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.
So what is a woman to do?
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.
It’s time this ancient knowledge was available to provide safe and effective choices to women.
Dr. Sherrill Sellman: As a practicing Chinese herbalist for more than twenty years, please explain from the perspective of Oriental medicine, what really women need to know regarding their hormones. What are the basic principles that are generating the essences that make our hormones?
Angelo Druda: Let’s begin very simply with the understanding that there are essences in the human body from which the hormones are actually made. As we live life, and as we age those essences are depleted by virtue of living a life. At a certain point women begin to notice hormonal irregularities, and generally, women will be recommended to use hormones in order to harmonize the body’s balance. From an Oriental medical perspective, we say the first step in hormone balance should really be to replenish the essences from which the hormones are being made.
So this is a concept that is not particularly well understood in the West, even by medical practitioners. The law of aging, as it’s enunciated in classic Oriental medicine, is as follows. They say that “the yang consumes the yin.” That’s the law of aging. In other words, the energy and activity of living dries up the deep, moist essences in the body.
So how do you counteract aging? Well, according to the law of aging, you must actively, effectively and directly replenish those essences. People understand this principle in relation to their automobile. People know you have the spark plugs changed, which are making fire and exploding and creating energy. That allows the car to go. People also know you have to keep the coolant full in the car or else the machinery will overheat and be damaged.
But when we start thinking about the human body, we fail to understand that the same principle applies here. We need to keep these cooling essences in the body so that the body is not damaged by the fire, by the heat. In addition, these essences are the very stuff from which the hormones are being made. So in my clinical experience, if we address the deeper yin essences in the body, almost immediately, in a matter of days or weeks we begin to notice the hormones in the body beginning to balance out.
What’s the most common symptom that women deal with as they approach and enter into the transition we call menopause? Well, the most common complaint is hot flashes. They get overheated. It’s as if the coolant in your car has gotten low and the car’s overheating. So the most common symptom of menopause; is this overheating.
If you nourish the deeper essences in the body, you can notice in just a matter of days they cool down, the hot flashes get less and less frequent, and when those yin reserves are fully replenished. Typically in the highest percentage of cases women no longer report any symptoms. Also, other secondary symptoms will begin to improve, such as difficulty sleeping and vaginal dryness, which becomes quite an issue for women after they go beyond age fifty and into their sixties.
So many of these imbalances are rooted in this yin deficiency. This yin deficiency can be directly addressed through natural plant materials. When these natural plant materials are put into the human body in the form of tinctures or capsules, the body is then able to make proper quantities of the necessary hormones. Women can feel balanced and healthy and well again at that particular stage of life. This is supporting a natural process with the power of herbal medicine.
Dr. Sherrill Sellman: So, Chinese medicine really excels in helping menopausal women rejuvenate and reverse these tendencies to get more depleted, to get drier, to have more heat, to have more of the tendency to lose their energy, their libido and the drying out of tissues, etc.
Angelo Druda: Exactly. Oriental medicine has had a gynecological specialty for thousands of years. People don’t realize that for a long, long time Chinese doctors specialized in women’s health. There is a great body of experience of doctors using herbal medicines to treat women’s issues. This was long before anybody decided they were going to synthesize hormones and put them into women’s bodies. This gynecological specialty continues to exist today because it’s so effective.
In my clinical experience, nine out of ten women, do not need to use any form of hormone replacement therapy if they were to choose this approach and treatment.
If they’re eating a sound diet, if they’re getting some basic exercise in their life, if their life is basically harmonious, and with the addition of the right herbal formulas addressing these issues, the highest percentage of women do not need to resort to putting any form of hormone replacement into the body, be they synthetic hormones or bio-identical hormones. The more a woman relies on some kind of hormone replacement, the lazier and lazier her own endocrine system is going to get. So it’s a step not to be taken casually, and there are many things women can do that precede that step.
Dr. Sherrill Sellman: I would like to make a couple of distinctions about the subject of hormone replacement. First of all, we think bio-identical hormones are safer than HRT. Well, if they are not prescribed appropriately, if a woman doesn’t really need them, then they really aren’t safer because the estrogens that are found in bio-identical hormones happen to be the same form of estrogens found in HRT. And, when estrogen is in excess in the body, then it can create all sorts havoc including the risk of chronic illnesses, such as breast cancer. I have met many women who were prescribed bio-identical estrogen. But there was no indication they really were deficient in estrogen. They were operating out of a myth and therein lies the danger. Also, it is important to get your hormones tested with saliva testing rather then blood serum testing for a more accurate diagnosis.
The truth is our ovaries continue to function the entire length of our lives. When a woman is put on bio-identical hormones or HRT, you actually are further reducing the capacity the body already has, not to mention impairing other functions and affecting the communication that is going on through the whole endocrine system. In addition, you are no longer rejuvenating and replenishing the body’s essences at the core level. Asian women who have used these formulas have been able to rejuvenate and maintain their libido, have gorgeous skin and lead active lives with great health for many, many, many decades past menopause.
Angelo Druda: Absolutely. This ancient wisdom is known today as are the herbal formulas. The key principle we want women to grasp is there are formulas that will replenish the deep yin essences in the body from which the hormones are being made and when people take those formulas those essence levels will begin the whole process of harmonizing their bodies again. This approach most definitely works and it’s been working for hundreds of years, and it still works today.
Dr. Sherrill Sellman: Please define what the yin essence is and the conditions that indicate you are deficient in yin. In my clinical experience working with many perimenopausal, menopausal and postmenopausal women, I have rarely found a woman who wasn’t showing signs of yin deficiency.
Angelo Druda: Most woman are dealing with a yin deficiency after the age of forty because we live such active lives. Most people are not sitting at home quietly all day. We’re working, we’re being creative, so this yin deficiency begins to show itself in our forties.
By the way, perimenopause, is a stage of a woman’s life when some of these essences are getting deficient in the body. You can give it a fancy name like perimenopause; but from an Oriental gynecological perspective, we’re just seeing deficiencies in these yin essences. A symptom of waning yin essence is an overheating. Women begin to get hot. They begin to have hot flashes. They begin to have night sweats. Night sweats actually is a sign that the yin levels are getting quite low.
Sleep disorders from that heat rising up in the body, is another clue. A yin deficiency effects the heart and the liver and that can begin to effect getting a good night’s sleep. Heat disorders, vaginal dryness, dryness of the skin and dryness of the hair, even anxiety and irritability are being caused by this overheating. All these classic menopausal signs are rooted in a yin deficiency. Even a lack of libido could be a sign there’s just not enough yin for the body to make the levels of testosterone that are necessary to have a robust libido.
So those are the signs we begin to see with yin deficiency. I observe over and over again that these symptoms subside and harmonize over a matter of days with the help of herbal formulas.
Dr. Sherrill Sellman: I have to say I’ve been working with these formulas for years now. I don’t take bio-identical hormones and I feel great.
Angelo Druda: I don’t take any hormones either, and I don’t presume I will.
Dr. Sherrill Sellman: I want to just focus on one other issue. I see this as a serious and very common condition which is rarely discussed. That is the problem of vaginal dryness. This is when vaginal tissues atrophy and is a classical symptom yin deficiency. Usually what is prescribed is a form of estrogen, called estriol which is applied vaginally. Estriol is considered the safest of all the estrogens, meaning it is the least stimulating to tissues and thus safer. But, again, you are not rejuvenating at the core level, but rather merely alleviating a symptom. However, estriol will, as long as it is continued, help to address vaginal dryness.
I have been looking for an effective natural solution for vaginal dryness for a long time. In addition to building up of yin essences with herbal tinctures, I recommend a topical product made from pomegranate seed oil. The pomegranate has a long tradition as a woman’s healing herb and food, assisting with fertility, enhancing sexuality and hormones. Modern science has found this ancient wisdom to be validated. The pomegranate does contain many active ingredients that supports women hormonal health. In fact, studies have shown pomegranate seed oil, available as a product called MoisturePom, (www.pomegranatehealth. com) has been very effective in restoring healthy vaginal tissue in women that have reported severe atrophy. Pomegranate seed oil actually has been proven to exhibit the same estrogenic effect as estriol without any of the consequences or risk of increasing estrogen levels. It has the ability to rejuvenate and regenerate the vaginal tissue, also allowing for natural lubrication to occur. It’s inserted vaginally with an applicator.
In my practice I have successfully combined the use of your women’s yin essence formula with the MoisturePom to regenerate these vital essences. What are your thoughts?
Angelo Druda: This is major information that you’ve just shared. The great essence formula, which is the yin nourishing formula that I make, in conjunction with the MoisturePom, is a tremendous combination. Years ago we didn’t have a suitable topical for women to use, so most had to resort to estriol. This is an incredible new capability we now have to serve this particular issue of vaginal dryness without having to resort to using hormones. It’s just great to have the pomegranate product now available, and especially to know it works. So women now not only have an effective topical, they also have proven herbal tincture to boost and replenish those essence levels. This is great news to support women to naturally rejuvenate their hormones. Once again ancient knowledge is helping to offer a modern solution. Women do have the ability to naturally rejuvenate their hormones at any age.