Naturopath specializing in Women's Health, Hormone Balance, Weight Loss, Fertility, and Holistic Medicine.

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  Contact : 913-888-0331

All posts by Alicia Johnson

Joint pain and weight gain

Is the joint pain causing weight gain or weight gain causing joint pain?

The answer is probably both!

Inflammation can trigger more inflammation. Some inflammatory chemicals actually block hormone sensitive lipase, a hormone that helps you burn fat. The more inflammation you have, the harder it can be to lose the weight. The more weight you carry, the more those joints will hurt.

I remember carrying my 35 pound 1 year old strapped to my belly for 2.5 miles one morning. By the time I got home, my toes, knees, ankles, hips, and back were all achy in a way I had never felt. This must be what it is like to carry all of this extra weight and try to exercise!

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Sugar free and still overweight?

Some people have very low carb diets and still really struggle with insulin / blood sugar problems.

If this is the case for your, consider addressing inflammation and sleep instead of diet. I sometimes see lean, active women with insulin dependent conditions like fatigue and Polycystic ovarian syndrome.

The surprising reason their diets don’t work? Usually either insomnia or chronic inflammation. If your diet isn’t working,

try focusing on reducing inflammation


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Food to regenerate joints

Did you know that we are actually able to rebuild degenerated joints?

We think of wear and tear on joints as being irreversible, but that running injury may still get better.

Supplements like glucossamine are popular for increasing the padding in your joints.

I also like to recommend bone broths, especially to women postpartum.

Bowl of Bone Broth

Turmeric can also be increased in your diet to help regenerate the padding in your joint space. You can take high dose supplements, or try adding it to your food. Keep in mind that a little sprinkle won’t do it. Start by adding a teaspoon to your chicken and veggies. Black pepper, ginger, garlic, and natural fats will make it even more effective.

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5 shortcuts for eating better

Imagine a healthy eating program as effortless as pop tarts and mountain dew for breakfast. We all know we should eat better, but the hard part is actually doing it! I am going to give you 5 shortcuts for eating better.

Your budget and your lifestyle will determine what is best for you.

If you make a plan for success, you can actually make it through this holiday season without gaining 10 pounds!

Planning is the most critical step of your diet:

1. Meals for a Month:

Try a service like Meals For a Month. They give you explicit instruction on exactly what to buy at the grocery store and exactly how to prepare it so that it’s ready when you’re ready to eat. You get all the specifics on how to spend one day cooking all day so you can store the food and be done for a month. You can find paleo, low sugar, gluten free, or vegetarian plans. It changes each month and it is good food!

2. Hire help:

Consider paying someone to do the shopping and help you cut up the food. A neighborhood high school student can probably help for $10. Trust me, the money you save on impulse buys and eating out alone will definitely pay for the help. Don’t believe me? Try it for a week!

3. Salad bar:

Many stores have salad bars and prepared food sections. Package up 10 separate meals at the store while you are not hungry. It is cheaper than eating out and you don’t have to do a thing!

Salad bar

4. Chef:

Use a service like “Evolve”, a paleo personal chef in the Midwest. The food tastes great and the prices are really good. You just order a week of meals or ala cart and you’re done.

5. Meals for a week:

Spend an hour with every part of your kitchen in action! Boil eggs, roast veggies, bake meat, cook sweet potatoes, and chop veggies all at the same time. An hour of prep can make your week super easy!!

Meals for a week

If you know that you will not prepare food, use one of the other resources. I can’t stress this enough: the cost of not eating right on your health is higher than the food. Multiple meds are expensive. Fatigue is expensive. Depression is expensive. Doctor visits are expensive. If you are eating processed foods all the time, you’re not just losing quality of life, your money is trickling out even when you don’t notice it. Take action today. Do a 2 week experiment and just pick on resource.


Meals For A Month
Evolve PPC Meal Prep service
A Friend That Cook
River Market Farmer’s Market

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21 Day Acne treatment

If you want to do whatever it takes

For 21 days, you’re going to do whatever it takes, no matter how hard it is. If you’re not there, go ahead and stop reading. I’ve been there. In that place you would do anything to not look in the mirror and see a disfigured face anymore. I like to think that I’m not vain, but it’s not about vanity. It’s like you feel like there is this disgusting thing standing between you and everyone else that looks at you and it hurts. That’s why I’ve done literally everything you can think of throughout my life. I’ll tell you what to do if you are desperate, and I think you’ll be glad you did.

You have to do all of it 100% if you want to see a dramatic change in a short time.

Have mild acne and want to clear it for something special?

No problem.

Have severe acne and want to see improvement?

This works.

Some holistic concepts, some not. Follow these steps:

  • Start with an oil cleanse at night using pracaxi oil.
  • Spot treat with nizoral shampoo. The active ingredient, ketoconazole, will help block hormone induced changes. You can get this at any CVS.
  • Daily clay mask. I use premier medi body pack. Apply a thin later over acne prone areas each morning and let it sit while you get ready. Wash this off, and instead of using a cleanser after, just moisturize.
  • Use zen med moisturizer if needed. I like this product a lot, but only use the red label products.

This is your daily routine. Now start healing from the inside out.

Before you start, treat constipation 100%. No exceptions!.

I use Priority One Aloe Complex for a strong laxative. For mild constipation, I like Triphala daily for 6 months. I suggest you have both on hand.

Do not continue until you are having daily bowel movements.

Start a 3 day apple fast. This means nothing but apples and water for 3 days. You can have about 10 organic apples in a day. Make sure you are taking a probiotic.

I recommend Ortho 225. It has 225 billion organisms per packet to restore your gut as you flood it with natural sugar.

After the apple fast, you must be gluten free dairy free sugar free. You have to start your day with protein or fat. Eggs are perfect!

Apple fast and eggs! Perfect combination.

Apple fast and eggs! Perfect combination.

Throughout the day, have a 2 liter Wheatgrass cucumber carrot drink. I use plain wheatgrass powder from Starwest botanicals.

Put 1 tbsp of wheatgrass in the blender with 1 liter of water, 3 carrots, and ¼ of a cucumber. Dilute in 2 one liter bottles and drink through the day.

If you want rapid clearing, I also take a cue from a less common practice. Urea is the healing component in urine that has led many cultures to use urine topically for wounds. I know it sounds gross.

Before you think you have to apply urine to your acne, keep reading.

Urea is used in many acne products. It isn’t easy to find alone, so I will often have compounding pharmacies make it for my patients. If you can add topical urea to your program, I think you will be amazed at your additional progress. More information in future blogs on treating the scars once you heal.

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The unknown keys to treating acne

My first trip to the make up counter was at 9 years old. Concealers, foundations, powders, acne washes, creams, gels, and toners filled my drawers. My mother found everything she could to hide my face. In hindsight, I probably looked like a child pageant contestant who did their own make up and costumes.

It wasn’t until I was 22 that I started to learn that acne needs to be healed from the inside out.

I can say with absolute confidence to anyone who thinks “oh, you don’t know what this is like” that yes, I do. If we were going to put skin on a scale of how acne prone it is, mine is a 10. I’ve made experts gasp at the sight of my face. I’m going to share with you some of the things I have learned in my own journey. In a future blog, if I can muster up the nerve, I am even going to share a picture that no one has seen. One breakout that I documented a few years ago that was so bad that I saw a friend in the gym locker room with no make-up and she literally didn’t know who I was. I’ll never forget that moment.

1. Treat the digestion:

When I see someone who has acne all month long, I always assess the digestive system. Treating constipation is crucial in the treatment of acne. Hormonally active waste products are eliminated through the liver and dumped into the digestive system. If they digestive system is stagnant, that junk gets recirculated and can cause multiple symptoms, including acne. If you are constipated, you cannot be successful in treating your skin. You must go every day.

Treat it right

2. Stop sugar:

For some, acne is aggravated by the stimulation of insulin like growth factor on the skin. This means that sugar is your biggest enemy. You MUST keep overall carbs to 120 per day, and sugar to an absolute minimum. If you have cystic acne, I’m talking to you. Fruit counts. Juices count. That coffee drink counts.

sugar? Thanks but no thanks

3. Clean the skin gently:

Consider oil cleansing, especially for adult skin. Give up the teenage acne products that burn the skin. Oil cleanse with Pracaxi oil. Spot treat with acid if you must. There are many blogs online about oil cleansing. It is easy and it works.

Clean skin gently

4. Pay attention to triggers.

Do you have a breakout every Monday morning? Maybe it’s alcohol. After a pizza? Maybe it’s cheese. If you’re not sure but you know it is food related, consider a food allergy test.
Check out my upcoming post on the 21 day acne experiment. It’s only for people who are ready to do whatever it takes.

Food triggers

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Make losing the baby weight easy!

I’m going to tell you my solution to a weight loss trend that we all still believe even though it doesn’t work. Everyone believes it by now. Low far, low carb.

So wait…removing 2 out of 3 macronutrients?? And then we say meat causes problems.

So don’t eat too much. Have protein powder.

Can’t we just say don’t eat? Everyone knows someone who has been successful doing this. I see it over the long term, and that’s why I say it’s ridiculous. The lean meat and veggies only diet is not enough. You will break down and eat desserts and sugar to compensate. Or, you’ll be perfect and start to see fun changes like hormone suppression, thyroid changes, anxiety, hair loss, low libido, depression, insomnia, and fatigue.

So how do we eat right if carbs are bad, protein is bad, and fat is bad?

Step 1:

Step 1 is always eat real food.

Step 2:

carb fast.

  • No carbs after dinner.
  • Protein and fat only in the morning. Eggs are good.
  • Mid morning have more fat if needed (like nuts)
  • Have 30 carbs at lunch
  • Have 15-30 carbs with a snack
  • Have 30 carbs by 6 pm

In a 6 hour period, you get to eat carbs 3 times. That’s not deprivation at all. For breakfast, you have fat. That’s always fun. Why does this work? Remember these tidbits:

  • The longer we go without glucose, the more we repair broken insulin / glucose balance. Only 25% of your day requires insulin balance, so you can repair for 75%.
  • We go into storage mode with too many carbs. Staying under 120 per day means you probably are not going into storage.
  • Weight gain from night time eating is triggered by insulin levels increasing while melatonin is high. Fat doesn’t trigger insulin.
  • You have 8 hours to utilize fat. You have about 2 hours to use carbs or store them.

    Storage = weight gain

This is the basic framework to rapid weight loss that works for many of my patients. I was thrilled with how easy it was after my third baby when I switched to this approach.

Keep in mind, you may still need hormone testing, thyroid testing, nutrient assessments, and a personalized plan. If you have done that and you want faster progress, this works. As always with all plans, if you do everything and nothing works, you need to have an expert test you metabolically to see why.

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Saturated fat

Ever looked at a bottle of human breast milk? What’s floating at the top? A thick layer of fat. That fat doesn’t look like olive oil, right? It looks like butter. Lard. Saturated fat. But surely there’s a little bit of “healthy” oil too, right? Some olive oil? Nope. Maybe we should give those babies a statin with that milk!

The truth is that we were designed to consume saturated fat.

If you believe that the food here on our earth is bad, and that fat in a bottle is good, you’ve seriously been duped.

Points to advertisers, and statins are your consolation prize. Whenever I talk to people about this, they always start asking me about their favorite bottled fats. Salad dressing and hummus.

Am I saying that salads and hummus are bad?!

Let’s just zoom out and get a larger perspective. What I’m saying is that nuts and olives on your salad are good. Olive oil and peanut oil on your salad are processed foods that should be thought of as a treat. How often can you have a treat? My perspective from working with many people who have healed from healed from chronic disease is this.

90% real food if you’re trying to make progress, and maybe you can do 80% if you’re just wanting to maintain your changes without further improvement. 90% of an 1800 calorie diet means 180 calories come from a source that isn’t a “real” food. Saturated fats like grass fed butter, pastured eggs, and grass fed meat can be part of your diet, and shoot for about 50% plant fats as well.

Think nuts, olives, avocado, and coconut. What about coconut oil? I can’t tell you that I’ve done a double blind study of the oil vs just the coconut. My assumption is that cracking the coconut is better, but coconut is saturated fat (more stable) and isn’t as susceptible to changing on the shelf. No fats (including coconut) in nature are exposed to air. Nuts have a shell. Avocado has a skin. Eggs have a shell. Air damages fat and makes it less healthy for us. Saturated fat doesn’t get as easily damaged by air. It’s more stable.

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Think that fight with your husband and blow up with your little one ended when you stormed off?

Think that fight with your husband and blow up with your little one ended when you stormed off?

Think again!

Relationship stressors can elevate an inflammatory chemical called IL6 for up to 3 days.

That means more pain in your neck (literally), fatigue, aches, and even weight gain. Stress has a profound impact on our immune system.

If you have chronic stress and chronic pain, maybe your pain treatments are not helping. If that is the case, start by focusing on stress and mood instead and see if the pain gets better.

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The crucial 3 reasons people eat too much

We all know the feeling of stuffing chips in our mouths way past the moment of knowing it’s time to stop. It feels out of control, and we make excuses and justifications until it feels normal. For some, this is occasional. For others, it’s a daily battle. In my practice, I work to decide what is at the heart of that battle. Once we treat the medical issues, there are still 3 core issues to face:

  • Compulsive thoughts
  • Impulsive thoughts
  • Emotional eating

1. Compulsive thoughts:

Compulsion is a repeating though or idea that forces you to keep coming back to the same place. There’s ice cream in the freezer. There’s ice cream. Ice cream…It keeps going until you can’t ignore it. Compulsion often comes from low serotonin. Sometimes treating food addiction is as simple as identifying why the serotonin is low and how to bring it up. Antidepressant meds are not always the answer. Many even cause weight gain.

2. Impulsive thoughts:

Impulses are the actions that you take without thinking about consequences. You’re stuffed from dinner and never want to eat again. Then you see cookies and instantly eat 5. Regret seeps in but it’s too late. Impulses are often tied to dopamine, which impacts attention, addiction, and mood. Some people are born unable to regulate this pleasure seeking chemical, and those people need some help with that to control the eating.

3. Emotional eating:

Obviously, all three of these issues can overlap. Some people simply medicate with food. How often do you see parents offering a cookie when a child is hurt? In hospitals, they give crying babies pure sugar to calm them down. It works, and using sugar and food is a learned behavior. Unlearning this behavior takes focus and help. On a simple level, find something that “medicates” you and doesn’t do any harm. You may need a therapist to help with that. I recommend that you start with finding something else to bring you joy. If you are not sure what that is and can’t see a therapist, think about a book like The Miracle Morning. I find that process very helpful for finding meaning.

Thinking about food

Thinking about food

Compulsive, impulsive, and emotional eating are at the heart of many weight problems. Understanding this is half the battle so you know where to direct your energy. You may need to have an in depth analysis of your metabolism to understand your eating patterns, but if we overlook the mind, we are overlooking a critical piece of the puzzle.  Click here to book an appointment or a free 15 minute consult if you need to dig deeper.


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