Women’s Business: treating a hormonal imbalance

If you’ve been gaining weight, but you’re not quite sure why, your mood seems to swings from highs back down to lows day to day, it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning, your muscles are aching (but not from exercise), your hair feels thin and brittle and when you look in the mirror you’re not sure who that puffy face staring back at you is, then you may have a hormonal imbalance. These are all signs that something isn’t quite right and we’re seeing a lot more of our patients in clinics in Australian and the UK coming in with hormonal imbalances. These issues are starting younger than ever and we’re even seeing hormonal problems in children now.

When we treat a patient, we can immediately tell if they have a hormonal imbalance from their pulse – this is because Ayurvedic healers are trained in pulse diagnosis, so we can pick up health issues at the start of disease, even in its early stages before it becomes anything serious.

Taking the pill or hormone replace therapy doesn’t fix women’s hormonal problems, it just masks and delays issues.

Focus on gut health

The first step, on the path to good health, is helping the gut balance the bodies’ hormones. If the gut isn’t working properly, the liver starts to cause trouble ( the liver is where hormones originate). It’s difficult to be healthy without a healthy gut - it’s that simple. The health of your gastrointestinal system is going to impact overall well-being.

In Ayurveda, gut health is looked at in terms of agni, or digestive fire, which governs your overall wellbeing. Agni is your source of life and the healthier your agni is, the better off you will be. The primary function of agni is the digestion, absorption, assimilation and transformation of food and sensations into energy. A balanced agni is key to living a healthy and fulfilling life; an unstable agni is the root of all disease.

One of the first steps in re-kindling your digestive fire will be to eat according to your body type. If you’re not sure which body type you are, you can find out more here. Knowing your unique body type and constitution will help you choose the best foods to fuel your body.

It’s also important to reduce toxins, or ama, that you consume – these are things like takeaway meals, eating on the run, cheese, peanut butter and other overly produced foods which prevent your liver from cleansing and doing its job properly.  

Painful periods

These days I’m seeing a lot more teenage girls with hormonal issues and painful periods. As soon as we get the gut working and take out the toxin producing foods, as well as take care of the mind – calming the nervous system down, the child becomes more easily relaxed.

When the nervous system is more relaxed everything slows down, there are less contractions of organs, less pain, less spasms, and the shredding of the uterus is easier and not coming away in chunks which cases the pain. The thing is many women believe that it’s normal to have debilitating period pain, really the period should come and go without issues.

It usually takes a minimum of two- to three-cycles to get things on track because we treat both ovaries. The results are amazing though, and we can quickly see results.

Acne and spotty skin

Acne is another symptom of hormonal imbalances. The first thing we do is clean up the diet. The treatment can vary, depending on how long the issues have been going for. If you start treatment at 30, but have had problems since you’re 20, it might take a bit longer to clear up. We also look at oestrogen and progesterone balance.

While in Western medicine skin issues are often treated with creams (even strong antibiotics or steroids) in Ayurveda we know that skin conditions are rarely just on the surface, rather they reflect what is happening within our bodies. Since skin problems are a result of a deeper imbalance, it’s not enough to treat the symptoms alone, rather, we need to look at things more holistically to clear up the problem for good.

Trying to treat a skin issue with cortisone steroids will dampen the symptoms, but it won’t stop the problem. What happens is the imbalance moves within the body and migrates to another area, ultimately causing more serious issues the longer it’s left. You can read more about clearing skin issues up in another article where we cover this in more detail..

Infertility

Monash University research shows that Australia’s fertility rate has fallen to 1.77 births per woman, well below the fertility replacement rate, as young couples continue their struggle to conceive.

One of the biggest issues we’re seeing is huge amounts of stress, which greatly impacts a couple’s ability to have a baby. With this treatment there is no one size fits all, and we may need to treat both parties.

Excessive dryness

In older women, going from the pitta to the vata stage we are seeing things becoming dry. This is often an oestrogen problem and we need to treat the body in a symptomatic way – balancing the dosha, getting ama down, increasing digestive fire and letting the body’s natural intelligence come alive again.

Some of the foods to avoid are chilli, tomato, capsicum, eggplant, nightshades and foods that overheat and dry the body. Too much raw food can also interfere with digestive fire.

The response from western medicine is often hormone replacement therapy to restore oestrogen. This is the band-aid solution and has other long term repercussions. We were able to recently treat woman, who had menstrual problems and hot-flushes, within just one week.

Here’s an article with more information about this time of life, the vata years.

Taking the next step to heal yourself

There is no one magic pill, or superfood, that will cure these hormonal problems. Health Dynamics is a program we created which is all about finding your unique body type, and designing a program that fits your constitution so we can make a plan, together, that gets you back to an optimal state of wellbeing. Once you understand and make these changes you won’t look back.