The crazy pace of life in today’s society can take its toll on a woman's health. Not only in the dramatic increase in stress related conditions, that range from headaches, fatigue, and digestive disorders to chronic pain and insomnia, but in the significant effects on moods, sense of purpose, and happiness levels.
Many women find it hard to get motivated in the morning, and run out of energy by mid-afternoon. Often we find ourselves depending on caffeine or sweets to get through the day. And after work, we frequently run full blast taking care of the family until we fall into bed exhausted. While we lay motionless, our mind is on the fast track, and we are unable to fall asleep.
Even women in their mid-30s to mid-50s can feel like they are on the same treadmill without any affective solutions. Add lowered metabolism, hormonal symptoms, lack of sex drive, inability to think clearly, and possibly mild to moderate depression, and overwhelming feelings set in.
Help and answers are here now
New research has given us a better understanding of how neurotransmitters and hormones have an interdependent relationship. Years ago, it was thought that pharmaceutical intervention was the only way to correct these imbalances. As our understanding of the roles of hormones, neurotransmitters and blood sugar increase, we have the means to restore balance to these systems with natural, non-drug solutions.
The Role of Blood Sugar
A big piece of the puzzle for women dealing with mid-life changes is stable blood sugar. Blood sugar has a direct effect on hormone and neurotransmitter levels. This is often ignored in the treatment. Busy women tend to put themselves last; they prepare a child's breakfast but skip their own. People that are under stress tend to crave sweets and caffeine, which causes blood sugar to roller coaster.
The easy answer to the roller coaster sugar ride
Eat small, frequent, protein-containing meals and snack throughout the day so that the blood sugar level does not drop. When blood sugar drops, the body releases epinephrine and cortisol to stabilize blood sugar which can cause hot flashes, headaches, mood swings, and affect your ability to sleep. These are multi-faceted conditions that produce symptoms that can be caused by an imbalance in one or many of these chemicals in the body.
Estrogen and Progesterone Imbalances aren't the only culprits
The cause of many of these symptoms are imbalances in estrogen and progesterone–factors in hot flashes, irritability, lowered metabolism, difficult menstruation, and lack of sex drive. They are closely related to the adrenal hormones, DHEA and cortisol. Therefore, it is crucial that all of these hormones be evaluated before considering any type of hormone replacement therapy.
A Symphony of Hormones Led by Cortisol
A way to illustrate how these hormones are related in both pre- and post-menopausal women is to look at what the body does under any kind of stress–emotional, chemical or physical. In high stress situations, the body will produce higher quantities of cortisol. High cortisol slows down metabolism, causes fat storage and irritability as well as lower progesterone levels since cortisol is made from progesterone. This is often why progesterone supplementation alone is not effective. We now have the ability to test all of these hormones in their unbound state in one simple saliva test.
Testing for Neurotransmitter Levels
Testing for levels of neurotransmitters in the body is now available using a simple urine test. The key chemicals for this test are serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and GABA, which all play a crucial role in optimal metabolism, healthy emotion, restful sleep as well as a sense of vitality and well being.
Correcting Neurotransmitter Imbalances with Natural Amino Acid Therapy
Low serotonin can cause depression, headaches and insomnia as well as hormonal symptoms. Most antidepressants target serotonin receptors, but antidepressant medications do nothing to bring serotonin back to healthy levels. The good news is that natural amino acid therapy can now be used to treat neurotransmitter imbalances. This balances levels of neurotransmitters allowing them to function fully and in conjunction with their hormonal partners.
Identified imbalances can be remedied with natural solutions
The great news is that we have the ability to test for hormone levels in saliva, for neurotransmitter levels in the urine, and to evaluate blood sugar fluctuations. Once these imbalances are identified, they can be remedied using safe, non-drug solutions. With sublingual bio-identical hormones, amino acid therapy, and glandular support along with minor diet and lifestyle changes, we can restore balance to the body. This process is safe, affordable, and usually achievable in twelve to sixteen weeks. People on this program have reported a significant improvement in the quality of their life; they often say they feel like themselves again, at last!
Source: Karla Parkhurts, DC, Parkhurst Chiropractic, 364 Garden Avenue, Holland, Michigan. 616-392-9500. Photo: Marek Bernat