Author Highlight: Christiane Northrup

At ilumina we want to be an educationalresource for our patients and with that we have a lending library were we make available some of our trusted teachers and authors.  

Christiane Northrup started with a medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School and completed her residency at Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston. She is an obstetrician and gynecologist and an advocate for woman’s health and wellbeing. She has written several books including Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom; The Wisdom of Menopause; Mother-Daughter Wisdom; The Secret Pleasures of Menopause; and Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Wellbeing. Dr. Northrup is a crusader for woman’s health, and is helping woman change their ideas around aging in our society.

As a Chinese Medicine practitioner her views on women’s health align with the ancient Chinese beliefs in treating the root of the problem verse the patients symptoms. At ilumina we treat the origin of the ailment, and help woman to restore health and balance in their lives. Chinese Medicine has a deep history in treating Women’s Health and is being used to treat a variety of conditions to help reestablish health in the body.

In Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, she covers the treatment of many health concerns PMS, menstrual cramps, breast cysts, fibroids, cervical dysplasia, endometriosis, infertility, depression, and cystitis. She takes her time explaining how many of these physical problems have roots in emotional upsets or lifestyle choices. This book helps woman to have an educated and healthy outlook on there bodies.
    
Women have trusted Dr. Northrup’s approach for decades. In 2013, Reader’s Digest named her one of “The 100 Most Trusted People in America.” And, in 2016, she was named one of Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul 100, a group of leaders using their voices and talent to help and heal humanity.

Christiane Northrup has many hobbies including Argentina tango, culinary arts, travel, and watching movies. Dr. Northrup’s work has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, The View, Rachael Ray, Good Morning America, 20/20, and The Dr. Oz Show. 


“True health is only possible when we understand the unity of our minds, emotions, spirits and physical bodies.”
-Christiane Northrup

 

 

Is It Me or Is It Hot In Here: Symptoms Associated with Perimenopausal Hormal Changes

By Leigh Lewis ND, L.Ac.

There is a lot of confusion both among women and their health care practitioners regarding perimenopause. Literally, perimenopause is “around menopause”; menopause being defined as the spontaneous, permanent ending of menstruation, literally one day, typically the day that is one year after the last menstrual period, usually around age 50, but can be anywhere between age 40-60.  Clinically then, perimenopausal symptoms can be described as any symptom that happens around a woman’s last menstrual period. Unfortunately, menopause is not like a light switch, where one moment you are pre-menopausal and the next you are post-menopausal. It is in fact quite the opposite: erratic hormone production fluctuates from day to day and month to month causing changeable and varied symptoms.  

Several studies have documented that symptoms may begin up to 17 years before cessation of menses and may last for several years after.  As such, if the average age of menopause is 50, some women may start to experience these symptoms as early as 33. Many factors may impact this transition, from genetics, to thyroid function to lifestyle habits and some women enter into menopause through surgery or medication and, for the latter population of women, the symptoms may be more severe and dramatic.

There are estrogen receptors throughout a woman’s body which helps to explain the varied symptoms a woman may have as estrogen levels start to decline as evidenced by this graphic:

Since hormone fluctuations can start in the 30’s for many women and others may experience unintended pregnancy in their 40’s, special consideration should be given to issues related to fertility. Some women may have difficulty achieving or maintaining pregnancy in the absence of these symptoms at any age, but age-related hormonal changes are a common cause. As such, contraception and/or fertility-preserving strategies should be a part of every woman’s assessment and plan during the perimenopausal transition.  Regardless of the cause, be it endometriosis, irregular menses or hormonal issues, acupuncture and select supplements and herbs may be helpful in improving fertility outcomes, either when used alone or in combination with conventional reproductive medicine.

When a woman suspects she is having perimenopausal-related symptoms, it is an excellent time to have a complete medical examination by a qualified health professional. The diagnosis of perimenopause can usually be made by reviewing a woman’s medical and menstrual history in addition to her specific set of symptoms and treatment recommendations can be made accordingly. Unfortunately for most women, hormone tests are usually not helpful in giving definitive information as to whether symptoms are related to perimenopause because levels change throughout the menstrual cycle. A single hormone level can be misleading since production does not fall at a steady rate, but varies greatly and therefore cannot predict or confirm menopause. Furthermore, normal hormone levels in the presence of hormone-related symptoms does not eliminate the likelihood that the women is perimenopausal. Some testing may be helpful with complaints of sexual dysfunction, fertility problems or when periods stop at an early age and some lab tests can identify other causes of symptoms that mimic or worsen the symptoms of perimenopause, such as thyroid disease or vitamin deficiencies, and diseases that can increase during perimenopause, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Treatments should never be prescribed to “treat” hormone levels, but solely to alleviate symptoms and therefore hormone levels are unnecessary to determine or adjust dosing.

There are several treatment options available to women and there is no “one-size-fits-all” plan that will take care of all of the symptoms that may be associated with hormonal fluctuations. It is also important to remember that not all women will require treatment; perimenopause is not a disease and as such therapies should be directed at controlling symptoms. Therapies with less associated risk, like diet and lifestyle, should be tried first. There are several studies confirming the positive impact of diet, exercise, acupuncture, stress management and lifestyle changes for women with mild perimenopausal symptoms and should be first-line therapy. Vitamin and herbal supplements may be helpful in some women, but research is mixed and appropriate dosing and use of high-quality products is necessary to know if these may be effective. Finally, there are non-hormonal prescription medications that may do double-duty in decreasing perimenopausal symptoms while treating other conditions, such as depression and anxiety. The goal should be to help patient’s manage menopausal symptoms without needing a grocery bag full of medications or supplements by utilizing targeted therapies that are supported by research.

If hormones are being considered, a thorough assessment of a woman’s potential benefits vs. risks should be conducted. While risks are possible with any use of hormones, symptoms can negatively impact a woman’s day-to-day quality of life, affecting relationships with family and friends and performance at work and the degree to which this happens may outweigh these potential risks. Medical organizations devoted to the care of women agree that there is no question that hormone therapy has an important role in managing symptoms for many healthy women during the transition. There are several benefits to using hormones including decreasing the typical symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mood issues, “brain fog”, urinary symptoms, vaginal dryness and painful intercourse, preventing bone fractures later in life and lowering the risk of heart disease & diabetes if hormones are started early. However, despite some claims, there is no such thing as “risk-free” hormone treatment for menopause when used systemically to achieve these benefits. The potential risks include stroke, blood clots, and uterine and breast cancer. What we’ve learned so far about the benefits and risks comes from large groups of women, but each woman is unique. New studies are frequently published, so this topic is constantly in flux.

The question is whether it is the right choice for you. These decisions are nuanced and only after you and your doctor have a thorough discussion about your individual risks, benefits, and preferences can you make a decision that’s right for you.

The North American Menopause Society is an excellent resource for high quality information: http://www.menopause.org/for-women.

 

Women's Heath Concerns and How Acupuncture Can Help

The biggest threats to women's health are often preventable. Oriental medicine has always addressed the special needs of women throughout their lives and many health issues women face respond extremely well to acupuncture treatments. Taking small steps to improve your health can make a difference.The top health concerns affecting women and how acupuncture can help are:Cardiovascular DiseaseAs the number one threat to women's health, cardiovascular disease is not just a man's disease. In women, the condition is responsible for about 29% of deaths, reports the CDC. Although more men die of heart disease than women, females tend to be under diagnosed, often to the point that it's too late to help them once the condition is discovered. By integrating acupuncture and Oriental medicine into your heart healthy lifestyle, you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as eighty percent.Steps to prevention include managing high blood pressure and cholesterol, quitting smoking, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, physical activity, reducing stress and improved sleep - all of which can be helped with acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Acupuncture has been found to be particularly helpful in lowering blood pressure. By applying acupuncture needles at specific sites along the wrist, inside the forearm or in the leg, researchers have been able to stimulate the release of opiods, which decreases the heart's activity and its need for oxygen. This, in turn, lowers blood pressure.CancerThere have been many advances in the early detection and treatment of cancer. While the standard medical care for cancer is effective, the treatments are aggressive and cause numerous unwanted side effects as well as a lowered immune system. The three most common cancers among women are breast, lung and colorectal cancer. While breast cancer is the most common cancer in women it is second in the leading cause of cancer death. Early detection screenings and recommended self examinations should be taken seriously.Acupuncture has received much attention as an adjunctive therapy in cancer treatments for its use in pain relief, reducing side effects, accelerating recovery and improving overall quality of life.From a preventive approach Oriental medicine works to restore imbalances in the system with a variety of treatment modalities including acupuncture, herbal therapy, tui na, qi gong in addition to food, exercise and lifestyle suggestions. Seasonal acupuncture treatments just four times a year serve to tonify the inner organ systems and correct minor annoyances before they become serious problems.OsteoporosisCharacterized by a decrease in bone mass and an increased likelihood of fractures osteoporosis is not simply a calcium deficiency. As a complex living tissue, bone is made of many different components and is influenced by many variables including the body's use of calcium from the bone to balance pH levels in the blood. Osteoporosis threatens 44 million Americans, of which 68% are women, reports the National Osteoporosis Foundation."Osteoporosis is largely preventable," says Mark. "The behaviors that women develop in their childhood, in their adolescence, and in their early adult years really play a significant role in the development of the disease." That's because bodies build up most of bone mass until age 30. Then new bone stops forming and the focus switches to the maintenance of old bone.Acupuncture and Oriental medicine coupled with a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise, have much to offer in improving the quality of life for those who suffer from bone and joint problems.DepressionDepressive disorders affect 10%-25% of women at some point in their lives. The body’s immune system is compromised and symptoms reduce functioning, impair work performance and social relationships. Common symptoms of depressive disorders include: a decreased interest in most activities, insomnia, fatigue, and feeling empty and worthless. At its worst, hopelessness sets in and suicide becomes a desperate option for approximately 15% of people who suffer from severe depressive disorders.Oriental medicine does not view people as a collection of segmented parts to be treated independently but rather addresses the link between the body, spirit and mind. The goal of Oriental medicine is to bring all the human systems into a healthy balance, insuring that both the mind and body feel well and when used in conjunction with psychotherapy acupuncture has a positive and holistic effect on depressed patients. If you suffer from depression, consider acupuncture therapy in conjunction with your treatment plan to regain peace of mind, regulate your immune system and stay healthy.Autoimmune DiseasesAutoimmune diseases are a group of disorders in which the immune system attacks the body and destroys or alters tissues. There are more than 80 serious chronic illnesses in this category, including lupus, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes.According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), about 75% of autoimmune diseases occur in women. Individually, each disease appears uncommon with the exception of diabetes, thyroid disease, and lupus however as a group, the disorders make up the fourth-largest cause of disability among American women.Due to the complexity of treating autoimmune disorders, integrative medicine solutions have received much attention as successful therapies in their treatment. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are specifically noted for use in pain relief, regulating the immune system, managing symptoms and improving overall quality of life.Menopause and Gynecological HealthGynecological conditions including Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), fibroids, endometriosis, and infertility along with menopause are some of the most successfully treated problems by acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Oriental medicine has long recognized that health and vitality can be sustained over a woman's lifetime by restoring balance within the body and supporting the natural production of essential hormones.Menopause is a transitional period marking the cessation of ovulation in a woman's body. Symptoms vary from mild to severe, and are brought on as our bodies try to adapt to decreasing amounts of estrogen. Symptoms can include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, fatigue, mood swings, memory loss, dryness, headaches, joint pain, and weight gain. Menopause patients are encouraged to maintain a healthy weight, stabilize blood sugar, and eliminate stress, tension and anxiety or learn new techniques to cope with them to diminish the effects they have.Oriental medicine does not recognize menopause as one particular syndrome and aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, herbs, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, if 10 women are treated each will receive a unique, customized treatment with different acupuncture points, different herbs and different lifestyle and diet recommendations.With support from Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine along with small changes in lifestyle and diet, menopause can be a time of a revival of vital energy and an opportunity for personal growth.By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM

Help with Menopause

Please join ilumina Healing Sanctuary's Marie Veverka L.Ac. for a free talk on acupuncture and Chinese herbs for the treatment of menopause.October 11th6pm-7pmilumina Healing Sanctuary7520 E. Camelback RoadScottsdale, Arizona 85251Please call (602)957-2602 to register as space is limited.