in their taste buds. Suddenly, a banana is much sweeter and apples powdered in cinnamon have become a delicious dessert. The goal of breaking a sugar addiction isn't to NEVER have sugar again. It is simply a step you can take to ensure that you have more control over your well-being and quality of life. That being said, a square of organic dark chocolate can really hit the spot once you've reminded your brain and tongue what "sweet" really is!





Why Dr. Auburn Wants You to Take Your Fish Oil...


Why does Dr. Auburn want you to take your omega-3 fish oils? Here's another reason,...Omega-3's reduce cancer growth and spread! See referenced study below. Just make sure you have VERY CLEAN fish oils. Not the ones from the supermarket or local pharmacy! I can't stress this enough! At the NHIC, we have three options for you: Metagenics High Dose Liquid EPA-DHA, our NHIC Enteric Coated Fish Oils or Orthomolecular's OrthoMega, high-dose gelcaps.
To Your Health,
Dr. Ann

Study Shows How Omega-3 Inhibits Cancer Cell Growth

Referenced from Life Extension 

It is well known by the science community that omega-3s are a powerful anti-inflammatory and even have an anti-diabetic affect. Now, a group of researchers have been able to demonstrate how omega 3s can slow and reduce cancer growth in prostate cells. 

"We're the first to show that they work this way in cancer," said Kathryn Meier, a professor of pharmacy at WSU Spokane. "The attention has mostly been on inflammation and diabetes but there has always been an interest in cancer, and we were the first to show this mechanism in any cancer cell at all. And we're using prostate cancer, which is the most controversial subject in omega 3s.

Working with prostate cell cultures, Meier and two students, found fatty acids would bind to a receptor called FFA4, for "free fatty acid receptor 4." Rather than stimulating cancer cells, the receptor acts as a signal to inhibit growth factors, suppressing proliferation of the cancer cells. These findings counter a widely publicized study that appeared in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2013 which concluded that men who had higher serum omega-3 fatty acid levels had a greater risk of developing prostate cancer. 

"This kind of knowledge could lead us to better treat or prevent cancer because now we know how it works," Meier said. The study also found that a drug mimicking the action of omega 3s can work as well, or better, than fatty acids in suppressing the cancer cells.

The study appears in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.


References: Life Extention <>
Washington State University. "How fatty acids can fight prostate cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 March 2015. <>.

Adrenal Fatigue: 7 Things You Can Do

If you've found yourself at this blog post, then most likely you or one of your loved ones might be struggling with some of the following common symptoms of adrenal fatigue:

  • Tired for no reason
  • Having trouble getting up in the morning
  • Feel most awake, alert and energetic after 6 pm
  • Need coffee, colas, salty or sweet snacks to keep you going throughout the day or have severe cravings for salty or sugary snacks
  • Feel run down or stressed
  • Struggling to keep up with life's daily demands
  • Not having fun anymore
  • Decreased vitality and motivation

Adrenal fatigue is caused by impaired adrenal function. When our body perceives stress, the adrenals release cortisol to help our body adapt to the situation. Under the conditions of  intense or prolonged stress, our adrenal glands are required to chronically sustain high cortisol levels and they eventually become unable to respond appropriately. The resulting adrenal dysfunction not only affects short-term response to stress, but the adrenals’ ability to produce and balance other hormones crucial to long-term health and well-being.

Let's Beat Fatigue

We want to give you some clear goals and simple lifestyle changes to put into motion. Adrenal fatigue is not a disease. With the right changes and support, you can heal the damage done and begin living your life with energy and vitality. 

  1. Eat a wide variety of whole, natural foods. Avoid WHEAT, SUGAR, and PROCESSED FOOD. Fill your refrigerator with wholesome, organic food that will nourish and fuel your body.

  2. Give yourself a bedtime by 10:00 pm and sleep in when possible. (The doctor says you can!)

  3. Notice at least one thing that you are grateful for each day. Think positively and use your mind as the powerful healing tool that it is.

  4. If you have any control over your eating environment, choose a peaceful spot with pleasant surroundings. Conversation and good company promote relaxation and digestion. Also, remember to chew your food well! It matters.

  5. Cut back on the caffeine. It can drive the adrenals into exhaustion. 1-2 cups daily is okay, but don't let your energy, mood, and productivity depend on if you've had your coffee fix.

  6. Make lists of things you enjoy and things that stress you. Do at least 3 things you enjoy daily and avoid energy robbers. Leave the situation, change the situation, or change your attitude toward the situation.

  7. Support your body with supplements. If you don't know where to start, try our Basics. If you can only start small, try the Natural Preventive. Even with the best diet, it is difficult to get optimal or therapeutic nutritional support without supplements.

We know sometimes the hardest part is taking the first step. For more information and specific supplement treatment plans, visit our Adrenal Fatigue Page. Testing is available at the NHIC to confirm irregular cortisol levels. If you think you need more help or want to pursue adrenal testing, feel free to make an appointment with one of our practitioners.  


Out With the Cold, In With a New You

By Carly Peterson, PA-C

Winter’s cold grip has loosened. The sun is shining warm and bright. You’re ready to step out in less clothes with confidence, right? If you’re one of the more than 78.6 million Americans who are struggling with obesity/being overweight, you’re probably shouting, “WRONG!” What if I told you that you could lose excess weight and feel your best with 3 simple lifestyle changes? Diet, exercise, and good supplements are the key to vitality, both inside and out.

                                                                                                                 Carly Peterson, PA-C

                                                                                                                 Carly Peterson, PA-C

Obesity is classified by a person’s body mass index, or BMI. This is a calculation of weight compared to height. I find this a pretty good indicator for the average person. This is not, however, a good tool for athletes or those who have higher muscle mass. In order to calculate your BMI, multiply your weight x 704.5 and divide by your height in inches. Then divide by your height in inches again. A BMI of 19-24 is good. 25-29.5 is overweight, 30-34 is mildly obese, 35-39.5 is moderately obese, and over 40 is considered morbidly obese.

Besides looking good in a bikini, why does this really matter? Over 80% of type II diabetes, 70% of all heart disease, and 42% of all colon and breast cancers are related to obesity. The decisions that YOU make each day can lead you down a path of health and wellness or to a life of chronic disease.  So what can you do? First, you must be conscientious about the food you put into your body. What we eat directly communicates with our genes. A body that is fed with GMO’s, antibiotic- and hormone-laden meat, high-inflammatory wheat, and gluten will not age as gracefully as a body fed with clean, organic, free-range food.

Here at the NHIC, we recognize the role that inflammation has on the body as well as on the quality and longevity of life and we strive to reduce this harmful by-product. Inflammation is a normal body function that has spun out of control due to the processed foods and chemicals to which we are exposed. When it comes to diet, I have three recommendations. Let me preface these recommendations with a guarantee that you will not only feel the best but you will also look the best if you choose to follow these. I recommend that you eliminate gluten products (wheat/barley/rye), dairy products, and refined/processed sugars from your diets. This sounds like a tall order, I know. However it is these three diet components that will impact your health, and your looks, the greatest. 

In addition to removing these offending agents from your diet, it is important to be sure that you’re eating enough protein. Protein is the basic building block for muscle. Protein also helps to keep you feeling full longer. A typical adult weighing 150 pounds requires 88 grams of protein per day, translating to approximately 30 grams per meal. Even more protein (up to 115 grams) is required for someone who weight trains. UltraMeal Advanced Protein by Metagenics is a medical-grade food and protein supplement that makes getting extra (healthy) protein into your diet easier. One scoop of this powder into water or a milk alternative is only 80 calories and supplies 15 grams of protein with a comprehensive spectrum of essential vitamins and minerals to support protein utilization. Another great choice for on-the-go protein is Metagenics Ultra Energy Bars which also provide 15 grams of protein plus 9 grams of fiber per bar! A diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein help support an ideal body composition, or the amount of relative fat to muscle in your body.         

Exercise is also a key component to optimal health and wellness. 20-30 minutes of dedicated time to exercise daily is vital for proper body. I recommend a visit to the Natural Health Improvement Center to have a bioelectrical impedance analysis, or BIA. A BIA is an easy and painless tool that we use to calculate your current ratio of fat mass to muscle mass. The BIA will also tell you your basal metabolic rate, which is how many calories your body burns a day without any physical activity. This is important to identify how many calories you should be consuming daily to reach your desired weight loss/fat loss goal. The BIA is performed in our office and is done in minutes. 

Lastly, high-quality supplements protect you from the wrath of unavoidable inflammation. We recommend every person take a high-quality multivitamin, purified fish oils, and calcium/magnesium daily. I also highly recommend a daily probiotic to stave off infection and illness to keep you on track with your workouts and weight loss goals!
Losing weight and feeling great takes the right knowledge and support and this is exactly what the NHIC provides for our patients. Contact us today to get started on the path toward a happy and healthy future! 

Carly Peterson, PA-C is accepting new patients as a holistic primary care practitioner. She offers services such as yearly physicals, well-child checkups, weight loss, hormone replacement, food allergies, thyroid and adrenal imbalance.

More Zzzs Please!

Living in a state of anxiety is a common occurrence in today's fast-paced world. Uncertainty seems to pervade every aspect of our lives. Fears of losing our jobs (or not finding one), frayed personal relationships, tainted foods and medicines, terrorists, pirates, and a thousand other worries are heaped onto a life already moving at a hectic pace. And all of this is more present in our lives with television and the internet. This constant level of anxiety takes a toll, on both a physical and emotional level. For some, the fears become so overwhelming and out of control that they succumb to panic attacks and/or chronic insomnia. There are many herbal and natural remedies that can support relaxation and help us regain balance, peace of mind and restful sleep, alleviating or reducing the need for psychotropic drugs.


1.    Get regular exercise
2.   Develop a sleeping ritual, aiming for improved relaxation, low lighting and low mental stimulation, with as much resolution of emotional dilemmas as possible before bedtime
3.   Reduce overall stress from sleep, work and family to improve sleep quality
4.   Improved sleep hygiene with the following:
-Minimize light, noise, temperature changes in bedroom
-Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex; avoid TV, computer, reading, or radio in the bedroom
-Avoid eating big meals and sweets before bed to avoid blood sugar drops and indigestion
-Limit stimulants, including caffeine, nicotine, alcohol during the day, especially close to bedtime
-Avoid vigorous exercise during the 2 hours prior to sleep
-To avoid worrying about falling asleep on time, cover the alarm clock to avoid anxiety
-Surround yourself with positive thoughts, people and activities
-Consider the Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness to help you control stress and anxiety
-Consider Yoga Nidra, a form of gradient relaxation to improve relaxation and sleep

NATURAL INTERVENTIONS available at the Natural Health Improvement Center:

  • Kavinace (GABA precursor): 1-2 at bedtime and up to a total of 6 caps per day, as needed.
  • Natural Z’s (combination herbal): 1-2 at bedtime and up to a total of 6 caps per day, as needed.
  • Nusera, chewable: 1 chewed, up to 6 daily, for acute stress or sleep, in 15 minutes reduces cortisol 40%.
  • Tran-Q Chinese herbal blend: 1-2 at bedtime. More can be taken up to 6 caps per day, as needed.
  • TranCor (GABA support): 1-2 at bedtime. More can be taken up to 6 caps per day, as needed.
  • Formula 303 homeopathic of valerian and passion flower: 1-2 at bedtime and up to a total of 6 tabs per day, as needed. These can be swallowed or placed under the tongue to work a bit faster.
  •  Valerian Root (Douglas Labs): 200 mg, 1-3 or Valerian Complex (Standard Process) – valerian 140 mg, plus passion flower and jujube - we special order this item due to higher pricing, 1-4 tabs, near bedtime. 
  •  Melatonin: 3 mg, 1-4 tablets ½ hour before bed. With more than 9 mg watch for grogginess next morning. 

Have questions? Just call us and ask to be transferred to the Supplement Department!

A Message to Our Patients...

Are You Really Getting Better Value from Cheaper, Over-The-Counter Supplements?

All supplements are not created equal. In fact, even when you purchase the "same" supplement from Amazon that was recommended to you here in the office, you are taking a risk. There are a few important reasons we only use certain supplement companies here at the Natural Health Improvement Center. Here is why we are so picky about what we provide to our patients!

1.    CHEAPER BRANDS OF THE “SAME THING”: A cheaper brand of a doctor-recommended supplement does not always give you the same ingredients or effectiveness. Often, bargain brand supplements have unnecessary additives and can contain allergy-causing ingredients, preservatives and food coloring. (Click here to read a Washington Post article addressing the recent supplement scandal involving GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens.)

2.    “I CAN GET THE “SAME THING” ONLINE”: There are often hidden consequences to buying the same products we recommend cheaper online. Maybe they have been sitting in a warehouse, shipped in hot trucks, outdated and re-labeled, or are about to expire. Some of the suppliers we trust have done private laboratory studies on bargain supplements in an effort to see what the public is actually getting. What they find is that these discounted supplements have lost their integrity and have most likely been tampered with or mishandled. Our practitioners have spent countless hours researching the companies that formulate our supplements and have even toured their facilities. You can feel confident that products purchased from your provider are effective and of the highest quality available.

•    Your physician is in the unique position to help monitor your program and progress, enabling you to discuss and revise when needed. 
•    Only supplements dispensed by your physician may be eligible for tax deductions. 
•    Your healthcare provider can assure the proper handling and storage of temperature sensitive products. 
•    Your healthcare provider stands behind products purchased. Usually, a third party will not.


Do you have questions about supplements? Your answers are just a phone call away.

Delicious Paleo Donut Recipe

If you are trying to cut out gluten, dairy and processed sugars from your diet, and totally miss your morning donut, I am happy to announce this delicious donut recipe to you! The texture and flavor is absolute perfection for any donut lover!  These donuts freeze and thaw well for mass production in your spare time allowing convenient and healthy breakfast options.

Are you new to coconut flour?  It works a bit different than regular flour in that a smaller quantity is needed when you are attempting to substitute coconut flour for regular flour in your favorite recipes. People are raving about coconut flour especially with all the Paleo love these days.  Coconut flour is rich in protein, fiber and fat which makes it very filling.  In addition, coconut flour is a source of lauric acid (a good saturated fat) which is linked to immune system and thyroid support.  

6 eggs
4 Tablespoons coconut oil, slightly melted
4 Tablespoons almond milk
6 Tablespoons of pure maple syrup or agave
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (use aluminum-free brand)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 ripe bananas, diced
1/8 cup blueberries
1/8 cup chopped pecans or other nuts
(Instead if fruit/nuts, can do dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate, approximately 1/2 cup)

Beat eggs in a large bowl.  Add all other ingredients (except diced bananas and dark chocolate chips) and mix well. There will be some lumps but that is okay…they will melt as the donuts bake.
Next, gently fold the diced bananas and dark chocolate chips into the batter.
Grease a donut pan generously with coconut oil and pour batter into the donut pan.
Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 10-12 minutes.  Check for doneness by poking with a toothpick…they are fully cooked when the toothpick comes out clean.
Let set in donut pan for a few minutes and then transfer to cooling rack.

Makes 8 donuts
Nutrition breakdown per donut:
Calories: 210
Carbs: 10 grams
Fat: 14 grams
Protein: 12 grams
Sodium: 141 mg
Sugars: 8 grams

Sources for this article include:        Recipe Inspired By:


Regenerative Medicine includes Prolotherapy and Platelet Rich Plasma therapy, or PRP.

These are methods used to repair injured and weak structures.  Prolotherapy was started by Dr. Hackett, a surgeon, in the early 1950’s, who figured out that pain is often due to ligament and tendon WEAKNESS and sometimes loss or damage to cartilage, in and around joints.

The “prolo” in prolotherapy comes from the term “proliferation”, because the treatment jumpstarts natural healing, causing the body to “proliferate”, or lay down new, healthy cells.  This is done by injecting a solution of several ingredients into the painful area. PRP is a more advanced form of prolotherapy and uses concentrated platelets from the patient’s own blood, causing a mass influx of growth factors, making it stronger than regular prolotherapyThis is used by many professional athletes who want improved and faster healing.

Problems treated with Prolotherapy and PRP include low back pain, neck pain, headaches, plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, shoulder pain, rotator cuff problems, Dequervain’s syndrome, arthritis and meniscus cartilage injury of the knees.

Prolotherapy or PRP are a perfect choice when you have continued pain after proper rest and healing time, joint instability, popping or clicking, pain improved with a supporting wrap or brace or MRI findings that cannot explain the pain.

In one study, 88.5% of those receiving prolotherapy showed improvement.  New studies using ultrasound show that the tissue IS HEALING, but the most important proof is in the volumes of success stories by satisfied and pain-free individuals.

I have 15 years experience with prolotherapy and PRP in the treatment of chronic pain and appointments are readily available at my Grandville office.