Hormones, you say!?? Yes, they can make you mad and feel crazy! Our hormones fluctuate and take quite a toll on us beginning at puberty and continuing well into our '50s. Starting at 15, I suffered from PMS, extreme moodiness, and heavy bleeding. Then after my first child, my hormones seemed to balance. But after my second, at 30 years old, they started to shift again, and I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster for years…always struggling to find some balance in my life!
I’ve been wanting to discuss hormones here for a long time. No, I’m not a medical professional, but in all honesty, I feel that Western medicine has failed us in this area! So, I did everything in my power to find ways to heal myself. I also discussed hormonal symptoms and treatments with friends and clients who likewise felt off-kilter. We tried a lot of different modalities! Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. But knowledge is power, so here’s your roadmap to keeping your hormones balanced and living your best life in a safe, effective, and holistic way. It’s all about what YOU need for your mental and physical health!
Are Hormones Driving You Crazy?
No one prepares you for the onslaught of symptoms that can completely disrupt your life once you bear children or hit your ‘40s or early ‘50s. The culprit is hormones, and they pretty much have something to do with just about everything! Sure, we had a general idea that we might start having irregular periods and hot flashes one day. But that’s pretty much all that our culture prepares us for.
Well, there’s so much more to it: symptoms you had no idea are signals that your hormones are out of whack — some of them so strange you think you’re losing your mind! Brain fog and difficulty concentrating, extreme sluggishness, leg pains, ridiculously frequent peeing, persistent adult acne, insomnia, periods that seem to last forever, mood swings, and irritability. And let’s not forget weight gain, especially around the breast and midsection regions!
What Are Hormones Anyway and What Do They Do?
Hormones — cortisol, estrogen, melatonin, progesterone, and testosterone — are vital for maintaining the body's homeostasis. Hormones are produced by our endocrine glands and function as messengers to regulate the activity of certain cells and organs and to control several physiological and psychological functions.
The endocrine system comprises the pineal gland, the pituitary gland, the thyroid gland, the thymus, the adrenal glands, the pancreas, the ovaries, and the testes. Hormonal imbalances can be caused by diseases like hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and osteoporosis, but we are keeping our focus on the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause in cis females.
What Exactly Are Perimenopause and Menopause?
According to John Hopkins Medicine, perimenopause is the transitional time around menopause marked by changes in the menstrual cycle, as well as other physical and emotional symptoms. This "pause" can last anywhere from 2 to 10 years. During this time, your body releases eggs less regularly, produces less estrogen, and experiences shorter and irregular menstrual cycles.”
Perimenopause (“around menopause") starts in the 40s for most women, but for some, it can begin as soon as the 30s or as late as the early ‘50s. Menopause means your periods have stopped. Generally, you are in menopause when you have not had your cycle in 12 months.
Some women experience debilitating PMS symptoms and mood swings, fatigue, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, hot flashes, brain fog, difficulty concentrating, and vaginal dryness. As estrogen levels fluctuate and diminish, the vaginal tissues can lose lubrication and elasticity, making intercourse painful. Low estrogen may also leave you more vulnerable to urinary or vaginal infections. Loss of tissue tone can cause urinary incontinence and a little leakage when coughing and sneezing — or feel like you have to pee every 15 minutes.
The skin is the largest non-reproductive organ that is affected by estrogen. Estrogen-deficient skin can start freaking out even leading up to perimenopause. Think anything from dry, red, flaky, and itchy skin to oily patches, breakouts, acne, eczema, and rosacea. You might notice dark spots and hyperpigmentation, loss of plumpness and elasticity, and unwanted facial hair.
Hormone Treatments We Tried!
Since I have been dealing with hormonal issues since my teens and early 20s, I already knew quite a bit about balancing the endocrine system, but I wasn’t quite prepared for this new onslaught of symptoms. Of course, I sought the help of my OB-GYN who gave me a prescription for Mirena, a hormonal IUD that regulates cycles and minimizes heavy bleeding. It helped a little but not nearly enough.
Also, releasing hormones your body doesn't need is not good for you and can be dangerous for your health! They can frequently create more of an imbalance and long-term suffering. Ultimately, I had it removed to go a different route altogether. (More on that below!)
As you delve deeper into perimenopause and ultimately menopause, you might find that you need more heavy-duty healing. Keep in mind that everybody is unique, and what works for one person doesn’t work at all. So it can be quite a game of trial and error. Here we share what we tried and what worked for us and what did not!
Diet & Exercise to Create Balance
Exercise and a healthy, nutrient-rich organic diet are paramount to vibrant health for anyone at any age, especially when you are going through challenging physical and emotional changes. We added more foods rich in omega 2, 6, and 9 fatty acids, vitamin B complex, calcium, and magnesium.
Think fatty fish (salmon and mackerel), nuts, chia, flax, dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, whole grains, green tea, and dark chocolate for a sweet treat. We also incorporate maca, which stimulates and stabilizes hormones in your hypothalamus, pituitary, pineal gland, and adrenal glands! Think balance!
As your metabolism slows down, you need to up your exercise and cardio routine. We hike, swim, and do yoga every day. And on days when we feel particularly sluggish, achy, and PMS-y, we do gentle yin yoga poses or a few easy stretches.
Doing a daily meditation is also extremely balancing, as is dancing, taking time for yourself, and allowing for regular, overall health resets. Acupuncture is also great for addressing imbalances in the body by manipulating chi and resetting hormone levels. Every bit counts! But honestly, I did not get my energy levels back up until I found the solution listed at the very end of this post!
Supplements: From Dong Quai to Wild Yam
Black Cohosh is a woodland herb and root that has been used to treat menopausal symptoms since the 1950s. According to the National Library of Medicine, menopausal women reported reduced night sweats and hot flashes when using this supplement. We tried these herbs but quickly abandoned them due to symptoms such as nervousness and irritability.
Dong Quai ("female ginseng") has been used for over a thousand years as a medicine, tonic, and spice to treat issues like menstrual and menopausal symptoms. It is said to reduce hot flashes, yet other clinical trials concluded that it has no benefits for menopausal women. We’d say the jury is still out!
We were very excited to try a Wild Yam Extract cream by Winona, despite studies saying that the product appears to have little effect on menopausal symptoms. We have to say that we did feel a little better, more balanced, and less irritable! It might work for you!
To address brain fog and concentration issues, we gave Gingko Biloba a shot. After all, it has been used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years. The Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest living tree species in the world. It contains powerful antioxidants, fights inflammation, and improves cognitive function. Gingko can also boost estrogen levels and estrogen and enhance sexual function in menopausal women. After a few weeks, we felt a mental boost!
Willow Bark has been used for thousands of years to treat headaches, low back pain, and inflammatory conditions. An anti-inflammatory and analgesic, willow bark packs polyphenols and flavonoids that can be as effective as aspirin for lessening pain and inflammation. We reached for it when we started having frequent hormonal headaches, migraines, and leg pains.
Host Defense Mushroom Tinctures: The biggest support I have found is from Host Defense, esp their mushroom tinctures. I personally love and use one or more of these daily: Comprehensive Immune Support, Energy Support, DNA/Antioxidant Support and their Memory and Nerve Support!
Lastly, but not least… Hormone Replacement Pellet Therapy
Finally, I discovered Hormone Replacement Pellet Therapy. I initially went to AMA Skin Regenerative Clinic in Beverly Hills to seek help treating hyperpigmentation. To cut a long story short: after a thorough consultation and the most thorough blood panel I have ever received, I ended up having my IUD removed. Instead, I opted for their unique hormone replacement therapy, where small pellet(s) get inserted into the fatty tissue of the buttocks. The pellet is the size of a rice grain. It works as a time release, so your body takes what it needs each day.
This incredible treatment has been life-changing! I finally feel like my old self again, full of vitality, able to function, and just great all around! It is amazing what a natural and holistic approach can do for complete physiological, mental, and emotional balance and overall transformation.
There IS a Method That Will Work for You!
Our bodies are unique and marvelous organisms. What works for one person might be “poison” for another. We don’t want you to go out there and act as guinea pigs. But strictly relying on traditional Western medicine and hormonal IUDs might not cut it. It certainly did not for me and many of the women we interviewed. So much surrounding menopause is under-discussed.
We hope you find some inspiration here to tackle your hormonal health issues and symptoms. We would also love you to book an appointment at our flagship spa, Being in LA. We will devise a custom plan for treating your hormonal skin issues with our exquisite all-natural products and healing facials…along with extra support layering in our infrared LED bed therapy for overall tissue/skin repair.
The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Hormones by Dave Asprey
Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life by Claudia Welch
Age Healthier, Live Happier by Gary Donovitz
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause by John R. Lee
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Perimenopause by John R. Lee
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