Supplement Spotlight: Viracid By Hope Placher, PA-C, MMS

525_ViracidDo you know that most common etiology of the common cold is a virus? Over the y
ears It is has become common practice to utilize a short course of an antibiotic to clear the miserable symptoms of a cold. The reality is that an antibiotic cannot kill a virus. They simply give us a false sense of security that we are doing something to rid our body of illness faster. Antibiotics do have the potential to kill precious bacteria living in the digestive tract, thereby weakening the immune system.   If you are looking for assistance to facilitate the body’s natural defense system to eradicate a virus – look to Viracid. It has been clinically proven to rev up the immune system to fight viral infections. Viracid is to be utilized at the first signs of a cold. It provides a powerful combination of key nutrients and botanical extracts to provide immediate support for immune challenges. Suggested dosing is 1-2 capsules per hour, while awake, until symptoms improve.

                                                                                             Hope Placher, PA-C, MM

Why I love the Patient Portal

There are so many reasons to love the patient portal:

I don’t know about you, but playing phone tag when I’m trying to set an appointment, ask a question or refill a prescription sure can be inefficient.  That’s why the Couri Center has a patient portal for private, secure messaging at your convenience 24/7.

Here are some of the features and benefits of our patient portal:

  • 24/7 Convenience
  • Mobile compatibility
  • Communicate with your provider
  • View & request appointments
  • Retrieve test results
  • Request prescription refills
  • View personal health information
  • Billing inquiry and statements
  • Referral requests

How do I get access to the patient portal?

If you are not already a registered portal user, please call 692-6838, we are here to help.


Sausage and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Screenshot 2015-10-28 11.17.22Serves: 4


  • 2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound pork sausage
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced apple
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Drizzle acorn squash halves with ½ tablespoon olive oil per squash half. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender.
  3. While the squash is cooking, heat a large sauté pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the sausage and brown. Add the onion, celery, garlic, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is tender and translucent.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped thyme and rosemary. Stir in the quinoa, apples, and dried cranberries. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Scoop the mixture into the roasted acorn squash halves. Top with Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Serve hot.

The Great Meat Debacle by Leslie Rusch-Bayer, RD, LDN, CPT

Screenshot 2015-10-28 11.00.10On Monday, October, 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a press release announcing a link between red and processed meats and colorectal cancer as well as pancreatic and prostate cancer. The research measured the carcinogenicity, or the ability of a substance to cause cancer, of these meats. Processed meats, including “all meats that have been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking or other processes to enhance flavor,” were classified as “carcinogenic to humans based on sufficient evidence.” This classification is also known as Group 1. Tobacco and diesel engine exhaust are also found in this category. Experts concluded that with every 50g portion of processed meat consumed, ones chance of cancer increases by 18%.

Red meat has also been classified as “probably cancer causing.” This risk category is shared with the herbicide glyphosate.

What are we supposed to eat at the ball park now? Before we completely give up on the American dream of eating hot dogs at the ball park and enjoying a burger over Labor Day, let’s analyze the research, recommendations and what we already know.

First, we know that no one piece of research is perfect. There are always flaws. This is why research continues. One study’s findings will lead to the beginning of additional research.

This particular study had problems separating diet from other lifestyle factors that influence cancer such as smoking and exercise. Humans are so complex that it is impossible to study mass amounts of people who all eat the same, cook the same, exercise the same, work the same, etc.…

The quality of red meat was addressed in the research, but overlooked by most forms of media. The research committee states: “there was no clear association seen in several of the high quality studies.” Interesting.

Food for thought: what if the actual red meat was not the carcinogen, but what the “meat” itself is eating, or perhaps what is used to preserve such meat is the true culprit. The glyphosphate mentioned earlier is a broad spectrum herbicide used to kill weeds found around commercial crops. (Otherwise known as Roundup®) Commercially raised cows and pigs tend to eat crops treated with…herbicide. Hmmm…

If the associated with cancer decreases when the quality of meat increases, is it really the meat causing the cancer? The statement claiming processed meats cause cancer also follows this theory. Major companies that process hot dogs, salami, and luncheon meats use preservatives like sodium nitrate to extend the shelf life of the meat, and help the meat keep its lovely pink color. The USDA has approved this food additive even though it has been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer…interesting.

Now I would never tell anyone to eat a diet full of cheap, processed meat products, let alone red meat. However, I would advise the general public to eat a diet rich in plants with small amounts of high-quality, organic and grass-fed when possible, meat and dairy products.

Again, please do not panic when treating yourself to a processed or red meat. I would recommend you be mindful of the amount you eat and know the in’s and out’s of your favorite food companies, farmers and meat markets. Major brands spend lots of money on marketing, not on the quality of their products. Remember: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” –Michael Pollan

Leslie Rusch-Bayer, RD, LDN, CPT

International Agency for Research on Cancer/World Health Organization Press Release 10/26/15


Personalized Weight Loss – the Future is Here. By Dr. Michele Couri, MD, FACOG, ABIHM

Screenshot 2015-10-26 21.51.16“Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are.”    -Rachel Naomi Remen                                                                                 

Let’s face it, there is intense societal pressure that impacts our perception of how we should look, how we should dress – unremittingly striving for the “perfect image” at all cost. And our weight is often at the core of our journey to self-improvement. But weight loss can be arduous and often fleeting. To make it worse, there are a myriad of programs “promising” successful weight loss, so it can be overwhelming as to where to start. My personal opinion is that the key to successful weight loss is that it must be individualized. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to shedding pounds. Programs that offer the same protocol for every patient may bestow short-term results, but sustainable weight loss requires a more thorough, unique approach.

This future of weight loss must be customized and individualized. This is no different than any other aspect of health care. What works beautifully for one person may sabotage someone else’s success. The key is that each and every one of us are complex individuals with a unique set of factors – our own metabolism, microbiome, hormone balance, nutritional status, and genetic makeup. All of these variables affect our ability to lose weight, and now with advances in laboratory testing, these variables can be objectively evaluated and treated. It is like having in our possession a precise GPS system for the journey versus an outdated atlas from ten years ago.

We at the Couri Center are excited to unveil our new Weight Loss Program that incorporates all of the key elements that address our individuality. Our program is different in that it analyzes several key factors that influence one’s ability to lose weight. Let’s take a closer look.

Many weight loss programs require taking various supplements. Often, however, the supplements recommended are virtually the same for every person who signs up for the program. There is no “nutritional individuality” whatsoever. Being able to identify each person’s nutritional deficiencies refines the weight loss process considerably because deficiencies of nutrients can negatively affect metabolism leading to little to no weight loss despite heroic efforts.

What about metabolism? We all curse it when we feel it isn’t working up to par. But can it be objectively measured? Absolutely and we do it on every patient. Having the knowledge about your body’s metabolic state allows us to more precisely design a fitness and recovery program for you.

How does our gut health affect our ability to lose weight? It all relates to our microbiome, the balance of trillions of beneficial bacteria in our gut that influence how we burn fat, metabolize hormones, process toxins, along with countless other critical jobs. It is very difficult to pick up a magazine or search the web these days and not see something written about our microbiome. The microbiome’s ability to affect caloric energy use and the absorption of nutrients from our diet is paramount. Our microbiome is as uniquely different as our fingerprints. No two are alike, so therefore, it must be evaluated to ensure successful weight loss.

No gynecologist would deny the importance of hormonal balance as it pertains to our ability to lose weight. One of the areas that I am most passionate about is the impact that hormonal balance has on quality of life and disease reduction. Once we achieve hormonal balance, weight loss becomes a much easier endeavor. Of course, hormonal balance is at the cornerstone of our weight loss program.

Lastly, how does our genetic makeup influence whether we shed pounds easily or struggle at each step. A new area of research entitled “nutrigenomics” is the study of how different foods can interact with particular genes to decrease the risk of certain diseases. Certain genes can predispose to weight gain. However, adjusting certain lifestyle factors can determine whether those genes turn on or not. Having access to this genetic information is another tool in our toolbox to personalize your weight loss prescription. Also, food sensitivities can sabotage one’s ability to lose weight by creating gut dysfunction, microbiome imbalances and inflammation. Testing for such sensitivities is another way that we can personalize your experience for greater weight loss.

This progressive program requires an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the complexity that makes us uniquely human. Our Integrative and Functional Medicine training prepared us well to deliver this kind of care, and we have the ability to leverage the latest scientific research and laboratory testing to develop a personalized approach that will work for you. Our team would love to help you achieve your weight loss goals.

To Your Health,

Dr. Couri

Quote Deepak Chopra


Breast Cancer Screening By Terry Polanin, MSN, APN

Screenshot 2015-10-28 09.18.44

Breast Cancer Screening

I recently attended the University of Illinois and Susan G. Komen co-sponsored, Eighth Annual Breast Cancer Symposium, 2015 in Peoria, IL.  For the past eight years, these organizations have jointly sponsored well respected speakers from around the country to bring continued education to professionals in the area relative to breast cancer prevention, early detection, and the most up-to-date treatments for breast cancer. I want to share excerpts on the topic of “Controversies in Screening Mammography” addressed by Dr. Tara Henrichsen, MD, and Program Director of the Radiology program at Mayo Clinic.

October was Breast Cancer Awareness month. We have all been impacted by breast cancer—family members, loved ones, friends, even ourselves. One in every eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime and there will be 231, 840 new cases of invasive breast cancer in 2015. The wonderful news is—the five year survival rate in the 1960s was 63% but today it is 89%! We have come a long way, indeed.

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. Screening mammograms are obtained to detect breast disease in women without any symptoms (or those that do not appear to have breast problems). Diagnostic mammograms, on the other hand, are used to diagnose breast disease in women that do have breast cancer symptoms, have a lump identified by themselves or their provider, or have an abnormal result on a screening mammogram. Most often, a digital mammogram (an image of the breast recorded on the computer instead of x-ray film) is obtained. The newer type of mammogram is called a breast tomosynthesis or 3D mammography which is a done by a machine that takes many low-dose x-ray images as it moves over the breast. Those images are recorded on a computer into a 3-dimensional picture allowing doctors to see problem areas more clearly.

A mammogram is performed to find cancers that can’t be felt by the woman or her provider. Often, if the mammogram shows an area of concern, the radiologist will suggest an ultrasound to further evaluate the area of concern.   To confirm whether an abnormality seen on a mammogram is cancer, a small amount of tissue must be removed which is called a biopsy. A biopsy looks at the tissue under a microscope to determine if there is cancer.

A breast ultrasound can also be performed if a woman has dense breasts. Dense breasts are more common in younger women. At this time, the American Cancer Society guidelines do not contain recommendations for additional testing to screen women with dense breasts. In some states, legislation has been passed to allow ultrasound to be performed and covered by third party payers, but Illinois does not currently have this law.

Over the past few years, you may have asked yourself or your provider: “When should I get a mammogram? What age should I begin and how often should I get a mammogram?” This has been a controversial topic since the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) drafted their breast cancer screening guidelines recently updated April, 2015. Basically, the USPSTF suggests that younger women do not need to be screened until age 50 if they have no abnormalities in their breasts nor any strong family history of breast cancer, and then only every two years. They have suggested that the most likelihood of developing breast cancer is between the ages of 50 and 74, therefore stopping screening at age 74 if there have been no abnormalities or strong family history of breast cancer. This has been very controversial in the medical community and Dr. Henrichsen from Mayo Clinic addressed the topic at the recent symposium, endorsing the following guidelines.

Breast Screening Guidelines*

  • Women age 40 and older: Yearly mammograms and continue for as long as they are in good health. Clinical breast exam yearly by a health professional.
  • Women ages 20s and 30s: Clinical breast exam as part of a periodic regular health exam by a health care professional, at least every 3 years. (We, at the Couri Center, prefer yearly exams).
  • Breast Self Exam (BSE): An option for women starting in their 20s. Women should be told about the benefits and limitations of BSE (worrying over “doing it right”). BSE should be performed after the monthly period or on a regular basis. Some women prefer to do a formal self breast exam, others prefer to get to know how their breasts normally look and feel with the goal of both being to report any breast changes to your health care provider for further evaluation if you notice something “different“.

*American College of OB/GYN, American College of Radiology, and Mayo Clinic recommendations.

Dr. Henrichsen discussed the progress and modernization of the mammogram equipment over the years. The first x-rays were in the 1920s. In 1949, the compression mammogram technique was introduced and by 1956 most institutions had dedicated breast x-ray equipment. In the 1960s, xeromammogram (film screen like chest x-rays) was available and by the 90s, we had digital imaging available. Guidelines also have changed.

Dr. Henrichsen and Mayo Clinic radiology department endorsed the 2014 American Cancer Society breast screening guidelines and believes that early detection and screening will impact morbidity (quality of life or being unhealthful). The US Preventive Task Force only used data on mortality or death rates.

With more sophisticated equipment, such as digital mammography or 3D, studies show improved detection and less frequent “call backs” or biopsies.

The controversy has been unclear to patients and health care providers. Recommendations are confusing. Dr. Henrichsen commented on the new research that began in the United Kingdom in July of 2014 concerning the diagnosis of “Ductal Carcinoma in Situ” which some feel is controversial to treat. This study is looking at surgical intervention versus continued surveillance (watchful waiting). She indicated the number of women identified through screening mammograms that have benefited with early diagnosis and treatment compared to women who chose the “wait and see” approach which quickly developed into an invasive cancer of the breast.

Some women worry about the radiation risk with mammograms. The FDA website has a page on “Mammogram Myths” from 2003 which is also a good website to read, if you have concerns. Radiation risk is minimal and might be compared to the risk of radiation from just living in a brick building.

The Symposium also addressed women at higher risk for breast cancer based on family history and other risk factors. Several risk assessment tools are available, such as the Gail Model, most commonly utilized.   These tools are available on-line to assist estimating a woman’s breast cancer risk. MRI and genetic testing are also further evaluations available if a person is at higher risk, but may not be covered by third-party payers.

Basically, the Mayo Clinic and Tara Henrichsen, MD, recommended women and health care providers follow the American College of OB/GYN (ACOG) and the American College of Radiologists’ recommendation to begin breast screening at age 40 and yearly after that, with no age limit as long as a woman remains in good health.

Here’s to your health and happy fall!

Terry Polanin, MSN, APN

Family Nurse Practitioner





Couri Center Wellness Package SALE $125

1Don’t Wait for A New Year’s Resolution!

Save $135 on our Wellness Package

4 Personal Training Sessions + 4 Infrared Sauna Sessions for $125

PUSH yourself to your maximum potential by spending thirty minutes BUILDING, tightening, and transforming your body during your personalized workout session with our Certified Personal Trainer. Follow your workout with an invigorating and relaxing infared sauna session, proven to increase your heart rate and BURN up to an additional 600 calories per session! Cardiovascular conditioning and LOSING weight has never been easier.

Need nutritional help? Add a 30-minute nutritional consultation with our Registered Dietitian to your package for $50, a savings of $25.

Early morning and evening appointments are available, but limited. Reserve you spot today.

Call 692-6838 to schedule your appointments or simply email:

Disclaimer: All sessions must be completed by January 31st, 2016.