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Dr. Shawn Morris, ND

Estrogen & Progesterone

During and after menopause, many women experience symptoms related to progesterone and estrogen decline. This is a timeherbs for menopause Seattle WA where there are also changes in types of estrogen, which may cause inflammation. Many women experience migraines, hot flashes, brain fog, and irritability during this period. In the short term, balancing hormones with supplements, herbs and minerals supports healthy transition into menopause. Long term, it is possible for most women to balance hormone levels through diet and lifestyle alone.

Hormone balance through diet, lifestyle, & herbs

Although progesterone is not found in foods, there are many ways to balance progesterone with nutrition. Primarily, if the body is in an estrogen dominant state, balancing excess estrogen metabolites is the first step. Post-menopause, too much of 4 and 6 hydroxy-estrogen is inflammatory, and also antagonizes remaining progesterone. To reverse estrogen metabolite dominance, weaving in nuts and seeds can support healthy estrogen and progesterone levels. If you are approaching menopause and still have an active cycle, then adding flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds days 1-13 will boost healthy estrogens, then shifting to sesame and sunflower days 14-28 will boost progesterone. After menopause, including all seed types in the diet is beneficial.

Foods high in selenium support the corpus luteum, which is the region of the ovaries where progesterone is formed. Adding four Brazil nuts to the diet will provide enough selenium, or supplementing with 200 mcg per day.

Vitamin B6 also supports the corpus luteum in the ovaries. To build levels, supplement with B6 in the short-term. Then, add in foods rich in vitamin B6, which include turkey, wild-caught tuna and salmon, beef, chicken, pistachios, chickpeas, potatoes, eggs, and dark leafy greens. Adding in 3-4 servings per day of high B6 foods will help sustain healthy levels. Beyond progesterone, B6 also supports serotonin balance and melatonin conversion, promoting sound sleep and balanced mood. Speaking of sleep, getting enough sleep supports neurotransmitter and hormone balance, along with healthy weight. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

Herbal medicines can help with menopausal transition and treating symptoms as well. In particular Vitex, or chasteberry, supports progesterone production and decreases symptoms of menopause in clinical trials. Black cohosh and blue cohosh balance estrogen dominance and decrease hot flashes. Raspberry leaf is a gentle tonic that supports the female the reproductive system. Talk with your doctor about an individualized herbal and nutritional approach that works for you.

Focus on healing the GI. If you have a history of GI symptoms and inflammation, soothing the digestive system is a key step in hormone support. Healing the GI is vital to allow for nutrient absorption. Food provides the building blocks for our hormones, neurotransmitters, and tissue health, laying the foundation for overall wellbeing. To heal the GI, avoid fried foods, refined ingredients, excess acidity, and heavily processed foods. Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, complex grains, and adequate protein (around 60 grams per day). Specific foods that heal digestive function include aloe juice, coconut, cinnamon, turmeric, peppermint and chamomile tea, and probiotic foods like yogurt & kefir.

Get regular exercise. Gentle exercise supports immune system health, metabolism, and healthy weight, which helps balance estrogen and progesterone. Try hiking, light jogging, eliptical machines, swimming, and resistance exercises. For simple home resistance exercises, pick up a theraband for upper and lower body workouts. However, avoid overexercise, as this places stress on the body that decreases pregnenolone and hormone synthesis. Long distance running, Cross-Fit, and intense cycling classes may cause more harm than benefit when dealing with low hormone function.

Natural progesterone cream. While implementing these lifestyle steps, adding in extra hormonal support may be necessary for a short period. Natural progesterone creams containing bio-identical progestins help replenish levels. Monitoring progesterone levels is important once per month to keep progesterone in a healthy level. Long-term, use of progesterone cream is tapered down. Yam and soy based creams are not effective. Taking pregnenolone and DHEA also supports progesterone by providing the building blocks for production.

Xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens

Along with managing hormones in the body, monitoring input of hormones from the environment is also key. Xenoestrogens are synthetic estrogen-like compounds produced in manufacturing. They are commonly found in makeup, packaging, pesticide residue, and plastic products. Certain xenoestrogens act as estrogen-disruptors by blocking or binding estrogen receptors. They have detrimental effects on the immune system, bone health, and the female reproductive system. To avoid xenoestrogens, choose additive-free makeup and bath/body products, organic produce, and glass bottles versus plastic.

Also, taking phytoestrogens has a protective effect. Phytoestrogens are plant-based estrogen-like compounds that occupy receptors and prevent xenoestrogens from binding. Moderate amounts of soy, alfalfa, brassicas, and clover taken in the diet as sprouts, food, and supplements protects the endocrine system.

By working with nutrition, herbal medicine, and lifestyle, it is possible to support the body while transitioning into menopause. This is a natural part of the lifecycle, and in most cases the body’s intelligence knows what to do. When extra support is needed, there are safe and effective treatments available.

Dr. Shawn Morris is a native of Whidbey island where he lives with his wife and son.

Shawn Morris Naturopath Seattle WA

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Healthy women in Seattle WAOk, this is going to feel like a foreign concept to many. That’s because it is. But it’s one that has been tested and retested for thousands of years in Chinese physicians, daughters, mothers and grandmothers. It’s simple. Menstruation and childbirth are the most depleting things for a women’s body. This happens on a deep level, a level called jing which relates to genetics, aging, and vitality. Jing has a hormonal and reproductive aspect and also relates to your creative potential. Jing is limited and once it’s gone, it’s gone, and without it women suffer from problems with menses, fertility, menopause, libido and energy.   How can you support your body, prevent the loss of jing and enjoy better vitality?  The answer is menstrual and postpartum recovery practices. These activities help your body conserve and strengthen itself at these crucial transition times. This is one of the true gems I have found in Chinese medicine that can revolutionize the way women treat their bodies.

My grandmother may have been right when she told me that too much exercise would be bad for my ”lady parts.” I thought she was crazy. I played sports and loved them.  But I didn’t have the whole picture and neither did she. It’s not that ALL exercise is bad ALL the time. We know that’s not true. Here’s the key, it’s when and how you’re exercising that matters. Each phase of a women’s life and each phase of her cycle has different needs. Menarche (first menses), childbirth, menopause and after each period are all transition times where great care should be taken to support and protect the body.

Women are fundamentally tied to nature through our menstrual cycle. Just like Spring leads to Summer so does menarche lead to childbearing years and then to menopause. In our modern culture we have lost the connection to the cycles of nature and to our own natural cycles. In the winter, we eat summer time fruits and veggies and stay up late into the darkness of night. The same disconnection from nature leads us to take a spinning class and go to a late party on the third day of a heavy period. There is a time for everything. Listen to your intuition. Reconnect.

What can you do? During your period and post-partum: Rest, limit vigorous exercise, keep yourself warm, eat foods which nourish and replenish. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are very powerful at this time. Listen to your body.

Lindsey Lawson Acupuncture in Seattle WALindsey Lawson MS EAMP is an Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbalist and Clinic Director at Glow Natural Health and Seattle Fertility Acupuncturist. She is passionate about healthy, happy living, food and is a regular blogger.  For an appointment call Glow at 206 568 7545.

 

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In keeping with our discussion of aging from the last
newsletter we are proud to be offering this series with Tina,
 our licensed social worker. She
 is also taking care of Grandson
Eli while mom (Lindsey) is at work. The rest of the time
she helps us here at Glow.

Topics to be covered include:

Cultivating the wisdom of the crone

Embracing intuition

Dietary Support

Changing family roles

Please email info@glownaturalhealth if you are interested in more information.

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