Women health

Feeling Your Best Through Menopause

Menopause in Women
“Sage and rhubarb are two herbal medicines that can help reduce hot flashes, and St. John’s Wort is a wonderful aid for mood support.” My friend looked over at me and said, “Well, I guess this is just how it is now.” She was going through perimenopause and experiencing the classic symptoms of hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and sleep issues. We live in a time where there are tools and resources to help women feel well during this important time of change, yet they often feel overwhelmed and lost on where to seek support. Women may believe they must simply accept distressing symptoms, even if they interfere with their quality of life. As a naturopathic doctor that focuses on helping women navigate perimenopause and menopause, I can assure you that this is simply not the case. The goal of supporting women through menopause is to help alleviate aggravating, acute symptoms and to create a long-term plan to support healthy aging and vitality. Every woman deserves a personalized approach when working toward health goals. 5 Tips to Ease Menopause Symptoms Building upon healthy foundations can make a positive impact on reducing your symptoms of menopause and supporting your health in the long-term. Avoid triggers for hot flashes, such as caffeine and alcohol. These substances, although delicious, can exacerbate hot flashes. Eat protein and good quality, healthy fats at every meal, such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts and seeds. Focus on eating complex carbohydrates and reducing your sugar. Incorporate foods into your diet that act as phytoestrogens, such as soy and flaxseed. These help to modulate hormones in your body.  Add omega-3s to your diet by eating fish, fish oil, and nuts and seeds.  Reduce stress, expose yourself to sunlight, and move your body daily. Hormone Replacement Therapy  As hormones begin to decline during perimenopause, women may start to experience a constellation of vasomotor, urogenital, and physical changes. Vasomotor symptoms can include bothersome hot flashes and night sweats. Urogenital symptoms may include vaginal dryness, pain, and urinary incontinence. Physical symptoms such as insomnia, mood and memory changes, and joint and muscle pain can also begin. Using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be an excellent option for alleviating many of these symptoms.  There are numerous forms and options when it comes to this treatment, and when chosen appropriately, it can have tremendous benefits that go beyond just symptom management. Hormone replacement therapy can also be supportive for long-term bone, cognitive, and metabolic health. With the right discussion on the risk and benefits of treatment with their healthcare practitioner, women can take control of their health and make informed choices around HRT. Let’s explore some of the options.  Bioidentical HRT   Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy simply means that the hormones used in treatment are identical to the hormones your body produces. Some bioidentical hormone preparations are standard and found in conventional pharmaceutical products, whereas other preparations can be personalized and made in compounding pharmacies for customized doses and forms. Synthetic HRT  The hormones used in this therapy are not identical in chemical structure to the hormones produced in your body. Many common hormone replacement prescriptions come in this form.  Both bioidentical and synthetic HRT can come in gels, topical or vaginal creams, patches, or be taken orally. Depending on the goals, health history, and preferences of each individual, there are pros and cons to each option. Although there can be some risks with HRT, the safety profile of these treatments can be very high and the benefits immense. Talking with a practitioner who is well-versed in the options is a good idea to determine which approach is best for you.  Natural Medicine  Natural medicine can have powerful benefits for supporting women in this important phase of life. It can be used in combination with HRT, or on its own for women who prefer a non-hormonal treatment option. Sage and rhubarb are two herbal medicines that can help reduce hot flashes, and St. John’s Wort is a wonderful aid for mood support. Optimizing your nutrient levels of Vitamin D, B12, and iron can be important for your energy and mood; melatonin and magnesium are supportive of sleep.  If you are struggling with vaginal dryness and pain, using a vaginal moisturizer that has hyaluronic acid can be extremely effective. The list of natural medicine that can be beneficial is extensive and is most effective when utilized in a personalized plan that fits your needs and goals. Naturopathic doctors are excellent resources to help you choose the right nutraceuticals and supplements to support your health.  Long-term Health   Along with supporting current health goals, menopause is a wonderful moment t ...

Inositol: A ‘Sugar’ For Diabetes, PCOS, PMS, and Anxiety

Inositol Sugar
Inositol is essentially a form of ‘sugar’ that can influence the way the body processes insulin. It is often referred to, incorrectly, as “Vitamin B8.” Inositol is not a B-Vitamin, nor is it a vitamin of any kind. Inositol is a compound that is naturally found in fruits and plant-based foods (beans, grains, nuts, and seeds) and is also sold as a supplement. It is also naturally produced by the body from the foods you eat. In supplement form, the term ‘inositol’ is actually a broad signifier. Usually, most supplements will be in the form of “myo-inositol” “IP6 – inositol hexaphosphate” and “D-chiro-inositol.” Inside your body, inositol plays several important roles related to the action of insulin and impacts serotonin and dopamine. Structurally, inositol is most similar to the sugar ‘glucose,’ and is involved in signaling between cells. While the benefits of inositol have been reported in doses of over 10 grams a day, the standard amount consumed through dietary means is a dramatically lower 1 gram. With higher doses, inositol is used to typically address concerns such as insulin resistance, PCOS, depression, anxiety, and PMS. How Inositol Works – and What It Can Be Used For So, how does inositol (or Myo-inositol) work, and does which form of inositol you choose to matter? Ultimately, which form of commercial inositol as a supplement you purchase does not matter – they will generally be in two forms and both have been studied for their protective benefits. As inositol(s) help the transduction of hormones and neurotransmitters, any sort of reduction in the amount of inositol or defective metabolism of inositol can help implicated in things like PCOS, anxiety, depression, and insulin resistance. In studies where women with PCOS were given either myo-inositol or D-chiro-inositol – markers of abnormalities and reproductive symptoms were improved. PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) can cause hormonal imbalances in women from the ovaries producing too many androgens – male sex hormones that women also have, but in much smaller amounts. Small cysts form in the ovaries. PCOS can lead to irregular or painful periods, infertility, and high blood sugar/cholesterol markers. In those with mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, inositol may help with the balance of certain chemical signals and hormone production – including serotonin and dopamine. Additionally, inositol was found to be helpful for metabolic disorders. These markers include things like higher blood pressure, higher blood sugar, and high “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL). In a study involving taking 4 grams of inositol for over a year, women with metabolic disorders saw an improvement in reduced cholesterol and triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar. This was without changing any other sort of behavior or dietary habits.   Inositol is linked closely to the function of insulin in the body, and as such, appears to be highly beneficial for addressing type 2 diabetes. Is Inositol Safe?  Generally, inositol is extremely well-tolerated. It is a supplement that has been used at a fairly high dose for prolonged periods of time (years) without any reported side effects or adverse effects in multiple studies. It is also naturally obtained from food and produced by the body – just in smaller amounts. At dramatic doses of 10 grams or greater a day, some people do report nausea, gas, or upset stomach. As with any sort of health supplement, always do your independent research prior, and ensure you consult with a health care practitioner or naturopath prior to use. Generally, the dosage will depend on what symptoms you are trying to directly address. For PCOS, a dose of 2 grams twice daily for 6 months or greater is recommended, while for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, 2 grams twice daily for up to a year is recommended. In those with mental health conditions, up to 10 grams once daily (as tolerated) is recommended for a shorter duration of time while self-monitoring. 

Black Cohosh: A Menopausal Supplement Extraordinaire

Black Cohosh
Known as a member of the ‘Buttercup’ family of flowering plants, Black Cohosh is a plant used as an herbal and botanical extract in naturopathic medicine historically for women’s health.  Previously, the Natives often used it to address menstrual pain or irregularity, as well as fever and cough – now, present day: not much has changed. Black Cohosh today is used as an ingredient in many formulations for women’s hormonal health, or individually as a supplement targeted for menopausal symptoms. These types of symptoms include such things women may experience as hot flashes (or flushes), night sweats, sleep issues (apnea), irritability, vaginal dryness, and nervousness.  Menopause typically occurs in women around 50-60 years of age, at the cessation of menstruation and the supposed “end of the reproductive period.” However, menopause can begin earlier and can also be much more severe in terms of symptoms for many women.   Black Cohosh for Menopausal Symptoms: What Does the Research Say Black Cohosh is typically prepared for use as a medicinal supplement by using the roots and stems of the plant, which is then sold as a dietary supplement via whole herb, liquid extracts (alcohol-based tinctures), and dried extracts in pill form. Typically, as with most supplements – you’ll likely find the liquid-based tincture to be the most effective, as it is the most easily absorbed and utilized in terms of concentration and strength. However, capsules are a great option as well for people that would like to avoid consuming alcohol in tinctures.  The compounds believed to be responsible for the menopausal relief in Black Cohosh are likely the ‘glycosides’ present in the herb, along with natural caffeic, and fukinolic acids. You’ll notice many Black Cohosh products ‘standardized’ to contain a certain quantity of glycosides per capsule or dose, which is the amount of ‘active’ compound you’re after for benefit/relief from menopausal symptoms.  When picking a product, keep an eye out for whether it states “standardized to triterpene glycoside content” or simply “equivalent to [X] amount of Black Cohosh root.”  This will help you to determine how potent the supplement you’re purchasing actually is.  So, how exactly does Black Cohosh work to relieve menopausal symptoms? There are believed to be a number of possible pathways in regard to this action – some note that it is through the antioxidant abilities of Black Cohosh, in addition to it be a selective estrogen receptor modulator.  What this essentially means is that Black Cohosh may potentially increase the level of estrogen in the body (which is in much lower levels in those with menopausal symptoms) due to this reduced natural production of estrogen. In those with higher estrogen or estrogen dominance, it may act to lower estrogen through the ‘modulation’ of estrogen receptors.  Black Cohosh can then be said to function as a phytoestrogen.  While studies are never conclusive (and you always need to determine if a product is right for you, individually), Black Cohosh appears to help reduce symptoms of hot flashes/flushes, and sleep disturbances related to menopausal women – what there is not great evidence for, is using Black Cohosh for fertility purposes: a modest improvement in pregnancy was shown in women with infertility when using Black Cohosh along with pharmaceutical medication.  Additionally, Black Cohosh does seem to help with other symptoms associated with women’s health specifically – and the importance of hormonal balance. Those with irregular menstrual cycles, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), and uterine fibroids have found relief through supplementation with Black Cohosh (often in addition to prescribed medication).  This includes increasing the chances of getting pregnant, a reduction in the size of fibroids, and helping to ensure a regular menstrual cycle in those with PCOS – outside of those who are menopausal.  Black Cohosh: Precautions, Safety, and How to Supplement with It Typically, any side effects noticed (or noted) with Black Cohosh are extremely mild – and usually, just involve some sort of digestive upset or nausea if the individual reacts poorly to it.  Black Cohosh, has in rare cases, been linked to liver damage – this is important to note for those with liver disease, as this may be related to how effectively the liver processes the glycosides and compounds in it – generally, most people seem to tolerate daily use without issue.  For those taking it as a supplement, the dosage will depend on whether it is being taken as a capsule or liquid tincture. Dosage will vary between brands – anywhere from 20mg – 120mg as an extract or powered capsule.  Generally, most of the studies indicated benefits for menopausal symptoms at 20mg of Black Cohosh daily. Overdoing it on dosage may in ...

Lets Talk Hormonal Detox

When we think detox we often think of the latest juice cleanse or a program that restricts certain foods. Detoxes are often used to eliminate and cleanse our organs from harmful bacteria, parasites, environmental toxins, alcohol and medication. However, have you ever thought of a hormonal detox? Hormones are the chemical substances that coordinate and control the activities within the body. They are secreted through the endocrine glands and each hormone influences certain organs and tissues. Hormones are responsible for growth, metabolism, sexual function, reproduction, development etc.  When the body releases too much or not enough this can result in hormonal imbalance.  Xenoestrogens (environmental estrogens) are environmental toxins, such as manmade chemicals, parabens, phthalates, BPA’s, pesticides and herbicides. Our body can absorb these environmental estrogens the same way it can our natural estrogen. This can lead to estrogen dominance, a condition where the body has a higher amount of estrogen to progesterone, this imbalance can lead to undesired health effects (1,2.) Our liver is responsible for detoxification and flushing excess hormones and toxins from the body. However, due to poor nutrition choices, stress, caffeine and alcohol this becomes exceedingly difficult.  Our liver function becomes compromised, sluggish and backed up. When this occurs these half detoxified molecules recirculate back into the system, which can lead to hormonal imbalance and toxic overload.  Let’s examine 5 simple ways to start detoxifying your body from excess hormones and in turn show your liver some love.  1. Avoid Plastics Plastics contain toxins that are prone to leaching. Two of these chemicals BPA (bisphenol-A and bisphenol-S) and BPS mimic estrogen in the body and can throw off the balance of your natural estrogen (3.) These two chemicals are especially detrimental in extreme temperatures.  When possible choose a glass or a stainless steel water bottles. Make sure to remove plastics that come in contact with your food and store all leftovers in glass containers.  2. Natural Makeup, Skin Care and Household Products If we look at the ingredient profile on our favorite skincare, haircare, sunscreen and makeup, we will discover most of our personal products contain parabens and phthalates.  These chemicals enter the lymphatic system and our bloodstream then are processed via our liver. Make sure you always read your labels and reach for products that are clearly marked paraben and phthalate free, as many of the chemicals can be difficult to identify. Then the next time you throw the laundry in the dryer make sure to read the label of your favorite, lavender, softener sheets. Many household cleaners and fabric softeners contain petrochemicals, which also serve as environmental estrogens. Ingredients in common household cleaners have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruptors and neurotoxicity (4.) Read labels and if you are feeling crafty you can try making your own with such ingredients as vinegar, baking soda and essential oils.    3. Eat Organic Produce, and Grass Fed Meat or Dairy. Certified organic products are grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones and antibiotics. These harmful chemicals can contain xenoestrogens and are used in plant and animal farming to boost production and protect crops from pests. When possible choose certified organic, buy local or wild caught and make sure to wash your fruit and vegetables thoroughly. In addition make sure your diet is rich in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and watercress. These are rich in both DIM (diindolylmethane) which is effective in detoxifying excess estrogen and additionally contain liver supportive phytochemicals.   4. Movement Our skin is our largest organ and one way we can eliminate toxins is through perspiration and exercise. When other detoxifying organs are overloaded, toxins can cause a form of rashes, acne, blemishes, pimples and sores. Moving the body helps circulate blood and lymph, forces heavier breathing, circulation, improves digestion, and bowel movements. In addition, exercise and movement strengthen the heart and lungs which are responsible for expelling carbon dioxide.  It is recommended to aim for at least 30 min of movement each day and besides supporting detoxification and overall health and wellness, is also provides a great stress reliever.   5. Supplements  Supporting our liver with additional nutrients to assist in processing hormonal toxins from the body can be beneficial.  Milk Thistle is known for its ability to repair and support the liver. This powerful herb assists in the bodies production of glutathione, the most powerful antioxidant in the body, which optimizes liver function and detoxification.  NAC is a precursor to gl ...

Happy Mother's Day from Healthy Planet!

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching! This is the perfect opportunity to treat all the Mama's in your life and even yourself to a few sweet gifts to celebrate this beautiful day. Healthy Planet is currently running an INCREDIBLE Mother's Day Sale, full of pampering and practical products for all Mothers! I have narrowed down my top 4 favourite products that not only do I use, but would make the  perfect Health & Wellness gifts for the Mama's in your life this Mother’s Day!   Organika Collagen – Because healthy skin is always on trend. Collagen has many beautiful benefits that does our body so good - promotes skin health, boost muscle mass, improve ingestive health, burns fat, alleviate joint pains, promotes heart health, and improves cognitive health. Our bodies naturally produce collagen, however our ability to produce it decreases less and less as we age. This is why it is so important to either incorporate foods that contain collagen in our diet or supplement it with a product like, Organika Collagen. Because let’s be real, who doesn’t want beautiful skin? Skin Essence Facial in a Jar – Spoil the Mama's in your life with this multipurpose product. You can either use this as an exfoliator to scrub away dead skin or leave it on as a mask so that the product can absorb all the oils and impurities out of your skin. Either way, this product will leave your skin super soft, supple, nourished and will brighten your overall complexion!   Everyone Hand Soap Coconut Lavender – This is the best naturally smelling hand soap on the market. I really love that it is kind to our earth, cruelty free, gluten free, does not contain synthetic fragrance, and really does a wonderful job at cleansing and moisturizing the skin.   Andalou Naturals Body Lotion Lavender Thyme – You will not catch me without some sort of hand lotion in my diaper bag. With all the diaper changing and constantly washing my hands to avoid catching my toddler’s germs, it strips away my natural oils leaving my skin super dry and cracked. I love this hand lotion not only does it DELICIOUS but it also does a fab job at moisturizing and keeping the skin moisturized for a long period of time. If Lavender Thyme isn’t your jam, they also have a large selection of other scents as well!   Written by Healthy Planet Ambassador @lifestylebycp.  Follow Cherrie as she lives her best life spreading her vision of the Health and Wellness lifestyle with the help of Healthy Planet!

What is PMS?

Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS), or Pre-menstrual Tension (PMT) as it was formerly known, is a common condition which is said to affect up to 80% of women. It is a chronic problem which gives rise to both physical and psychological symptoms regularly each month, between the time of ovulation to the first few days of menstruation. This part of a woman’s menstrual cycle, known scientifically as the luteal phase, is associated with big changes in the levels of the two main female hormones oestrogen and progesterone. What causes PMS? The precise cause of PMS is still not clear but current scientific thinking strongly suggests that hormonal changes during specific points of the menstrual cycle play a significant role. Evidence in support of this include: Most women suffering PMS experience symptoms at the same point of their monthly cycle PMS is not experienced by women who are not menstruating (eg. during pregnancy) Symptoms tend to be worse when big hormonal changes occur, such as during puberty (before periods start), just before the menopause, or after coming off hormonal treatment such as the oral contraceptive pill. It is not clear why some women experience PMS whilst others don’t. One theory is that it is not so much the fluctuations of hormones which occur naturally with the menstrual cycle that causes PMS, but the relative ‘balance’ of oestrogen and progesterone that is important. What are the symptoms of PMS? Symptoms of PMS may be either physical or emotional. Over 150 have been described although thankfully, it is unlikely that all are experienced at once. Nevertheless, the combination of symptoms affecting these two key aspects of health can make one feel pretty miserable until they lift. Emotional symptoms of PMS affect the way you think, feel and respond and can give rise to a lower ability to cope with stress, irritability, feeling fed-up or even depression Physical symptoms tend to affect a specific body part giving rise to bloating, acne, weight gain, food cravings, period pains and a general feeling of being tired or unwell. Although they vary from one woman to another, what is consistent is that PMS symptoms arise in the week (or sometimes two weeks) before your menstrual period begins. Most women experience the same consistent handful of symptoms each month.   Factors influencing PMS Several factors are known to influence your tendency to develop PMS symptoms. These include: Diet – your diet can affect the degree of PMS symptoms. If you are feeling irritable or anxious, reduce the amount of caffeine you consume. If bloating is a symptom, reduce your intake of salt Genetics – doctors have long observed that a woman is more likely to experience symptoms if a close relative has PMS, but no clear genetic reason has been found to explain this. However, as our genes influence practically every part of our emotional and physical health, it seems unlikely that it does not play a role in PMS Chemical changes - changes in the levels of female hormones can influence the amount of chemicals produced in your brain. These, particularly serotonin, have a significant influence over your mood and sleep and help us understand why these emotional symptoms occur Depression – research suggests that women who experience low mood as part of PMS are more prone to developing some forms of depression, particularly post-natal depression, and vice-versa Stress – feeling under pressure at work or home can make any situation appear worse. This won’t help emotional symptoms of PMS such as irritability, anxiety or mood swings, or the ability to cope with physical symptoms such as period pain or bloating. Diagnosis of PMS Many symptoms described for PMS may also be experienced as part of the menstrual cycle, making it difficult in some cases for doctors to make the diagnosis of PMS. These ‘normal’ premenstrual symptoms are mild and short lived. In general, PMS is not diagnosed until symptoms occur regularly and start to affect normal daily activities and quality of life. There are no blood tests available to help and doctors will use a ‘clinical diagnosis’, relying on the pattern of symptoms and their experience when assessing the problem. Often, keeping a diary such as in the form of the PMS menstrual chart can help clarify matters.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. Infertility is one of the most common PCOS symptoms. Because the symptoms of PCOS are seemingly unrelated to one another, the condition is often overlooked and undiagnosed. Overview Polycystic ovary syndrome causes irregular menstrual cycles, excessive body or facial hair and polycystic ovaries as its main symptoms. Polycystic means "many cysts," and PCOS often causes clusters of small, pearl-sized cysts in the ovaries. The cysts are fluid-filled and contain immature eggs. Women with PCOS produce slightly higher amounts of male hormones known as androgens, which contribute to some of the symptoms of the condition. The cause of PCOS is not known. Some women with PCOS are less sensitive to insulin than other women, a condition known as insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can cause the ovaries to produce too many male hormones. The resulting hormonal imbalance can cause the symptoms of PCOS. The condition appears to run in families, and sisters of those with it are twice as likely to have it. Currently, PCOS has no cure, but a variety of PCOS treatments can help alleviate the symptoms of this disease, including infertility. PCOS Symptoms PCOS is a syndrome disease defined by a collection of signs and symptoms. The symptoms of PCOS that one patient experiences can be very different from the symptoms of another patient. If you have two or more of the following symptoms, you need to have a thorough checkup to determine if you need PCOS treatment: Irregular or missing menstrual periods Infertility Excess or unwanted body or facial hair growth Thinning hair on the scalp Weight problems, often including weight gain around the waist Skin problems, including skin tags, darkening skin and acne Complications of PCOS The common PCOS symptoms are difficult enough for most women, but some will experience further complications, including: Diabetes, elevated insulin levels or insulin resistance Heart and blood vessel problems Uterine cancer Sleep apnea Each of these problems can be life threatening, which is why treatment for PCOS is so important. PCOS Treatments Polycystic ovary syndrome treatment starts with a proper diagnosis. Treatments are then chosen based on a woman's symptoms, age and future pregnancy plans. Treatment for PCOS may include: Birth control pills to regulate menstruation Insulin-sensitizing medications Ovulation induction to treat infertility Androgen-blocking medications Topical anti-hair-growth medications Other excess hair treatments Treatments for hair loss Acne treatments Removal of other skin problems Lifestyle and Prevention One of the best treatments for PCOS is a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet, low in refined carbohydrates, is important, as this can help regulate blood sugar levels. Exercise can also help the body regulate insulin and keep excess weight off. Losing weight is challenging with PCOS, but doing so can help reduce the male hormone levels in the body, and some women will begin to ovulate naturally. With a proper diagnosis, lifestyle changes, and PCOS treatment, women can get relief from this condition and the overwhelming health problems it can cause. Editors: Cristina Meriggiola, MD, PhDUniversity of Bologna Musa Zamah, MD, PhDUniversity of California, San Francisco   Ref: http://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/womens-health/polycystic-ovary-syndrome

Foods That Are Testosterone Antagonists

Foods That Are Testosterone Antagonists by TOMAS LINNAEUS      The endocrine system produces different hormones that circulate throughout the body. Maintaining the proper balance between these substances ensures good health. Excessive levels of the androgen testosterone, for example, can cause unwanted reactions, such as menstrual irregularity, voice deepening and hair growth. Women with polycystic ovary disease and adolescent girls often have these symptoms. Eating certain foods may help lower testosterone, but speak with a doctor for the proper diagnosis and treatment. Spearmint Tea The spearmint plant, Mentha spicata, grows freely in Europe and Asia. Used for a variety of ailments, traditional healers suspected that ingesting this plant reduces libido. Such an anti-androgenic effect suggests that spearmint may block testosterone. An experiment outlined in the February 2010 issue of "Phytotherapy Research" tested this hypothesis in women with polycystic ovary disease. Patients received spearmint tea twice a day for a month. Relative to placebo, this treatment caused a decrease in circulating testosterone. It also decreased unwanted hair growth. The women did not experience serious side effects, but the long-term impact of spearmint remains unknown.   Bael Leaf Leaves from the bael tree, Aegle marmelos, play a significant role in Ayurvedic medicine. Eaten in salads to relieve constipation, bael leaves may help treat diabetes. This finding indicates that the food may affect hormone regulation. A 2007 article presented in "Contraception" evaluated bael's effect on testosterone. Laboratory animals received extracted bael leaves daily for two months. Relative to baseline, bael leaves suppressed testosterone and reduced fertility in male rats. Ending the treatment reversed these effects, and that change eliminated all signs of toxicity within four months. While suggestive, results obtained in animals may not generalize well to humans. Pegaga The pegaga plant, Centella asiatica, also has medicinal properties. People in Malaysia eat this herb raw as a salad green. Preliminary data suggest that pegaga treats symptoms of diabetes and affects the endocrine system. A 2010 paper in "La Clinica Terapeutica" looked at pegaga's impact on male fertility. Rodents were given daily injections of either Centella asiatica or distilled water for three months. The pegaga treatment decreased testosterone production and reduced sperm count relative to the inert treatment. The food did not affect other physiological systems, but patients should wait until scientists collect more safety data for pegaga. Potato Fiber Potatoes and potato products remain some of the most popular foods. Potato fiber is made from the resistant starch contained in the vegetable, and it can prevent colon cancer. This fiber may have other medical applications as well. A study described in the April 2010 edition of "Archives of Animal Nutrition" assessed the effect of potato fiber on laboratory animals. Male and female rodents received a diet supplemented with either fiber or cellulose for six months. Relative to the cellulose-enriched diet, the fiber-enriched diet suppressed testosterone levels and enhanced mineral absorption. Additional tests will reveal the mechanisms underlying these effects. References: http://www.livestrong.com/article/412385-foods-that-are-testosterone-antagonists/

8 Signs You Have a Hormonal Imbalance

This month Dr. Marita Schauch discusses a subject that many women (or rather most women) obsess over: hormonal imbalance. How many of us feel the effects of so much happening in our systems and wish there was a way we could conquer all the emotions, water retention, headaches, cramps and general aches and pains we feel within our cycles? Read on for Dr. Marita’s  fabulous wisdom and great advice: How many women have you spoken to lately who feel fabulous – balanced, rested and ready to conquer the world? I’d guess the answer is somewhere between none and few. In my clinical practice I treat hundreds of women each year and I hear the same series of concerns every day: “I have no energy; I can’t sleep; I’m so stressed; my hormones are raging!”  Believe it or not, hormone balance plays an integral part in all these health concerns as well as countless others! Out-of-control hormones can have a serious impact on your quality of life. For most women the most pronounced hormonal changes come in their 40s and 50s, but the impact can be seen as early as their mid-30s. In fact, more and more women are noticing hormonal imbalances earlier, some even in their teens. This unfortunately has a lot to do with our lifestyle and diet, but also the environment we live in: Xenoestrogens are synthetic chemicals that mimic our natural estrogens in the body, and can also be found in all kinds of household products, beauty products and plastics (among many other sources). Beyond our age and environment, changes in hormones also occur during a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle, as well as before, during and after pregnancy. It’s unfortunate that when the word “hormones” is mentioned, visions of raging menopausal or PMS-laden women come to mind for most! There is actually quite a lot more to hormonal imbalances, and the effects are more serious than “just” a bad mood. Some of the most common symptoms of hormonal imbalance are listed below. If any of them sound familiar, I strongly encourage you to visit your ND or MD to investigate further. There’s a lot we can do to counteract out-of-whack hormones and significantly increase your quality of life! Persistent Weight Gain Yes, you have to make healthy dietary choices and exercise to maintain a healthy weight, but often when the weight game seems out of our control, there’s something going on beneath the surface. Some women may have underlying hormonal imbalances that make it much harder to maintain a healthy weight. Assessing for low thyroid, insulin resistance and adrenal function are some great first steps in the right direction. Belly Fat The adrenal glands are two small glands that sit on top of your kidneys and are the body’s main stress responders. When we are under constant stress for too long, the hormone cortisol is overproduced and causes the body to store fat for future use. This storage typically happens in the belly region and is usually a clue that the adrenals need some help. My favorite adrenal supportives include B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and adaptogenic herbs such as rhodiola, ashwagandha and Siberian ginseng. Fatigue Dragging yourself out of bed every morning? Can’t function without coffee? Experiencing that mid-afternoon crash daily? Fatigue is probably one of the most common concerns I hear every day in clinical practice. Testing for low thyroid, low iron, low B12, adrenal fatigue, and food intolerances can help isolate the right treatment for fatigue. As well, managing healthy blood sugars can stabilize energy levels keeping you vibrant and clear. Anxiety, Depression and Irritability The quality of your moods is typically an indication of how balanced your hormones are. The health of the adrenal glands is an important foundation, as long-term stress and the overproduction of cortisol can have a profound effect on serotonin levels and therefore affect overall mood. Eliminating stimulants such as coffee, black tea, chocolate, and colas can lower anxiety. Keeping blood sugars balanced with adequate lean and healthy proteins throughout the day can also help to maintain healthy moods. Low Libido A very common symptom of hormone imbalance is low libido. This is typically due to levels of the hormone testosterone, which change as we age due to menopause and andropause. Stress can also affect testosterone levels, so make sure your adrenal glands are well supported. Poor Sleep Insomnia can develop into a vicious cycle that usually starts with an underlying hormone imbalance involving the hallmark hormone of stress – you guessed it, cortisol. Using relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing an ...