MENOPAUSE – I thought this would be over!
MENOPAUSE – I thought this would be over!
There comes a time in a woman's life when she says “OK, I’m over it!” regarding “that time of the month.” I mean for about 40 years there is a natural expectation and toleration of the hormonal roller coaster.
Of course, this also depends on how much bother that one goes through with their cycle. I have seen more tolerance by ladies than I have come to consider necessary regarding the amount of pain and suffering a lady should be going through with their menstrual periods.
DIETARY FACTORS THAT LEAD TO A ROLLERCOASTER RIDE
Ideally, hormonal cycles should go up and down in smooth cycles. When this is not the case, I start to get an idea of the amount of health imbalance and what questions to ask in order to help reestablish hormonal balance in one’s life. Our diet has a tremendous effect on our chemistry and food processing particularly damages or denatured fats. This along with our modern tendency to try to control of mood and regularly “treat” ourselves with food often sets us up for “hormonal disaster.”
GETTING BACK ON TRACK
I find that sugar especially in the form of refined carbohydrates or so called “treats” especially add to the inflammatory aspects of imbalanced hormones. Incorporating a vegetable centered diet, avoiding refined carbohydrates, and incorporating a protein drink such as Inflammation Fighter 1-2x/day is especially beneficial. In this way, one is able to decrease the inflammatory effects of imbalanced hormones as well as decrease the overall sugar cravings.
We nutritionally feed our hormonal system with natural uncooked and unprocessed nut and seed oils. Good examples of healthy oils for your diet are butter (yes, butter), olive, coconut, flax, sunflower, and safflower oils. Other good sources of healthy fats are eggs, fish, nuts, seeds, and avocados. At the same time, we need to avoid those processed food items such as chips, bakery goods, and snacks which contain denatured fats and simple carbohydrates. Essentially, natural uncooked and unprocessed oils are anti-inflammatory (reduces PMS/hot flashes) and man-made cooked and processed oils are inflammatory (increases PMS/hot flashes).
We are creatures of habit and we can be well on the way to establish a good habit in 21 days. With such a cleansing diet one is both nutritionally feeding the body as well as providing the nutrients for the body to eliminate toxins. With the addition of selective Nutraceutical supplements your body will be able to detoxify with minimal, if any, exasperation of your symptoms. For the average person this whole process takes about 42 days or 6 weeks.
REPLACING FAT FALLACY WITH FAT FACTS
We need to reestablish a balance of fats which can be evaluated by a cholesterol or lipid panel blood test. Of interest, cholesterol is NOT the “bad guy” we think it is and in fact it is the foundation of all sexual hormones and Vitamin D. Next, to evaluate hormonal imbalances we need to “follow the money” and see where cholesterol metabolism takes place which brings us to the liver. I look at the liver as the “Factory” of our body. It’s located just under our right ribs along with the gallbladder which concentrates a substance called bile that the liver produces to aid fat absorption. I call the liver the “Factory” because it takes in nutrients that we absorb through our digestive system to make and recycle fat related substances into forms we can use like hormones.
Unfortunately, in our culture our livers are overworked with processed fats, chemicals, and alcohol which lead to many of our inflammatory health conditions. In many people, the first warning sign is gallbladder pain which we treat as a medical inconvenience and simply remove it through surgery (Don’t kill the messenger). For this reason, I encourage people to consume hormone free meats to avoid extra hormones that can cause hormonal imbalances and increase cancer risk. Next, I encourage the use of natural cleaning agents and cosmetics to reduce the burden on the liver and use up our nutrients to recycle substances rather than for keeping us healthy.
Once a person understands their part in consuming a healthy diet and avoiding toxins I can then ensure better results through rebalancing hormones. I like to start off by getting a hormone baseline from either a single blood test if a woman is having either regular or no periods. If instead, a woman is having irregular cycles than taking multiple saliva samples allows me to get a better picture of her hormonal variations. With occasional hot flashes and night sweats throughout the week herbal supplements and /or generic progesterone formulations often are effective. When a woman is suffering from frequent hot flashes and night sweats the use of tailored plant based natural hormonal replacement is both appropriate and more effective.
IS YOUR BACK OUT OF WHACK
At all levels of hormonal imbalance I also like to combine additional oils to the diet along with herbal liver support which gives better results because it is supporting the liver's role in hormonal control. Next, as an Osteopathic physician I would be amiss if I did not consider the effect of musculoskeletal tightness and restrictions that compromise blood and nerve circulation to the pelvic organs. I find most ladies with chronic hormonal imbalances to have a history of a fall or injury along with physical findings of restriction and tenderness in the low back and/or pelvis. A common example is a history of a fall on the tailbone with significant tenderness along the tailbone and pelvis. When found musculoskeletal therapy is quite effective in providing relief through increased mobility and circulation.
Another treatment modality that I find quite effective for hormonal imbalances is Acupuncture. Acupuncture also is known for its ability to increase circulation and to rebalance hormonal organ function. It also has a long history for pain relief and can be combined with musculoskeletal therapy by additionally treating those tender points found. Finally, another benefit of using either musculoskeletal therapy or Acupuncture is that increasing circulation allows for better delivery of nutrients and medication. Better delivery of nutrients and medication then allows for quicker healing and resolution of symptoms.
Yes, Hormones have a purpose. They help define our lives, sexuality, mood, and memory. Optimal dietary intake helps regulate our hormones and minimizes imbalances. I find that the use of nutritional supplements, herbs, natural plant based hormones, musculoskeletal therapy, and Acupuncture tailored to a woman's needs provide excellent relief in the majority of patients. Hormones when properly balanced can define you without limiting you!!!