How to Balance Hormones Naturally

by Ann Marie Michaels on October 11, 2010

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I’ve been on a journey of balancing my hormones naturally with nutrition. If you’re a woman looking to balance your hormones without having to resort to drugs, you’ve come to the right place.

I have had some amazing successes over the past few years, but I’m still not all the way healed. In this post, I’m also going to share with you some of the new supplements I’m trying in my quest to balance my hormones.

My Story: PMS & Melasma

Before I started eating a diet of traditional food, I suffered from a number of things related to female hormones, including PMS symptoms like fatigue, mood swings, and heavy bleeding and painful cramping.

Worst of all was the melasma. Often called “mask of pregnancy” since it commonly happens after pregnancy (another indication that it is hormonal,) melasma is a condition that produces ugly dark patches on your face. By the time I was in my mid-30s, I had these melasma patches on my forehead and, to my horror, on my upper lip. I swear it looked like a mustache that I could not wash off. I tried using medicated creams and bleaches — nothing worked. It just kept getting darker and kept spreading all over my face, like that old movie, The Blob.

How I Balanced My Hormones Naturally with Nutrition

It wasn’t until I turned 39 and had just given birth to my first child that I found the Weston A. Price Foundation. I switched our family to a traditional foods diet of raw milk, cod liver oil, grass-fed butter, cream, cheese and meats, pastured eggs, organ meats, plenty of seafood, soaked or sprouted grains, and fermented foods like kombucha, yogurt and kefir.

Within about six months on this diet, I started to notice my melasma fading. I didn’t start the diet to heal my melasma — and had no idea it would have any impact on it. But lo and behold, it was fading. It’s almost 3 years later now and my melasma has almost completely disappeared. There’s only one little spot left on my forehead, and it’s so light you hardly notice it. (I wish I had some before and after photos. I will try to dig some up on my old computer.)

I also noticed that my PMS symptoms lessened on a traditional diet. The cramping is a lot lighter and the mood swings are less severe. About a year and a half ago, I tried taking maca for a few months, and that completely eliminated the painful cramping and heavy bleeding. My periods would come and go and I experienced a much lighter flow with cramps that were barely noticeable — no pain whatsoever.

I didn’t stay on the maca. I guess because it was so much work every day to mix it in with kefir and honey and I really do not enjoy the taste. But in the past week I’ve gone back to it. I remember those blissful days of pain-free periods when I did not have to reach for the ibuprofren — and I want them back! (Update: I got my period this week and have had no painful cramps — only very light cramping but it’s not painful.)

My Hormones Still Need Some Balancing

I’m still working to balance my hormones. Having a baby and nursing really did a number on me. Ever since the pregnancy, I’ve experienced weight gain (an extra 20-25 pounds), mainly around the mid-section, and low (almost non-existent) libido.

These symptoms only showed up after my baby was born. I’ve always been slim and never had trouble losing weight. I’ve tried every kind of diet and exercise regime to no avail. The fact that I also have issues with my libido makes me think I’ve still got some hormonal issues going on.

If you struggle with baby weight that won’t budge or low sex drive, you’ll want to follow my blog over the next few months (click here to subscribe to my free email updates). I’ll be posting about my progress.

Hormone Tests

The first thing I did was get a full hormonal panel done. It’s important to get a baseline to understand where you are when you start. I really don’t recommend playing around with hormonal supplements without getting tested. I also recommend working with a nutritionist, naturopath or doctor.

I ordered the saliva and blood tests from Canary Club online. It’s costs a couple hundred bucks but it’s worth it — since you can do it by mail and you don’t have to have insurance or a doctor. It took about 10 days to get the results back.

My results say that I am low (below normal range) on estradiol, progesterone, cortisol (mid-day and evening — normal in morning and at bedtime). I came out in range but on the low end of normal for testosterone and T3 thyroid.

The fact that I have low cortisol tell me that I have adrenal fatigue. Not surprising — it’s something I’ve struggled with since my 20s. Pregnancy takes a toll on adrenal function as well. I’ll be posting more about adrenal fatigue in an upcoming post.

Supplements for Balancing My Hormones

I took my results to a local pharmacy here in LA where they have a nutritionist who will consult with you. I like this particular pharmacy (called The Apothecary) because they have a wide range of natural supplements, including the Standard Process line. Standard Process uses whole foods in their supplements, including lots of glands and organ meats.

The woman I met with (Marlene — tell her CHEESESLAVE sent you if you go) recommended the following supplements for me:

Dessicated Adrenal Gland (Standard Process)
Drenamin (Standard Process)
Catalyn (Standard Process multivitamin)
Progesterone cream (Springboard ProBalance Plus)
A supplement called WomenSense SexEssentials (terrible name) – contains Pantothenic Acid, L-Arginine, Tribulus, Choline, Ginkgo, and Eurycoma Longifolia

In addition to that, I’m taking 1-3 teaspoons of fermented cod liver oil and anywhere from 1-3 teaspoons of maca powder on Amazon..

I plan to take these supplements faithfully over the next 3-6 months (Marlene says it should not take longer than that) to see if I can rectify the low libido and drop some pounds.

Diet, Exercise & Lifestyle Changes

I also plan to eat a nutrient-dense diet along the lines of Matt Stone’s Schwartbein-esque HED (High Everything Diet) on his 180 Degree Health blog. I haven’t read Diana Schwarzbein’s books but I plan to after reading so much about them on Elizabeth Walling’s wonderful blog, Living the Nourished Life: Review of the Schwarzbein Principle Series. I’m not going to follow a “diet plan” per se — I’m just going to eat when I am hungry and try to focus on nutrient-dense foods.

To give you an idea of what I’m eating, yesterday I had decaf coffee with raw milk, some bacon and a few tortilla chips fried in coconut oil, a glass of raw milk, half a chocolate chip cookie (made with palm oil), a glass of kefir and an egg yolk and raw honey with maca, cod liver oil, and for dinner I ate some soaked brown rice with grass-fed butter, natto, an egg yolk, and a huge dollop of salmon roe.

I will continue to avoid coffee and caffeine (see my post on how to quit coffee), and I will do my best to exercise at least 3-4 times a week. That said, because I have adrenal fatigue, I will not do any rigorous exercise for long periods of time. I might walk briskly on the treadmill or go for a swim — but I won’t exhaust myself and I’ll keep it to 20 minutes or less. I do plan to do a lot of walking, swimming, weight lifting, yoga, and pilates — mainly because these are the forms of exercise I enjoy.

Last but not least, I will commit to getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night, and I’ll try to take off at least one day a week to do something fun (or at least a few hours). I do have to work a lot, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. But I’ll do my best to take some time each week to play and relax.

It’s Working So Far!

I can tell you that after only one day on the supplements, I have noticed a major change in my libido. I won’t say more than that but suffice it say, this is working!

Marlene says that when I balance my hormones, the weight should naturally drop off. I have read a lot about how hormones that are not balanced will cause weight gain — it makes so much sense to me.

Especially since I’ve never had these problems before. I was always a slim 125-130 (I’m 5’5) and never had any trouble with my weight. Now no matter what I do, how much I exercise, how low I go on carbs, the weight will not come off.

I should note — my main goal is not to lose weight, but to get healthy and balance my hormones naturally. I’ve seen amazing results with eliminating my melasma and painful cramps, so I am very confident that I can take this the rest of the way. If I do lose weight naturally, that’s wonderful. But if I don’t, I’m not worried about it. I plan to try to conceive a second child next year, so the weight is really not so much of an issue for me now.

Plus, I am approaching this from the standpoint that when my hormones are in balance, I will naturally lose weight — and until my hormones are balanced, weight loss really isn’t possible.

So I’ll be your guinea pig — let’s see if it works.

Disclaimer: This is Not Medical Advice

Now, please don’t take this as a prescription for what you should do. Everyone is different and you really do need to get your hormones tested and then work from there, preferably with a naturopath or nutritionist who can help you. Please don’t ask me in the comments if you should take X, Y or Z because I am not a doctor and I can’t help you like that.

What I can do is share with you my experience of what I am doing and the results I get. Which is what I will be doing over the next 3-6 months on this blog (be sure to sign up for my email updates).

Share Your Story

Do you suffer from hormonal imbalance? Please share your story below in the comments — the challenges you face, any success you’ve had with diet and nutrition, and questions you have.

Photo credit: TiffanyDawnPhoto on Flickr
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{ 137 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan October 11, 2010 at 7:04 AM

Anne Marie,
What a great post. I’ve just been diagnosed with hypothyroidism (at 4 months postpartum) and my endocrinologist said he would just put me on a pill for the rest of my life and I should think of it like a vitamin. Ugh, no thanks! I’m trying to use whole food to reverse my condition, but it’s difficult because I’m so tired all the time…I find myself reaching for dried figs and granola bars because the thought of cooking is just too overwhelming. I also wonder how the heck I’ll have another baby and manage to nurse that baby considering how I feel. As of right now, I’m just trying to boost my iodine levels through lots of seaweed and seafood. I look forward to hearing how your healing journey progresses!

Kelly the Kitchen Kop October 11, 2010 at 7:14 AM

Wow, how awesome are you to be so honest and open with your readers, knowing how much this will help SO MANY PEOPLE!!

Kel
.-= Kelly the Kitchen Kop´s last blog ..Monday Morning Mix-Up 10-11-10 =-.

cheeseslave October 11, 2010 at 7:17 AM

Hi, Megan!

Here are some resources for you:

http://www.naturalthyroidchoices.com/

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/iodine/

http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/

http://www.cheeseslave.com/2008/11/25/notes-on-iodine-deficiency/

By the way, I am not sure if you can get adequate amounts of iodine from seaweed and seafood. Especially if you are already hypothyroid.

If it were me, I would start drinking fish head broth or bonito broth. It’s easy to make with either whole fish (heads included) or bonito flakes (available at Asian markets or health food stores).

Both recipes are in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morell. (It’s important to use the heads because they contain the thyroid glands, which is where the iodine is stored.)

You could also take Lugol’s or Iodoral if you can’t make the broth.

Interestingly, women in Asia traditionally make fish broth for their daughters when they are pregnant and nursing. Pregnancy and nursing use a lot of our stored iodine (which is stored in the thyroid, breasts and ovaries).

cheeseslave October 11, 2010 at 7:19 AM

@ Kelly

Yes, I debated about whether or not to post about my issues with low sex drive… but the more women I talk to, the more I find who have the exact same problem. They just don’t normally talk about it. I hope this post will help some of them!

Joann October 11, 2010 at 7:32 AM

Great post!

After 7 kids and one miscarriage, I still struggle with the weight issue. I’m releasing those pounds slowly with the help of Holly Rigsby’s Fit Yummy Mummy program and my WAPF lifestyle.

Adrenal fatigue…you bet. I almost died when my mother died after taking care of her for 9 months. In addition to taking the Standard Process supplements (!) that you mentioned above, I had great success with Royal Power from North American Herb and Spice. I go back to it now for a few days here and there. Makes me feel like I can conquer the world. The secret is the Royal Jelly and whole food Vit. C that it contains. My adrenals jump for joy with it.

I think the Progesterone cream will help you immensely. I like the bio-identical one offered by Arbonne myself. I’m sure yours is great, too. So many more more women suffer from this imbalance (at younger and younger ages) than they like to admit.

It doesn’t matter where we live (city or country), the environmental exposures (pesticides, pollution, etc.) alone do a number on us. In so many ways, our lives are out of balance. As women, we really need to help each other…to see the signs of imbalance and to work toward health and well-being.

You’re leading the way, AnneMarie….thank you.

Chelsea October 11, 2010 at 7:45 AM

Hey there, just want to say that I have had hypothyroidism for over 9 years now and it is very difficult to correct through diet…it usually just gets worse and worse. Now that you can get natural/desiccated thyroid it’s not such a bad thing. Trust me, take it if you really need it…it makes a world of difference and helps you have the energy to eat healthy and work out and really helps with the adrenal disorder and libido. This is just a comment for those struggling with thyroid issues, not specific to the this blog post. Also, if the thyroid is off, it’s very difficult to balance the other hormones including adrenals too. Women’s bodies are so complex, it really is all the little puzzle pieces fitting together just right. Good luck on your journey AnnMarie!

reece October 11, 2010 at 7:47 AM

Anne Marie do a Google search for Charles poliquin and biosigniture modulation. more of the same. had mine 3 weeks ago and now working on hormonal balance!

Jenny October 11, 2010 at 7:52 AM

Eating regular potatoes is pro thyroid and a lot cheaper and sustainable than imported maca (a dehydrated potato). I have lost 27 lbs since eating predominantly potatoes, coconut oil, raw milk and OJ with real salt.

http://litalee.com/shopexd.asp?id=179

Bobby Khan October 11, 2010 at 7:53 AM

Hi

Loved the post (yes I am a guy, and yes I read all of it) for me it proves something I have instinctively known for years that all the help we need has been provided in natures own pharmacy. It is when we do not follow the laws nature that we need pharmacological help. As most (almost most) health issues can be prevented through diet, nutrition and training.

I think I will do post about it on my own blog. is it ok if I link to yours for a females perspective?

Rgds.
Bobby
.-= Bobby Khan´s last blog ..Da funk =-.

Gina A. October 11, 2010 at 7:56 AM

I’m so glad you’re writing about this. Good luck!

I highly recommend reading Dr. Bryan Walsh’s article on “adrenal fatige”– it really puts it into a whole new perspective. http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_nutrition/the_truth_about_adrenal_fatigue
He also had an interview with Sean Croxton on blogtalkradio.com last week.

Matt Stone for the win! I got off gluten and started eating tons of potatoes, brown basmati rice, and beans per his advice and I have lost weight and don’t have menstrual cramps anymore. I have also just relaxed a bit about what I eat. I eat lots of (whole) food and I enjoy it thoroughly! Also, I go to bed by 10pm most nights, as this helps corrrect the circadian rhythms which will also help balance hormones tremendously. Matt Stone is incredible, and if you haven’t done so yet, go to his blog and read everything from the past year or so. You won’t be sorry!

Gini Kirk October 11, 2010 at 7:58 AM

Great post and fantastic resources. My mom has used saliva tests for years. I am considering doing the same since I have MAJOR hair loss at 6 months post postpartum with baby #5. I’ve also been diagnosed hyperthyroid (go figure, it’s always been low, and I still can’t loose baby weight), and I’m using an anti-inflammation diet for that (no grains, no sugar, no refined anything, etc). However, I know many women who suffer hair loss actually have male pattern baldness (how lovely) and should try the full panel + saliva test you mention. Just wanted to throw that out there :)

gk
.-= Gini Kirk´s last blog ..Tart de Citron Part deux =-.

Kate Garland October 11, 2010 at 8:19 AM

Great post, AM!!! Thanks for sharing! I, too am on the SP thyroid, adrenal + catalyn supplements — along with Simplex F (for all female issues) and a huge does of their Promaline Iodine.

Two other resources: for your readers on the Eastside, Phoenix Pharmacy is another great place to pick up SP supplements. http://phoenixpharmacy.com/home.html

And if you haven’t yet read Dr. Cowan’s “The Fourfold Path to Healing”, I would highly recommend that! Add it to your reading list, or pick it up and just read the chapters on weight loss and women’s issues. He’ll be at WT in PA, and I will also be at his conference in SF in February. http://fourfoldhealing.com/book/

lylahledner@gmail.com October 11, 2010 at 8:30 AM

Fantastic post…I’m in the middle of a journey to re-balance my hormones…just had my 56th bd….had tests taken as well….which I should do my story too. Stories are invaluable for us women…mine is similar to yours…

I’ve read Dr. Schwarzbeins book….again, invaluable. My adrenals are “again” not functioning at normal levels and after having been on bio-identical hormones – bi-est and progesterone…for some reason….estrone – the one that makes you at risk for breast cancer has sky rocketed. Ugh.

I work with a wonderful naturopathic dr here in my valley and we’re liver cleansing along with making radical changes to the hormones.

Pss…I’m just about to head out to milk 4 amazing nubian does…of which we drink that glorious raw milk and darling husbands makes wonderful raw cheese. It’s milk I crave and am thankful I have access. Too bad AZ law says one can’t sell raw milk….Oregon law is a good one…btw..

Love your posts…xoxo lylah
.-= lylahledner@gmail.com´s last blog ..Life happens here in my =-.

Jill October 11, 2010 at 8:31 AM

Not only do we not talk about our low libido, it is considered by many, including ourselves and our doctors, to be normal. But it is part of the functioning of a healthy, happy marriage, not to mention ourselves!
Part of my hormonal imbalance story involves this problem as well, a problem which was cured in a matter of days by going off prescribed birth control pills. I went to a couple of doctors complaining about a change in my libido which occurred when I had started taking the pill, and both of them told me it wasn’t the pill. But the more women I talk to, the more I become convinced that the BCP is part of our nation’s high divorce rate.
But my story begins with my first period. I was almost 12, and it was unbelievably heavy and painful. After that, my period were always heavy, painful and very, very irregular. Though I told doctors about them, they always told me they were normal. They would generally last from 12-14 days, and were three weeks to three months apart. Since I was very young, I would accept their explanation, now that I am older, I am pretty angry about the lack of medical care I was given.
When I was 14, my periods became debilitatingly painful, and my mother took me to a doctor, who prescribed tri-phasic birth control pills, though I was not sexually active. The pills were awful. They didn’t help much except to regulate my cycle, and they caused terrible mood swings. When I complained about the mood swings to various doctors over the years, I was told everything except the truth. I was told that there must be something wrong with me, that “anger doesn’t come from nowhere” or accused of exaggerating. When I was 18, I finally read the fine print that came with the pill-pak for the first time and realized that depression and mood swings were a side-effect of taking BCP, and got pretty angry (again) at being lied to. It should be a crime to insinuate that there is something mentally wrong with a patient when clearly the drug they are taking has that effect.
I quit taking the pill, became sexually active, and promptly got pregnant (duh) with my daughter, and married her father (that tale has a good ending, anyway). I was in the Navy when I delivered her, and the doctors insisted on putting me back on the pill, and I complied, not wanting to get pregnant again. Again with the mood swings and low libido, again with being told that something was wrong with me (mood swings) or our relationship (low libido). When our daughter was six months old we decided to have another baby, and thought I might not get pregnant so readily again, so I went off the pill. Evidently I was able to get pregnant readily, because I became pregnant right away. Our son was born 17 months after our daughter. Again with the pill, mood swings and low libido.
Now I was 21, had two children, and had been steadily putting on weight with each baby, unable to lose it. Also, I was lied to again by both doctors when I was told that the pill would not affect my milk supply. I was unable to nurse either of our first two children beyond three months of age, and I was unable to pump milk.
Finally, I decided I had had it with the pill after a few years of that nonsense. I went off, and got an IUD. I couldn’t keep them in though, because they made me bleed all the time. Our third child is a “sponge baby”. I was six months pregnant with him when they took the contraceptive sponge off the market because they didn’t work well on women who had given birth before (!). I didn’t go right back on the pill after he was born, and amazingly, I had abundant milk and nursed him until he was 15 months.
After he was born, I was nursing this giant baby a dozen times a day, and still managed to gain 25 lbs in three months. I could not understand what was happening. I had lost the ability to feel hungry, or full. I craved sugar and butter, and it was around this time that I switched from margarine to butter.
When I was 30, I had a period that lasted three weeks. After having been told that two weeks was normal (!) three weeks was my trigger to see the GYN, because three weeks *can’t* be normal. She diagnosed me with PolyCystic Ovary Syndrome and wanted to put me on the pill, to which I said “NO!!!” I saw my regular doctor asking for a referral to an endocrinologist, and was begrudged one and that is when my life started to turn around.
The Endo prescribed, with her blessing and at my request, Glucophage. A drug to help regulate blood sugar for people with type II diabetes.
The first thing I noticed was that I was suddenly able to feel full again. It was then that I realized that I didn’t have a “problem” with food, nor was I eating “emotionally” – labels people and doctors ALWAYS assume that overweight people have, rather than listening to them. I simply had a hormone problem. I continued to take the Glucophage for three years, and then one day I didn’t have money to buy more, and quit taking it. Then I realized that I had a lot more energy, and that I had been taking too much, and it was making my blood sugar too low. I never got any more. I tried various things over the years, continued to gain weight in fits and spurts, and about five years ago, quit taking any medications altogether.
The glucophage saved my life, and it allowed me to start on the path to better health, but stopping it also saved my life, and allowed me to continue on the path to better health.
After my third child was born I was infertile. I was on the mini pill for a while, but stopped taking that during a separation, and didn’t have periods for about a year. Went to the doc (recommended the pill – no WAY!), jumpstarted my cycle with estrogen, which sort of worked, then continued to cycle irregularly, painfully and heavily. I have not used birth control since, never become pregnant, and my son is 16 years old. We keep hoping (and practicing!), but I don’t want to do fertility treatments and now I am getting older.
Since then I have had mono, been diagnosed with gluten allergy, severe Vitamin D deficiency, found other things I can’t eat (food dyes, MSG, sugar), started eating copious amounts of fat with wild abandon, got my energy back, switched to raw milk (recently), started eating lots of eggs, and now I have periods without stimulus. They are still irregular, I still don’t ovulate, but the pain and flow are more manageable. I don’t know that I am going to be able to recover from this before it’s too late.
I think a lot of my physical problems stem from a childhood of high, severe stress which included the divorce and remarriages of my parents, being molested several times, and living with my alcoholic, manipulative jerk ex-stepfather. This was compounded by our diet which, though my mother was an excellent cook, was still solidly in the ’80s camp, and included exclusively vegetable oil, with a focus on carbohydrates.
Now, I exercise pretty regularly, eat what I want, when I want, with a focus on paying attention to what it is I really want. The sugar cravings are gone, but I can not seem to get enough fat. Especially since they trim it ALL OFF! This year I raised my own meat birds, we are getting 1/2 a pig from my MIL, and I am hoping my husband will shoot another deer. I do not eat gluten (which really helped with the fatigue and full-body pain I was in), MSG, food dyes or pasturized milk unless it has been made into yogurt, kefir or cheese. I do not use vegetable oil except cold-pressed olive and grapeseed oils. I use some coconut oil, but mostly for swishing or just eating (since I don’t bake). I haven’t made all the recommended changes, but I am working my way around to most of them. I have added lacto-fermented foods to my diet, and use kombucha regularly. Interestingly, when I first tried kombucha, it made me so sore all over I could hardly move, but now that I am off gluten, it’s fine.
Sorry, I know that was a book. I did my best to keep it reasonable, but still tell the whole story.

Kelly R. October 11, 2010 at 8:38 AM

Wow, this is so interesting. I’ve been using bio-identical progesterone for years, through a regular MD and I didn’t know there were other means for obtaining it.

My doctor has a new policy – she only prescribes enough for 3 months and then you have to go back to her. Her appointments are $350! And she takes blood (not saliva) and lots of it. Plus she doesn’t draw it in her office so I have to go to yet another place and pay lots of money – hormonal blood work is very expensive. I’m getting tired of it and I can’t afford it.

So my main question is…once Canary Club does the test – how often do they suggest that you repeat it? Or can you just buy the items as long as you want to and only re-test when you feel a need? (that’s what I’m hoping!)

Thanks again for this exciting information, it’s so helpful to many of us!

Anne Fischer Silva October 11, 2010 at 8:42 AM

Thank you for educating people regarding this issue of hormones – it’s huge with women! Sex hormones are down-stream from the adrenal hormone cortisol so they are all dependant upon healthy adrenal glands.
The one thing I would caution both you and your readers about is the use of progesterone cream. It is not the best delivery method! Progesterone is a fat-soluble hormone and when used transdermally, it can get bound up in adipose tissue and accumulate at high levels. It can then block the receptor site for progesterone and you end up with all the deficiency symptoms, while your tissue retains extremely high levels. I have seen this in my practice over and over. It is then very difficult to detox all that progesterone out of the system. The best delivery is a sublingual drop. Here’s a Mercola reference so you can read more:
http://www.mercola.com/article/progesterone/cream.htm
I’ll be speaking the WAPF conference on this topic so hope to see you there!
All the best, Anne

Elizabeth @ The Nourished Life October 11, 2010 at 8:45 AM

Thanks for the shout-out, Ann Marie. :) Schwarzbein’s books got me on the road to healing my hormones and metabolism, and learning about Weston A. Price’s work later on really took it to the next level.

I love that you are addressing this from a lifestyle point of view, too. It’s very easy to put all the focus into eating well and forget how much things like emotional stress, sleep and overworking affect our hormones and our health. I always consider real food to be the foundation of health, but it’s certainly not the only factor in how healthy we are.

I used to have terrible PMS a couple of years ago. I was on a low-fat, low-calorie diet. I exercised obsessively. My sleep habits were terrible. And this all came after have two children very close together. It was basically a hormonal recipe for disaster. My horrible mood swings that lasted for three weeks out of every month almost completely disappeared right away once I started eating more high quality food (and fats!), exercising less, sleeping more and learning to relax. Today I have mild emotional swings during the week before my period, but I barely notice it most of the time. The only time it gets bad now is if I’m not getting enough food or enough of every nutrient (carbs, fat and protein).
.-= Elizabeth @ The Nourished Life´s last blog ..Is Butter Healthy Part Three- Vitamin K2 Benefits =-.

cheeseslave October 11, 2010 at 8:57 AM

@ Jill

Oh my GOSH! Thank you so much for your post. I never heard anyone say before that the birth control pill can suppress milk supply. I just googled it and it’s everywhere online.

My doctor put me on the pill right after my baby was born.

No wonder I had supply issues! I was only able to breastfeed her for 9 months.

Gosh, that makes me MAD! I wish I had known. Well, at least I know now — I will never go on the birth control pill again (it’s also very damaging to our intestinal flora). Now I have a lot more hope for my next baby!

Thank you thank you thank you!

Daniela October 11, 2010 at 8:58 AM

I love your blog and this is an excellent post. I wonder if you have explored integrating acupuncture into your health program? I am an acupuncturist in San Francisco specializing in women’s health and I have found acupuncture to be a great way to balance hormones and address adrenal issues. I also support my patients to follow a WAP diet.

I also personally used acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to address my low thyroid (that was low due to adrenal fatigue). Within one year of regular acupuncture and herbal treatment, my thyroid and adrenals were back to normal. Even my holistic MD thought I would need to be on thyroid medication- but after one year of supporting my health naturally- my thyroid was completely normal! I am a big believer in this medicine and would be happy to chat further with you on this issue. It sounds like you are on the right path, but adding acupuncture could really help things along!

I have an article series on balancing hormones naturally and supporting menstrual health if you want to check it out: http://www.bayareawj.com/4-keys-to-balance-your-hormones-naturally/

cheeseslave October 11, 2010 at 9:00 AM

@ Kelly

You can retest as often as you see the need. There are no requirements for retesting.

jagrati October 11, 2010 at 9:01 AM

Hey Ann Marie,
The thing I have noticed since eating trad foods is that my irregular period (which I assumed was peri meno) came back to a regular bright healthy period with much less discomfort. This I feel was largely due to my daily dose of CLO with butter oil.

Just a note on hypothyroidism and iodine (and sorry if someone already addressed this as I didn’t have time to read ALL the comments)… My understanding is that hypo is very often caused by Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease which I was recently diagnosed with. It gives all the symptoms of hypo, but actually in my case my thyroid hormones are fine. Dr Cowan (and others) say that iodine makes Hashi’s worse. So peps need to be careful about their diagnosis. I had assumed I was hypo and was taking iodine supps. Love you! Have fun in PA… wish I could come. Jagrati

Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen October 11, 2010 at 9:02 AM

Good Luck to you AnnMarie! I recognize some of those supplements from when I worked in the alternative healthcare business. Looks like you are in good hands!
.-= Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen´s last blog ..Canard aux Olives- Preserved Plum Tart and an Ode to Applecheek Farm =-.

Ramona Denton October 11, 2010 at 9:13 AM

Thanks for this post. Can’t wait to hear how it goes! ~Ramona
.-= Ramona Denton´s last blog ..Tips for Eating Out Low Carb =-.

Cynthia Hill October 11, 2010 at 9:15 AM

Thank you for this great topic! A great lecture on hormone balancing naturally by Dr. Janet Lang is available @ restorativeendocrinology.com. It is a 3 cd set called “Public Lecture part 1, 2, 3″. It is well worth the $18! (It is listed under “Order Materials” – “Public Lectures”). Extreme care needs to be taken as many are being overdosed on bioidenticals. Testing often is a must. I started with bioidentical cremes (under the care of a Dr.) and became overdosed within a year. About 3 months ago I weaned off the hormones and am now on nutritional supplements for adreanal support having good results so far.

Cathy Payne October 11, 2010 at 9:25 AM

Thanks, Anne Marie for being so honest and talking about a typically taboo subject. Did you know that low libido in men and erectile dysfunction can also be due to unbalanced hormones, especially low testosterone? And much heart disease can be prevented along with osteoporosis if levels are not depleted. I am 57 and have been working with an MD who uses “integrative” medicine and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) along with supplements and nutrition to improve health. Jon has, too. The hormones are prescribed based on our saliva tests and compounded for our personal needs by a local compounding pharmacy. Since our move we found another great integrative MD. We have to drive 78 miles to see him, but it is worth it. With a nutrient-dense, WAP local diet, cod liver oil, iodine, BHRT, and lots of sunshine and functional exercise, we have more energy and libido than most people in their 30s and 40s. Our new doctor took one look at my bone density test and was amazed that it looked like that of a much younger woman. He said he had never seen a score so low, and it must be my great diet, which he was impressed with. I can’t say enough about the importance of having a physician who will spend up to 70 minutes with you reviewing records, talking with you about your symptoms, and developing a very personal program based on your needs. These doctors, BTW, are NEVER listed as “in network” on insurance plans because they do spend a great amount of time with you rather than pulling out the prescription pad. However, my insurance reimburses at a lower rate for out of network. I just need to file for myself. Like buying good food, the increase price is well worth it. Two years after his heart attack, Jon is on NO prescription medicines besides his BHRT. His blood pressure has never been lower, he has lost 20-30 pounds and he is more active than ever. You CAN turn back the clock!!
.-= Cathy Payne´s last blog ..ONL066 GIVEAWAY- Sean Croxton is PASSIONATE about Wellness! =-.

Sarah Kirkell October 11, 2010 at 9:27 AM

What a great idea to get your hormones tested! Good advice for when I’m done nursing! It’s funny you should post this today, because I was just thinking about all the dietary sources of hormones–like my honeybush tea, which I just noticed advertises itself to be similar to soy for phyto estrogens–dump!

I struggled for 10 years to get pregnant and finally did an IVF. I knew enough to give up soy, but I have often wondered how things would have been if I’d been eating traditional (as I am now) all along!
.-= Sarah Kirkell´s last blog ..Funky Chicken- When a Good Bird Goes Bad =-.

Melanie October 11, 2010 at 9:27 AM

Is there any difference to taking the Maca liquid or the Maca powder? Also, this is a great post as I am going through the exact same thing right now. I will be getting my test results soon from some testing with a natural/integrated doctor. I think mine stems from a low thyroid function/adrenal fatigue as well. Thanks again for this post, can’t wait to see more!

Tori October 11, 2010 at 9:28 AM

Thanks for this post. Very interesting and has given me a couple new things to look into.

I’m really excited for you to write the post on adrenal fatigue. I’ve been struggling with this for a long time. My doctor has me on Metagenics supplement and it’s helped some, but have been taking it for over a year and my levels continue to be low. In his words, “toe tag” levels of cortisol. I’ve been a real food eater for a long time, but have become even more focused and for the past several months I’ve been eating nothing but organic veggies, grass fed meats, raw dairy, homemade kefir etc. I feel better, but still far more exhausted that someone 34 yrs should feel.

I am really looking forward to your insights/research on this subject.
Thanks!

Heather M October 11, 2010 at 9:36 AM

Oh My Gosh!!!!!!!! you are a mirror image of me. My daughter was born 12-20-06 and 6 weeks after she was born I had a basket full of problems and still struggle with most of them. Most doctors say, “Oh, you are fine” etc etc etc. It makes me so made that they can not see how women are struggling. I haven’t read your entire post yet due to lack of time but I will later tonight. I am sooooooo glad you did this post!!!!!! I live in Michigan so I can’t use your lab. How can I find a good lab in my area? I kept thinking it was my thyroid but adrenals supercede thyroid so now I have to nourish them more. And, yes, I also struggle with low lobido (and my husband doesn’t understand), it is very good you posted it. It helps to know that others are out there with us, not that we want others to struggle.

cheeseslave October 11, 2010 at 9:49 AM

@ Cathy

WOW that is so inspiring — especially your bone density! Thanks so much for sharing!

Lovelyn October 11, 2010 at 9:51 AM

Thanks for your post. I look forward to following your progress. I had intensely painful periods my whole life, but since I’ve started eating a traditional diet my periods haven’t been nearly as bad.

I’ve never even thought of getting my hormone levels tested before. It’s such a good idea. I’m struggling with fertility issues right now. Maybe getting a hormone test will give me a better idea of what’s going on.
.-= Lovelyn´s last blog ..Hog Wild =-.

cheeseslave October 11, 2010 at 9:54 AM

@ Tori

“toe tag” levels of cortisol — too funny!!!

Hang in there — when I was in my mid-20s I had VERY low levels of cortisol. I used to say I was 25 going on 85. I healed my adrenals over a period of a couple years with a protocol of plenty of rest, going off gluten and sugar, taking lots of supplements including probiotics to heal my gut and taking adrenals and other glands.

Oh and back then I didn’t know about traditional foods — I was still eating gluten-free cereal and 2% milk.

My cortisol levels now are MUCH higher than they were back then — I should be able to turn it around in 3-6 months this time.

Healing is possible!

cheeseslave October 11, 2010 at 9:56 AM

@ Heather M

Yes you can use this lab — it’s all done online!

I’m so glad my post is of use to you. I knew I couldn’t be the only one going through this!

Hearthrose October 11, 2010 at 10:06 AM

I suffer from heavy periods and cramping, and was on the Pill to control them for years. I found that specific exercise helps TREMENDOUSLY – and have gone off the Pill. I wouldn’t call my cycles “light” or “pain free” but they’re no longer debilitating. The top exercise on this page is the one I think that helps the most (helps with libido too, lol). It looks a LOT like the one that I have found in old baby books as the basic post-baby exercise. http://www.t-tapp.com/articles/flatstomach/index.html

But I think I might try that Maca to knock them all the way back down to sanity levels. :)

Thanks for the posting, will be following the blog to watch your journey!

Amy October 11, 2010 at 10:07 AM

Thanks for this, I am interested in following your journey, having several issues myself (numerous endocrine issues, scoliosis – which I believe is related to the hormonal imbalances, endometriosis, etc.). I have been working on the adrenal issues about the past year; some days are better than others, sometimes I overdo it. I re-started a walking routine this summer, but think I got to overdoing it & have completely stopped (leg pains, for one thing); will try easing into it again, and keeping it at 20 min (thanks for the idea!).

Someone recently (sorry, I read so much online – blogs & such), might have been you, posted a very good article about adrenal fatigue, unknown facts. Might have been the Healthy Home Economist. One I didn’t know is that it’s very impt. to get to bed by 10:30 b/c the hormone system cleanses itself from about 11-1. Here’s the link (I found it again!): http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/2010/09/6-little-known-signs-of-adrenal-fatigue.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheHealthyHomeEconomist+%28The+Healthy+Home+Economist%29

Also, I have the book “Adrenal Fatigue: the 21st century stress syndrome” by James L. Wilson. I have gotten a lot of good info. there.

I like how you say, “my main goal is not to lose weight, but to get healthy and balance my hormones naturally.” I have switched focus, for now, from dieting & weight loss to health & nutritionally dense foods. I can do the “strict” thing later, if I decide it is the thing for me to do at some future point. I would probably, then, follow the “Eat Fat, Lose Fat” plan. And, I still occasionally have a glass of wine and chocolate (not every day, but enough to keep me “sane” ;) (I know chocolate is a no-no for adrenal issues, – I make no excuses, I do enjoy it, though; the wine, too, and I really can tell when I do drink – puffy, tired, grouchy, blah! :( I have started making my own Kombucha “wine” drink, with much less alcohol).

I am taking cortisol, and once we got it balanced, it seemed to help a LOT – the asthma is better, and I was taking Singulair for it, but have (finally, thank goodness) gotten off of that. I hope to some day get off the cortisol, but honestly, I am taking very small doses, and I believe I have had adrenal issues for the better part of my life, if not always, and so may always do better taking it.

Btw, in my readings/studyings I have read that if a mom is having adrenal issues when pregnant, she can pass that onto her baby & the baby end up with adrenal issues (which is likely what happened with me). So, it is great that you are taking care of this now. :) (pg. 20 of the book).

Sorry this is so long – have been through much & still am working & learning, hopefully can share something to help others. I always had horrid menstrual cramps & bleeding, in my 30’s it was MUCH worse & I would wake up in terrible pain, crying. It finally got so bad that we started looking into endometriosis, thinking that was it (it was). Horrid cramps & continuous bleeding, eventually had surgery (after MUCH time, thought, consideration, and – most of all – PRAYER) by a Dr. who was a literal God-send. I had endo & fibroid tumor (which was causing the bleeding). Things have been much better since, though the cramps have slowly started to get worse again. Here is a link for those with endo – there is a study being done to help speed up diagnosis (avg. time now is something like 7-9 years) – they are wanting it to be a mouth swab, vs. surgery (which is now the only way to diagnose!). http://www.endtoendo.com/Endometriosis_Research_Study_End_to_Endometriosis.html

Thanks so much for this post!!!!! I don’t have time now, but plan & look fwd to reading the other comments – I’m sure I can learn much from y’all!

God bless,
Amy

P.S. One thing that I believe has helped a lot, as well, is the pregnenolone. I believe it’s also helped my asthma, too (did you know that asthma is adrenal related? I did not; never had it until a few years ago, I was running then & noticed a drastic change in my ability to run, cause I couldn’t get air!!!).I am working with my holistic dr. on all of this, btw. Ok – I’m done (for now! ;)

Raine Saunders October 11, 2010 at 10:13 AM

Hi Ann Marie – great post, very worthwhile information! I have been hypothyroid for what I suspect is many years, had the test last summer and have been working on balancing my thyroid naturally with iodine (was taking Iodoral for 10 months) and now I am taking Thyactin – mentioned by one of the doctors on the WAP site. Bruce and I have been trying to conceive for the last five years, and I have almost given up…but two weeks ago I met someone who told me about a chiropractor/naturopathic practitioner she had seen for infertility and was able to get pregnant in 6 weeks. I’ve had breast cysts for 6+ years and I know that’s a sign of thyroid problems as well as hormonal imbalances. I want to get rid of the cysts, if nothing else, and determine what I can do to bring my body back into balance. I’d love to get pregnant again, but I don’t think I’m going to count on that as much as just getting my hormones balanced first…of course, a side-effect might be pregnancy. But I have been concerned for years about my cysts turning into something cancerous, so I want to be very careful. I used to get what was sometimes quite horrible pain periodically between my periods for years (what I’ve heard is termed mittleschmertz, which is essentially ovarian cysts and PCOS), and have been free of that now for almost 5 months – likely due to my healthy diet.

I do feel better than I ever have in years and believe my energy is pretty decent – I get tired at night, but that’s to be expected after a long day. I’m not a person who has ever regularly exercised consistently 4- 5 times a week, although I do enjoy various activities like hiking, walking, biking, and horseback riding and do those as often as I can. When I do exercise, I have a lot of energy and don’t get tired easily. My worst habit is probably my inability to go to bed early. I seem to remain a night person and don’t look forward to early morning rising, but I don’t drink coffee and usually eat breakfast most mornings before 10 a.m. I’ve never had a weight problem, in fact it’s always been the opposite. So despite all the good things I do, I’m still not able to conceive and have the cysts. Those are really my two main problems, and I’m hoping to get to the bottom of them when I go see this new practitioner on Thursday of this week.

Thanks for sharing your experience with so many other women who probably are going through the same thing. Good luck on your end and I hope you get the results you want as soon as possible! :)

Jo October 11, 2010 at 10:16 AM

Hi Anne Marie,

This is a great post! I would like to know more about the type of maca you are taking and whether you know of any side effects in case of hyperthyroidism (I am on remission but I had it two years ago). Many people say that gelatinized maca is better, others that one should take the liquid one instead of powder, etc. Any expert out there? How about those trying to conceive? Is maca alright?

Thanks!

Jo

cheeseslave October 11, 2010 at 10:23 AM

@ Melanie & Jo

I don’t know if there is any difference between the powder or liquid maca. Maybe someone else can answer.

I met the people at the Maca Magic booth at Expo West a couple years ago. Nice people. I believe they sell both kinds.

I am using powdered maca. I have one bag I bought from the farmer’s market — there is a guy from Peru who sells it at our local farmer’s market. I also have a giant bag of powdered Maca Magic in my freezer.

darius October 11, 2010 at 10:46 AM

an idea for you – cut out all dairy and grain products for at least 30 days, while continuing your other protocols and then test again afterwards and notice how you feel.
even raw grass fed dairy and fermented grains/seeds can cause many people “silent” problems.

Jessica October 11, 2010 at 10:50 AM

Wow, this is the most posting i have ever seen on a topic. You really hit a nerve. I know so many young moms, myself included, and they ALL have nearly zero libido. I just sent in my saliva panel for hormones also. Mine was through Diagnos-Techs. I am hoping to get some great information.

My holistic MD gave me this informative CD on hormonal balancing by Dr. Janet Lang at http://www.restorativeendocrinology.com. She suggests not even using bioidentical hormones, and says progesterone creams build up in the system in an unhelpful way. I think she uses herbs to balance them.

i am going to follow your story and see how it goes. I hope i find my answers as well.

cheeseslave October 11, 2010 at 11:12 AM

@ Darius

I have done that a few different times and it did help me when I had issues with my gut. If you read my blog archive you can see my progress in this arena. I have healed my gut now and I no longer react to gluten or dairy.

cheeseslave October 11, 2010 at 11:14 AM

@ Jessica

Yes I have heard that Diagnos-Techs is a good lab as well.

I also highly recommend Dr. Janet Lang. She has spoken at the WAPF Wise Tradition conference and she really knows her stuff! I have learned a lot from her.

I’m only going to use the progesterone cream for a short time. If I find someone who can work with me with herbs, I may switch to that. Honestly I think nourishing the adrenals will fix the problem.

Ann Duncan October 11, 2010 at 11:56 AM

GREAT post, AnnMarie, thank you for sharing your personal journey! So helpful to others going thru similar stuff. I’ll not go into my story here just now, except for the low libido and maca part.

My holistic nutritionist daughter suggested maca powder, when I was hitting some crazy roller coaster hormones that truly frightened me. I did some quick researching and noticed ‘increased libido’ was touted on every site. I thought, “Yeah, right.”

To my amazement, when I tried Maca Magic powder, I not only experienced an immediate calming, increased sense of well-being, within 3 days I had to cut WAY back because of the over-the-top libido levels!!! It also seemed to help with my moon cycle, tho there were other factors, as well, so am not positive as to what degree.

I gradually found what amount works best for me. And have shared this info with others who experienced similar results, with the powder, tho the liquid form did not seem to work for them

Looking for a cheaper source, I found Navitas Naturals online and ordered their raw maca powder by the kilo :) Now, several years down the road, I’ve discovered that raw may not be the very best, that the Peruvians do NOT consume it raw, but use the raw maca powder in their cooking. That gelatinized is more concentrated and more readily assimilated.

This month I found an even better price, and great info from the knowledgeable guys at Skyfield Tropical http://www.skyfieldtropical.com/Results.cfm?category=7

I ordered a pound of their gelatinized black root maca and was pleasantly surprised to find a sample packet with my order. The ‘sample’ was a hefty 8 oz!!! Also, ordering by phone got me a lower shipping rate.

Experimenting now with this gelatinized black root maca powder. Since I usually am super sensitive, they recommended I start with 1/8 tsp. The low-or-no libido levels have not been an issue ever since I started the maca, over 3 yrs now.

Healing blessings!

cheeseslave October 11, 2010 at 12:07 PM

Yay, Ann!

What a wonderful story!!! Don’t you love it when we can find healing through food?

Thank you for sharing all your tips.

:-*

cheeseslave October 11, 2010 at 12:42 PM

@ Bobby

Feel free to link!

WordVixen October 11, 2010 at 1:07 PM

Wow- I’m diagnosed PCOS (and I suspect adrenal fatigue and possible hypo-thyroid), but my experience is the exact reverse of Jill’s. Glucophage sent me into suicidal depression plus anxiety attacks. Yasmin, on the other hand, made me almost totally normal! It was the best that I’ve ever felt! I felt so human… no tunnel vision (I often feel as though I’m not even in my own body- just watching my own actions from a shadow), plenty of energy, my face cleared up, and I lost 20 lbs without changing my diet at all (this was back in processed food-ville). I did have bizarre and overpowering urges for lemons the first week, though.

But… My husband is now 42, and when we decided to try for kids, I had to go off the pill (obviously). I haven’t felt right since, and it’s been about 4 years.

The high fat/coconut oil/butter/raw milk/no processed foods thing really helps, but I’m still unable to have a period without taking progesterone pills. I tried saw palmetto in the past but it made me break out so horribly (it looked like I was wearing a bumpy red mask- and months later, it hasn’t all gone away yet) that I had to stop taking it. It hurt to even smile. I’ve just started Agnus Castus (Vitex), but that’s made me break out too- and my skin was almost clear before I started it. It seems to be lessening now, so if it doesn’t get worse then I’ll finish off the bottle. If I don’t get my period then, I’m not going to take it anymore.

I do eat liver and heart, and generally only have one or two servings of grains a day. My sugar is usually fruit, home made coconut oil chocolates, and local full fat, lightly pasteurized yogurt (from Jersey cows) that uses either real sugar or maple syrup for sweetening. I have copious amounts of butter, raw milk, and cheese. I’m not sure what else to do except go grain free, and I’m not willing to do that over the holidays (it’s my favorite time of year and I’m going to enjoy it!), but it is planned for some time in January that I’ll go grain free for two weeks and see how I feel. Hubs is totally not on board with traditional eating, and grain free is just beyond him, so two weeks is about all that I can manage at a time. It doesn’t help that he thinks that potatoes are evil and pasta is good. :-/

And yeah- not having a libido and trying to get pregnant don’t mix well.

Oh yeah, and then I work 2nd shift and only ever get to see sunlight through a window except on the weekends, and don’t get home until I’m supposed to be in bed for liver flushing. Even if I worked days, my husband works my same hours and would then be getting home right as I’m supposed to be asleep which would prevent me from actually sleeping during those hours… Maybe hubs is right and the reason we can’t get pregnant is because of our shift.
.-= WordVixen´s last blog ..Fantasy Author League =-.

cheeseslave October 11, 2010 at 1:21 PM

@ WordVixen –

And yeah- not having a libido and trying to get pregnant don’t mix well.

LOL! I know the feeling!!!

Have you had your hormones tested? Do you have gluten intolerance?

Janelle October 11, 2010 at 3:27 PM

I wanted to just throw it out there that boron helps with libido amongst other things like being an anti-fungal, and removing fluoride from the body. Here are the instructions: http://www.earthclinic.com/Remedies/borax.html
You use Borax which is just 100% Sodium tetraborate. 1/4 tsp per liter of water.
Here is some more info on boron and hormones:

As to the weight loss some, not all, will have that benefit from borax. The issue is if a person has low hormones or low blood boron, the supplementation of boron raises the bodys’ hormones (e.g. growth hormone, sex hormone – it works like a viagra) and cause the body’s metabolism to burn the fat faster. In fact boron it self is a surfactant that increases the body’s hormone’s efficiency even if the hormones are still low. In fact fats and oils lowers the body’s hormones by blocking them, while surfactants, such as boron and lecithin helps hormones to function normally by removing the fats from blocking as it is soluble to the surfactant. ”

I will say that it has helped me!

Rachel October 11, 2010 at 3:32 PM

I have had similar problems, in addition to several other hormone-related problems since the birth of my first child. I have been eating out of the Nourishing Traditions cookbook for 9 months, in addition to some supplements I did with my DO for a few months. Just cooking out of NT and making sure to eat plenty of grass-fed meat, eggs, butter, raw milk, raw cream, and sticking with the CLO has brought me so much success and happiness. I am back to my slim self, feeling good, feeling energetic, etc. The only thing I would suggest in regard to the sample food list you provided at the end of the post is that you don’t seem to be eating much protein. Lots of “filler” foods still. Even though you’re trying to lose weight, you still have to feed your body good, dense, nutrient-rich, foods. I used to be vegetarian and it did a number on my body. The last 9 months of eating grass-fed meat (especially beef) has turned my life around.

Tiffanie October 11, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Hi!
Thanks for this post. And I thank you, too, for putting the libido issue out there. I recently set the intention (on my blog, btw :-) of improving my sex life. We need to get real!

Two other things: I’m wondering how your journey without coffee has continued.
Was able to quit while pregnant, but then recently jumped back on. I don’t drink it before I eat breakfast bc I know better, but I know better in general to avoid coffee!

And: Have you considered that eating a nutrient dense diet might make your body a bit more voluptuous? Before I began dieting (when I was 16 :-( ) I was a curvy 145 pounds. Through a masochistic diet and cleansing, plus obsessive exercise, I was able to get down to 125 (before I heard about WAPF). As soon as I started being compassionate to my body and eating nourishing fats, I started gaining weight. Since beginning a WAPF diet 4 years ago (I, too, have had my first child since then, and am still nursing my 2yo ~ using the WAPF guidelines for diet), I have more padding, and believe that my body naturally wants to be more voluptuous. This is just my story (and could be an excuse ~ who knows!?? ;-) but I am trying to share with women that a naturally healthy body is not necessarily “slim”.
Just a thought. :-)
Good luck! I’ll definitely be checking back in to read your story. :-)
Tiffanie

Winni October 11, 2010 at 5:01 PM

Thanks for the interesting post! @WordVixen: There have been mixed reviews on Vitex, but I have been taking it for 2 months now and am astonished at how I feel. My periods have been extremely painful since I had a miscarriage about 1.5 yrs ago. I also have been experiencing really long cycles, 56+ days, ovulating on day 39, 46, etc. (I know this b/c I take my basal temp, which I HIGHLY recommend if you aren’t already doing it). This last cycle on the vitex I ovulated on day 19! A miracle for me! And I had a 14 day luteal phase, up from 10 days. We are not exactly “trying”, but we aren’t preventing either, and we’ll start TTC (baby#1) this winter. Unfortunately I was out of town when I ovulated last cycle, but I have really high hopes and the vitex has been great. It often takes 90 days to see the effects and sometimes it gets worse before it gets better….my skin flared up too. Best wishes. And if you havent already read it, “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” is a great book….

Janelle October 11, 2010 at 5:33 PM

For those taking Vitex or considering it, I would read through this http://www.henriettesherbal.com/blog/vitex-not-pms.html especially the comments, yes there were some people saying it helped them get pregnant, but there are lots that had adverse reactions as it can deplete the nutrients NEEDED for regular cycles, so make sure to get:
“Magnesium, B-6, Zinc, essential fatty acids, vitamin C, and iron. In our clinic we have repeatedly corrected hormonal imbalances with such a fundamental dietary and supplement program, within 2 cycles, and this also helped with addictions, which may also be related to low dopamine.”

Five Seed October 11, 2010 at 7:29 PM

I will have to try maca – I’ve been trying to heal cramp issues for over 20 years…cross your fingers!
.-= Five Seed´s last blog ..Ecouture- Inner Wild Part 2 =-.

Winni October 12, 2010 at 6:21 AM

@Janelle, thanks for the info. I actually had read this thread before I started vitex, but it might be very helpful for others. As I mentioned, there have been mixed reviews. As a precaution I upped my supplements in all of those nutrients that vitex may (or may not) deplete. And before I finally decided to take the vitex I was taking therapeutic levels of all of those nutrients (and maca) under the care of a naturopath for 6 months with no relief. Adding vitex is the only thing that has actually made a difference for me.

That being said, I believe everyone is different and must do their own research before deciding what is best for them. Vitex also acts different depending on the dosage.

Michele October 12, 2010 at 8:09 AM

After going through a serious stressful time in my life, concurrent with menopause, I developed a host of ills and fatigue all within a year’s time. After repeated tests and Dr. visits (which found nothing amiss), I found Weston Price & Dr. Mercola and totally revamped my diet. Within days all my symptoms (rosacea, sinustis, asthma, painful knees, digestive troubles, etc, etc) lessened and finally disappeared. What did remain was my fatigue and especially early wakening. I did add supplements, especially digestive enzymes to help with the adrenal fatigue that comes with chronic stress. It wasn’t until I totally stopped my gluten intake and all grains, that I found out by mistake that I had been gluten sensitive. By chance I had 6 tortellini with dinner at a friends and immediately I began to wheeze and my nose began to run. It happened a 2nd time at a 2nd dinner at friends. That did it! Since my diet had become so ‘transparent’, it was easy to find the culprit. According to recent findings, up to 1 in 5 people develop some gluten sensitivity, that does not show up on tests. Often, it becomes apparent only later in life. So this may be something else to look at and it’s easily self tested by going off gluten for 2 weeks and seeing what happens upon resumption. It will also normalize your blood sugar levels and help you lose stubborn pounds.

B-L October 12, 2010 at 9:47 AM

Ann Marie,

Thanks for your story. I suffer from homonal issues and it doesn’t help that i’m still on Birth Control pills. It’s been 8 years since I started and I notice the low libido only recently since my kidney failure, but it may be due to my kidney failure.
But I’ve been trying to solve things through food without supplements and so far I’ve managed to get rid of my sugar cravings.
Will look forward to your postings.

B-L October 12, 2010 at 9:59 AM

Also try Camomile Tea a week before and of your period it really helps with the cramps. I have been using it for a couple of months now and it works great.
.-= B-L´s last blog ..Monthly Update- October- 2010 =-.

WordVixen October 12, 2010 at 12:13 PM

@Cheeseslave – I did have my hormones tested a few years ago and came back high in androgens. I’ve often wondered if that’s why others with PCOS (usually with high estrogen) react well to saw palmetto and I did not. Now that I’m trying Vitex, I wonder the same thing.

I haven’t been tested for gluten intolerance, but I highly suspect it. I’m planning on the 2 weeks grain free in January, followed by 2 weeks of merely gluten free. I assume that will tell me that I am GI, in which case I will try to convince hubs to not make things difficult for me if I decide to try SCD or GAPS (he REALLY doesn’t get the whole real food or grain free thing and is convinced that my making bacon once a week will kill him).

@Winni My doctor threatens me with a D&C if I don’t get my period every 2-3 months, and I don’t know if taking Vitex will screw up my pregnancy test, so I have to stop taking it a week or so before I test. And Vitex isn’t supposed to be mixed with Progesterone, so if I don’t get my period naturally by the time the bottle’s empty, I can’t take it again until after I’m done taking the Progesterone. :-/ I don’t know how well it works if you have to take it stopping and starting. But thank you for the advice and personal experience and congratulations on the improvement! :-)

Janelle- Aha! That could definitely explain why my feet and teeth have suddenly started hurting after seeming to be cured from raw milk and real food. I have a magnesium oil that usually cures my feet right up within a minute of applying it (absorbs through the skin), but I haven’t needed it for months until this last week. Thanks for that information! I’ll have to work on those items while this bottle lasts.

I’ve been very interested in Maca for a while, but usually forget what it’s called when I go supplement hunting. That’s how I ended up with Vitex this time- it was the only one that I could remember while I was in the store.

By the way- does anyone know if insane banana cravings are bad? I seem to be blimping up with them, but I can’t get enough bananas. I thought that perhaps I’m deficient in potassium, but I’m not craving anything else that’s high in potassium that I know of.
.-= WordVixen´s last blog ..Primal Nachos =-.

Kate October 12, 2010 at 12:43 PM

Thanks for posting on such an important topic.
I just want to throw another perspective out there….
I was really sick when I was pregnant, and afterwards. I was carrying 35 extra lbs, retaining so much water it was painful, hair falling out, migraines, exhausted, eczema, you name it. Diagnosed with adrenal fatigue but none of the treatments were working for me. Tried low carb, HED, Diana Schwarzbein. Was already eating a traditional diet.
When my daughter was 10 months my ND ran a test that finally showed I was absorbing practically no nutrients.
So I started the GAPS diet and now, 6 months later I’m pre prego weight and all symptoms are gone or drastically reduced. Oh, and an amazing thing: I’ve always suffered from incapacitating cramps that keep me in bed for at least a day. One month after starting GAPS they were GONE. Never thought that was possible!
I know a lot of you have probably tried GAPS and know about it, but I just wanted to let you know what a healing diet it’s been for me.
And if you’ve tried it for a short time I’d encourage you to try it again as it does take time, and you feel worse before feeling better.
And even if GAPS is not what helps you, there is an answer for you…. I know I’d almost given before I found my solution!

Winni October 12, 2010 at 2:33 PM

@Word Vixen: Yikes! Yeah I had to have a D&C after the miscarriage and I hated it. Also, Vitex shouldn’t mess with a preg test. I haven’t ever heard that it would…granted that I am not a doctor or a herbalist, but I called my naturopath and she said that vitex wouldn’t mess with a preg test. It is true tho that you shouldn’t mix vitex with progesterone or clomid. I too was diagnosed with PCOS, but I think I’m controlling it fairly well with traditional foods. I want to try GAPS and I think I will after the holidays :)

Tamara October 12, 2010 at 3:14 PM

I find that if I drink enough raw milk throughout the month, i have next to none (or none at all) PMS symptoms, i love it! However, the libido is still…eh, and i DO have maca powder on my counter *turns and looks at mostly full maca powder container*, but i hate the taste and havent found ways that are practical for me to use it everyday. Im not a smoothie girl at all, but i do love milkshakes, so maybe i can do that. Oh and when i remember to, i incorporate maca into my pancakes and baking (muffins, brownies, etc). But other than that, im at a loss on how to incorporate enough maca everyday to get those libido benefits. Hubby and I would also love to conceive our first child next year (probably LATE next year) and yea, libido is kinda important in that arena, lol.

Awesome post Ann Marie!

Janelle October 12, 2010 at 5:37 PM

I wanted to let everyone know who buys Maca that the Raw Food World store has it on sale: http://www.therawfoodworld.com/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&search_in_description=0&keyword=hnymn&x=0&y=0

Paula Runyan October 12, 2010 at 7:46 PM

Those of you that are taking syn-throids, or looking at taking them, should look into taking Dr Rons dessicated thyroid.
I have been on it for 3 months now, and feel like a kid again, I have so much energy!
My cycle self regulated as well.

Lisa @ Real Food Digest October 12, 2010 at 10:53 PM

I love the Standard Process supplements, and I love Marlene at Apothecary! Next time you are there tell her you know me! Do you know about the Wednesdays 10% discount and buyer’s card?

My acupuncturist has been able to tailor the SP supplements to whatever my body is dealing with – fungus, bacteria, viruses, adrenal fatigue etc… I first started with this to heal from a sinus infection not to end up on antibiotics like my regular doctor prescribed and have used SP ever since. I’ve been on drenamin and dessicated adrenals as well (for stress and lack of sleep – especially when I had newborns).

The hypotathalamus (SP) has stopped my daughter’s night terrors – if she skips a day taking it, she always ends up with a bad night – so sad that a five year old needs hormonal balancing :( but amazing that one little pill can be so powerful!

I think it’s always a good idea to work with a naturopath/ acupuncturist or other alternative doctor to tailor a program if possible- even though these are all natural supplements you never know if there is something that may not be ideal for your body or situation.

I look forward to your updates on this and am glad that you are already seeing positive changes.
.-= Lisa @ Real Food Digest´s last blog ..Highlights from September’s Food and Nutrition Podcasts – Plus Some Real Food Links =-.

WordVixen October 12, 2010 at 11:43 PM

Winni- Thank you for the info on the pregnancy test. That definitely makes me feel better since I wasn’t sure how long I should wait before taking it, so I’m glad that I don’t have to wait at all. I really do want to find a good Naturopath, holistic, or integrative doctor, but since I don’t know anyone who’s seeing one, I can’t get a personal recommendation.

*lol* It looks like “after the holidays” is the plan for a lot of us. Should Jan/Feb be National GAPS month?
.-= WordVixen´s last blog ..Fantasy Author League =-.

Anna October 13, 2010 at 7:51 AM

Carbs are really important for libido, too. A lot of WAPF people go low-carb and long-term this can lead to low libido (and other metabolic issues). For those of you going grain-free, I would say eat lots of potatoes/other tubers. And if you’re low-carb and have low libido, try upping the carbs (a lot). I’ve lost weight and gained well-being by doing just that. Matt Stone has a lot of info on it, and in my experience he’s right on.

Elizabeth @ The Nourished Life October 13, 2010 at 8:42 AM

@Tamara: Ditto on the raw milk. Drinking plenty of raw milk seems to ease my PMS symptoms greatly. Moods and cravings are especially improves.

@Anna: Yep. Carbs are so underappreciated. A low-carb or low-calorie diet around PMS time makes my symptoms explode. I definitely learned the hard way not to do that anymore!
.-= Elizabeth @ The Nourished Life´s last blog ..Weight Loss Wednesday- Why Dieting Isnt Complicated =-.

Kate October 13, 2010 at 10:34 AM

@Anna,
I definitely don’t low carb it, but on GAPS you can’t have tubers either. I try to focus on things like squash, peas, some fruit etc.
I tried following Matt Stones advice back in the winter and I just got worse on it. It made sense to me, but my body hated it.
It’s so individual.

Winni October 13, 2010 at 10:34 AM

Word Vixen- Are you charting your basal body temp? I found that doing this has made me feel powerful in the sense that I finally have an idea as to what is going on with my body. No more wondering if I’ve ovulated this cycle, or wondering where in the cycle I am, after doing it for a few months it becomes easy to recognize what your body is doing….even one that is hormonally challenged…like ours!

Calvin October 13, 2010 at 12:49 PM

Did you hear about Healthy Family Farms continuing to be harassed by the FDA and Government? They’re being forced to destroy 50,000 pounds of raw cheese for the most illogical reasons.

Since this blog is called cheeseslave, I thought you and all of your readers need to know this.
http://hartkeisonline.com/2010/10/11/family-farm-ordered-to-destroy-50000-pounds-of-cheese/

WordVixen October 13, 2010 at 1:01 PM

Winni- No, I haven’t. Since I haven’t had a natural period in about 5 years (except once when I was really faithful about drinking 2-3 strong cups of spearmint tea a day), and haven’t had a normal natural period in about 10 years, I didn’t think basal temp tracking would do anything for me. If you think it’s worthwhile, then maybe I’ll look into a basal thermometer.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me- I know that my androgens are too high and that I’ve had some minor success with spearmint tea, but popping a pill is easier than trying to drink that much tea so I’m trying to use something that works for the opposite of my problem. *lol* I’ve got a lot to think about.
.-= WordVixen´s last blog ..Fantasy Author League =-.

Ginny October 13, 2010 at 1:37 PM

I’m enjoying reading the comments almost as much as I enjoyed reading the main article! What a great post, Ann Marie! This is such a huge issue that no one is really willing to talk about. I’ve had a low libido as long as I can remember, even when I was 20 and just married. When I was younger, my mood-swings were practically clinical and I would miss at least 1-2 days of school every month because of cramping. Not to mention, long (7+ days) and very heavy periods. My longest was when I first started and was almost 16 days! My mom called the doctor and he said it was normal and not to worry. After going almost my whole life with such horrible periods, I’ve found that eating Real Foods makes life so much easier, but still hasn’t really helped with the libido. I’m going to have to look into maca. I can’t wait to read your progress!

Ginny

Trina October 13, 2010 at 2:02 PM

so, I’m 11 weeks postpartum, and cannot stand the low libido any longer. I know some of this is natural after having a child, but it’s worse (I think) than it was with my other two babies, and it’s driving me nuts. I eat a pretty good WAPF diet, but don’t do a lot with supplements. Can I self-medicate with macca, or do I need to see a naturopath? (not really in the budget.) Where do I find more info on macca? I guess I should be doing Cod Liver Oil, too. Just haven’t gotten around to it yet. (Can you blame me? I’ve got 3 kids 4 years and under! :)) I tried the oil and couldn’t hack it, so I need to get the pills. What brand do you recommend?

Winni October 13, 2010 at 3:29 PM

Word Vixen- If you wanna email me off this thread (or find me on facebook) I may have some ideas that may help..since I too struggle(d) with PCOS. My email is winni333@gmail.com. We can talk about the basal temp thing too. Taking my temp originally helped me identify that I was not ovulating. Also, this is happening tonight, looks promising: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/undergroundwellness/2010/10/14/polycistic-ovarian-syndrome-underdiagnosed-and-ove
:)

cheeseslave October 13, 2010 at 4:12 PM

@ Trina

I wouldn’t take maca while breastfeeding. You may just need to be patient with yourself. Eleven weeks is not very long.

You absolutely should be taking cod liver oil — for your own health and for the baby you are nursing.

In all traditional cultures, they always spaced their children at least 3 years apart. This is important not only for the mother’s health, but also for the children. So it makes sense that you are feeling burned out since you had your children so quickly.

I would be patient with yourself and I would also eat as well as you can for your own health, but equally important, for the health of your nursing baby.

Trina October 14, 2010 at 10:54 AM

Thank you, Annamarie – I needed that reminder that things will probably straighten themselves out if I give my body time to recover. Be assured, our next child will be spaced better! It was sort of an accident :) But we love him. Could you point me to research that talks about traditional cultures family planning?

I found the link to the cod liver oil you recommend.

Bummer I can’t take maca. I got excited about that. he, he. :)

Anonymous October 15, 2010 at 3:16 PM

I love to read about stuff like this since I am having issues myself. My conundrum is this: I eat real food (gluten free, soy free, raw dairy, no grains, avoid sugar like the plague), don’t overly exercise and I haven’t had my period in almost three years. And I am young (just turned 21). I am on bioidentical hormones (estrogen and progesterone) as well as natural thyroid medication for hypothyroid, and nothing has made it start again. I go to a Naturopath who is helping me with everything. I take several vitamins and adrenal support (since I am prone to adrenal fatigue) so I know I am not under nourished. I had regular periods until they suddenly stopped. I am not pregnant (obviously) or sexually active. I took maca regularly, but have since gotten out of the habit due to low supply and I plan on staring it back up regularly.

I would appreciate everyone’s thoughts on the subject if you have any!

Kelly R. October 15, 2010 at 3:53 PM

Well…I’m no expert but 21 seems young to be on bio-identical hormones – what was the criteria for putting you on them?

Progesterone , for me, really kind of slowed down my period (in terms of amount of blood, etc) and estradiol made it heavier (it also made ME heavier). I went for thermography (as opposed to mammogram) and the technician was surprised that I was on estradiol – she said I’m too young (and I’m 46) but to stay on the progesterone. My hormone doc does blood testing but she also treats by symptom so she prescribed estradiol sort of “off the paper” if that makes sense. I didn’t technically need it, and I just went off because it didn’t seem to be doing anything except making me gain weight.

Does the timing of you being on these bio’s and your period stopping coincide? If you went off both of them what would happen?

Anonymous October 15, 2010 at 3:57 PM

Kelly –

Yes, 21 is young. First my periods stopped. Then I got blood tested. My estrogen and progesterone levels were lower then a post-menopausal woman. I am now on bioidentical hormones to try to get my levels up so I can begin menstruating again.

Laura October 18, 2010 at 11:22 AM

Our family follows a grain-free diet after 3 out of 4 of us were genetically tested and the results showed that we were gluten intolerant. All grains have gluten in them, not just the gluten that the FDA has acknowledged. We follow the Weston A. Price guidelines and leave out the grains. It has made a world of difference for each of us in different ways. I was beyond fatigued and now not only sleep deeply at night, I also feel energized during the day. My then lactose-intolerant 4 yr old daughter now consumes all the raw dairy she wants. My then allergy suffering son now can breathe freely without the meds. Note: You do not have to suffer from Celiac or Crohn’s disease to be gluten intolerant. And – the symptoms of gluten intolerance can manifest in so many ways. If you are facing being on prescription meds for the rest of your life especially with an auto-immune conditon, consider getting tested for gluten intolerance. It may just be that your diet needs a minor adjustment.

Janelle October 18, 2010 at 12:58 PM

Laura, I would love your advice about how to be grain -free following the NT diet. I think I’m gluten intolerant and that its causing leaky gut and an allergy to milk… even wholesome raw milk! I am always fatigued and cranky no matter how much sleep I get or if I’ve had caffeine. And now I have pain in my legs at night, and back pain almost all the time. :( just figuring all this out.. I guess I wanted to ignore it because i had just learned how to make sourdough, and all those yummy things in Nourishing Traditions. Any advice would be great!!

Carrie Thienes, BS, MA, NTP October 19, 2010 at 10:31 PM

Hi Ann Marie!

Thanks so much for sharing your story. This has become a passion of mine since I have personally dealt with many of the same issues. Since opening my Nutritional Therapy Practice, NW Holistic Nutrition, I am able to offer personalized, online, remote nutrition consulting and utilize Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis to create a personalized protocol to balance and rebuild hormones naturally through the use of whole, real foods, targetted supplementation, and lifestyle changes.

I would love to serve any of your readers who are in search of answers to their hormone enigmas. Thanks so much for posting this; it’s SUCH a huge issue. Nearly every one of my female clients deals with some form of hormone dysregulation, and although it takes time and dedication, it can be turned around!

Carrie
aka Organic and Thrifty
http://www.organicthrifty.com
http://www.nwholisticnutrition.com

Sylvia Zook October 23, 2010 at 11:12 AM

“Cheeseslave” shares one day’s diet as follows:

“To give you an idea of what I’m eating, yesterday I had decaf coffee with raw milk, some bacon and a few tortilla chips fried in coconut oil, a glass of raw milk, half a chocolate chip cookie (made with palm oil), a glass of kefir and an egg yolk and raw honey with maca, cod liver oil, and for dinner I ate some soaked brown rice with grass-fed butter, natto, an egg yolk, and a huge dollop of salmon roe.”

There is much good nutrition in that day’s eating – as far as it goes. Yet without anaylyzing “Cheeseslaves” diet, it can be quickly seen this is a low protein diet that also does not include adequate healthy saturated fats for hormone production and healthy cell membranes. Both macronutrients are also critical for adrenal and other support for good hormone production. The thyroid needs adequate amounts of high quality protein from meat. But it doesn’t end there.

As a nutrition research scientist I am seeing more and more the two dietary extremes, a polarizing of American food choice groups. Increasing numbers are going vegetarian/vegan while at the same time those who have learned as I have observed in my practice and other practitioners in theirs, this is not healthy for the long term. They are turning to chiefly animal-source foods.

What is needed is both organic, nutrient-dense, fresh animal-source foods as well as fresh plant foods, with the animal-source foods as the foundation of the diet. Yet each group of foods has nutrients and phytonutrients the other does not supply, all of which are vital for optimum levels of wellness.

In “Eatin’ After Eden” (www.eatinaftereden.com) I documented this balanced teaching with hundreds of scientific studies, as well as Scriptures describing the Creator’s plan for eating after Eden (Gen. 1:29, Gen. 9:3, etc.). It’s not “either/or” but both animal-resource and plant foods on which we omnivores thrive.

Sylvia Zook, PhD

cheeseslave October 24, 2010 at 4:52 PM

@ Sylvia

it can be quickly seen this is a low protein diet that also does not include adequate healthy saturated fats for hormone production and healthy cell membranes. Both macronutrients are also critical for adrenal and other support for good hormone production.

First of all, that’s just one day in the life. It is not meant to represent what I eat on a daily basis. Today for example, I ate eggs for breakfast and for lunch I had shrimp.

Secondly, why do you say my diet is low-protein and low in saturated fat? I eat tons of protein — way more than most people. I eat eggs and bacon for breakfast most days. And for dinner we almost always eat either meat or fish.

And I eat more saturated fat than most people I know. Whole milk, butter on everything, lots of heavy cream and coconut oil.

I could understand why my hormones were screwy if I were, as you say, eating a low-protein diet also low in good fats, but I’m not. I’m not a vegan or vegetarian — far from it.

KR November 3, 2010 at 5:11 PM

I’m working on the same things as well, but have different symptoms. Wow, there are so many of us, I guess having babies does that. I’m following some of matt stones guidelines,too.
I did the maca thing a few years ago, but never noticed anything significant. I’m glad you do. I never seem to notice much from supplements. I’m done with dieting, done with blood tests, done with supplements. I’m just going to focus on rest, nutrition, and just life I guess!

Julie November 7, 2010 at 5:42 PM

Thank you so much for this post! I have had adrenal fatigue since my son was born 4 1/2 years ago. Actually, probably had AF before that, but it intensified. Also had NO sex drive. I could probably count on my fingers the number of times I’ve wanted to have sex in the past four years. It is such a relief to hear you and others discussing this.
I’ve been eating a more traditional diet for the last 2 1/2 years, and doing the supplement shuffle. Although I am better overall, I can take a supplement (cordyceps, for example) and it seems to be a miracle for a week or two, and then stops working. When I take dessicated adrenal, I feel more energized, but then cannot sleep at night. I may try maca.
BTW, on The Pill, I always turn into a mean person, lose my sex drive, have mood swings (4 hour crying jags), and cannot have an orgasm. It’s a real wonder drug. I would warn all women against any form of hormonal birth control.

CARRIE November 17, 2010 at 8:05 AM

Great post. I read this the first time around and just found it again while searching your site looking for a link for a friend.

I have found some interesting things by being really observant of my cycles. (I’m 4 months postpartum and using NFP/FAM for birth control.) I’ve found that I’m very progesterone sensitive. Meaning I get sad, pensive, withdrawn and irritable immediately after I ovulate. Which confuses my poor husband because for two weeks out of the month (before and the day I ovulate) I am jumping on him several times a day!

This is interesting to me because post ovulatory symptoms mean PMS, and I always thought I didn’t have PMS because I don’t have bad cramps or mood swings, in fact I feel pretty good around my period.

Anyway, do you have any information (I’ve googled and turned up nothing helpful) about this? I haven’t used hormonal birth control in about 15 years and only did so very briefly back then.

Progesterone sensitivity also explains why I am SICK and MISERABLE 24/7 for NINE entire months when I’m pregnant. This baby is my 5th and I would probably have more if it weren’t for this misery I experience. :(

Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Erin November 17, 2010 at 6:09 PM

Hey!
I hope this will be helpful for everyone dealing with thyroid issues. I’m no stranger to them myself and have had all kinds of symptoms over the years from profound fatigue to hair loss to freezing hands and feet to weight gain. My tests never showed anything abnormal except for low T3.
When I learned about functional endocrinology lab ranges, I realized that so many people have hypothyroidism, yet are told their tests are normal. Even worse, many people have Hashimoto’s and are never tested for it or aren’t informed they have it!

Most hypothyroidism in the U.S. is actually Hashimoto’s (and therefore an autoimmune disease, not true hypothyroidism, where the gland simply underfunctions) and pregnancy is a very common trigger. My best friend gained an inordinate amount of weight during her pregnancy, despite eating so healthy and not overeating. The weight would not budge post-birth. She found out it was her thyroid.
BTW, if you know you have Hashimoto’s, don’t take iodine supplements- they increase TPO production which might make you feel a little more energetic in the short term, but it will trigger TPO antibody production and speed the destruction of the thyroid!

I had no idea that I had Hashimoto’s until recently, when my holistic doc ordered antibody tests. Most docs don’t do the antibody tests because insurance companies consider them medically unnecessary, since a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s does not change treatment in traditional medicine (it does, however, in natural medicine!!) Even when they do order the antibody tests, they often don’t even mention a positive test result to the patient.

Anyway, I was very fortunate to read Datis Kharrazian’s thyroid book and find a practitioner trained in functional endocrinology and autoimmune thyroid management. Most hypothyroid sufferers don’t need thyroid meds- they need autoimmune balancing and support!
Since I started my protocol, my energy is increasing, the hair loss stopping and my brain fog is way less! I also feel like I’ve lost a little weight in just the past week and a half (I’ve only been on the protocol for a few weeks).

Here is a link to the book and you can email them for a list of trained practitioners: http://www.thyroidbook.com/

Jean November 19, 2010 at 10:38 PM

thanks for all the info

acupuncture worked for me

kristin December 4, 2010 at 10:57 AM

Great article, love hearing about women who are working on educarung themselves on their bodies, nutrition etc. So much better than just going to the doctor and taking their advice without even knowing why.
However, I do want to point out something I noticed in your article (and others on your blog) which is, yiu are not getting enough vegetables in your diet at all, and simultaneously your diet is very acid forming (sulphur deposits in blood, body) and consequently you are making your body work very, very hard to balance back to its natural state of alkaline (blood…which carries our nutrients etc). Meat, cheeses etc are very, very, very acidic and you should instead have a diet that is 80% alkaline and 20% acid. I can almoat guarantee that when you do this consistently your energy will change dramatically and.your immune system will become more robust. See “the ph miracle diet”. Changed my life. This is not to say it cures adrenal fatigue, but we must first give our body the foods it needs before we can ‘fix’ other stuff with pills.

kristin December 4, 2010 at 10:59 AM

typos…am on cell phone.

Marilyn Goure December 14, 2010 at 10:56 AM

This is an amazing post and website. I found it by googling “balance hormones naturally”. I printed both articles. I am so frustrated going from doctor to doctor put on a yearly schedule to pick up my monthly prescriptions for thyroid and progesterone problems. When I started 8 years ago I thought I was smart because I knew to get bioidentical not synthetic. Now I’m not so sure. I’ve been told I will never be off them and that they are “good” for my body – like a vitamin I guess! I feel so confused. Who can I trust? There is so much garbage out there from MLMs to spa treatments! So thank you for posting this. I look forward to reading it and reading more posts!

cheeseslave December 14, 2010 at 12:33 PM

Hi, Marilyn

I’m glad you found me! I am going to write an update on my hormone balancing soon so check back — or better yet sign up for my free email updates so you can an email whenever I post.

http://www.cheeseslave.com/subscribe/

Ann Marie

ofthec July 6, 2011 at 2:32 AM

Is it getting any better?

ofthec July 6, 2011 at 2:34 AM

Is the issue getting any better?

ofthec July 6, 2011 at 2:37 AM

Wow that’s amazing. I love potatos

ofthec July 6, 2011 at 2:41 AM

May be a good post but there should be a warning for the soft porn on the page. Don’t really appreciate it with my children runnning around.

ofthec July 6, 2011 at 2:41 AM

running

ofthec July 6, 2011 at 2:47 AM

Oh no I just discovered this tea and was giving it to my family. Where did you find this info?

ofthec July 6, 2011 at 2:49 AM

Do you know anything about low DHEA?

ofthec July 6, 2011 at 2:54 AM

Maca would taste great in a milkshake or anything milk based, reminds me of a malted taste actually

Amber December 29, 2011 at 4:59 PM

Thank God I found this blog! I feel like I am reading all of my symptoms. Let me start by saying that I am 34 and the mother of 2. I had a hysterectomy earlier this year, leaving both ovaries. Following the birth of our eldest daughter, I lost all of my weight and then some. I was as fit as I was in high school and looked great! I felt great. It was not until the second, that the weight in my mid-section remained. I am 5’5″ and I normally range around 135-138 lbs. without trying. I have never had a flat stomache, even in high school. I have a short torso, so this is where it sits. I am ok with that, but since my hysterectomy, it’s worse! I have tiny legs, narrow chest and this enormous gut! It’s disgusting!!! I was talking to a group of moms at school and one recommended having my hormones tested with her doctor. However, our insurance does not cover this type of testing. The lab work alone is close to $2500.00. I know that my hormones are comletely out of wack. I have no sex drive, horrible PMS symptoms, sugar cravings, anxiety, skin issues and stubborn belly fat, just to name a few! I found your blog during my research tonight. Lifesaver!!! I am continueing research and hope that I am on the right path. Thanks so much for your valueable information! God Bless to you and your family.

cheeseslave December 29, 2011 at 6:11 PM

@Amber You can get a full hormone panel for a few hundred dollars online:

http://www.canaryclub.org/hormone-testing-combined-tkm/productmenu-combo-kit-comprehensive-profile-hormone-zrt.html

Best of luck to you!

seo January 31, 2012 at 9:36 AM

Amazing! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a totally different topic but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Superb choice of colors!

Katherine June 3, 2012 at 8:44 AM

Hey
Thanks for the post. I haven’t explored iodine as much as I should, but I was tested and apparently it was low in my body. I’m not sure if I want to just eat more seaweed or take a supplement.

Anyways, I’ve been suffering for over a year now due to a hormonal imbalance. I decided to stop using the NuvaRing January 2011 (after being on it 2 years) and have been suffering since. I lost my period for about 8 months and I “lost” my good skin. I started severely breaking out all over my face and back about six months after stopping and my eczema worsened tenfold (it developed when I was on the ring). I’ve been gluten free for about a year and exclusively organic (don’t eat soy, don’t eat dairy, no chemicals, clean beauty products, safe cleaning products, no perfume, store my food in glass not plastic, alkaline water filter, sensitive laundry detergent….etc). I’m so careful when it comes to food but I feel like the benefits are coming SO slowly and I admit I’m frustrated. Am I doing something wrong or do I just need to keep on trucking and wait it out? I’ve done a liver flush and panchakarma (Ayurvedic detox) and they have helped but I feel like something is missing. My tongue is always coated so I know something digestive is not functioning but I rarely have any digestive complaints (I used to). I guess I’m just healing more slowly than anyone I’ve ever read about but I’m always hoping for new information I guess. I’m 22 and I’m sick even though I’ve painstakingly made the efforts to permanently heal and change. I should not be sick at this age!

I’ve learned a lot from this year, but one of the scariest lessons was that of the power hormonal birth control has. There is nothing natural about chemically changing your body to think it is in a constant state of pregnancy for an extended period of time. I regret not doing my own research and putting so much trust into my gyno. But I did the best I could with the information I had and I am a better person for it. But please, if you have daughters, do your research and consider alternative methods for them. My mother has never had a problem like this and was on the pill when she was younger so you never know just how differently your child could be affected. Just read as much as you can so no one has to suffer like I have or even worse.

Tia August 22, 2012 at 9:53 PM

Have you ever heard of Candida overgrowth? After reading this it seems a lot of your symptoms can be reversed if you rid yourself of excess bad bacteria.

Jessica October 3, 2012 at 6:28 PM

I too am on the quest to naturally balance my hormones. I have recently stopped using synthetic hormones (birth control) after a LONG 17 year “relationship” with them. I had a child 3 years ago and my body went haywire. I have been off Mirena for 3 months and noticed that I was experiencing the following:

-hormonal breakouts on my chin
-horrendous mood swings
-depression
-apathetic attitude about everything
-dry skin

the list goes on…

I have visited a local naturopath who is very helpful. I am on a regiment of supplements (Standard Process) including symplex F, thyroid supplements and will be trying to add more as time goes on. I also take minchex for my moods. My diet has been altered (cutting out dairy and eating loads of natural foods, gallons of water, green tea, Kombucha, etc…) I give you lots of credit for making these changes. I too hope to soon see results.

Katie November 10, 2012 at 3:22 AM

Thank you for this.
I have also suffered Melasma on my face, and this past week in particular, utter exhaustion. Interestingly, I got a bad cold, VitaminC was helping it which fascinates when I read a book which said those of us with Adrenal Fatigue need 1000s more mg of VitC each day.
I hadn’t made the link between adrenal fatigue to help me clear this Melasma though. THANK YOU! It is so strong on my forehead, above lip a bit also. I’ve had many years travelling for work & long hours, so burnout cause makes sense.
Re those posting about menstrual cramps, I was told by a health store AND a nutritionist a few years back that Magnesium can stop the pain and oh my god it has changed my life! I suffered such horrendous cramps in high school that I failed math from missing so many classes. Now I take magnesium powder sprinkled on food all around that month. I also was getting cold hands & feet & I believe Magnesium is already related to circulation? It was the same book on adrenal fatigue (which I knew the title!) which also mentioned magnesium deficiency likely. Apparently women deplete a lot more magnesium after drinking alcohol, having caffeine, stress, etc, and I was having quite a bit the past 8 years or so of lots of work travel, and, for a while, quite a bit of partying. I notice that if I drink or have too much coffee I even start to get cramp like pain even if its not that time of month. So I hold back, And take the magnesium. And it has worked.
But I didn’t know what to do for the Melasma dark pigmentation on my face, so your post is super helpful. Thank you! I get cravings for the type of natural cheeses, meats, yoghurt etc you described. Very interesting! And I will up the VitC even more now. Thank you!
Please update us further, and if you can tell any more about the diet would be super.

Rosanna April 17, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Has there ever been a follow up to this post?? If love to hear progress if you had any. I am having major testosterone issues (low) and am trying to figure out a more natural approach. Thank you for sharing!!

Martha Ayers May 22, 2013 at 8:27 AM

@cheeseslave Thanks soo much for the great info. I too have melasma (dark patch) above my lip. Everytime I look in the mirror I am disgusted and it totally reminds me of a mustache. It came right after giving birth ri my son. My question is, Has yours completelyddissappeared? The diet sounds tough. I only eat turkey and fish for meats and alot of veggies/beans/quinoaAlso, I bought some keffir that you mentioned. Any feedback would be great.
-MJ

horoscope to June 11, 2013 at 2:37 AM
lynsey June 14, 2013 at 4:58 AM

I too have the pigmentation above my lip.. its brown and it patchy and broken in areas im not sure if it getting better or worse it looks different in different light, and im more obbsessed by it everyday so i think i look more closely. I am takin DIM to keep estrogen balanced, folic acid, antioxidants and probiotic and burdock root to cleanse blood. Im due to see a naturopath in a few months to do tests and my doctor is terrible for that kind of thing. or anything to be honest! i think i got it when i went on the sunbed whilst being on spironolactone.. it alters hormone levels i was on this for hormonal acne.. i wasnt told it was a side effect found that out the hard way.

Lynsey

Eleanor July 11, 2013 at 11:20 PM

Wow! Thanks so much for posting. I am going through the same thing. I have never had children, but still I found that I was working out like a mad woman, eating a stellar diet, and gaining weight. Plus, I had no libido; in fact, physical intimacy was starting to disgust me. I got my hormones checked through my gym (Lifetime Fitness) and met with a nutritionist who put me on a regimen of melatonin, DHEA, indole-carbinol 3, and progesterone cream. I’m already experiencing results after just a couple weeks. I have a libido for the first time in years, and I’ve dropped five pounds in no time. I am also sleeping decently which is frankly amazing as I have struggled with sleep patterns since I was a child. I also cut out all soy as this was a horrible estrogen-promoter: the last thing I need. I chose not to do everything the nutritionist advised. The detox diet was more than I could manage. And, I still have extremely mild melasma, but this has been an amazing realization and change for me.

Nicole August 8, 2013 at 4:18 PM

I too am interested to hear your updates on this Ann Marie. I too have low progesterone. I am thinking you must have had some healing with your hormones and that is why you are losing weight???

Lisa August 8, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Hi …..great article! which lab test exactly did you order from canary labs? I was wondering if you did the saliva over a full month or just what exactly? How great to work with a knowledgable pharmacist! Good luck….i am very interested in seeing your results.

Crystal M. August 8, 2013 at 7:38 PM

Lynsey – I also take spironolactone for acne. It was the only thing that worked, until I got of the bc pill and now my hormonal acne is out of control! By sunbed, do you mean tanning bed? Have you tried anything else for your acne?

Joan August 8, 2013 at 8:15 PM

I also eat organic, more veggies and nothing raw, no fsh, and not so much fruit. I have an analysis of my hair done a few times a year and this determines the supplements I take. I also have adrenal fatigue and have cut down on the hour a day exercising and get my rest. I feel better now than I have in years and haven’t had a migraine in months. My hormones seem to be in check, no mood swings, hot flashes ect. Plus I am loosing weigh and belly fat! It’s a way of life and it’s also working for me.

Elizabeth August 8, 2013 at 10:13 PM

Thanks for this! This post came at just the right time! I sat down to look up hormone balance naturally (after a slap I. The face realization that my moods are swinging like monkeys!) but of course got distracted by Facebook and I saw your post! I’ll be following you! I have a couple q’s: have you heard of Sarah Gottfried? I was headed to her website before I got distracted. She seems great, just wondering if anyone here has followed her protocol. I need to get my hormones checked, I’ve known something’s been wrong for awhile now. Will any doctor do, my family doctor for example or is it better to find a specialist of some sort? Very interesting and very needed topic, thanks for sharing! I’ll be following :-)

Elizabeth
Kindredvine.com

Elizabeth August 8, 2013 at 10:14 PM

*slap in the face

Vannessa August 9, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Thanks for the post, I look forward to hearing results. I had both my kids with a two year difference in between and I never really got better from my first pregnancy and still struggling after my second one which will be almost two years in November. While I have changed our diet to Paleo with a few starches (mostly because kids love them) I have felt a world of relief in my aches, pains, brain fog, I seriously thought I was losing my mind for a while there. The changes for me occurred by not just eating Paleo, but also adding supplements to my diet including Omega-3, a strong multivitamin (larger doses than usual), and a Rhodiola blend by Rainbow Light which has green tea extract. Those supplements have been life savers! Although I still haven’t lost a single pound, I’m sure its due to a hormonal imbalance, adrenal fatigue, and probably thyroid. The endocrinologist says my thyroid is borderline, not sure what that means but after reading your article on Iodine, I think that will help. I appreciate all your insights!

iamalighthouse August 17, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Thanks for the post! I have PCOS which is major hormonal problems, and I get it genetically. I don’t know that I can reverse it, but with such terribly painful periods (have to take a day off from work each month!) I’m hoping for some solution. I don’t have insurance at the moment, and although I’m working on getting that, I’m hoping to get in to see a more natural of a dr. I’d be interested to try the maca if it will take the pain away, as that is what totally knocks me over each month. I as well try to incorporate not much white flour at all (only pasta @ a restaurant), coconut oil, proteins, veggies, and all organic as much as possible. This has helped drop some weight and now I’m a comfortable 120 for 5’5″. But it hasn’t seemed to impact my noticeable hormones much. Do you have any advice?

lynsey August 24, 2013 at 5:14 AM

Hi Crystal.. just saw this message.. Spiro was great i was onit for like just under a year i think.. what it does is it blocks androgens which helps with your oil production and thus helping your skin. But i came off it since i got the melasma above my lip.. its still there, i dont think other ppl really notice it unless i point it out, but i can see it and if i went out in the sun it would b very noticable…and yes i meant a tanning bed, i used to go on now and again. Im not on any medication for my acne at the moment and havent been since i came off that so like 6 months or so.. ive never been on bc because i dont believe in making its good for your body to be pushed into a process it shuldnt naturally b doing. I would urge you to just come off the spiro too and go to a naturopathic doctor.. i went a week ago and she tested my whole internal health. I have very low progesterone which makes me estrogen dominant.. and i have every symptom of this.. painful periods, mood swings, acne and melasma. So she has me on a bunch of supplements, all natural to balance my hormones and a progesterone cream which bumps up your progesterone and balances your hormones. It isnt instant and will take probably atleast a month to see a change and then it will keep improving after that. But of all the things ive read online so many ppl have success with skin conditions this why as you are not masking the symptom, you are fixing the problem-for good so it stops happening. Im 26 btw and my acne is always in the same places, chin jawline neck, back and around my mouth, always the hormonal areas! so i knew it was my hormones anyway its just good to have someone tell you which ones are low and high before you just guess and try treating it yourself! I have done loads of research on all this stuff and if u wana email me i can keep u updated on how the naturopathic treatments going! lynseycreed87@hotmail.com

lynsey August 24, 2013 at 5:18 AM

I was told by my naturopath i have alot of inflammation on my uterus and my ovaries were baisically just not doing anything because my progesterone is so low.. she says i have endimitriosis, it can be fixed by highering progesterone… i was wondering if anyone knows if you can also heal cysts this way? or do they have to surgically be removed?

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Kristin October 9, 2013 at 11:36 AM

I started reading a book called “Belly fat to Belly Flat”, by an MD. It confirmed what I heard elsewhere which is that estrogen dominance is pretty common in midlife…and would account for my recent belly fat that I can’t get rid of. I have a doctors appt tomorrow and will lol forward to tests.

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Annie June 16, 2014 at 12:35 AM

Hello,

I’ve also been struggling with melasma and hormonal acne (I’m 33). I’ve recently started taking linseed (flaxseed) as a dietary supplement – I soak about a tablespoon of whole seeds in a bit of cold water overnight and then add to my breakfast along with a tbs of ground flaxseed as well. I’ve also been drinking kefir regularly. My skin has been getting better and I feel less bloated but it’s only been about a month. I was wondering if anyone else has tried flaxseed with any success – it is meant to balance oestrogens and help with overall hormonal balance.

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Jennifer October 23, 2014 at 9:37 PM

Hello,
For the sake of simplicity…
Note that there are different types of Estrogen. E2 Estradiol is carcinogenic, and E3 Estriol is cancer protective. I like Dr Jonathan Wright MD’s blog that includes studies from around the world discussing the difference between the estrogens.
Just as there are good fats and bad fats, certain fats we want in higher proportion than other fats, estrogen is the same in this regard.
Hope that’s informative.
Jennifer

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