We have asked a TCM Doctor and Fertility Expert Nat Kringoudis about hormone related issues.
Hormones can be just plain bossy. Some pull rank over others, there’s no escaping them. We all have them and we’d all be lost without them. They are the messengers in your body to get a job done; be it to help you fall asleep or to wind up the internals and support your menstrual cycle. Many women are waking up to the fact that they have some type of hormone imbalance. Endometriosis, PCOS or Infertility I see most commonly, usually when symptoms become loud enough to hear and you have no choice but to listen.
But what about the other common hormone driven conditions that aren’t generally serious, yet still common and annoying? Let’s discuss the top 5 hormone health issues I see in the clinic and a little on what you can do to help yourself out should they be ruining your day.
Nobody finds acne fun. There are various ways in which pimples on the face can present, typically the region in which you see them can help decipher what’s going on internally. For example, acne around the mouth is most often digestion related; as opposed to acne along the jaw line which is most commonly hormone driven. Not only can the location of the acne help you treat the problem, but the nature of it too.
Are the pimples cystic, filled with pus or red? This too helps paint the picture. There are many ways to treat acne, but the first place you must start is with digestive health since the two are greatly linked. By boosting digestive function, you can make great changes towards your skin in general. You might like to draw on the benefits of Digestive Herbs, formerly Tiny Tea to help you out and then switch over to the Skin Magic Tea to really seal the deal. The herbs within each differ, Digestive Herbs, formerly Tiny Tea is all about maximising digestive power, while Skin Magic Tea takes it to the next level, working more specifically on the skin. This combination can certainly be the winning mix.
Your sleep is also controlled by your hormones. So often when we are experiencing hormone imbalance it begins to affect our sleeping habits. It’s estimated that around 50% of us are sleep deprived. Progesterone, amongst other hormones like melatonin, dopamine, serotonin and more, all contribute to a happy and healthy sleep. If your progesterone is low, it’s typically because your oestrogen and cortisol are high (the most commonly seen hormone imbalance), which results in sleepless nights.
While we are in ‘fight or flight’ mode our stress hormones are high and sleep won’t come easy, if at all. It relies on us switching over to the only other state our bodies know – ‘rest and digest.’ There are thousands of ways we can find ourselves stressed, but only one way we can kick ourselves into ‘rest and digest.’ BREATH. Research suggests that just 5 deep, diaphragmatic breathing can be enough to switch us to this state. Try it, 5 big deep breaths before bedtime can help set the tone, allowing the body to begin to relax.
A common symptom of modern living, which can very often be related back to sluggish hormone function. Anxiety is a symptom seen in several imbalances including an unhappy thyroid, poor gut function, in women with PCOS or Oestrogen Dominance. It might be worth calling upon your favourite health care professional to help you decipher the root cause of your anxiety.
So often the modern approach to health concerns is a symptomatic plan, which can offer some much-needed short-term relief but never addresses the core issue at hand. We can learn from Chinese Medicine in this instance and use our symptoms as a further opportunity to explore and dig deeper to make long lasting changes towards our health. Rather than managing symptoms, Chinese Medicine looks deeper into fixing issues for long lasting results.
A very common problem that can be a result of a magnitude of reasons, not limited to hormones, think other causes like dehydration, fatigue, muscle tension and poor posture. But when headaches are cyclic and occur at the same time each and every month, it’s a good idea to look into exactly when that is. Most commonly women experience hormonal headaches or even migraines mid-month when building up to ovulation or at the period time. In any case, it’s a good clue to look at what’s really going on. It may be the result of excess oestrogen causing low progesterone. Low progesterone can present with a swag more clues including breast tenderness, PMS, spotting and more. If you find yourself experiencing regular headaches especially leading into the period time, there are a couple of safe remedies you can try. Vitamin C is a great way to help keep progesterone happy as well as spiced foods like saffron, turmeric, and ginger. Notice a common theme? These foods are all orange. Fascinating fact, but they are all yang natured foods (just as progesterone is considered most yang of the hormones). You might also guess what category the colour orange belongs to. You got it – yang!
Not ever fun, but hair loss can be a great indication that there is excess male hormones or androgens like testosterone running the show. As women, we are supposed to have a little testosterone available as it is a precursor to make other hormones. So yes, we need it. But when it gets out of control we can see less hair on the head and more hair on the face typically along the jawline, mimicking what would happen in a male. Good news is, there is a lot of research going into this area of health and we are getting better at treating it. Very often if there is a surplus of testosterone, one step in the right direction can be to ensure the liver function is optimal. The liver is something that is easily affected by the use of medications, poor nutrition and our environment. Start with a gentle cleanse or simply add warm lemon water to your morning regime to get the ball rolling. In a perfect world we wouldn’t need to cleanse our body, but unfortunately, when hormone imbalance is involved, it’s very often at the centre of the issue.
Simple changes can have the most profound results, we can never underestimate the power of good nutrition and taking care of our body. While hormones can seem tricky, I find for my patients the easiest way to tackle them is one step at a time. Remember, your body is continually serving you clues via symptoms, take each one, look at it thoroughly, and you’ll be amazed at the answers you may find.
Yours in Balance,
Photo via @domsli22