Saturday, March 19, 2011

Book Review: Hormones: Don't Let Them Ruin Your Life

I requested this book for Christmas because we are pretty sure that whatever is messing up my body these days is related to a hormone imbalance of some sort. When I searched for a graphic for the book cover, I discovered that the author, Dr. Sandra Cabot has written other books that seem to focus on remedying liver toxicity, especially with juice fasting. I'm not sure what I think about all this at this point. We presently have an expensive juicing machine that was passed on to us from a family member and marked "garage sale." I cannot decide if I have it in me to spend more money and time and effort attempting to use this machine and eek out a half cup of juice to drink each day.

Anyway, back to the book. My first observation is that this book was originally published in 1991. I should have paid greater attention to the details instead of jumping on it because the title spoke to my need. I'm pretty sure there are other, more recent, books out there which would provide more comprehensive information about finding hormonal balance for your body.

Of course, I could fully relate to the first few sentences in the introduction:

"Hormones are beyond a doubt the most powerful chemicals in your body. They have the power to be physically and emotionally shattering or they can make you feel wonderfully alive." (What I wouldn't give to feel wonderfully alive again!) "No one wants to live on a series of extreme highs or lows and we don't have to do that anymore because it's now possible to fine-tune your hormones to avoid this 'hormonal seesaw.'"

Dr. Cabot asserts that hormonal imbalances are more common because women are having children "later in life, which leads to a relative deficiency of the hormone progesterone." (That would fit for me.) She also mentions the prevalence of toxic chemicals in our environment and dietary imbalances (too many refined flour products, sugars, hydrogenated oils, etc.).

I found myself underlining the many difficult symptoms I have been experiencing: depression, anxiety, irritability, sudden mood changes, aggression, hostility, panic attacks, fatigue, sleepiness, confusion, reduced concentration, exhaustion, changes in libido, changes in weight, and backaches. I also underlined the nutritional strategies she suggests: things like increased B complex vitamins, Vitamin E, Zinc & selenium, magnesium, and iron. As far as foods go, she suggests avoiding refined carbohydrates and soft drinks, reducing saturated fats and caffeine, and emphasizing whole grains, green leafy and cruciferous vegetables, legumes, nuts, seafood, and high quality protein and calcium combinations.

I completely agree with her comments against synthetic hormone replacement and for natural (bio-identical) hormone replacement. I have tried the creams, which were ineffective for me. I am presently on a natural hormone troche, which dissolves in my mouth. I had been placing it under my tongue, but followed Dr. Cabot's advice to hold it between my upper gum and cheek, in order to avoid the progesterone break down in the liver.

I have noticed, since beginning the troches, that my once heavy periods have gone back to a more normal flow. The hormones do seem to help, but full balance is still clearly a ways off. Plus, I have recently re-entered a battle with lichen sclerosis (the itching which had perplexed many of my doctors for years). I'm wondering if this re-appearance is due to the hormone therapy.

Dr. Cabot provides many stories from women in her practice. She also touches on some topics which I had no use for and skimmed over: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Infertility, acne, hirsutism, contraceptives and surgical sterilisations. I am forever grateful that I did not allow the doctor to perform the tubal ligation he recommended after Sean's birth. With all the difficulties I am experiencing now, that would have only compounded things.

It was beneficial just to read that there are other women out there struggling with similar hormone issues. I am not alone. Plus, the rest of my life will not be plagued with the difficulties I am facing now. For these reasons, any book on hormone imbalances (and how to address this issue) is helpful.


Elizabeth A. said...

Juicing was all the rage in the early 90's. While it's not as difficult as it seems at first, I never found it worth the trouble. My mother is very into holisitc health. Juice fasts suck. I do not recommend it at all. I felt awful afterward. Thanks to Mom. But then again, she started using a neti pot, preaching against margarine and white bread in the 80's.

I definitely agree with eating as many leafy greens as you can eat. I just remembered, I was on a spinach kick in college, and it really did make a difference. You get the magnesium, iron and fiber all in one bite. Between that and drinking enough water to make me float and subsequently sweating it out, it's the best I feel internally. Am I doing that currently? No. I also appreciate my B-vitamins and omega 3's.

But then again, I've been on some form of hormonal birth control for the past decade.

Have you tried a food, exercise, mood journal? Maybe you could pick up on a pattern.

Wendy said...

Yes, that's what I was thinking, that it wouldn't really be worth all the trouble to do the juicing fast.

My husband, who of course has a vested interest in figuring out my health issues, is now convinced that I am suffering from an iodine deficiency (which could explain my recent cravings for spinach).

I agree that keeping the food, exer., mood journal would be helpful.