Mom’s health quiz:
- Is your energy less than 7/10?
- Do you experience headaches, palpitations, shortness of breath, or chest pain with symptoms that tend to be worst during exertion?
- Do you feel like you are running on adrenaline?
- Do you feel you need caffeine to get through the day
- Do you have PMS, heavy, clotted or irregular periods?
- Do you have difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep or wake early in the morning with an inability to fall back asleep?
- Do you feel overwhelmed, down or cancel social engagements? 8. Do you have heartburn , burp a lot, or have pain in : the upper middle, upper right abdomen or in the back between the shoulder blades ? 9. Do you have constipation, diarrhea or bloating after eating? 10. Do you have ridges on your fingernails? 11. Do you experience: changes in your hair skin or nails, feel cold or hot easily, feel lethargic or nervous? 12. Have you lost or gained a significant amount of weight since childbirth?
If you have answered yes to 2 or more of the above you may be experiencing health changes that need professional consultation. Naturopathic care is covered under many third party health care plans.
What are the common health changes that mom’s experience and natural treatment tips?
Whether you have just given birth or given birth 5 or 10 years ago there are some common changes that occur after pregnancy, childbirth and the years of being a mom all of which can have a relationship to your overall energy and level of fatigue which include: anemia, adrenal fatigue, thyroid changes ,hormonal imbalance: estrogen dominance, Insomnia , Gall bladder concerns, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Many moms maybe anemic after childbirth, as it is the most common mineral deficiency worldwide (WHO, 2009). As many as 91% of women aged 16 – 64 do not get the recommended daily amount of iron in their diets (Department of Health, 2009).
Anemia in mom’s may result from: having been anemic during pregnancy, from blood loss during childbirth (”Average” blood loss is generally about 500 cc for a normal birth. 1,000 milliliters with a caesarean delivery as compared to a normal menstrual period being about 30-40 millilitres of blood), multiple childbirths in a number of years, from giving birth to more than one baby, heavy/frequent menses, celiac disease or insufficient dietary iron intake.
Important nutrients besides iron are vitamin B12, folic acid ,vitamin C, riboflavin and copper. The recommended daily intake of iron is 15mg per day.
Symptoms of iron deficiency can include: feelings of fatigue, low levels of stamina, shortness of breath haemorrhaging, digestive problems and depression.
Natural Treatment Options for Anemia:
- Proper Professional Assessment: of cause with your MD and ND.
- Iron Rich Foods: lean red meats, organ meats, spinach, egg yolks (limit to three to four a week), beets cream of wheat and herbs such as: thyme, parsley, cumin, curry powder and cinnamon.
- Iron Supplements: Floradix (Iron gluconate), Femagen TLI (Genestra) Iron pills commonly contain ferrous sulfate, ferrous fumarate or ferrous gluconate. Ferrous gluconate is one of the recommended options of iron to take as a supplement, a highly bio-available form of iron that is well absorbed by the body. Iron combines well with vitamin A, vitamin C and all B-complex vitamins. In addition, it is important to not combine iron with calcium or zinc, as they can interfere with each other’s absorption. Promote optimal absorption by eating a meal that includes a food rich in vitamin C when you take your iron supplement. Excellent sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, tomatoes, baked potatoes, and steamed broccoli. It also helps to include a food that contains iron
Caution Side Effects and Toxicity of Iron: Iron supplements should always be kept out of the reach of children, since a dose as low as 600mg can be fatal to young children. Iron in high doses can be dangerous, as iron is stored in the body. Some toxic effects of excess iron consumption include heart damage, liver damage and low levels of zinc.
- Pau D’Arco bark (also called Taheebo): is an herb from the Amazon rainforest, and it has the ability to rebuild red blood cells in 30 days. It is a blood purifier and blood builder that aids the liver and endocrine glands.
- Nettle: also called stinging nettle, is well known by herbalists as being rich in iron. It is in the same league with spinach and watercress, which also have a high iron content.
- Kelp: contains one of the highest sources of iron available from the plant kingdom. Included in this category would be other algae such as spirulina, chlorella, dulse and sea lettuce. Norwegian kelp is reputed to be the best quality kelp because it is harvested from the cold, pristine waters of the North Atlantic. Kelp has high amounts of iron and other minerals, but is highest in iodine and is commonly used to strengthen the thyroid and regulate metabolism.
- Yellow Dock root: has an iron content that might not be as high as nettles or kelp, but it is well absorbed by the body and can raise blood iron levels. This herb acts like a tonic on the liver and cleanses the blood, which makes it a good choice to take with an iron supplement.
When the nervous system is under stress for a time period the adrenal gland can become depleted due to overstimulation . Fatigue is the most common symptom related to adrenal exhaustion. Because other hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, nor-epinephrine, progesterone and DHEA ( which further breaks down into estrogen and testosterone) are released from the adrenal gland, weakness in this organ may secondarily cause other symptoms.
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue may include: excessive fatigue and exhaustion , non-refreshing sleep (you get sufficient hours of sleep, but wake fatigued) ,overwhelmed by or unable to cope with stressors , craving salty and sweet foods ,you feel most energetic in the evening , low stamina, slow to recover from exercise , slow to recover from injury, illness or stress , difficulty concentrating, brain fog , poor digestion , low immune function , food or environmental allergies , premenstrual syndrome or difficulties that develop during menopause , consistent low blood pressure or extreme sensitivity to cold.
Your Naturopathic practitioner can do a saliva cortisol test to evaluate your adrenal function.
Natural Treatment Options for Adrenal Fatigue:
- Avoid stimulants– they will deplete the adrenal gland further, like giving too much gas to an automobile and “ flooding the engine”
- Balance blood sugar– nutritionally increase fiber and balance protein. Eliminate all forms of refined carbohydrates including white bread, pastas, grains and sugar.
- Basic Multivitamin/ B Complex – You will want to take a strong, balanced formula that provides decent amounts of key factors for adrenal and metabolic health.
- Rhodiola– An adaptogenic herb
- Adrenal Glandulars – Desiccated adrenal gland can be helpful to some people in supporting the gland, by providing the raw nutrients the gland needs to regenerate and by replacing some missing adrenal hormones.
Your best option is to work with a practitioner to diagnose your adrenal fatigue, and to develop a customized treatment program that will help resolve this condition.
Hormonal Imbalance: Estrogen Dominance
When moms are under stress for a time period and adrenal fatigue begins to set in , because the gland reduces its output of progesterone the result can be either a higher level of estrogen or a higher level of estrogen relative to progesterone. This is referred to an estrogen dominance or progesterone weakness.
Common Causes for Estrogen Dominance include: • Eating commercial poultry and cattle, which have been fed estrogen-like hormones • Eating non-organic fruits and vegetables, which could contain high levels of pesticides • Stress • Obesity • High Estrogen Production • Increased caffeine consumption • Vitamin deficiency • Eating too much sugar or fats or exposure to estrogen-like environmental pollutants called xenoestrogen.
Symptoms & Signs Of Low Progesterone And Estrogen Dominance by Dr John R. Lee, M.D.
|Progesterone Deficiency||Estrogen (Estradiol) Excess|
|Swollen breasts Fibrocystic breasts Loss of libido Obesity Depression Low thyroid Facial hair Hot flashes Night sweats Vaginal dryness Foggy thinking Memory lapsesInfertility Incontinence Tearful Depressed Sleep disturbances Heart palpitations Bone loss Water retention||Allergies & AsthmaCraving for sweets Mood swings (PMS)Infertility Depression Tender breasts Water retention, edema (swelling, bloating) Fatigue, no energy Nervous Irritable Anxious Fibrocystic breasts, Breast swelling Uterine fibroids Weight gain in hips and thighs Missed or IrregularHeavy or irregular menses Headaches Loss of sex drive (libido)Magnesium deficiency low thyroid – cold hands and feet|
Natural Treatment Options:
- Natural progesterone therapy prescribed: by your Naturopathic Doctor
- Dietary adjustments: reducing foods that may increase further exposure to estrogens i.e. any animal containing foods, eating less commercially produced meat and vegetables
- Cutting out caffeine
- Weight Management
- Stress Management
- Taking nutritional supplements
If you suspect estrogen dominance or a female hormonal imbalance it is important to discuss this with your healthcare professional right away. They will be able to order tests which can determine your hormone levels. Knowing this, you may decide to start on an estrogen dominance diet and exercise protocol.
With frequent waking during the night for your children and chronic lack of sleep, the adrenal gland can become depleted. When this happens cortisol takes longer to rise in the morning , hence the need for “ caffeine” and then once it finally does rise it never falls lower completely to allow you to fall asleep or stay asleep. In moving back towards a healthy sleep cycle it is important to have a sufficient wind down period before you go to bed, initially it can be up to two hours before bed. If your body is running in high gear, like a high performance race car it will take time before you can turn it off.
Before starting any natural remedies, consult your doctor. Chronic insomnia can itself can also be a symptom of another condition, such as depression, heart disease, sleep apnea, lung disease, hot flashes, or diabetes, so it’s important to see a doctor if you are having trouble sleeping.
Natural Treatment Options:
- Relaxation Techniques: are one of the most effective ways to increase sleep time, fall asleep faster, and feel more rested in the morning. They require a minimum of 20 minutes before going to bed. There are many different techniques including: Visualization, Relaxation Response, Mindfulness , Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Yoga.
- Diet: • Cut out caffeine- It reduces the strength of the adrenal gland further • Avoid sweets-Although sugar can give a burst of energy, it’s short-lived and can cause uneven blood sugar levels. This can disrupt sleep in the middle of the night as blood sugar levels fall. • Eat foods that help you sleep Tryptophan is an amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin, which is then converted to melatonin. Carbohydrate snacks such whole grain crackers before bedtime may help to promote sleep. Just be sure to stay away from sweets. • Eat magnesium-rich foods Magnesium is a natural sedative. Deficiency of magnesium can result in difficulty sleeping, constipation, muscle tremors or cramps, anxiety, irritability, and pain. It has also been use for people with restless leg syndrome.
Foods rich in magnesium are legumes and seeds, dark leafy green vegetables, wheat bran, almonds, cashews, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, and whole grains.
- Aromatherapy-Lavender, Chamomile and Ylang Ylang: Research is starting to confirm lavender’s sedative qualities. It’s been found to lengthen total sleep time, increase deep sleep, and make people feel refreshed. It appears to work better for women, possibly because women tend to have a more acute sense of smell. The good thing about lavender is that it begins to work quickly. Try putting a lavender sachet under your pillow or place one to two drops of lavender essential oil in a handkerchief. Or add several drops of lavender oil to a bath — the drop in body temperature after a warm bath also helps with sleep.
- Light: If you have trouble falling asleep at night, you may need more light in the morning.
Light exposure plays a key role in telling the body when to go to sleep and when to wake up. Try taking a walk first thing in the morning.
On the other hand, if you find you’re waking up too early in the morning, you may need more light in the afternoon. Try taking a walk in the late afternoon.
- Valerian: Is a herb that has been long used as a remedy for insomnia. Today, it is an accepted over-the-counter insomnia remedy in Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy. Some studies suggest that like conventional sleeping pills, valerian may affect levels of the calming neurotransmitter GABA.
- Acupuncture Acupuncture may help with insomnia. A University of Pittsburgh analysis concluded that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for insomnia. A preliminary study found that five weeks of acupuncture increase melatonin secretion in the evening and improved total sleep time.
Gall bladder concerns
During pregnancy, levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone are higher, which inhibits the gallbladder( where bile which assists in the digestion of fats is stored) from contracting and slows the emptying process. When bile lingers in the gallbladder, it’s more likely to become concentrated and become sluggish or form stones. About 12 percent of women develop gallstones while they’re pregnant and have significant symptoms that may then require surgical removal of the gallbladder either during pregnancy or in the immediate postpartum period.
Gall bladder Risk factors that may lead to the formation of gallstones include:
- gender – women between 20 and 60 years of age are twice as likely to develop gallstones as men • age – people over the age of 60 • estrogen – women who are pregnant or using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or birth control pills • obesity – a large clinical study showed that being even moderately overweight increases the risk for gallstone formation • ethnicity – some ethnic groups have a higher prevalence of gallstones • certain cholesterol-lowering medications – these medications lower cholesterol in the blood but lead to an increase in the amount of cholesterol secreted in bile • diabetes – people with diabetes generally have high levels of fatty acids called triglycerides which increase the risk of gallstones • rapid weight loss – this causes the liver to secrete extra cholesterol into the bile • fasting – this inhibits the gallbladder’s ability to contract, causing high concentrations of cholesterol to build up in the bile • a diet high in fat and sugar along with an inactive lifestyle – this sets the stage for increased risk for gallstones
The symptoms of a gallstone concerns include :
- Pain or tenderness under the rib cage on the right side • Pain between shoulder blades • Stools light or chalky colored • Indigestion after eating, especially fatty or greasy foods • Nausea • Dizziness • Bloating • Gas • Burping or belching • Feeling of fullness or food not digesting • Diarrhea (or alternating from soft to watery) • Constipation • Headache over eyes, especially right • Bitter fluid comes up after eating
Women who are higher in weight are more prone to developing gallstones. Excess body fat reduces the amount of bile salts, which leads to an excess of cholesterol in the gallbladder that, in turn, can cause gallstones to form. Extra pounds put on during pregnancy and kept on in the postpartum period contribute to the risk of gallbladder problems, too.
Rapid weight loss is another risk factor for gallbladder trouble. When the body burns fat quickly, it causes the liver to secrete extra cholesterol into the bile, which can cause gallstones. In the postpartum period, some women pursue weight loss very aggressively, which can lead to trouble.
Natural Treatment Options:
1.Fiber: Fiber helps to reduce the absorption of deoxycholic acid, which, in turn, helps cholesterol dissolve more easily in the bile. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are rich in the type of fiber that’s good for your gallbladder.
- Ease weight loss: Try to keep your postpartum weight loss to no more than two pounds per week.
- Increase your activity level: One study showed that at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week can lead to a 34 percent reduction in risk. Exercising regularly can be particularly hard with a new baby at home, but it will do wonders for your energy level, your overall fitness, and your gallbladder.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Leaky Gut Syndrome:
Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition that affects the colon.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Leaky Gut Syndrome may include chronic: abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, and alternating constipation with diarrhea.
Leaky Gut Syndrome is when the bowl lining becomes damaged and so inflamed with areas of thinning that the number of digestive enzymes are reduced and tiny “ holes “ are punched in the lining causing malabsorption and leads to increased permeability of the gut wall to toxins, microbes, undigested food, waste or larger than normal macromolecules. This leads to more food sensitivities or allergies. The symptoms can be similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Natural Treatment Options:
- Determine food intolerances and eliminate them from your diet for a time period so the bowl lining can heal
- Fiber: Increase soluble fiber i.e. psyllium that you are not intolerant to
- Probiotics: To reculture the friendly bacteria that assist digestion. Taking 10 billion to 100 billion beneficial bacteria per day is recommended for beneficial results.
- L-Glutamine: to heal the digestive lining
- Iberogast: The multi-herbal extract Iberogast was found to be significantly superior to placebo via both an abdominal pain scale and an IBS symptom score after four weeks of treatment.
- Acupuncture :
Moms may experience changes in the thyroid gland such as thyroiditis ( inflammation of the thyroid gland), hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include: anxiety, muscle weakness, irritability, heart palpitations, fast heartbeat, tremor, weight loss, and diarrhea.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include: including sluggishness, constipation, dry skin, difficulty losing weight (or weight gain), low body temperature, decreased milk volume in nursing moms, hair loss, depression, moodiness and puffiness in the eyes, face and hands.
Natural Treatment Options:
- Iodine : You can increase your iodine intake through diet and kelp supplementation. Kelp is rich in iodine and is very affordable. It can be purchased in tablet form with 225 mcg. of iodine per tablet.
- Selenium : Many people diagnosed with hypothyroidism were found to be selenium deficient. Selenium is required to convert the T4 thyroid hormone to the active T3 form. As an example, the selenium containing enzyme type-I-iodothyronine-deiodinase is important for the conversion of T4 to T3. So selenium deficiency can reduce the activity of the thyroid hormones.
- Tyrosine: Tyrosine is an amino acid needed by the body to manufacture thyroid hormones from iodine. And so the use of tyrosine as a dietary supplement increases production of thyroid hormones.
- Thyroid Glandular : Thyroid glandular supplements have been used since the beginning of thyroid treatment.
- Bladderwrack : Bladderwrack is a seaweed that is a rich source of iodine. Traditionally it has been used for weight loss and hypothyroidism. The low incidence of goiter in maritime people has been attributed to the iodine in bladderwrack. It also contains the minerals potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, etc. Bladderwrack is thought to stimulate the thyroid gland increasing metabolism.
What are the health connections?
It is recommended for all mom’s to have a Natural Wellness Visit within 4 weeks of childbirth then every 6 months thereafter to keep your body strong and prevent the above conditions from occurring.
Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing http://www.amazon.com/Womens-Bodies-Wisdom-Creating-Emotional/dp/0553379534
Christiane Northrup M.D.