perimenopause

  • Herbs and supplements to increase libido after menopause naturally

    How to increase your libido during menopause naturally? Are there any herbs or supplements? These are common questions. Menopause and perimenopause bring a lot of changes to the body and one of them is low libido. Lower libido during perimenopause and menopause is in part the result of hormonal imbalance and there are supplements and herbs that can help.

    How to increase your libido during menopause naturally

    One of the ways to increase libido during menopause and perimenopause is to use aphrodisiacs, another is to work on its causes and mindset. Our intimate life is not only physical it is also emotional. Ideally if you are experiencing low libido, you should work on all these aspects.

    Supplements and Herbs to increase libido in menopause and perimenopause

    In this article I am bringing you some of the most promising aphrodisiacs from nature. Herbs and supplements to increase libido for women during the time of perimenopause and menopause. As you know, aphrodisiacs (from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sexuality, beauty and love) are substances that stimulate sexual desire. All forms of natural medicine have these substances and there can be a lot of myth around them; the ones I present you here are those with scientific research behind them.

    1- Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium)

    This is a Chinese medicine herb. Another name it Goat Sex Herb. Both men and women can use it. It increases testosterone, blood flow, and helps balance hormones.

    2- Avena Sativa (Wild Oats)

    Just as the prior herb, this one is also use by breeders to help boost animal fertility. Avena Sativa is also used to help combat the effects of stress.

    3- Brazilian Catuaba Bark

    This plant comes from the Amazon rainforest. They use it to increase libido in men and women. They also use Catuaba to treat obesity and memory problems.

    4- Maca Root

    Maca has an effect on hormones. In Peru, it is a popular food as it is a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli and kale. There are some small studies that suggests that it can increase libido, boost energy and endurance, increase fertility, and it may lower some menopause and perimenopause symptoms.

    How to increase your libido during menopause naturally with supplements and herbs.

    5- Mucuna Pruriens Extract

    In Ayurveda we use this plant in many remedies. It helps reduce stress and anxiety, improves focus, among many other benefits. It may also boost libido and orgasms. One of its common names is velvet bean.

    6- Red Ginseng

    Among the many benefits of red ginseng is to increase libido. The reason it helps is that it increases blood circulation in the body, including the genitals.

    7- Fenugreek

    This seed has many benefits including increasing testosterone in men and women. The research indicates that men who take this herb see an increase in libido and in erections. In women, we need more research, but lower testosterone levels is one of the causes of low libido in perimenopause and menopause. You can buy the seeds in an Indian store, in India they use them as a condiment, or you can buy supplements.

    Other plants that may increase libido

    There are many other plants that promise to increase libido during perimenopause and menopause. Some of these plants are: tribulus, saffron, gingko biloba, L-citrulline, Yohimbine and Muira Puama. We need more research, but preliminary studies indicate positive results.

    Conclusion

    These aphrodisiac herbs and supplements to increase libido during menopause and perimenopause are promising. Most of them don’t have side effects, but it is wise to always check for side effects, especially if you take any medication. Although these plants promise to increase libido during perimenopause and menopause, we need more studies, but they may be worth trying.

    Other considerations

    Besides hormonal imbalance there are many causes of low libido including illnesses, medicines’ side effects, stress and emotional issues. Some depression and anxiety medicines are some of the worst offenders. A positive mindset is as important as having the right hormones. Read How to stop hot flashes naturally

  • 7 Supplements to eliminate brain fog during menopause

    During menopause and perimenopause almost 60% of women report brain fog and memory issues. If you are part of this group don’t worry; there are great foods and supplements to improve or eliminate menopause brain fog.

    eliminate menopause brain fog

    According to a University of Vermont study, brain fog and memory issues may be linked to lower levels of estrogen, especially estradiol. However, the million dollar question is why 40% of post-menopause and perimenopause women don’t experience brain fog and memory issues.              

    Hormonal balance and brain power 

    According to that study, the women who don’t experience these issues may be getting estrogen from other sources. In other words, they have hormonal balance. Hormonal balance is the key to eliminate or lower all perimenopause and menopause symptoms including brain fog and memory problems.    

    Before we jump to the supplements, let’s take a moment to talk about some important factors to keep our brain healthy:

    Exercise to eliminate mental fog

    Physical exercise is one of the brain’s biggest allies, especially when you have menopause or perimenopause mental fog. Exercise brings more oxygen to the brain and it helps it eliminate stress and toxins. You don’t need a full workout program to improve brain function. You only need constant movement, such as walking and a 30 minutes workout three or more times a week. If you work out outdoors, even better.

    Stress reduction

    Stress is one of the worst enemies for your brain and for hormonal balance. Excessive, chronic stress is a big hormonal disruptor and inflammation producer. Also, stress makes you fat and makes your tummy grow. If you can do one thing to balance your hormones and improve brain fog in menopause, try to reduce or manage stress.      

    supplements  to eliminate mental or brain fog in menopause and perimenopause

    Sleep

    Sleep is fundamental to our health including mental health. There have been many studies showing the importance of sleep to be more focused, remember more and learn better.  It is very important to sleep enough hours during time of hormonal changes. In many cases, brain fog during menopause and perimenopause is directly related to lack of sleep.

    7 powerful supplements to improve brain fog during menopause and perimenopause

    Natural supplements for the brain are also called nootropics, but we can get some of the active substances by drinking infusions and adding some herbs to our food.   Although just popping a pill won’t solve hormonal imbalance and menopause, mental fog together with small changes in your lifestyle can help you improve brain fog.

    Ginkgo Biloba

    There are many studies pointing that ginkgo biloba helps improve cognitive function. This herb has been used in Chinese medicine for millennia. It helps the brains get more oxygen and eliminate toxins. To see results takes weeks; consult with your doctor if you like to try it.

    Vitamin B

    The vitamin B complex is very important for brain health.  Lower levels of B12 are associated with short term memory problems and lack of concentration as well as depression. Most people who eat animal products have the right levels of B12; vegans and vegetarians can have lower levels. B6 is important to carry oxygen to the brain. B6 is found in salmon and other fish and in some fortified milk products.       

    Antioxidants

    The most important antioxidants are vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene but there are many more such as: selenium, other carotenoids, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.  They help protect your body’s cells (including brain cells from damage), and help in hormonal production. Fruits and veggies also are very rich in antioxidants. Fruits and veggies are full with important nutrients that can help you combat brain fog in menopause or perimenopause.

    green and black tea to eliminate brain fog

    Green and Black Tea

    These fantastic drinks have an ingredient called L-Theanine that has shown good results to improve concentration and lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. You can take the supplement or try to include more tea, especially green tea in your normal day. Green tea is a wonderful drink for women with hormonal imbalance.

    supplements and food to eliminate menopause brain fog

    Iron for the brain

    Iron is a very important nutrient to provide oxygen to the brain and all cells in the body. The deficiency of iron is linked to lower concentration, lower focused capacity and even diminished intelligence. Next time you go the doctor ask for an iron test. Iron is very common in many foods like read meat, some beans, and some green leaves.  It is important to make sure you have enough iron during the time of menopause and perimenopause.

    Water

    Dehydration makes you more likely to suffer brain fog and lack of concentration during menopause and perimenopause. If possible try to consume from ¾ to one gallon of water a day. It is a lot of water, but in the beginning you need a lot of water to see if it will help you. Check out some recipes for infused water.

    Turmeric powder

    Turmeric powder is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the root of many diseases. You may include turmeric powder in recipes (such as they do in India and other countries), drink golden milk or take supplements.  

  • Types of belly fat in midlife

    Belly fat reaches a new high during midlife, it even gets its own name, midlife spread. For most women in midlife one of the most traumatic changes is the change in body shape. The tummy starts growing out of the blue and the waist line becomes a distant memory. Pear and upper triangles body types become apples. There are different types of belly fat. If you are asking why does this happens and what can one do about it, keep reading.

    How to stop belly fat accumulation in midlife

    We can blame it all on hormones and certainly they play a role, but there can be many other causes or contributing factors. Although most abdominal fat requires the same advice to eliminate it: healthier eating, more movement and less stress, there are some differences between the different types of belly fat or abdominal fat require more than the conventional advice, specially during perimenopause and menopause.

    Let’s take a look at the different types of belly fat and potential solutions for each type. Let’s keep in mind that excess fat always requires eating a healthier diet.

    Lower body fat

    This type of fat can be hormone-related or inactivity related. Even very skinny people can have it. Usually this type of body fat is more common before perimenopause and menopause.

    Excess estrogen can play a role in this type of belly fat, but inactivity, too much sitting, and poor posture are more common as well as a combination of these factors.

    What can you do about it?

    • Eat a healthier diet and drink plenty of liquids.
    • Try not to sit down for long periods of time
    • Workout and try to add more activity to your life. Try exercises to strengthen your core.
    • Cut down on sugar and dairy
    • Watch your posture during the day. Try to sit correctly and stand up straight, lightly contracting your tummy
    • Try to move during the day

    Belly fat that looks like pregnancy

    This fat can be common during midlife. It tends to be firm and it can have many causes. This can be hormonal body fat, and is not directly linked to estrogens but to cortisol and/or insulin. It is very common in people with insulin resistance.

    This type of tummy fat is directly related to high stress levels (physical and emotional) and high sugar and/or alcohol consumption. This type of belly can also indicate liver problems such as fatty liver; this is the reason it is associated with alcohol consumption. Read about thyroid and weight gain

    What to do to lower this type of belly fat?

    This type of fat is the most damaging type because it is directly affecting the vital organs and it’s the result of a combination of unhealthy habits. To lower this type of belly fat, the keys are stress management and toxin elimination. You can accomplish it with these recommendations:

    • Lower stress levels
    • Sleep at least 7 hours a night
    • Lower alcohol and carbohydrate consumption
    • Make sure you are eating only healthy fats
    • Try to eat only healthy animal products
    • Avoid regular dairy
    • Avoid commercial baked goods
    • Eat enough omega 3
    • Lower or eliminate caffeine intake
    • Try to eat healthy most of the time. Be careful following any diets that will contribute to more stress in your life. The best way to eat is to follow anti-inflammatory guidelines
    • Try to include activities to relax, such as participating in sports, yoga, dancing, arts, walks in nature, etc.
    • Be kind to yourself
    • Workout, but avoid workout stress such as running too much, boot camps, CrossFit, competitive apps, etc.
    • If you have a religion, pray, ask for help and leave it to God; if not you can practice meditation. The bottom line is to relinquish control, worry and other emotions that generate stress, anger and sadness.
    • Observe yourself to identify allergies such as those from foods, molds, pollen and others. These are physical body stressors that can cause thyroid problems.
    • Remove or lower toxins from your life such as regular cleaning products, cooking at high temperatures with Teflon, etc.
    • For some people, a paleo or keto lifestyle for a short period of time can be very beneficial. For me the answer was intermittent fasting and you can follow this way of eating for long time.

    Upper tummy fat (AKA love handles)

    This is pure fat and an active lifestyle and healthy food in the right amounts can correct it.

    Hormonal belly fat

    During menopause and perimenopause, we are very likely to accumulate belly fat. This is the result of lower estrogens and higher cortisol. It can be solid fat as in the previous case or loose fat all over the tummy area.

    To eliminate this type of belly fat there is no one size fits all cause, because there are many causes. Usually it comes with other body changes such as bigger or smaller breasts, bigger back and in some cases, smaller butt.
    In general, to improve this situation we need to bring more balance to our hormones, lowering stress and making sure our thyroid is doing its job. To accomplish this we need to strengthen the liver, adrenals and thyroids. You can read this article where I have more detailed information on menopausal belly fat.

    You can read more on why we gain weight during perimenopause and menopause

    Fluctuating belly

    This is fake belly fat. You get up in the morning with a flat tummy and this keeps growing as the day progresses. This is caused by gases and/or liquid retention and not by fat accumulation.

    The next question is why does it happen? There are many reasons, though, the most common one is food intolerances. There also can be digestion issues caused by stress, illness or allergies.

    What to do?

    • Do an elimination diet to identify if you have allergies
    • Eat slower, chew your food very well; this improves your digestion
    • Avoid drinking large amounts of liquids during meals. Warm or lukewarm liquids are better than cold liquids.
    • Lower stress
    • Ayurveda can be very effective to treat and correct these digestive issues

    Sudden tummy

    This is the tummy that comes out of nowhere and it is loose. If you are gaining weight and it is mostly going to the tummy, but you feel that you are eating the same and having the same level of physical activity and you are in midlife, this is probably hormonal weight. Read why this happens

    However if the fat is solid, and hard in very few cases, it can be related to conditions that need medical attention so you should see your doctor.

    What not to do when you are experiencing hormonal belly fat

    • Don’t worry, there is a lot you can do to reduce your tummy. Think of a growing tummy as a messenger, telling you to watch out because something may need more balance in your body.
    • Avoid extreme diets. If you have a lot of weight to lose or if you suspect that you may be insulin resistant then a Paleo or Keto diet can be appropriate for some time. But if you are experiencing many other menopausal or perimenopause symptoms, for most people it is better to start eating healthier and do some light intermittent fasting. There has to be a balance between weight loss and stress reduction.
    • Remember joy. Joy is very important in our lives, joy makes our body healthier and contributes to hormonal balance. Look for joyful activities outside food. Make your food delicious.
    • The main thing you can do for your health is to cook at home from scratch. If you use some organic ingredients even better, but just eating home cooked meals will make a difference in your health.

    What about liposuction

    It certainly works, but it is a surgery and you have to consider it carefully. However, if the weight comes back (the person gains the weight back) some of the fat will go directly on top of vital organs. Most people who have liposuction end up gaining back the weight, because they haven’t learned a healthier, happier lifestyle.

    During perimenopause and menopause it is important to pay attention to the hormones and try to balance them because if not, they will also cause other issues, the tummy is only one of them. Perimenopause and menopause are a good time to recalibrate our bodies to have a healthy second half of our lives.

    What about hormonal replacement therapy (HRT)

    HRT and BHRT will help control tummy or abdominal fat while taking the hormones. You can read this article about HRT and BHRT. I personally will still recommend lifestyle changes to avoid other problems and to develop a tummy as soon as the hormones are stopped. Read more about HRT and BHRT

  • How to stop hot flashes naturally

    Hot flashes, or flushes as they are called in some places, are common in women going through perimenopause or menopause. They are also very bothersome and greatly disruptive, especially if they happen at night, called night sweats.

    Hot flashes at night disrupt sleep and with that a whole plethora of symptoms can develop, such mental fog, lack of energy, irritability, weight gain, etc. That’s why it is very important to deal with hot flashes.

    how to stop hot flashes naturally

    What to do to eliminate hot flashes naturally

    Before moving into potential solutions we need to understand what the causes of hot flashes are. Doctors don’t know what causes them, not all women get them (I didn’t) and in many cultures they are almost unknown. We need more research to find out what causes hot flashes. Doctors know that there are some things that make hot flashes worse for some women, such as:

    • Spicy foods
    • Foods with caffeine
    • Alcohol
    • Some medicines
    • Certain health issues, such thyroid problems and diabetes
    • Smoking
    • Anything that makes the normal body temperature rise such as exposure to high temperatures, thick clothing, saunas, etc.
    • Emotions such stress, fear and anxiety

    The first thing to do when suffering hot flashes is to try to identify which items on that list make your hot flashes worse. Then you can at least lower your exposure if not totally avoid it.

    easy ways to stop hot flashes naturally

    How to eliminate hot flashes naturally

    A healthier lifestyle can greatly reduce or eliminate hot flashes. A healthier lifestyle will help you eliminate toxins, eliminate excessive bad hormones, make your organs work better, and more. All of this will reduce or stop hot flashes. What is a healthier life style? Eat clean, drink your water (hopefully purified) and avoid stress.

    Move it baby

    Working out is one of the most effective ways to reduce or eliminate hot flashes. There have been many studies on this topic and all of them have found a relationship between working out, especially sweaty workouts, and a reduction in hot flashes. Working out checks off many boxes, including eliminating toxins and stress, and helping the body generate good hormones, as well as maintaining muscle and bone mass.

    Cool it

    Controlling stress, is another important aspect to controlling hot flashes. Stress causes a lot of problems in the body and they result in more or more intense hot flashes. You can read this article about stress and hormonal balance.

    Can herbs help to eliminate hot flashes?

    Herbs can certainly help. Black cohosh is the most studied herb against hot flashes and definitely worth trying. Herbs combined with a healthier lifestyle are more effective than only taking the herbs. Other recommended herbs are: ashwaganda (to strengthen adrenals), maca (testosterone), chaste tree, Dong Quai, Ginkgo biloba and red clover. There are many teas and supplements that use some combination of these and other herbs. Some of these herbs interact with other medications so it is important to check for potential issues.

    Beyond herbs, Ayurveda, aromatherapy, homeopathy and other natural medicine modalities have treatments to effectively lower hot flashes and other menopause and perimenopause symptoms.

    I have an article on aromatherapy for menopausal symptoms that explains how it can help.

    Hot flashes in Ayurveda

    Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, has complete treatments to treat hot flashes. In Ayurveda, we believe that hot flashes are an imbalance, and there are herbs and treatments to bring back the balance. All Ayurveda treatments, as well as Chinese medicine treatments, include lifestyle changes and they can be very effective without negative side effects.

    Functional medicine

    You can also consult a functional medicine expert. In functional medicine, we look at the cause of the symptoms to treat them at the root level. However, functional medicine can be expensive and many practitioners order too many tests that many times are redundant. But if you are suffering from severe flashes and want natural alternatives this can be one of the best options.

    Easy ways to eliminate hot flashes naturally

    Some tips to eliminate or reduce hot flashes

    Keep a diary and write down what did you do or eat prior to a flash. After a week or so you will be able to identify some culprits.

    • Try to work out at least 30 minutes 3 times a week or more
    • Try some yoga to lower stress
    • Practice deep breathing
    • Talk to yourself kindly
    • Reduce or avoid coffee
    • Reduce or avoid alcohol
    • Lower sugar intake
    • Stop smoking
    • Keep your room temperatures on the cool side
    • Have an electric fan on hand (handheld or normal) in case you need it
    • Wear layers of clothes. This way you can easily add on or take off according to your needs.
    • Sleep with layers of blankets and/or sheets to adjust your temperature
    • Try to keep cold water at hand. If you feel a hot flash coming apply some water with a cotton towel or spray on your face and drink some cold water.
    • Use cold gel pack if water is not possible.
    • Avoid hot showers and baths. You can use lukewarm water instead

    If your hot flashes don’t improve with lifestyle changes, look for professional help; there are many therapies that can help you, including traditional hormonal replacement therapy and bioidentical hormonal replacement therapy. Read more about hormonal replacement therapy here.

  • Healthy bones and teeth with smoothies

    Our teeth and bones need vitamins and minerals to keep strong and healthy during menopause and perimenopause. Smoothies are a delicious way to eat those nutrients. As you know smoothies are in fashion. And there are good reasons for it. They make it easier to drink something healthy and consume some powerful foods in a delicious and convenient form.

    Smoothies for teeth and bone health in menopause and perimenopause

    We can use smoothies to strengthen, protect and even heal our bones and teeth. After 40, during perimenopause and menopause and beyond, we need to take care of our bones and teeth, because the hormonal changes that take place can weaken them.

    Sometimes when we think of good foods and nutrients for bones, we think of milk. But in reality we need more than milk, and in fact we may not need milk. We think milk, because of the propaganda. While it is true that milk has a lot of calcium, and calcium is great for teeth and bones, we also need other nutrients.

    Teeth and bones need vitamins and minerals during menopause and perimenopause. Bones can regenerate and strengthen, about 5 to 10% of all bone tissue is renewed each year.

    Teeth also need food, the same foods as bones. Your teeth are stronger if you eat the right foods. Dentists don’t teach patients to eat for teeth health, but it is fundamental. If you eat healthy your teeth don’t develop many cavities.

    Nutrients for teeth and bones during perimenopause and menopause

    The nutrients that strengthen our teeth and bones are the same at any age. However, at times of hormonal fluctuation we need to make sure we are having them. Some of the most important nutrients are:

    Calcium.

    The best and easiest calcium to absorb is from animal sources, but there are also many veggies that have it such as spinach and other green leaves as well as soy and white beans. (Read calcium in bone broth)

    Potassium.

    This mineral is needed for bone and teeth health as much as calcium. One study found that potassium reduces bone degeneration and increases the rate of bone formation in women. Bananas, sweet potatoes, oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, grapefruit, prunes, raisins, dates, peas, cucumbers, etc. are wonderful sources of potassium.

    Vitamin K2.

    This one is difficult to add to smoothies. The richest natural source is a Japanese food called natto (fermented soy beans), which doesn’t taste that good. (I take a supplement of K2 every other day or so)

    Smoothies recipes for healthy bones and teeth

    Protein.

    This you are probably consuming enough in you meals

    Magnesium.

    You can find it in green vegetables, such as collards and kale, in some seeds such as poppy, sesame, chia etc., some nuts, legumes, whole grains and avocado. Avocados, seeds and nuts add a lot creaminess to the smoothies, but be careful because they have a lot of calories.

    Phosphorus.

    You can find them in soybeans, fish, meat, milk, eggs, in legumes and whole grains. You can add oats to your smoothies.

    Vitamins

    • Vitamin D. You can get it from the sun and supplements.
    • Vitamin A. You can find it in sweet potato, spinach, carrots, cantaloupe, mangoes, eggs and others.
    • Vitamin C. There are a lot of fruits with this nutrient such as, citrus, berries and many tropical fruits. You don’t need any specialty fruits to get your daily requirements of vitamin C.

    Zinc.

    You can find it in seeds, nuts and some grains. The most abundant sources are meat and shellfish. One powerful source is broccoli sprouts, and you can add them to smoothies or salads.

    Others.

    There are also other minerals that are required in small amounts. These are part of many fruits and veggies.

    Did you know?
    Sesame seeds are a good source of calcium, magnesium, copper, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fiber. A quarter cup of sesame seeds has more calcium than a cup of milk. It also has a lot of calories, but you can add a tablespoon of tahini to your smoothie.

    Now some recipes

    Smoothies for teeth and bone health in menopause and perimenopause

    Collagen, anti-inflammatory smoothie

    Ingredients
    1 cup water
    1 scoop of powdered collagen or gelatin
    1 cup fresh mix berries
    2 teaspoons of seeds such as sesame, hemp, pumpkin, sunflower or others
    ½ frozen banana. For potassium, fiber and sweetness. It also makes the smoothie very creamy
    1 pitted prune. For boron, fiber and sweetness
    ½ tsp of turmeric powder
    A bunch of broccoli sprouts
    Optional: If you like more sweetness add stevia, date sugar, maple syrup or sugar.

    Instructions
    Put all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Drink right after. You can adjust to your preferred thickness adding more water. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the ingredients, use what you have.

    Very cherry

    Ingredients:
    1 cup of fresh or frozen pitted cherries
    ¼ cup of oats
    ½ tsp of turmeric powder
    1 cup of milk or water. It can be almond or full fat or 2% pasture-raised, grass fed, organic cow’s milk, or goat’s milk
    1/2 cup of organic Greek yogurt (full fat or 2%)
    ½ frozen banana
    Optional, pitted dates or prunes for added sweetness or stevia, maple sugar or sugar
    Optional, one scoop of powdered collagen or gelatin

    Instructions
    Put all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Drink right after. You can adjust to your preferred thickness adding more water. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the ingredients, use what you have.

    The smoothies can also be consumed as smoothie bowls. The only difference as you know is that you will eat them with a spoon/fork, instead of drinking them.

    Make your smoothies or bowls pretty and sit down and enjoy the flavors.
    Read: Recipes for infused water


  • Is your thyroid making fat and tired?

    You probably know about fast and slow metabolisms. In part this is the work of the thyroid gland. Facial hair, weight gain or loss, lack of energy and even hot flashes, the thyroid is mighty; it affects many aspects of our health and life.

    Thyroid and perimenopause and menopause issues

    Unfortunately, the thyroid tends to get out of sync and does not produce enough hormones during times of hormonal imbalances such as after having a baby, pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause. That is the reason we are talking about this gland. Many of the perimenopause and menopause symptoms are a result of thyroid problems.

    I am healthy but ….

    I have a few friends, including 2 MDs, who are otherwise very healthy and follow a healthy lifestyle, but they take thyroid medicine, because their thyroids are sluggish. In other words, they suffer from hypothyroidism. I also had the same issue when I entered perimenopause and my weight started to skyrocket although I followed a healthy lifestyle. I took the natural path and it worked.

    Hypothyroidism is very common in women over 35 and it contributes to lack of energy, lack of libido, weight gain and other symptoms. A healthy lifestyle does not always spare you from this condition, because stress and environmental toxins play a role in it.

    Now let’s see the other side of the coin: Hyperthyroidism. This is when the thyroid is too active and produces too much of the hormone. In this case the person tends to lose weight and facial hair may appear, among others symptoms.

    The table below illustrates the most common symptoms of both conditions.

    Hypothyroidism Hyperthyroidism
    Cold intolerance
    Constipation
    Dry skin
    Weight gain
    Puffy face and/or hands
    Hoarseness
    Muscle weakness
    Elevated cholesterol
    Muscle aches and stiffness
    Pain, or swelling in joints
    Heavy or irregular periods
    Thinning hair
    Slowed heart rate
    Depression
    Impaired memory
    Enlarged thyroid (goiter)
    Excessive sleepiness
    Thin, brittle hair or fingernails
    Decreased sweating
    Pins and needles
    Insomnia
    Decrease libido
    Unintentional weight loss
    Rapid or irregular heartbeat
    Increased appetite
    Nervousness amd anxiety
    Irritability
    Tremor in hands and fingers
    Sweating
    Changes in menstrual patterns
    Feeling hot easily
    Frequent bowel movements
    Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
    Fatigue
    Muscle weakness
    Difficulty sleeping
    Skin thinning
    Fine, brittle hair






    Why should you care for your thyroid?

    Well, it affects your energy levels, weight, libido, skin and hair and your total wellbeing. On top of that the thyroid gets affected by other important organs and by autoimmune conditions.

    We can say that the thyroid is the first one to make noise when something is wrong in the body. That is the reason why instead of just taking a pill (which is necessary in some cases) we need to look deeper at what else needs our attention.

    Causes of hypothyroidism

    • There are many potential causes including:
    • Autoimmune disease
    • Hyperthyroidism treatments
    • Radiation therapy
    • Thyroid surgery
    • Certain medications such as medications to treat certain psychiatric disorders
    • Congenital disease
    • Pituitary disorders. This is rare.
    • Pregnancy. Some women develop hypothyroidism during or after pregnancy
    • Iodine deficiency. This is more common than normal medicine reports
    • Hashimoto’s disease. This is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S. Hashimoto’s disease, is cause by autoimmune issues.
    • Thyroiditis. It can be caused by viral or bacterial infections, an autoimmune condition or following pregnancy.

    For women over 40 the most common causes are:

    • Weak adrenals due to excess stress
    • Liver issues
    • Excess accumulation of toxins
    • Nutrition deficits especially of zinc, iodine, selenium, copper, iron, essential fatty acids, tyrosine (amino acid), vitamins A and D
    • In natural medicine it is also believed that some emotions affect the thyroid
    • Autoimmune disease


    How to know if you have low or high thyroid activity?

    Check the list of symptoms and see if you suffer many of them. If you go to a regular doctor he or she may or may not find the problem. If your deficiency or excessive level of the hormone is way higher than the expected level, it will be found, but if it is small it probably will not be found. A functional practitioner will, however, find it.

    The discrepancy is that in functional medicine the range of normal levels is narrower than in conventional medicine and there is also more testing. In functional medicine, normal is not what the majority of people have right now, instead it is the optimal level for wellbeing and health.

    In my case I had many symptoms such as excessive hair loss, dry skin, weight gain, constipation, I had lost part of my eyebrows, and other symptoms. My regular doctor did not find anything wrong in my tests, everything was perfect. But I had the symptoms and I refused to accept that “that is how we age”.

    What can you do to have better thyroid function?

    If you feel that you have too many symptoms you should get tested first by your doctor, and then if nothing is found, you can go to a functional or natural medicine practitioner.

    The standard treatment for hypothyroidism is a synthetic hormone. For hyperthyroidism, there are medications. There are also many natural treatments if you want to try this path.

    With the natural treatments, that also require lifestyle changes, you will solve the problem and the roots of the problem. With the pills you will be taking them potentially for life, they don’t work for everybody and you will not be addressing the roots of the problem. Those roots may manifest later on in other ways.

    thyroid health in midlife

    Improving your thyroid function

    If you only have some symptoms you can try to improve your lifestyle and add some supplements to improve thyroid function. Some of the natural recommendations are:

    • Eat natural, unprocessed foods
    • Try to minimize environmental toxins such as normal cleaning products, normal skin care products etc.
    • Lower sugar intake
    • Increase omega 3 intake
    • Make sure you are eating enough proteins
    • Make sure you are having enough iodine
    • Make sure you are having enough zinc and selenium
    • Take a break from foods that causes allergies in many people such as gluten, dairy and soy. It is just a break to determine if you have an allergy.
    • Take probiotics
    • Eat a lot of vegetables
    • Lower stress
    • Sleep enough hours
    • Make sure you are having enough fats (I had this problem, I thought fats make you fat and I was not having enough fats)
    • Be active and workout. This eliminates stress and helps to eliminate toxins. You need a workout that doesn’t create more stress. Workouts that become too competitive or too intensive are not recommended. Swimming, walking, Pilates, yoga, strength training, HIIT, hiking, outdoor bicycle, dance type workouts and others are very beneficial.
    • You may take supplements for adrenal support and thyroid support if you think you have hypothyroidism.

    Thyroid support with supplements is tricky. If you buy one, pay attention that is does not have any animal gland parts of hormones added, check the ingredient list. Avoid taking thyroid support for more than a few months. Most thyroid support pills have a lot of iodine, it is better to follow smaller doses than the recommended in the bottle to avoid too much iodine.

    If you have hyperthyroidism you have to follow a gluten, dairy and soy free diet. But hyperthyroidism requires more care and a visit to your natural practitioner is better.

    If you need advice creating your perfect menus for thyroid support you may want to take our upcoming program for hormonal balance. Sign up to be informed of its release.

  • What no one tells you about skin care in perimenopause and menopause?

    The miracle cream that will erase your wrinkles. Or Better than Botox. The secret to beautiful skin after 50. Nobel Prize Winner Technology in skin care. You, like me, probably have read them all and more, much more.

    how to have youthful skin in perimenopause and menopause

    There are so many creams, potions, procedures and supplements promising us youth in a bottle, an injection, procedure or a pill. If they would work, we will not have wrinkles anymore. So is there a secret to beautiful, healthy skin at 50, during menopause and perimenopause? The pill is the closest from all those promises, the reason is that the secret is our hormones.

    The supple, radiant skin that we had in our younger years depends greatly on our hormones.

    The cream can put moisture, the procedure can force the skin to generate collagen and a more radical procedure can lift and iron out wrinkles, but the overall effect won’t give you beautiful skin. And, beautiful skin can make you look younger and prettier even with wrinkles and flaccidity. Beautiful skin has a characteristic called radiance. Radiance can go away during perimenopause and menopause. In Ayurveda, radiance is part of something called ojas and it means live, healthy tissues.

    Skin radiance comes from our hormones and health. It is affected by emotions.

    Have you seen the face of a bride? Happiness is visible. Audrey Hepburn was right:

    Happy girls are the prettiest

    If your estrogen is out of balance in earlier years then the skin maybe oily. Hormones out of balance in midlife in perimenopause or menopause can cause skin dryness, lack of luster, loss of volume and in some people, very reactive skin (that’s me). If the person has estrogen dominance, the skin is going to be oily. If your hormones, especially estrogen and T3, are not balanced your creams and treatments are not going to be as effective.

    If your liver is not working properly you may develop allergies, redness, discolored patches, etc. A lower thyroid functions will bring dryness, hair loss and eye brow hair loss.

    How do you get radiance?

    Well, this is part of what a healthy lifestyle with low stress, good nutrients and happiness brings to your life. There are a few things you can do.
    The main thing is to try to balance your hormones. This is a big topic and one of the main topics of this blog. In short, in order to balance our hormones we need to:

    • Eat enough good fat
    • Eat a diet rich in nutrients
    • Lower stress
    • Consume a low glycemic diet (low sugar)
    • Sleep
    • Eat a natural diet
    • Make sure you are having all the minerals your body needs
    • Be happy. Make yourself happy. Happiness is an attitude; it comes from within us, not from the exterior.

    Help your organs

    We also need to help our liver and adrenals. The liver and adrenals are going to help the thyroid and are going to help us have more available estrogen, our own estrogen.

    The type of nutrition above will help you liver and adrenals. In some cases, we need to take supplements after a period of neglect. That is what I did and worked out very well for me. I will include a link to the products I took. If the imbalance is deeper, you need to go to a practitioner. I recommend an Ayurveda or functional medicine practitioner. The solutions for hormonal balance don’t give immediate results, you may need months before you see results, but the results are great if you keep trying.

    Other tips for healthy skin

    Follow a simple skin care routine. It should include cleansing, moisturizing and exfoliation once or twice a week.

    Use a star ingredient or a few of them. You don’t have to become an expert or a junkie. Certainly you don’t need to use expensive products. I will be publishing a series of articles on this topic. Star ingredients are retinol, alpha and beta hydroxy acids and many more.

    how to have beautiful, youthful skin in middle age

    Don’t overexpose to the sun

    I am not saying always use sunblock. Use a safe sunscreen when you are going to expose yourself for longer periods of time. But mostly use common sense, wear hats, stay indoors at the time the sun is stronger, don’t tan, etc.
    Take more precautions when you abruptly change to a different weather. For example, if you live in a cold place and take a winter vacation in the Caribbean. These changes are more damaging to the skin.

    If you eat healthy your skin is more resilient and the sun causes less damage.


    These are the products I used. These are affiliate links:

    Adrenal Health – To support the adrenal glands
    Liver support


  • Aromatherapy for menopause and perimenopause

    Can you smell something delightful to reduce or eliminate perimenopause and menopause symptoms? I am talking of essential oils and aromatherapy.

    I love essential oils. I started to study aromatherapy in the early 90s, almost 30 years ago. I have used aromatherapy for many conditions and I find it works really well for hormonal and mental balance. These attributes make essential oils perfect to improve some of the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.

    Aromatherapy for menopause and perimenopause

    Why aromatherapy for perimenopause and menopause?

    There are many essential oils that can help us during this time. This is in part because aromatherapy is very good at lowering stress and promoting joy. By lowering stress, our estrogens are available to fulfill their role instead of helping to keep cortisol in the body.

    Those preserved estrogens will help in many aspects, including to sleep well, avoid hot flashes, keep weight under control and protect the skin and vagina against dryness. (Suggested reading: stress during menopause and perimenopause).

    Promoting joy and wellbeing is another important role of essential oils. Depression, insecurity, irritability, and sadness are very common in women during perimenopause and menopause. These feeling are bad enough, but in addition they can help to trigger other bad symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia and low libido.

    Essential oils with phytoestrogens

    Many aromatherapy experts and fans believe that some essential oils have molecules that have similar effects as sex hormones. There are only small studies on this subject. Only a few essential oils have been found to have a possible phytoestrogen (estrogens from plants) effect; these oils are geranium and rose otto. However there are studies proving that certain essential oils alleviate the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. With or without phytoestrogens, essential oils are still very effective.

    Which are the best essential oils for menopause and perimenopause?
    There are two ways to approach this question. We can treat specific symptoms or use oils to balance hormones.

    Essential oils for hormonal balance

    Essential oils for hormonal balance

    Geranium

    There are a few small studies suggesting that geranium has an estrogenic effect on the body and it helps to balance hormones. I have noticed that when people have too much estrogen they tend to dislike geranium, finding it too strong, too floral or too sweet. Maybe it is a natural body response to avoid more estrogen. During menopause and perimenopause we normally need more estrogen, so it works very well.

    Geranium has many other properties and benefits including reducing stress and improving blood circulation.

    Rose otto

    I could write a book describing this marvelous oil. Imagine holding sixty beautiful roses on your hands, picked for you at dawn, so they are at their peak. Imagine the incredible aroma and the lavish, delicate beauty of these flowers. Imagine how many bushes it took to produce those roses. From all these 60 roses it is said that one precious drop of essential oil will be produced, that’s right one, uno, eins.

    This oil is the stuff of legends, from queens in biblical times to the Maharanis of India. It is one of the most expensive oils and one of the most adulterated ones, it is difficult to buy the real thing.

    Ok, back to menopause and perimenopause. Rose otto may be estrogenic, this will help increase our estrogens and alleviate some menopausal symptoms. It has been used for a long time as an aphrodisiac. Beyond that it is very powerful for relaxation, happiness, and to induce calm.

    At a spiritual level, rose otto helps to resolve anger, fear, and jealously, and it boosts confidence and happiness. We all can use these benefits.

    Clary sage

    This is the most recommended oil for women’s issues, including perimenopause and menopause. Many people with expertise in aromatherapy believe that it has phytoestrogens, but some experts who have studied the chemistry of the oil believe that that is not accurate. In any case this is a wonderful oil.

    Many studies have confirmed that it is very relaxing, antidepressant, calming, and can produce an almost anesthetic effect. Clary sage oil has been shown to lower blood pressure, relieve anxiety and stress, and boost memory. This will help many menopausal symptoms.

    Other oils

    Other oils commonly used are fennel, cypress, angelica, lavender, peppermint and coriander.

    Beyond hormones

    We can also use essential oils that treat specific issues such lack of sleep, depression, irritability etc.

    A study to lower menopausal symptoms

    There was one study with about 52 women with perimenopause symptoms. The women got massages every day for 8 weeks. Half of the women had massages with essential oils and the other half without essential oils. The women with the essential oils experienced a lot of relief in their symptoms, the other women did not. (I am surprised with this result as I believe both groups should have benefited from stress reduction).

    The oils used during this experiment were:

    4 parts lavender, 2 parts rose geranium, 1 part rose (not clear which type), 1 part jasmine (not clear which type).

    The carrier oils were almond 90% and primrose 10% at a 3% concentration of essential oils.

    For people not used to essential oil preparation this is a more of a do-it-yourself recipe that I prepared for you if you want to try it.

    Massage oil for menopause and perimenopause symptoms

    You will need a 4 ounce (120 ml) bottle to store the oil
    Carrier oil
    3 ounces (90 ml) almond oil
    1 ounce (30 ml) primrose oil

    Essential oils (EO)

    • 36 drops lavender EO
    • 18 drops rose geranium EO
    • 9 drops of rose EO
    • 9 drops of jasmine EO

    Mix the essential oils separately, let them settle for a few minutes and add it to the carrier oils. You have now got your massage oil.

    Conclusion

    Aromatherapy is without a doubt a good solution to treat perimenopause and menopause symptoms. It is easy to access and normally without side effects. The essential oils can be used in personal care products, inhalers and in diffusers and burners. You can use essential oils to treat specific symptoms or to balance hormones.

  • Stress is really bad during menopause and perimenopause

    Stress is really bad during menopause and perimenopause, it is worse than bad food and lack of exercise. You probably have read things like this: Eat this, eat that, do not eat that cake, it will kill you. Yes it has sugar, bring the priest we need an exorcist to get the sugar out and the gluten and the milk and the joy. No doubt sugar is bad, but the stress produced by the scary headlines is worse, at least for your hormones.

    stress affects estrogen during menopause and perimenopause

    Stress is really bad during menopause and perimenopause because as you know those pesky menopause and perimenopause symptoms are the result of hormonal imbalance. In order to alleviate or eliminate the symptoms we have to balance our hormones. In the natural community there is a lot of emphasis on food to control or manage the hormones.

    Without a doubt food is important; however, I think stress is equally or more important to balance your hormones.


    Do you know anybody who eats super clean, super healthy and that person is bitter, judgmental, and she or he looks stressed out or with anxiety? I know more than a few. Food alone is not the answer. And more importantly, food should not create stress or deprive us of joy.

    Why is stress really bad during menopause and perimenopause?

    Let me simplify it: every time we stress out, two hormones rush out, adrenaline and cortisol. The one that keeps lingering to help us escape danger is cortisol.

    stress lowers estrogen during menopause and perimenopause

    In the past, we used these hormones when we needed to escape from a predator, in other words we ran to save our lives. Stress is a response to danger. In the present time, stress is caused by many factors, which are mainly harmless or at least nonlethal. In fact most of our stress is caused only by our thoughts. However, the body’s stress response is the same as if it were in danger.

    The organ that creates cortisol are the adrenal glands. These glands are depleted in many people in our age bracket. They are depleted and not working properly because of a few factors: we have had too much stress throughout our lives, we may have taken hormones such as birth control pills and our lifestyle is not very healthy. So we may not be producing enough cortisol to support a lot of stress.

    More cortisol less estrogen

    Our body is always trying to protect itself. It will always give priority to immediate protection than to other bodily functions. Since the body believes that the stress hormones are so important for survival, when it does not have enough cortisol, it uses other hormones, including estrogen, to make more cortisol. During menopause and perimenopause, we have less estrogen and if we have stress it may be used to create cortisol instead of working as estrogen.

    In conclusion

    During menopause and perimenopause we have lower levels of estrogens and progesterone. We also have a lower capacity to make cortisol. If we have a lot of stress our body maybe using our little estrogen to make cortisol in order to supply fuel for our useless stress.

    In other words your stress is depriving you of your estrogen, and we feel it in the form of all the menopausal symptoms.

    Xassy.com

    Stress is really bad. And the good news is….. you can control it, no prescription required.

    Read Why do we gain weight in perimenopause .

  • Can you have peri or menopause without bad symptoms?

    The short answer is yes, many of us do. The next question is why some women experience a symptomless menopause and others (the majority) experience many symptoms during perimenopause and menopause. And what can you do if you are already experiencing some unpleasant symptoms? Can you improve? Yes, you can, and it is not difficult or expensive and you do not have to join a cult.

    easy, healthy menopause and peri menopause without bad symtoms

    Most women who do not experience a bad perimenopause and menopause share some attributes and it does not look to be a genetic thing. The attribute most of these women share is a healthish, happish life. It is not necessarily super healthy or super happy. Many women who are experiencing perimenopause and menopause symptoms can benefit by copying “our secrets.”

    Let me start by saying that there are some symptoms, but they are fewer and not severe. For example I started to gain weight and my body shape changed (but I stopped it), other women experience lack of sleep, depression, etc., these symptoms are not as bad or as many as in most women.

    It is not difficult to avoid most of the perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms and I am going to tell you some the most important things you can do to avoid them. This is not a complete list, but I think it includes the most important aspects.

    What you eat

    Model Christie Brinkley is a lacto-vegetarian. She has a very active life, but nothing crazy. She has said that her menopause was painless. I have a friend who eats very healthy, but eats everything and works out moderately; she did not experience any bad symptoms. I know many other women who follow different types of diets and their menopause has been good. I am a fishetarian (or pesco vegetarian), a vegetarian who eats fish occasionally. So there is no one diet, but most of us eat a healthy diet without processed foods and rich in nutrients. Read Menopause and microbiome

    easy, happy menopause without any bad symtoms

    Movement

    An active life is important but most of us are not gym rats or super fit.

    Don’t worry

    A happy, healthy attitude is important, but life does not need to be perfect. What matters is the attitude.

    Help

    Some of us take supplements and vitamins, but not all of us. I rotate supplements, right now it is a multivitamin, omega 3, K2, calcium, magnesium, liver support and adrenal support. The adrenal and the liver support are not permanent and sometimes I take a thyroid support supplement.

    More about the food

    A woman like me who does not experience bad symptoms during menopause or perimenopause can be healthy vegan, a healthy vegetarian, a healthy omnivore, a healthy Paleo, Keto or other. The key here is to eat healthy.

    Eating healthy means different things to different people. These are the most important aspects of a healthy diet during perimenopause and menopause:

    Nutrients

    The first characteristic is that the food has to be nutrient-rich. Many women in our age bracket have a mineral deficiency and they may be low in some vitamins. This is not about protein, it is about minerals and vitamins and most of them are in fruits and vegetables.

    We need good fats.

    Do not go on a low fat diet at this time of your life; your liver needs good fats. Avocados, nuts, good quality olive oil, good quality coconut oil, high quality butter (pasture raised and organic) and high quality, preferably fermented ghee.

    Fresh and home made

    When we eat out a lot we are eating low quality foods with lots of salt, bad fats and artificial ingredients. Processed foods are worse, they have all of the above and even more salt and ingredients that are not found in nature and many of them lack natural nutrients.

    Lower the sugar

    This is super important. I am not saying eliminate it, because that is difficult, but at least lower it to the lowest level possible without creating stress. Sugar is not only in sugar, but pastas and breads are processed like sugar in the body. All of those ingredients need to be consumed in moderation. Sugar alters insulin and this causes major hormonal imbalances in the body. You can eat whole grains and preferably as a grain and not as a flour. You can also have healthy normal bread in moderation.

    Timing

    Try to eat during a 12 hour or less window. Your body, especially your liver, need time to process food and eliminate toxins.

    Other aspects

    Low stress

    Worry, stress, frustrations etc. have a very important effect on hormones. We can eat super healthy and become sick if our emotions are negative.

    Thoughts

    If we have a negative views of menopause or aging, we are more inclined to get bad symptoms.

    Healthy environment

    This is a big topic but in general avoid environmental risks such as candles and fragrances with artificial ingredients. Prefer essential oil burners or diffusers. Avoid anything that smells of plastic. Choose natural cleaning products.

    If this topic is of interest to you, I invite to subscribe to receive our free weekly newsletter where I cover topic of interest for a happier, healthier midlife.