Monday, August 26, 2013

Adrenals, Prolactin and Hormone Health

I’ve talked about stress in recent posts and its one that comes up time and time again and can be difficult to maintain with clients, so its always worth keeping an eye on it. The adrenal glands have a major impact on all our hormones and glands and I find after many years in practice this pesky gland is the major dominating gland of them all!

This is where I get personal! Many may want to know about me and my story. I was recently asked to take part in an online seminar about the 7 best fertility foods for summer and was asked ' How did I get into nutrition? 

I've also had a lot of people contact me about this, which means to me after my guest spot on Natural Fertility Expert that it resonates a little! The reason I got into nutrition has a lot to do with hormones and stress being the route of this.

My own personal story and why I love to balance hormones and help people conceive is a few years ago my own hormones were in a terrible state. A longterm relationship of over 10 years on and off was falling apart, despite my best efforts to revive it. I was working for a company that wasn't particularly supportive despite putting in 60 hour weeks and as a result I started to suffer from major stress. Also I was living in a pretty awful area in London where I wasn't getting much sleep due to constant parties and altercations ( so there is your 3 areas which were all out of sink, relationship, work and home life!)
I started to have unexplained weight loss was suffering from low mood, had hair loss and had migraines so many times a month I had lost count of the days off work I’d had. In medical terms I had prolactinemia which was an excess of a female hormone produced by the pituitary gland ( usually produced when you give birth to help stimulate milk production and maintain FSH) As you may have gathered in a healthy 30 something woman who wasn't pregnant or had just given birth this can be somewhat confusing to the body and therefore as your body is in constant homeostasis too much of this hormone disrupts all others. Who knew that this is how my body reacted to too much stress! 

In hormonal language my body was producing too much cortisol which was then causing a message to my pituitary to fire out more hormones to balance this, and therefore prolactin was its ‘ hormone of choice’  Cortisol was also spilling over and affecting my thyroid, which is not an uncommon thing when this occurs. I needed answers and this was where I started to look to nutrition.

In my quest to help myself I saw doctors nutritionists, acupuncturists and herbalists all separately and all in isolation and none of them could give me the answers I needed and it was only through bringing all their wisdom together that I began to heal.  I finished a naturopathic nutrition course, started to eat right and in my quest for improvement know some pretty impressive folk in the holistic world and doctors who are more in tune with the integrated approach to health. As a result I’m a dab hand in the kitchen, know my FSH from my prolactin (hormones) and now can decipher a blood test like it was second nature. Along the way I have taught cooking courses, talked at seminars, wrote articles and have had the pleasure of working with and supporting many clients through the natural and assisted fertility route. I also found that collaboration was the way forward! I started working with Natural Fertility Expert a few years ago based on my own route to fertility. I had been looking to work with people who understand that we aren't just a number and a test tube.  Using a systematic, integrated and tailored approach to fertility really does increase your chances and the more pillars to your health you have and support,  the stronger your chances of conceiving and carrying to full term are.

Happy ending?
Its never over in terms of looking after your health. I always have to keep one eye on my body and I know the culprit this time -  and the reason behind my issue was prolactin, or more importantly it was my adrenals trying to keep up with me. Learning to support your health and the health of others is a journey and part of this is knowing yourself and other and suggesting things that are manageable to the personality types and yourself!

As I’m an ‘adrenal monkey’ ie it takes a steam engine to stop me when I'm on a mission, I always have to take care of my poor adrenals, by doing lots of meditation,  having lots of sleep and exercising ie gentle runs and yoga – and of course eating right and supplementing! Also I’m a massive advocate of ‘checking these things out under the hood’ medically speaking with some good old blood tests! More about adrenal fatigue in a post to come as I do think the adrenals are the route of some major health issues, but are overlooked at times!