I was diagnosed with Catamenial Epilepsy when I was fifteen. Catamenial Epilepsy is a type of seizure disorder caused by a hormone imbalance, specifically not enough progesterone and too much estrogen. Because of this addition to my family’s life, hormones as well as their relation to my menstrual cycle and seizure activity are frequently discussed in my house. Our tendency to openly discuss such a private subject may sound strange to most, but hormones strongly influence my seizure activity therefore it is absolutely necessary….even if it does make my dad and brother a little uncomfortable from time to time.
After ten years of living with such a disease, it has become a natural subject in my house. I guarantee you that both boys have come to know much more about “that time of the month” from the past ten years than either of them wanted to or even planned on learning during their lifetime. In short, they’re troopers when it comes to my Catamenial Epilepsy…well, most of the time. It is never appreciated when one of them asks me if I’m going to start my period soon because I seem to be “moody.” Hint, hint you’re being grumpy so you must be hormonal which automatically translates to period time is coming…
Although the accusation is never appreciated, I am sorry to admit that sometimes they are spot on…however, I will never let them know that. I already have seizures, there is no need to add shattered ego to my list of medical of health problems. 😉
My point here is that the subject of hormones is constantly floating around in my brain. Whether it is because of my own though process or because of the reminders I receive from conversations with family.
The truth is, hormones are a struggle. They have been a problem for me since my diagnosis with epilepsy back in 2009. As time goes on, more and more problems begin to pop up. I constantly hear about thyroid issues, endometriosis, infertility, and so many other hormone related medical issues. It is so frustrating for me because I know just how difficult this struggle can be…it is literally an uphill battle because of all of the external influences (such as food, vaccinations, pharmaceuticals & pesticides) we are constantly fighting against. In addition, we have doctors who are prescribing synthetic hormones to help fix the problem. Here’s my questions for those doctors…how can we possibly expect to see any positive progress with hormone imbalances when synthetic elements play such a pivotal role in creating the very imbalance we are trying to heal?
The answer is we can’t expect any at all. This is often why fixing a hormone related issue can feel impossible. We’re trying to fix our hormone problem while being exposed to synthetic hormones on a daily basis AND receiving recommendations for more synthetic hormones as a solution.
Ummm, no thanks. When I was first diagnosed with epilepsy I accepted all of these synthetic hormones as positive options because I didn’t know exactly what I was doing to my body. I trusted the doctors completely and I suffered for it.
At the Mayo Clinic, I accepted an estrogen based birth control that was supposed to help stabilize my hormone levels and therefore decrease my seizure activity. I accepted it because HELLO it’s the Mayo Clinic aka one of the most well-respected medical institutions in the US. However, I ended up getting burned by this decision. The birth control messed my hormone levels up even more than before, something I honestly didn’t think was possible. Because of this, the perfect storm began to brew inside of my body.
It was similar to a domino effect…
Once my hormone levels were even further scrambled, my seizure activity increased to such a severe level that it actually landed me in the hospital for a few days. For those of you who may be curious, riding inside of an ambulance is not very exciting when you’re the one strapped to the gurney.
Moving onto my endeavors in hormone treatment through holistic medicine, my doctor gave me a progesterone supplement that was all-natural and supposedly healthy for me. According to her, it was a no-Brainer that this “solution” would treat my issue with epilepsy and hormone levels…
Well, this natural supplement was supposed to help my progesterone deficiency by supplementing my severe lack thereof. However, it ended up mimicking progesterone in a way that actually caused my body to stop producing it naturally. Because I was providing so much of the progesterone supplement, my body responded to it by stopping its own natural production completely so that it did not give me an over abundance of the hormone. In other words, the progesterone was being supplied by another source so it figured, “Why work so hard to produce this hormone when it’s constantly here whether I make an effort or not?”
However, this pause in natural production actually caused an even greater hormone-related issue for me. I had to retrain my body to produce it naturally again at healthy levels. This is still an on going process and yet another contributing factor to my current progesterone deficiency. My body still does not produce enough progesterone to even begin to balance my estrogen and progesterone ratio. In addition, the progesterone supplement was so strong that it actually stopped my period completely. I literally had no period for two years. If you’re wondering, yes, this also worsened my hormone issues.
And the cherry on top, is that the progesterone supplement turned out to be Soy based. I am extremely allergic to soy…if I am exposed to even the tiniest bit from any source I will most definitely have a Gran Mal seizure in response, sometimes multiple seizures. I didn’t learn of this soy source until after I stopped taking the supplement. But it definitely cleared up the mystery of why I was still having increased seizure activity despite the presence of this “beneficial” progesterone supplement.
The truth is, a lot of doctors are very quick to prescribe actual progesterone or estrogen supplements, but despite popular belief, you do NOT want this! You want a supplement that is going to assist your body’s natural production, not take over completely. Your body knows what to do, just let it do it’s thing. Your best option here is to help it do what it has been meant to do all along and that is produce healthy levels of hormones. Using progesterone or estrogen supplements will do exactly what the progesterone supplement I used did to me…it will cause your body to stop producing said hormone naturally.
So what do we do instead? How do we facilitate and encourage our bodies’ natural production instead of hijacking it???
The unfortunate truth is, even though your body knows what to do sometimes it needs a little boost. We don’t want to boss it around, we simply want to assist in hormone production that will ultimately result in stable hormone levels for your body and proper hormone production.
Easier said than done, right? If it were so easy we’d all have perfect hormone levels. Plus the doctors aren’t much help in this area. I always find that when I ask a direct question about specifically treating my hormone problems, they give me peanuts for answers. Both modern medicine and holistic medicine. No doctor I have ever met has actually been able to instruct me on how to accomplish this feat of assisting my natural hormone production. When it becomes too difficult to fully solve, they hand my case off to someone else.
In fact, it was the doctors I dealt with who forced me to take matters into my own hands. Because of this, I did lots of research and discovered four natural options for supporting your adrenals. Each supplement below is derived from a plant source, therefore it is very important to exercise caution if you decide to try one. Every person is different, therefore allergies to certain plants or interactions with other medications must be considered. In addition, it is always best that you consult your doctor before taking any supplement you find below. I am not recommending you take any product, I am simply sharing the information that I have learned over the years.
I would also like to point out that I am not providing this information to make money nor am I receiving any kind of kickback from the companies whose products you will find below. I came across a few interesting options for hormone support and I would like to make others aware of these options as well. The tiniest bit of new information can go a long way, especially when you feel as though you’ve hit rock bottom.
Trust me, I’ve been there so I know how desperate these times can make you feel, but I’m here to tell you rock bottom is still very far away. Today is a new day filled with lots of new opportunities, including the opportunity to discover some new options. So keep reading for more!
Product #1 – Wild Yam
Wild Yam, also known as Dioscorea Villosa, is a plant with purpose. It is frequently referred to as an alternative supplement for estrogen therapy. However, I feel as though this undermines the true abilities of this wonderful herb. Wild Yam provides support for complete hormonal balance. Not just estrogen and not just progesterone. Both. When consumed, it does not take over your body’s natural hormone production either. It actually works to maintain balance between the levels of all of your naturally produced hormones so that you do not end with problems like estrogen dominance.
I take this supplement during the second half of my menstrual cycle, usually days 15-28, because this is the phase of the cycle when progesterone production drops and estrogen production peaks. I am estrogen dominant, therefore, my body desperately needs progesterone support during this time. Taking the wild yam helps to prevent my progesterone levels from dropping to dangerously low levels. Levels where seizures occur. The wild yam reminds my body to compensate with extra progesterone production and, as a result, I am able to maintain balance emotionally and physically.
Product #2 – Ashwagandha
This is one of those supplements that has been used for thousands of years because of its benefits, however, it is rarely mentioned these days. When I first came across the name I knew for certain that I had never heard of it before…Ashwagandha is a pretty memorable name. It is actually a combination of two Indian words that translates to “smells like horse.” Do not fear, however, it simply has an earthy scent that is very mild and the tablet itself is tasteless. I fear it is one of those age-old remedies that has been forgotten by the majority of people these days despite its beneficial effects.
It is used for many problems such as inflammation, stress, brain disorders, and hormones. Once again, our culture undermines the abilities of this supplement when it comes to hormones by mentioning only the benefits for infertility and problems relating to the menstrual cycle.
The truth is, these are only a small part of the true hormone-related benefits Ashwagandha provides the user. If you look at the bigger picture, you will see that Ashwagandha does more than ease menstrual cramps, it provides support for your entire adrenal system. Your adrenals are the main hub for processing your hormones, therefore you want them working in tip top shape 24/7.
The majority of women today are in desperate need of adrenal support because they are not receiving the necessary nutrients from natural sources, such as food. Only after my diagnosis with epilepsy did I quit processed foods completely. It has been ten years since that decision was made and my adrenals are still in desperate need of support. It is because of my poor adrenal function that my hormone levels are both deficient and imbalanced. Hormone imbalances are a common cause for infertility, heavy/painful periods, endometriosis, catamenial epilepsy, and many other hormone related issues. Hormones are processed in the adrenals, therefore, you could think of this as the source of the problem. We want to fix the source if we are to attain good health that is long term. Every time I take a tablet, I find it incredibly comforting to know that Ashwagandha is not only providing the support my adrenals desperately need, but it is also strengthening my hormone production right at the root.
Product #3 – Shatavari
Shatavari, also known as Asparagus racemosus, is actually a species of the asparagus vegetable we all know and some of us love. However, it is very different from its vegetable relative in more ways than one. It is a plant with slightly spiky leaves that produces berries for starters. In addition, Shatavari is also widely known within Indian Medicine as a hormone stabilizer. By stabilizing hormones, this herb is also recognized as a supplement that promotes both hormonal balance and fertility. The plant itself works to regulate hormones within the adrenal glands, your body’s main hub for hormone regulation. It doesn’t work as a band-aid for the deeper issues, instead it digs deep at the start and strives to heal the source of the problem. In many cases, this problem is adrenal fatigue. Due to external sources such as synthetic hormones and other chemicals found in many of the products we expose our bodies to on a daily basis, our adrenals become tired.
Regulating synthetic hormones AND the natural hormones our bodies produce is a lot of work. Our adrenals become affected by these synthetic hormones/chemicals in a way that means poor function for our bodies. After all, our adrenals are only meant to regulate natural hormones. Talk about working over time! This is where Shatavari becomes the hero tonic for our adrenal glands…it promotes healthy function by strengthening the glands. It provides nutrients that our bodies are deficient in due to our lack of home made meals and our tendency to forget about the importance of vitamin supplementation. It is easy to scoff at some plant being able to help more than what the doctor prescribes, but it imperative to recognize this fact: Plants are powerful, they have powerful effects in every form and they possess the potential to provide positive support for your long-term health. But first, you have to give that plant a chance.
Product #4 – Rhodiola Rosea Powder
This simple herb is frequently referred to as a “stress-reliever,” however it’s adaptogenic qualities make it an excellent tonic for much more especially where hormones are concerned. Rhodiola Rosea is fantastic for boosting your body’s overall abilities. It is excellent for boosting overall brain function as well as your energy levels. What I am trying to say is that this supplement’s main purpose is to see that your body is functioning at full capacity at all times.
In restoring your body’s energy levels, Rhodiola Rosea is also promoting adrenal function. Remember how I said your adrenals can become fatigued (especially from synthetic hormones)? This herb promotes your body’s energy levels and therefore its ability to function. With this positive energy the adrenals can function properly which comes in handy for those of us who need extra help with their hormones. It is fantastic for those without hormone issues too because its main purpose is to help your body function to the very best of its ability. It is a multi-tasking supplement that will provide support for your adrenal glands.
Rhodiola Rosea: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/rhodiola-rosea#section5
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