Some of you may have watched my Holistic OBGYN (Dr. Wendy Warner) on Dr. Oz last week. Dr. Warner talked (very quickly) about natural ways to balance your hormones.
The show was specifically focused on menopause; however the concept of balancing hormones is one that readily applies to many women facing fertility challenges.
As an expansion of the show, and also for those who may not have seen it, below I share a few words from Dr. Warner regarding Adrenal Dysfunction, as well as her hormone balancing smoothie recipe.
When I was first introduced to the concept of Adrenal Dysfunction I must admit that I was a bit skeptical. Previous OBGYN’s had definitively told me that my hot flashes were singularly attributable to high FSH. That explanation however made a lot less sense when my FSH came back in the “normal” range.
In the case of Adrenal Dysfunction (or Adrenal Fatigue as it is sometimes called) our “fight or flight” response has been activated so often (stress triggers this response) that the Adrenals burn out. They then begin responding to small irritations (e.g., when we can’t get a cabinet door to close) as though a lion were at our heels (e.g., slamming the door and yelling). Cortisol levels spike and the body begins to look for what it needs in other places (i.e., sex hormones). This cycle then leads to hormonal imbalance.
Women dealing with Adrenal Dysfunction often don’t sleep well, may have hot flashes, and experience a multitude of other symptoms like weight gain that no matter what just won’t go away. Basically the Adrenals are bombarded with the message, “hurry, get up, fight the dragon!!” so often that they begin to see dragons everywhere and run out of ammunition to fight them off–thus they begin to steal ammo from neighbors in the body.
Unfortunately undoing the damage is much harder, and takes much longer, than creating it. A good place to start is with herbs and nutrition. And then we must learn to live our lives in a different, more balanced way. As Dr. Warner states below “if you’re supporting your adrenals with herbs on the one hand but still living your life like a tiger’s chasing you, that’s like driving with the gas and brake pedals both on at the same time.” We must learn to stop pressing the gas pedal to the floor while holding onto the handbrake with all of our might. Meditation, yoga, and making time for rest and stillness can all help.
If you have experienced symptoms of Adrenal Dysfunction, or if you have problems with hormone imbalance, today may be a good day to blend up a smoothie and do a short meditation or yoga practice. A healthy tomorrow begins with small steps taken today.
Experpt from Dr. Warner
First, the smoothie recipe. Please understand that I made the recipe a bit more simple for the show. What we made on air would NOT be adequate for breakfast, as there isn’t enough protein; it’s just a nice snack. Also, the “recipe” section of Dr Oz’s website labels this smoothie as “fat-blasting”. That’s a misconception and I hope I didn’t leave folks with the impression that it’s some kind of magic potion! It has nutrients that will help balance hormones, which will allow the fat to come off. Here’s what Brad and I actually drink each day: (remember, this is for two people)
2-3 tbl flax seeds
2-3 tbl hemp seeds
2-3 Brazil nuts
1-2 tbl pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
~2 tsp herbal extract that includes ashwaganda and other adaptogens
big chunk of sweet red bell pepper (for antioxidants)
fruit, ~1 cup. This is usually a combo of orange, apple, maybe berries or pineapple.
Several handsful of raw greens, like chard, spinach, kale, collards, even parsley.
Cooled, brewed green or white tea—amount varies depending on consistency you like.
Throw all this in a good blender (we use a vitamix). I have it for a midmorning snack at the office; Brad uses his for breakfast. (I’ve usually had a small breakfast at home with protein, like good sardines or eggs).
Now, the issue of adrenal dysfunction. Yes, it’s essential to get this under control in order to manage menopause symptoms. But it’s not just about taking ashwaganda! That and other herbal adaptogens definitely help, but as I always say, if you’re supporting your adrenals with herbs on the one hand but still living your life like a tiger’s chasing you, that’s like driving with the gas and brake pedals both on at the same time. Please remember that how you live your life is what is important here. Movement and quiet time and emotional management are first line therapy; the herbs are merely supportive. That’s why I have Brad available to teach folks the techniques designed by the HeartMath Institute, since they have been shown to help balance out cortisol and dhea, two important adrenal hormones. That’s also why I recommend yoga and tai chi, and have those classes available at the office.