For Ladies Only! Seriously Guys, You Don't Want to Talk Hormones, Do You?

I'm a hot mess.  Hormones (yes, guys - stop here!), stress, Crohn's tipping out of balance towards a flare, cystic acne, joints creaking, exhaustion every.second.of.every.day, and new fun stuff like major acid reflux and dry eye.  Lately I've wondered how many of my issues (abnormal periods, fatigue, acne) could be hormonal, which is all the more filled with dread as I approach my 35th birthday in a month.  No longer a spring chicken, I'm verging on middle age.  Let me add that over a year ago, I changed my long-time birth control due to learning estrogen's damaging effects on Crohn's.  I made the switch to progesterone only pills, but ever since my skin has exploded like a 16-year-old before exams, amongst other joyous occurrences.  So as per usual, I picked up a book to help.

Enter the New York Times bestselling The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfried and praises to God for having found this book, having stumbled upon a random ad in a health magazine.



Finally a strong, knowledgeable (Harvard educated) female doctor who doesn't automatically leap to prescriptions and believes in natural remedies in tandem with lifestyle changes.   This book is transformative if you too suspect you may have a hormonal imbalance that not only is affecting your daily life but also threatening to offset your Crohn's remission.

Questionnaire


She starts with a questionnaire that assesses if you have high/low cortisol, high/low estrogen, low progesterone or progesterone resistance, excess androgens, or low thyroid.  Right away I was off the charts with high cortisol.  No surprises there given my off the charts stress levels over the past six months.  I'm also reading high on low estrogen scores, which makes sense given I'm no longer on a birth control containing estrogen.

Now if you don't want to check out the book at your local library or bookstore, you can access one of her hormone quizzes online. 

I will pause and meditate while you do that!  Ha!



Ready?  Shocked by your results?  


In her book, Dr. Gottfried outlines the science behind the imbalances, but also kindly lets you know which sections you can skip if you're not into that much scientific depth.  I read every single word of her book and found even those sections to be easy to understand.  She highlights case studies, including her own past challenges while going through grueling med school training, which all help you identify where you "fit" in terms of diagnosis.  For me, I'm clearly screaming HIGH CORTISOL!   I've got the wired but tired feeling, sleep issues, anxiety, restlessness, sugar cravings, acne, indigestion, and other symptoms she outlines for cortisol being out of control. 

She also outlines potential causes of each imbalance, such as nutrient deficiencies, health disorders, and lifestyle problems, which you would want to follow up with your own doctor.  For example, low thyroid can be caused by autoimmune thyroiditis, goiters, stress, environment, genetics, goitrogens (linked to soy intake!), cancer treatment, and vitamin D deficiency. 

Treatment

In my favorite part of each chapter, she outlines her recommended Gottfried Protocol for treatment, all of which are based on scientific studies.  I appreciate her recommendations on vitamins and supplements; lifestyle changes such as meditation, exercise, and yoga; natural remedies; and diet, as opposed to throwing pills at us ladies.

For high cortisol, she suggests everything from eating dark chocolate (yes please) to limiting alcohol (sigh), weaning from caffeine (NOOOO!!!!!),  getting a massage weekly or monthly (sign me up but don't break my bank!), chanting/meditation, trying acupuncture, practicing forgiveness, creating a gratitude journal, checking your vitamin levels (focusing on B and C levels), and the like. She suggests amino acid supplements along with others for this particular issue. 

She also outlines tests you can have run to check your hormone levels and lists of doctor referral sources if you run into a doctor reluctant or unwilling to let you be a partner in your  health.  From the sounds of it, an endocrinologist, gynecologist or general practitioner should be able to help.

So that's where I am, ya'll. Exploring every possibility to try to get my health back in focus before my Crohn's gets totally out of control.

My Baby Steps to Hormone Re-balancing

Step one for me is trying acupuncture.  Since she recommended it, a friend of mine suggested a practitioner in town who has won a lot of awards.  My reluctance to moving forward with acupuncture the past 2 or 3 years has been hesitation at allowing myself to be stabbed with tiny needles by a total stranger.  Call me crazy.  But having found a practitioner I can trust, I absolutely cannot wait for my appointment tomorrow, as the acupuncturist also specializes in.... hormone imbalances!!   That's why I think it's a God thing.  It's way too random for all of this to come together otherwise.

I was also advised by a friend who meditates each morning to download the "Calm" app on my iphone for guided meditation and relaxation but until I can figure out the latest software upgrade, that's on hold.  Let me know if you like it!  I am considering joining a guided meditation group.  I always say I will start practicing but years and then decades go by, and I never start.  Apparently there are local groups where you can go for several weeks of sessions before you start doing it on your own.

Lastly, I'm considering amino acid supplements as well.  I've tried GABA for stress and L-Glutamine in my daily smoothies, but she references so many others I'd like to research.

I hope you check out her book and website to see if her research and recommendations can help you as much as it has guided me!

Crohnies unite!


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