My approach to women’s health may be a bit different from what you are used to.
Typically in our culture, if there are any symptoms that suggest a hormone imbalance, the “solution” is to prescribe hormone therapy or anti-depressants. For example, birth control pills are regularly prescribed to offer relief from PMS and to regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle, and HRT is given to alleviate the symptoms women experience in perimenopause and post-menopause. This can be the equivalent of putting a “bandaid on a bullet wound”.
Why a more “holistic” approach may be the best solution for you.
Let’s look at a few examples.
Conditions such as PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) respond well to a functional or holistic approach. This is true for many other conditions that are poorly understood and present as a collection of symptoms, or a “syndrome”.
An effective treatment for PCOS requires diet and lifestyle changes, but this approach is often overlooked in favor of “quick fixes” such as birth control pills/or diabetes medications such as Metformin for women who are insulin resistant.
Other drugs that help regulate ovulation, surgery, and IVF are commonly used in conventional medicine for women who are having trouble maintaining a healthy pregnancy or carrying a baby to full term. Sometimes these protocols are appropriate, and sometimes they don’t really do much to address what is really going on.
The good news is that there is a LOT more that a woman can do to restore balance and regulate her cycles and ovulation in a way that creates, rather than disrupts, an overall state of health in the short term and as she ages.
Perimenopause and menopause are NATURAL stages of a woman’s life, not a “disease” to be automatically “treated” with HRT or even bio-identical hormones. Bio-identicals can make sense in some cases, but not for all women, and not without also addressing lifestyle changes as well as the root cause. It is also essential to look at ALL aspects of hormone health including the thyroid and adrenals, not just estrogen and progesterone levels.
If a woman is under a great deal of stress, for example, the underlying cause of her weight gain or other symptoms may be due to an imbalance of a different hormone, such as cortisol, or poor gut health, which is very, very common.
Our bodies are elegantly designed, and all systems are inter-related. TCM and FM do an excellent job at integrating ALL systems. Conventional therapies often do a poor job of addressing the underlying problem and can actually make matters worse in the long run in many cases.
My goal is to restore balance by gently nudging the body back into balance. In Functional Medicine, we would call this “homeostasis”. When you study how the body works, you discover that many drug and hormone replacement protocols do not enhance the body’s natural functions, but rather alter or inhibit function. This may help with temporary alleviation of symptoms, but will do little to solve the actual condition.
Our bodies are intelligent. To an extent, we are designed to maintain a state of balance, despite external stress, poor diet, and environmental stressors. Our bodies are “programmed” for healing.
But our modern culture is changing so rapidly that it has become difficult for our bodies and minds to “bounce back”. A pill, instead of “fixing” a problem, can create even MORE of an imbalance.
Chinese Medicine does a beautiful job with restoring balance via acupuncture and herbal medicine. When combined with Functional Medicine, the results are even more powerful and long-lasting. Both systems of medicine complement and enhance each other. In addition, education, coaching, and mindset are also potent “empowerment” tools that are just as important as any of the medicine we receive. Healing is after all, an active, rather that passive process.
Health, wellness, and vibrancy are our birthrights as women. We don’t have to suffer with PMS, weight gain, and the frustration of infertility in our childbearing years. We don’t have to feel disconnected to our bodies via premature aging, loss of libido, and the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause that we are told are a “normal” part of “getting older”.