Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. They are made by your pancreas, thyroid, ovaries, and the pituitary, thymus and adrenal glands. Hormones travel in your bloodstream and influence all your major organs and body processes: your brain, heart, bones, muscles, reproductive organs, metabolism, mood, and much more.
Hormones work best when balanced, but can become easily imbalanced by:
- Genetics and medical history
- Higher than average levels of stress and inadequate sleep
- Poor food choices, including food allergies and gut issues
- A largely sedentary lifestyle that results in being overweight
- Daily exposure toxicity, like air pollution, harmful chemicals beauty & household products, pesticides in our food, chemicals in our water, and of course cigarettes and alcohol
Conventional treatments for hormonal imbalances include synthetic hormone replacement therapies (HRT), birth control pills, insulin injections, thyroid medications and more. Unfortunately, for the majority of people suffering from hormonal disorders, relying on these types of synthetic treatments can perpetuate several things:
- It can make us dependent on taking prescription drugs for the rest of our lives in order to keep symptoms under control.
- Most synthetic treatments only mask symptoms, instead of solving them. This can result in continued to development of abnormalities in other areas of our body while our hormonal disorder progresses.
- It increases our risk of experiencing serious side effects such as stroke, osteoporosis, anxiety, reproductive problems, cancer and more.
Here are 4 ways you can balance your hormones naturally without experiencing the negative side effects associated with synthetic treatments.
(1) Adaptogen herbs are a unique class of healing plants that can help promote hormone balance and protect the body from the effects of cortisol caused by chronic stress. While they won’t take the place of a healthy diet and learning how to properly deal with stress, they can help the body improve hormone balance. Please speak with an herbalist (like me!) before using any of these herbs:
A mainstay of Ayurveda medicine, ashwagandha has been shown to reduce the hormones that disrupt endocrine function and prompt premature aging. Women experiencing menopause also report that ashwagandha helps to produce positive effects on hot flashes, anxiety, and depression.
Communities in the Andes have been using maca root for centuries to combat infertility, hot flashes, insomnia, and night sweats associated with menopause. It’s also a commonly used aphrodisiac and libido stimulant, and women who use this herb often see improvements in fertility, reduction in PMS and better skin/hair. It is typically available in powder form or capsules, and should be discontinued during pregnancy.
One of the most well known adaptogens is Asian ginseng, or panax ginseng, which is chemically distinct and not interchangeable (for our purposes) with other types of ginseng. Panax ginseng can improve your ability to withstand stress and carries potent antioxidant effects, antidepressant effects, and can help naturally lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Traditionally used in Chinese medicine, astragalus is a powerful immunity and energy booster. It is often combined with ginseng to treat general or chronic fatigue, and infections such as candidiasis, herpes, mono, and hypoglycemia. A wonderful support for burnt out adrenal glands!
(2) Avoid Exposure to Endocrine Disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the production, release, transport, metabolism or elimination of the body’s natural hormones. In today’s industrialized society, we come across these more than ever before: in the air we breathe, water we drink, soil used to grow food, and beauty or household products we buy. These disruptors can mimic naturally occurring hormones, especially estrogen, which can result in both the overproduction or underproduction of actual hormones.
Do your best to avoid chemically dense products, such as: dry-cleaning chemicals, skin care products loaded with artificial ingredients, non-organic produce sprayed with pesticides, and chemical compounds known as xenoestrogens — including industrial compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyl, bisphenol A and phthalates used in plastic and aluminum cans.
(3) Essential Oils carry a wide range of endocrine-healing properties. For example, clary sage oil reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, and helps balance estrogen levels (especially useful for women who already know they have excess estrogen in their body). Thyme oil will help improve and balance your progesterone production. Sandalwood is very effective at balancing out testosterone levels in both men and women. Rose, lavender, and chamomile oils are fantastic for reducing stress and relaxing your mood, and frankincense is one of the best oils for balancing thyroid function. And don’t forget about primrose oil, as it can help reduce painful menstrual cramps! If you’d like to learn more about how essential oils can help you address your specific hormone imbalance, call me today for a free 15 minute consultation.
(4) Exercise The Right Way. Exercise in general is great for balancing hormones because it reduces inflammation, helps maintain a healthy weight, lowers stress, helps regulate appetite, and aids in getting better sleep. For those experiencing hormone imbalance however, intense extended exercise can actually make the problem worse. Sleep is much more important, at least during the balancing phase, so focus on relaxing exercises like walking, swimming or yoga. If high intensity workouts help you cope with your stress, try shortening your workouts to 20 minutes, 3x/week. Avoiding extended, high-intensity cardio workouts will help your body recover its hormonal balance more quickly.
Constipation occurs when the colon absorbs too much water, or if muscle contractions in the colon slow down and cause the stool to “stall” in the intestinal tract. The most common causes of constipation include the following:
· Dehydration. Two to 3 liters of water are needed each day for optimal bowel function.
· Low fiber diet. Fiber is found in beans, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. But make changes to a high-fiber diet gradually; a quick change can cause gas and bloating.
· Many diseases. Some diseases and health problems can cause constipation, such as stroke, Parkinson’s, diabetes, kidney disease, low or high thyroid function, and certain neurological or muscular disease, including multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries.
· Many medications. Aluminum antacids, anticonvulsants, narcotics, diuretics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and ACE inhibitors can all cause constipation.
· Possible infection. Bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections can cause issues.
· Overuse of laxatives is common and compounds the problem. Chronic use causes the bowel to become lazy, and the muscles become dependent on laxatives to constrict. Some laxatives can cause damage to the nerve cells in the wall of the colon.
· Pregnancy commonly causes constipation but is also temporary.
· Food sensitivities, dysbiosis (inflammation), and leaky gut syndrome are other causes.
· Lack of movement; regular exercise keeps you regular.
· Magnesium deficiency. Magnesium helps with peristalsis (rhythmic muscle relaxation and contraction). Introduce it slowly to avoid diarrhea.
· Linked to elevated blood lipids, increased gut permeability, and possibly increased risk of intestinal cancer.
For additional information on keeping a healthy digestive tract, read What Goes in Must Come Out.
If you’re in the Denver area, connect with Natural Health And Wellness to discuss colon hydrotherapy and how it may benefit your body.
A well-formed, healthy stool lets the body know when it is time to come out. It should not need to be coaxed. It should be well hydrated, and it should slip out easily. Chronic straining can not only cause hemorrhoids it can lead to rectal prolapse, in which part of the inside of the rectum protrudes through the anus. Over time, straining to defecate can cause thin sacs, called diverticula, to form in the colon walls. Food and toxic particles can collect in these sacs, become infected, and eventually burst and release unfriendly bacteria into your body.
Stool that looks like little balls all wadded together has been in the colon too long. The longer waste materials sit in the colon, the more concentrated bile acids become; concentrated bile acids irritate the lining of the colon. Hormones that have been broken down by the body are also excreted via our feces. If the stool sits in the colon for too long, these hormones are reabsorbed into the bloodstream, increasing the risk for estrogen-dependent cancers.
Common symptoms of constipation include:
- Abdominal pain
- Less frequent bowel movements
- Dry, hard stool
- Blood with stool
- Rectal pressure or fullness
- Rectal pain with bowel movement
- Oozing liquid stool
- Indigestion, heartburn, GERD, acid reflux
- Swollen rectal veins
- Decreased appetite
- Bad breath
- Body odor
More than anything else, the extra time that food residues remain in the colon contributes to the formation of toxic substances, alters intestinal flora, and results in intestinal toxemia and autointoxication. Constipation contributes to the lowering of the body’s resistance, predisposing the body to many acute illnesses and the initiation of many degenerative and chronic processes. Constipation is so widespread that the average person who is constipated doesn’t even know it
Optimal bowel transit time is 12 to 24 hours, so if you are having only three bowel movements a week, you have a transit time of 56 hours, which is way too long. Frequency of bowel movements is a good health indicator. People on good diets generally have one to three bowel movements a day.
When we cleanse and remove the toxic debris; feed the body good, healthy, vital foods; and stop poisoning ourselves, the body will respond with healing and reversal of the disease processes.
If you’re in the Denver area, connect with Natural Health And Wellness to discuss colon hydrotherapy and how it may benefit your body.
Maureen Phifer opened Natural Health and Wellness in Centennial in January, offering natural health remedies. (Seth McConnell, YourHub). Read this article at the Denver Post here.
Interview with Maureen Phifer, clinical herbalist, colon hydrotherapist and nutritionist
How did you get involved in this business?
Inspired by my mom and her suffering with colon cancer, I left my real estate career to pursue my lifelong passion in natural health. Digestive health is where we can make a positive change in everyone’s overall health because a healthy digestive system affects the entire body. We support your body’s natural ability to heal through nutrition, detoxification, colon hydrotherapy and herbs.
What distinguishes you from other businesses in your category?
We encourage clients to take their health into their own hands by becoming educated and empowered to make the best choices for their health care needs. We want to be an integral player in a client’s health care team and not replace current health care providers.
Natural Health and Wellness offers natural health remedies including colon hydrotherapy. (Seth McConnell, YourHub)
What do you like best about your line of work?
Helping clients feel better. When clients feel better they treat themselves and others better, making this a better world to live in for everyone. I feel blessed every day that I get to serve people wanting to work on the foundational level of their health.
What is your business’ biggest challenge?
Educating people on the benefits of using a natural approach to health care. There is not a magic pill; optimal health requires making healthy choices, time and persistence. There is certainly a need for conventional medicine. However, we often respond well to a gentle and natural approach.
Something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business:
I have had my own journey with digestive discomfort and disease and have experienced firsthand the benefits of dietary and lifestyle changes. We sometimes become so used to the way we feel that it doesn’t occur to us that we can feel better.
Business: Natural Health and Wellness
Address: Greenwood Medical Center, 7180 E. Orchard Road, Suite 111, Centennial
Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, Thursday-Friday; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday
Contact: 303-221-2621, nhwdenver.com
Each day, newspapers, radio, television, and the Internet present stories of new findings on nutrition and heart health or nutrition and cancer prevention. At the same time, however, advertisements and commercials bombard us with mutlicolored pictures of tempting foods: pizza, burgers, cakes, chips, and soda. If you care about your body, and if you have strong feelings about food, then you have much to gain from learning about nutrition, the study of how food nourishes the body. Nutrition is a fascinating, much talked-about subject. If you are like most people, when you eat you sometimes wonder, “Is this food good for me?” Or you berate yourself, “I probably shouldn’t be eating this.”
When you study good nutrition, you learn which foods serve you best, and you can work out ways of choosing foods, planning meals, and designing your diet wisely. Knowing the facts enhances your health and your enjoyment of eating while relieving your feelings of guilt or worry that you aren’t eating well.
Nutrients interact with body tissues, adding a little or subtracting a little, day by day, and thus change the very foundations upon which the health of the body is built. If you live for 65 years or longer, you will have consumed more than 70,000 meals, and your remarkable body will have disposed of 50 tons of food. The foods you choose have an accumulative effect on your body. As you age, you will see and feel those effects- if you know what to look for.
Your body renews its cells and structures continuously, and each day it builds muscle, bone, skin, and blood, replacing old tissue with new. Because of this process it is never too late to make positive changes to your diet to experience the health benefits. The best food for you then, is the kind that supports the growth and maintenance of strong muscles, sound bones, healthy skin, and sufficient blood to cleanse and nourish all parts of your body. This means you need food that provides not only energy, but also sufficient nutrients, that is, enough water, carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. If the foods you eat provide too little or too much of any one nutrient today, your health may suffer just a little today. If the foods you eat provide too little or too much of one or more nutrients every day for years, then later in life, you may suffer severe disease effects.
A well-chosen array of foods supplies enough energy and enough of each nutrient to prevent malnutrition. Malnutrition includes deficiencies, imbalances, and excesses of nutrients, any of which can take a toll on health over time. Your choice of diet profoundly influences your long term health prospects. Many of the leading causes of death- heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes- are all related to diet. Only two common lifestyle habits are more influential: smoking and other tobacco use, and excessive drinking of alcohol.
Not only is good nutrition essential in preventing disease, good nutrition is essential for your body to feel vital and energetic. It is sound advice to work with a nutritionist to determine if you are getting adequate nutrition from your current diet, and if not, how to make modifications that will enhance your health and well-being.
Connect with Natural Health And Wellness at (303) 221-2621 to discuss good nutrition for you and to talk with our Denver nutritionist.
People are discovering that herbs are an effective and comparatively inexpensive form of health care, and their popularity is growing. Herbs treat the body as a whole and integrated system—not a collection of isolated parts. Whether we are concerned about being healthy, regaining health, or moving to better health, the whole of the being—physical, mental, and spiritual—is involved in the process. There is nothing new about the use of herbs to promote recovery, health, and wellbeing. Every culture throughout the world has at some point used healing plants as the basis for its medicine and had a basic healing flora from which remedies were selected.
Throughout history we have relied on plants for both food and medicine; thus has evolved an ability of our bodies to assimilate the bio-active compounds in plants. This evolutionary relationship is important to herbal medicine because the body is accustomed to assimilating the more potent chemicals of herbs within the matrix of the whole plant. Thus, properly and carefully used, herbal medicines can often work with a high degree of effectiveness without many of the side-effects common in prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications.
Food provides us with delicious tastes and smells, and fills our nutritional needs; and herbs nurture our wholeness and well-being. Herbs can be used to support people’s heath and wholeness, to prevent disease development, and to help them stay at their personal peak of vitality. The concept of synergy using a whole plant extract rather than an isolated constituent and a well-chosen formula rather than a single herb for a single disease is one of the foundation elements of good herbal medicine.
All medicines are most effective as a part of a comprehensive, holistic treatment program including diet, positive lifestyle changes, movement, and stress reduction. Such a natural program is most effective when it addresses the underlying causes of imbalance in the body rather than treating the symptom.
To learn more about out Denver herbalist and herbal medicine, call Natural Health And Wellness today at (303) 221-2621.