Hormone Imbalance, Hypothyroid, Night Sweats, Stress, Blood Sugar
Answered by: Christine Dennis
Question from: Maria
Posted on: November 22, 2007

I am 44 years old, have hypothyroidism, am on Paxil, and have serious hormone imbalance for the last four years. My geonocologist insists that I have no problem because of my age. The most serious symptom I have is bloating and constipation, night sweats and serious mood swings that change daily. I see my doctor every three months for my medication and it is always normal. I would like to try herbs to help balance these symptoms because no other doctor seems to want to help. I eat very well and exercise every day along with having plenty of water. I do not think it is my diet. Is there any recommendations you can give for this?

Your hypothyroid, need for Paxil, hormonal imbalance, digestive complaints, night sweats and mood swings are all indicative of your body having gone through a significant amount of stress over the years and you are getting to the point of "burn out". To help you understand the relationship between the symptoms allow me to explain as this is a problem that I see on a weekly basis in my practice. When we are feeling stressed, we go into what is commonly referred to as a "fight or flight" response that is initiated from the adrenal glands. What this means is that the body has a mode that it goes into, that was originally built into our design, for when our stressors were from a tiger coming out of the jungle at us. What happens in this mode is that the body begins to throw adrenaline (causes the heart to speed up and our brain to be on high alert), fat (building blocks for long term energy requirements) and sugar (for instant energy requirements) into the blood stream. This gives the body the requirements it needs so that one can fight the tiger or flight from it. At the same time the body is making other decisions to preserve and focus its energy in other areas. As a result, the body decides that digesting is not important at that moment and the energy that would normally go into digesting food gets shut off.

Today, of course, most of us are not needing to worry about real tigers, but we still have "tigers" that stress us - work, bosses, partners, kids, finances, poor diets, etc. However, the body can not recognize between emotional stressors and physical stressors and responds that same way still as all stress is just perceived as "tigers". Furthermore, this mode was originally designed for just short encounters with "tigers" and not for encounters that last full weeks (teenagers, bosses, etc) or months (end of relationships, deaths in the family, etc). After a while of being in this constant stress mode, our adrenal glands begin to weaken and we can start to feel very tired, anxious and depressed. At this point, the entire endocrine system says to the adrenals "here, let us help" and in doing so the thyroid starts to not only do the normal work that it does everyday but it also helps to step up and do some of the work that that adrenals do but via different pathways. This then of course leads to hypothyoridism as it too becomes weakened and burned out. At the same time, the body makes an executive decision saying that fertility is also not important because times are too stressful for a baby (This is common in the animal kingdom for survival of that specie.) Here we then see reproductive hormones changed with the precursors that makes these hormones going toward making stress hormones instead. Eventually this cycle becomes weaker and weaker and one gradually feels worse and worse.

The first place to start is to trick your body into forgetting about the "tigers" so that the digestive system can be kick started again. Bitter herbs can be taken before meals to trigger the digestive reflex before meals. These herbs MUST be tasted and can not be taken in pills or capsules forms. Herbs such as dandelion, gentian, and barberry are good examples. This will deal with the bloating and constipation.

Secondly, the night sweats are from the blood sugar levels having now become quite sensitive to the fight or flight response and are havng a difficult time regulating themselves even as you sleep. Therefore good blood sugar regulation is extremely important. Having a high complex carbohydrate snack before bed will very quickly take care of that symptom. The mood swings are for the exact same reasons requiring smaller but more frequent meals. Be sure ot avoid all simple carbohydrates and refined foods. Instead, it is absolutely necessary that you get proper amounts of good proteins in addition to good fats such as flax seed oil, olive oil, fish oils for longer lasting blood sugar regulation. Ginseng is one of the best herbs for blood sugar regulation and helping your body recover from the stress response faster. Blueberries and cinnamon are good foods to incorporate for better blood sugar regulation. Be sure to keep up with eating well now that your digestion is "turned on" again.

Thirdly, it is necessary to build up the nutritional status of your body as well. Highly nutritive herbal teas such as nettles, alfalfa and oat straw mixed together in equal portions and drank 3 times per day will help see you on to your road of recovery soon when done in combination to the above recommendations. As your health picture is seemingly complex, you might want to consider seeing a herbalist for more help and support.

All the above mentioned herbs are available for purchase from our Richters website.

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