The struggle and misconception about women’s health
Too many women are experiencing painful cramps, heavy bleeding, bloating, excess break out, breast tenderness, migraine headaches, mood fluctuation or irregular periods, PCOS and other types of hormone imbalances that leave them confused and frustrated for years and decades.
As women enter their 40s (some even in their 30s), their hormones fluctuate greatly, and perimenopause and menopause symptoms start to take over, like hot flashes, low sex drive, weight gain, mood swings, brain fog, and insomnia.
Most women have come to believe that all of these symptoms are an inevitable part of being a woman.
As a Chinese Medicine practitioner, my approach is always to look into the individual signs and symptoms, finding out what underlies their issues, and using the natural, holistic treatment to bring women’s health back to normal.
What are hormones and what is hormone imbalance?
Hormones are secreted by exocrine glands, including but not limited to your adrenals, pituitary gland, ovaries/testes, pancreas, etc. The hormones work together to form one mass communication system, called the endocrine system. Hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, androgen, insulin and cortisol, are vital chemical messengers that control the body’s communication pathways and have regulatory functions in major parts of the body, including: immune function, inflammatory processes, metabolic processes, fluid dynamics and sexual functions and characteristics.
The relationships between different hormones are very complicated. For example, Cortisol is a counter-regulatory hormone to insulin with the opposite effect. Cortisol releases glucose into the bloodstream and raises blood sugar while insulin is designed to lower blood sugar by transporting glucose out of the bloodstream and inside various cells.
Another example, Estrogens and androgens are well known to exert opposing effects in several tissues. Studies also found that there might be a direct antiandrogenic effect of estradiol on sexual hormones targeted tissue cells.
Due to the nature of complex networks between different hormones, even slight imbalances in these hormones can create a ripple effect that leads to widespread symptoms.
Conventional treatments for hormonal imbalance are often to replace or suppress, as seen with the birth control pill, thyroid medication, insulin replacements. Unfortunately, for many people this only bandages the problems, leading to dependency on medication while secondary symptoms progress, all while exposing people to risk factors such as stroke, osteoporosis, weight gain, mood disorders, low sex drive, and potential reproductive health issues.
What are the signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance?
Signs of symptoms of hormonal imbalances may include, but are not limited to:
- Androgen imbalance: PCOS, acne, hirsutism, weight issues, irregular/absent menses, hair loss, erectile dysfunction, muscle loss, weight gain, fatigue, mood-related problems
- Estrogen imbalance: PMS, period cramps, Endometriosis, allergy/skin rash, mood swings, weight gain around the hips, water retention, heavy menses, nervousness, sweet cravings, low libido, hair loss, hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, depression, urinary incontinence, heart palpitations, foggy thinking, sleep disturbances, memory lapses, hair loss, dry skin, vaginal atrophy, vaginal dryness
- Progesterone imbalance: PMS, mood swings, infertility, water retention, fibrocystic breasts, irritability/nervousness, sweet cravings, hypothyroid symptoms, low
- Thyroid Dysfunction: hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goitres, thyroid nodules, and autoimmune thyroid disorders: Grave’s Disease, Hashimoto’s thyroid.
- Adrenal Fatigue/deficiency: fatigue, brain fog, hypothyroid symptoms, trouble sleeping, depression, anxiety, difficulty losing weight, low sex drive, low motivation
- Insulin Resistance/Excess: weight gain, nerve damage, increased urination, dry mouth, PCOS
Chinese Medicine treatment for hormone imbalance Toronto
Instead of just looking at hormone levels and trying to supplement them, Chinese medicine takes a different approach. TCM assessment and treatment focus on the underlying factors that influence the hormone system, such as emotional stress, blood flow, inflammation, immune health and digestive health. By addressing these issues around the endocrine system, the hormone level will be back to normal naturally.
With a thorough health history interview and TCM assessment of tongue and pulse checking, abdominal examination(Kampo “Fukushin”). Your Chinese medicine practitioner will provide a treatment that is tailored to your individual situation.
Treatment can include acupuncture, herbal medicine, diet and lifestyle advice, that not only addresses the hormonal symptoms but also related health issues.
Chinese medicine and acupuncture can effectively help the following conditions but not limited to:
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Adult acne
- Irregular period
- Heavy bleeding
- Chronic fatigue
- Thyroid issues
- Insulin resistance
- Perimenopausal syndrome
Dalu Wang is a licensed TCM practitioner and acupuncturist located in Toronto. He specialises in treating internal diseases and hormonal health with Chinese medicine. Contact Dalu to discuss your hormonal and other health concerns today.