Tag Archives: natural hormone balance

Day 5 of our ‘consciousness cleanse’: almost halfway there!

Checking in with all of you who have joined us on this 10 day mini-journey towards optimal eating and drinking: how is it going so far? I am sure it has had some challenges along the way, as breaking old habits can be really hard. I love to sit down with a lovely full-bodied glass of red wine after a long day at work so during these last few days, I learned to shift and focus instead on the incredible variety of teas I could brew up and savor.
For others, I have heard that cutting out sugar was the most difficult and required some pretty strong ‘won’t power’. Caffeine for some was the most challenging so perhaps not something to be eliminated this time…or maybe this is a time to simply cut down on the daily dose. Remember, this cleanse is for you and you need to make it work for your life and routine.
All in all, I have loved how I have felt each day: I have noticed that my sleep has been deep, restful and free of night sweats. Although I have been on BHRT for almost 12 years and usually symptom-free, after several glasses of wine in the evening, I often toss and turn and wake up throughout the night with mild night sweats(alcohol consumption is definitely linked to increased hot flashes and night sweats, so that is something you should be aware of). I have awakened each morning with an abundance of energy and mental clarity and I have found that I am not getting drowsy soon after lunch. You may remember that I am one of those ‘nuts’ who awaken at 4:30 weekdays so that I can get my workout in before heading off to work. Often a post- lunch siesta sounds very tempting. These past few days I have not felt the urge to crawl up into a little ball and catch a few zzzz’s after lunch so that has been a noticeable change for me.

I have also enjoyed the renewed focus on the foods I have been buying and preparing for my meals. On day one, I made a spicy and hearty pumpkin soup as well as a loaf of whole grain bread, served alongside a fresh green salad. I was inspired to make pumpkin soup in the spirit of Halloween and also because I know how many health benefits pumpkin has:  it is low in fat and calories , high in fiber(important to lower blood glucose and cholesterol, as well as important for smooth digestion), high in carotenes(anti-oxidants), which are crucial for our vision and our skin, plus it has critical nutrients such as vitamins C and E, and the minerals magnesium , potassium and iron. Often we add health-promoting spices to pumpkin recipes such as cinnamon , curry and cumin, which will further enhance pumpkin’s benefits.

Day one: Sunday dinner: yummy nutrient-full pumpkin soup and hearty organic whole grain bread plus green salad

The bread recipe came from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook. It was so simple that it inspired me to make bread, something I did all the time years ago. It took me less than 3 minutes to toss the ingredients together. Next I let the dough rise for 2 hours, added some cooked millet, formed the loaf, let it rise again and cooked it for 40 minutes. There is nothing like a the fragrance and taste of a freshly baked loaf of whole grain bread to complete the meal…and it cost less than a dollar to make. In addition,  I was confident that the ingredients were organic as well as rich in nutrients.

As I have shared with you before, women come to me with a litany of complaints, frustrations and symptoms that are related to hormonal imbalance.  After testing has been reviewed and I have created a comprehensive ‘personal balance plan’, I always remind them that lifestyle changes are also a critical component in achieving and maintaining hormonal and health balance. That is why taking the time to pay attention to how you nourish your body each day is so pivotal to your overall health. The effects are longlasting and far-reaching. As my friend Molly said to me, we are on the 90 year plan so we have to realize that what we put into our body today has an incredible effect on our longevity as well as the quality of our life.

Hormonal balance depends on the entire package: testing, treating with appropriate hormones and supplements, eating nutritiously, regular exercise, stress management, maintaining nourishing relationships, pursuing the things that you love, spiritual practice  and the support of your personal village. 

I am looking forward to your comments on how you are doing. Let me know if you would like me to share the recipes I used for pumpkin soup and whole grain bread and I will post them on the blog.

Congratulations for making it this far and for keeping me company. Thank you.

A moment of balance , halfway up Saddle Mountain in the Oregon Coastal Range

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Filed under Bioidentical Hormones, Essentials, Hormone Imbalance, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Menopause Symptoms, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

How the WHI turned things on its head and we have come a long way baby!! Happy 2012

It is hard to believe that 10 years ago this July, the first reports from the WHI(Women’s Health Initiative) first hit the press and caused a major upheaval in our country in terms of how we viewed hormone treatment for women.  Headlines appeared in all of the major newspapers, soundbites aired on TV and radio shows, all echoing the same information:  based on this study(despite conflicting evidence from dozens of studies prior to this one), it was felt that hormone replacement therapy was no longer something that should routinely be prescribed to postmenopausal women due to the increased risks of breast cancer and cardiovascular complications.

The release of this information was a veritable nightmare for clinicians like myself who have worked with women for years trying to find the safest and most effective treatment options to deal with the challenges of perimenopause and beyond. Suddenly everything we had trusted was brought into question and the reaction was loud, contentious and confusing. We were advised by our various medical organizations(such as NAMS:North American Menopause Society; ACOG: American College of OB/Gyn, AMA: American Medical Society, and so on) to get women off of HRT(hormone replacement therapy) and advise them of their risks.

I have been a Nurse Practitioner since 1988 and I can honestly say, this was a pivotal moment in my evolution as a clinician. I felt as though I was between a rock and a hard place. How do I honor the “wisdom of the powers that be” yet take excellent care of the women who trusted me to provide them with accurate, up-to-date health information and help them find relief for their innumerable symptoms of hormonal imbalance? This was not an easy task but in many ways, I am thankful for the stir caused by this study as it forced many clinicians like myself to take a hard look at the information coming to us from these large scale, big Pharma-financed studies. It was time for a seismic shift for me, that’s for sure.

I have always been more holistic in my approach towards health care than what I learned in my allopathic undergraduate and graduate programs.  I had long developed a mistrust from some of the “studies” and abstracts given to me by pharmaceutical reps and this new turn of events just confirmed for me the need for ME to sort through the information myself, to resist believing the latest “headline du jour”. And I was in a perfect position to change my approach to taking care of women approaching menopause.

Thankfully one of my patients at the time told me about a special that had aired on public television highlighting “Bio-identical Hormones”, something I had heard of but honestly, didn’t know much about. I sought out a local compounding pharmacist, Alison Johnston and asked her to teach me. Not only did she mentor me and turn me on to a whole new world of compounding, but she sponsored me to go to a conference put on by PCCA(Professional Compounding Corporation of America). This is where I learned about the value of saliva testing, met the wonderful folks of ZRT lab and from that point on , I knew I had found what I was looking for: a safe, non-invasive, accurate, comprehensive way to test actual hormone levels.

My next challenge was to learn to interpret these levels and then how to prescribe BHRT in PHYSIOLOGIC doses to help alleviate symptoms of hormone imbalance and provide the many benefits of hormone treatment(see our previous blog posts on this). I had no local providers to ask….I was completely on my own and sometimes it was a scary place. But I knew there was no turning back. I had the support of my local pharmacists and the providers and staff at ZRT lab. I continued to go to any conference I could find on the topic, I read countless books and articles and soon I was treating hundreds, then thousands of women.  Not just treating them but helping them regain balance, hope and quality of life. I will soon be sharing some of their testimonials with you all in future blogposts.

So that’s the story of how I became so passionate about saliva testing and BHRT. I see thousands of women every year and I get such joy out of partnering with my patients. So many of them are like some of the people who have commented on our blog: at their wit’s end. Help is just around the corner ladies. Stay tuned and we will continue to provide you with the information and optimism that you need to get on your own road back to balance.

Oh, and by the way, patience really is a virtue. After 10 years of arguing back and forth about whether hormones are safe for women, just this week a statement was issued by NAMS and supported by 15 major medical organizations that now states that hormone replacement therapy should be offered to women.  AMEN!!! Remember, we support the use of BHRT… but this is such a sweet victory for women and those who care for them. Here is the link to the article:

NAMS statement

One last thing in closing. Today is Candace’s birthday so wishing my dear friend and colleague a wonderful celebration of life and a toast to many decades of happiness and balanced living to come!

With love,

Kyle

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Filed under Bioidentical Hormones, Hormone Imbalance, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Menopause Symptoms, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Live discussion on hormone balance, testing and treatment options

Last year I did a televised interview at our local radio station, KINK.fm. The moderator asked me questions about hormone imbalance, hormone testing and possible treatments. I have had quite a few patients comment on how helpful it was to hear this interview so I would like to share it with all of you. Just click on the link and then scroll down to my photo and hit the play button I hope you enjoy it and would love to answer any questions you might have. Let me know what you think!

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Filed under Bioidentical Hormones, Hormone Imbalance, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Menopause Symptoms, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

The Cruciferous Connection: Brussels sprouts and the Good Estrogens

You might ask what Brussels sprouts and “good” estrogens are doing in the same sentence, and I am going to endeavor to explain it here in 250 words or less….well, let’s give it at least 500 …this is too important! In my last blog I posted a plea for help in making the humble Brussels sprout taste good, why? Because eating more cruciferous vegetables, which by the way, also include cabbage, broccoli, kale and cauliflower, (plants that have been cultivated for centuries and were originally used as medicines) are super foods that can help me (and YOU)  turn our  bodies into temples of hormonal health and balance!

Brussels sprouts vs. Bad estrogens - a recipe for natural hormone balance

But how, you might ask, is it that the humble Brussels sprout has suddenly taken on this lofty purpose? Well, it’s called the “cruciferous connection,” and it boils down to biochemistry: the active ingredient in crucifers (a plant compound called DIM) when added to one’s daily diet, can right the balance between good and bad estrogens, in favor of the GOOD. Studies show that DIM acts by promoting more efficient estrogen metabolism in the body, multiplying the chance for it to be broken down into its healthy or “good” metabolites ( a.k.a. the “2-hydroxy estrogens” for you biochem buffs) vs. the “bad” metabolites responsible for estrogen’s many undesirable actions like unwanted weight gain, mood swings/depression, and higher risks for breast and uterine cancers.

The GOOD pathway to healthy estrogen metabolism

Most of the benefits attributed to estrogen – protecting our breasts, skin, bones, blood vessels, heart and brain against rapid aging and disease, are known to come from these good estrogens. So back to the brussels sprout – it is that active ingredient in crucifers that ferries our estrogens down the “good pathway” AND at the same time clears excess estrogens due to hormone imbalances like estrogen dominance, or “xeno-estrogens” in the environment. “Xeno” means from the outside, or foreign, and they are about as unnatural and toxic to the body as pouring sugar down the carburetor of your car would be…. they wreak havoc on normal hormonal operating systems by pretending to be an estrogen, mimicking its action but in a negative way. Where do they come from? The pesticides we spray on our rosebuds, the hormone-injected beef, chicken and dairy we eat, (did you know that some milk products can have 11 different kinds of synthetic estrogens?), the face creams, makeup and hair dyes we absorb into our pores, the harsh household chemicals we wash, spray, wipe and flush away into the water supply, the plastic containers we microwave in, soft plastic water bottles we drink from, and synthetic hormones and other drugs we swallow. They are called HRT, RBST, PCBs, PVCs, laureth sulfates, benzene, xanthine and all those other names that get harder to pronounce as you read down the label.

Toxic Xenoestrogens  are like the unwelcome house guest who doesn’t know when to leave. How do we get rid of them? We switch to hormone-free protein sources, from synthetic hormones to bioidenticals, go “green” with household, gardening and personal care products; microwave in glass or ceramic, drink from stainless steel or BPA-free water bottles, exercise in the open air whenever possible. (see Kyle’s most recent blog) AND to take us full circle back to where I began, eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables! (btw: You can also supplement with their extract, DIM, the active ingredient available in health food stores, compounding pharmacies or MRC weight loss centers.)

You’ll be off to a great start right here with all the mouthwatering recipes for B.sprouts provided by YO’ followers: menopausibilities.wordpress.com/category/candace-burch) Brussels sprouts with sea salt, with onions and garlic, with apple and bacon, and even curry and horseradish tossed… (that last one courtesy of Pamela Bateman, visit her stellar website on hormone balance and breast cancer prevention: www:theseventhwoman.org)

"You've Always Had the Power!" Glinda, the good witch (www.davidburchphotography.com)

Next stop on the cruciferous connection: Cauliflower crust pizza… really! Can’t wait to taste it, and any other creative cauliflower recipes out there that you can share, knowing their higher purpose  ….the power to turn bad estrogens into good …and imbalance to balance.

First Essential Truth: Hormones in harmony and living in balance is an attainable goal.


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The GOOD stress: Doing what comes naturally, deliberately.

Contemplating the colors in Oregon wine country (www.davidburchphotography.com)

...not being particularly busy or productive... just being

My 32nd wedding anniversary landed smack on Thanksgiving this year so our celebration was going to have to take place on a different day, crammed into an already crammed family weekend.  So little time all the time. Wednesday before the big feast it was noses to the proverbial grindstone from early morning on. Around lunchtime the sky cleared and the sun (to borrow a few great Joni Mitchell  lyrics), poured in like butterscotch and brought us to our senses. When this happens in the Pacific Northwest in late November you know you are being self-destructive or for that matter courting Vitamin D-deficiency to remain indoors. If you know what’s good for you,  you drop what you’re doing  and get out there. In any way, shape or form you can maneuver or will it to happen ….Otherwise you miss out on one of the all-time great stress reduction opportunities: the unabashed partaking of unstructured time. I repeat UNstructured time. The kind that allows you to spend some time in your life not being particularly busy or productive – just being. Say to yourself or aloud something like… I am going to do what comes naturally for a change, what feels good to me, relaxing, engaging, comforting and nurturing of my mind and spirit and I don’t care who knows it! ( btw: whether you are your own boss or not, rest assured that your stressed adrenals need this break as much as you do and that all you have to lose is your lethargy!)

Evidently, I know what’s good for me because on this day I said first to myself, and then out loud to my husband, let the anniversary begin! It goes without saying that I had a willing accomplice. The decision that we should stop what we were doing, jump in the car this minute, drive to a stellar spot, preferably a vista overlooking grapevines and peaking autumn hues, whilst sipping a heart healthy glass of red wine, was taken unanimously and without regret….  it felt a little like ice-skating on Lake Michigan at night as a kid in Chicago.

Speaking of the fermented grape, not to be sniffed at is the long-term scientific evidence that red wine has a protective effect against heart disease (Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2004 Jun;28(6):829-47). This is due in large part to it’s many plant compounds especially the celebrity antioxidant resveratrol, known to have powerful anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties. In recent studies resveratrol has been found to act upon specific genes to protect cells against aging, and also to slow the developmental stages of cancer. (Journal of Immunology 2000;164:6509-19; Journal of Biological Chem 2005;280:17038-45.)

Red wine, pinot noir in particular, is rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant found in the skin and seeds of the grape (which is why the reds have more of it) that protects healthy cells against aging. It is also known to have hormone balancing benefits, YAY!

Most promising when it comes to women, wine, and hormones, is the fact that red wine is medically classified as a phyto-(plant) estrogen thought to enhance natural hormone balance! Evidently, unlike other types of alcohol red wine also  inhibits the action of aromatase (Ann NY Acad Sci. 2002 Jun;963:239-46), an enzyme that increases estrogen conversion in fat cells and can lead to estrogen dominance and thus, increased risks for breast cancer (www.theseventhwomanfoundation.org) But lest you conclude that the best way to balance your hormones naturally is to drink more red wine, keep in mind that we are talking about moderate consumption here, no more than one glass a day according to the experts. Of further note is that the reported health benefits of red wine in particular are significantly enhanced when consumed with meals, especially as part of a Mediterranean diet. This is news we can use to explore our options!

But I digress. Once the anniversary countdown began I never skipped a beat in moving myself towards balance.  The feeling of lightness from within. Of not living in my head for a change. I felt calm and energized all at the same time and saw it for what it was: the absence of stress. And I knew that I would have to do this again sometime, maybe not on a working day, but some other time, again, SOON.

What is your personal balance plan?  Jump in the conversation and please leave a comment right here (scroll down) on our blog so that we all can learn and share best practice for engaging in guilt-free, unstructured time. This is another of our essential truths:  You are unique. What’s right for your friend, mother or sister is not necessarily right for you. But we can all explore the paths to balance together.

Doing what comes naturally (www.davidburchphotography)

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Filed under Bioidentical Hormones, Candace Burch