By Tarynn Butler LAc., MSTCM
CD: I know the endocrine system is complex but can you help us understand what hormone imbalance means?
TB: The endocrine system is an intricate web of communication and interplay between multiple glands that supports things like mood, sleep, reproduction, metabolism and everything in-between. So the endocrine system is a cornerstone to good health and happiness. It is an incredibly sophisticated system and can be thrown off with improper lifestyle, diet or exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. When it is out of balance we can become moody or suffer from insomnia, have irregular and or heavy periods as well as a myriad of other distressing symptoms.
CD: What are some signs and symptoms of imbalance?
TB: Some signs and symptoms of imbalance have been mentioned above but some of the most obvious are mood swings, fatigue, insomnia, irregular periods, changes in body temperature, changes in appetite and changes in bodily fluids. Most of these symptoms can be balanced with a proper lifestyle, diet, sleep and preventative and balancing medicines (acupuncture, herbs, ayerveda, yoga, tai chi).
CD: After kids and midlife things change. Is this normal?
TB: Yes. Afterall it is midlife. At midlife we have been on the Earth for sometime now and changes are natural and if understood from a mind, body and soul perspective can really be empowering and transformative. It is important to live by the laws of the Universe and in doing so one can find ways to age gracefully and beautifully. Its important to find time to rejuvenate and yield to the flow of things. We do not live forever and all things coming into being are at the same time dying. The interim is what we have control over.
Most women in particular after having children are faced with many new challenges as to how to balance all the pieces of life. Its harder now then ever because of how fast paced life is and most women have chosen to have children later in life which means they spent many years living as they wanted to and mostly making decisions based on personal desires and now that is not as easy. It’s nearly impossible to live life in the same manner and same style when you have little ones and that can be hard. The most important thing to prevent hormonal imbalances and any of the aforementioned symptoms is to take breaks, nourish the body and soul with food, habits and people that make us happy and give us a purpose. It’s also very beneficial to live preventatively with alternative medicines and therapies that prevent disharmony before it turns to something more serious.
CD: Adaptogenic herbs, acupuncture and things like maca powder... why do they work?
TB: In Chinese medicine we have an elaborate diagnostic system that helps us to utilize our herbal pharmacopoeia and varied techniques of acupuncture for healing . This is to say that all of the practitioners that came before us spent a long time documenting, applying and understanding these herbs and acu-points. Not only did they study the ways in which they work synergistically but in cooperation with an individual’s constitution.
One branch of our medicine is the herbal library and is broken into several catergories of herbs. The adaptagenic herbs you refer to as well as maca are some of the most superior herbs of impressive quality and usually part of a formula that can be taken for a long time. These herbs tend to rebuild, tonify and support the body’s organ systems, energy and blood.
Things like acupuncture or yoga help the body to be able to keep things open and fluid. They help to keep qi in motion. Stagnation equates to disharmony and eventually a disease pattern. These types of therapies in turn help the body to be more vital and to accept and utilize food and herbal formulas. All of these are measures that help to prevent disease and illnesses. You are unable to utilize food and herbal supplements if the body is weak and disharmonious. It is first essential to optimize the body’s ability to accept nutrients and essentially be able to handle life gracefully. Yielding to the flow.
In doing all of the aforementioned the trilogy of health (the mind, body and spirit) is nourished and the body can become vital and healthy. In taking these herbs for an extended time and incorporating other nourishing and introspective techniques you can adapt to every day stressors and are able to let that big meeting, difficult decision or screaming child to be handled with more insight and ease. When the body is healthy the mind can follow and the spirit will be in balance and the sacred trifecta can flourish and flow in this short time we have here.