Gastroenterology Specialty at Hill Park

We hope this finds you well and enjoying the final days of summer. We’re reaching out with some exciting news that Dr. Eric Yarnell, ND is now seeing patients for gastroenterology concerns!

As the author of the definitive textbook of naturopathic Gastroenterology, The Natural Approach to Gastroenterology, he is one of the preeminent practitioners and teachers of gastroenterology in the naturopathic profession. As a professor to medical students and doctors for over 20 years, he is much sought after for his expertise from the medical community.

Dr. Yarnell’s specialization includes Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), IBS, gallbladder/liver, intestinal parasites and microbiome imbalance with additional focus in identifying the underlying concerns of chronic diarrhea/constipation, gas/bloating, and abdominal pain. He is uniquely specialized in difficult cases of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis) and undiagnosed digestive problems.

Dr. Yarnell is a noted authority specializing in men’s health, gastroenterology, and herbal medicine. He is known for his extraordinary, compassionate, and personalized care for his patients. As a highly awarded and beloved doctor, mentor, researcher, and professor of Naturopathic Medicine and Botanical Medicine, it’s truly an honor and privilege to have him serve our community.

Dr. Yarnell is currently accepting new patients and will be doing in-person patient care this September.

Eric Yarnell, ND at Hill Park Integrative Medical Center

Eric Yarnell, ND, RH(AHG) (Bastyr University, 1996) is a researcher and professor at Bastyr University and has been in practice for 25 years, focusing on and mentoring student doctors in men’s health, urology, gastroenterology, and nephrology, with a heavy emphasis on herbal medicines. Dr. Yarnell works to find the underlying causes of conditions and to use whatever tools are needed (preferably natural ones, saving conventional approaches only for those few cases where they are truly necessary) to support healing. 

Dr. Yarnell is chief creative officer of Wild Brilliance Press, president of Heron Botanicals, and CEO of Red Root Pharmaceuticals. He is a co-founder of the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in Vancouver, BC. He previously served as chair of the department of botanical medicine at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. 

He has over 150 published medical articles and is the author of many of the definitive textbooks used to teach naturopathic doctors including Natural Approach to Urology 2nd ed, Natural Approach to Prostate Conditions 2nd ed, Natural Approach to Gastroenterology 2nd ed, and the forthcoming Naturopathic Nephrology.

He is a highly desired keynote speaker at educational seminars and has been the recipient of four distinguished lifetime awards in the Naturopathic Profession in recognition for his outstanding contributions to the field of natural medicine, research, botanical medicine, and education.

American Association of Naturopathic Physicians Vis Award (2014)
Naturopathic Medical Student Association Faculty of the Year (2018 and 2020)
Gastroenterology Association of Naturopathic Physicians Borborygmus Award (2020)

“Nothing is more satisfying than really listening to someone’s whole story, and helping them discover and fix the underlying cause of their problem.”

Introducing Dr. Michaela Falkner, ND

Dr. Michaela Falkner is an integrative general medicine doctor with a focus on complex cases and autoimmunity. After completing her Naturopathic Doctorate from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM) in Tempe, Arizona, she was selected as one of five national candidates to complete a prestigious family medicine residency at SCNM. During both her degree program and residency, she focused much of her education on caring for complex cases and autoimmune diseases.

After completion of her residency, Dr. Falkner moved into the Bay Area to start practice and enjoy the beautiful abundance our region offers. Her practice continues to be focused on autoimmunity and chronic illness, though she also specializes in the treatment of hormone balance for thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormone dysfunction. She has a unique literacy in digestive health and uses a multifaceted approach in healing gastrointestinal disorders, normalizing the immune system, and symptom management.

Dr. Falkner appreciates that autoimmunity is becoming more widespread in the population due to the increase in chemicals in our environment and knows that naturopathic medicine fills a niche that has yet to be addressed well by conventional treatments. She believes the core of immunity begins in the gut and often approaches autoimmunity by addressing the digestive system, along with managing symptoms, protecting from future risks, and normalizing the immune system.

As an adjunct to her autoimmune treatment protocols, Dr. Falkner specializes in Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET). NET is a form of physical medicine that helps the body to reduce the impact of stress, as well as its consequent health concerns. She finds this modality is uniquely quick and effective in reducing stress, situational and general anxiety, and phobias, among several other concerns. She often combines NET with homeopathy, herbs, and lifestyle techniques proven to reduce stress for optimal outcomes. Dr. Falkner finds trigger point injections for pain associated with stress to be quite effective in extending treatment benefit and has even developed her own neural therapy technique to interrupt patterns that negatively affect health.

Dr. Falkner has extensive experience in nutritional medicine, intravenous and intramuscular vitamin infusions. She enjoys personalizing nutrient shots and IVs to the patient’s needs and you will probably see her in the IV room and helping out with the nutrient shot clinics. She is also passionate about herbal medicine and known for her thoughtful and comprehensive individualized care.

Dr. Falkner is excited and eager to get to know the patients of Hill Park Medical Center and offers complimentary 15 minute consults as an introduction to her practice. Please call 707-861-7300 to schedule a consult with her!

Small Intestine Bowel Overgrowth

By Dr. Michaela Falkner, ND

Small Intestine Bowel Overgrowth is a common and often overlooked cause to chronic digestive health concerns.

Small Intestine Bowel Overgrowth (referred to as SIBO) is an accumulation of normally occurring bacteria in the small intestine, not necessarily in high numbers, but in a region that they don’t belong. Often mistaken for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), SIBO is the cause of 60% of incorrectly diagnosed cases of IBS. It is generally less responsive to changes in stress and mood than traditional IBS, so while many patients report pretty good results from stress reduction techniques, they still have persistent symptoms.

The research on SIBO is still new, but we know that SIBO tends to result from a few different factors including stagnant bowels and lack of proper movement, lack of sufficient stomach acid, and a few more structural issues. SIBO can also be an indicator or accompany many underlying conditions such as autoimmune diseases, adhesions from surgery, post infections, and many others.

The small intestine is supposed to have relatively few bacteria in it, but due to the above causes, bacteria will set up shop and start digesting our food for us in the small intestine as opposed to the large intestine. This causes an abundance of gas that becomes trappped temporarily in the small intestine until it can move onto the large intestine. This is where many of the symptoms of SIBO originate.

So what does SIBO look like? Common symptoms are bloating (especially after eating healthy foods that are high in fiber and prebiotics), reflux, gas, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, or combination diarrhea-constipation. This bloating is further exacerbated by carbohydrates and sugar. A keynote symptom I often see in patients is that the “healthier” they eat (salads, veggies, etc), the worse the gas and bloating.

Does this sound like you? Have you tried pro-biotics and your gut issues worsened? Have you attempted to eat a better diet only to feel much worse? Do you commonly go to bed looking a few months pregnant, but wake up with a flat stomach in the morning and feel great fasted? SIBO even interferes with your absorption of vitamins and minerals, leading to hair loss, fatigue, depression, and low iron stores.

The best way we can diagnose SIBO is through a breath test. A special diet and fast is followed, then a patient blows into a little bag to establish a baseline. The patient then drinks a lactulose solution and breaths into the bag multiple times over 2-3 hours. The samples are then sent in and analyzed for methane and hydrogen gas. By looking at how much those gases increase over the 2-3 hour timespan can help your doctor determine if you likely have SIBO or not.

If you have been diagnosed with SIBO, there are various things we at Hill Park Medical Center can do to support you. We can provide nutrient IVs to boost energy and immune function to support you while you are undergoing treatment. SIBO often causes difficulty in absorbing key nutrients like B12, iron, and magnesium, which can leave us feeling depleted, so a quick IV can help add those nutrients back into your body.

We have developed our own Hill Park Medical Center SIBO herbal compound that has been shown to be effective to eradicate the bacteria residing in your gut while supporting healthy movement of the bowels. Some of the herbs we commonly use are garlic, oregano, goldenseal, and caprylic acid. We then accompany these herbs with different factors that help “reteach” the bowels to move appropriately such as B6, 5HTP, ginger, and our bitters formula. There are also various diets to explore, including FODMAP, SCD, and elemental diets. This overall approach serves to correct the root cause of the concern and decrease chances of recurrence.

Our doctors have extensive firsthand experience with SIBO and know that there is no one way to correct it. Let us help you to find your solution to the discomforting symptoms, including embarrassing gas and bloating that you might be experiencing! Make an appointment to get started!

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