Why am I so out of balance?
Most of my clients come to see me because of hormonal imbalances: bad PMS and mood swings, difficulty sleeping, erratic periods or menopausal symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats. On top of that many of you are suffering from fatigue, mild depression and other symptoms.
The important thing to understand is that there is no one “pill” that is going to “fix” the problem. ALL organ systems in the body are related and influence one another--so it is really important to look at the “big picture”. Surprisingly enough, small changes in several different areas can make big differences in symptoms (see following Big Picture list).
The first thing I do is assess adrenal health and gastrointestinal health. Disturbances in these systems play a huge role in hormonal balance.
- How much stress are you under? For how long? In what ways? What are your coping mechanisms and tools?
- What are you eating, drinking, or lacking in your diet which influences hormones?
- How is your bowel function? Irritable bowel symptoms (Gas, pain, bloating, constipation)?
- What toxic exposures have you had to antibiotics, medications, environmental factors?
- How well is your thyroid working? (i.e. Hair falling out, depression, dry skin, brittle nails, cold hands and feet?)
Hormonally, because of environmental and dietary factors, most women are estrogen dominant (lacking enough natural progesterone to balance excess estrogen); leading to heavy bleeding, erratic periods, PMS, endometriosis, fibroids, bad cramps, breast tenderness and even breast cancer.
Testing and monitoring hormone levels (I use saliva and urine tests), then treating imbalances with bio-identical progesterone or estrogen, can make a huge difference. It is also critical to test thyroid function both with blood testing and body temperature charting. There is a difference between the “normal” range of most laboratories and the “optimal” range, particularly for thyroid.
PMS symptoms tend to be particularly common for women in their thirty’s
and forty’s. Most often related to lack of self care, inadequate
sleep and missing nutrients.
Menopausal symptoms can occur over ten years before your cycle stops.
During this "peri-menopause," it is normal to experience fluctuations
of estrogen and progesterone, leading to all kinds of physical and emotional
ups and downs.
From an emotional/psychological standpoint, menopause is like “reverse
adolescence”. Dr. Christiane Northrup articulates how emotional
issues and trauma, buried in adolescence, will resurface in menopause,
triggered unexpectedly by words or incidents, such as dealing with your
adolescent children or aging parents. This is a time when issues return
to be healed by awakening and tapping into your body wisdom. See my
resource list for many helpful books.
Whether Iím treating PMS, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, libido or menopause I only use bioidentical hormones within a holistic, integrative, functional medicine approach. Itís not ďalternativeĒ, its scientific biochemistry!
Big Picture of Hormonal Health Management
- High quality vitamin and mineral supplements [Multivitamin with minerals, Vitamins C, E, B Complex, B12, Calcium/Magnesium, Omega 3, GLA, extra Folic acid — 5MTHF best form. (See supplement list for recommendations.)
- Eat a low sugar, low simple carbohydrate diet, avoid processed foods, limit caffeine (at most 1 cup/day), alcohol (2/glasses wine per week). Better yet, if you are having issues with adrenal fatigue and major hormone disturbances, eliminate altogether.
- Eat organic if available– especially meat, dairy, eggs, fruits and vegetables. Use vegetable wash on non-organic produce
- Support GI health – consider a detoxification /allergy elimination diet for 4-6 weeks, add probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus daily, good fats such as fish oils and GLA(gamma linoleic) acid
- Test saliva for hormone balance. ( I use ZRT laboratory, Diagnostechs and Genova labs for saliva, blood and urine testing)
- Test blood for thyroid [TSH, Free T4, Free T3, TPO antibody’s] plus basal body temperature.
- Support thyroid function: Take Vitamin A, Iodine, Selenium, Zinc, and decrease toxins / allergens to balance hormones and support adrenals.
- Support adrenal function-(saliva test to measure) detoxify, stress reduction, adequate sleep, good nutrients, meditation, etc. (See adrenal fatigue.)
- Use only biologically identical hormones if needed, from a compounding pharmacy. Use in small physiologic doses, preferably topically rather than orally (less hormone required for same effect, less for liver to process)
- Use herbal approaches: Black Cohosh, Dong Quai, Licorice Root, Ginseng, Chaste Berry, Wild Yam, Soy Isoflavones.ts. (Metagenics Estrofactors, Shaklee -- Menopause Balance Complex plus Shaklee Nutriferon)
- Drink water — clean, filtered and lots of it.
- Rid your house of toxins such as cleaners/ chemicals. Use biodegradable products.
- Recycle everything you can as you will be helping our Mother Earth, who herself is suffering from severe menopausal “hot flashes” and “PMS” (Global warming, tsunami’s, floods) because of human toxicity. Your grandchildren’s health and wellbeing will benefit.
Pay attention to your intuition and the wisdom of your body.
Nutritional Guidelines for Optimal Hormonal Balancing
- Eat “green, lean, and clean” — mostly vegetables, lean protein, organic if possible
- Increase good fats — Omega 3’s from fish oils, olive, flaxseed and nut oils
- Protein for breakfast! Do Not skip meals. LOTS of green stuff!
- No caffeine — wean off slowly, decaf OK, herbal teas preferable
- No alcohol- it interferes with the processing of estrogen, disrupts sleep, affects adrenal fatigue
- No sugar — wreaks havoc on your adrenal, liver and insulin levels
- Avoid all “White Stuff” — white flour, sugar, rice (brown OK), potatoes, pasta , cereal, bread
- Avoid all cow’s milk dairy — milk, cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, ice cream- a MAJOR source of gas and bloating
- Markedly decrease wheat and gluten grains — one of the most common food allergens and a major source of autoimmune problems
- Take a quality multivitamin with minerals, antioxidants and probiotics. Shaklee Vitalizer is great.
2006 - 2009, Margaret Christensen, M.D.