For some women, their monthly period is no big deal. For others, it’s a grueling journey through depression, anxiety, irritability, pain, and more. If you think premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is too awful to be natural, you’re right — PMS is a symptom of a hormone imbalance often caused by too much stress.
Although a variety of factors can cause hormonal imbalances and PMS, one of the more common is low progesterone caused by long term chronic stress.
Low progesterone symptoms:
- Mood swings
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Crying easily
- Poor focus and concentration
- Frequent or irregular menstruation
- Low sex drive
How stress lowers progesterone
Chronic stress causes pregnenolone steal, a situation that causes progesterone deficiency and hormonal imbalances. Pregnenolone is a precursor hormone used to make progesterone and the stress hormone cortisol.
The body can only make so much pregnenolone. This means that if stress is always high, it “steals” pregnenolone from progesterone to make cortisol in order to meet the demands of stress. This causes an imbalance between progesterone and estrogen.
Factors that cause pregnenolone steal
Progesterone cream use can further skew hormones. It’s better to address the causes of low progesterone, which is typically stress-induced pregnenolone steal. Causes of pregnenolone steal and PMS include:
- Sugar and sweeteners, excess processed carbs — rice, pasta, bread, pastries, etc.
- Excess caffeine
- Food intolerances — gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, nuts, grains, etc.
- Digestive issues — bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, leaky gut, pain, etc.
- Lack of sleep
- Inflammation — joint pain, chronic pain, skin rashes, brain fog, fatigue, etc.
- Autoimmune disease (such as Hashimoto’s)
- Overdoing it; over exercising
- Feeling constantly overwhelmed
- Poor nutrition
- Reverse pregnenolone steal to soothe PMS
Ways to reduce pregnenolone steal include an anti-inflammatory diet, restoring gut health, and managing autoimmunity.
A variety of compounds can help soothe PMS, such as omega 3 fatty acids and gamma-linoleic acid (GLA—evening primrose oil, borage oil, or black currant oil.
Supporting serotonin, a brain chemical that promotes well-being, may help with PMS mood symptoms — tryptophan, 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, and SAMe.
This is a broad overview. Ask my office for more advice on using natural therapies to alleviate PMS and support healthy hormones.
Approximately 2.3 million people are injured each year in auto accidents in the U.S. While some people are able to heal from their injuries relatively quickly, others are left to deal with chronic pain and disability. We see many of these patients here in our Portland office. Fortunately, Chiropractic Healing Hands For You is here to help you recover from your auto injury.
The science confirms what we see in our office: A British study was carried out on 28 men and women diagnosed with chronic whiplash syndrome. Each participant received chiropractic care and 93 percent of them experienced pain relief following their adjustments, even though 43 percent of whiplash sufferers overall usually never find relief. This confirms that chiropractic is a great way to avoid long-term pain after an auto injury.
It's important to note that studies have also found that putting off treatment after a car crash can adversely affect healing time, so getting in to see Chiropractic Healing Hands For You immediately is key to having a speedier recovery.
Chiropractic Healing Hands For You has worked with many auto injury sufferers, and we're here to help you, too. Call our Portland office today for more information or an appointment.
- Association for Safe International Road Travel. Retrieved from http://asirt.org/initiatives/informing-road-users/road-safety-facts/road-crash-statistics
- Dies S & Strapp J. (1992, September). Chiropractic treatment of patients in motor vehicle accidents: a statistical analysis. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 36(3), 139-145.
- Woodward M et al. (1996, November). Chiropractic treatment of chronic 'whiplash' injuries. Injury, 27(9), 643-645.
Millions of people drink diet soda in the belief they’re preventing weight gain, and the soda industry invests millions of dollars to perpetuate this belief. Research, however, paints a different picture — diet sodas are dangerous and can make you fat.
Artificial, low-calorie sweeteners used in diet sodas confuse the body and derange its ability to metabolize sugar and carbohydrates. This “confusion” increases hunger and sugar cravings.
Also, artificial sweeteners create imbalances in gut bacteria boosting the bacteria that turn calories into body fat, which can lead to obesity, diabetes, and inflammation.
Diet sodas bring bigger risks than obesity
The health risks associated with diet soda are far more serious than weight gain.
The primary sweetener used in diet sodas, aspartame (which goes by the benign-sounding names Equal and NutraSweet), has been linked to numerous cardiovascular conditions, including stroke, heart failure, and heart attack.
In fact, a nine-year study of 60,000 women showed women who drank two or more cans of diet soda a day were 50 percent more likely to die of heart disease.
Moreover, aspartame overstimulates the brain chemical dopamine, which over time can result in depression, migraine headaches, and seizures.
The other FDA-approved artificial sweeteners — saccharin, neotame, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium — have also been linked to increased risk for heart disease and other health conditions.
Aspartame is a controversial topic. It has been linked to myriad health conditions, some as serious as brain tumors, birth defects, cancer, and memory loss, and is behind numerous complaints to the FDA. However, industry science holds fast to its safety.
Fruit juice is not a healthy substitute
Unfortunately, fruit juice is not a healthy substitute for soda. Fructose is every bit as fattening and inflammatory as sugar or chemical sweeteners. Excessive consumption of fruit juice also puts you at risk of heart disease and diabetes.
In contrast, eating whole fruit also has you consuming fiber, enzymes, minerals and other healthful compounds stripped away by juicing. Also, chewing tells your brain that you’ve eaten, which reduces your appetite.
If you are addicted to diet sodas (as many people are), you may have to wean yourself gradually. Begin by substituting sparkling water with lemon or lime juice, or even just plain water, for some of your sweet drinks. Often when you think you want something sweet, you’re really just thirsty, and plain filtered water will do you fine.
With patience, you can develop an automatic preference for whole, healthy, unsweetened foods and drinks, largely because they make you feel better. After a while, the foods you crave most can actually be those that are best for your body.
Ask my office about transitioning to a whole foods diet so you can feel and function your best.
If you are suffering from headache after an auto collision, don't despair. Chiropractic Healing Hands For You sees this type of problem frequently in our Portland office. Let's look at the root cause of headache after an accident and see how your chiropractor can help.
There are many different kinds of headache. Headache that's triggered by an auto injury, though, usually begins as tension or strain in the muscle tissue of the cervical spine. In a wreck, the neck muscles can be torn, which results in swelling and pain. These kinds of headache can be felt in different places, including the back of the head or even the forehead.
Another common cause of headache after a crash that we see in our Portland office is cervicogenic headache, or headaches that start in injured ligaments of the neck. Ligament injury is quite common after a crash, and it's important to get care for this type of problem to avoid the creation of scar tissue.
Chiropractic is an effective way to treat headaches, including those caused by car crashes. Your chiropractic doctor will help reduce the irritation and tension in your neck, which will help alleviate the headache pain.
Chiropractic Healing Hands For You has been helping patients in Portland since 2005, so we know what you're going through. We're here to help you, too. Chiropractic Healing Hands For You will first determine what's causing your pain and then work to restore your body to its natural functioning. Give our office a call today at (503) 771-1974 to make an appointment.
If you’re like most people, you over indulged during the holidays and now you’d like to reboot your health with a detox diet. The autoimmune diet calms inflammation, stimulates repair and recovery, and boosts energy while preventing hunger. It also helps tame autoimmunity and repair leaky gut.
Remove foods that cause inflammation
Many foods people eat daily can be inflammatory, causing fatigue, rashes, joint pain, digestive issues, headaches, anxiety, depression, autoimmune flare ups, and more.
The foods most people react to are gluten, dairy, various grains, eggs, nuts, and nightshades. Sugar, sweeteners, and sweet fruits also cause inflammation.
The autoimmune detox diet calms inflammation
People new to this diet often wonder if there is anything left to eat. There is plenty to eat on the autoimmune diet! In fact, the autoimmune diet more closely resembles what people have eaten for most of human history.
The diet is based on grass-fed and organic meats, wild fish, healthy fats, fermented foods, and lots of veggies. Eating plenty of vegetables will help build good gut bacteria, detoxify the liver, and boost immune health and tolerance of more foods.
Healthy fats include coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, and ghee (if tolerated). Avoid processed vegetable oils and strictly avoid hydrogenated oils, or trans fats.
The rewards of feeling better outweigh the downsides of the diet
The autoimmune detox diet is certainly more work than eating fast food or microwave meals. But the rewards in how much better it will make you feel are worth the effort.
This diet requires planning and preparation. You may experience cravings, low energy, and some detox symptoms for a few days in the beginning. Online support groups can be very reassuring and helpful.
However, it doesn’t take long before most people feel an increase in energy and well being and actually come to enjoy the diet. Many also lose unwanted fat.
After following the diet for 30 to 90 days, you may wish to add in some of the eliminated foods — one at a time every 72 hours — to see whether you react to any of them. This will help you customize a lifelong diet that is healthy but satisfying. Many find going off at least gluten and dairy bring substantial health benefits.
Supplements to enhance detoxification and gut repair
Certain nutritional compounds can aid in your health reboot. Some are great at supporting liver detoxification, gut repair, blood sugar balance, and stress handling, all of which can aid you in your new diet. Just call my office for advice.
Foods to avoid on the autoimmune detox diet
- Sugars and sweeteners, including honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc.
- High-glycemic fruits: Watermelon, mango, pineapple, grapes, canned and dried fruits, etc.
- Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, and other nightshades
- Grains: Wheat, oats, rice, barley, buckwheat, corn, quinoa, etc.
- Dairy: Milk, cream, cheese, butter, whey
- Eggs or foods that contain eggs (mayonnaise)
- Soy: Soy milk, soy sauce, tofu, tempeh, etc.
- Lectins: Lectins are compounds that can promote leaky gut. Avoid nuts, beans, soy, nightshades, peanut oil, peanut butter, and soy and soy products while on the diet. You may be able to add some or all back in later.
- Coffee: For some coffee over taxes the adrenal glands. Many instant coffees contain gluten.
- Processed and canned foods
Foods to eat
- Most vegetables (except nightshades and mushrooms): Asparagus, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, beets, cauliflower, carrots, celery, artichokes, garlic, onions, zucchini, squash, rhubarb, cucumbers, turnips, watercress, etc. Eat with every meal!
- Fermented foods: Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled ginger, fermented cucumbers, coconut yogurt, kombucha, etc. You must make your own or buy one of the few available truly fermented brands. (If you have histamine intolerance you may need to avoid these.)
- Meats: Grass-fed and organic chicken, turkey, beef, bison, lamb, etc., and wild fish
- Low glycemic fruits sparingly: Apricots, plums, apple, peach, pear, cherries, berries, etc.
- Coconut: Coconut butter, milk, cream, oil
- Herbal teas, non-stimulating, non-caffeinated
- Olives and olive oil
- Ghee (butter oil) unless severe dairy allergy
You’ve probably heard it over and over: Stress raises the risk of disease. But how do you know if your stress is the disease-causing kind? It’s helpful to know some signs and about the adrenal stress test.
Severe stress can either cause you to be fatigued all the time, wired all the time, or a mix of both. Or maybe stress manifests as sleep issues.
It’s not uncommon for people to become so used to being stressed out they fail to realize it’s an issue. They have forgotten how not to feel stressed out.
Symptoms of fatigue-based stress
- Slow to get going in the morning
- Energy crash in the afternoon
- Craving sweets, caffeine, or nicotine
- Unstable behavior; moodiness
- Shaky, light-headed, or irritable if meals are delayed
- Inability to stay asleep
- Dizziness when moving from sitting to standing
Symptoms of wired stress
- Excess belly fat
- Insulin resistance (high blood sugar)
- Not feeling rested in the morning
- Women grow facial hair; men grow breasts
- PCOS in women (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
How to do a lab test for stress
You can do an adrenal stress test to measure how well your body deals with stress using your saliva; it’s also called an adrenal salivary panel. Your adrenal glands are two small glands that sit atop each kidney that secrete stress hormones.
To get the most from the adrenal stress test, do the test a second time after following a health protocol for four to six weeks. This shows you whether you're on the right track with your healing approach.
This is because stress in the body is always caused by more than just the stress that we perceive, for example low or high blood sugar, an infection, or autoimmune disease.
Adrenal health should improve as you manage these conditions. If things do not improve, it means you must keep searching to find out what is taxing the body.
Measuring your sleep-wake cycle
Another way to gauge stress with the adrenal stress test is to look at your sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm.
Are you alert in the morning and sleepy at night? An abnormal circadian rhythm is one symptom of adrenal stress.
Your primary stress hormone, cortisol, should be high in the morning and low at night on an adrenal stress test. Many people have a backwards rhythm causing fatigue in the morning and insomnia at night. Or, instead of a gradual decline of cortisol during the day, it may drop in the afternoon, causing an energy crash.
Where are you on the adrenal stress test scale?
By measuring several markers, the adrenal stress test can tell you whether you are in:
- The “alarm reaction” of high adrenal hormones
- Adrenal exhaustion and chronic tiredness
- Somewhere in between
You do not necessarily have to progress from alarm reaction to adrenal fatigue. It’s possible to jump between phases, or stay in one phase for years.
The adrenal stress test also measures immune cells called total SIgA. This is a measure of how stress has impacted your immune system over time. If SIgA is low, it can mean you are more susceptible to food intolerances, infections, and weakened immunity.
Start with blood sugar stability to manage stress
One of the most common causes of chronic stress is a blood sugar imbalance Addressing high or low blood sugar are vital to addressing chronic stress.
Various herbal and nutritional compounds, such as adrenal adaptogens, can profoundly influence adrenal function. Ask my office about the adrenal stress test and how you can support your adrenal health.
You may have noticed the term “functional medicine” becoming more popular. What is functional medicine and how is it different from regular medicine? Functional medicine addresses health disorders by looking at their root causes rather than masking symptoms with drugs or surgery.
By looking at root causes, you improve your energy, sleep, vitality, and even libido. This is why seeing a functional medicine doctor for a gut problem can also improve your brain function and hormone issues. Everything in the body works together.
Root causes: Address engine, not engine light
If the engine light of your car comes on, do you find a way to turn off the engine light, or do you investigate under the hood?
That analogy works for functional medicine.
Functional medicine is not about giving you a drug for a symptom, but instead investigating why you have that symptom and working on that instead.
For example, suppose 10 different people have the same complaint, whether it is depression, fatigue, digestive problems, or persistent skin rashes.
Each of those 10 people can have the same symptom, but for 10 very different reasons.
An overgrowth of gut bacteria may be causing depression in one person, while it is a gluten intolerance in another.
Fatigue can be the result of low blood sugar in one person, and autoimmune B12 anemia disease in another.
You must know why you have a health problem
Until you understand why you are suffering from a health problem, chasing after drugs or therapies can keep landing you at dead ends.
Functional medicine relies on published, peer-reviewed science to help us understand how the body works and where breakdowns occur.
Lab tests, questionnaires, in-office exams, and a discussion about your case history help the functional medicine practitioner learn where the root cause lies.
Five common functional medicine root causes
Although different people can have the same symptom for different reasons, functional medicine often finds common root causes. Some of them are:
- Food intolerances, especially to gluten and dairy
- Low blood sugar
- High blood sugar (insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes)
- Intestinal bacterial and yeast overgrowths
- Autoimmunity (when the immune system attacks and destroys body tissue)
Addressing one or all of these factors, depending on the person, can relieve not only the symptom that brought you to the office, but a number of other symptoms as well.
There are no specialties in the human body
The body is a highly complex web in which all systems and parts are related.
The body does not have specialties in the way medicine does. The digestive system — or any other system in the body — does not function independently of the rest of the body.
For instance, if autoimmune disease is destroying the thyroid gland, it’s not just the thyroid you address, but also the immune system. If the gallbladder is acting up, addressing a gluten intolerance and chronic inflammation can sometimes prevent gallbladder surgery.
Functional medicine is about reversing or stopping the progression of disease as much as possible without the use of drugs or surgery (although medication and surgery should not be avoided when needed).
It’s also about feeling as good as you should feel. For more information, please contact my office.
Asthma is a significant issue for many people in Portland and for society as a whole, really, since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that this condition currently affects almost 19 million adults and 7 million children in the United States. A full-blown asthma attack likely means a emergency room visit. Fortunately, Chiropractic Healing Hands For You has helped many people in Portland get relief from asthma symptoms.
The scientific research confirms what we see in our office. For instance, a study published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy evaluated 31 adult asthma patients after getting four weeks of chiropractic treatments. The researchers found that the individuals who received chiropractic adjustments had a 34% decrease in asthma symptoms.
The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics published another asthma-based study, except this one involved children. In this paper, the 36 patients ranged from 6 to 17 years in age and their asthma was considered either mild or moderate in severity.
After 12 weeks of chiropractic care, as a whole, the patients reported a higher quality of life and a lower level of severity. As a bonus, they also reported that they relied less on their bronchodilator and these positive effects lasted one year after chiropractic care was complete.
So, whether you're 6 or 60, if you have symptoms of asthma, be sure to contact Chiropractic Healing Hands For You in Portland and schedule an appointment today. We'll do what we can to help you breathe easier!
- Asthma. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Bronfort G et al. (2001, July-August). Chronic pediatric asthma and spinal manipulation: a prospective clinical series and randomized clinical pilot study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics;24(6):369-77
- Nielsen N et al. (1995, January). Chronic asthma and chiropractic spinal manipulation: a randomized clinical trial. Clinical and Experimental Allergy;25(1):80-8
If you are sleepy after eating, always hungry, and can’t lose weight, you may suffer from insulin resistance, which raises your risk for diabetes. The good news is insulin resistance is often reversible through simple dietary changes.
How do you know if you have insulin resistance? See if any of these symptoms apply to you:
⦁ Fatigue after meals
⦁ General fatigue
⦁ Constant hunger
⦁ Craving for sweets not relieved by eating them
⦁ Must have sweets after meals
⦁ Waist girth equal to or larger than hip girth
⦁ Frequent urination
⦁ Increased appetite and thirst
⦁ Difficulty losing weight
⦁ Migrating aches and pains
⦁ Trouble falling asleep
⦁ Why is insulin resistance dangerous?
Insulin resistance, also known as pre-diabetes, is uncomfortable, but it’s also dangerous. It is linked with Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, chronic pain, hormone imbalances, and many other common modern maladies.
But that’s not all. Insulin resistance can also kill your libido and make you chronically tired.
If you’re a woman, insulin resistance causes testosterone to spike so you lose your hair and develop male characteristics. If you’re a man, it raises estrogen levels so you get “moobs” and cry at commercials. These are some pretty undesirable consequences for a sugar habit!
What causes insulin resistance?
The good news and the bad news is insulin resistance is caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. This is bad news because it means giving up some comforts, but it’s good news because it means radically changing your health is highly doable!
A diet high in sugars and carbohydrates—sugars, sweets, sodas, pastries, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, corn, grains, beans, and other starchy foods —leads to high blood sugar and insulin resistance.
Because high blood sugar is dangerous to the body, the pancreas secretes insulin to lower it. Insulin escorts sugar out of the bloodstream and into the body’s cells. Excess sugar is converted into fat for storage.
When this response happens regularly every day, as it does for millions of Americans, the cells become overwhelmed from the constant bombardment of insulin. In defense, they become resistant to insulin and refuse it entry. Now you have high blood sugar and high insulin in your bloodstream, causing inflammation, throwing off hormone balance, and degenerating the brain.
This is why insulin resistance causes fatigue after meals. The insulin-resistant cells are deprived of glucose for energy, converting all that extra sugar into fat is draining, and the whole process saps brain function.
Many people have both insulin resistance and low blood sugar. This means their energy crashes not only after meals, but between meals too. Either way, stabilizing blood sugar is your key to better health and losing weight.
The most important thing is to ditch the sugar and eat only as many complex carbohydrates as your body needs (it varies from person to person). Eat tons of veggies for fiber and to build good gut bacteria. Start checking your fasting blood sugar in the morning and shoot for a level between 80 and 100. Anything over 100 is too high. Also, exercise daily, with bursts of high intensity and some weight training, to sensitize your cells to insulin.
Various herbs and nutrients can help reverse insulin resistance — ask my office for a recommendation.
Gallbladder surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgeries today. Did you know simply going gluten-free may lower the risk of needing gallbladder surgery?
For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, gluten triggers a wide range of adverse reactions, from joint pain to poor brain function. In the last several years, research has also linked gluten with gallbladder disease in gluten-sensitive individuals.
Gluten sensitivity largely undiagnosed
An astonishing number of people are gluten intolerant but do not know it. Undiagnosed gluten sensitivity can cause leaky gut, chronic pain, inflammation, neurological damage, and autoimmunity (when the immune system attacks and destroys body tissue). Gluten sensitivity is estimated to affect between 20 and 40 percent of the general population, and is less frequently identified than celiac disease, though this is changing.
How gluten can raise the risk of gallbladder surgery
So how can gluten raise the risk of requiring gallbladder surgery? The process begins with damage to the small intestine. This damage inhibits its ability to properly secrete a hormone called cholecystokinin. Cholecystokinin is the hormone that signals the gallbladder when it’s time to release bile, which aids in the digestion and absorption of fat. As a result, bile builds up in the gallbladder, causing inflammation and raising the risk of gallbladder disease and subsequent gallbladder surgery.
Approximately 60 percent of people with celiac disease — an autoimmune reaction to gluten — also have gallbladder, liver, or pancreatic conditions, and this is apparently one reason why.
Why you need a gallbladder
Although you can live without your gallbladder, it is essential to overall health. The bile stored and secreted by the gallbladder enables you to digest fats. Without a gallbladder, your liver still produces bile, but the bile just “leaks” continually into the small intestine. This means there are no adequate reserves of bile to break down fats when needed.
These fats then become rancid and inflame the digestive tract while fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids
are not properly absorbed. Ultimately, this compromises the function of your entire digestive tract. In fact, studies have linked gallbladder removal with an elevated risk of colon cancer.
Also, if the gallbladder is not removed but isn’t doing its job well, this can be detrimental to liver function.
It is worth caring for your gallbladder to preserve the health of your digestive system, and hence your immune system. If you are sensitive to gluten, it’s important to go gluten-free to maintain gallbladder health and lower your risk of needing gallbladder surgery.
Additionally, your gallbladder appreciates a diet high in omega 3 essential fatty acids, and free of processed oils and hydrogenated fats. And in general, it is safest to keep starchy carbs (cake, potatoes, white flour, refined sugar, etc.) to a minimum.
Various botanicals and nutrients can support liver and gallbladder health. They include milk thistle seed extract, dandelion root, ginger root, and phosphatidyl choline.
If you have already had your gallbladder removed, don’t despair. Taking ox bile with your meals can help you emulsify and absorb your fats, which are vital for many aspects of health including brain function. For more information, contact my office.