Menopause Relief Part Two: Restoring Balance

Menopause Relief Part Two: Restoring Balance

Why do some women suffer miserably during menopause while others barely notice the transition?

It’s simple.

As our cycling years come to an end our ovaries cease producing progesterone and estrogen. Plummeting hormone levels are the cause of the worst symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes, insomnia, headaches and unstable moods.

However, dysfunction in other bodily systems causes hormonal depletion and imbalances that make the transition to lower levels of progesterone and estrogen more sudden, extreme and harsh.

By resolving underlying imbalances, we can guard ourselves from unnecessary suffering and ensure greater health and longevity for the years to come.

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Heal your gut. Gut health and hormonal balance are intricately linked. The microbiome regulates how much estrogen is excreted from the body as waste and how much remains in circulation. Gut imbalances can cause estrogen to be too high or too low. Plus, bodywide inflammation begins in the gut. Inflammation suppresses ovarian production of progesterone. Low progesterone leaves us more vulnerable to estrogen dominance, not to mention weight gain, mood swings and depression. Poor gut health is, unfortunately, the standard, rather than the norm, thanks to factors like the overuse of antibiotics, poor diet, exposure to environmental toxins and stress. If you want to achieve and maintain hormonal balance, you’ve got to start with your gut

Support your adrenals. If you’re tired all day and up all night, it’s time to heal your adrenal glands. The adrenals have a multi-layered influence on menopausal hormones. First, they regulate our energy rhythms and wake-sleep cycles. Upon rising in the morning, the adrenals secrete cortisol to give you a burst of energy. Throughout the rest of the day, cortisol levels steadily fall, reaching a low around the time we go to sleep. Adrenal imbalances disturb the cortisol rhythm leaving us sleepy and lethargic by day and alert and focused at night when we need to rest. Secondly, the adrenal glands produce some of our estrogen and progesterone. During menopause, our ovaries produce less and less of these hormones. Low levels and imbalances underly disruptive symptoms of menopause like hot flashes and irritability. If our adrenals are healthy, they will produce enough of these hormones to keep us steady through the transition. Finally, chronic stress depletes progesterone as it is converted to cortisol to support an ongoing flight or fight response. Restoring circadian rhythms is key to adrenal repair. Help reset your rhythm by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day and exposing yourself to sunlight upon waking. Exercise early in the day and give yourself time to unwind before bed. Stress depletes the adrenals. We can’t always control the sources of stress in our lives, but we alone decide how we respond to it. Use breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques to ground yourself in the present when stress gets the best of you and boost your stress-coping capacity with adaptogenic herbs.

Check your thyroid. Low thyroid function, also known as hypothyroid, shares many of the symptoms of menopause. A recent study also shows that women with hypothyroid have worse symptoms of menopause. To make matters worse, declining hormone levels can inhibit thyroid activity. If you’re feeling lethargic, gaining weight or losing hair, tell your doctor to check your thyroid. Low thyroid is especially common in women. Experts estimate that up to 1 in 10 women is deficient in thyroid hormones, and half of those who are suffering are undiagnosed. Hypothyroid is a serious health threat, which, left untreated puts you at risk for life-threatening depression, heart failure and coma. Don’t ignore your symptoms if you suspect your thyroid is underactive. 

Fix your rhythm. Sound sleep is fundamental to balanced hormones. If you’re unable to settle in at night, it’s important to find out why and remove the obstacle so you can get the rest you need. Stress is a common culprit. Not only does it cause imbalances in the daily cortisol rhythm, it also depletes our stores of serotonin. When serotonin levels get low, we struggle to get to sleep and to stay asleep. Support your serotonin with stress-reducing meditation and be sure you’re eating the right things to produce enough.

Balance your blood sugar. If your diet is rich in refined sugars and simple carbohydrates, you are likely to be suffering from a hormonal imbalance. Excess dietary sugars cause elevated insulin levels and, ultimately, insulin resistance. The spikes and crashes in insulin are stressful for the body and cause cortisol levels to become chronically high. Progesterone is increasingly converted to cortisol to keep up with the demand. This makes us especially vulnerable to unstable blood sugar during perimenopause, when our progesterone levels are naturally declining. To make matters worse, excess glucose that cannot be metabolized is stored as fat and fat cells produce estrogen. Thus, unstable blood sugar can contribute to estrogen dominance. To maintain balanced blood sugar eat every 3-4 hours, include a source of protein with every meal, eat plenty of fibre, avoid simple sugars and processed carbs and be sure to incorporate plenty of regular exercise. 

Detoxify your life. I can’t emphasize enough how vulnerable we all are to environmental toxins. No matter how careful we are when it comes to our health, there will always be a factor that is beyond our control. That’s because every single day we all come into contact with countless dangerous toxic compounds. Unfortunately, many of these toxins disturb our hormonal balance, including plastics, pesticides, toxic mold, some heavy metals and fragrances and preservatives that are commonly found in self care products. To protect your balance, eliminate toxins as much as you possibly can and support your body’s ability to detoxify. Keeping your drainage pathways open is essential for healthy detoxification.

Reduce your inflammation. Inflammation suppresses hormones and exacerbates symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, headaches and weight gain. Inflammation is often caused by eating foods that are inflammatory. Some foods, like dairy and gluten, are generally inflammatory and should be avoided by most people. Additionally, each of us is susceptible to sensitivities that can cause an inflammatory reaction to an otherwise healthy food. Use an elimination diet to discover which foods are problematic for you.

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I hope you are feeling excited and empowered to take your health into your hands so that you can have greater joy and happiness now and in your future!

If you’re also feeling a bit overwhelmed, I want you to know that that’s perfectly normal.

These are major lifestyle changes we are talking about. They won’t be easy and they won’t happen overnight.

Don’t try to do it all at once. Go at your pace. And remember that the journey to healing is never linear. Be gentle with yourself and never stop believing that you deserve to feel good.

Also, remember to take advantage of the natural remedies for relief of your worst menopausal symptoms in the first part of this series: Menopause Relief Part One: Natural Remedies For Menopause Misery

If you feel encouraged by this information, click the links below to share it with the women in your community who deserve to feel good too.

Menopause Relief Part One: Natural Remedies For Menopause Misery

Menopause Relief Part One: Natural Remedies For Menopause Misery

Menopause is a normal, healthy transition that every woman will experience.

However, the experience of menopause can vary significantly from one woman to another.

Some seem to sail right through the transition from cycling to non-cycling without a complaint, while other women are absolutely miserable night and day.

The truth is that the reason for these differences has to do with imbalances and inflammation in other parts of the body. Balance can be restored and inflammation can be healed, but to do so successfully requires an investment of time and energy along with a willingness to make lasting lifestyle changes.

Addressing these imbalances is important for preventing disruptive symptoms like hot flashes and sleeplessness and protecting ourselves from more serious conditions like osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and dementia. 

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll address remedies for underlying imbalances for long term hormonal balance, but first, I want to tell you about the things you can do right now to relieve your worst menopausal symptoms.

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Speedy Relief for Distressing Symptoms

Discovering and resolving the root causes of hormonal imbalance takes time and commitment, but that doesn’t mean that you have to wait to feel better. Use these practical and proven natural remedies for immediate relief from the symptoms of menopause that bother women the most.

  • Hot Flashes: Hot flashes may seem to come out of nowhere, but they usually follow a pattern. To reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes keep a journal of your daily activities to help you notice connections and avoid common triggers for hot flashes: drinking alcohol, consuming caffeine, eating spicy foods, being in a hot room, wearing tight clothing, smoking or being exposed to second-hand smoke and feeling stressed and anxious. You can take black cohosh, a herb that alleviates hot flashes by supporting stable hormones and supplement vitamin E to reduce the intensity of hot flashes.
  • Insomnia: Sound sleep is essential for good health. If you’re shifting hormones are keeping you up at night, there are several things you can do to improve your sleep. Use a routine to help your body and mind wind down. Start by turning off all screens a couple of hours before you go to bed and dim the lights in your home. Darkness triggers the release of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our wake-sleep cycles, and artificial lighting can interfere with this process. If worries tend to keep you up, keep a journal by your bed so you can jot down things that come to mind so you can address them later. Try sleep-inducing herbal teas, like chamomile, valerian root and lavender.,,
  • Depression: Did you know that one of the best remedies for depression is volunteerism? That’s because when we volunteer our time and energy to serve our communities we feel connected and valued. You can also keep depression at bay by spending time with friends and family. Healthy social bonds are an important part of mental health. St John’s wort is the most popular herb for relieving depression, however, it can interact with several medications, so make sure it’s safe for you before giving it a try. Uplifting essential oils can also be helpful. Try bergamot, grapefruit and neroli. 
  • Irritability: If things that normally wouldn’t bother you have you feeling irritated and frustrated, you’re not alone. Many women report that during the menopausal transition they find themselves snapping at their loved ones, friends and co-workers and losing their patience over situations that really aren’t that important. Avoiding caffeine can go a long way towards soothing frazzled nerves. Many herbs can help us to keep calm, like valerian root, lavender, peppermint and chamomile. Clary sage essential oil is a great choice, as it lowers our stress response. Breathing exercises can help, too, and you don’t have to invest a lot of time to reap the benefits. A simple pause for 10 deep full breaths can be just the thing to keep you cool and steady all day long. 
  • Vaginal Dryness: Vaginal dryness is a natural effect of the decrease in hormones that women experience during the menopausal transition. Fortunately, there are many things we can do to prevent discomfort and loss of intimacy. Be sure to choose natural lubricants to avoid further imbalance that could be caused by commercial products. Coconut oil is a great choice. You can also use essential oils that soothe the tissue of the vagina, like chamomile, rose, frankincense or sandalwood. Pelvic floor exercises, including Kegels, can help, too. That’s because they encourage blood flow to the pelvis which improves vaginal tone and elasticity. 
  • Mood Swings: If you find that you’re moods are up one minute and down the next, if you’re having crying episodes or feeling weepy or if you’re suffering from irritability, depression or anxiety, you may have a deficiency of one or more neurotransmitters. The most common neurotransmitters that influence our moods are serotonin, dopamine, gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) and norepinephrine. Many underlying imbalances could be causing the imbalance. While you seek and treat the root cause, neurotransmitter supplements can give you instant relief. Consider using a questionnaire, like the one found here, to gain insights into your symptoms and learn which supplement may benefit you the most. The great thing about neurotransmitters is that they provide fast and powerful relief. You’ll notice the difference in minutes!
  • Headaches: Estrogen withdrawal is the most likely cause of hormonally-fueled headaches and migraines, which explains why they can become more common during menopause. To reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches, be sure to stay well hydrated and avoid common triggers, like alcohol, caffeine and high-histamine foods, as well as those that contain nitrates and nitrites. Try incorporating headache-relieving herbs like feverfew and butterbur root. Essential oils can be helpful, too, especially peppermint and lavender. Peppermint can be applied to the temples for immediate relief. Lavender is most effective when inhaled and is best for reducing the intensity of migraine pain. 
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What About Hormone Therapy?

Conflicting information has women wondering if hormones replacement therapy (HRT) is worth the risk. A once-popular and nearly universally recommended treatment option, HRT became controversial after a 2002 study revealed that HRT could increase the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and blood clots.

Thankfully, hormone therapy has come a long way since then! 

Today women have newer and safer options. Advances like bioidentical hormones derived from plants, low-dose estrogen therapy and individually-prepared formulas have made HRT once again a favourite of many doctors, though it’s use and acceptance is far from universal.

Consult with your doctor if you’d like to learn more about hormone replacement therapy and if it might be the right choice for you. 

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I hope these tips help you to start feeling like yourself again!

In the second part of this series, we’ll address the underlying cause of hormonal imbalances and show you how to protect your health with longterm strategies for a healthier gut, better sleep, enhanced stress-coping abilities and more.

The Root of Imbalance: Gut Remedies for Healthy Hormones

The Root of Imbalance: Gut Remedies for Healthy Hormones

The signs of hormonal imbalance are hard to ignore.

Weight gain, thinning hair and hair loss, headaches, acne, depression, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia and a loss of libido could all be signs that your hormones are out of balance. 

For women, hormonal imbalance can also manifest as acne, hard-to-lose weight, mood swings, PMS and poor memory.

For men, it often corresponds with a loss of muscle mass, development of man boobs and curvy hips, crying more than usual, being grumpy all the time, angry outbursts and difficulty recovering from exercise.

Men and women who have imbalanced hormones are at an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, dementia and several forms of cancer. 

One thing you should know about hormones is that they never break in isolation.

That means that hormonal imbalances themselves are actually symptomatic of problems in other body systems. Hormones are like the tip of the iceberg: they may produce the most problematic symptoms, but the real problems are beneath the surface.

Often, the problems are in the gut.

Remember, the gut is the root of all disease. Poor gut health is a leading contributor of hormonal imbalance and by healing our gut this vital balance can be restored.

How Does The Gut Affect Hormones?

The gut exerts a powerful influence over our hormones through two primary methods: the actions of the estrobolome in the microbiome and the inflammatory pathway that is induced by dysbiosis and resulting leaky gut. 

Estrobolome is a new term that has been coined to describe the interactions between certain bacterial species in the gut microbiome and estrogen. 

Here’s how it works:

Estrogen is produced in the ovaries or testes, as well as the adrenals and adipose tissue. After it has been circulated through the body and used by tissue in the breasts, brain, bones, etc. it is filtered by the liver where it is broken down and deactivated. At last, it is deposited in bile and moves on to the gut to be eliminated from the body. 

This is where the estrobolome comes into play. 

Specific bacteria within the gut create beta-glucuronidase, commonly expressed as β-glucuronidase.

Β-glucuronidase breaks down deactivated estrogen into its active form. This active form is now reabsorbed into the bloodstream instead of being eliminated from the body.

If our microbiome is robust and diverse, the estrobolome will allow just the right amount of estrogen to recirculate to keep us in balance… but if it’s not, we’re bound to have problems. 

This means that depending on the diversity and amount of bacteria in our gut, we could have low β-glucuronidase (resulting in insufficient recirculation of estrogen and an estrogen deficit in the body) or high β-glucuronidase (causing an excess of estrogen to be recirculated and contributing to estrogen dominance).

Estrogen dominance is a dangerous hormonal imbalance that leads to a host of health problems. For women, it can mean PMS, cramps, fibroids, cysts, endometriosis, PCOS, infertility, weight gain and cancers of the breast and uterus.

When men suffer from estrogen dominance, they experience fatigue, mood swings, low sex drive and erectile dysfunction, plus they’re more likely to develop prostate cancer.

On the other hand, low estrogen (as a result of lack of β-glucuronidase producing bacteria in the gut), puts women at risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, brain fog, dementia, osteoporosis and poor gut health.

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Balance is key and if our microbiome is balanced we’ll have just the right amount of estrogen.

Imbalances in the microbiome directly cause imbalances in estrogen…and indirectly suppress levels of progesterone and testosterone.

That’s because when we have fewer beneficial bacteria, we end up with a leaky gut which allows endotoxins (also known as lipopolysaccharides/LPS) to be released from the gut to the bloodstream.

Endotoxins are highly inflammatory. Untreated dysbiosis creates sustained bodywide inflammation and inflammation interferes with the production of progesterone and testosterone.

Women with LPS in their blood have inflammatory markers in their ovaries and a correspondingly low level of progesterone.

Testosterone is produced by the Leydig cells in the testes and they are highly sensitive to and easily destroyed by inflammation. When men are chronically inflamed, they cease producing Leydig cells altogether. Fewer and fewer Leydig cells means less and less testosterone.

Plus, inflammation activates an enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase converts testosterone to estrogen. This causes even further depletion of testosterone and also raises estrogen levels. (Men with high estrogen develop man boobs and round hips and tend to cry a lot more than they would normally.)

Researchers hypothesize that the microbiome modulates the hormone system in even more ways and are hard at work to uncover the explanations for fascinating correlations, like…

  • Women with endometriosis have a specifc imbalance in their vaginal microbiomes: excess gram-negative bacteria and a lack of Lactobacillus species.

  • A study has shown that when women consume ferments containing Lactobacillus species, the bacteria reached their breast tissue where it had a protective effect against breast cancer.

  • Dysbiosis of the prostate gland and high estrogen are associated with prostate cancer.

  • The microbiome sends messages to other organs to modulate hormone production.

I can’t wait to see what else scientists discover about the intricate connection between the microbiome and our hormones!

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How Do Hormones Influence Gut Health?

Communication between hormones and the gut is a two-way street. While the microbiome influences hormone levels, levels of circulating hormones, in turn, impact the gut.

Gut cells have special receptor sites to receive the messages from our hormones.

Estrogen and progesterone influence motility.  Estrogen increases contractions in the intestinal wall, which speeds up transits time and can cause diarrhea. Progesterone relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract, slowing transit time and potentially causing constipation.

It’s high levels of progesterone that cause the trademark constipation and heartburn that pregnant women commonly experience.

High levels of a certain kind of estrogen, called estradiol, can cause gallstones as it is processed by the liver and broken back down into cholesterol.

On the other hand, low estrogen can actually contribute to leaky gut. That’s because estrogen helps to keep the gut lining elastic and healthy. 

Hormonal imbalances can cause a lot of trouble for the gut… and restoring the gut is the first step to balancing hormones. Before we can heal our guts, we have to understand where the problems are coming from in the first place.

A Gut Health Epidemic

If you are beginning to realize that gut problems are affecting your health more than you ever imagined, you can rest assured that you are not alone.

In what experts are describing as an epidemic of poor gut health, more and more people around the world are suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), leaky gut and pathogenic infections that take root in an unhealthy gut.

Why are gut health problems so common?

Balance in the microbiome can be broken down to a very simple explanation: when we have less beneficial bacteria, more and more pathogenic bacteria, as well as undesirable viruses, yeasts and parasites, proliferate in our gut.

The goal is not to completely wipe out any species, but to maintain a healthy balance. Keeping potentially harmful organisms in check is simply a matter of having enough protective species in the gut.

Unfortunately, that’s not an easy task. Day in and day out our microbiome is exposed to threats that destroy the microbes that maintain the healthy balance in the gut, threats like…

  • Antibiotics. Antibiotics may wipe out pathogenic infections, but they also decimate our beneficial bacterial species. Just a single dose can destroy 90% of the microbiome! Unfortunately, the few species that survive are often not the ones that we want to have in excess. In the absence of competitors, these less desirable species proliferate and we are left with an imbalance that is not remedied without careful and targeted treatment.

  • Environmental toxins. Every day we are exposed to countless compounds that take a toll on our health: pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, heavy metals, toxic mould, plastics, chlorine, etc., etc., etc. These toxic materials fuel inflammation and demolish our microbiome.

  • Poor Diet. The foods we eat have a strong and lasting influence on our guts. Diets that are low in fibre and resistant starch lead to decreased microbial diversity. Dairy, gluten and sugar cause inflammation and impair digestion.

  • Alcohol. Have you ever used alcohol to clean a wound? It effectively kills any bacteria thus preventing infections. Unfortunately, it has the same effect on the microbiome. Even moderate consumption can cause dysbiosis, leaky gut and inflammation.

  • Stress. When we’re under stress, our bodies shut down digestion to divert energy to the survival of an immediate threat. Unfortunately, many people are chronically stressed and their nervous systems are permanently stuck in this fight-or-flight mode. This causes indigestion, constipation and dysbiosis.

  • The pill: It’s important to know that the birth control pill damages the gut just as badly as antibiotics. It also makes women more susceptible to Candida overgrowth and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.) Although some doctors recommend the pill to alleviate hormonal imbalances, it actually only exacerbates and perpetuates the problem.
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Heal Your Gut For Hormonal Balance

Getting your hormones back on track starts with a healthy gut. Follow these steps to restore balance:

  1. Remove inflammatory triggers from your diet. The foods that cause inflammation for most people are sugar, dairy, gluten, corn, soy and peanuts, but, everyone is different. You can use an elimination diet to see which other foods are contributing to your problems. 

  2. Heal leaky gut. While avoiding inflammatory foods, use supplements to restore the integrity of your digestive tract. L-glutamine is a popular option. It helps to repair and strengthen the cells of the intestinal wall. Other good choices are slippery elm, deglycyrrhizinated licorice and marshmallow root, all of which help to restore the mucus barrier that protects the walls of the digestive tract. 

  3. Heal inflammation. Avoiding inflammatory foods will stop the cascading effect of inflammation but it won’t undo the damage that has already been done. To calm your immune system, use antiinflammatory herbs and foods to soothe and heal the effects of chronic inflammation.

  4. Treat underlying infections and toxicities. Infections like Epstein-Barr, Candida, parasites and Lyme cause chronic stress and inflammation. The same is true of the numerous unavoidable toxins that we encounter on a daily basis. In either case, the key to a safe and successful detox is to start by opening your drainage pathways.

  5. Repopulate your microbiome. Enjoy a wide variety of fermented foods and/or supplement probiotics to restore the lost beneficial species in your gut.

  6. Correct your diet. Enjoy a high-fibre, nutrient-dense diet that emphasizes a diversity of plant foods. Boost your nutrient intake without breaking the bank with homegrown sprouts. Be sure you’re getting enough essential fatty acids and eat lots of antioxidant-rich foods. 

  7. Destress. Nothing else you do for your health will work if you are chronically stressed out. Stress is often unavoidable, but we still have a lot of power over how we choose to react to it. Practice mindfulness techniques and use adaptogenic herbs to enhance your stress-coping powers.

  8. Take the test. Many of the contributing factors of poor gut health have overlapping symptoms. If you’re not sure what you should treat, take advantage of diagnostic testing to find out exactly which protocols will benefit you most.

Many people who suffer from imbalanced hormones are tempted to use medications to treat their symptoms. Unfortunately, this only makes matters worse in the long run. 

On the other hand, treating the root of the problem by healing your gut will improve every aspect of your physical and mental health, protect you from developing serious chronic disease and restore balance to your hormones. What could be better?

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Natural Support For Optimal Fertility

Natural Support For Optimal Fertility

Fertility rates are at an all-time low and many couples are suffering failed attempts to conceive the child their hearts desire. 

Many are resorting to IVF, which has a low success rate and comes with the risks of birth defects, premature delivery, low birth weight and long term health problems for the child. 

IVF also puts the mom at an increased risk of ovarian failure, blood clots and cancer. 

It’s important to know that there are other options for those who wish to conceive. 

Natural fertility support focuses on discovering the underlying causes of fertility challenges and restoring balance to the bodies of both parents so conception can occur naturally.

Why Are Infertility Rates On The Rise?

If women don’t have enough estrogen, they won’t ovulate and if they don’t have enough progesterone, they can’t sustain a pregnancy. For men, it’s all about testosterone. When testosterone is low, sperm counts drop. Without these key sex hormones, it is impossible for a couple to conceive and maintain a pregnancy… 

But what’s causing hormone levels to be low?

When we think about our reproductive system, we tend to think that problems in this department are isolated to our sex organs. For some couples, this is the case and underlying factors like endometriosis, PCOS and genetic defects should be investigated. 

Yet, when it comes to infertility, the problem is often coming from imbalances in other systems or even from influences from outside of the body that cause hormonal imbalance.

When it comes to other bodily systems causing a drop in our hormones, the top culprits are the adrenal glands, the thyroid and the gut.

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Adrenals and Infertility

The adrenal glands, commonly referred just as the adrenals, help us to respond to stress. This includes emotional and mental stress as well as physical stress, like unhealthy foods and exposure to toxins. 

The adrenals allow us to adapt and overcome these challenges by instigating a temporary inflammatory response and releasing cortisol, a hormone that instigates the physiological changes that enable us to adapt to stress.

Unfortunately, many people are chronically stressed, which can lead to adrenal fatigue, a condition in which our cortisol levels become imbalanced. 

This leads to a host of problems because cortisol does a lot more in the body than trigger our stress response. It also regulates our circadian rhythm. 

Naturally elevated cortisol levels in the morning help us to wake up and get going. As bedtime approaches, cortisol drops to help us settle in for a good night’s rest. 

When cortisol becomes imbalanced, we feel tired during the day and have trouble sleeping at night. This directly diminishes the production of our sex hormones, because estrogen and testosterone are produced while we sleep. If we’re not getting enough sleep, we can’t produce the hormones that support fertility. 

Additionally, when we experience prolonged stress, our bodies attempt to sustain sufficient cortisol levels by converting pregnenolone to cortisol. Pregnenolone is the “mother hormone.” It is a precursor to cortisol, progesterone, estrogen and testosterone. When demands for cortisol are high, our bodies divert pregnenolone towards cortisol production instead of maintaining adequate levels of our sex hormones.

For older couples, the adrenals have an even heavier influence on fertility. That’s because as we age, our sex organs naturally produce decreasing amounts of hormones. If our adrenals are healthy, they keep us balanced by producing enough testosterone, estrogen and progesterone to keep us balanced, but if our adrenals are fatigued by long term stress, we won’t be able to maintain sufficient levels to reproduce. 

On top of all that, cortisol is directly involved in several aspects of reproduction for both men and women. When stress keeps cortisol high, testosterone levels drop and sperm counts go down. High cortisol also inhibits the production of the hormones the pituitary secretes to trigger the production of estrogen and progesterone in women. 

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How Does the Thyroid Influence Fertility?

The thyroid is another important hormone-producing gland of the endocrine system. Low thyroid function can directly contribute to fertility challenges in multiple ways. 

Imbalances in thyroid hormones can prevent conception by inhibiting ovulation and cause miscarriages by affecting progesterone levels.

The link is undeniable: 76% of women with fertility challenges conceive within 6 months of restoring balance to the thyroid!

To make matters worse, while 1 in 10 women suffers from suboptimal thyroid function, more than half are unaware.

Mainstream practitioners often fail to check thyroid function when evaluating the health of women who are struggling to conceive. Even when they do, women typically do not receive treatment unless they are severely deficient, despite evidence that subclinical hypothyroidism can be sufficient to prevent pregnancy.

Hashimoto’s causes low thyroid function and resulting low fertility. In fact, the link between Hashimoto’s and fertility challenges is so strong that Dr Hugh Taylor, Chair of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine at Yale School of Medicine, tests every single fertility patient for Hashimoto’s. 

Poor gut health and low thyroid function can cyclically reinforce each other, as an unhealthy gut predisposes us to autoimmune diseases and thyroid imbalances perpetuate indigestion and malabsorption. 

A further complication is that thyroid treatments are often ineffective when nutrient deficiencies are present, specifically, deficiencies in iron, B12, folate, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D, which are common in young women, especially those with digestive issues.

Speaking of digestive issues…

Gut Health And Fertility

Poor gut health not only leads to nutritional deficiencies (which means we don’t have the building blocks we need to create hormones), but it also causes mineral imbalances and fuels inflammation.

Impaired digestive function decreases elimination of harmful xenoestrogens (more about that in a bit) leading to an estrogen dominant hormone imbalance. Estrogen dominance is a serious health threat that hinders fertility and can lead to heart disease, stroke, autoimmune disorders, ovarian cysts, allergies, accelerated aging and several forms of cancer.

Gut bacteria are responsible for converting thyroid hormones to their active form, but when we don’t have a healthy microbiome, our thyroid cannot do its job. 

A leaky gut allows harmful toxins to pass into the bloodstream resulting in systemic inflammation and triggering an immune response. It also causes increasing food sensitivities, until the body is reactive to many kinds of foods. This weakens the system and further compounds fertility challenges. 

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Environmental Factors That Contribute to Infertility

Unfortunately, for couples who struggle to conceive, the internal imbalances are only half of the story. Every single day every single one of us assaulted by countless unavoidable toxins. Many of these toxic compounds directly interfere with our reproductive hormones.

It’s all about those xenoestrogens we mentioned earlier…the ones our guts can’t eliminate if our digestion isn’t up to par. So what exactly are they and how do they get inside our bodies?

Xenoestrogens are chemicals that are known as endocrine disruptors because they mimic or block our hormones, interfering with our hormones’ natural function. They are much stronger than the estrogen we produce and as such contribute to the dangerous state of estrogen dominance.

Xenoestrogens are more abundant than you might realize. In fact, many of the toxic chemicals we already worry about mimic estrogen and fuel hormone disruption, including…

  • 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC) – Found in sunscreen lotions

  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) – A food preservative found in potato chips, cereal, baked goods and chewing gum

  • BPA – Found in food and beverage containers

  • Chlorine – Added to drinking water

  • Ethinyl Estradiol – Used in birth control

  • FD&C Red No. 3 – A food dye found in candies, cakes, popsicles and other items
  • Nonylphenol – Used in laundry detergents
  • PCBs – Found in lubricants, paints and adhesives
  • Parabens – Commonly used as preservatives in personal care products
  • Phthalates – Found in soaps, shampoos, toys and food packaging
  • Phenosulf thiazine – A dye found in cosmetics, nail polish, carpets, glues and paints
  • Propyl gallate – A preservative found in foods that contain oil and fats
  • Glyphosate – the most commonly used herbicide around the world

These xenoestrogens sabotage fertility in multiple ways, like preventing ovulation, disrupting implantation of the embryo, lowering sperm count, decreasing sperm quality and increasing the risk of miscarriages.

Another environmental factor that hinders fertility is exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). EMFs are hard to avoid altogether, as they are emitted by cell phones, computers, microwaves, power lines, X-rays, cell phone towers and aeroplanes, among other sources. 

EMF exposure contributes to lowered sperm count and impaired sperm quality. 

Heavy metals are also a threat to reproduction, especially cadmium and lead. Cadmium is found in batteries, metal coatings, plastics and cigarette smoke, as well as fish, plants and animals that absorb cadmium from the environment. Lead exposure most often occurs in homes that have lead-based paint, though it is also found in toys, cosmetics and cigarette smoke. 

Exposure to heavy metals lowers testosterone in men, decreases sperm motility and decreases reproductive hormone production in women. 

Finally, birth control use can be a cause of fertility challenges. Although many people don’t realize it, birth control pills and IUDs completely shut down hormone production in women. 

When they discontinue birth control use it can take months or even years for their bodies to resume producing the estrogen and progesterone that is needed to conceive and support a pregnancy. 

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Overcoming Fertility Challenges

In order to support healthy reproduction, we must remove the causes of infertility and restore normal function of the affected bodily systems.

  • Heal your adrenals. Getting plenty of sleep is essential to healthy adrenals. Be sure to get 7-9 hours of rest every single night. Remove any avoidable stress from your life and use stress management techniques like meditation, walking in nature and journaling to prevent stress from taking a toll on your health. Intermittent fasting is great in some cases, but if your adrenal glands are not strong, it will further deplete you. Eat a healthy breakfast featuring protein, fibre and fat within an hour of waking and don’t go too long between meals during the day. Support your adrenals with adaptogenic herbs that enhance our capacity to cope with stress and balance hormones. 
  • Heal your thyroid. Have your thyroid hormones tested to discover if this is contributing to your fertility challenges. Make sure your blood work measures levels of TSH, free T4, free T3 and reverse T3, as well as thyroid antibodies called anti-TPO and anti-thyroglobulin. (Conventional work ups only look at TSH and T4 which may fail to reveal thyroid dysfunction.) Be sure you’re getting enough of the nutrients your thyroid needs: iron, vitamin B12, folate, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D. Incorporate seaweed into your diet to boost your iodine levels. 
  • Heal your gut. Use an elimination diet to identify and remove inflammatory triggers from your diet. Use antiinflammatory foods and herbs to heal current inflammation. Take advantage of diagnostic testing to reveal underlying causes of poor gut health, such as Candida, parasites and mould. Avoid gluten and dairy to reduce your inflammatory load. If you’re constipated, it’s important to restore healthy bowel function which is key for hormonal balance. Enjoy fermented foods to restore a healthy diversity to your microbiome. 
  • Heal environmental toxicity. Identify and eliminate exposures to xenoestrogens, EMFs, and heavy metals. Support detoxification by opening your drainage pathways. Examine your personal care items and ditch any that contain toxic estrogen mimicking chemicals. Avoid preservative-laden processed foods. Invest in a glass or stainless steel water bottle and non-toxic food storage containers. Use a filter for the water you drink and bathe in. Eliminate all sources of EMF from your bedroom. Ditch WiFi and opt for wired technology whenever possible. Stop using a microwave, or at the least, do not stand near it while it is on. Don’t smoke and avoid exposure to cigarettes. Use only cold tap water for cooking and drinking, as this reduces leaching of metals from pipes. If you’ve recently come off birth control, give your body at least 6 months to a year to resume healthy hormone production. 
  • Don’t go it alone. Take advantage of the advice and guidance of an expert in natural fertility support. Seek a provider of naturopathic, integrative or functional medicine that specializes in reproductive health. 

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For couples struggling to conceive, it can feel like your body has betrayed you. Many would-be-parents feel frustrated, powerless and alone. If the information in this article has given you hope, pass it on to a friend who can use the encouragement and support. 

How to Naturally Balance Hormones and Fix Heavy Periods

How to Naturally Balance Hormones and Fix Heavy Periods

It’s a common misconception that heavy periods are a fact of life that many women have no choice but to live with.

That could not be farther from the truth.

WIth the right action plan, any woman can discover the underlying cause of her monthly misery and restore balance to her cycle.

Heavy periods are one of the top reasons women seek gynecological care, affecting over 10 million women every year in the US alone.

Unfortunately, many doctors do not understand the true causes of heavy periods and are unable to give their patients the help they deserve. 

Women continue to needlessly suffer, month after month, year after year.

That all changes now.

Today I am going to empower you with the knowledge you need to heal your cycle and get on with your life!

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What is a Normal Menstrual Cycle?

Believe it or not, many women do not know what a healthy cycle is. How can we possibly know if there’s an imbalance in our system if we don’t even know what’s normal and what’s not!?

Here’s what should be happening… 

Cycle Length: Your cycle should be between 25 and 35 days long. If it’s  longer, shorter or varies in length from month to month, this is a sign that something is wrong.

Menses: The blood should be bright red. Think of cranberry juice. If it is dark red or brown, or if there are clots, this means there is poor circulation to your uterus. This can be caused by a form of hormonal imbalance known as estrogen dominance. If this occurs, you can apply a hot water bottle or castor oil packs to the abdomen to stimulate blood flow.

Cervical Fluid: Cervical fluid changes throughout your cycle. After your period, your vagina is naturally drier. As ovulation approaches, the fluid becomes wet and may be opaque. During ovulation, it becomes wetter and may be watery and stretchy. After ovulation occurs it will become sticky and dry up until your next period.

PMS: PMS is NOT normal. Symptoms like bloating, breast pain and swelling, mood swings, anxiety, cramps and acne are indicators of a hormonal imbalance. Also, elevated progesterone levels during menstruation make us more vulnerable to unstable blood sugar… which mimics the symptoms of PMS. Make sure you’re eating balanced meals to protect yourself from spikes and crashes in your blood sugar levels.

Breakthrough Bleeding: Breakthrough bleeding is bleeding that occurs when you are not menstruating. If it occurs during the second half of your cycle, which is known as the luteal phase, it can be a sign of low progesterone. There is an exception to this rule: some women experience a day or two of light bleeding during ovulation and this is perfectly normal.

Our cycles entail rhythms that many of us do not appreciate. The rise and fall of our sex hormones influences our moods, energy levels and degree of social inclination. The notion that women are mysterious and moody is a myth. In fact, we follow predictable and consistent patterns every single month, just not many people understand or appreciate what’s really going on inside our bodies.

Our menstrual cycles have four distinct phases:

The Bleeding Phase: This phase begins with the onset of menstruation. It’s trademark is a plunge in progesterone levels that can leave us feeling cranky, crampy, sad and tired. Our energy levels are at the lowest at this time. This is a good time for rest and reflection. Avoid big social events and refrain from strenuous exercise. Enjoy some quiet time alone instead. Sleep in, take a bath and write in your journal.

The Follicular Phase: The follicular phase begins when menstruation commences. It is marked by rising levels of estrogen and testosterone. Estrogen and testosterone bring a boost in energy levels, mood and mental focus. Estrogen makes us more assertive and testosterone boosts our libido. We tend to feel more confident and outgoing at this time. It’s a great time to hang with your friends, problem solve, brainstorm and get some exercise.

The Ovulatory Phase: This is what the body has been preparing for for the last week. An egg will be released from the ovary and survive for 12-24 hours. Estrogen and testosterone levels peak at this time. We feel sexy, confident and are more likely to take risks. We’re also better able to express our ideas and emotions. Take advantage of the cresting hormones by scheduling a job interview or networking event, going on a date and continuing to enjoy plenty of exercise.

The Luteal Phase: The luteal phase follows ovulation and is marked by falling levels of estrogen and testosterone and rising levels of progesterone. We tend to have decreasing energy and be more withdrawn and introverted at this time. Progesterone is our chill hormone. As our levels rise we naturally slow down.  This is a good time for chilling at home, gentle chores and organizing to-do lists. This is also the time that many women suffer from PMS. Eat nourishing whole foods and honor your need for rest to minimize uncomfortable symptoms.

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How to Tell You Have Heavy Periods

Now that we know how our cycles work and what should be happening every month, let’s look at the key signs that your period is heavier than it should be.

If you’re exhibiting these symptoms, you are suffering from heavy periods:

  • Bleeding for more than seven days
  • Changing menstrual products more frequently than once every two hours
  • Needing to double up on menstrual products, i.e. using a cup but wearing a pad for back up
  • Heavy bleeding with clots larger than a quarter
  • Waking to change menstrual products at night

What Causes Heavy Periods?

Many underlying conditions can contribute to heavy periods. It may be a result of hypothyroidism, bleeding disorders, fibroids, ovulatory dysfunction, endometrial polyps, anemia, adenomyosis, certain medications or even cancer. That’s why it is imperative that you find a root cause doctor to confirm the underlying cause and get effective treatment as soon as possible. 

The most common cause of heavy periods is hormonal imbalance. Estrogen dominance is the most common hormonal imbalance. Estrogen and progesterone must balance each other in order for us to be healthy. If either become relatively too low or too high, we suffer from uncomfortable and disruptive symptoms. 

Estrogen can become too high relative to progesterone a number of ways… 

  • Our livers are responsible for eliminating used estrogen from our system. If our liver’s are compromised or overwhelmed by toxins, we can’t effectively filter estrogen and blood levels rise.

  • Estrogen that is processed by the liver travels to the colon for elimination. If we are constipated, estrogen can be reabsorbed into our bloodstream and recirculated throughout our bodies.

  • Chemicals that mimic estrogen can trick our bodies and cause us to exhibit symptoms of estrogen dominance. Endocrine disrupting ingredients in conventional personal care products and estrogen mimetics in insecticides and herbicides are the most common sources of toxic xenoestrogen exposure.

It is rare for our bodies to produce excess estrogen. Most cases of estrogen dominance are the result of toxicity, whether it’s due to a congested colon or sluggish liver or caused by exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals in our personal care products and conventionally grown foods.

On the other hand, sometimes our bodies are unable to produce sufficient progesterone, which also leads to an estrogen dominant imbalance. 

What causes us to produce insufficient amounts of progesterone?

Stress!

Stress robs our health in many, many ways.

Here’s how it depletes our progesterone levels: 

During moments of stress, our bodies produce cortisol to increase our short term capacity to cope with demanding circumstances. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyles subject us to chronic stress that does not give our bodies a chance to rest and recover. Our adrenal glands convert progesterone to cortisol to keep up with the incessant demand, resulting in low progesterone relative to estrogen.

In addition to heavy, painful periods, estrogen dominance causes fibroids, ovarian cysts, tender breasts, weight gain, moodiness and irritability. 

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Dutch Complete Hormone Test

If you’re suffering from heavy periods, one of the first things you should do is get your hormones checked. 

The gold standard for measuring your hormone levels is the Dutch Complete Hormone Test. This diagnostic tool created by Precision Analytical measures our levels of hormones including progesterone, testosterone, estrogen, cortisol and melatonin. 

The test can reveal if you’re suffering from estrogen dominance and shows how well your liver is metabolizing and removing estrogen from your system. 

It also allows us to see how our sex and adrenal hormones work together to contribute to painful periods and serious conditions like PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis and fertility problems.

Plus, you can learn about factors that could be causing you to suffer from poor sleep, low energy, depression, aching joints, low sex drive and low immunity. 

If you are suffering from heavy periods and you’re ready to find out what’s going on inside your body, get started now with the Dutch Complete hormone test.

Can Birth Control Make My Period Easier?

One commonly proposed solution to heavy and painful periods is an oral contraceptive prescription. Doctors urge women that this will be an easy fix that will balance hormones, clear up acne, regulate the menstrual cycle and ease menopausal symptoms like mood swings, night sweats and hot flashes. 

One problem with prescribing birth control is that it bypasses seeking the underlying source of the imbalance. This means that the cause of your sickness is going undetected and untreated, and can lead to serious and worsening problems.

Instead of discovering why women are suffering and helping them to restore balance, they are medicated  with a dangerous pharmaceutical.

Did you know that the World Health Organization has classified the pill as a definite carcinogen?

That’s right.

In fact, birth control pills contain synthetic hormones that cause imbalance and create sustained elevated levels of estrogen, which contributes to many health problems… 

  • Cancers of the breast, uterus and cervix
  • Candida overgrowth
  • Hypothyroid
  • Lack of sex drive
  • Liver toxicity
  • Cardiovascular disease

Plus, when the liver processes synthetic hormones in birth control pills, we use up large amounts of vital nutrients and become deficient in B-complex vitamins, Vitamin C, magnesium and zinc. All of these are key to our mental wellbeing and metabolism. Nutrient deficiencies caused by birth control pills make us gain weight, retain fluid and feel moody and depressed.

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Natural Remedies for Hormonal Imbalance

Fortunately, we can rely on safe and proven methods to restore balance to our hormones:

  • Heal your liver. Your liver has an important job when it comes to managing your hormones. It is responsible for clearing used estrogen from your bloodstream. Support your liver with herbs like milk thistle, dandelion, fennel and barberry. Also, be sure to incorporate foods that support the liver, like ginger, carrots and beets.

  • Reduce your stress. Our bodies produce cortisol in order to cope with stress. When stress becomes chronic, we become depleted and convert progesterone to cortisol. This is called the “progesterone steal.” Combat stress with breathing exercises, yoga and meditation and use adaptogenic supplements to enhance your capacity to cope.

  • Get plenty of rest. Lack of sleep will lead to hormone imbalances, which in turn makes it hard to sleep. Break the cycle by practicing good sleep habits: go to bed at the same time every night, avoid looking at computer, TV and phone screens after dark, resist the urge to nap during the day and only use the bedroom for sleep and sex.

  • Eat nourishing foods. Eliminate dairy, factory-farmed meat, processed carbohydrates, snack foods and refined sugar. Many pesticides and herbicides are estrogen mimetic. Stick to organically grown whole foods that your ancestors would recognize. This will ensure that your diet is rich in fiber, which is important for eliminating estrogen via the colon. Also, avoid soy products, which can contribute to estrogen imbalance.

  • Use safe personal care products. Many soaps, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, tampons and deodorants contain preservatives and stabilisers that are known endocrine disruptors. Discover the specific hazards lurking in your care products. Be sure to choose options that contain organic, all natural ingredients.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Fat converts steroids to estrogen. The more overweight we are, the greater the chance that we have elevated estrogen levels.

  • Heal your gut. The gut and hormones are intricately related. Our microbiome influences our production and expression of hormones. Constipation causes estrogen to be recirculated, fueling imbalance. Use an elimination diet to discover foods that are creating dysbiosis and inflammation.

  • Avoid synthetic hormones. Birth control pills and IUDs disrupt natural hormone production.

  • Reduce inflammation. Inflammation causes pain and skews our hormones. Eliminate inflammatory triggers like alcohol, caffeine and unhealthy foods and use natural remedies to reduce inflammation.

  • Supplement your diet. Make sure you’re getting enough omega 3 fatty acids along with B vitamins, Vitamin D, calcium and magnesium to ensure you’re producing and eliminating hormones optimally. Use herbs to support hormonal balance. Try black cohosh, evening primrose oil and chasteberry.

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Heavy periods are common, but they’re not normal, they’re not mysterious and they’re not a life sentence.

The key to restoring balance is seeking the root cause of dysfunction. Estrogen dominant hormonal imbalance is the most common cause of heavy periods. With simple and proven techniques, we can restore balance to our hormones, relieve our monthly woes and focus our time and energy on the things that really matter.

One of the key obstacles to achieving a healthy cycle is the stigma around women’s reproductive issues. Break the stigma by sharing this article with the women in your life who deserve to be healthy and happy during all the phases of their cycle.

Top 10 Adaptogens for Stress Relief

Top 10 Adaptogens for Stress Relief

If you’re living with stress, you must learn how to protect yourself from its damaging impacts.

Many of us face stressful situations day in and day out.

This chronic stress causes disruptive symptoms, degrades our quality of life and leads to problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and mental illness.

Medicinal plants, known as adaptogens, increase our resistance to stress and sickness.

I want to tell you about 10 adaptogens that you can start using now to restore your strength, enhance your stamina and make you immune to the threats of stress.

But, before I do, let’s talk about how stress affects our bodies so we can recognize the signs of imbalances… before they progress into major health problems.

How Stress Affects The Body

Stress induces immediate and significant changes to help us respond to an imminent threat.

When we’re stressed, our brains inhibit our digestive function so that our energy and resources can be diverted to resolving the source of the stress. 

Our blood pressure goes up, our heart rate goes up and our blood is diverted to our extremities, away from our guts and other vital organs.

These changes are actually beneficial. Without our stress response, we would be ill-equipped to fight immediate threats to our survival.

The problem arises when stress is not resolved, and instead, becomes chronic. 

Cortisol is released by our adrenal glands to help us cope with stress. It has anti-inflammatory properties and is necessary for healthy metabolism. 

Cortisol is released in response to stress factors like…

Unfortunately, many of us consider one or more these stressful scenarios on a daily basis, leading to constantly elevated cortisol levels.

Here’s what happens when we endure chronic stress:

The pancreas suppresses production of digestive enzymes, inhibiting our capacity to breakdown our food and assimilate nutrients. Our digestion stagnates as the stress-altered behavior of the valves between different sections of the gut inhibit motility. 

As our guts become sluggish, toxins begin to recirculate into the bloodstream, instead of being eliminated. 

Our thyroids suffer as well. We rely on our thyroids to produce hormones that influence every single cell in our bodies. When our ability to assimilate nutrients becomes hampered by stress, we can’t absorb enough iodine, selenium and zinc to produce those vital thyroid hormones. 

Plus, the thyroid provides energy for every cell in the body. As our levels of thyroid hormones decrease, the functioning of all of our organs decreases. For example, if we lose 20% of our thyroid hormones, the capacity of our minds, immune system, metabolism, liver, kidneys and gut will all be reduced by 20%. 

It’s not hard to see how problems with our thyroid quickly affect our health, mood and wellbeing.

Our sex hormones become imbalanced as well, especially for women.

We rely on our guts to eliminate estrogen that our bodies no longer need. When our motility suffers and toxins re-enter our bloodstream, used estrogen gets recirculated. (Of course, if our thyroids are compromised, our livers will be less able to filter used estrogen into the gut in the first place.)

Stress also depletes our progesterone levels. That’s because when we’re stressed, our adrenals must produce more cortisol. When stress is prolonged, our adrenal glands convert progesterone to cortisol to keep up with the incessant demand.

As a result, our estrogen levels go up and progesterone levels go down. Estrogen and progesterone must balance each other. Rising estrogen levels due to stress and poor motility lead to an estrogen dominant hormonal imbalance. 

Estrogen dominance causes heavy, painful periods, fibroids, ovarian cysts, tender breasts, weight gain, moodiness and irritability. It also further suppresses the thyroid.

Sustained, elevated cortisol levels also suppresses the function of insulin, which means our cells can’t metabolize sugar. This makes us crave carbs and gain weight.

Blood sugar imbalance is acutely dangerous. If insulin gets out of balance, it can cause death in 8-12 hours.

To restore balance, our bodies produce extra testosterone, which makes us more sensitive to insulin. For women, the ovaries will grow cysts, which produce testosterone to save us from the deadly risk of insulin imbalance.

Sustained high production of cortisol in response to stress eventually fatigues the adrenal glands. This causes low libido, joint pain, fibromyalgia symptoms and the loss of connective tissue that causes our skin to become saggy and inelastic.

Clearly, chronic stress creates problems throughout the body that none of us wants to live with!

Stress is an unavoidable part of life. 

In order to thrive, we must enhance our ability to cope with and respond to stress.

Adaptogens are a powerful resource for enhancing our capacity to cope with stress and protecting us from the negative impacts of stress that cannot be avoided.

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How Do Adaptogens Work?

Adaptogens are herbs and medicinal plants that have been used around the world for thousands of years. 

To be considered an adaptogen, a plant must:

  1. Be generally safe for everyone
  2. Increase stress coping capacity
  3. Restore balance to hormones

Adaptogens soothe inflammation, lower cortisol levels and support the adrenals, thyroid and reproductive organs.

These traditional medicines also stimulate the nervous, endocrine and immune systems simultaneously and by multiple pathways.

They balance, normalize and enhance the function of the brain, nerves, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenals, thymus, pineal gland, pancreas, reproductive organs and immune system.

The key to the health-sustaining benefits of adaptogens is the way they help us respond to stress by stimulating our natural defense systems.

In response to chronic stress, adaptogens stimulate and balance the nervous system, immune response, blood sugar and adrenals.

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Best Adaptogens for Stress Relief

Many adaptogens are available to help you combat the destructive impact of chronic stress on your body and mind. 

These are some of my favorites:

American Ginseng

Chief medicinal plant of the Cherokee, ‘grandfather ginseng’ was used for shortness of breath, coughing, digestive upset, headaches, convulsions, fatigue, headaches, convulsions, female reproductive disorders and general weakness. Recent studies confirm that American ginseng restores depleted adrenals, boosts the immune system and soothes an over-stressed nervous system. It also offers protection from Type 2 diabetes and erectile dysfunction and boosts digestion and absorption of nutrients. 

Ashwagandha

In ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha is said to give one the stamina and strength of a stallion. In ancient India it was used for prolonging life, stimulating the mind, enhancing libido and sexual performance and recovering from illness and injury. Although most adaptogens are stimulating, ashwagandha is known for its calming effect. It is beneficial for anxiety, fatigue, brain fog, stress-induced insomnia and nervous exhaustion. Ashwagandha enhances the adrenals and is one of the few herbs that directly boosts thyroid function.

Asian Ginseng

Asian ginseng has a long history of use in China, where it is regarded as a ‘kingly tonic.’ It is used broadly throughout Asia for malaria, diarrhea, vomiting, coughs, diabetes, dizziness and general weakness. Asian ginseng is one of the most studied herbs in the world. Research confirms its traditional usages and reveals new applications for modern ailments. It is considered the most stimulating of adaptogens, which makes it ideal for weak, deficient and exhausted people. It profoundly benefits the immune system, adrenal glands, pancreas, circulation and nervous system.

Astragalus

Astragalus is native to China where ancient texts document its effectiveness for treating asthma, chills, fevers, kidneys, coughing and “hundreds of diseases in children.” Astragalus was traditionally used to strengthen the tendons, bones and muscles, and to boost the immune system. Today, it continues to be used to tone the spleen, stimulate appetite and improve circulation. It prevents cold, influenza, bronchitis, pneumonia and other infections. Astragalus also prevents immuno-suppression in cancer patients and inhibits the growth of tumors.

Cordyceps

The cordyceps mushroom grows in the foothills of the Himalayas in Tibet and Bhutan where it is used for kidney failure, heart failure and to enhance libido. In Traditional Chinese Medicine cordyceps is used to replenish the kidneys, strengthen the spleen and enhance fertility, bone strength and hearing. It also helps with infertility, night sweats, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and fatigue. Studies confirm that the cordyceps mushroom increases aerobic capacity and cellular energy stores, lowers cholesterol, prevents oxidative damage and regulates immune function. 

Holy Basil

Holy basil is a sacred herb in the Hindu tradition, where it is regarded as rasayana, meaning it promotes long life and nourishes perfect health. It has been considered one of India’s most powerful herbs for 3,000 years. Daily use of holy basil is believed to balance the energy centers of the body and to induce a state of goodness, virtue and joy. It is a remedy for bronchitis, upset stomach, vomiting, nasal congestion, ear aches, fevers, UTIs, gas, intestinal cramps, ulcers, colds, influenza, headaches and coughs. Modern research shows that holy basil is antioxidant, neuroprotective and stress reducing. It protects the liver, lowers blood sugar, heals ulcers and alleviates depression.

Licorice

Native to southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia, licorice has been used as a long time as both a food and medicine in China and the Middle East. Ancient Greek texts record its uses for dry coughs, respiratory disease and to heal the stomach, throat, liver and kidneys. Licorice is considered the most commonly used herb in ancient China, where it was used to balance all of the organs, strengthen the bones and connective tissue, enhance muscle growth and heal topical wounds. Today it is celebrated for its adaptogenic, immune-enhancing and anti-inflammatory benefits. It heals the liver, restores the adrenals and alleviates the symptoms of IBS.

Reishi

Varieties of reishi mushrooms can be found in Asia, Europe, North America and the Amazon rainforest. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is regarded as the “herb for immortals” and has been used to strengthen the eyes, calm the mind, increase compassion, prevent senility and increase lifespan. It strengthens the spleen, relieves coughs, tones the kidneys, relieves joint pain and strengthens the muscles, bones and connective tissue. Reishi has been extensively researched by modern scientists who have found that it enhances immune function, fights cancer, improves all aspects of cardiovascular health, eliminates inflammation, improves adrenal function and relieves stress.

Rhodiola

Rhodiola is native to Canada, Scandinavia and Siberia. In Tibetan medicine it is used to lower fever, improve circulation, nourish the lungs and enhance energy. As knowledge of its uses spread, it became a cherished medicinal plants of the Chinese, Greeks and Vikings. Rhodiola alleviates depression, enhances alertness, reduces fatigue and improves memory. It prevents and reverses immune depletion caused by stress and overworking. Rhodiola balances blood sugar, enhances reproductive function, prevents stress-induced damage to the heart and is recommended for treating cancer, fibromyalgia, diabetes and congestive heart failure. 

Schisandra

Schisandra is a fruit that is native to China. It benefits the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs and spleen and has traditionally been used to treat coughs, weakness, congestion, dysentery, diarrhea and jaundice. Recent research shows that it relieves excess sweating, night sweats and menopause. It protects, repairs and enhances the function of the liver. Schisandra enhances reflexes and mental capacity, but is also calming and stress-relieving. It restores the immune system from damage caused by chronic anger, anxiety, depression and fear. 

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These adaptogens have been used around the world for thousands of years to keep us healthy and balanced in an often-stressful world.

Stress is an inevitable part of life and the changes induced in the body by stress allow us to overcome immediate threats to our survival.

Stress becomes dangerous when it is chronic, but it also offers us opportunities to learn, grow and change.

The key to thriving in spite of the stresses we encounter every day is the way we respond to it. 

Choose to be grateful for the challenges that spur you along on our journey and remember to use adaptogens to keep you energized, balanced and healthy.

Drop a note in the comments to tell me about a stressful experience that made you happier and stronger in the end.

Discovering Your Optimal Healing Menu: Elimination Diets Made Easy

Discovering Your Optimal Healing Menu: Elimination Diets Made Easy

The gut is the root of all health.

It regulates our immune system, moods, energy levels, metabolism, focus and even the way our genes are expressed.

Imbalances in the gut can cause depression and anxiety, create a hormonal imbalance and may even lead to cancer.

In order to heal from any ailment, we must begin by soothing inflammation and restoring balance in our gut.

To do so, we must identify the foods that are fueling inflammation and disturbing balance. This is where the elimination diet comes in.

See, some foods are universally problematic, while other foods only cause problems for certain people. Plus, once we are in a state of inflammatory distress, our bodies can begin reacting to foods that we don’t have problems with when our gut is healthy.

An elimination diet is a fail-proof method for identifying your unique food sensitivities and allergies. Although seeking the guidance of a root cause practitioner can be helpful with this step, it is by no means necessary. With care and commitment you can conduct a diagnostic elimination diet on your own and free of cost!

There’s two methods for you to choose from. Select from the options below according to your needs and realistic ability to adhere to a restricted diet.

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Classic Elimination Diet

The first plan is a classic elimination diet. That means we will begin by removing a number of foods from the diet. After a period of at least one month, we’ll gradually reintroduce foods. If the food does not cause any digestive upset or other symptoms, we’ll know that particular item is not a trigger for us.

If we do have a negative reaction, we’ll have identified a food that must be avoided – at least for the time being. Once our guts are healed and our microbiomes are rebalanced, we may be able to reintroduce and enjoy these foods.

Negative reactions to look for include typical maldigestion: bloating, cramping, gas, constipation or diarrhea. You’ll also want to pay attention to other symptoms like feelings of depression or anxiety, disturbed sleep, headaches, joint pain, dizziness and brain fog.

A food diary is the ideal way to track your intake and reactions.

Gradual Elimination Diet

The second option follows the same principles as the classic elimination diet described above; except, instead of removing a host of foods from our diet all at once, we’ll be gradually taking out problematic foods one-by-one.

This method will not get results es efficiently as the classic elimination diet, however it can be easier to adhere to for someone who struggles with restrictive diets.

If you have a busy lifestyle and a lot of daily stress, removing many things from your diet all at once can leave you feeling more stressed and confused about what you should eat.

If you follow a standard western diet, you may suddenly find that most of the foods you consume on a daily basis are no longer available to you.

In either case, gradually eliminating foods may be a more gentle change. You’ll also be more likely to stick with it, which is the most important thing.

So choose the schedule that best suits your lifestyle and let’s get started!

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What Foods Should I Eliminate?

The two foods that we all must eliminate are wheat and dairy. Here’s why:

Unfortunately, the wheat on the market today is not the product it was 50 years ago. We’ve hybridized species to create a high-gluten variety that is also highly resistant to pesticides. As a result, conventionally-produced wheat crops are treated with noxious chemicals twice, including just before harvesting. When we eat wheat, we’re taking those poisons in with every bite.

Also, gluten prompts our bodies to secrete more zonulin, which contributes to Leaky Gut and inflammation. Zonulin weakens our gut junctions, allowing toxins to leak directly into our bloodstream. That’s why we’ll be eliminating wheat and any other foods that contain gluten, like barley and rye.

The good news is, you can cut wheat from your diet while still enjoying many of your favorite foods. Thanks to alternative flours made from almonds, rice, coconut and other nourishing foods, we can prepare baked goods without wheat. Many gluten-free, wheat-free products like breads, cereals and even frozen pizzas are commonly found in grocery stores these days. If you don’t see gluten-free options where you usually shop, check with a health store in your community.

Dairy fuels inflammation and congestion. Humans are the only mammal that consumes milk beyond the breastfeeding years and many scientists and nutritionists insist that we simply lack the enzymes to properly digest dairy products by the time we are eight years old.

When it comes to inflammation, leaky gut and dysbiosis, dairy has got to go. Fortunately, you can enjoy dairy-free versions of many of your favorite foods. Veganism is a popular lifestyle choice that is quickly gaining traction in the mainstream market. As a result, you’ll find many dairy-free options at pretty much any grocery store.

Milk, cheese, yogurt, cream – you name it, there’s a dairy-free alternative available. Many of these products are highly processed and contain undesirable additives so use them sparingly and pick the options with the least ingredients, or make your own…

Coconut Milk: All you need is an 8 oz. bag of unsweetened, shredded coconut and 4 cups of hot water. Combine the coconut and hot water in the blender and allow it to sit for several minutes to give the coconut time to soften. Blend thoroughly. Strain through a nut bag, cheese cloth or a clean rag. Your coconut milk can be used right away or stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Instant Sesame Milk: Simply blend ¼ cup raw, organic tahini with 2 cups water. Sesame milk is protein-rich, fiber-rich and an excellent source of gut-healing nutrients like magnesium, zinc, selenium and Vitamin B1. Most nuts and seeds create acidity in the body, but sesame is alkalizing. This recipe can be adapted to use any other raw nut butter for a quick and healthy alternative to dairy products and store-bought plant-based milks.

In addition to wheat and dairy, we’ll be eliminating several other foods that are problematic for many people:

  • Eggs
  • Sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Fast Food

Any other foods you suspect are problematic for you. For many people this means beans, nuts, and anything else you suspect you are reacting to.

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Elimination Diet Tips

There’s a few more important things to keep in mind to get the most out of your elimination diet…
Give your gut a break by consuming pre-digested foods. If you’re in an acute state where you’re body seems to be reacting to everything you eat, give your gut a chance to heal by sticking to easy-to-digest foods. That means soups, stews, and well-cooked vegetables. Warm, cooked foods are easier on your digestive tract.
Although we all know that fresh fruits and greens are wonderful for our health, if your gut is compromised you simply may be unable to digest those foods. Take a break while you heal yourself. You’ll be able to reintroduce raw fruits and veggies once you’ve restored balance to your microbiome.

Choose safer meats. A plant-based diet featuring a diversity of whole foods is your best bet for a healthy gut. But some people are unwilling to eliminate meat from their diet. Even if you are interested in cutting meat out completely, it may be too many changes to make at one time.
If you continue eating meat as you move into the elimination phase of our program, you’ll want to be sure it’s pasture-raised, grass-fed, and free of hormones and antibiotics. 

Soothe caffeine withdrawals and boost your microbiome with green tea. If you’re a regular coffee drinker and suffer from caffeine withdrawal when you miss your cup of joe, try green tea for a lighter dose of caffeine with added benefits for your health.
Green tea is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that support cardiovascular health, improve your mood and enhance your cognitive function. But the best news for your gut is that green tea soothes inflammation and restores balance to your microbiome.
The antimicrobial properties of green tea help you to eliminate undesirable organisms while increasing desirable species like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. So if skipping the morning cup of coffee leaves you with headaches, sleepiness and irritability, try a healthy cup of green tea instead.

Steer clear of GMOs. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) urges doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients. Mixing genes of unrelated species yields unpredictable side effects.
Genetically modified products are harmful to the environment and to our health, especially our guts. Many crops are modified to increase the amount of pesticide exposure the plants can tolerate, which means more pesticide residue on our foods and more pesticides in our soil and waterways.
Government oversight is lenient when it comes to GMOs. It’s up to us to protect ourselves and force GMOs out of the food supply by refusing to purchase these dangerous products.
Look for ‘Organic’ and ‘Non GMO’ certificates on all of the food you purchase to protect yourself and the earth from toxic GMOs.


Avoid dangerous pesticides by choosing organic. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp, is a dangerous, carcinogenic antibiotic. Countries and communities around the world are fighting for our health by banning the use of glyphosate. Protect yourself now by choosing organic goods.
Organic foods are often more expensive than conventionally produced crops. But you can still protect your health by following these tips to get the best deals on safer foods:

  • Buy directly from farmers. Either at farm stands or green markets, you can buy your produce directly from the farmers who grow them, and personally verify that your food has been grown without dangerous chemicals.


  • Join or form a co-op. Increase your purchasing power by buying dry goods in bulk. You can join a co-op that already serves your community or start your own. Starting your own food buying club is easier than you might think. All you have to do is organize enough people to meet the order minimum at the company that you are purchasing from. 5 or 6 families is enough to get you started in most cases.


  • Grow your own. Get down and dirty! Dig your hands into the dirt to boost your microbiome and produce safe food for your family at a mere fraction of the cost you’d pay anywhere else. If you think you don’t have enough room, you’re probably wrong. Learn about maximizing food production in a small space and container gardening from Permaculture College Australia at https://permaculture.com.au/.  Many municipalities also offer community gardens where you can rent a plot for the growing season for a nominal fee. Community gardens are really great for beginner gardeners because you’ll be sharing space with experienced ‘green thumbs’ who can answer any questions you may have along the way.

Beware of misleading food labels.
Greedy manufacturers try to trick us into purchasing unhealthy products by using deceptive terms on labels. Here are some key things to look out for:
Natural Ingredients – When it comes to food labels, “natural” means absolutely nothing. This goes for “natural flavoring” and “natural coloring” which is just a dressed up artificial ingredient containing perhaps a trace of something that was once in a natural state.


Rosemary Extract – An artificial, carcinogenic preservative disguised as a natural ingredient.

Citric Acid
– Sounds like a healthy, naturally-derived ingredient, right? Wrong! Obtaining citric acid from plants is difficult and expensive. Manufacturers are cutting costs by using genetically modified molds and bacterias instead.

Celery Powder
– Another chemically-derived, artificial preservative posing as a healthy ingredient.

Organic
– When it comes to food labels, organic can be a misleading term. If you peruse the snack and candy aisle you’re sure to find junk food utterly devoid of nutrition bearing the organic seal. Even organic produce can be grown with approved pesticides and herbicides and organic leafy greens are treated with a sanitizer that destroys all bacteria, bacteria that we rely on to digest these foods. Be wary of the organic label and use your judgment to avoid dangerous toxins in your food.
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Reintroduction Phase

You’ll adhere to your elimination diet for at least one month, or longer if you choose. Some irritants, like gluten, can affect us for several months so the longer we wait to reintroduce, the more reliable the results of our elimination program will be.

Some foods we’re just better off without. Processed, refined sugars and artificial sweeteners have no place in a healthy diet. If you like to use sweeteners, try some of these alternatives:

  • Dates – rich in fiber and important minerals like calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium
  • Pure Maple Syrup – an excellent source of manganese, zinc, calcium and potassium
  • Raw Honey – rich in antioxidants and a prebiotic that feeds your microbiome

When reintroducing a food, eat several portions of that food then wait 3 days to gauge your reaction. Then move on to the next food in the same fashion.

Try just one food at a time, then discontinue it as you move onto the next one. For instance, if you start with reintroducing dairy, eat several portions, then note your reactions for three days. Then move onto the next food. Test one food at a time until you’ve gauged your reactions to all of the foods that have been eliminated.

Digestive upset is the easiest symptom to notice. You’ll also want to pay attention to changes in your mood, energy level and mental state. Headaches, dizziness, joint pain and skin irritation can also be indicators of a food reaction.

Foods that trigger a reaction must be removed from your diet completely, but not forever. Many people find that when they’ve recovered from inflammation and healed their guts that they can reintroduce foods without having negative reactions.

How to Identify Food Sensitivities

Dr. Rodger Murphree encourages his patients to check for changes in their pulse to detect foods that are reactive for them.

To check your pulse at your wrist, place two fingers on your radial artery between the tendon and the bone, a few centimeters below the thumb joint. Time yourself for 15 seconds while counting the pulsations in the artery. Multiply by 4 to determine your beats per minute.

When reintroducing foods, check your pulse first then place the food in your mouth. Chew or simply keep the food in your mouth for one minute then spit it out and check your pulse again.

An increase of 6 beats per minute indicates a positive reaction. Stress from allergens triggers a response in the nervous system that increases blood flow, making the pulse test an easy way to detect a food sensitivity without actually consuming the item in question and experiencing an uncomfortable reaction.

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Elimination diets are a powerful tool for charting our best course to optimal health. Are you ready to take the next step?

Read on to learn how  to support your journey by….

Taking toll of your daily toxic exposure

Using natural remedies to soothe inflammation

Choosing the right diagnostic tests 

Preparing your body for detox

If this article helped you, don’t keep it a secret! Sharing is caring, after all. Spread the love so your friends will benefit too!

How to Heal From Chronic Disease With Functional Medicine

How to Heal From Chronic Disease With Functional Medicine

We currently face a global disease epidemic unlike the world has ever seen.

More and more of us are getting sicker and sicker every year, and our doctors are at a loss to help us.

How did a medical system evolve that is unable to meet the needs of the modern population?

It wasn’t always so…

The Problem with Healthcare Today

The medical system that most of us grew up with was designed to treat infectious diseases and heal acute trauma.

The model has been so successful that we no longer live in fear of our children dying from a common infection or our entire community being devastated by a plague. Even when we suffer horrific injuries, we trust that we’ll be put back together by talented professionals using state of the art technology.

The truth is, the conventional model of medicine excels in these scenarios.

But what about when we don’t have a contagious infection, and we’re not suffering from acute trauma, but we’re also just not… well?

What about when we don’t have the energy to take care of our responsibilities, pursue our passions and enjoy our families?

What about when our doctors insist that the tests say we’re fine, but we know something is wrong?

Even devoted and well meaning doctors often lack the resources to give their patients the help that they desperately need.

The problem is that acute trauma and infectious diseases are no longer the top threats to our wellbeing.

Health

Today, it is chronic and preventable diseases that cause 70% of all deaths worldwide.

Chronic diseases are defined as conditions that last at least a year, require ongoing medical attention and limit daily activities.

According to the CDC, 6 out of 10 Americans suffer from a chronic illness and 4 out of 10 have two or more.

The causes of these preventable conditions are: poor nutrition, unhealthy lifestyles and exposure to toxins.

These conditions cannot be remedied by drugs and surgery. In order to restore health, we must learn to nurture ourselves with an appropriate diet, adopt healthier lifestyles and reduce our exposure to harmful toxins.

Conventional doctors are simply not trained to guide us through these critical changes.

Over the next twenty years, chronic illnesses will kill twice as many people as all infectious diseases combined.

It is time for a new age in medicine, time for a medical paradigm that can help with the diseases that impact us most today…

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine is a highly individualized, patient-centered, science-based approach to wellness. Patients are empowered and supported by their practitioners as together they collaborate to identify and address the underlying causes of disease.

According to the principles of functional medicine, diseases are the result of imbalance in one or more of the seven core physiological processes.

The seven core processes are assimilation and elimination, detoxification, defense, cellular communication, cellular transport, energy and structure.

Imbalances are caused by…

  • Environmental factors, like toxins and pesticides
  • Nutritional imbalances caused by poor diet and food allergies
  • Hormone imbalances that weaken the thyroid, adrenals and reproductive organs
  • Systemic inflammation which contributes to autoimmune conditions
  • Hidden infections like parasites, yeast and mold
  • Oxidative stress that damages cells
  • Impaired liver detoxification and gut function adds to total burden of toxins
  • Gastrointestinal dysfunction due to loss of probiotic bacteria and poor absorption compromises the immune system

Instead of using drugs to mask symptoms, functional doctors tireless seek to find the underlying cause so that balance can be restored.

When we seek conventional care for chronic diseases, we are given prescriptions to mitigate each of our symptoms, but the cause of the imbalance is not addressed.

This means that the disease progresses, symptoms get worse and more meds are needed to keep symptoms under control. Many patients end up with lifelong prescriptions of drugs that were only approved for short term use. As a result, the risk for adverse drug reactions and undesirable side effects increases.

Imbalances develop as a result of our unique individual genes interacting with our environment, diet and lifestyle.

Risk of chronic illness does not increase as we get older.

Although many people think it is natural to get sicker as we age, this could not be further from the truth.

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Genes alone do not make us more susceptible to chronic disease.

It is the interaction of our genes, behavior and environment that determines the health that we enjoy in our senior years.

This is really exciting news!

It means that not only can we influence our gene expression to prevent or reverse illness, but we can also systematically maximize our individual genetic potential!

Our health outcomes are very much under our control.

By modifying our environment, diet and lifestyle, we can change the expression of our genes.

Our environment includes the personal care products we use, the fabrics we wear, our homes, where we get our food and how we prepare it. Diet is the kind, amounts and diversity of foods that we eat. Lifestyle factors are our habits, behavior and way of life.

How to Heal From Chronic Diseases With Functional Medicine

In the conventional model, specialists are trained to focus on one organ or group of organs. Their chief goal is to define the condition with a diagnosis and remedy the symptoms with drugs or surgery. This does not help people whose organs are compromised but not yet at the level of disease diagnosis.

Perhaps it will help with their symptoms, but meanwhile their real problems will only get worse.

Meanwhile, healthcare expenses are astronomical, yet little improvement is gained in quality of life.

Busy doctors, pressured by HMOs and Big Pharma to see and treat as many people as they can, typically spend just 6 minutes with each patient.

Functional doctors appreciate the uniqueness of each patient and diligently explore the individual interaction of their genes with their environment and behavior.

The first visit with a functional doctor may last several hours as they probe the patient’s personal, family, social and medical history to discover what caused the undesirable gene expression. It also gives the patient insights into their previous life events and motivates them to take responsibility for their future health.

Although many people are diagnosed with the same disease, each person’s path to healing will be unique, depending on the individual factors that led to the sickness.

The functional doctor takes into account the entire complex web of history, physiology and lifestyle to identify the factors that lead to disease and works with the patient to craft a plan to prevent or reverse illness.

The doctor will not stop looking if they find that none of the organs or systems is in an acute state and in need of immediate care. They will persist with the investigation to find out where the genetic expression has been altered by environmental factors.

How, exactly, do functional doctors solve these personal health mysteries?

In addition to the important clues revealed in the patient’s history, extensive testing is used to get an accurate picture of what is currently happening in the patient’s body.

Some helpful tests that functional doctors often recommend are:

  • 24-hour adrenal stress index: Did you know that dysfunction in your adrenals can cause fatigue, anxiety, depression, blood sugar imbalances, brain fog, weight gain, irritability, decreased sex drive and poor sleep? The adrenals produce cortisol in response to stress. This lab will reveal if your cortisol is low when it should be high, high when it should be low, always too low or always too high.

  • A complete thyroid panel: The thyroid influences even more systems than the adrenals and produces hormones that every single cell in the body requires. Conventional doctors typically only measure 2 out of the 8 thyroid hormones and antibodies that functional doctors use to discover if thyroid dysfunction is contributing to symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, hair loss and depression.

  • Gut permeability labs: All health truly begins in the gut. Our guts are damaged by triggers like stress, poor diet and medications. If the gut lining is compromised, undigested food particles and bacterial endotoxins can leak into the bloodstream. This leads to chronic inflammation and a wide range of symptoms, including autoimmune conditions.

  • Sex hormone labs: Both men and women must maintain balanced levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone to support health. If any one of them gets too high or too low, or even too high or too low relative to each other, we become susceptible to weigh gain, anxiety, depression, erectile dysfunction, mood problems, low sex drive, infertility and acne.

  • Inflammation labs: Chronic, bodywide inflammation is a cause or symptom of many of today’s health problems: autoimmune conditions, cancer, heart disease, brain fog, fatigue and weight gain. Inflammation helps us to heal from injuries and fight off infections. It becomes a problem when it persists after the injury or infection has passed.

  • Genetic testing: As we know, genetics are not the only factor in our health, but they’re still an important one! Tests can reveal genetic mutations that make us more susceptible to particular nutrient imbalances, drug interactions and health problems. By knowing what’s in our DNA, we can modify our environment, diet and lifestyles to balance our inherited risk factors.
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Although each patient’s route back to health is highly individual, the basic road map will follow these essential 7 steps:

  1. Identify Leaky Gut and compromised gastrointestinal function
  2. Identify food sensitivities and intolerances
  3. Identify immune system response to environmental toxin exposure 
  4. Identify and eradicate bacterial, parasite, Lyme, Candida and chronic viral infections 
  5. Optimize and balance hormones
  6. Calm the inflammatory response
  7. Identify individual nutrient deficiencies.

Can Functional Medicine Help Me?

Functional medicine is a systematic, holistic paradigm for treating the person with the disease, not the disease of the person. It’s methods can be used to alleviate and reverse a broad range of chronic conditions, like…

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Peripheral Neuropathy and Diabetic Neuropathy
  • Type II Diabetes
  • Restless Leg syndrome
  • Autoimmune Conditions
  • Thyroid problems (Hashimoto’s disease and Graves)
  • Gastrointestinal problems (IBS, SIBO, Leaky Gut, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis)
  • Cognitive problems (Parkinsons and Alzheimer’s Diseases)
  • Psychiatric problems (anxiety, depression, bipolar)
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Hormonal imbalances (PCOS, endometriosis, menopause, infertility fibroids)
  • Childhood developmental disorders

If you suffer from any of these conditions…or you don’t feel as well as you know you could, even though your doctor says everything is ok, you may find that a doctor of functional medicine can give you the help you need.

You can begin your search by visiting the Institute for Functional Medicine’s directory. You can also do a simple online search to find a practitioner in your area, though you’ll be glad to know that many functional doctors offer long distance care via Skype and phone.

By finding the root cause of what’s making you sick, you can prevent chronic health problems, restore balance to your system and realize your optimum genetic potential.

After all, health, as defined by the World Health Organization, “is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease.”

Are you as healthy as you deserve to be?

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Drop a comment and let me know about your experiences with chronic illness. Are you satisfied with the care you’re receiving? Is your doctor helping you get better, or just managing your symptoms?

Don’t let your loved ones become a statistic. Share this article with the people in your life who deserve better healthcare.

Believe in Yourself.

Believe in Yourself.

'The Daily Dose' By Matt Potts
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"Our greatest excuse for not taking action today is that we believe we don’t have what it takes to make it tomorrow."

Roger Hamilton

I wonder what the world would be like if Bill Gates decided that he wanted to be a pro… sportsman?

Or if Henry Ford pursued a career in acting?

Would basketball be the same if Michael Jordan quit his career in basketball after getting cut from the high school team?

What if Sir Edmund Hillary didn’t say “some day I am going to climb Everest”? Ok, let’s make this super personal…

How has the world permanently changed because YOU stopped believing.

YOU let go of the dream.

YOU listened to others.

YOU forgot what you were put on this planet to do.

You see it’s quite easy to look back in history and see it’s incredible impact in other peoples choices.

It’s less empirical to look into the ‘what if’ of our own lives.

This provides, I think, a very shallow ‘safe zone’ for ourselves.

We can live there without…

Expectation.

Fears.

Disappointments.

We can tune out to the world.

Surround our minds in entertainment.

Anesthetize our very dreams.

I challenge you to a higher level of existence.

Where you are ‘all in’ in your dreams.

That you believe in yourself despite what the world looks like around you.

Whatever dream you threw out.

It’s time to pick it up again.

Your life is not your own my friend.

Every single one of us is connected.

What you do with your dreams and your life impacts us all.

So dream again.

Cast a new vision.

Believe in yourself.

Even if it is the smallest thing…

Take action on that dream today.

Call a friend and tell them.

Pick up what you put down.

Write it down.

That small bit of action is enough to get the whole thing moving…

It just all starts with you..

Believing.

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