The Yin and Yang of Hormones
As we all know, hormones are an extremely complicated system in the human body. They relate to weight fluctuations, sleep patterns, growth and development, all of our metabolic processes, digestive patterns, and our moods! Like Karen was saying, hormones should ebb and flow like the ocean; or have a fluid movement throughout a person’s everyday life. It’s a very delicate balance of what should be high and what should be low at any given time- hour to hour, or day to day (like insulin and cortisol), or month to month (like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, etc). You want the body to cycle through all of its functions with as much ease as possible. From eating to sleeping to digestion-- hormones are the key that make everything work properly!
This patterning of hormones relates to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) very well. At the most basic level, TCM is based on the theory of yin and yang. Both of these entities are completely separate, but they also rely on each other to function. Yin being the nourishing aspects of the body: blood/ body fluids and the yang being the movement or how well things move in the system, like circulation. If there’s too little or too much of either, symptoms might pop up.
For females, the month to month flow of hormones can be a tricky balance. Certain hormones spike to trigger ovulation, some drop in levels to trigger the start of a menstrual cycle and some maintain throughout the month to ensure neither of those are happening! One example of a hormone imbalance (known as a yin deficiency in TCM terms) is low progesterone or estrogen that can manifest as hot flashes and/or night sweats. Women typically experience this specific issue around menopause; however, it could happen at any time. Those hormones can also be out of whack in males as well, but because they don’t have a menstrual cycle, symptoms show up a little differently. It can be linked to low sex drive, increased body fat, fatigue, hair loss, etc. Another hormone-related issue we see is when people have adrenal fatigue. They burn themselves out early in life and later down the line they have no energy. This is referred to as a yang deficiency in TCM. In practice, we use a lot of moxabustion (that herb we burn occasionally) to help boost the yang of the body and give people more energy. Click here to read more about the yin and yang connection to hormones.
Luckily LOTS of hormone-related symptoms are treatable with acupuncture and Chinese herbs! The first thing I do when people feel like they’re hormones are out of balance is put them on a formula we love called “Liver DTX.” Along with cleaning up the diet, this formula helps detox the liver, an organ responsible for processing all hormones of the body. From there, we work subsequently to make sure the flow of yin and yang are behaving properly! Other dietary and lifestyle changes are applicable too. If you’re curious what might benefit you specifically, ask Karen or me next time you’re in for a tune up!