I've been thinking a lot about women's health lately and all the ways we can move towards optimal wellness, via a more balanced lifestyle (ya know, Naika...in balance, after all). Clinically, I have a strong interest in the hormonal system, and by extension female health. Having a normalized menstrual cycle is essential for maintaining the foundation of a woman’s health. Many women suffer from a variety of hormonal conditions ranging from painful periods (dysmenorrhea), absences of period (amenorrhea), PCOS, and PMS all the way to difficult menopause transitions, low libido and infertility. Related to these conditions, women may experience really painful periods, irritability, breast and vaginal tenderness, abdominal pain, a variety of digestive symptoms, etc. Each of the above conditions has a unique set of causative factors and symptoms, and thus treatment recommendations. But in general there are many simple steps women could take to normalize their cycles, decrease their toxic burden, adapt better stress management techniques, and reduce troublesome symptoms.
Reducing toxic load: We live in a time where we constantly exposed to various endocrine disrupters in our environment, in the chemicals we use, and in the food we ingest. Here are some simple tips.
- Use clean storage: Use BPA-free plastics, or glassware
- Develop a hydrotherapy protocol where you can physically remove the toxins (i.e, sauna, contrast baths at home, etc.)
- Support the liver- The liver is such an important organ both physically and energetically. The liver literally creates dozens of hormones and proteins. Additionally, all blood passes through the liver for detoxifying. So, it should be no surprise that supporting the liver in its detoxification process is super important. You can do this through foods, such as dandelion root, burdock root, and dark leafy greens. You can also do this with a variety of supplements aimed at optimizing liver function. I can work with you to help you choose the best products.
In Chinese medicine, the liver’s unhealthy emotions are irritability, anger, and STRESS. The liver is also organ directly involved with the genitalia. Stress puts direct stress on our liver, and creates a sort of unhealthy cycle that keeps us stuck. With acupuncture, meditation, diet, physical activity, and appropriate supplementation, we can help mitigate the stress in our life. I can help you create your own customizable stress reduction plan, that fits within your lifestyle.
- Jasmine, lavender, citrus peel and rose tea are wonderful for soothing liver qi, which is what causes us stress in the first place. Adding these to your diet can help ease difficult times for you.
Herbal supplementation: Herbs and nutrients are powerful, and can help with hormonal regulation and symptom reduction.
Vitex: This is a wonderful all-encompassing herb that helps bring regularity to the menstrual cycle. It’s a great place to start.
Black cohosh: This is a great herb for helping women move through the menopausal cycle, as it could help reduce the occurrence of hot flashes. Research shows that is also helpful for reducing the severity of uterine fibroids. It is wonderful spasmolytic that can help decrease menstrual cramps
Shatavari root: This is an ancient Indian herb that is a known aphrodisiac and hormonal tonic. It is known for enhancing fertility and even promoting lactation.
This blog post really just scratches the surface of Naturopathic and Chinese recommendations for hormone regulation. The treatment I would customize for a young woman struggling from PCOS is drastically different from the treatment of a postmenopausal woman with low sex drive. The needles I would use on a woman trying to achieve pregnancy after several failed attempts would be wildly different than the ones I’d select for a young teenage woman experiencing severe PMS and skin issues. Every woman is a unique individual and needs a custom treatment.
However, these are some areas that you can consider exploring in your journey towards more balanced hormonal health!
I can't wait to help you achieve optimal health- mind, body, and soul!
Medical Disclaimer: Naika, the writer of this blog will be a graduated Naturopathic Doctor and Acupuncturist in June 2017. Please do not take this as medical advice, without consulting your certified health care practitioner. Also remember, knowledge is power and your health is your wealth!