Abnormal Pap Smear Results
Abnormal Pap smear results are classified in a number of ways; numerous classification systems have been used in the past with the most standardized being the Bethesda Classification System currently in use at most laboratories and physician’s offices. It can be confusing for anyone trying to figure out what their results do mean.  The most useful information is conveyed by describing the type of cellular changes the cytologist observes from the samples.  Cellular changes or inflammation caused by infectious agents such as Herpesvirus, Chlamydia or Trichimonas vaginalis can also be identified at this time.

There are many naturopathic protocols that can be utilized for the management of abnormal pap smear results.  More can be done successfully in the early stages of dysplasia or even with the “atypical” results.  Even those women diagnosed with malignancies can utilize naturopathic medicine as supportive therapy along with the traditional protocols of surgery and/or radiation therapy.   Options for treatment can be examined and discussed at length without compromising on the future health of the client.

Annual Pap Smear Exams

The Papanicolau test or “Pap smear” is the best screening tool for detecting malignancies of the cervix.    The test was designed to identify abnormal cervical cells and to detect precursor lesions in the cervix.   Cervical cancer is one of the more preventable cancers due to the use of Pap smears, and the frequency of cervical cancer has been steadily decreasing throughout the decades.  There are approximately 12,400 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed each year in the United States; it is still the third most frequent malignancy after endometrial and ovarian carcinomas.   The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that women undergo annual Pap smears and pelvic examinations either at the age of 18 or at the onset of sexual activity.   Annual exams are recommended for most women; even those who have had a hysterectomy.  Less frequent exams can be done if a woman falls into a “low-risk” category. Low-risk criteria include:

  • Onset of sexual activity at older than 20 years old
  • Less than 3 sexual partners (lifetime)
  • Non-smoker
  • Previously normal pap smear
  • No prior history of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) or other STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections)
  • Use of barrier method contraception (i.e. – condoms, diaphragm, cervical cap, female condom)

For these women, Pap smears can be done every 2-3 years after 3 normal annual exam results.   If a woman does not fall into this category, screening should be performed annually.  In the past 25 years, Pap smears appear to have decreased the frequency of invasive cervical cancer by 50%.  This speaks to the enormous benefit of annual exams.  Pap smears and pelvic exams are necessary components of preventative maintenance for all women.

Growing older does not have to mean the loss of health, mind and independence. In fact, research seems to indicate the opposite- by paying attention to lifestyle many older individuals can live active, healthy lives. Nutritional investigations are also uncovering the vital role vitamins and minerals play in age related illnesses. Our physicians will help you create a healthy living program to maximize your vitality.

Cervical Dysplasia

This is most simply defined as “abnormal tissue growth in the cervix”.   The term “cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or CIN” is synonymous to cervical dysplasia.  Through a woman’s life cycle, the cervical cells undergo normal transformation known as metaplasia.  During adolescence, the predominant cells found on the cervix are known as “columnar cells” which are gradually replaced by “squamous cells” in adulthood.  The area where these two cells meet is known as the “squamocolumnar junction”; and this is the area most vulnerable to premalignant changes.  The Pap smear samples the cervical cells at this junction to observe any abnormal tissue transformation in the squamocolumnar junction.

Cervical cancer takes many years to develop and is a slow-growing process, and the progression increases with the severity of the dysplasia.  Cervical dysplasia is preventable and treatable at any stage. The diagnosis of cervical dysplasia at any stage can induce anxiety and stress.  Management of the anxiety is just as important as dealing with the physical condition.  Spontaneous regression of mild and moderate dysplasia are common without or with minimal treatment, but must be monitored diligently over time.  Follow-up pap smears every 4-6 months are recommended for those who want to “wait and see”.

What are the risk factors for cervical dysplasia? One of the main contributing factors to cervical dysplasia is the presence of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).  Approximately 90% of dysplasia is linked to current or prior HPV infections.  There are more than 70 types of HPV which have been identified; most people are familiar with the common plantar warts which is a strain of HPV.    Genital warts, which is caused by HPV, is considered to be the most common sexually transmitted infections.  It is estimated that 40-80% of the U.S. population is infected with HPV; it is very common in certain age groups, such as sexually active women and men under the age of 30.

Besides exposure to HPV, other risk factors include early age at first intercourse (before age 20), multiple male sex partners, male partners who have had multiple sexual partners, not using barrier contraceptives (i.e. condoms), cigarette smoking, vitamin and nutritional deficiencies, decreased immune system, and low-socioeconomic status.  Annual Pap smears are the single most important factor in preventing cervical cancer and detecting early premalignant changes in the cervix.


The concept of regularly cleansing or detoxifying the body is an ancient one. It has become even more important now with our daily exposure to toxins in our air and food. A toxic body cannot effectively absorb nutrients or eliminate waste and when we support the body to function optimally, we greatly enhance our feeling of wellbeing and can improve our overall health status. Common improvements seen by those who complete a detox program are increased energy and mental clarity, strengthened immune function, clearer skin and a decrease in GI discomfort.


Some 10-15% of women of reproductive age have endometriosis.  It has been called the “chameleon disease of the pelvis” for the various presentations that it can have; as well as the fact that there is still no clear cause of this condition.  Fragments of the lining of the uterus called the endometrium somehow become embedded in other tissue throughout the body.  The misplaced endometrial tissue acts like the uterine lining by thickening, bleeding and breaking down as in a normal menstrual cycle.  There is no place for the blood and broken down tissue to leave the body; instead it is reabsorbed by the surrounding tissues.   Endometrial tissue implants become larger and new implants may arise after successive menstrual cycles.  Scar tissue formation is common and adhesion of tissues between one organ to another can also occur.  Bleeding and scarring frequently cause chronic pelvic pain and painful menstruation or dysmenorrhea.

Common symptoms: The most common triad of symptoms are pain before/during menses, pain with sexual intercourse and infertility.  Other symptoms include fatigue, painful bowel movements, chronic bearing down pain, pressure on the lower back and pelvis, vomiting, diarrhea, and heavy/irregular bleeding from the nose, bladder, and/or bowels.  Symptoms of this condition are frequently misleading, and the severity of the symptoms is not a good indicator of the extent of the endometriosis.  Women who have advanced endometriosis may have little or no discomfort, and other women with minimal disease may endure severe pelvic and menstrual pain and even sexual dysfunction.  The symptoms a woman experiences depend more on the site of the endometrial cells rather than the extent or the severity of the disease.

What are the risk factors? The main risk factor is heredity with first-degree relatives (i.e. mother or sisters).  Women who have menstrual cycles shorter in time between cycles and longer in length seem to have a higher risk of endometriosis.  Estrogen excess, a high fat diet, and use of intrauterine devices (IUD’s) in the past or present have also been found to be risk factors.

Current research focuses on the link between the environment, the immune system and the endocrine system (hormone regulation).  There is a link between toxic chemical exposures, such as dioxins which are found in herbicides and pesticides, to the frequency of endometriosis.  Exposure to exogenous estrogen has also increased throughout the decade; with them being found in plastics, detergents, household cleaners, and even food sources – especially beef and chicken which are “plumped” up with estrogen.  This places a tremendous burden on the liver which is the main organ responsible for detoxifying and clearing toxins out of the body.  Estrogen that does not get broken down and cleared out of the body get reabsorbed and recycled with a negative impact.

What are treatment options? Protocols focus on optimizing liver function, as well as the other organ systems of elimination (kidney, bowel, skin), nutritional counseling, nutritional supplementation, and botanical tinctures.  The two primary short-terms goals in treating endometriosis are the relief of pain and promotion of fertility.  The long-term goal is to prevent progression or recurrence of the disease process.

Family Care

In the state of Arizona Naturopaths are licensed as primary care physicians and can treat the whole family.  Because naturopaths are trained in natural medicine and can prescribe pharmaceutical medication your family will have the best of both worlds.  Naturopaths can diagnose and treat many problems such as common cold, IBS, eczema, urinary tract infections, gastric ulcers, chronic fatigue syndrome and allergies.

Guided Imagery

Guided imagery and yogic breathing exercises are very effective for various types of stress, as well as for patients who require support in their healing process from disease. Cancer patients, patients with chronic pain and people with other serious conditions can be helped by brining in this holistic component to their treatments.

Hypothyroidism: An Overlooked Illness

Where is the location of the Thyroid gland and what is its function?The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ that wraps around the anterior portion of the neck and lies just above the sternum (the breast bone). The chief responsibility of the thyroid gland is to produce hormones that regulate metabolism and convert oxygen and calories into energy. In addition, a balanced level of thyroid hormone production is necessary for optimal mental and emotional health.

Subclinical Hypothyroidism: A Growing Problem and Overlooked Illness

Millions of people suffer from a poor functioning thyroid gland and often remain undiagnosed since many physicians rely on blood studies alone, rather than how the patient feels when considering a hypothyroid condition. A proper assessment of hypothyroidism includes not only the lab studies, but also takes into consideration the associated signs and symptoms of poor thyroid function. In addition, reflex testing and resting metabolic rate are important diagnostic tools that are rarely employed in evaluating thyroid dysfunction. Here at Alternatives In Health, Dr. Timothy Visser utilizes such methods along with a thorough medical evaluation to properly screen for hypothyroid conditions.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

  • Constant fatigue and exhaustion
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight despite a good diet and exercise
  • Poor memory and difficulty concentrating
  • Depression; socially withdrawn and excessive shyness
  • Constipation
  • Muscle cramps and muscle aches
  • Cold intolerance; cold hands and feet
  • Dry skin; coarse dry hair; hair loss
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • High cholesterol

Causes and Contributing Factors in Hypothyroidism

  • Chronic inflammation often associated with an autoimmune process
  • Environmental toxins and radiation exposure
  • Chronic stress and illness
  • Side-effects from medications
  • Nutrient imbalances and deficiencies
  • Consequence of treating an overactive thyroid condition

Treatment Options for Subclinical Hypothyroidism

Several treatment options exist to balance and support the pivotal role that the thyroid gland and its associated hormones have in maintaining proper health. The goal of therapy is to restore natural and effective levels of thyroid hormone production. An optimum treatment approach may include the following therapeutics:

  • Natural thyroid hormone replacement therapy
  • A personalized nutritional, botanical or homeopathic formulation to meet your specific needs.

Benefits of Proper Diagnosis and Treatment

  • Improved energy and vitality
  • Increased mental clarity and ending the brain fog
  • Restoration of metabolism and weight management
  • Increased motivation
  • Emotional balancing

Immune Support

Chronic infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia, recurrent yeast infections, recurrent urinary tract infections, chronic fatigue syndrome all point to a depressed and depleted immune system.  The immune system needs to be strengthened and the body brought back into balance.Infections such as HPV, HSV I and II, Hepatitis C, can be treated with natural antiviral agents that also support the immune system instead of suppressing the symptoms.


Change undesirable behaviors such as smoking, overeating and nail biting with the pleasant experience of hypnosis. Transform anxieties, pain, lack of confidence or specific phobias with hypnosis as well. Hypnosis can also be used for enhancing sports performances, speech making and other types of challenges. Dr. Bowers was trained at Milton Erickson Foundation in Phoenix and has used hypnosis for years as a way to help people attain their goals.


Infertility is defined as the inability to achieve conception after 1 full year of unprotected intercourse. As more women delay starting a family until after their careers are established, infertility is becoming more of an issue. Recent research has shown that fertility starts to decline earlier than previously thought, starting to dip around age 27 for women. Naturopathic Medicine has much to offer for improving the odds of conception including botanical medicines, homeopathy, acupuncture, and nutritional supplements.

Working with Infertility is a particular passion for Dr. Williams, having experienced the heartache of the devastating infertility diagnosis firsthand. Dr. Williams channeled her passion for natural medicine and took her health into her own hands. Solely using Naturopathic therapies, she and her husband were able to achieve pregnancy after “experts” told them it would never happen naturally.

*UPDATE: We are pleased to welcome Dr. Williams’ beautiful baby boy, Rhys, born June 28, 2004. Congratulations to the Williams Family on their NATUROPATHIC MIRACLE!

Life Coaching

What Is Life Coaching?

Life coaching, as defined by the International Coaching Federation:

Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives. Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has

By working with a life coach, you can:

  • Rediscover your talents and gifts (or discover new ones)
  • Find work that you love and are passionate about
  • Renew joy and depth in your relationships
  • Deepen your sense of self-confidence and determination
  • Replace limiting belief systems that keep you from your power
  • Bring more fun, energy and balance into your life


Therapy focuses on recovery from old wounds.

Life coaching focuses on evolving & moving forward toward joy and happiness.

Therapists are experts in medical sciences and diagnosing conditions.

Life coaches are experts in developing their clients’ strengths, talents and potential.

Therapy is geared towards clients in crisis, pain or suffering.

Life coaching is for individuals who have accepted their past, have taken responsibility for their life and are ready to move fully into their future!


Lifestyle Enhancement

Living a healthy, happy life requires continuous awareness, and perhaps modification, of your exercise routine, your stress level, and your diet. Let our doctors help you achieve your goals through the use of nutrition, hypnotherapy, mind-body therapies and homeopathy to better handle life’s stresses.


With so much conflicting information about how to safely treat menopausal symptoms, it is wise to consult a Naturopathic Physician. Many women respond well to botanical medicines and nutritional supplements, along with diet and exercise, to transition comfortably into menopause. Naturopathic Physicians can compound individualized natural hormone prescriptions, or Bio-Identical Hormones, to manage your symptoms. Dr. Williams will work with you in a health partnership to determine which approach is most effective for you based on individual, genetic and lifestyle factors.

Nutritional Therapies

Many of the chronic health problems that plague Americans today are the result of poor diet and lifestyle choices. Illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer, and gastrointestinal problems develop as a consequence of the foods we choose. By changing our diets and adopting a healthy lifestyle, we can often change or reverse the course of an illness and restore health.

Surgical Recovery Support

Surgical procedures put stress on the body, but that stress can be minimized. The speed and effectiveness of the healing process can actually be influenced – by giving your body the proper nutrients you can decrease swelling, trauma and healing time dramatically. Dr. Mercedes Williams has created a protocol to help patients heal more quickly and effectively. Now you can get back to your daily activities and feel your best more quickly that you ever thought possible.

You’ve made the commitment to have the surgery, now make the commitment to yourself to do all that you can to achieve the best results possible.

The protocol ideally begins prior to surgery to prepare the body and build up the immune system while providing optimal nourishment and hydration for more effective recovery. If you are not recovering from a procedure as quickly as you would like, treatments have been found to be helpful weeks, even months after surgery. A unique protocol can be created for you after surgery to maximize healing.

The first few weeks after surgery are a crucial time for healing. When provided with the proper essential building blocks for healthy new tissue, the body has the tools necessary to rebuild effectively and beautifully.

After surgery it is sometimes necessary to supply nourishment by a route that bypasses the digestive tract, such as intravenously, rather than by mouth. This is especially true to ensure adequate dosing is being received of the key vitamins and nutrients needed to rebuild strong, healthy tissue.

This all-inclusive protocol created by Dr. Williams includes IV therapies, homeopathic remedies and potent natural anti-inflammatories to speed healing. This protocol was designed to:

  • Minimize swelling and bruising
  • Shorten recovery time
  • Provide the body with the key building blocks for the formation of healthy new skin and collagen
  • Speed the rate at which nerves regenerate, diminishing the loss of sensation
  • Decrease the body’s physical response to stress
  • Decrease post-operative nausea
  • Aid in wound healing

Women’s Health

Alternatives in Health has a special interest in the health of women. Treating many conditions and health concerns unique to women, we take strive to stay on the cutting edge of medical advancements. Offering natural and integrative treatment for:

  • Routine annual exams
  • Irregular menses
  • Infertility
  • Menopause
  • PMS
  • Abnormal pap smears
  • Cervical dysplasia
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibroids



Alternatives in Health

Acupuncture May Ease Severe Nerve Pain Associated With Cancer Treatment

Cancer patients treated with taxanes, vinca alkaloids, or platinum compounds can develop a condition known as chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy, or CIPN for short, as a by-product of their treatment. These powerful drugs can damage peripheral nerves, particularly in the calves and feet, which can result in severe nerve pain and/or difficulty walking. As yet, there is no effective antidote. Read More: Acupuncture May… Read More

DNA System Developed to Identify and Authenticate Plant Species

ScienceDaily (Nov. 23, 2011) — A pioneering system which uses a plant’s DNA to identify and authenticate a species has been developed in Leicester. Experts from De Montfort University (DMU) have developed a method which can detect the use of illegal or counterfeit plants in medicine and could also be used to boost conservation by identifying and monitoring the exploitation of endangered plant species. Read… Read More