At best of times, understanding the ebb and flow of women’s hormones through the various stages of their life can seem like a daunting task. To make matters even more challenging, the Allopathic medicine perspective tends to medicalize and pathologize women’s hormonal issues. All too often, the first approach is prescribing hormones either as bio-identical hormones or HRT, both options come with risks.
I invited Angelo Druda, a renowned Oriental medicine practitioner; author of The Tao of Rejuvenation and a feature writer at NaturalNews.com, to have an in depth conversation about the profound insight and practical approaches for natural hormone rejuvenation gleaned from thousands of years of Chinese medical wisdom. The ancient wisdom of the East offers the profound insight not just about how to balance hormones naturally but the very regenerative forces found within the female body. This is knowledge rarely understood in the western medical model but empowering information for women.
In this second in a series of conversations, the second key principle for generating hormonal balance and physical rejuvenation is explained.
Dr. Sellman: There is an important second principle from the Oriental Medicine perspective fundamental to hormone rejuvenation. What exactly is this principle?
Angelo: The second principle for natural hormonal balance is to ensure that the body is producing an abundant supply of blood and that the circulation of the blood is strong to the ovaries.
As we previously discussed, many peri and menopausal women are experiencing deficient conditions in their bodies. Generally, they will address these deficiencies by introducing actual hormones into the body. That is the option offered from HRT or BHRT (Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy). But if the blood supply is not abundant, and if the ovaries are not being refreshed constantly with abundant blood circulation, these issues will affect the hormonal balance in the body. The second principle is to ensure the body produces an abundant supply of blood. This is particularly important for women because they have a menstrual cycle and, therefore, give up blood every month. Women tend to be somewhat blood deficient because their reproductive cycle is so dependent on blood and each month they lose blood through menstruation. This is a principle that women have to be very much attentive to. They have to ensure a good abundant supply of blood in the body. This is where a proper diet is important. I have had a lot of clinical experience and have observed the effects that poor diet will have on the hormonal balance in a woman.
Stress is another issue that impacts proper production of blood. If a woman is very stressed, then the effects of stress will inhibit and suppress blood production in the body. These are two areas that women need to be attentive to stimulate blood production in the body: a correct diet and sufficient rest and relaxation.
Chinese medicine has some wonderful formulas that have been traditionally used as gynecological formulas for women. The reason why these formulas are so effective is because they contain powerful plant materials. These active ingredients, the essential oils in these plant materials, are some of nature’s best blood precursors found in nature.
Dr. Sellman: What are symptoms blood deficiency?
Angelo: The symptoms for blood deficiency can be feelings of fatigue, dullness, just not clear in the mind. Dry skin and dry hair are typically signs that there is a blood deficiency. Blood deficiency can cause some overheating in the body. Sometimes women will notice when they quickly get up suddenly they might feel a little dizzy. These are some of the classic symptoms a woman may experience of she is blood deficient.
Dr. Sellman: Could a scanty menstrual cycle be a symptom of blood deficiency?
Angelo: Yes, that is a very obvious one. This is one way that a woman can observe the blood supply, the blood production in the body. If the menstrual cycle is getting scantier and scantier, this is a sign that blood production is diminishing. This is typically shows up in women in their late forties. Women might begin to notice the menstrual flow is beginning to get less and less.
Dr. Sellman: What about amenorrhea? This a condition where younger women have stopped menstruating. It’s not the perimenopausal/ menopausal age group. It’s younger menstruating women who no longer have regular monthly bleeds. Could that also be a symptom of blood deficiency?
Angelo: Many times it is. From an Oriental gynecological perspective a cessation of the actual menstrual flow and irregular periods usually have two possible causes. One is caused by some kind of obstruction to the free flow of the menstrual cycle. But more commonly, when women start missing periods, it is due to blood deficiency. There is just not enough blood being produced by the body to initiate and sustain a menstrual flow.
The cessation of the period is often being caused by a lack of an abundant supply of blood in the body. When women begin to start missing periods, they should address this as soon as possible, The longer they miss periods, the lazier the endocrine system becomes. But if you just miss a period or two and you address it immediately, then that cycle can be restored rather quickly.
With patterns of blood deficiency, we might expect to see shortened, light or absent menstrual cycles, weakness, paleness, brittle hair and nails, dizziness, restlessness and insomnia. Lots of stress, anxiety and “racing brain” can interfere with our digestion; the way we absorb and process the nutrients in our food is directly related to how we deal with our emotions. This, in turn, can interfere with the body’s blood building process.
Dr. Sellman: Do you have any thoughts on what happens when women use the pill or hormone replacement, be it HRT, or bio-identical hormones, on the production of blood? Is there any relationship between these drugs and their impact on the body’s ability to function?
Angelo: They’re forcing issues. Depending on how the hormones are formulated, they are making demands on the body that are outside of the natural, harmonious cycling. Research has showed that over time, there can be a real impact on a woman’s health.
These types of hormones are powerful, powerful drugs. In reality, the human body knows the correct dosage for all hormones that are needed. What is critical to understand is that when you put a hormone into your body, it can be a very difficult to determine the accurate dose. If you don’t get the dosing correct, then you actually can be throwing the body further out of balance.
I am not from the school that believes we should be introducing hormones into the body casually. If we bring the body into a harmonious place of functioning—if we maximize health—if we do the things we have been discussing in this series to ensure that the deeper essences of the body are there in abundant quantities. If we pay attention to the body’s production of blood, then the body itself will produce the necessary hormones in the necessary doses and that will produce radiant health and balance. Whereas, messing around with synthetic hormones, even bio-identical hormones, and introducing them into the body has an impact over time that may not be positive.
Dr. Sellman: What foods and herbs do you recommend to help produce the blood?
Angelo: Women of all ages can show signs of blood deficiency. In young women it may be caused by heavy menstrual flows. Many women are blood deficient the week after their period. During those times, women want to eat foods that really support blood production in the body.
Healthy foods that support blood production include vegetables of all kinds but especially dark, green vegetables. Brown rice stir-fry with vegetables is a good food to help the body produce blood. Other known blood-building foods include animal liver, brewer’s yeast, bone marrow soup, and black strap molasses. Colostrum, the milk produced in mammals during the late stages of pregnancy, is also considered a blood building food. Colostrum is high in antibodies and nutrients needed by newborn mammals to build blood after birth.
There is a delicious Japanese rice food called Mochi, which is pounded brown rice that provides protein. Mochi is a known as an excellent blood builder.
Protein foods such as chicken and fish are also good to eat. They can be used in moderation and will help to produce an abundance of blood. If a woman is showing signs of being severely blood deficient, then flesh foods really are a quick and effective fix for this problem. Red meats are usually recommended for those people who are severely blood deficient.
Within the context of herbs, hundreds of years ago the Chinese discovered blood-building plants. Many of them are roots, rich with essential oils. These essential oils are perfect blood precursors. I have a formula on my website called Cultivation which is loaded with these blood precursors. The website is http://wwww.traditionalbotanicalmedicine.com. These herbs have been used for hundreds of years, particularly for women. This is a classic gynecological formula. If a woman takes this formula several times a day, she will help establish a healthy menstrual cycle. The blood production in the body changes and the hormones become balanced.
I’ve seen many vegetarian women who have successfully used these herbal formulas to restore the blood production.
Dr. Sellman: That’s really important because vegan and vegetarian woman tend to be blood deficient. Therefore, we need to find ways to support those women to ensure they have a good healthy supply of this important essence in the body.
Angelo: This is true, especially if you are a strict vegetarian. I always remember you telling stories of young women coming into your clinic who had ceased having periods. You just changed their diet a bit, got them on some more blood building foods and the menstrual cycle returned.
It is very important that strict vegetarians ensure they eat a nutrient-dense vegetarian diet and get enough blood building foods. If you’re beginning to notice the period dissipating and the flow becoming more and more scanty, it is a sign you need to take a look at your diet and make sure you’re getting the blood building foods or herbs for proper blood production.
Dr. Sellman: That’s so important. In my book, Hormone Heresy, I explain that when young women have irregular cycles or stop menstruating there is the risk of becoming hormonally imbalanced. Women tend to become estrogen dominant and progesterone deficient. Without regular menstrual cycles, all sorts of hormonal imbalances and other health issues can develop. A lack of regular menstrual cycles is abnormal. We are meant to have monthly menstrual cycles. One of the consequences of irregular or cessation of menstrual cycles in young women is an increased risk of bone loss.
It is so important to keep the blood rich and abundant. Committing to a wholesome diet and using blood building herbs supports natural hormone rejuvenation which is critical to achieve optimal wellness throughout a woman’s life.
Angelo: Absolutely! The key principle for health and longevity is harmonization. Allow the body to harmonize. Harmonize with it through each stage of life. That has always been the secret to longevity: don’t force the body into anything. Don’t introduce stressful, invasive procedures. There is a wisdom inherent in the body. Allow the body to harmonize with each stage of life and the body will stay healthy and thrive for a very long time.