Does Biotin Help with Hair Growth?

Blog | September 20, 2017 | By Dr. Stephanie Graham, N.M.D.

Many people add biotin to their supplement regimen because it is advertised as improving hair, skin and nails, but does it really work? Biotin is a B-vitamin (B7) and it is naturally produced by healthy bacteria in the gut. Research has shown that a biotin deficiency can lead to hair loss, but the mechanism is still unknown. However, deficiencies of biotin in the American population are rare due to intrinsic production and its prevalence in many different foods. In fact, the gut bacteria produce most of the biotin needed by the body. Despite that fact, a biotin deficiency is still possible with malnutrition or impaired gastrointestinal function. There are specialty blood tests that can detect micronutrient deficiencies including biotin, other B-vitamins and minerals.

Hair loss can be due to several factors including hormone imbalance, thyroid disorders, other nutrient deficiencies, genetics and other endocrine disorders. These can be ruled out by your doctor through proper history and testing. Talk to a Naturopathic Doctor at Arizona Natural Medicine to discuss your case and find out what testing and supplementation is right for you.

Balance Your Yin & Yang

Blog | September 13, 2017 | By Darin Zimmerman, LAc.
Acupuncturist prepares to tap needle into patients hand

The balance between Yin and Yang is the foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  One can see in most Yin/Yang symbols that it is never a 50/50 split between the two; there’s always a little bit of one in the other.  This concept is cyclical and should always be moving and transferring.  When problems occur in the body, typically either the Yin or Yang becomes significantly more or less, while also becoming less fluid in motion.

One example of this is how easy our bodies can spiral into a state of excess Yang (Heat), especially in Arizona.  This means an internal state of heat and dryness, which can cause several health issues from chronic fatigue to gastrointestinal problems.  Even though we have circled into fall, it does not mean there are not lasting effects from summer, especially if someone already has an underlying heat condition.  It is also possible for people to develop a deficiency of Yin (Cool/Moisture).  This is also referred to as a False Heat condition, and is especially detrimental during an Arizona summer.  Even if our Yang is not in a state of excess, the Yin is still lacking and cannot balance out the Yang.  The body lacks coolness, moisture, lubrication and calmness.  Without sufficient Yin, one can suffer from night sweats, fatigue, dryness, headaches and insomnia.

When the body presents with an excess of Yang (Heat) we will utilize specific acupuncture points and herbs to cool the body and release excess heat.  When the body presents with a deficiency of Yin (Cool/Moisture) we will utilize specific acupuncture points and herbs to nourish Yin properties.  Every “body” is different and requires specific treatment for the individual and this is where your licensed professional can help!

Health Benefits of Lavender

Blog | August 21, 2017 | By Dr. Stephanie Graham, N.M.D.
Fresh herbs in the mortar - healthy food

Lavender is an herb that is well known for its fragrance and is a common ingredient in beauty products. But lavender is more than just a pretty face – there are many documented medicinal benefits of lavender:

  • Antiseptic and anti-inflammatory: Helps heal minor wounds, bug bites and fungal infections
  • Mental and emotional support: Aids in anxiety, insomnia, depression, restlessness, and emotional symptoms of PMS
  • Digestion: Lavender tea has been used for upset stomach, nausea and gas
  • Pain: Helps relieve pain from headaches, sprains, toothaches, and sores
  • Hair loss: Lavender essential oil was shown to have a benefit in alopecia areata (hair loss caused by an autoimmune condition) based on a 1998 study

(**Note: The essential oil of lavender should not be taken internally because it can be toxic. Never take essential oils internally unless directed by your doctor).


What’s the Deal with Magnesium?

Blog | July 25, 2017 | By Dr. Stephanie Graham, N.M.D.
Woman checking food labelling

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and it is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions necessary for normal body function. Magnesium plays a role in muscle and nerve function, blood sugar regulation, blood pressure regulation, proper bone formation, liver detoxification and DNA replication. This makes magnesium a very important nutrient! While magnesium deficiencies are rare, it is estimated that American adults only get about 66% of their daily need of magnesium. This is likely the result of our reliance on processed foods, which do not provide adequate levels of nutrients in general.
There are many foods that naturally contain magnesium and these are ones in the top ten:

  • Spinach
  • Quinoa
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Black beans
  • Edamame
  • Peanuts
  • Tofu
  • Sesame seeds
  • Whole wheat

Magnesium supplements can benefit certain health conditions, but taking too much magnesium can affect the function of other minerals in the body such as potassium and calcium and cause other side effects. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor at Arizona Natural Medicine to review your health history and determine the best treatment plan for your individual needs.

Weight Loss With Acupuncture

Blog | July 3, 2017 | By Darin Zimmerman, LAc.
AcupunctureLarge Photo

Over the last twenty years the percentage of obese and overweight Americans has increased dramatically.  The CDC reports obesity almost doubling from 2004 to 2014 and the total percentage of overweight Americans from 56% to a staggering 70%.  Excessive weight can lead to several debilitating and life threatening health conditions including but not limited to: heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, several cancers and sleep apnea.  Because of this epidemic our market has been saturated with countless weight loss fads; but all seeming to direct one back on the weight loss and weight gain roller coaster.

Acupuncture has treated internal disorders for thousands of years by treating the specific individual and their internal pattern of disharmony.  Specific points on the body were discovered and stimulated, creating a reaction in the body to heal its self.  Over the last thirty years countless studies have proven the efficacy of acupuncture for several health related issues.  Weight loss has obviously been a popular topic in the Acupuncture realm.  Studies have shown significant weight loss over 12 week acupuncture treatment protocols, which include acupuncture, ear acupuncture, ear pellets, (band aid adhesive to keep pressure on the ear points until next visit) light exercise regimen and food recommendations.

It is important to know that Acupuncture is an adjunct modality to weight loss.  Even though studies have proven its efficacy against placebo and “sham acupuncture” it is imperative to incorporate all the lifestyle aspects into the treatment.  Get off the roller coaster and get on an Acupuncture protocol so the body can heal, re-balance and reset itself to accept the new habits and a healthier weight.

Meditation and Yoga Can Reverse Inflammation at a Molecular Level

Blog | June 21, 2017 | By Dr. Stephanie Graham, N.M.D.

A recent research review published in the Journal Frontiers in Immunology showed that mind body interventions such as meditation, yoga and Tai Chi may decrease the expression of pro-inflammatory genes. When the body’s ‘fight or flight’ mode is activated by stress, there is an increase in production of factor kappa B (NF-kB), which regulates how our genes are expressed. When the body is under stress, the NF-kB activates genes that secrete inflammatory cytokines. This can accelerate aging and lead to health conditions such as cancer and depression. According to the 2017 study, people who regularly practice mind body interventions show a decrease in the production of NF-kB cytokines, thus reversing the pro-inflammatory expression of the gene. Consider adding meditation, yoga or Tai Chi to your daily routine to reap the health benefits at a molecular level. Talk to a Doctor at Arizona Natural Medicine to find out more ways to help defend our bodies against the effects of stress.


How to Prevent Swimmer’s Ear

Blog | May 22, 2017 | By Dr. Stephanie Graham, N.M.D.

Swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, is a bacterial infection of the skin of the outer ear canal. This is different than a typical ear infection (otitis media), which affects the middle ear. Swimmer’s ear can start after frequent water exposure such as swimming, diving, water skiing, going to water parks or other water activities. If water gets trapped in the ear long enough, it can facilitate bacterial growth resulting in an infection. Symptoms may include a feeling of fullness in the ear, hearing changes, itching, pain or discharge.

If you plan to do a lot of swimming or other water activities this summer, learn how to protect your ears from infection:

  • Wear earplugs specifically designed for swimming
  • If you are prone to swimmer’s ear, wear earplugs in the shower
  • Dry the outside of your ears with a towel or cloth after bathing or swimming. Avoid using Q-tips because they can cause abrasions to the skin inside the ear canal and contribute to infection.
  • Make a solution using 1 part white vinegar and 1 part rubbing alcohol. Add a few drops to each ear after swimming. (Do not use any drops or solution in the ear if you suspect a punctured ear drum).

Having frequent bacterial infections in the ear may be a sign that there is an imbalance in body. Speak with your Naturopathic Doctor at Arizona Natural Medicine about how to fortify the immune system and help your body be less prone to infections.


Eat Healthy For Your Skin

Blog | May 18, 2017 | By Darin Zimmerman, LAc.
Ingredient Thai Popular Food "Tom Yum"

Collagen is the most abundant protein which makes up about 20% of the body’s mass and is found not only in skin but also in connective tissue and bones. It is often called the glue that keeps us together. Collagen production does naturally decline with age, leading to sagging of the skin, formation of lines and wrinkles, and may cause weakening and stiffness of joints. Unfortunately there is even a more dramatic reduction for woman after menopause.

You need more than good skincare products. You need to help support collagen production from the inside out. You can assist your body to not only produce more collagen but also maintain the healthy skin you have through good diet and supplementation.

First we need to know how to increase the collagen we make naturally. We do this by increasing the nutrients important in collagen production.  Vitamin intake through food and supplements is vital for collagen production and overall skin health. Vitamin C, A, and E are the key players in this production and can be found in foods like broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, oranges, guavas, strawberries, mango, kiwi, walnuts, and beans.

Phytoestrogens are important for woman to consume especially as they age into menopause, helping slow down collagen loss. Genistein, primarily found in soybeans, but also found in smaller quantities in other legumes like fava beans and kudzuis are isoflavones. They have estrogenic properties and block enzymes that break down and age the skin.

Second we focus on foods that protect the collagen we already have. Antioxidants such as Lutein and Catechin found in green and white tea and green leafy vegetables work to neutralize free radicals that can damage and severely age the skin. White tea is also very rich in Phenolic Acid which is known for protecting skin tissue as well. Lutein can be found in dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale. These antioxidant nutrients not only help with collagen production but also protect our collagen and slow down the aging process. So increase foods like kale, spinach, broccoli, beet greens and asapargus and pick up a glass of green tea instead of coffee.

Last but not least, good protein intake is extremely important for collagen production. Protein contains the building blocks called amino acids which are needed in collagen production. In addition, animal protein has a couple different components to add to collagen production. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are found in fish like tuna, mackerel, salmon and cod and also flax seed oil. These fatty acids have many health benefits and keeping the skin soft and elastic is just one.

Gelatin is also a protein based product that helps your body rebuild and restore collagen. Yes, this is the same main component in “Jello” and can be described in the raw as the substance that forms on top of cooked meat after it cools.

Organic Grass Fed Whey protein has been shown to be very effective in the production of collagen because it contains a wide variety of branch chain amino acids. Supplementing a protein powder like this can help make up for inconsistency in the diet, keeping collagen production steady.

So increase your greens, have a cup of green tea, make sure you are getting good sources of protein, and add in a dose of colorful veggies  daily to support collagen production and healthier skin.  Of course, always check with your doctor or licensed health care practitioner to make sure the dietary suggestions talked about are not contra-indicated due to your specific health status.

A Common Ingredient in Beauty Products Can Lead to Hormone Disruption

Blog | April 20, 2017 | By Dr. Stephanie Graham, N.M.D.
Make-up artist applying the mascara to model.

Hormone imbalance has become increasingly more common among younger women. Many women suffer from PMS, menstrual problems, irregular cycles, ovarian cysts, fibroids and infertility. While there are several factors that can contribute to these conditions, a common preservative in personal care products may be one of the culprits. Parabens are used in make-up, hair products, deodorants, lotions, creams and many other medical and beauty products. Because parabens have estrogenic or “estrogen-like” activity in the body, high levels can disrupt the normal balance between estrogen and progesterone. This can lead to “estrogen dominant” conditions like menstrual issues, PMS, infertility and other hormone related conditions.

The good news is parabens can be cleared from the body quickly compared to other environmental toxins because they are not stored in fat cells. The key to preventing parabens from causing health problems is to avoid exposure. You can check your products for parabens by looking at the label: it may say “paraben” or “methylparaben.” But, not all parabens are labeled conspicuously — check for other names such as: “ethyl,” “butyl,” “methyl,” and “propyl.” These are also in the paraben family even though the word “paraben” isn’t in the name. Another way to find non-toxic beauty products is to check them on the Environmental Working Group website at The Naturopathic Doctors at Arizona Natural Medicine are knowledgeable about environmental factors that may affect your health. Make an appointment to discuss your case and find the cause of your hormone imbalance.

Wear It Every Day!

Blog | April 13, 2017 | By Darin Zimmerman, LAc.
Close-up of happy man on beach

In this day of age it is safe to say that most people have used sunscreen at some point in their life.  A vacation on a sunny beach in Mexico or perhaps a three day hike to Havasupai Falls; both trips require protection from the sun all day.  However, it’s not just special trips and occasions that require sunscreen.  UVA and UVB rays are penetrating our skin every second we are exposed to the sun, which is why it is so important to wear sunscreen every day.  It may seem tedious in the beginning, but when you find the right moisturizer with an appropriate SPF for your skin type, it will easily fall into your routine.

Here are 5 reasons why everyone should wear sunscreen every day!

  1. Prevent Cancer!  According to the American Cancer Society skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.
  2. Sun = SPF, Wrong!  Whether it’s sunny, cloudy or rainy; ultra violet rays can penetrate through and still damage your skin.
  3. Don’t Look Your Age! The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates 90% of visible aging is caused by the amount of time spent in the sun.  So if you’re a sun-bather, it’s imperative to apply sunscreen responsibly.
  4. Base Tan = Protection, Wrong!  Yes it’s true the sun will cause you to create more melanin in your skin to where you may not burn as easy.  However, the damage is still being done at the time of exposure and will show itself via age spots, wrinkles, and possibly cancer down the road.
  5. SPF Protection Has Come A Long Way! White zinc covered noses are a thing of the past.  Technology allows us to choose from moisturizers specifically for our face and hands, to heavy duty creams and sprays for the rest of our body.  Sun protective apparel is also available in hats, shirts and pants.