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The crazy pace of life in today's society can take its toll on woman's health. Not only in the dramatic increase in stress related conditions including; headaches, fatigue, digestive disorders, chronic pain and insomnia but it can also have significant effects on our mood, sense of purpose and how happy we are.
Many women find it hard to get going in the morning and run out of energy by mid-afternoon. Often we find ourselves depending on caffeine or sweets just to get through the workday. And after work we frequently run full blast taking care of the family until we fall into bed exhausted. While we lay motionless our mind is on the fast track and we are unable to fall asleep.
Even at an early age, a woman can find herself wondering what happened to the vivacious, motivated and happy person that she used to be, even women in their mid-30's to mid-50's can feel like they are on this treadmill without any effective solutions. Add to this, lowered metabolism, hormonal symptoms, lack of sex drive, inability to think clearly and possibly mild to moderate depression and it can all seem a bit overwhelming!
Help and answers are here now
In recent years new research has given us a better understanding of how neurotransmitters and hormones have an interdependent relationship. Years ago, it was thought that pharmaceutical intervention was the only way to correct these imbalances. As our understanding of the roles of hormones, neurotransmitters and blood sugar increase we have been able to find the means to restore balance to these systems with natural, non-drug solutions.
Estrogen and Progesterone Imbalances aren't the only culprits
The cause of many of these symptoms are imbalances in estrogen and progesterone - factors in hot flashes, irritability, lowered metabolism, difficult menstruation and lack of sex drive - however, these hormones do not stand alone. They are closely related to the adrenal hormones, DHEA and cortisol. Therefore it is crucial that all of these hormones be evaluated before considering any type of hormone replacement therapy.
A Symphony of Hormones Led by Cortisol
A way to illustrate how these hormones are related in both pre- and post-menopausal women is to look at what the body does under any kind of stress - emotional, chemical or physical. In high stress situations the body will produce higher quantities of cortisol. High cortisol slows down metabolism, causes fat storage and irritability as well as lower progesterone levels since cortisol is made from progesterone. This is often why progesterone supplementation alone is not effective. We now have the ability to test all of these hormones in their unbound state in one simple saliva test, which is quite accurate and affordable. It also gives us a complete picture of the hormone pathways.
Testing for Neurotransmitter Levels
Testing for levels of neurotransmitters in the body is now available using a simple urine test. The key chemicals we look at are: Serotonin, Dopamine, Epinephrine, Norepinephrine and GABA which all play a crucial role in optimal metabolism, healthy emotion, restful sleep as well as a sense of vitality and well being. As an example, it is now understood that we need healthy levels of serotonin for estrogen to work properly.
Correcting Neurotransmitter Imbalances with Natural Amino Acid Therapy
Low serotonin can cause depression, headaches and insomnia as well as hormonal symptoms. Most antidepressants target serotonin receptors but antidepressant medications do nothing to bring serotonin back to healthy levels. The good news is that natural amino acid therapy can now be used to treat neurotransmitter imbalances. This has been shown to balance levels of neurotransmitters allowing them to function fully and in conjunction with their hormonal partners.
The Role of Blood Sugar
A big piece of the puzzle for women dealing with mid-life changes is stable blood sugar. Blood sugar has a direct effect on hormone and neurotransmitter levels. This is often ignored in the treatment. Busy women tend to put themselves last; they prepare a child's breakfast but skip their own. People that are under stress tend to crave sweets and caffeine, which causes blood sugar to roller coaster.
The easy answer to the roller coaster sugar ride
Eat small, frequent, protein-containing meals and snacks throughout the day so that the blood sugar level does not drop. When blood sugar drops the body releases epinephrine and cortisol to stabilize blood sugar which can cause hot flashes, headaches, mood swings and effect your ability to sleep. These are multi-faceted conditions and all of these symptoms can be caused by an imbalance in one or many of these chemicals in the body.
Identified imbalances can be remedied with natural solutions
The great news for women today is that we have the ability to evaluate all of these areas. It is possible to test for hormone levels in saliva, for neurotransmitter levels in the urine and to evaluate blood sugar fluctuations. Once these imbalances are identified they can be remedied using safe, non-drug solutions. With sublingual bio-identical hormones, amino acid therapy and glandular support along with minor diet and lifestyle changes we can restore balance to the body. This process is safe, affordable and usually achievable in 12 to 16 weeks. People on this program have reported a significant improvement in the quality of their life; they often say that they feel like themselves again, at last!
Dr. Karla Parkhurst DC, ABAAHP
Lakeshore Wellness Center
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