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women's hormones

  • At best of times, understanding the ebb and flow of women’s hormones through the various stages of their life can seem like a daunting task. To make matters even more challenging, the Allopathic medicine perspective tends to medicalize and pathologize women’s hormonal issues. All too often, the first approach is prescribing hormones either as bio-identical hormones or HRT, both options come with risks.

  • At best of times, understanding the ebb and flow of women’s hormones through the various stages of their life can seem like a daunting task. To make matters even more challenging, the Allopathic medicine perspective tends to medicalize and pathologize women’s hormonal issues. All too often, the first approach is prescribing hormones either as bio-identical hormones or HRT, both options come with risks.

    So what is a woman to do?

    I invited Angelo Druda, a renowned Oriental medicine practitioner; author of The Tao of Rejuvenation and a feature writer at, to have an in-depth conversation about the profound insight and practical approaches for natural hormone rejuvenation gleaned from thousands of years of Chinese medical wisdom. The ancient wisdom of the East offers the profound insight not just about how to balance hormones naturally but the very regenerative forces found within the female body. This is knowledge rarely understood in the western medical model but empowering information for women.

  • An ancient adage from Chinese medicine states, “A doctor would rather treat 10 men than one woman.” In a way, this validates what women have always known—that they are indeed intricate creatures. At the heart of a woman’s complexity are her hormones, their ebb and flow influencing all aspects of physical, emotional and mental wellness. Sexy hormones are sex hormones including, but not limited too, estrogen, testosterone, DHEA and progesterone. When a woman’s hormones are in balance, she feels fabulous, her skin glows, she has energy and vitality.

    Sexual desire and satisfaction are affected by hormone havoc. A woman’s feelings of being “sexy” are hormone driven. Sex is a central part of who we are. It is the basis for our relationships. Men are being prescribed the “little blue pill” in record number and you can’t turn on your computer without being bombarded by spam to make “it” bigger, longer and stronger. Yet according the University of Chicago study, 43 percent of women have no sex drive; and over 51 percent of women are suffering with pain during intercourse. Not much is being done in the research community to help women with sexual health concerns. Most people believe a drop in a woman’s libido is age-related affecting only older women but over 21 percent of women 70 or older still have regular sex and younger women in their 30s tend to be the ones with the biggest declines in libido due to stress, working, young families and lack of time.

    Factors Affecting Sexual Health
    So many factors contribute to a decline in a woman’s libido:

    • Low thyroid (hypothyroidism)
    • The birth control pill
    • Excess levels of the hormone prolactin
    • Low testosterone
    • Prescription and over-the-counter medications especially anti-depressant medication
    • Stress
    • Hormone disrupting estrogens in the environment
    • Relationship problems
    • Hysterectomy where the nerves for pleasure are accidentally damaged.

    If you are struggling with low libido, pain upon intercourse, no or blunted orgasms or vaginal dryness certain, diagnostic tests should be performed:

    • A blood test for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) should be performed. The result should be below 2.0. Above 2.0 is an indicator of subclinical low thyroid. Doctors do not prescribe medication until your TSH is above 5.5 but by then you may have a multitude of low thyroid symptoms (including weight gain, depression, constipation, feeling cold, hair loss, low to no libido, infertility, recurring miscarriage, terrible hot flashes and night sweats and more).
    • A blood test for free testosterone, which measures testosterone that is not bound to sex hormone binding globulin. Testosterone is the hormone of desire and when it is low, sex drive and the ability to reach climax is affected.
    • A saliva hormone panel for estrogens including estradiol, estrone and estriol. Blood testing is not accurate in measuring estrogen levels—saliva is more accurate.

    Get Your Libido Back Naturally
    Once the physical, emotional and physiological factors are ruled out getting your sex drive back is simple with a healthy diet, regular exercise and a few key nutritional supplements. A scant amount of research has been performed in the area of libido enhancing drugs or nutrients for women but a couple of nutrients shine when it comes to improving a woman’s love life.

    Arginine is an essential amino acid. (Essential means your body can’t make it, and you have to obtain it from foods.) In supplement form it is known as “L-arginine.” L-arginine is the main source of the primary molecule nitric oxide (NO), which is responsible for sexual arousal in women. Without arginine, there is no nitric oxide and no sexual arousal. In research on women, L-arginine in supplement form has been reported to increase the intensity of sensation during sex. That is because NO stimulates blood flow to the genitals to lead up to orgasm.

    Tribulus terrestris has been used as a prosexual herb for thousands of years. Tribulus terrestris works in a special way in women. One of luteinizing hormone’s (LH) many functions is to command the production of testosterone. As a woman ages, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) increases dramatically, peaking a few years after menopause and staying high for several decades thereafter. The ratio of FSH to luteinizing hormone increases, and LH does not have the same ability to increase testosterone. Tribulus terrestris helps to naturally boost the levels of luteinizing hormone to FSH, which then helps produce more testosterone. Tribulus terrestris is both a libido enhancer (and has been proven in multiple clinical trials in this regard) and has an ability to increase testosterone to normal levels.

    Clinical trials using Tribulus terrestris were performed at the First Obstetrical and Gynecological Hospital in Sofia, Bulgaria on 150 women with abnormal ovulation associated with hormone imbalances. One group of women were given tribulus terrestris with a high percentage of the active ingredient protodioscin. They also had a group of women that received estrogens and testosterone only, with no Tribulus terrestris.

    The study resulted in a normalization of ovulation, improved fertility, a reduction in peri- and postmenopausal symptoms. Most importantly Tribulus terrestriswas found to provide better results in women in regards to increasing libido than the hormone therapy alone.

    Ginkgo biloba has been used in several clinical trials in women with low libido. One trial found that women on anti-depressant medications, which can cause sexual dysfunction including low libido, had their libido improve and orgasms return. Another study, published in Advances in Therapy in 2000, found that study participants using Ginkgo biloba reported having significant increases in sexual desires, had intercourse more often, had more sexual fantasies, and were able to reach orgasm.

    Other research studies have shown Ginkgo biloba to be a major aid in improving blood flow to small blood vessels. Enhancing blood flow to the genitals heightens sexual sensations. Research has also shown that Ginkgo biloba significantly increases mental acuity and memory—and sexual desire starts in the brain. Look for Ginkgo biloba extract that is standardized to 24 percent Ginkgo flavonglycosides and 6 percent terpene lactones.

    For women, the neurotransmitter that sends sexual messages to the nerves, called acetylcholine (ACh), is also a very important part of sexual function. Too little ACh and sexual activity goes down; increase ACh levels and sexual activity goes up. ACh is involved in the build-up toward orgasm and the urethral and vaginal contractions that occur during orgasm, as well as the subjective perception of orgasm intensity and duration. Female rat studies have shown that when ACh is increased, female rats seek out male rats and are receptive to them. Choline bitartrate, along with vitamin B5, helps to enhance acetylcholine, thereby enhancing orgasm.

    Eurycoma longifolia, also known as Malaysian Ginseng, is the missing ingredient in helping women’s libido. This potent herb brings the zest back in your sex life and aids vaginal dryness. Published research has been performed in male mice and men. To date no published research has been completed in women or in female mice.

    Testimonials from women using Eurycoma longifolia have reported that they are finally having orgasms again, and that the orgasms they are having are longer and more intense. Women have reported to us that they are waking up in the middle of the night with strong orgasms. The combination of Eurycoma longifolia, L-arginine, vitamin B5, choline, and Gingko biloba has been on the market in Canada for over two years. This combination is reported to have them thinking about sex again. The added benefit of increased vaginal lubrication has them more comfortable while they’re doing it as well.

    Lovely Lubricants
    Lubrication occurs during arousal in most women. But for some, due to hormones out of balance, stress, performance anxiety, and/or prescription medications, lubrication just does not happen. If you are moaning from pain due to inadequate lubrication during sex or you can’t get excited because of lack of lubrication—there are signals sent to the brain when you start to notice lubrication that further promotes arousal—then lubricants are a great solution.

    Drugstores, health food stores, and Web sites sell vaginal lubricants. Some have stimulants in them like peppermint or menthol and are called warming lubricants. These are used to enhance sexual pleasure and orgasm.

    Other lubricants contain herbal extracts to aid dryness and soothe the vagina. Oil based lubricants are not safe to use with condoms. Oil-based lubricants can cause the vagina to harbor bacteria. Never use petroleum jelly. Look for water-based formulas. Always test the lubricant on your skin before applying it to your sensitive genitals. If any rash, redness, or irritation occurs do not apply to the genitalia.

    Vaginal bioidentical estriol cream (not Estradiol) for hormonally related symptoms of vaginal dryness, vaginal atrophy, urinary incontinence, burning, and urinary frequency is often recommended.

    Even with the use of vaginal estriol cream for these symptoms, you will also want to add a lubricant for sexual intercourse. Vaginal dryness can also occur at different stages of the menstrual cycle (right after the period or just before), during pregnancy, when breast-feeding, or when using a condom.

    Your Lubricant Should Be:

    • water-based
    • latex friendly
    • non-staining and non-toxic
    • designed to be soothing and not disrupt normal vaginal pH balance
    • pleasant tasting or have no taste
    • providing lots of lubrication that does not get sticky over time
    • free of parabens, toxic preservatives, mineral oil, animal products or petroleum ingredients

    Most women think a lube is for use only during intercourse, but a lubricant should be used throughout the day if you have vaginal dryness, in order to prevent infections, itching, burning, heat, and pain from the dryness. That is why it is important to select a lubricant that has no odor and does not stain your panties.

    Exercise for More Testosterone
    The best way to enhance testosterone is to exercise. This hormone of desire is essential for maintaining muscle tone, stamina, and strength. Testosterone starts to naturally decline in women over the age of 40 who do not exercise regularly. This is about the time you notice that slow slide in muscle tone, with your breasts racing to meet your waist. Testosterone increases your metabolism—how quickly your body burns food as fuel—so you burn fat faster. Testosterone also makes women feel sexy and strong. Blood levels of testosterone increase with just 20 minutes of exercise and remain elevated for up to three hours after.

    If you miss your libido and want it back, find out more in Sexy Hormones by Lorna R. Vanderhaeghe, M.S. and Alvin Pettle, M.D.

  • When it comes to women’s health, the knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine embodies may pearls of wisdom. One of the most well-known sayings is that a Chinese doctor would rather treat ten men rather than one woman! It is no surprise that women are the more complex gender. A woman’s unique physiology gives her extraordinary advantages, such as a longer life span. However, altering the very delicate and finely balanced female hormonal system can also predispose women to a long list of health problems that can compromise her physiological, emotional and mental well-being.

  • Millions of women each year seek relief for hormonal issues, including hot flashes, night sweats, hormonal migraines, PMS, ovarian cysts, fibroids, endometriosis, fibrocystic breasts, weight gain, foggy thinking, and heavy bleeding. These symptoms are lumped together into the hormonal imbalance pigeonhole. In the case of menopause, HRT or Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy is the conventional cure. For menstruating women, oral contraceptives are most often prescribed.

    When resolving hormonal problems, women are led to believe all that is required is tweaking their hormonal levels or, in the case of oral contraceptives, a complete shutting down of ovarian function. However, hormonal imbalances, rather than merely aberrations of a wayward reproductive system, are, in fact, symptoms of deeper root cause issues. For long term hormonal balance and optimal health, understanding and addressing these deep problems is a critical piece of the hormone puzzle!

    The Adrenals and Hormones
    The adrenals are involved in manufacturing numerous hormones; blood sugar regulation; the regulation of the body's minerals; modulating the immune system; producing and maintaining the body's energy levels in conjunction with the thyroid; and producing stress-monitoring hormones. The adrenals, considered to be the body's shock absorbers, are the core of the endocrine stress response system. Two of the most important hormones produced by the adrenals, adrenaline and cortisol, are responsible for the fight-or-flight response. Adrenaline deals primarily with short-term stress while cortisol is produced as a result of both acute and long-term stress.

    Prolonged stress, whether as a result of emotional, environmental or physical causes, is disastrous for the adrenals. Initially, it results in chronically elevated cortisol levels, resulting in weight gain (especially around the midsection), blood sugar imbalances, thinning skin, muscle wasting, memory loss, high blood pressure, dizziness, hot flashes, night sweats, excessive facial hair, and other masculinizing tendencies.

    Overworked adrenals eventually crash, leading to adrenal exhaustion, where the body is unable to maintain adequate adrenal hormone production. Symptoms of overtaxed adrenals include extreme fatigue (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), irritability, inability to concentrate, frustration, insomnia, addictions to either sweet or salty foods, allergies, nervousness, depression, anxiety, PMS, sensitivity to cold, diabetes and headaches. Chronic low blood pressure can be a key symptom of seriously exhausted adrenal glands.

    Since the adrenals produce about 35 percent of premenopausal female hormones and almost 50 percent of postmenopausal hormones, compromised adrenal function directly impacts hormonal balance.

    Progesterone is the primary raw material for producing cortisol. When the glands are in overdrive, the body will divert progesterone to the adrenals to support cortisol production. With reduced progesterone, the body may experience estrogen dominance, i.e., PMS, hot flashes, night sweats, migraines, fibroids, heavy bleeding, breast tenderness, weight gain, etc. Excessive cortisol also blocks progesterone receptors, further contributing to low progesterone. These two imbalances are the primary reasons why adrenal exhaustion leads to estrogen dominance.

    Restoring adrenal function is a pre-requisite for restoring and maintaining hormonal balance. Nutrients that have special importance to the adrenals are the B vitamins (especially B5), vitamin C, proteins, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium, plant enzymes, adaptagenic herbs, adrenal extracts and the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine. Rest is essential to rejuvenate the adrenals. Individuals who suspect adrenal exhaustion can determine whether the body is producing healthy levels of adrenal hormones through proper testing. Cortisol levels can be measured with a saliva test that collects at least four samples over 24 hours.

    The Thyroid and Hormones
    Overtaxed adrenals can lead to hypothyroidism, which has a direct effect on women's hormonal health. By age 50, one in every twelve women has a significant degree of hypothyroidism. By age 60, it is one woman out of every six.

    The thyroid, which regulates metabolism, may tune down its hormonal activity in an attempt to reverse adrenal overdrive. Some symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, weight gain, fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, heavy bleeding, fibrocystic breast disease, depression, PMS, migraines, lack of concentration, cold hands and feet, menopausal symptoms, miscarriage and infertility.

    Birth control pills and estrogen increase thyroid-binding proteins in the bloodstream. This means that thyroid blood test results may be unreliable. Even though they may show normal thyroid hormone levels in the blood, there may be insufficient thyroid hormone in the tissues.

    Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal axis activation due to stress causes decreased production of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and blocks inactive thyroxin conversion to the biologically active triiodothyronine (T3), which has the greatest effect on the body.

    Effective natural approaches help in regulating the thyroid. Natural progesterone balances the thyroid-inhibiting effect of estrogen dominance, as does supplementation with thyroid glandular extracts, enzyme therapy, minerals (Iodoral, selenium and magnesium), vitamins and herbals.

    The Candida-Hormone Connection
    A serious digestive concern is the yeast-fungal infection known as candidiasis. Approximately 75 percent of women suffer from at least one yeast infection during their lives. This toxic yeast overgrowth is caused by eating large amounts of sugar and/or prolonged or repeated use of antibiotics, birth control pills, estrogen therapy, and cortisone.

    Candida produces 79 different toxins known to wreak havoc with the immune system. A long list of potential symptoms associated with Candida overgrowth include depression, anxiety attacks, mood swings, lack of concentration, drowsiness, poor memory, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, bloating, constipation, bladder infections, menstrual cramps, vaginal itching, muscle and joint swelling, pain, hypothyroidism, and skin problems.

    However, it is rarely understood that Candida also contributes to hormonal problems. A Candida waste product produces a false estrogen, which tricks the body into thinking it has produced adequate levels, signaling a reduction of its own estrogen. Similar messages can also be sent to the thyroid, reducing thyroxin production and initiating or worsening a hypothyroid problem.

    Elevated estrogen levels also increase vaginal candidiasis incidence. Estrogen will literally feed Candida growth, which is why birth control pills and estrogen replacement therapy put women at a greater risk of developing Candida. The botanicals pau d'arco, oregano oil and olive leaf extract can be used along with a sugar-free and low carb diet to reduce the effect of this harmful yeast overgrowth. Probiotics are another key player to re-establish the beneficial bacterial in the colon.

    Get Hormonally Balanced by Getting Healthy It is commonly believed that conditions of hormonal imbalance somehow just happen to us. For some reason, our culture has taught us that when diagnosed with a hormonal issue such as PMS, endometriosis, fibroids, hot flashes or night sweats, the answer lies in a pharmaceutical intervention such as some form of contraceptives or some variation of hormone supplementation with HRT or Bioidentical Hormone Replacement.

    If we really want to regain hormonal harmony, it is vitally important that we understand that all hormonal problems are symptomatic of underlying dysfunctions occurring in our body. Learning to understand the message our body is trying to give us, will direct us to the real source of the problem so permanent healing can occur.

    All hormonal imbalances are a message that our body is out of balance. A big piece for resolving hormonal issues requires understanding the significant role of ensuring the health of our adrenals, thyroid and colon. Getting healthy is the key to getting our hormones back on track!

  • LET'S FACE IT— your hormones rule. When they're out of whack, you are, too and when they're in harmony, everything else feels harmonious, as well. It's not uncommon to blame all kinds of extraneous factors on our hormones but such offhanded comments carry more truth than you realize.

    In fact, the numbers tell a very serious tale indeed. Did you know that over 75 percent of women are currently suffering from haywire hormones in their body directly related to a deficiency of one hormone? That hormone is progesterone.

    When your numbers dwindle, your body can react in a whole host of unpleasant ways. These include emotionally (mood swings, nervousness, anxiety, depression) and physically (stalled weight loss, osteopenia, osteoporosis, pain, inflammation), as well as a shot libido, thinning hair, skipped periods, and insomnia-ridden restless nights.

    If you suspect that this may apply to you and are wondering how you became progesterone deficient in the first place, here are a few likely culprits.

    • Your body is converting progesterone into cortisol as a result of stress.
    • You are deficient in zinc and vitamin B6, nutrient precursors of progesterone.
    • You are not ovulating regularly, leaving you without a corpus luteum to create progesterone in the first place.
    Progesterone Defined

    So, what exactly is progesterone? It is a hormone involved in female sexual behavior, pregnancy, and menstruation that is produced in the ovaries, the placenta, and the adrenal glands. Known as the “feel good hormone,” progesterone is up to 20 times more concentrated in the brain than in the blood stream. This hormone functions as a stabilizing force, counter-balancing estrogen. It has numerous positive benefits including promoting fat burn, helping to normalize blood sugar and cell oxygen levels, and acting as an antidepressant.

    As menstruation slows during perimenopause, so does the production of progesterone. The decline in progesterone means the body now lacks some of its estrogen-equalizing force. This imbalance contributes to some of the nastier symptoms of perimenopause such as decreased libido, depressed mood, and hypothyroidism-like symptoms like fatigue and weight gain.

    However, don't think you're in the clear if you haven't quite reached the perimenopause stage of life yet. In fact, no woman isn't at risk because these days having a progesterone deficiency seems to be common among women ages 18 to 80. This is because many of all ages lack the necessary nutrient precursors for their body to produce progesterone, especially zinc and vitamin B6, as I mentioned earlier.


    Besides its ability to counteract the undesirable effects of estrogen, progesterone functions as both a buffer to and a treatment for various ailments. It has been credited with fighting heart disease and cancer. In women in their thirties and forties, progesterone plays an active role in bone density, and a high progesterone level is a major protective factor against later osteoporosis.

    By increasing body energy, probably by helping thyroid hormones work better, progesterone causes a very slight but often noticeable rise in your body temperature when you ovulate, contributing to enhanced metabolism. This varies from woman to woman.

    Because progesterone plays a promotional role in so many functions critical to a good quality of life like mood and libido, normal fluctuations in this hormone can have potentially deleterious effects. After a fertilized egg settles on the uterus wall, ovarian progesterone cares for it. After the placenta develops, it, too, secretes progesterone. Progesterone levels continue high throughout pregnancy, which is why many women in the third trimester, and in spite of some physical discomfort, feel as good as they have ever felt in their lives. Unfortunately, when her progesterone level falls sharply after the birth, the mother is vulnerable to experiencing postpartum depression.

    At menopause, the drop in progesterone level is twelve times greater than that in estrogen level (estrogen declines by 40 to 60 percent). Men have higher progesterone levels than some post-menopausal women. Just like women after they give birth, this drop in progesterone can create a feeling of depression for both perimenopausal and menopausal women.

    If you have hair loss and skipped periods, low progesterone levels may be the culprit. Lack of ovulation in a skipped period can cause the adrenal cortex to secrete the hormone androstenedione as an alternative chemical precursor for the manufacture of other hormones to compensate for the diminished levels of progesterone. This steroid hormone is associated with some male characteristics, one of which is male pattern baldness. When you raise your progesterone level with natural progesterone cream, your androstenedione level will gradually decline and your hair will grow back normally. Be patient—hair growth is slow and it may take several months before you notice a difference.

    There are also a number of other beauty and health issues that can originate from low progesterone. On a superficial level, the consequences of low progesterone include growing whiskers on the chin, thinning hair, breaking capillaries, gaining weight, and emerging skin problems such as acne, aging, liver or age spots, and dryness. More internally, it can cause yeast infections, irritability, irregular periods, and mood fluctuations.

    Back in Balance

    If you're ready to get your body back in hormone harmony, it's a great idea to test your hormone levels prior to beginning any hormone treatment. Some health care professionals will recommend a saliva test. If you'd prefer to test your hormone levels outside of a doctor's office, there are quite reliable at-home tests available. Personally, I test quarterly each year. Wherever you receive the test, it should check for your body's levels of bioavailable progesterone, estradiol, estriol, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol.

    If the results show that you are indeed experiencing low levels of progesterone, there is a powerful natural option to turn to. These days, more and more women are opting for natural methods of hormone therapy.

    Do note that the word natural when applied to progesterone doesn't mean exactly what it sounds like. Here, the term natural means that the plant progesterone molecule used to make the cream is identical to the human progesterone molecule, distinguishing it from the pharmaceutical progestin, whose molecule is slightly different from human progesterone. Some creams use extracts from soybeans (which are also used for phytoestrogens), and others are based on the wild yam (Dioscorea).

    Natural plant-based progesterone has the same identical structure as the progesterone a woman makes naturally in her body. The physiological dose of 20 mg per day can help improve libido, enhance the immune system, increase hair on the scalp, elevate the metabolic rate with resulting weight loss, act as a natural diuretic, boost the thyroid, and stimulate the production of bone while relaxing smooth muscles and promoting the strength of the myelin sheath.

    I prefer a formula that is derived from wild yam. Ensure that it is preservative-free, and be selective and diligent in your research, as some creams only contain a miniscule amount of progesterone, or even none at all. Depending upon your age and stage of life, there are different protocols, but in general a topical crème should be applied to the face, hands, chest, inner arms, and thyroid area. Rotate these as much as possible so that one area doesn't get too saturated.

    No matter your age, this unsung hero is your body's BFF for creating a place of harmony and calm from within.

  • Solving the Mystery of the Multivitamin Part II

    A previous article, “Solving the Mystery of the Multivitamin,” discussed the basics of setting up a daily nutritional foundation by choosing a multivitamin-mineral formulation appropriate for one’s basic needs and expectations. As pointed out, with regard to nutrition it matters whether one is old or young, male or female, an athlete, etc. Also discussed were issues such as determining the quality of a product and improving absorption of nutrients. Setting up a nutritional foundation is always the place to start when considering supplementation. Nevertheless, a foundation is just that, something to build upon.

  • Plan for a peaceful perimenopause naturally.

    In Today's Modern Age, Menopause Isn't The Same As It Was In Your Mother Or Grandmother's Time. Environmental Threats From Synthetic Chemicals That Mimic Natural hormones have created an environment where shockingly young women can begin to prematurely experience symptoms of the change Before the Change.

    With that in mind, I knew that now was a perfect—and imperative—time to update my New York Times bestseller Before the Change. Although this book is focused around the perimenopausal phase of life—the period of about 10 years leading up to menopause—it is applicable to women in all stages of life, 18 to 80.

    If you feel as if your body has betrayed you, help is in sight. Before the Change is filled cover to cover with timetested natural methods (including a delicious diet) to sail smoothly through this transition and restore your sanity. I hope you enjoy this sneak preview where I share why we must change how we think about the change.

    The diet world has been turned upside down with the awareness that the foods we eat cause a hormonal response inside the body. In this book, I use this knowledge to turn your world right side up by applying it to the hormonal imbalances that occur during perimenopause. I review the hormonal responses that macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) and environmental agents (xenoestrogens) evoke in your body, and utilize them to restore hormonal function during this changing time.

    I have a big fat surprise for you: eating fat does not make you fat. As I have been advising my readers and my clients for more than thirty-five years, nothing could be further from the truth. The right fats, which I call your "sexy, slimming fats," actually reset hormones, reduce inflammation, and fix metabolism. In addition, fats assist in reprogramming the stress, sex, and hunger hormones that can exacerbate perimenopause symptoms and cause weight gain. So not only does fat not make you fat, but fat also makes you skinny!

    However, it's not enough to just eat fat, lose weight, and manufacture hormones. Your body needs to be able to process that fat—which is where your liver and bile come in. I will teach you how to support your liver and optimize its bile production. Bile is the fluid the liver produces daily to break down fats into a digestible form and transport excess water out of the body. Poor quality bile is a newly discovered factor in hypothyroidism. Better bile means fewer digestive woes, like constipation, bloating, and gas, and fewer hypothyroid-like symptoms, like fatigue, weight gain, and brain fog. This may be a godsend for anyone who does not have a gallbladder and therefore lacks the storage tank that regulates the properly timed secretion of bile when eating fat. For these individuals, bile replacement is a necessity.

    In this book we also examine several key nutrients that every woman must have in the correct amounts in order to feel emotionally and physically well. My professional experience has shown that women are most likely to be deficient in certain nutrients, such as magnesium, zinc, and the B vitamins, and that every woman must have these in the correct dosage in order to feel emotionally and physically well. Magnesium, for example, has even been called the "original chill pill," acting as a hormone balancer and relieving anxiety, constipation, or any ailment where an overstimulation of the nervous system is present.

    I would be remiss if I didn't include moderate exercise too, which helps all hormone systems to function better and reduces stress. Indeed, exercise contributes positively to just about every bodily function and to most emotional and intellectual functions as well. Exercising for at least four hours a week lowers estrogen dominance (when skipped periods result in low progesterone levels), reduces cortisol levels, and supports bone health, all of which will make the perimenopause period pass more smoothly. I am especially a fan of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), rebounding, and the Power Plate (see Resources in Before the Change for more information), all of which you will read more about in this book. The secret of a good exercise program is to find something that you enjoy doing and that fits conveniently into your daily schedule. The more preparation that exercise requires, the easier it will be to find a reason to skip it. But if you do something simple that you enjoy, you will want to do it every day. I will share with you how to exercise effectively, efficiently, and enjoyably.

    I cannot emphasize enough the role stress plays in perimenopause. Simply dealing with your unique manifestation of perimenopause symptoms constitutes a stressful experience. Add the stresses encountered in daily life, and your body may very well find itself struggling to keep up. When you are chronically stressed, it exacerbates perimenopause symptoms and leaves you with a whole array of other issues. The adrenals can become exhausted and cortisol levels can become erratic. This causes most bodily functions to slow down, thus your body is not operating at its full potential. This also means your body is not as well equipped to handle hormonal fluctuations, further intensifying your symptoms of both stress and perimenopause. I will show you how to tame the cortisol monster through healing oils, exercise, sleep, and coping skills.

    Eating a hormone-regulating diet, exercising moderately on a regular basis, and managing daily stress is often enough to alleviate the discomfort and symptoms felt by many women in their thirties and forties. However, diet, exercise, and stress management may not always be enough. You may need to resort to natural hormone therapy.

    Natural progesterone is usually the key therapeutic hormone, rather than estrogen. Natural progesterone creams are available over the counter without a prescription, and I will list my favorite brands for you. I also look at phytohormones (hormones from plants) and explain why they work.

    In cases where not even natural progesterone cream and phytohormones are enough to alleviate the symptoms, you may need to implement bioidentical hormones, compounded specially on an individual basis. However, whether these are bioidentical hormones or their synthetic substitutes, all hormones need to be monitored by a practitioner, especially bioidentical estrogen. Ultimately, all hormones are broken down by the liver. That's why liver support is key, and one of the central features of my Peri program.

    The balance of this book is devoted to the principles of the Peri Prescription, a hormone-regulating eating plan that women need for their twenties, thirties, forties, and beyond. After I share with you the science behind what makes this powerful diet so necessary, I will give you a meal plan and recipes to help you get started. Keep in mind that this is not a one-diet-fits-all food plan. It can be tailored for individual differences based upon ancestry, metabolic rate, blood type, and dietary restrictions. The diet is varied and fun—with a manageable shopping list!

    To start you off, though, and to help steady you along your hormonal journey, the chapter on Peri Zappers with ten highly effective remedies will help rescue you from perimenopausal symptoms and give you your life back. These ten remedies are recommended because they are especially reliable, usually free of side effects, and easy to use. Peri Zappers help balance the levels of all types of hormones, and I will discuss how to use them to alleviate symptoms, feel fit and trim, and lead a more harmonious life.

    Perimenopause can be a major challenge. But, as with any challenge women have faced over the course of their lives and the course of history, you will experience this transformation with a greater vibrancy of body, mind, and spirit. I promise.

    Before the Change is available for purchase now nationwide. It's time to join women of all ages who have restored hormone harmony within their bodies and discovered the peaceful perimenopause they deserve.

  • An ancient adage from Chinese medicine says, “A doctor would rather treat ten men than one woman.”Chinese medicine validates what women have always known, we are indeed intricate creatures! Our hormones are in part responsible for this complexity. Their ebb and flow influence all aspects of a woman’s physical, emotional and mental well-being.