God does little things AND very very big things!
Interesting article on lavender and bergamot use (3 times a day for 8 weeks) in a study involving 50-60yr old menopausal women who were experiencing menopause related “moderate anxiety and some sexual dysfunction”, but were otherwise healthy. (I am interpreting this to mean they did thorough labwork beforehand… key point! …. otherwise they might be overlooking a bigger fish that needed frying!)
This is not a one size fits all situation. Everyone is different and labwork offers a personalized trail. This doesn’t mean labwork or lavender/bergamot alone are singular answers to a potentially complex problem…. but perhaps they might be in some cases. Lavender and bergamot are stellar oils (but only when they are high quality ones such as Young Living’s, and when they are used with purposeful regularity for this particular situation). Imagine the women (and their spouses and families) who might be relieved by something so simple as using lavender and bergamot three times a day. Labwork, lavender and bergamot are infinitely safer than most modern world common “solutions”.
Other items I’ve personally found helpful for keeping me younger than my chronological years (in addition to regular and purposeful exercise, healthy diet, and adequate sleep!) : Alternating between Young Living’s Femigen and PD 80/20 capsules, Progessence Plus serum used nightly, and of course…. Sensation Massage oil . Everyone is different, but menopause doesn’t have to be an unpleasant period of life.
Worth the try? You bet! (link to Lavender and Bergamot…. and Sensation Massage oil) bit.ly/3Wl2XMq
Sitting for more than 6 hours a day raises your mortality risk no matter how hard (or how much) you exercise before or afterwards.
Chronic sitting has also found to be more deadly than obesity alone (so imagine what that might look like if those two are paired together ).
God gave us our bodies so that we would use them in all the gifts we have been given.
If you have a desk job, please …… for the health of it, consider these alternatives:
if affordable, use a stand up desk.
get up frequently and take a quick walk (grab the mail, take the dog for a walk, take the stairs instead of the elevator)
use part of your lunch break to take a power walk
park farther away from your destination purposefully
learn some basic chair yoga poses you can incorporate into your day.
walk whenever you have a choice of walking instead of driving.
The short term benefits of incorporating movement into your day improve mood, energy levels, and sleeping at night (not to mention the grounding benefits of getting outdoors if that is feasible in the situation you’re in).
The Southern Side of the Endocrine System: Endocrine Disruption puts the ‘OOOOH’ in Ovaries
We women are complicated. (Alrighty men…. I can hear your “amens” from here! ). Truly though, it’s better that we just clear the air and state the truth. We.ARE.complicated! All throughout the body and endocrine system, clues are not generally gender specific… until now. Guys, this would be a good time to retreat to your man cave, unless of course you’d like to know a little more about the inner workings of your gal!
One of the most eye opening eras in my pharmacy career happened about 10 years ago. Someone very close to me came to the brink of suicide, and almost did not live through it. The growing signs of distress had been going on for years, and while I was starting to suspect a hormonal imbalance, I didn’t yet know enough outside the realm of western medicine to help her ask the questions that needed to be asked of her medical providers, or to request the labs that would ultimately reveal the root causes of her despair. Certainly, she had stress going on in her life too, and so the doctors gave her prescriptions for depression, anxiety, and sleep. All of the “blame” was laid on stress and emotional angst, and no digging for the root cause was ever done, until it was literally almost too late. It took a functional medicine team skilled in mind, body and spirit repair in a crisis situation to discover her imbalance in thyroid and sex hormones, as well as nutritional deficiencies, gut dysbiosis, and an inefficient immune system, all of which contributed to the direness of the situation. Frankly, if she had ended up in the hands of standard western medicine, I doubt she would still be alive. It took many many months for the body and mind to heal with the help of these skilled professionals.
Approximately 18% of all adult women in the USA take antidepressants, and 10% use anti anxiety medications. This number is roughly double that seen in men. While there are assuredly socio economic factors which come into play, the waxing and waning monthly rhythm of our environmentally influenced hormones are the largest reason women reach for a prescription bottle of any kind. Western medicine has failed women terribly by using these medications as bandaids for a body that has lost its balance.
After this event, I began researching women’s health in earnest….. looking for the reasons so many women had fallen between the cracks of healing care and seeking alternative wellness tools western medicine has chosen to overlook. As I filled new prescriptions for women recently diagnosed with depression or anxiety, I would ask if they had also been given orders for lab work prior to receiving their prescription for one (or more) of these medications. Shockingly, it was a rare woman who said that they had. Thorough (and I emphasize the word thorough!) lab work and subsequent (thorough!) analysis is key to circumventing the adverse effects of hormone imbalance. Those results are hard data which affirms the clues your body is giving you. One of the beauties of a woman’s menstrual cycle is that it is truly a monthly report card reflecting a woman’s health. Normal monthly cycles should not be felt to the extreme, either emotionally or physically. If they are, the body is waving a flag. As with men, endocrine disruption is a real and enormous problem to our individual and collective health. In women, endocrine disruption affects the reproductive cycle in ways that become “diagnoses”, which then often result in pharmaceutical bandaids that ultimately lead to secondary problems.
Endocrine disruption commonly results in something called estrogen dominance. It is the result of excessive estrogen production (and incoming estrogen like toxins from the environment), not enough progesterone produced by the ovaries or a combination of both issues. As with men (and children!), endocrine disruption happens quietly on little cat’s feet through small “daily dose” exposure to toxins found in plastic water bottles and food containers, pesticides, petroleum based products, soaps, body care products, commercial air fresheners, foods that have been exposed to hormones and many more. Estrogen dominance can also be aggravated by excessive body fat, chronic stress, and impaired gut and liver function.
Some signs symptoms of estrogen dominance include:
More rapidly aging skin
Aggravation of allergies and asthma (abnormally high levels of estrogen affects the body’s immune response)
Nipple tenderness, especially prior to periods
Hair thinning or hair loss
Body fat gains around the midsection, creating an “apple” or “pear” shaped torso. (Note that “apple shaped” weight gain can be a clue of possible PCOS in addition to estrogen dominance). Additional PCOS clues include abnormal body hair growth, insulin resistance, and darkened skin in the folds of the neck and armpits.
Headaches and migraines (estrogen dominance is one of the most common causes of headaches in women)
Irregular periods (may be light, heavy, or irregular in timing)
Water retention and bloating
A sluggish metabolism
Endometrial hyperplasia – caused by too much estrogen or not enough progesterone, or a combination of both. Left unaddressed, it may lead to cancer.
Long term, unmitigated estrogen dominance contributes to:
Hormonal cancers (breast, endometrial and uterine and prostate in men)
Infertility – Infertility currently affects more than 10% of women in the US of childbearing potential.
Lupus, Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune diseases – sharp fluctuations of estrogen as is seen around childbirth and menopause appear to contribute to autoimmune disorders.
Osteoporosis and osteopenia
Dementia and decreased brain function
Estrogen dominance is no laughing matter, and is arguably one of the biggest health concerns (and clues) of our time. Heavens! This alone is reason enough to make the safe, health supportive, and effective Young Living essential oils (and diffusers), body care products, and the entire Thieves Household cleaning products line standard wellness tools in every home! I often get asked “where do I start” in my wellness journey. The answer is here. Today! … begin detoxing your home and personal world if you haven’t already.
Oddly, one of the biggest contributors to our estrogen dominant selves is rarely talked about. It directly affects nearly 2/3rds of women of childbearing years in the USA, and indirectly affects the rest of us as it is flushed daily into the nation’s water supply.
Birth control pills.
Are birth control pills as safe as we’ve been led to believe? That’s the next clue. Tell the guys to continue cleaning their guns and watching football…. We’ve got a bit more to chat about!
Have you ever:
Been given medication without thorough labwork?
Been told you are “fine” by a healthcare professional, but you don’t feel fine?
Felt like you’ve been doing “all the things” to care for your struggling thyroid, but still felt unwell?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, the next series of clues might just be for you.
We’ve covered the northern endocrine family members (hypothalamus, pituitary, pineal, and thyroid). I’m hopeful that you’ve been piecing clues together. Remember, cluster clues, including your personal “life experience” history, both physical and emotional, are where your answers most likely reside. Only you, and perhaps your parents if some events predate your memories, know these VIP clues. Keeping a journal is often a key component to uncovering the root cause of a health situation.
There are more interesting members within the endocrine system family tree. Just south of the thyroid is a gland called the thymus. The thymus sits right behind the sternum (breastbone) in front of the heart, and is the “bootcamp” for the immune system’s T-cells, where they mature and turn into specialized agents of protection against bacteria, viruses, and cancer. The thymus is strongest and most active in children and teens. There is chronological aging as well as biological aging. Interestingly, if severe or chronic stress is part of a body’s environment, the thymus will rapidly “age” and begin shrinking, ultimately turning into a pocket of fat (literally!). Clues indicating a “tired” thymus include being easily fatigued, lack of motivation, susceptibility to catching colds or flu, persistent chronic illness despite “doing all the things”, slow wound healing, and outward signs of an accelerated aging process.
As you may guess, thymus deterioration affects lifetime immune system function, so keeping this hidden gem healthy is a good idea! Supportive measures include:
Keeping toxin load low
Learning techniques to mediate physical and emotional stress. Imagine the health benefits if this was learned at a young age!
Eating nourishing foods that are high in micronutrient content
Exercise daily for improved blood flow throughout the body (cleansing and nourishing the thymus). Yoga is particularly beneficial for supporting thymus function.
Thymus thumping/tapping. Thump or tap gently (with either the tips of your fingers or the palm of hand) on your sternum for 30-60 seconds a couple times a day to stimulate the thymus.
Olive Leaf (YL’s Olive Essentials)
Melatonin – A 2003 study found a correlation between melatonin supplementation and a notable increase in thymus weight (size) and function. Additional studies have found that even when melatonin supplementation begins late in life, age related thymus “decay” is reversible and immune system function often improves. A 2006 study in the Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine found that supplementing melatonin during times of acutely severe or chronic stress prevented atrophy of the thymus. I am an enormous fan of Young Living’s Immupro for a good night’s sleep, and this is an additional reason to keep several bottles of this melatonin containing supplement on hand! (Great news for those of us who know and love it already…. It is scheduled to be back in stock later this month!). Sleep Essence is another night time product that also contains melatonin.
Further south, the twin adrenal glands show up in the endocrine family. These are two smallish quesadilla shaped glands that sit atop each kidney. God designed us masterfully well. These two glands sit remarkably close to the abdominal aorta (our major artery) and vena cava (our major vein). This close proximity allows for a quick dump of influential chemicals that facilitate acting quickly when the need arises. I call this “running from the lion” time. These two glands produce a very precise mixture of adrenaline, cortisol and other steroid hormones (DHEA, pregnenolone, estrogens, testosterones) and aldosterone (a steroid hormone that regulates potassium, sodium and fluid volume in the body). The mixture is uniquely compounded according to the event at hand. When a person feels any amount of stress, whether that be a mile long “to do” list or narrowly escaping being eaten by a lion, the hypothalmus and pituitary work together to signal the adrenal glands. The minddoesn’t differentiate between a too long “to do” list and a lion in terms of stress, and stress becomes the squeaky wheel. Other mechanisms in the body slow down so that the squeaky wheel can be addressed.
Thyroid hormone production slows down
Reduced conversion of T4 (inactive) to T3 (active) thyroid hormone occurs
Thyroid receptors become less receptive to receiving thyroid hormones. This is important because even if you happen to be on thyroid medication, it won’t be utilized properly during a stress response. Recall that thyroid receptors are located throughout the body and must function properly in order that we may function optimally day to day. (Go back and read the section on thyroid and the gallbladder for a refresher!)
Chronic stress puts the adrenals on overdrive, flooding the body with cortisol, until the adrenals can no longer keep up, and adrenal fatigue (adrenal dysregulation) develops. Cortistop is another one of my very favorite Young Living supplements. It is designed to address the way women’s bodies react to the cortisol produced when under stress. When too much cortisol is released regularly, it can have some hefty health consequences which include feeling deep fatigue and often the addition of abdominal fat that seems to defy losing. Recall that those are also two very common symptoms of thyroid disorder. Odds are high that clues like these may have more than one culprit, and both will need to be addressed if that’s the case.
Cortistop is not designed to be taken continuously (Suggested use is 8 weeks on, 2-4 weeks off). Although the directions state to take two capsules in the morning before breakfast, my body responds favorably to one capsule a day. And although Cortistop is formulated for women, I do know some manly men who have found this particular supplement to be quite helpful during times of stress too. PRO TIP: I also recommend making a plan so that your Cortistop“off “ times do not correspond to anticipated times of high stress (such as tax season or project due dates!).
Interestingly, the vast majority of western healthcare practitioners do not recognize adrenal fatigue. While there is currently no black and white way to test for adrenal fatigue in a laboratory, there are many clues that point towards this very real condition that you, the discerning sleuther , may uncover on your own or with the help of a health professional who does understand adrenal fatigue.
Next up…. A solid list of clues useful for identifying adrenal fatigue, and ways to support the adrenal glands!