I get it! You have hormonal issues and you’ll reach for any slick supplement that promises to whisk away your symptoms, but in my personal and professional experience for something as complex as hormone balance this rarely works.
Over the past decade, I’ve worked with hundreds of women to address everything from painful periods and difficult menopause to those that were diagnosed bipolar but actually had Hashimotos! What do these women all have in common? HORMONE imbalances (of course) but the other thing they all have in common is that their hormone imbalances required personalized and comprehensive holistic thinking to bring them back into optimal health.
When it comes to addressing hormones, we have to first remove things that are upsetting the delicate balance of the body then work to rebuild our health.
That’s why I’ve come up with the house of hormones metaphor. This is the general process I use to help women with hormone imbalances; keep in mind while steps are generic, the process is always highly personalized.
Step One: The first thing you would likely do if you were to build a new house is sit down with an architect and draw up some plans to work from. When it comes to our hormonal house, this step would be like testing. We need to have a basic understanding of our starting point and then formulate a plan on which to work from. At Global Health Clinics, we use cutting edge epigenetics assessment combined with functional thyroid and gold standard urinary hormone testing to get the best picture from which to draw up our building plans. By combining testing that looks at your energetic expression, functional ability of your glands to work as well as the levels of hormone breakdown products in the urine, we are able to precisely address your hormonal imbalances. No guesswork required.
Step Two: Usually occurs while we are awaiting the results of our functional medicine testing and after we have peaked at the results of your energetic hair follicle test. This step is like when we look at our building site and prepare the land before building our real house. During this step we examine the things in our environment and diet that can disrupt hormones. Gut function, electromagnetic environment, microbial balance, emotions, protein synthesis and many other factors can impact our total and hormonal health. This step is all about preparing the body to ensure the treatments we recommend will be effective. We make sure our bodies are good at metabolizing and breaking down hormones and support the function of our livers and gut (and gut microbiome), while learning to eat a diet that supports optimal health. We may recommend detoxification strategies or support for underlying subconscious belief patterns and emotions that could be holding you back from being the best version of yourself.
Step Three: Build a solid foundation! This step is all about our foundational hormones – Cortisol and DHEA, our stress response and adrenal glands and our autonomic nervous system response. We spend a few months here learning how to cope with stress, working on underlying emotions reframing thinking, learning mediation and some yoga, and generally giving our body lots of love and the internal messaging of “it’s all good, we’re safe, we got this!” We learn about how blood sugar impacts our stress response and may call on supplements, botanicals and/or refer you to practitioners skilled in techniques that help to release emotional stress to help us create a solid foundation for step 4 and 5. By addressing our adrenal hormones and stress we already begin to see improvements in our periods and sex hormones – it’s all connected baby!
Step Four: Time to erect the walls! The ‘walls’ of our hormonal house are like our thyroid gland and hormones. Not only do our thyroid hormones govern our metabolic rate and body temperature (think of it as the thermostat or heat pump), as well as the health of our hair, skin, and energy levels. We spend time in this step really focusing on optimizing thyroid function so you can reach your body’s perfect weight, have tonnes of energy and feel like a goddess. Thyroid hormones influence how our sex hormones work, so again, as we spend time on this step women continue to see improvements in periods and other hormonal symptoms.
Step Five: Raise the Roof! Now we finally start to talk about our sexy hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. These are produced in women by our ovaries (and fat cells) before menopause and by our adrenal glands (and sometimes increasing number of fat cells) after. In my experience if we’ve taken the time and care to build a really solid foundation and walls on a properly prepared build site, with clear plans, this step often just falls into place. While some women still do need herbal, supplemental or bioidentical hormone support, many already feel great by the time we get to this step.
By Dr Vanessa Ingraham
DR VANESSA INGRAHAM (ND, FAARM ABAAHP, NZNMA)
NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR | WELLBEING AND HORMONE SPECIALIST
Find out more about Vanessa here