Watch the Interview
About Michele Nickels, N.D., L.Ac.
Dr. Nickels blends the best of clinical nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, whole food supplements, and natural thyroid and hormonal therapies with extensive training in modern medical care to bridge the gap between naturopathic and conventional medicine. She shares tips to stimulate the body’s natural healing response and rebalance hormone levels, naturally.
Learn more about Dr. Nickels' practice at www.ifwcenter.com
03:03 Dr. Nickels’ Journey: Dr. Nickels started as a nursing assistant in a surgical unit. She noted that there was a mind component to health. She was pre-med, considered chiropractic college, but shifted to naturopathic medicine. Taking personal care of patients is a valuable education. Her focus is upon finding causes and treating causes, not symptoms.
09:16 Stress: The number one cause of disease, according to Dr. Nickels, is stress. She sees it as the number one cause of hormonal problems. Women’s hormones start to decline in their mid-thirties. Your need for cortisol and your stress is still there. This causes an imbalance. Bioidentical hormones are more natural, but they shouldn’t be used as a band aid. Hormones are lipophilic. When you put it on your skin, it stays in your fat cells for up to two months after your last dose.
12:23 Blood Testing: Blood testing for hormones is not accurate. Hormone in the blood is bound to the protein albumin and is not being used. Once it is unbound at the tissue, the body can use it.
13:16 Hormone Replacement: Dr. Nickels has never prescribed estrogen, yet she is able to balance her patient’s hormones. She rarely uses progesterone. Her focus is on precursors. She does saliva testing to observe the unbound form of the hormone. She rarely sees low testosterone with saliva testing. Eighty percent of low libido is from stress, poor sleep, and poor self-image.
15:42 Progesterone: Progesterone is at the top end of a hormonal cascade, which includes cholesterol, pregnenolone, and then progesterone. Progesterone is the precursor hormone to produce cortisol. Progesterone supplementation can increase estrogen, testosterone and cortisol.
18:16 Preferred Testing: At her clinic, Dr. Nickels does traditional testing: CBC, CMP, comprehensive thyroid testing, B12 levels, ferritin, glutathione, T-cells, immunoglobulins, and zinc. They may do urine testing for neurotransmitters. She found that 25% of her patients who did not respond to treatment, had abnormal levels of neurotransmitters. Now neurotransmitter testing is part of regular testing. Neurotransmitters play a role in hormones. Serotonin and estrogen have similar chemical configurations. When a woman takes estrogen or birth control pills, her body is convinced that she is younger and takes away the hot flashes. It is abnormal and may have profound long term effects. She does saliva testing for gluten intolerance.
22:49 Hormone Testing: Saliva testing checks the circadian rhythm of cortisol, as well as precursor hormones like 17-hydroxyprogesterone. It checks DHEA, gluten intolerance, gut immunology, insulin levels, and hormone levels, like estrone, and estradiol. It can test for estriol, but Dr. Nickels does not check it. She checks hormones in menstruating women around day 21.
24:20 Parasites: When patients who are completely gluten free test positive for gliadin, Dr. Nickels tests for parasites. A white blood cell test with the differential looking at eosinophils. If they are high and basophils are normal, they have parasites. After herbal parasite treatment, gliadin levels are reduced.
27:16 Hydrocortisone: Dr. Nickels’ clinics prescribe hydrocortisone. It used to be an OTC supplement which made a great many people feel better. Now they require a prescription.
28:59 When to Use What: With borderline low cortisol, Dr. Nickels looks to adaptogenic herbs. When cortisol levels are low, hydrocortisone will help the patient feel better. You can have low cortisol level and not have adrenal fatigue. Hydrocortisone allows the adrenals to rest. Adrenal support may consist of like glandulars, providing sustenance to the adrenals.
32:30 Libido: A borderline free testosterone level may mean that there is a great deal of testosterone bound in the blood. Dr. Nickles will then give a supplement that unbinds the testosterone. Giving testosterone does not mean that it will be bioavailable at the tissue level. This is true of other hormones as well.
34:00 Estrogen and Progesterone: Women often have too much estrogen or the imbalance of normal estrogen, but low progesterone. DIM or Indole-3-carbinol to binds to excess estrogen and eliminates it through the liver. To increase progesterone, she may give pregnenolone, rather than giving progesterone. Until cortisol is supported, adjusting other hormones is moo
37:26 Lifestyle Changes: Find a good naturopathic physician. You need hand holding and guidance from someone who understands how the body works as one integrated system. When people start to feel better, they begin to make positive changes. Meet patients where they are at and educate them. They are the ones who do the fixing.
42:31 Dr. Nickels’ Favorite Supplement: Digestive enzyme is her choice. Everyone has gut problems. Our foods are over cooked and over processed. We don’t have enough enzymes to digest it, leading to food intolerances, food allergies, inflammation in the gut, and leaky gut. Stress also decreases hydrochloric acid production. Supporting the gut is the foundation of health.