It's Time for SUMMER!!! What to do about sunscreen?

Yes. It's time for summer. I know, it's still spring, and I am basking in all of it's glory, but yesterday I went to a baseball game with my kiddo and got my first burn of the season. It's not all that bad- I put some fresh aloe vera on it and it pretty much cleared up over night, but it made me realize that the sunshine will soon be here to stay!

There is a lot of controversy about sunscreen. On one hand, burning is definitely not good for us. It leads to an increased risk of melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma (to name the major ones); On the other hand, many sunscreens contain known endocrine disruptors and chemicals that are harmful to the body.

If you have fair skin, you need to protect it. That is for sure. Burning often is not a healthy option. If you have darker skin, the chance of you getting skin cancer is not zero, but is much smaller.

Those statistics are shown below in rates published by the CDC.

Clearly neither sunscreen or extensive tanning or burning are the best way to go, so here are some suggestions to make sunscreen down the list of burning interventions:

  1. Wear clothes that block the sun. You need about 20 minutes of full sun per day to get in your vitamin D, but after that, you could wear light clothes and a hat to cover yourself.
  2. Find a shady spot. Find a spot that is in the shade for a part of your time outside.
  3. Do the majority of your outdoor activities when the sun is not at it's peak. Honestly, in most countries where it is very warm and/or sunny, this is what they do. People will retire to their homes in the middle of the day when the sun is at its most powerful.
  4. Increase your antioxidant intake and decrease other oxidizers like unhealthy processed foods, soda, alcohol, and smoking

Alas, some people do need sunscreen sometimes, so here are some of the best ones out there with less toxicity and good protection (Taken from the Environmental Working Group Research).

You can always go to the EWG's Skin Deep website and put in the name of your current sunscreen to see how it stacks up. The higher numbers in red are more toxic, while the lower numbers in green are less toxic.

Happy Sunshine Time! Enjoy it!

My Husband, Chris and I in Bali in March 2016.

My Husband, Chris and I in Bali in March 2016.

*Please see your doctor or schedule with Dr. Riegle for personalized medical advice.

What else to do with your 23andMe data

So you have your genetic data from 23 and me. What else can or should you do with it? The amount of information that you get on your genetics should be driven by a few factors. Before I lay out my favorite websites for running your raw code through, lets quickly look at that.

1. Know Yourself: Will the extra information be a source of empowerment or disempowerment for you? Will you take the information that is (most usually) not set in stone and decrease your risks, be aware and get healthier? Or will it cause you anxiety and stress? The only right answer here is the truthful one. Level with yourself.

2. Interpreting the information. This info doesn't do you any good if you don't know what to do with it or how to interpret it. I recommend a doctor who is well versed in genetic information and how to deal with different snps. Some Naturopathic Doctors and some functional medicine doctors know how to interpret this information and give you a treatment plan based on it. Unless you are very invested and willing to learn extensively about genetics, it may be wise to find them.

3. Understand that you may find things that you may not want to. 23 and me gives you information not only on health but on ancestors as well. You are taking a risk that you may find out something about yourself or your family that you weren't expecting to.

If you have made it through all of these, below are my recommendations for what to do with your 23andMe Info!


Genetic Genie

Genetic Genie is by far my favorite. It's great software, easy to use, and the most useful information for most of my patients. Genetic Genie will give you info on your detoxification genetics, as well as your methylation genetics. Both can be very helpful in treatment of many conditions. It's free, but I would recommend donating a bit of money- even 5-10$.



This program analyzes your SNPs to give different disease risks. They will also then show the genes from which they came to that conclusion. There is also some information on how well you might respond to certain drugs, given your genotype. Cost: $5.



This is good for information, generally speaking, and is free, but may not be the best for consumers. If you know a thing or two about P values, it may be useful to you, but it's a lot of scientific information without much explanation. Even so, your doctor should be able to make sense of it.


****Remember, genetic predisposition does not necessarily mean you will get the disease in most cases. Also, I highly recommend you take this information to a health care provider to review with you and create a plan!


*Please see your doctor or schedule with Dr. Riegle for personalized medical advice.

Does the HPV Vaccine Caues Premature Ovarian Failure?


Premature ovarian failure, also called premature ovarian insufficiency or premature menopause, is a disorder characterized by menopause at an age earlier than 40. In most cases, the cause of POI is never determined. This can be caused by a smaller number of ovarian follicles at birth, increased decline of follicles, or the dysfunction of follicles.  It is diagnosed by a lack of a period (amenorrhea) for more than 4 months and elevated FSH levels.

There is been controversy about whether the HPV quadrivalent vaccine, Gardasil can cause premature ovarian failure in adolescents or young women. The Vaccine Adverse Reporting System (VAERS) has over 200 reports of premature ovarian insufficiency as a result of the HPV vaccines. However, the VAERS system is a subjective self-reporting system. Even if correlation is reported, it does not prove causation.

There was also a small case study of 3 adolescent girls that experienced premature ovarian failure shortly after administration of the vaccine in Australia, whose doctors believe were due to receiving the vaccination.

The HPV vaccine has emerged as a possible cause for an increase in POI, however at this time, there is no solid evidence to that end. Doctors are calling for more studies to be conducted to illuminate this issue. The studies that were reported recently have been criticized for multiple reasons, including the following: assessment of the over 44,000 women was based on emergency room visits and hospitalizations, which is not where POI would present; and the control for many of the studies was actually aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate, the controversial adjuvant.  There are concerns that AAHS may itself not be safe, so it was a very poor choice for a "placebo" control.

All of that being said, in my opinion there is not enough evidence as to whether the HPV vaccine could cause POI. I look at every intervention as a matter of risk to benefit ratio. Does the potential benefit outweigh the risks? Every person is different, however, I believe that for most of my patients, the benefit does not outweigh the risk of this vaccine.

Here is why:

  1. Low gradecervical dysplasias have a 95% chance of clearing on their own (according to a 2002 UCSF study).
  2. It takes years for most cervical dysplasias and cancers to develop, so with regular PAPs, we can catch virtually all of them before they become major problems.
  3. In Naturopathic Medicine, we know of many treatments for cervical dysplasias to help them clear.
  4. With the advent of even better testing (co-testing with HPV) we can know about even more potential cases for cervical dysplasias.
  5. We have well studied and proven treatments for cervical dysplasias in the conventional medical system.
  6. We do not currently have enough safety information on the vaccines, and more studies should be preformed on the vaccine.


*Please note that this article was edited for clarity.

Dr. Jen Riegle is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) who practices in Santa Rosa, CA. Dr. Jen specializes in women's health, infertility, and oncofertility. If you live in the Bay Area and would like to make an appointment, you may schedule on our website or by calling (707)-243-8998.

*Please see your doctor or schedule with Dr. Riegle for personalized medical advice.

The Shocking Truth About Male Infertility

Somehow, most of us missed a lesson as we learned about infertility through our social circles, google doc, and even many medical offices. I cannot tell you how many of my patients don't know this fact- when a couple is dealing with infertility of unknown cause (ie before any workup has been done), it is just as likely that the man is infertile as it is that the woman is infertile.

Today, as infertility rates in the United States continue to rise, 1/3 of all infertility is due to males, 1/3 due to females, and 1/3 due to a combined factor infertility. Yet, most of the patients that come into my office dealing with infertility are women, and most of them don't come in with their male partners. I am not blaming the man, here. Our culture, even your doctor in some scenarios, has been telling you that your contribution doesn't matter as much, but I am here to tell you otherwise and change your mind.

Look at your combined fertility in a glass of water. When the glass overflows, you become pregnant, but not until then. In so many situations, I see the woman dealing with her 1/2 of the glass, trying to fill it past full, while the man's half of the glass sits there stagnant. No one told him that he has control over the quality and and quantity of his sperm. Sperm counts, motility, forward movement, and morphology can ALL change for the better with treatment. What I have seen is that even if a man's sperm count or quality is poor, treatments are often done on the woman just to try and "overflow the glass". Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it doesn't. Sometimes, it is a pretty large cost to the woman that could have been avoided.

The bottom line is this. If you're trying to get pregnant, there are two pieces that need to come together to make it work- an egg, and a sperm. Both equally effect the health of the pregnancy and embryo. Each make an equal difference as to whether a pregnancy is actually possible between two people. Thus, the greatest chance of getting pregnant is is both male and female counterparts are working on their health- besides the obvious benefits of working on this kind of process together, which is something I see greatly and positively affecting the health of the couple's relationship.

If you're in a same sex relationship, the same applies for you! Whether you are using donor eggs or sperm, if you are contributing an egg or sperm, you have a chance to not only increase your chances of becoming pregnant, but to have a healthier baby.

Here's the unfortunate part. As of late, with increases in technologies like ICSI, I have seen what I consider a very disappointing attitude from some doctors. "It only takes one sperm for me to get them pregnant. I can pick it myself under the microscope and inject it into the egg I retrieved." I think that this attitude comes mostly from the fact that often, many doctors don't know what to do with issues with sperm.

Fortunately, with Naturopathic Medicine, we have lots of tools to increase male fertility. Acupuncture can also be helpful. Male fertility is important. There's a lot of talk (finally) about it in the medical community now. You'll see lots more from me on it this month.

You can take control of your health. We are here to help.

*Please see your doctor or schedule with Dr. Riegle for personalized medical advice.

Clean Air in Your Home or Office..... From Plants!!

In the 1960s, scientist Bill Wolverton was working with the US Military to clean up Agent Orange and made an amazing discovery. The swamp plants in one of the facilities were actually cleaning the air of the chemical! Since then, Wolverton has led many studies on air quality and the effect of plants.

Assuring that you spend most of your time in clean air is one of the most important things you can do for your health. When we box ourselves off indoors without plants and have all sorts of off-gassing chemicals in the air, it's a quite unnatural experience that our bodies are not equipped to deal with! We evolved with plants around us, and we are finding out just how helpful they are in cleaning the air. Interestingly, researchers working on the NASA Clean Air Study found that it's not just the foliage of the plants that clear toxins from the air, it's the live microorganisms in the soil that are interacting with the roots of the plants as well! Just another amazing example of how the microorganisms that are invisible to the naked eye are greatly affecting our health! You may be familiar with the idea that exposure to a greater microbiome, like having your children play in the dirt, is better for their immune system as it increases their microbiome diversity.

The following are a list of plants that have been studied to remove benzene, trichloroetheylene, xylene, ammonia, and formaldehyde from the air. As I was looking through research, I felt it fairly important to note that almost no plants performed poorly in the studies, and the ones listed and touted as amazing for toxins are often just the ones that have been studied. The same is true for the chemicals studied. Many chemicals have not been studied, but that does not mean that they are not effected by plants!

***Note, these plants are highly effective! You need a couple of plants per 100 square feet of room you are trying to clean.

  • Dwarf Date Palm- Formaldehyde, Xylene
  • Boston Fern- Formaldehyde, Xylene
  • Kimberly Queen Fern- Formaldehyde, Xylene
  • Spider Plant- Formaldehyde, Xylene
  • Bamboo Palm- Formaldehyde, Xylene
  • Weeping Fig- Formaldehyde, Xylene
  • Devils Ivy- Formaldehyde, Xylene, Benzene
  • Chinese Evergreen- Formaldehyde, Benzene
  • Flamingo Lily- Formaldehyde, Xylene, Ammonia
  • LilyTurf- Ammonia, Trichloroethylene, Xylene
  • Broad Leaf Lady Palm - Formaldehyde, Xylene, Ammonia
  • Braberton Daisy- Formaldehyde, Xylene, Trichloroethylene
  • Cornstalk Dracaena- Formaldehyde, Benzene, Trichloroethylene
  • English Ivy- Formaldehyde, Xylene, Trichloroethylene, Benzene
  • Varagated Snake Plant- Formaldehyde, Xylene, Trichloroethylene, Benzene
  • Peace Lily- Formaldehyde, Xylene, Trichloroethylene, Benzene, Ammonia
  • Red-edged Dracaena- Formaldehyde, Xylene, Trichloroethylene, Benzene
  • Florist's Chrysanthemum- Formaldehyde, Xylene, Trichloroethylene, Benzene, Ammonia
Source: LoveTheGarden.Com

Source: LoveTheGarden.Com


Where Are These Chemicals Coming From?

Formaldehyde: "Indoor sources may be combustion processes such as smoking, heating, cooking, or candle or incense burning (1,5). However, major sources in non-smoking environments appear to be building materials and consumer products that emit formaldehyde (5,6). This applies to new materials and products (7) but can last several months, particularly in conditions with high relative humidity and high indoor temperatures" (Source, WHO Guidelines)

Xylene: "You may also come in contact with xylene from a variety of consumer products, including gasoline, paint, varnish, shellac, rust preventives, and cigarette smoke. Breathing vapors from these types of products can expose you to xylene. In some cases, indoor levels of xylene can be higher than outdoor levels, especially in buildings with poor ventilation. Skin contact with products containing xylene, such as solvents, lacquers, paint thinners and removers, and pesticides may also expose you to xylene.

Besides painters and paint industry workers, others who may be exposed to xylene include biomedical laboratory workers, distillers of xylene, wood processing plant workers, automobile garage workers, metal workers, and furniture refinishers. Workers who routinely come in contact with xylene-containing solvents in the workplace are the population most likely to be exposed to high levels of xylene." (Source CDC ATSDR)


  • "Occupational exposures may occur in chemical industries that manufacture: other polychlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons, flame retardant chemicals, and insecticides where TCE is a chemical intermediate, pentachloroethane, polyvinyl chloride
  • Other potential exposures occur in the manufacturing processes of: disinfectants, dyes, perfumes, pharmaceuticals, soaps
  • The following occupations also have increased likelihood of exposure: dry cleaners, mechanics, oil processors, printers, resin workers, rubber cementers, shoemakers, textile and fabric cleaners, varnish workers, workers reducing nicotine in tobacco" (Source CDC ATSDR)


  • "Benzene is formed from both natural processes and human activities.
  • Natural sources of benzene include volcanoes and forest fires. Benzene is also a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke.
  • Benzene is widely used in the United States. It ranks in the top 20 chemicals for production volume.
  • Some industries use benzene to make other chemicals that are used to make plastics, resins, and nylon and synthetic fibers. Benzene is also used to make some types of lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides". (Source CDC)


"The largest source of NH3 emissions is agriculture, including animal husbandry and NH3-based fertilizer applications. Other sources of NH3 include industrial processes, vehicular emissions and volatilization from soils and oceans. Recent studies have indicated that NH3 emissions have been increasing over the last few decades on a global scale." (Source: Study Published in Environmental Sci Pollut Res Int)


Some hints that you might be chemically sensitive to something in your work or home:

New onset of : Allergies, Fatigue, Headache, Rashes, Sensitivity to other products, dizziness, sore throat, respiratory issues (like new onset of asthma or frequent infections).

New:  construction either in your building or around it, furniture, ventilation systems

*** You can also rest for these substances in your body using a simple urine test ordered by your doctor


Other suggestions for keeping airborne chemicals and toxins out of your home:

To reduce exposure to almost everything: Take shoes off at the door – many toxins are in the dirt outside, in the yard, in the street -- contaminated with paint, un-burned gasoline from our cars, buses, styrene particles from car tire disintegration, flame retardant, PFCs, Plastics particles, Dioxins – and they get tracked into and around the home. And vacuum well, often. Get a vacuum with a Hepa filter, and a dust meter. Children and pets are most at risk because they are closest to the ground.

Buy a separate HEPA filter for your home or office



  • How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants That Purify Your Home or Office.
*Please see your doctor or schedule with Dr. Riegle for personalized medical advice.