Patient Journey: Hormone Imbalance

  1. What health issues were you struggling with when you began to work with Dr. Angela?

I had/have been really working through a few different issues. Mainly, trying to have a menstrual cycle without the use of drugs along with my mental well-being. I have struggled a great deal with self-image, self-worth, depression and anxiety for many years and am exhausted from the strain of these mental issues.

  1. What treatment methods had you tried prior to Dr. Angela’s program?

My main treatment for these issues was medicine – a pill for my period, a pill for my depression & anxiety, and yet another pill for my distracted and “busy” brain.

I had also been to see a few different therapists who were helpful at the time but never seemed to permanently resolve my issues.

  1. What health benefits did you gain from working with Dr. Angela?
  • Natural weight loss
  • More energy
  • Better sleep
  • Confidence in my state of mind
  • How to improve my self-worth

4. What was your biggest struggle during the transition to a healthier lifestyle?

The biggest struggle was learning/knowing what to eat and planning ahead in order to prepare meals.

I also struggled with not letting the very anxiety I was trying to get rid of, hold me back from getting better. It was scary to learn the truth about the meds and I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to give them up. I had no idea how to act or who I was supposed to be without my meds.

5. What did you find most beneficial to you in the program?

My favorite and most helpful parts of the program were the face to face meetings and the homework given.

Dr. A. gave me so much perspective and really helped me work on my frame of mind. The transition to a healthier lifestyle was less confusing and less frustrating knowing that she was there to help us!

6. Did your food options taste good?

The food took some getting used too but once my mind and taste buds got used to the change, the natural foods tasted delicious. I love eating fruits and veggies along with other clean food options and find myself seeking out those foods more – even at gatherings where other dishes are in abundance.

7. Did you have an ah-ha moment that helped you commit to the change? If so, what was it?

This has been such a huge transition in my life and because of that there was not been just one single “ah-ha” moment, there were several. A few of those being…

  • watching my husband become himself again with his improved mental and physical health
  • On a random day discovering that I feel strong and healthy mentally and knowing that it isn’t just a phase but who I really am ;)
  • Stepping on the scale after several months only to discover, without even paying attention, I had lost weight!
  • Really feeling and understanding what sleeping well does for me

8. If you were going to give a piece of advice to someone on the fence of following a program like Dr. Angela’s, what would you say to them in order to help them decide?

Please give the program a chance and just try it!!!

Be honest with yourself about who you are (or who you think you are) and where you REALLY want to go. Love Ok, at least try to “like” yourself enough to sit and just listen to what Dr. A. has to say – you just might be amazed what you can learn about yourself…

Dr. Angela’s perspective:

There were a lot of moving parts to this case including anxiety, hormone imbalance, low self-esteem, and many medications.   This case happened to have issues with low progesterone.  It took some tweaking with her supplementation to balance that, restore her period, and maintain normal cycles.  Along with her hormone balance came symptoms of weight gain, hair distribution issues, skin issues, mood disturbance, and blood pressure concerns. It was definitely more than supplementing to get hormones in balance; it was lifestyle work AND HEAD WORK.  What you tell yourself on a daily basis creates your reality.  It was such a pleasure to watch this entire family transform before my eyes.  I often did these appointments on Friday nights, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  It capped my week off with a full feeling because of their ability to be honest, vulnerable, and willing to examine all the aspects of life we brought to light.  Although many medication paths will lead women to believe there are quick pill fixes, or that it’s just your biology, I am here to tell you otherwise.  Your hormones decide so much about how you feel and look, and they should not be relegated to a mere band-aid solution.

Sleep Disturbance: How Melatonin Plays a Part

Melatonin is a hormone.  This hormone plays an enormous role in your immune system and has dramatic effects on sleep.  Our bodies have evolved based on the exposure of natural light.  You wake as the sun rises, and you fall sleepy when it goes down.  When the sun goes down, your melatonin production goes up.  Melatonin has an inverse relationship with cortisol, which we discuss a lot when talking about adrenal fatigue.  Basically, it means that as cortisol rises first thing in the morning, melatonin is low and you feel awake.  At night, your cortisol should be at it’s lowest and melatonin at its highest making you sleepy.  When this relationship is faulty you may feel sleepy in the middle of the day or wide awake in the middle of the night.  Considering how important sleep is for hormone production, cellular repair, and inflammation regulation, this can be a HUGE issue!

As many of you know, I just got back from a trip to Peru, and there was a similarity to my time spent in Africa: light.  In Africa, I had no electricity.  That meant when the sun went down, the only light available was by fire or candlelight.  As you return to The States, you have unlimited availability to light via electricity.  This means that after returning home from work we watch TV, get on our computers, play on our phones, and so on.  We do this without even noticing it!  I left for Peru and over my time there, I realized my day was dictated by the sun.  You go home for bed when it gets dark, and when you get home, a fire is your source of light.  I slept great, woke up to the sunrise, and I never felt miserable waking up to an alarm when I wanted to keep sleeping.  I was in the same time zone as in the US, so that wasn’t an issue, but if I experienced jet lag, I would look to melatonin to reset these circadian rhythms.

When I test patients with hormone issues, fatigue, and issues sleeping, I often test their melatonin levels.  This tells me if they are producing enough at night when it should be high and they should be sleepy.  If it is low, I often have them supplement with melatonin for a short time while making the following lifestyle changes:

  • No TV an hour before bed
  • No reading in bed
  • Dim lights an hour before bed
  • No computer work after dark
  • Do not use your phone an hour before bed
  • Turn your phone on airplane mode if used as an alarm
  • No TV in the bedroom

If someone is working on their overall lifestyle changes, melatonin is not needed as a crutch after a short period.  Since it is a hormone, I do not advise supplementing with it long-term because you need your body to have signals appropriate to create melatonin on its own.  If you continually supplement, then you will still likely have poor cortisol patterns and still won’t have a natural production of enough melatonin.

Uses for melatonin:

  • jet lag
  • sleep disturbance
  • adrenal fatigue

I typically recommend somewhere around 1g at night.  If you take too much, sometimes people will experience nightmares or wake up very groggy.  Kids can also benefit from melatonin, but their dosage should be between 300-500mg depending on weight.  Like I said, this should be SHORT TERM.  If you find it is helping sleep patterns but they come right back when you discontinue supplementing, that is a clear indication that you haven’t corrected the underlying issues causing abnormal hormone production.

*You can find high grade melatonin in the online store, Fullscript.  However, I recommend getting a cortisol/hormone panel done prior to self diagnosing.  These tests are done at home and run around $200.

Sleep: How It Impacts Your Life, Your Looks, and Your Health!

For as long as I can remember, I have been a good sleeper.  I would be that friend at sleepovers that would sleep so long that my friends would go to church and come back and I’d still be in bed!  For a long time, my parents wouldn’t call me before noon because otherwise there was a wrath to follow.  I’m happy to say that I still love sleep, but I am up before noon. ;)  Last weekend, I sat in on a presentation by a former Navy Seal named Dr. Parsley and listened to all the things he was doing in his clinic to keep patients healthy, beautiful, and free from hormone imbalance.  You want to know what his secret is?  SLEEP!

We tend to see sleep as a luxury in the US because you can sleep when you’re dead, right?  However, many cultures value sleep, build naps into their schedule of working, and see it for what it is: a requirement for normal hormone function.  Losing hours of sleep mimics the aging process in so many ways.  Not only does it make you look older, it makes you hang on to excess weight, become cranky, and slows down your nervous system’s ability to adapt.  REM sleep specifically is when your brain converts short term memory into long term memory and without REM, you may feel as though you need to be told the same thing over and over again or read the same page in your book over and over again.  This decrease in memory and cognitive function isn’t just for the elderly, its for anyone at any age that isn’t getting enough zzz’s.

Lack of sleep also decreases your thyroid function by about 30 %.  When you have decreased thyroid function, you also have lowered cognitive capability and tend to lose your ability to react to stressful situations without being overly emotional.  Can we say “middle age sob-fest?!”  If I see anything in practice becoming a huge concern, it’s hypothyroidism.  There are thyroid receptors on every single cell in your body.  If you’re not making enough, you could experience things like anxiety, constipation, cold intolerance, skin issues, and a complete lack of energy.  I won’t go off on a tangent, but the normal ranges for TSH these days are NOT normal.  If this sounds like you, have someone take a closer look with you….please.

For all of you out there trying to fight the aging process, decreased sleep decreases your collagen, elastin, and keratin production in your skin which results in wrinkles, dull skin, and brittle hair.  UGH.  Who knew that you could bypass all those appointments with the dermatologist by just getting more sleep!?  Have you ever wondered what actually makes people look their age?  Think about it.  How do you know someone is 20 vs 28?  20 vs 35?  puppy vs dog?  It’s hard to pinpoint how you KNOW someone is around a certain age when it’s not due to grey hair or wrinkles, but we usually know approximately what age someone is.  It’s actually because of fat pad distribution.  You have fat pads above and below your eyes which open them up and a fat pad behind the eye that pushes your eye forward.  As that fat decreases, your eyes sink in ever so slightly and you continue to age.  Many people get BOTOX to look younger, but according to Dr. Parsley, it makes your muscles atrophy and you ultimately end up looking older because as your fat pads redistribute and muscles harden, you get something he calls “skeleton face.”

As if beauty, cognitive function, and thyroid production wasn’t enough, lack of sleep also decreases your testosterone production and insulin sensitivity by about 30%!  Tons of people are flocking to get testosterone replacement to stay youthful and lean; it is HUGE for what your body looks like.  Lowered testosterone also contributes to sex drive in both men and women!  Decreased sleep results in lack of sex drive, getting pudgy, and developing signs of diabetes!  Man, if only we just valued sleep, we could avoid being dumb, fat, ugly, and slow, and possibly diabetic!  Let me put sprinkles on the cake here and say that if you are an athlete, REM sleep is when your body rebuilds by producing anabolic hormones. So, yes, even the young, lean, athletes require sleep.

EVERYONE NEEDS SLEEP!  Aim for 8 hours a night and anything less is building a sleep debt. If you have trouble sleeping regardless of all your attempts, you may have something bigger going on and should consider testing; your health relies on it. We can’t escape aging but we can age well, age gracefully, and be a badass at any age!