Normal Cycle: "You Mean... That's Not Normal?"

I can't tell you how many times I've asked a woman in detail about her periods. I inquire about how how heavy, how many tampons or pads she is using, how much ibuprofen, spotting beforehand, the color, clots, length, PMS symptoms and more. Women are seeking naturopathic treatment because their cycles are disrupting their life or their fertility, and they are looking for relief. So many times women struggle with cyclical symptoms, only because they "just thought that was normal".

It is not necessary that you have to experience heavy bleeding, cramps, clots, long or irregular periods, or those other “common” period symptoms. Do you have a "normal" healthy period? Here's what you should expect if you do:

  • 26-34 days from the start of one cycle to the next
  • Bleeding should last 3-6 days
  • Color of the blood should be cranberry red, with minimal to no clots
  • 30-80 mL of blood loss
    • This is  4-10 regular tampons, 3-7 super tampons, or 2-5 super-plus tampons -- through the ENTIRETY of your period
  • Spotting should not occur more than 24 hours prior to your period start or in the middle of your cycle
  • Mild cramping is normal, but you shouldn't be relying on pain-relieving drugs, heating pads, or needing miss work 
  • Slight mood changes can occur before your period begins. However, crying for no apparent reason, snapping at others and depression is not normal
  • Periods should be free of: breast tenderness, cyclical acne, cyclical migraines, brown spotting, bloating, cyclical digestive changes (diarrhea or constipation), significant pain, heavy flow, large clots, insomnia, and fatigue

So—what if, after reading through the descriptions of “normal” symptoms, you find that you are … anything but “normal”?!  If you are experiencing symptoms during your cycle that are outside of what I have described to be normal, it is likely that you have a hormone imbalance. Many women that I see have dealt with these symptoms due to a hormone imbalance for years, and the only treatment offered has been the birth control pill.  You have other options. 

If you are experiencing symptoms that fluctuate with your cycle, or if you suspect a hormone imbalance, I invite you to take this self-quiz to identify which of your hormones may need to be addressed. Then, consider making an appointment to talk with me about the symptoms you are experiencing.

At Kansas City Integrative Health, we take inventory of your hormone balance, often testing your hormones at different times in your cycle. Then, together, we create an action plan that is personalized for you so you can feel great every day of the month. 

Dr. Laura Rues is a naturopathic doctor who works with women on their health journey. She provides the expert, compassionate, and personalized care that you expect, with personalized treatment that brings balance back to the systems involved in healthy reproduction, naturally.

Click here to set up a free consultation

Posted on October 13, 2017 .

Bragging about Brassicas

Brassica vegetables are some of the healthiest foods to consume regularly. Also known as cruciferous vegetables, the Brassica vegetables include powerfully nutritious foods: broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, collard greens, arugala, bok choi, and various radishes.


Why is this plant family so healthy? These vegetables prevent oxidative stress, induce detoxification enzymes, stimulate immune system, decrease the risk of cancers, inhibit malignant transformation and carcinogenic mutations, as well as reduce proliferation of cancer cells

Brassicas vegetables are nutrient-dense foods, rich in the following: 

  1. Antioxidant Enzymes (catalase, superoxide dismutase, and peroxidase)- cruciferous veggies are loaded with antioxidant enzymes that prevent damage to cells, defending the body from harmful "free radicals", and induce proper immune function
  2. Protein – Two hundred calories of steamed broccoli will provide you with 20 grams of protein — not as much as the 30 grams in two hundred calories of roasted chicken breast — but still a very substantial amount.
  3. Fiber – One hundred calories' worth of cruciferous vegetables (about 5% of a daily diet) provides about 25-40% of your daily fiber requirement! 
  4. Glucosinolates – cruciferous vegetables are even more renowned for their phytonutrients, notably glucosinolates. What's so special about glucosinolates is their potential for cancer prevention. Once converted into other molecules called isothiocyanates, the glucosinolates have an eye-opening track record in lowering the risk of certain cancers (such as prostate and breast cancer).  These phytonutrients are converted into compounds that not only fight cancer, but also balance hormones, promote the liver’s detoxification activity, and decrease inflammation
  5. Vitamins and minerals.
    • Vitamin A
    • Folate
    • Vitamin K – vitamin K content of cruciferous vegetables — especially kale and collards — is impressive. Vitamin K is a nutrient that clearly helps regulate our inflammatory response, regulate calcium storage (encourages that calcium is deposited in the bones and not in blood vessels) and is important for heart health, strong bones and proper blood clotting
    • Potassium
    • Magnesium
    • Much more! 

Consumption of vegetables including Brassica species has been strongly associated with the reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts and age-related functional decline. 

Glucosinolates and Goitrogens: The Thyroid

Cruciferous vegetables get a reputation of being bad for the thyroid. This is because those healthy glucosinolates like isothiocyanate can inhibit the body's uptake of iodine. So what is a person with thyroid disease to do? First, check with your doctor. However, if a person's thyroid disease is not caused by iodine deficiency, then consumption cruciferous vegetables is not as concerning. However, excessive and over-consumption (over 5 cups a day) of raw cruciferous vegetables over a long period of time should be avoided by everyone (thyroid disease or not). In general, it takes a significant amount of raw cruciferous vegetables to have a negative effect on thyroid function. The best way to get the benefits without the goitrogens? Eat a mixture of cooked and raw cruciferous vegetables, don't overeat them, and don't juice them. 


Each Brassica item has its own unique profile. 1 cup of broccoli is not the same as 1 cup of bok choi. And EVERY vegetable is beneficial in its own way, and a wide variety of vegetables (including and beyond the cruciferous family) is best.

*If you are on blood thinners, any other medications, or have any diagnosed condition, please check with your doctor before changing your diet or increasing your cruciferous vegetable intake as it may interact with medications 

Posted on October 11, 2017 .

Food Allergies & Intolerances

Food Allergies and Sensitivities Explained

Food sensitivities are not the same as food allergies. Food "allergies" are an IgE reaction in which the food causes the release of histamine and an immediate hypersensitivity (sometimes anaphylactic) reaction. However IgG reactions are delayed onset, which means that often you are eating offending foods and unaware of their potential effects!  Sometimes symptoms can appear anywhere from hours to days after eating the food. 


Testing for IgG food intolerances/sensitivities is confusing for many doctors, as they not typically trained on this type of reaction, as it is neither obvious nor life-threatening. However, food intolerances gaining public awareness as people are removing offending food groups and then noticing improvement in their chronic disease symptoms.  Unfortunately though, there is some conflicting evidence on the comparison of IgG versus IgE and the testing behind it.  Keep in mind that there are different ‘branches’ of your immune system and being allergic to a food doesn’t mean you are intolerant and vice versa.   

While there is no gold standard food sensitivity test, we have been able to use the results to help guide patients in a reasonable way that makes sense to systematically remove certain food(s) to help figure out the root cause of some of their lifelong symptoms.  Does it work?  Yes, very often it does. We regularly receive patient testimonials about the life changing effects the test and subsequent elimination has created.  Patients whose chronic headaches disappear, PMS balances out, depression lifts, fatigue improves, sleep resumes, joint pain eases, skin rashes go away, behavior changes for the better, bloating diminishes, weight loss occurs, bowels normalize and more.

Posted on October 9, 2017 .

3 Keys to Daily Meditation

Mediation has proven to be an effective way to improve anxiety, depression and overall quality of life. There are misconceptions about meditation that often scare people away from trying to incorporate meditation into their lives. A common misconception is the idea that one has to sit still and completely clear their minds. Meditation, which is often referred to as mindfulness, is simply the act of distracting the mind into something simple and away from your stresses. Below are 3 easy ways to incorporate meditation into your schedule.

  1. Turn off your phone. Technology is a constant stress and tug on our lives. A study recently showed that the average person checks their phone 150 times a day. Phones are often too demanding of our time, but we never intentionally take a break. Set a time that works for you and turn off your phone, even just an hour. This will allow you to be present for your family, or allow you to have quality quiet time.
  2.  Breathe. Take long deep breaths. Fill up your lungs, exhale slowly and completely. Breathing deeply lowers your blood pressure and by taking the time to focus on your breath, your mind will pull away from your daily to do list.
  3. Turn your chores into something better. Whether it be your commute to work or doing the dishes after dinner, find a way to escape. Perhaps you notice the scenery on your commute or enjoy the calming sounds of the running dish water. This is a great way to turn a mundane task into inner peace.

Don’t let your busy schedule get in the way of bettering your quality of life. Even the smallest changes can make a big difference.

Posted on October 6, 2017 .

5 Tips for Improving Sleep Naturally

Thousands of sleep aids are on the market today and many of them consist of taking medicines that are often habit forming. There are many ways to improve your quality of sleep without turning to these options. Here are 5 easy sleep tips to increase your quality and quantity of sleep.

  1. Set a routine. There is a reason kids and babies all have bed times; it promotes better sleep. For some reason, we tend to throw this idea out the window as adults. Try to reincorporate a bedtime as best possible.
  2. Chamomile Tea has calming properties to allow the body to relax. Pour a cup while you are unwinding in the evening.
  3. Turn off the screens. Phone, TV and computer screens all emit a light that is stimulating to the brain, yet so many of us lie in bed with our smartphones and expect to fall to sleep immediately.  Give yourself an hour window before bed to separate yourself from screens.
  4. Diffuse some lavender. Lavender essential oils are widely used for sleep. Diffuse some lavender oil in your room or using lavender scented lotion before bed will help calm your weary mind before bedtime.
  5. Set the scene. Prep your room for sleep. Black out curtains are commonly used for individuals who work the night shift but they can make an impact during the night time as well. Try a sound machine that plays white noise to drown out outside noises that may awaken you at night. 

Sleep problems are commonly linked to many health-related issues like high blood pressure, hormone imbalances, weight gain, anxiety and much more. If theses solutions don't work for you, we can help get to the bottom of your sleep issues, helping you to a good night's sleep.

Posted on October 4, 2017 .

OCP Stopping Surprises

Unexpected Side Effects of Stopping the Pill

There are so many reasons that women are placed on the birth-control pill. Many take it for acne, heavy bleeding, painful periods, irregular cycles, endometriosis and PCOS. But the pill doesn't treat the underlying cause of the symptoms. For many women, the main reason for the birth control pill is preventing pregnancy, but lots of women (and teenage girls) take the pill as a way to manage symptoms. 

Unfortunately, if you go to your doctor with any period related concern, the pill is often theonly option given. And while these symptoms are common, they are by no means normal, they are a sign of an underlying hormonal imbalance. The good news, there are other options, starting with balancing hormones after stopping the pill.

So what happens when you stop the birth control pill?

  1. You mood may change for the better. For many women, the pill has an overall negative effect on mood, including increased anxiety and depression. Every woman doesn't have the same experience, but studies show that 40% of women on oral contraceptives have symptoms of depression (that's a lot!)
  2. You'll probably experience a return of any symptoms the pill was masking. The pill often provides a temporary band-aid solution. For many, it reduces period pain, acne, endometriosis or PCOS related symptoms. However, when the time comes to stop the pill, you can expect these symptoms to return, and possibly be worse than before. 
  3. Your period may not return for months. True menstruation only happens after ovulation, which is suppressed when on the birth control pill. After taking the pill for years, women are surprised to find that sometimes it takes several months for their period to return, even up to 2 years for women who were taking depo provera (the shot)
  4. You might discover that you hate the way your partner smells! Hormonal contraceptives change our preferences when it comes to partners (through pheromones). Women on the pill are more attracted to genetically similar males, whereas women who aren't on the pill are attracted to males that are genetically different. Studies have shown that birth control pills may be "tricking" a woman into choosing a man she may not otherwise choose if she were fertile.
  5. You might discover difficulty getting pregnant. Taking the pill is like putting your fertility on a shelf for a while. It allows you to go about your life without addressing any of the important health concerns that could affect your fertility later on. Fertility isn't just a switch that can be turned on an off, when you go off the pill after several years, you may find that it takes longer to get pregnant than you thought it would.

Next steps!
Check out our Women's Health & Hormones page to find information on what type of hormone imbalance you may have, resources to get started on your health journey, and access to our doctors for a free consultation. 

Posted on October 2, 2017 .

Prevent Colds During the Holidays the Naturopathic Way!

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‘Tis the Season! Holidays are just around the corner, and many of us are hustlin’ to get our Christmas shopping done on time. However, it is also the season of cold winter months. Here are some tips to help lower the chance of catching a cold while out and about.

Keep Warm
In Chinese medicine, the Wei Qi, or defensive Qi, acts like a shield around your body to protect from outside invaders. This is very much like the immune system. However, that shield is the thinnest at the back of the neck and head. So, one simple way you can protect against colds is to wear a scarf and hat while outside.
Sleep is the time when the body rests and heals, when Yang cycles into Yin. If you are staying up late to get everything done before the holidays, that is setting the stage for sickness because lack of sleep weakens the immune system. Make sure that you are getting well-rested sleep.

Boost the Immune System
Believe it or not, ginger and green onion tea can stop a cold in the early stages. In Chinese medicine, these 2 foods can “expel the pathogens” that have invaded the body and caused infection. Simply make a cup of tea with two slices of ginger and the white parts of two green onions.  Steep in boiling water for 5-10 minutes.  You can also add a little honey for flavor.
Other foods that strengthen the immune system include garlic, broccoli, red bell peppers, and citrus.
Wash your hands often and keep them away from your face
Bacteria and viruses can transmit via surfaces such as a door handle.  Be sure to wash your hands regularly to protect against passive infection.  It is very likely you weren’t the first to touch that credit card machine, ketchup dispenser, or door handle.

Do you have congestion year-round? Do you get frequent sinus infections? Is so, there may be (underlying reasons) other things going on. Contact KCIH.

At KCIH we address the underlying cause to your concerns.  We evaluate you as a whole person, determine your level of health and if necessary provide natural methods to bring you to vibrant health.

Posted on December 22, 2016 .

Birth Control Pill Linked to Depression

Birth Control Pills, Depression, and Natural Alternatives

An unprecedented Danish study confirms what many women already have experienced, linking birth control pills with depression. This large study, collecting data from over 1 million women over 14 years reported up to an 80% relative risk increase of depression. 

How can you tell if you have hormonal depression? Other symptoms include:
  • Irritability & Mood swings
  • Insomnia or increased desire for sleep 
  • Headache or Migraines
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Acne flare-ups
  • Anxiety or poor mood
  • Constipation or diarrhea

Over half of women who take birth control do so for reasons other than avoiding pregnancy. Often, it is to address PCOS and endometriosis because it can make periods more regular, decrease heavy periods, alleviate headaches, and clear acne. Often, it masks symptoms, and once the pill is stopped, the symptoms return. 

At KCIH we address the underlying cause to these concerns. Hormone imbalances--including estrogen excess, low progesterone, and excess testosterone--are often the problem.  However,other hormones can be involved too (cortisol, the stress hormone; thyroid and more). Even poor digestion can negatively affect your hormones. We evaluate you as a whole person, determine if you have an imbalance and how to correct it. 

Interested in learning more? Review this symptom questionnaire to determine if you have a hormone imbalance.  Set up a consultation with us to get your hormones reset and on your way to vibrant health.

If you are experiencing discomfort, please  schedule a free 15-minute consultation.
Posted on October 13, 2016 .

Soy: The Inside Scoop

Inside Scoop on Soy: Myths and Truths

Many patients ask me about the consumption of soy, citing “I’ve always heard that it was bad”. However, the truth is much more complex than a simple yes or no. Depending on who you ask, it is either a super-food or a poison. But the truth is, soy-based foods have been shown to improve cholesterol, prevent breast cancer, prostate cancer, decrease osteoporosis and more.  But, yes, it does have some downsides as well. Here’s the breakdown:

1.       Hormone Changes

Soy has a reputation of being “estrogenic” and is often avoided because of this. The truth is not so simple. Soy contains phytoestrogens that are both estrogenic and anti-estrogenic. How can this be? Soy’s phytoestrogens are about one twentieth as strong as your body’s natural estrogen, therefore in low-estrogen conditions (e.g. menopause); the phytoestrogens can weakly stimulate the estrogen receptor. However in high estrogen conditions (e.g. endometriosis), the phytoestrogens can adhere to the estrogen receptor but not stimulate it, blocking your natural estrogen.  

What about in children?
In pre-pubescent children, cow milk has been shown to be more endocrine disrupting that soy milk.

2.       Breast Cancer

Believe it or not, soy has been shown to reduce the rates of breast cancer occurrence. It may actually help prevent the development of breast cancer. But in patients who already have a hormone sensitive cancer, the phytoestrogens may stimulate the cancer cells, so I recommend avoidance for those individuals.

3.       Thyroid Health

Soy is considered goitrogenic, which means that it may interfere with the production of thyroid hormones by altering iodine uptake. While studies show that soy products do not cause hypothyroidism, those who consume more soy may need more iodine in their diets (a great source for iodine is seaweed and other sea veggies)

4.       The Cautions

 “Soy protein isolate” means that the soy has been processed and the nutrients have been stripped away, often replaced with added sugars, fats and refined flours.  Avoid soy burgers, energy bars, and other “Frankensoy” products. Typically, I caution patients when discussing soy milk. Often, soy milk is processed and does not have any nutritional benefit.  

Use Organic Soy. Soy is highly sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, which have been shown to be detrimental to health. Avoid soybean oil, it is mostly filled with pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.  And eliminate soy if you have an intolerance or allergy to it. 


Like all foods, consume soy in moderation; I recommend 1 serving a couple of times per week, with a helping of sea veggies (or other iodine-rich food). Organic whole soy foods are the best; including tofu, edamame, tempeh, and fermented soy, as they contain more nutritional benefits. 


Posted on August 11, 2016 .

Stomach Acid Is Not the Only Cause of Heartburn!!

Since the early 1900’s, heartburn/reflux/GERD has been thought to be caused by stomach acids re-entering the esophagus and irritating it's interior
In May 2016, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a research paper stating reflux is actually caused by a “reactive immune system.” In a study following 12 men with severe reflux, 2 weeks after discontinued use of proton pump inhibitor medication, 11 of the 12 men were found to have inflammation on the exterior of the esophagus. Biopsies of the affected men revealed a high number of cytokines (proteins) produced by white blood cells in the esophagus.  These proteins kick-start the inflammation process then causing the discomfort of heartburn.

At Kansas City Integrative Health, we study and treat all cases of inflammation to help people with heartburn and support their overall health.

If you are experiencing similar discomfort, please read more about us and request a free 15-minute consultation.

Posted on July 11, 2016 .