1. I’ve suffered from severe PMS for years and it’s getting worse. Are there natural ways for me to get it under control?
Dr. Kay Chandler: I recommend Omega 3 supplements, Vitamin B6, and Magnesium. A diet high in cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage) can help the body balance estrogen/ progesterone by improving the metabolism of estrogen. Ground flaxseed acts in the same way. Chasteberry is a popular herbal remedy for treating PMS. Recently, I have been excited to be able to recommend a high quality supplement, PMS Support by Douglas Labs*, that combines Chasteberry, Diindolylmethane (the hormone balancing phytonutrient in cruciferous vegetables), Vitamin B6 and Magnesium and other PMS fighting ingredients.
Aerobic or cardio exercise also helps by reducing stress, boosting circulation and releasing endorphins.
2. My doctor told me I have thinning bones (osteopenia) but I have concerns about taking calcium supplements. What are your bone-strengthening recommendations in light of new research on calcium supplements being linked to heart attacks?
Dr. Kay Chandler: Bone loss is a message from the body that something needs to shift. It too can be a result of hormone imbalance and nutritional neglect. The decision about whether or not a particular woman should take calcium supplements depends on her personal health history. But overall, I am a big believer in getting your calcium from dietary sources (yogurt, cheese, as well as vegetables like cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, brussel sprouts) as much as possible. Since so many of us are Vitamin D deficient, it’s important to get your blood tested to make sure your Vitamin D level is normal. Weight bearing exercise and a more alkaline diet, such as the Ideal Protein plan, boosts bone building and maintenance too.
3. Monthly hormonal fluctuations are driving me crazy. Are there dietary changes I can make that will help balance my hormones?
Dr. Kay Chandler: I find that a diet that is based on whole, real and not processed foods and that includes a balance of fresh veggies, fruit, lean meats and natural fats helps keep estrogen, testosterone, thyroid and cortisol balanced. Again, cruciferous vegetables are some of the most beneficial in balancing hormones. For those who want to lose weight AND balance hormones, a diet that targets belly fat – such as Ideal Protein, South Beach, Paleo or Primal – decreases the body’s ability to make extra estrogen that we don’t need and that contribute to those “driving me crazy” fluctuations.
4. What is your advice when it comes to hormone replacement therapy — take it or leave it?
Dr. Kay Chandler: When it comes to whether or not to use hormone replacement therapy (HRT), there is definitely not a one size fits all answer. While some women should avoid HRT due to underlying health problems like hormone receptor positive breast cancer or blood clotting disorder, many women can use it without significant risk to their health – at least until the worst of the hot flashes, insomnia, mood changes or other menopausal symptoms have passed. Whether or not a woman should use hormones really depends on how much her quality of life is affected by the lack of hormones. Quality of life is important too!
When prescribing hormones I usually try to stick to the lowest effective dose of bioidentical HRT (in whatever form works best for my patient – creams, pills, patches etc) and eventually help her gradually get off of them as her symptoms resolve. For those who can’t or don’t want to use hormones, I often recommend herbal treatments like Evening of Primrose oil or Black Cohosh. Medications like Celexa and Effexor can also help ease menopausal symptoms too.
5. My work and family schedule is killing my sex drive. What can I do to lift my libido?
Dr. Kay Chandler: Libido is very complex. For women, it’s not just a hormonal issue; although sometimes replacing or balancing hormones –even with small doses of testosterone – can help.
We all deal with stress, but a busy wife and mom who is also trying to balance home with work often feel overwhelmed and chronically stressed. She may have so many things she has to do each day, that she begins to feel like sex is just one more thing on her to do list.
The good news is that there are some things you can do reclaim your libido. Start by realizing that sex actually a stress reliever and has some definite health benefits. Build some margin into your life by identifying any responsibilities that you can give up – and do it! Take time to reconnect with your mate by planning activities to do together that you both enjoy. Exercise also boosts libido – even better if you exercise together! Get away together periodically. Many of my patients realize that their libido is much better when they are away from all of their usual responsibilities. Of course since we can’t “get away” every day, it helps to incorporate stress management skills into our daily lives such as meditation, deep breathing exercises intermittently throughout the day, eating whole foods that stabilize blood sugar, as well as targeted exercise.
*Douglas Labs provides pharmaceutical grade supplements through health care professionals. For information on how to purchase PMS Support contact us at Ideal Health NOW!