The Libido Recharge, Part I

By Dr. Dana Price DOM, Dipl.O.M., L.Ac.

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The #metoo movement has really opened my eyes to how prevalent sexual trauma is for girls and women in our society with incidents ranging to very forceful and overt, to the subtle sprinklings on day to day life. I have my #metoo experiences and have been investigating how these experiences have encouraged me to suppress and shut down my fierce, blossoming and powerful sexual force. I wonder what the fully unhindered and empowered sexual me would look like. I do not have the answers and know that this process will unfold and recreate itself with time- as the feminine does. I encourage you, during this month of the expression of love and coupledom, to look within and investigate your sexual energy and what you would look like to be fully unencumbered and empowered.

I am engrained in Chinese medicine and have spent my adult life viewing the world through the interplay of Yin and Yang. A dark and cold wintry day is an opportunity to go within and nourish the Yin, a day that I want to be outside riding my bike in the wind of a sunny spring day gets my Yang recharged. Mental, physical and emotional health arises out of this interplay and when something is off- your Yin/Yang balance is disrupted.

So what happens when there is the lack of desire to have a fulfilling sexual experience or your body just does not respond? There are reasons related to unresolved trauma that are beyond the scope of this blog, so I am going to address the Yin/Yang imbalance that can arise and manifest as three main patterns. The first and most common is being too stressed and therefore your Qi (part of the Yang system) gets stuck. The second is not feeling from Yin deficiency and a woman can not feel sexy and confident enough for sex, and thirdly being Yang deficient and too tired for sex. In this first part of a series of three we will take a look at the libido being suppressed because of stress.

If you are feeling too stressed for sex you need to get your stuck Qi moving. In particular we call it your Liver Qi. Something I hear from my patients is that the desire for sex is low until they get warmed up and once they get going everything is fine. This is Qi stagnation. The Qi gets moving and you feel better.

Exercise is great for this. Get your blood pumping and do higher intensity endurance exercises like power yoga, running, spin class and the like. Be sure to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day and get your 10,000 steps in per day.

A plant based diet is best; focusing on 70-80% of each meal as vegetable based, while avoiding dairy and refined foods. Good foods to move Qi include: broccoli, cauliflower peppermint, radish, tomato, celery, asparagus, lemon, brown rice and chia seeds. Avoid caffeine, that morning coffee stagnates Qi and is infamous for exacerbating PMS symptoms and fibrocystic breasts. If you need the ritual of coffee I recommend organic cold-brew.

Avoid toxins: skip the plastic bottles, check and see what you are putting on your body- go organic as much as possible on all of your beauty products. To find what is best check out the Skin Dee section of www.ewg.org. Also, change your pads and tampons to organic, if you do nothing else do this.

Meditate and have some downtime. Where is your happy place? A nice bath, reading a book, having sex? Spend some time each day nourishing yourself.

Supplement with some vitamins: calcium and B vitamins get depleted with stress so make sure that in addition to taking your multivitamin you take extra calcium and a B complex.

Acupuncture & Massage: here at ilumina we work with stress and anxiety on a daily basis and we know that our acupuncture and massage really help break the stress cycle and sustain relaxation. Even better is to supplement these therapies with Chinese herbs.

If you find that you fit into this imbalance of Qi stagnation give yourself 3 months to journal on your vision of your full sexual expression, exercise, eat clean, meditate, and follow the other steps and see the change.

In my next two blogs I will write on the other two patterns that are frequently encountered at ilumina. 

It’s Thyroid Health Month: What is a “normal” thyroid function?

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By Leigh Lewis ND L.Ac. Naturopathic Doctor

Most patients have had thyroid function testing prior to seeking assistance at ilumina, whether it is for fertility issues, difficulty losing weight, mood and energy issues or simply as part of a general check up.  However, there is much confusion amongst health care providers and patients regarding what constitutes normal function tests. In fact, recent research suggests that patients can be experiencing significant symptoms such as those mentioned above even when the results are normal and may be able to safely take and benefit from thyroid replacement. This is why we often request patients bring in their results or get new testing even if they have been told that all their thyroid testing is within normal range.

The thyroid can be through of as the gas pedal to many bodily functions.  It’s hormones increase heart rate, bone turn-over, basal metabolic rate, cognition, digestion, reproductive function, etc.  When there are not enough thyroid hormones, these processes slow down and when there is too much, they speed up.  The tricky thing is, two individuals can have the same thyroid hormone levels and one feels great and the other feels terrible.  Individual biochemistry dictates these differences and our current lab testing is based on pooled population data, therefore, often missing individual nuances.

A quick explanation on thyroid function testing:

Typically we here at ilumina recommend the following tests:

  • TSH – thyroid stimulating hormone:
    • This is a hormone produced by the brain to stimulate the thyroid to produce its own hormones such that when thyroid hormones levels are low, TSH levels rise and when thyroid hormones levels are high, TSH levels drop.
  • Free T3 and T4 – triiodothyronine and thyroxine
    • These hormones are produced by the thyroid, T4 is viewed as a precursor to T3, which is more biologically active and potent, T4 is converted to T3 via an enzymatic reaction…some people have difficulty making this conversion, necessitating a combination of T3 + T4 for replacement.
  • Thyroid antibodies:
    • These immune cells represent a common cause of thyroid disease; produced by the body, they attack specific mechanisms in the production and function of the thyroid hormones such that activity is either increased (autoimmune hyperthyroidism) or decreased (autoimmune hypothyroidism).  Research suggests that the presence of these antibodies may explain symptoms of thyroid disease despite normal thyroid function tests.

There are several other thyroid tests that may be done other practitioners, but in practice it is our experience these do not lend much more information.

Confused? You should be.

Basically, it is important to remember that, while your thyroid function testing may be within the normal range, it doesn’t mean you would not benefit from a trial of thyroid replacement.  Some patients, like those with mood, weight and energy issues, will be monitoring symptoms to see if the replacement has a positive impact, others, like those with fertility issues, may not notice a day to day improvement in any symptoms, but the hope is that time to conception & risk of miscarriage will decrease.  Replacement can be done safely in those with initially normal labs because repeat labs will  detect over medication or if the dose needs to be increased. If thyroid antibodies are positive, anti-inflammatory supplement and diet measures may be helpful.

Thyroid function affects nearly all of our physical, psychological, and mental processes either directly or indirectly; talk to us today to review yours for a healthier tomorrow.