Understanding Perimenopause

Understanding Perimenopause

Navigating the Waves of Perimenopause

Your Guide to the “Second Puberty”

The journey of womanhood is punctuated by various rites of passage. From the bloom of adolescence to the wisdom of our later years, every phase has its unique challenges and joys. Among the most transformative of these stages is perimenopause, often thought of as the bridge between our fertile years and the onset of menopause.

While menopause is a well-understood concept, the term ‘perimenopause’ can seem elusive. Is it merely a harbinger of menopause? Is it all about aging? Why does it even matter? My goal today is to demystify perimenopause, guiding you through its intricacies, and empowering you with knowledge. Remember, knowledge is power, and with understanding comes the ability to navigate changes with grace.

Perimenopause: Not Just About Aging

A common misconception is that perimenopause is all about aging. In reality, it can begin in women as young as 35. More importantly, it is not a sign of getting old but a natural biological process, akin to a “second puberty”. Like puberty, perimenopause is characterized by a series of hormonal events and changes. As endocrinology professor Jerilynn Prior aptly describes, during this phase, estrogen levels can fluctuate wildly, similar to the turbulent teen years. And just like in puberty, progesterone levels play a vital role. This ebb and flow of hormones can span a decade and, while it might feel unending, remember that it is temporary. Eventually, you’ll transition to the stable phase of menopause.

The Four Phases of Perimenopause

Very Early Perimenopause: This is where it all begins. While menstrual cycles remain regular, one might experience symptoms due to decreasing progesterone levels. These can manifest as anxiety, breast pain, heart palpitations, night sweats, and irregular periods.

Early Menopause Transition: The onset of irregular periods marks this stage. Estrogen levels can peak, leading to symptoms like irritability, breast pain, and heavy periods.

Late Menopause Transition: Defined by the first menstrual cycle extending beyond sixty days. Estrogen levels can fluctuate widely, causing symptoms from these highs and lows.

Late Perimenopause: The twelve months following your final period. You’ll notice that estrogen levels decrease but remain fluctuating.

Menopause: Begins a year after your last period and lasts a lifetime. This phase is marked by stable, low estrogen levels, similar to childhood.

The Temporary Nature of Perimenopausal Symptoms

During perimenopause, many women experience symptoms like heavy periods, migraines, and even mood disturbances such as anxiety and depression. Yet, most of these are temporary. Interestingly, research indicates that the risk of anxiety and depression actually decreases after menopause. In fact, many women report feeling rejuvenated and more content post-menopause than in their younger years.

A point to note: not every symptom in your forties can be chalked up to perimenopause. Always consult with a healthcare professional to rule out underlying health conditions.

The Critical Window for Health

Perimenopause isn’t just about hormonal fluctuations. It’s a critical window for overall health. This phase can amplify or even reveal underlying health issues, making it essential to prioritize self-care and health check-ups. Conditions like insulin resistance can become pronounced during this transition. Additionally, perimenopause can trigger or exacerbate autoimmune conditions. The silver lining? Recognising these shifts gives you an opportunity to address them head-on.

Following our exploration of perimenopause as a “critical window for health,” it’s evident that this period represents more than just a series of hormonal changes. It’s an intricate interplay of physiological, emotional, and cognitive transformations that can shape the subsequent chapters of a woman’s life. Recognizing its importance and potential challenges is the first step, but understanding how to traverse this journey with grace and empowerment is equally crucial. Let’s delve deeper into strategies that can guide you in navigating perimenopause with elegance and confidence.

 Let’s delve deeper into strategies that can guide you

in navigating perimenopause with grace and ease.

A continual pursuit of Balance

How to Navigate Perimenopause Gracefully

Embarking on the journey through perimenopause can feel a little like sailing into uncharted waters. As your body undergoes significant changes, it can be a time of uncertainty, discomfort, and even distress. Yet, it’s also a time of introspection, growth, and potential empowerment. With the right tools and mindset, you can navigate this transition gracefully, emerging on the other side with renewed vitality and understanding. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you sail through these shifting tides.

Cultivate Open Dialogue

Share and Listen: Discuss your experiences with trusted friends, family, and peers. Hearing about others’ journeys can provide comfort, perspective, and potentially useful advice.

Seek Professional Counsel: Regular check-ins with your healthcare provider will ensure you have a professional perspective on your symptoms and changes.

Counselling and Support Groups: Talking through changes and challenges can provide emotional support and helpful coping mechanisms.

Embrace a Holistic Lifestyle

Dietary Wellness: Prioritise foods rich in essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and calcium. Foods like leafy greens, seeds, fish, and whole grains can be beneficial. Keep reading for more dietary advice.

Mindful Movement: Incorporate exercises that resonate with you, whether it’s yoga, walking, or strength training. Exercise can help manage symptoms and improve mood.

Stress Management: Techniques such as meditation, deep-breathing exercises, and journaling can alleviate stress, a significant trigger for perimenopausal symptoms.

Educate Yourself

Stay Informed: Read, attend workshops, or participate in webinars. The more you understand about perimenopause, the less intimidating it becomes.

Beware of Myths: With the prevalence of information today, it’s crucial to discern fact from fiction. Trust reliable sources and consult experts when in doubt.

Embrace Emotional Wellness

Mindfulness Practices: Engage in activities that ground you. The Plum Village App and resources from Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation and Insight Timer can be invaluable tools for this journey.

Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to engage a therapist or counsellor who can provide coping strategies and emotional support.

Prioritise Sleep

Sleep Hygiene: Ensure your bedroom is conducive to rest. This might mean investing in blackout curtains, a comfortable mattress, or white noise machines.

Establish Routines: Going to bed and waking up at the same time daily can stabilise your circadian rhythm, providing relief from sleep disturbances.

Limit Environmental Stressors

Mindful Media Consumption: Steer clear from overly negative or violent media. What we feed our minds can significantly impact our emotional and psychological well-being.

Create Boundaries: Engage positively with your environment. This might mean decluttering your space, limiting time on social media, or setting boundaries in personal relationships.

Avoid Environmental Toxins: Reducing exposure to endocrine disruptors, like certain plastics and pesticides, can support hormonal balance.

Celebrate Yourself

Practice Self-compassion: Remember that you’re not alone in this journey. Be kind to yourself, acknowledging that every woman’s path through perimenopause is unique.

Embrace the Journey: While it’s a time of change, it’s also an opportunity for growth. Celebrate the wisdom and experience that comes with this phase.

Stay Proactive About Your Health

Regular Check-ups: Ensure you have regular medical check-ups to monitor your overall health and address any concerns promptly.

Stay Hydrated and Limit Caffeine: Drinking ample water and reducing caffeine can help manage symptoms like hot flashes.

 Engage in Joyful Activities

Pursue Hobbies: Whether it’s reading, painting, or dancing in your living room, engage in activities that uplift your spirit and bring joy.

Natural Therapies for Managing Perimenopause

Herbal Remedies

Black Cohosh: Traditionally used to reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes and night sweats.

Vitex (Chaste Tree Berry): Known to support hormonal balance, particularly progesterone.

St. John’s Wort: Commonly used to alleviate mild depression and mood swings.

Dong Quai: Dubbed the “female ginseng”, this herb may help with menstrual irregularities and symptoms linked to hormonal imbalances.

Dietary Adjustments

Phytoestrogens: Found in foods such as flaxseeds, soy, sesame seeds, and certain beans, these natural compounds can mimic the effects of estrogen, potentially aiding in symptom relief.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Consuming foods rich in omega-3s, like salmon, flaxseed, and walnuts, can be beneficial for mood regulation.

Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Both can exacerbate hot flashes and impact sleep quality.

Stay Hydrated: Drink ample water to combat dryness issues and support overall bodily functions.

Balanced Blood Sugar: Emphasise whole, unprocessed foods and regular meals to keep blood sugar levels stable, which can help in managing mood swings.

Supplements

Magnesium: Supports mood stabilisation and can be especially helpful in dealing with sleep disturbances.

Omega 3 and Vitamin E: Can reduce the intensity and frequency of hot flushes.

B Vitamins: Particularly B6 and B12, these are pivotal for energy and mood regulation.

Mind-Body Practices

Yoga & Tai Chi: Beyond promoting flexibility, these ancient disciplines can help manage stress, improve sleep, and stabilize mood.

Meditation and Deep Breathing: Mindfulness meditation and deep-breathing exercises can be instrumental in managing anxiety and mood swings, fostering a sense of inner calm.

Acupuncture: Many women report a reduction in perimenopausal symptoms, particularly hot flashes, with regular acupuncture sessions.

Bio-Identical Progesterone Cream: Unlike synthetic versions, bio-identical progesterone is chemically identical to what the body produces. Some women find it beneficial for symptoms like mood swings, sleep disturbances, and hot flashes.

Essential Oils

Clary Sage: Known for balancing estrogen levels.

Lavender: Used for its calming properties, aiding in relaxation and sleep.

Peppermint: Can provide cooling relief for hot flashes.

Protein for wound healing
omega-3 for wound healing

Remember, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider, preferably one familiar with holistic treatments, before starting any new therapy or making significant lifestyle changes. Embracing a combination of therapies and listening to your body will likely offer the best outcomes.

In the grand tapestry of life, perimenopause is but a chapter. While it comes with its challenges, it’s also ripe with opportunities for growth, understanding, and deepening self-love. Embrace this phase with grace, arm yourself with knowledge, and remember always to prioritize your well-being. The journey through perimenopause, navigated thoughtfully, can indeed be a beautiful one.

If you’ve resonated with this post and are keen to delve deeper, I invite you to check out the Menopause Makeover Free Guide, a resource designed to guide you through this transition with grace and empowerment. Don’t stop here; our blog houses a trove of insights on hormonal health, each one crafted to support and uplift you in every step of your journey. 

 If you would like to work with me 

Schedule Your Consultation Now

Contact me

 

Self-Compassion in Menopause

Self-Compassion in Menopause

The Healing Power of Kindness

Menopause is a transformative phase in a woman’s life, characterized by significant physical and emotional changes. The journey isn’t always easy, and for some, it can be marred by distressing symptoms and emotions. As we navigate this phase, nurturing our mental well-being becomes as crucial as addressing the physical symptoms. A recent study by K. Gavralas, L. Brown & C. Bryant (2023) 1 underscores the importance of self-compassion during midlife, revealing its pivotal role in mitigating depressive symptoms.

Having dedicated my practice to supporting menopausal women, I’ve observed firsthand the transformative impact of self-compassion. Let’s delve deeper into this and explore ways to cultivate it during menopause.

Understanding Self-Compassion

Self-compassion isn’t just about positive self-talk. It involves treating oneself with kindness, recognising our shared humanity, and being mindful. This means being gentle with ourselves during challenging times, acknowledging that suffering is a part of the shared human experience, and being present with our emotions without judgment.

Why Self-Compassion is Crucial During Menopause

Menopause brings a myriad of changes. Hormonal fluctuations, sleep disturbances, mood swings, and physical changes can sometimes feel overwhelming. Amidst this, negative self-judgment or comparison with others can intensify feelings of distress or inadequacy.

The 2023 Gavralas study not only emphasised the protective influence of self-compassion against depressive symptoms during midlife but also highlighted the significance of depressive states on self-compassion levels. Simply put, the relationship is bidirectional – as we nurture self-compassion, we can better manage depressive symptoms, and vice versa.

Promoting Self-Compassion During Menopause

Mindful Awareness: Recognise and validate your emotions without judgment. Whether it’s frustration due to hot flashes or sadness from other symptoms, acknowledge them without being critical.

Avoid Comparison: Every woman’s menopausal journey is unique. Comparing your experience to others can be a source of distress. Celebrate your journey, with its ups and downs, and remember that you’re not alone in this.

Engage in Self-Care: Dedicate time to activities that rejuvenate you, whether it’s a spa day, reading, or simply taking a walk in nature. Regular self-care acts as a reminder that you deserve love and care.

Seek Support: Whether from friends, family, or professionals like myself, who specialise in menopausal health. Having a support system can offer both understanding and guidance.

Practice Self-Kindness: Replace self-criticism with affirmations and positive self-talk. Instead of focusing on the challenges, acknowledge the strength it takes to navigate them.

Educate Yourself: Understanding the changes your body is going through can alleviate anxiety and fear. Remember, knowledge is empowering!

Tailored Naturopathic Support

In my practice, Total Healthcare Naturally, I’ve worked extensively with menopausal women, providing holistic care that addresses both the physical and emotional aspects of menopause. Emphasising the significance of self-compassion, I offer tailored strategies and interventions that help women nurture this essential trait. I truly believe that by integrating self-compassion into our lives, we can navigate menopause with grace, resilience, and positivity.

Menopause, while a natural phase, can be daunting. However, with self-compassion, this journey can be less about endurance and more about embracing change. As we cultivate self-compassion, we not only alleviate the emotional challenges of menopause but also set the stage for a positive, empowered transition into the next chapter of our lives. Always remember, you deserve kindness, especially from yourself.

References

Gavralas, L. Brown & C. Bryant (2023) Longitudinal relationships between self-compassion and depressive symptoms in midlife women, Climacteric, DOI: 10.1080/13697137.2023.2256651

Before you dive into our empowering self-compassion steps,

take a moment to reflect on this: Menopause isn’t just a phase,

it’s an invitation to rediscover yourself.

Let’s journey further.

A Self-Compassion Journey

Nurturing the Soul through Menopause

Transitioning through menopause is a transformative phase in a woman’s life, and it’s so much more than just a physical process. It’s a period of emotional, mental, and spiritual evolution. As someone with deep expertise in treating menopausal women in my naturopathic practice, I believe the key to navigating this journey is self-compassion. Let’s embark on a journey to nurture your soul with actionable steps:

Awaken with the Sun

Develop a consistent routine of rising early and sleeping early. This aligns with your body’s natural rhythm, promoting restoration and rejuvenation.

Dive into Mindful Awareness & Meditation

Dedicate moments daily to mindfulness. Recognize your emotions, validate them, and allow them space.

Apps & Resources:

Plum Village App and the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation

Insight Timer App

Mindfulness.org

Dance Like No One’s Watching

Turn on your favorite uplifting music and dance in your kitchen or living room. The liberation in this expression can boost your mood and spirit.

Be Selective in Your Consumption

Mind what you let into your consciousness. Choose content that uplifts and enlightens, steering clear of violent or distressing media.

Safeguard Your Emotional Boundaries

Support loved ones, but remember to protect your emotional well-being. Listen, empathize, but don’t bear the weight of everyone’s issues. Love without losing yourself.

Celebrate Joyful Movement

Engage in activities that invigorate both your body and soul. Whether it’s walks in nature, playing with pets, or anything else that makes your heart dance.

The Art of Nourishing Mindfully

Delight in the process of preparing and enjoying nourishing foods. Feel the textures, appreciate the colours, and savour every bite.

Dive into Inspirational Readings

Surround yourself with material that uplifts and inspires: I particulary loved “Phosphorescence” by Julia Baird.

Please comment at the bottom of this post with suggestions of books you have found uplifiting and a balm to the soul. Let’s create a reading list of books that lift our hearts and souls.

Adopt Daily Affirmations

Embrace self-kindness, replacing any critical thoughts with positive affirmations. Celebrate your strengths and wisdom.

Giving Back & Building Connections

Kindness multiplies. The love you extend to the world has a way of coming back to you tenfold. Engage in acts of kindness and feel your heart expand.

Prioritise Self-Care Rituals

Embrace practices that rejuvenate your spirit, whether it’s deep breathing, a warm bath, or a moment of reflection.

Enjoy the Power of Music

Let music be a solace. Whether it’s soulful melodies or rhythms that make you groove, let music heal and uplift your spirits.

Navigate Emotional Landscapes with Care

Engage with friends and family but be compassionate about your emotional boundaries. There’s a balance between supporting others and preserving your peace.

Menopause is an intimate journey, one that can be navigated gracefully with self-compassion, mindfulness, and an embrace of joy in the little things. By integrating these practices, you set a foundation for a joyous, empowered, and serene transition. Embrace this journey with love and kindness. Remember, every woman’s menopause story is unique, and yours deserves to be filled with self-love and compassion.

Protein for wound healing
omega-3 for wound healing

In navigating the intricate tapestry of menopause, understanding and embracing self-compassion is crucial. Remember, you’re not just experiencing a phase, but embarking on a transformative journey. If you’ve resonated with this post and are keen to delve deeper, I invite you to sign up for our Menopause Makeover Free Guide, a resource designed to guide you through this transition with grace and empowerment. Don’t stop here; our blog houses a trove of insights on menopause health, each one crafted to support and uplift you in every step of your journey. Together, let’s redefine menopause as a moment of metamorphosis.

 If you would like to work with me 

Schedule Your Consultation Now

Contact me

 

Endometriosis – Holistic Perspective

Endometriosis – Holistic Perspective

Endometriosis, a condition that affects up to 15% of women in their reproductive years, has long been misunderstood and often misdiagnosed. For decades, it has been largely categorised as a hormonal disorder, leading many to believe that it’s just another “woman’s issue” closely tied to the menstrual cycle. However, emerging research and clinical insights have begun to paint a more nuanced picture. This debilitating condition, which often causes severe pelvic pain and even infertility, is now increasingly recognized as a multi-faceted disease involving immune dysfunction, microbial imbalances, and intricate connections with the gut and brain. In this comprehensive blog post, we will delve deep into what endometriosis is, its underlying factors including the crucial role of immune dysfunction and the microbiome, and innovative approaches for treatment. As we explore the evolving perspectives on endometriosis, we’ll also consider natural treatment options—from dietary interventions to herbal supplements—that can be integrated with conventional therapies for a holistic treatment plan. Let’s unpack the complexities of endometriosis and explore paths to better management and understanding.

Vitamin C deficiency causing scurvy

Pathophysiology and Immune Dynamics in Endometriosis

Emerging Insights

Endometriosis, a condition where tissue resembling the endometrium grows outside the uterine cavity, has long mystified medical professionals due to its multifaceted etiology and progression. Recent breakthroughs, however, have unveiled a deeper nexus between the disease’s pathophysiology and immune system dysfunction, as well as the potentially significant role of bacterial agents, particularly Fusobacterium.

Historically, the most widely accepted theory behind endometriosis has been retrograde menstruation – the backward flow of menstrual blood, carrying endometrial cells, into the pelvic cavity. Yet, while many women experience retrograde menstruation, only a subset develop endometriosis. This discrepancy begged the question: Why do these ectopic endometrial tissues escape the immune surveillance in some women and thrive?

Emerging research underscores the immune system’s double-edged failure in endometriosis. Firstly, the immune response inadequately clears ectopic endometrial cells. This deficiency is not a passive omission but an active aggravation, as the immune system cultivates an inflammatory milieu that fosters the growth of these misplaced tissues. Women with endometriosis often have heightened levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and immune cells, such as macrophages, concentrated in their pelvic area.

Compounding this scenario is the recent discovery of Fusobacterium’s potential involvement. Found in the endometrium and endometrial lesions of a significant number of endometriosis patients, this bacterium may not only proliferate the disease but also elucidate why certain individuals are more susceptible. Fusobacterium seemingly exacerbates the condition by activating transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling, driving the transition of fibroblasts into more invasive myofibroblasts. These modified cells possess heightened capabilities for proliferation, adhesion, and migration.

When combined, these insights suggest that endometriosis isn’t just a product of errant tissue growth, but a confluence of immune maladaptation and bacterial involvement. As such, understanding these intricate interactions not only refines our grasp of endometriosis but also propels us towards novel, more holistic therapeutic avenues.

wound healing phases

The Uterus-Brain Axis in Endometriosis

Cutting-Edge Research

The concept of the Uterus-Brain Axis is a relatively novel focus in the study of endometriosis, extending our understanding beyond the pelvic area to explore how the uterus communicates with the brain and how this crosstalk might be perturbed in diseases like endometriosis. While the Gut-Brain Axis has received much attention in medical literature, especially regarding its implications for immune and mental health, the Uterus-Brain Axis is beginning to gain a similar spotlight for its nuanced influence on women’s health.

Emerging studies point to a bidirectional communication system between the uterus and the brain, mediated by neural networks and hormone signaling pathways. While the uterus sends signals to the brain via molecules like oxytocin and prostaglandins, the brain reciprocates by modulating uterine function through the secretion of hormones such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). In endometriosis, this axis is suggested to be out of balance.

In a state of chronic inflammation and pain, like that induced by endometriosis, the uterus sends continual distress signals to the brain. This persistent signaling is postulated to not only heighten pain perception but also influence mood and stress responses. Evidence shows that women with endometriosis are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, implicating a dysfunctional Uterus-Brain Axis in these mental health outcomes. On the flip side, chronic stress—induced by brain signals—may exacerbate uterine inflammation, thereby creating a vicious feedback loop that further complicates the pathology of endometriosis.

Understanding the Uterus-Brain Axis opens the door for holistic treatments that integrate neurological and gynecological health. Whether through pharmacological interventions targeting neural pathways or behavioral therapies aimed at reducing stress, the manipulation of this axis offers a promising frontier for endometriosis treatment.

Protein for wound healing
omega-3 for wound healing

Natural Treatments for Endometriosis

Dietary Interventions

Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Diets

Emerging research is starting to shed light on how dietary choices may directly or indirectly impact endometriosis symptoms. A gluten-free diet has been shown to improve symptoms for many women with endometriosis. In one study, 75 percent of endometriosis sufferers experienced symptom improvement after twelve months on a gluten-free diet. Dairy, particularly A1 casein found in regular dairy products, also has a role in inflammation and immune system dysfunction. A dairy-free diet can be particularly effective in managing endometriosis symptoms.

Low FODMAP Diet

FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) are a group of carbohydrates that can be hard to digest and may exacerbate gastrointestinal issues. Since endometriosis has been linked to gut health, a low FODMAP diet may help manage the symptoms by improving gut functionality and reducing inflammation.

Prebiotics and Probiotics: The Role of Gut Healing and Dysbiosis

The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in endometriosis. Women with the disease have been found to have a high level of gram-negative bacteria and the bacterial toxin LPS (lipopolysaccharide) in their pelvis. Probiotics can help to balance the microbiome, potentially reducing endometriosis symptoms. Prebiotics, on the other hand, nourish the good bacteria and enhance their efficacy. Together, they can be a potent team for gut healing and can potentially offset dysbiosis, thereby aiding in the management of endometriosis.

Herbal and Nutritional Supplements

Berberine

Berberine is known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It has the potential to neutralize LPS, thus addressing the bacterial aspect of endometriosis. Caution should be exercised when taking berberine for extended periods or when combining it with other medications.

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)

A natural anti-inflammatory, NAC showed promising results in a clinical trial for treating endometriosis. It had better outcomes than hormonal treatments without the associated side effects.

Turmeric

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to reduce the size and activity of endometriosis lesions. It works by blocking estrogen’s stimulating effect and reducing inflammation.

Zinc and Other Nutrients

Zinc is an essential anti-inflammatory nutrient, often found to be deficient in women with endometriosis. It can improve immune function and reduce pain.

Other Treatments

Other complementary therapies include body-identical progesterone, rosemary, resveratrol, castor oil packs, and even lifestyle changes like stress management techniques and physical exercise. These can serve as adjunctive treatments post-surgery or in combination with other therapeutic approaches.

Incorporating these natural treatments into a comprehensive care plan for endometriosis can yield more holistic and sustained benefits. Always consult your healthcare provider before making significant changes to your treatment regimen.

Vitamin C deficiency causing scurvy

Take Control of Your Endometriosis Journey Today

Living with endometriosis can be an uphill battle, but emerging research and integrative treatment options offer hope for improved quality of life. It’s time to reclaim your health, and it starts with becoming an informed advocate for your well-being. Whether it’s incorporating dietary changes, supplementing with specific nutrients, or exploring herbal interventions, you have the power to create a multi-faceted treatment plan tailored to your unique needs.

However, it’s crucial to consult your healthcare provider to develop a well-rounded treatment strategy that best suits you. If you’re interested in a more holistic approach to managing endometriosis, consider reaching out to a healthcare professional well-versed in these therapies. Together, you can map out the most effective course of action for you.

Don’t wait to take the first step towards a more empowered, pain-free life. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey, and support and effective treatment options are available. Click the link below to schedule a consultation today, and let’s work together to formulate a treatment plan that’s as unique as you are.

Schedule Your Consultation Now

Contact me

 

Histamine Intolerance

Histamine Intolerance

Understanding Histamine Intolerance – A Simple Guide

Hey there, friends! Today, we’re going to talk about something called histamine intolerance. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry—we’ll break it down for you in a way that’s easy to understand. So, let’s dive right in!

First off, what is histamine? It’s a natural substance found in our bodies and in some foods. It helps our immune system fight off germs, and it’s also involved in our digestion and nervous system. However, for some people, their bodies struggle to break down histamine properly, which can lead to a buildup of histamine in the body. This is known as histamine intolerance.

What is Histamine?

Histamine is an organic compound that is involved in many crucial functions within our body. It’s a type of biogenic amine, meaning it’s derived from an amino acid—in this case, L-histidine. Our bodies produce histamine through a process called decarboxylation, where the L-histidine decarboxylase enzyme transforms L-histidine into histamine.

Histamine plays several important roles in the body, such as:

Regulating our immune system’s response to foreign substances

Acting as a neurotransmitter, which helps relay signals within the nervous system

Participating in the regulation of stomach acid secretion, essential for proper digestion

Histamine can be found in various cells throughout the body, including mast cells, basophils, enterochromaffin cells, and histaminergic neurons. When released, it interacts with four types of histamine receptors (H1, H2, H3, and H4), which are present in different tissues and organs.

Now that we understand what histamine is, let’s talk about how our bodies metabolise it. The process of breaking down and eliminating histamine is essential for maintaining a healthy balance.

There are two primary enzymes involved in histamine metabolism:

Diamine oxidase (DAO): This enzyme is primarily responsible for breaking down extracellular histamine (histamine found outside of cells) in the digestive system, bloodstream, and other tissues. DAO oxidatively deaminates histamine into imidazole-4-acetaldehyde, which is further metabolised and eventually eliminated from the body.

Histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT): This enzyme is primarily responsible for metabolizing intracellular histamine (histamine found within cells), particularly in the central nervous system. HNMT converts histamine into N-methylhistamine by adding a methyl group, which is then further metabolized and eliminated.

Both DAO and HNMT play crucial roles in maintaining histamine balance within the body. However, when the activity of these enzymes is reduced or impaired, histamine may accumulate, leading to histamine intolerance and its associated symptoms. Several factors can contribute to reduced enzyme activity, including genetic predisposition, certain medications, and health conditions.

By understanding what histamine is and how our bodies metabolize it, we can better appreciate the importance of maintaining a healthy histamine balance and addressing any potential issues that may arise due to histamine intolerance.

wound healing phases

How Does Histamine Intolerance Feel?

Histamine intolerance occurs when there’s an imbalance between the amount of histamine being produced or consumed and the body’s ability to break it down. When the enzymes responsible for histamine metabolism—diamine oxidase (DAO) and histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT)—are not functioning optimally, histamine can build up in the body. This accumulation can lead to a wide range of symptoms that can make everyday life challenging.

People with histamine intolerance may experience various symptoms that affect multiple organ systems, as histamine receptors are found throughout the body.

Some common symptoms include:

Digestive issues: Bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation can occur as a result of histamine affecting the gastrointestinal tract.

Skin reactions: Hives, itching, redness, and even eczema may appear as histamine triggers inflammatory responses in the skin.

Respiratory problems: Histamine can cause nasal congestion, sneezing, and difficulty breathing due to its effects on the respiratory system.

Cardiovascular symptoms: Fluctuations in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and dizziness can be experienced as histamine influences blood vessel dilation and constriction.

Neurological symptoms: Headaches, migraines, and even brain fog may arise due to histamine’s role as a neurotransmitter in the nervous system.

It’s essential to note that histamine intolerance can manifest differently from person to person. Some may experience only a few symptoms, while others may be affected by a broader range of issues. The severity of symptoms can also vary, and they may not always be consistent. This variability can make it challenging to pinpoint histamine intolerance as the cause of a person’s discomfort.

Protein for wound healing
omega-3 for wound healing

High Histamine Producing Foods

Let’s explore high histamine foods and how they may impact your body. It’s essential to be aware of these foods, as they can cause uncomfortable symptoms for those who are histamine intolerant. Remember, not all of these foods directly contain histamines, but some can trigger histamine release or feed bacteria that produce histamines.

Protein sources: Be cautious of eggs, seafood (including fresh shellfish, finfish, and smoked or canned products), Greek yogurt, kefir yogurt, bone broth, and processed or cured meats like bacon, sausages, and salami.

Veggies: Keep an eye on tomatoes, spinach, eggplant, and fermented foods such as pickles, kimchi, natto, tempeh, kombucha, and sauerkraut.

Carb-rich foods: Certain fruits, like citrus, pineapple, papaya, kiwi, grapes, plums, passion fruit, and most berries (blueberries and blackberries are exceptions), can be high in histamines. Yeast products, gluten grains, dried fruits, beans, legumes, lentils, peas, soy products, pumpkin, and processed carbs can also be problematic.

Fats: Dairy products like milk, cream, sour cream, cheese, and butter, as well as vegetable oils (such as canola, safflower, sunflower, soybean, and peanut oil) found in many takeout, restaurant, and packaged foods, can be high in histamines.

Herbs, spices, and flavors: Some seasonings, such as chili powder, cloves, anise, nutmeg, curry powder, cayenne, soy sauce, yeast, ketchup, mustard, vinegars, salad dressings, relishes, tomato-based sauces, and processed sauces, may contribute to histamine levels. Additionally, watch out for artificial flavors, preservatives, additives, and colors in processed foods.

Drinks: Herbal teas, milk, alcohol (especially beer, cider, champagne, and wine), sugar-sweetened beverages, and fermented drinks like kombucha and kefir milk may also trigger histamine intolerance symptoms.

Being aware of high histamine foods can help you make informed choices about your diet, especially if you’re histamine intolerant. Keep in mind that everyone’s body is unique, and what affects one person may not impact another. Listen to your body and work with a healthcare professional to create a personalised dietary plan that supports your well-being.

Hormones and Histamine

The connection you should know about

Histamine intolerance and hormone imbalances are closely linked, as hormones can significantly impact the way your body processes and reacts to histamines. Understanding this relationship can help you better manage your histamine intolerance symptoms and support your overall health.

Estrogen and Histamine Intolerance

Estrogen, a primary female sex hormone, plays a crucial role in the relationship between hormones and histamine intolerance. Estrogen can stimulate the release of histamine from mast cells and even increase its production. Additionally, histamine can trigger the production of more estrogen, creating a cycle that exacerbates histamine intolerance symptoms in some individuals.

Women with estrogen dominance, a hormonal imbalance where estrogen levels are disproportionately higher than progesterone levels, may be more susceptible to histamine intolerance. This is because the increased estrogen levels may further stimulate histamine release, leading to a heightened sensitivity to histamine-rich foods and more severe symptoms.

Progesterone and Histamine Intolerance

Progesterone, another essential female sex hormone, can help counteract the effects of estrogen on histamine release. Progesterone has a stabilizing effect on mast cells, reducing histamine release and potentially alleviating histamine intolerance symptoms.

In cases of progesterone deficiency or estrogen dominance, the lack of progesterone’s stabilizing influence may make it more difficult for the body to manage histamine levels, contributing to histamine intolerance symptoms.

Hormonal Fluctuations and Histamine Intolerance

Hormonal fluctuations throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle may also impact histamine intolerance. As estrogen levels rise and fall during the cycle, histamine intolerance symptoms may worsen during specific phases, particularly when estrogen levels peak.

Women experiencing perimenopause, menopause, or conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that cause hormonal imbalances may also find their histamine intolerance symptoms worsen during these times.

Managing Hormones and Histamine Intolerance

To address the relationship between hormones and histamine intolerance, consider working with a healthcare professional who can help you identify and treat underlying hormonal imbalances. Balancing estrogen and progesterone levels, along with adopting a low-histamine diet, can support the management of histamine intolerance symptoms.

Remember that everyone’s body is unique, and the relationship between hormones and histamine intolerance may vary from person to person. By understanding this connection and working with a healthcare professional to create a personalised plan, you can better manage your histamine intolerance and support your overall well-being.

Healing the GUT

Your Secret Weapon Against Histamine Intolerance

Histamine intolerance can be a frustrating and challenging condition to manage. Many people turn to diamine oxidase (DAO) supplements for relief, but this approach only offers a temporary fix. To truly overcome histamine intolerance, it’s essential to focus on healing the gut and addressing the root cause: gut dysbiosis, or microbial imbalance.

Gut Health and DAO Production

DAO, the enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine, is produced by the lining of your intestine. This means that a healthy gut is essential for maintaining proper DAO levels. Damage to the gut lining can result in decreased DAO production, which in turn can lead to histamine intolerance.

Gut dysbiosis, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, is a key factor contributing to gut lining damage and histamine intolerance. This imbalance can cause over-activation of the immune system, increasing histamine levels and exacerbating symptoms.

The Gut-Histamine Intolerance Connection

There’s a clear link between gut health and histamine intolerance. For example, altered histamine receptor expression is observed in people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a condition often driven by gut dysbiosis. Moreover, many people with histamine intolerance also have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), a potential effect of chronic gut dysbiosis.

Tackling Histamine Intolerance by Restoring Gut Balance

To effectively manage histamine intolerance, you need to address gut dysbiosis and restore balance to your gut bacteria. Here are a few strategies to help you do just that:

Choose gut-friendly foods: Focus on a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods that promote gut health, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fiber. Avoid foods that can exacerbate histamine intolerance or contribute to gut dysbiosis.

Find the right probiotics: Not all probiotics are created equal. While some strains of bacteria can produce histamine, there are others that have been found to reduce histamine production in the gut. Consult a healthcare professional to help you select the right probiotic for your needs.

Identify and address underlying issues: Depending on your symptoms, you may need to investigate and address other gut-related issues, such as SIBO or IBS, which can contribute to histamine intolerance.

Work with a healthcare professional: Partner with a healthcare professional who can guide you in developing a personalized plan to address gut dysbiosis, heal your gut, and manage histamine intolerance.

By focusing on healing your gut and addressing the root cause of histamine intolerance, you can enjoy a better quality of life and reduce your reliance on temporary fixes like DAO supplements. Remember, a healthy gut is your secret weapon in the battle against histamine intolerance.

Are you struggling with histamine intolerance and ready to take control of your health? Don’t let this condition hold you back from living your best life! At Total Healthcare Naturally, our experienced naturopathic professional is here to help you heal your gut and manage histamine intolerance effectively.

Book an appointment  today, and let’s work together to create a personalised plan that addresses your unique needs. I’ll guide you through the process of restoring gut balance, selecting the right probiotics, meal planning and tackling any underlying issues that may be contributing to your histamine intolerance.

Take the first step towards better health and improved quality of life by booking your appointment now. You deserve to feel your best, and I’m here to help you achieve it. Click the link below to schedule your consultation, and let’s embark on this healing journey together.

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“Discover Your Path to Wellness: A 15-minute Discovery Call”

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Revitalise Your Gallbladder

Revitalise Your Gallbladder

Embrace Bitter Foods for a Healthier Gallbladder

Today we are delving into the fascinating world of bitter foods and how they can help cleanse and support your gallbladder’s health. As a naturopathic practitioner, I’ve seen time and time again how bitter foods can make a positive impact on our overall wellbeing, particularly in the realm of digestion and hormonal health.

The Bitter Foods and the Gallbladder

The gallbladder plays an essential role in the digestive process, storing bile produced by the liver and releasing it into the small intestine to break down fats. Bitter foods, such as leafy greens, dandelion root, and artichokes, have been shown to promote the production of bile, which in turn supports the overall function of the gallbladder.

Including bitter foods in your diet can help prevent gallstone formation and improve the flow of bile. By stimulating the release of bile, bitter foods can help flush out excess cholesterol and other waste products that contribute to gallstone formation. For a more indepth look into the role of bitter herbs on our health check out by blog post on Bitter Food, Sweeter Life.

wound healing phases

Benefits of a Gallbladder and Liver Cleanse

Let’s go through some of the benefits we can expect from doing a gallbladder and liver cleanse.

Improved digestion

A cleanse can help eliminate toxins and improve bile flow, resulting in better digestion and nutrient absorption.

Reducing Inflammation

By detoxifying the liver and gallbladder, a cleanse can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, potentially easing symptoms of various inflammatory conditions.

Enhanced energy levels

Removing toxins from the liver and gallbladder can help improve overall energy levels and vitality.

Weight management

A cleanse may aid in weight loss by promoting a healthier metabolism and improving digestion.

Hormonal balance

A healthy liver and gallbladder are essential for proper hormone production and balance, which can lead to improved mood and overall well-being.

Protein for wound healing
omega-3 for wound healing

Herbal Medicine for Optimal Gallbladder Health

In addition to these dietary measures to support the gallbladder, herbal medicines can play an important role in practice. Let’s run through a few of the herbal medicine I commonly use in clinic to support the gallbladder.

Bitter Herbs

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) – Milk thistle is a well-known liver tonic that also supports the gallbladder by promoting bile production and flow. Its active ingredient, silymarin, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can protect the liver and gallbladder from damage.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) – Dandelion root is another bitter herb that helps stimulate bile production and aids in detoxification. It supports both the liver and gallbladder, making it a valuable addition to any gallbladder cleanse.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) – Turmeric, a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant herb, contains curcumin, which can help reduce inflammation in the gallbladder and promote bile flow.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – Peppermint is known for its ability to relax the smooth muscles of the gallbladder, which can help prevent or reduce the severity of gallstone attacks. It also aids in digestion by stimulating bile production.

Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) – Artichoke is a natural source of cynarin, which helps increase bile production and flow. It can aid in breaking down fats and support overall liver and gallbladder function.

Boldo (Peumus boldus) – Boldo is a South American herb traditionally used to stimulate bile production and secretion, ease gallbladder discomfort, and improve digestion.

Before embarking on a gallbladder cleanse, it’s essential to be aware of potential risks and complications, particularly if you have existing gallstones. Gallstones can range in size from small particles to large stones, and attempting a cleanse without proper medical guidance may result in complications.

When gallstones are present, a gallbladder cleanse could cause the stones to move, potentially leading to blockages in the bile ducts. Blocked bile ducts can cause severe pain, inflammation, and infection, requiring immediate medical attention. In some cases, emergency surgery may be necessary to remove the gallstones or even the entire gallbladder.

Certain herbs or supplements used in a gallbladder cleanse may interact with medications or cause adverse reactions in individuals with specific health conditions. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a naturopath or medical doctor, before starting any cleanse or herbal regimen to ensure it is safe and suitable for your individual health needs.

Personalised Meal Plans for your Gallbladder Cleanse

To support your journey towards a healthier gallbladder and liver, we offer personalised meal plans tailored to your individual needs. Whether you are looking for a plant-based cleanse or prefer to include animal-based products, our clinic provides customised meal plans to help you achieve optimal gallbladder health.

Our meal plans not only incorporate the powerful benefits of bitter foods but also provide guidance on other essential nutrients and lifestyle choices to enhance your cleanse. By following a personalised meal plan, you can experience the benefits of a gallbladder and liver cleanse while still enjoying delicious and satisfying meals.

Are you ready to take the first step towards improved gallbladder and liver health? Contact our clinic today to discuss our meal plan options for both a plant-based and a non-plant-based gallbladder cleanse. Let’s work together to create a personalized cleanse that not only supports your gallbladder and liver but also aligns with your dietary preferences and lifestyle.

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