Nancy Russell, MD - Pursuing  Healthcare You Deserve    October 2011

In This Issue


From the Desk of Dr Nancy 

 Be Wise About Menopause



Dr's Public Appearances



What is an HSA? And how can it help?

The new trend in Health Savings Accounts


Quote of the Day








Combined Health Care Office


CHCP Order Products



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Be Wise About Menopause 

 Nancy Russell, MD


In her book, “The Wisdom of Menopause,” Christiane Northrup, M.D. challenges conventional medicine. Dr. Northrup says, “The change” or menopause is not simply a collection of physical problems to be “fixed”- whether with hormones or herbs-but a mind-body revolution that brings the greatest opportunity for growth. There is a connection between menopause and a woman’s emotional and spiritual life. The choices a woman makes at this time in her life, from the quality of her relationships to the quality of her diet, either secure her health and well-being for the rest of her life, or put her future at risk.”

Menopause is defined as no menstrual periods for 12 months. The time prior to actually stopping your periods and starting to have symptoms of hormonal changes can be 5 to 10 years. This pre-menopausal time is caused by a decrease in progesterone and therefore the estrogen hormone is dominant. Estrogen dominant symptoms can include: irregular menstrual periods, excessive bleeding with periods, bloating, breast swelling and tenderness, mood swings like irritability and depression, weight gain around the middle and hips and premenstrual headaches.  Other estrogen dominant symptoms include ovarian cysts, cystic and lumpy breasts, endometriosis, anxiety and easy to anger.

Some women have minimal symptoms of pre-menopause and just glide through gracefully. These women handle stress well, have a healthy life style and positive relationships. The next step in the “change” is to stop having menstrual periods and estrogen drops off rapidly over a few weeks to months. Low estrogen symptoms can include: hot flashes, night sweats, non-restful sleep, heart palpitations, fuzzy thinking, vaginal dryness, low sexual drive and moodiness. Low testosterone often accompanies or precedes the drop in estrogen and can cause symptoms of decreased sexual drive, decreased overall energy and stamina, decreased ability to build muscle and thinning pubic hair.

Another reason for all of these varied symptoms can be caused due to stress on the thyroid and adrenal glands, as well as the brain neurotransmitters during pre and post menopause. With our stressful life styles, many women start into menopause with exhausted resources. The most common stressors that women may face at this time are: excessive, unremitting worry, anger, guilt, anxiety or fear, depression, excessive or lack of exercise, exposure to toxins, chronic allergies, overwork, late hours, insufficient sleep, surgery, chronic illness or unhealed trauma or injury.

Because of the significant impact menopause may bring to women’s lives, there are many and varied treatment possibilities. Start by being proactive and work on lifestyle factors. If you are still experiencing significant symptoms, there are herbs and over the counter natural progesterone creams that can be very effective. Dr. Christiane Northrup’s book, “The Wisdom of Menopause” has several considerations for menopause, as well as adrenal and thyroid support.

If all lifestyle and nutraceutical approaches are not successful, then a balanced approach using individualized bio-identical hormone replacement can be considered. These prescription strength hormones are prescribed by physicians and prepared by compounding pharmacies using extracts from soybeans and yams. The molecular structure of these hormones are designed to be an exact match to the human body. These bio-identical hormones can be given in several forms, including capsules, troches, creams or suppositories. Even though they are natural, monitoring of hormone levels is advised as well as annual gynecology exams. Side effects can occur, so normal precautions and close monitoring by a physician is recommended.

When it comes to hormone replacement therapy, the science we look to for answers can be inconsistent, influenced by market forces, and confusing to researchers, physicians and patients alike. As Dr. Northrup says, “The blessing is that this dilemma forces us to tune in more fully to our inner wisdom, and to make our choices in full partnership with our intuition and intellect. This approach to menopause is the essence of feminine wisdom.”

Approaching menopause in not an easy, one-size-fits all answer. Some women may need or want hormone replacement therapy, some simply don’t! In my practice of medicine, I enjoy a partnership with women on their journey through menopause; assessing their individual situations, educating about the details, and guiding them in their choices. The choices may be nutritional and herbal support, thyroid and adrenal support, neurotransmitter support, prescription hormones, emotional and spiritual growth or a combination of these approaches. My recommendations are: educate yourself, add a large dose of intuition, prayer and meditation, and feed and exercise your body well. Yes, you can proceed through this transition with boldness, poise and grace.


Healthcare Options



 What is an HSA?  Why is it valuable?

Holly Mikkelsen



Do you want to be proactive with your health and be optimally well? Would you like to make choices and alternative options for your health and wellness? Because of the expenses involved, a person may choose to go with a drug or surgery as it is covered by their health insurance plan. If you would like to have more choices, such as a holistic physician, acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal supplements, etc, a Health Savings Account may be the answer. With a Health Savings Account, you can use it for most any medical service, even if it is not covered by your health insurance plan. It may also be used it to pay your deductible. Many patients in my practice use these accounts to have less out of pocket costs. 

Health Savings Accounts,  also known as an HSA is a tax-advantaged savings account used for medical purposes that is available to taxpayers in the United States who are enrolled in a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP, which is a health insurance plan with minimum deductible of $1,200 for self-only coverage or $2,400 for a family coverage).  To be eligible for a HSA account, you must be covered by a qualified HDHP, must not be covered by other health insurance (does not apply to specific injury insurance and accident, disability, dental care, vision care, long-term care), is not enrolled in Medicare, and can’t be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

The total contributions are limited annually but the contributions to your HSA can be made by you, your employer, or both. All deposits to an HSA become the property of the policyholder, no matter the source of the deposit. Funds deposited but not withdrawn each year will carry over into the next year. If you were to end your HSA-eligible insurance coverage, you will loss eligibility to deposit further funds, but funds already in your HSA will remain available for your use. 

Advantages of having a HSA account includes: Security, Affordability, Flexibility, Savings, being in control of your decision making process, Portability, Ownership and Tax Savings. Tax savings include: 1.Tax deductions when you contribute to your account 2.Tax- free earnings through investment 3.Tax-Free withdrawals for qualified medical expenses. For More information about Health Savings Account, including answers to frequently asked questions, and links to other helpful web sites, you can visit Treasury’s HSA website at

For more information on obtaining an HSA in the local area, go to In a marketplace saturated with insurance, it can be difficult to find an agency who really believes in the power of consumer-driven health plans. OFM Benefits Consulting, LLC is a Kansas City-based independent insurance agency offering affordable health insurance policies for both individuals and companies. These plans offer lower monthly premiums and provide triple tax-advantaged savings mechanisms for investing the difference. They are the local experts on HSA qualified health insurance plans and will help you make the transition by offering consulting and administrative services including: Sourcing the best insurance carrier, comparing your options with your current health insurance plan, policy set-up, locating the right bank, business services such as  employee training, account management.

Empower yourself, take responsibility for your own health and make it more affordable for you and your family. Research you options and check out whether an HSA is right for you. 



Quote of the Day



“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

- Steve Jobs, Apple Founder (1955 - 2011)