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Three Keys to Better Health for Women
Dr. Marita Schauch, B.Sc., N.D.

Hormones are powerful chemical messengers that control our mood, energy, stress levels, metabolism, sleep, reproductive function, and many other vital bodily functions. In good health, all our hormones work together in a delicate balance. Unfortunately, hormonal imbalances leave many of us feeling stressed, tired, and unwell. There are many causes and aspects of hormonal imbalance, but three key women's issues that I experience regularly with my patients are outlined below.

Estrogen Dominance: Support the Liver
It is now well known that one of the most prominent causes of PMS, heavy and painful periods, acne, and other hormone related issues is excessive estrogen exposure. This is often referred to as "Estrogen Dominance." One of the main sources of too much estrogen in the body comes from xenoestrogens, which are environmental toxins found in plastics, pesticides, beauty products, cleaning products, detergents, the birth control pill, and hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Xenoestrogens are structurally similar to estrogen and have the ability to mimic estrogen in the body and cause an excess estrogen state or imbalance. These "foreign" hormones can also create damaging byproducts and metabolites putting a lot of stress on the liver and disrupting normal hormone pathways. Decreasing estrogen through the support of liver detoxification and supplementing with progesterone-enhancing herbs such as vitex and vitamin B6 will help dramatically.

Calcium-d-glucarate, Indole-3-carbinol, DIM (Di-Indolylmethane), and Sulforaphane are important nutrients that support healthy hormone metabolism by promoting liver detoxification and excretion of harmful xenoestrogens. Milk thistle is a well-researched botanical extract that contains potent antioxidants that protect liver cells from free radical damage and support detoxification pathways. Turmeric, lycopene, rosemary, and green tea are powerful antioxidants that protect the body from environmental insult.

Not to be Forgotten: The Thyroid
In general, hypothyroidism or low thyroid hormone is a common condition in North America and affects between 20 and 25 percent of the female population, and about 10 percent of males. In addition, approximately 30 percent of people over the age of 35 may have sub-clinical or mild hypothyroidism where the thyroidstimulating hormone (TSH) from the pituitary gland is within the normal range but they have many symptoms of low thyroid. If you are tired, gaining weight, have cold hands and feet, hair loss, dry hair or skin, cracking in the heels, and insomnia, consider that you may have low thyroid. Clinically low thyroid, as confirmed by your doctor, requires prescription medication. However, if your tests come back normal and you are still experiencing symptoms you can support your thyroid with a natural formulation containing L-tyrosine, Ashwagandha, Guggul, pantothenic acid, copper, manganese, and iodine.

A Transitional Time: Menopause
When a woman's childbearing years come to an end, she will begin to experience the first signs of menopause. During this time, the body is adjusting to fluctuating hormone levels. Various signs of menopause include: irregular or absent menstrual periods, hot flashes/ flushes or night sweats (80% of women experience this), mood swings, insomnia, depression, urinary problems, and loss of libido. A woman's risk of heart disease and osteoporosis are also increased during menopause.

Not to be forgotten during menopause are the adrenal glands. Once a woman reaches menopause, the adrenal glands become the primary source for sex-hormone production. Therefore, the stress of everyday life as well as the transition into menopause creates strain on the adrenal glands. Many women have "stressed" or "fatigued" adrenal glands long before they reach menopause, which makes their menopausal symptoms much harder to cope with. Black cohosh, chasteberry, gamma oryzanol, hesperidin, and dong quai may help balance fluctuating hormone levels and ease the transition through menopause.

Hormonal imbalance is a contributing factor to a variety of women's health concerns. Looking at proper estrogen metabolism, lifestyle factors, liver function, decreasing stress, and supporting adrenal and thyroid function can help restore healthy hormone balance.

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