Stress and our Hormones
Hormones, periods, PMS, these are our health report cards as women. When in balance your body will work like a well oiled machine, no breaking down. Imagine steady moods, clear skin, healthy appetite, headache free, restful sleep, painless periods and beyond.
Some Science coming at ya...stress reduces signaling between the hypothalamus and your pituitary leading to low levels of FSH and LH (two hormones that promote ovulation). It also increases Cortisol. In small amounts Cortisol is great for kicking us into our fight or flight mode. Long-term affects on the other hand, are damaging. If left high Cortisol reduces sensitivity to insulin, weakens the immune system and affects ovulation. Continuing stress leads to dysfunction of your hyprothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This dysfunction can also be referred to as "adrenal fatigue". Improving HPA axis function leads to stabilizing estrogen and progesterone. Side not...if you are on birth control, this greatly worsens HPA axis function as well.
So how to you regulate your HPA axis?
-Lifestyle choices are huge. Please take the time to rest and just to be. Get in touch with the small things that bring you joy. For example your favorite walk, that latte down the street, dinner with friends or whatever it is just pay attention!
-Meditation, yoga and massage are also wonderful.
-Acupuncture re-teaches the body on how to tap into your "rest and digest" mode and similar to a meditation practice, you get stronger and stronger at it.
-Maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Those dips and spikes alone can increase stress and create anxiety, depression and panic attacks. Increase those healthy fats/protein and make sure you are eating enough calories. Calorie depravation is a whole other issue and can greatly impact hormones negatively.
Here are some basic supplements to regulate your HPA axis:
-Magnesium, oh how I love thee. It calms your nervous system like no other. Plus, most people are walking around with a great deficiency in magnesium.
-Zinc improves health of the hippocampus, which helps calm the HPA axis.
-B Complex, these are used in the synthesis of calming neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin.
-Many types of Chinese Herbs calm the mind and reduce anxiety. They also promote restful sleep. There are over 300 herbal formulas that are customized to each patient.