We all know about the hormonal angst of the teenage years and the hot flashes of menopause. Women are told that during pregnancy they will crave crazy food and that after menopause they will likely have an increased need for lube.
All of this we come to expect as part of the "joy" of being a woman. But what about all the CRAZY A$! S#*T that happens BEFORE perimenopause?
The time when your aging hormones are desperately trying to procreate before your ovaries dry into dust and blow away on a menopausal wind.
I'm not even talking about ticking biological clocks. Again, this is expected. I'm talking about bizarre bumps, growths, and generally unsexy inflammations more commonly found in teenage boys...
As you can probably tell, I am speaking from personal experience. As a health professional, I was SHOCKED when at the tender age of 36 I suddenly began to have problems with unexpected and troubling symptoms such as styes, facial acne, cystic NECK acne, eye inflammation, intermittent CHRONIC insomnia, and fungal infections.
All these inflammatory conditions are signs that the liver is struggling (known as Liver Fire Rising in Chinese Medicine).
I also experienced intermittent tourettes, but that may have been more in frustration from all the oozing and itching than anything else...
All of these symptoms followed a particular monthly pattern, becoming worse as the month went on and reaching a crescendo at the time of my period before ebbing away.
Clearly, they were hormone related but very unexpected for a healthy woman in her mid/ late 30's.
The really interesting thing was when, through conversation with my girlfriends, I discovered that many were experiencing (or had experienced) something very similar at the same age.
If this is so prevalent, then why hadn't I ever heard about it in my 10 yrs of school??
Childbearing and menopause are such huge milestones in our society perhaps the many, many discomforts in between simply get glossed over.
Regardless, I wasn't willing to sit around and wait until my 40s for the symptoms to abate!
Every Symptom I was Experiencing:
were inflammatory (defined as redness, swelling, pain, itching and/or heat). Signs of a liver under pressure, despite a clean diet and lifestyle.
The fact that they were cyclical in nature and followed the course of my period (steadily worsening between ovulation and first bleed) was
A Strong Indication of Hormonal Imbalance.
To give a quick overview, female hormones are produced by the ovaries and the adrenal glands.
Ideally, old estrogen and testosterone are regularly broken down by the liver and excreted. If this isn't done effectively then old hormones are not detoxified correctly and they return to circulation, causing hormonal imbalances in the body.
The three liver pathways responsible for hormonal detoxification are the sulfation, methylation and glucuronidation pathways.
It is important to support these three pathways as well as the adrenals (hormone production and balance) when taking on hormonal imbalances.
Now I could use this post just to regurgitate knowledge and give you the same advice as every other site:
-Eat Cruciferous Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussel sprouts to support liver sulfation pathway
- Eat Whole Grains, green leafy veg plus nuts, and seeds for B vitamins
- Eat High-Quality Meat and fish for methionine, an essential amino acid necessary for detoxification
- Meditate to Calm the Mind and reduce stress (which unbalances hormones and weakens the adrenals)
But what about when you already DO all of this??!
Eating a healthy, whole food diet full of organic vegetables and omega 3s (an anti-inflammatory fat) and low in rancid oils, fried foods, and refined sugar is the basic protocol for treating or ANY health issue, but it's not ALWAYS enough.
I Embarked on a 3 Pronged Treatment Protocol Which Consisted of:
- Supporting the Adrenals
- Detoxifying the Liver
The Above Chart is a complicated illustration of exactly WHY supporting the adrenal glands is so important in hormone balancing.
Simply put, when the adrenals are under stress progesterone is used to make cortisol (a fight or flight stress hormone) this causes a relative estrogen dominance in the body. This is a major cause of hormonal imbalances and PMS type symptoms.
There are hormone tests available and many practitioners prefer to test hormone levels BEFORE embarking on a treatment protocol. However, because of the high price tag, and because an excess of progesterone is rare, I prefer to treat first and then move forward based on symptoms.
My Standard (daily) Supplement Protocol is:
- A Food-Based Multivitamin
- High-Quality Fish Oil (remember DHA from fish oil is the building block for sex hormones)
- Medicinal Mushroom Complex (immune system and general liver support)
I Added In:
- Designs for Health: Adrenal Complex
- Designs for Health: FemGuard + Balance
- Dr. Mercola: Fermented Broccoli Sprouts (for liver detoxification)
If you look up these supplements you will see they have a pretty (as in pretty steep) price tag (particularly the FemGuard).
Why chose a $50 supplement over the $20 available at Sprouts?
Not all supplements are created equal. It's not so much about what is ingested as what is ABSORBED and some supplements contain toxic substances, such as heavy metals. I thoroughly research ALL my supplements on Consumer Lab before purchasing.
WHAT?, WHY? AND GROSS!
Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) is very helpful in both detoxification and relaxation. The mineral salt helps to pull excess toxins out through the skin, (through osmosis) and it is absorbed into the body, increasing both magnesium and sulfur levels, which are then used to support the liver and adrenal glands.
Coffee Enemas (the introduction of ROOM TEMPERATURE coffee into the large intestine) have been used for centuries to help detoxify the body. Because of its action on the liver, it is used for a wide variety of issues ranging from constipation to cancer.
Within weeks every symptom I was experiencing began to clear.
Most specialized supplement protocols should be a minimum of 3 months in duration.
After a 3 month period, try cutting out the extra supplements to see if they are still necessary.
If symptoms return, continue the protocol for another three months and try again.
I discovered through trial and error (and because I'm cheap) that the only supplement I truly needed was the FemGuard
Because this supplement contains substances such as broccoli seed extract and DIM (for liver support) and B vitamins, it was able to support the liver and adrenals, as well as balance hormones. This made further supplementation unnecessary FOR ME.
Note: I share specific supplement protocols in these posts to provide an accurate image of what an effective protocol looks like and how it is created. That DOES NOT mean that these protocols work for everyone. Do your own research, listen to your body and when in doubt ALWAYS consult a professional for YOUR OWN individualized treatment program, something that will be most effective for you.
I'm Sharing All This Because:
A. Many of these weird and wonderful symptoms are not commonly discussed even though they are commonly experienced
B. Unlike my friends, I was NOT content to just sit around until my 40s and wait out the weirdness.
Health problems (however minor) are our body's way of communicating to us that something is wrong and
IT'S IMPORTANT TO LISTEN!
Something can be done, it's usually relatively easy, and there is no reason to be uncomfortable if you don't have to.
LIFE IS ALREADY UNCOMFORTABLE ENOUGH!
If you already know what to do then take action, if not then read, research and ask for help if necessary.
I (and other health professionals like me) are here to support you so take advantage!
Feel free to post any questions or comments.
I'm here to help!
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