As some of you might know, I’ve recently been diagnosed with PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), an extreme form of PMS. In many ways, this diagnosis has felt hugely empowering – it is such a relief to know what is going on and be able to dive deeper into ways of coping with it. Many people would have never noticed I suffer from this, mostly because I manage it so well with self care but certainly I am now on a mission to balance it even better.
As part of this journey, I’ve become increasingly interested in hormone health, so I was thrilled to welcome Pippa Campbell onto the Face Yoga Expert Podcast recently. Pippa is a functional nutritionist and nutrigenomics specialist who focuses on women’s health and hormone health.
Please note that all circumstances are individual and information here is not a substitute for individual medical diagnosis so if you are suffering please see a medical professional.
Pippa had some great information to share with us about hormone health and how we can support it through natural means, such as diet and supplementation.
Like me, Pippa came to this work because she experienced her own hormonal issues. In her case, it was a combination of oestrogen dominance and not being able to detoxify oestrogen well. After struggling for years and being put on the Pill, Pippa eventually was able to tackle her hormone imbalances through diet and supplementation, with the help of a nutritional therapist.
She later re-qualified to focus on this area, wanting to help other women struggling with hormone problems.
You can find our full conversation over on the podcast. In this blog post, I want to share a summary of some of the tips Pippa gave for prioritising our hormone health, no matter what stage of life we’re at.
Understanding Hormone Issues
I mentioned my recent PMDD diagnosis and how it’s led me to dive deeper into my hormonal health. I’m currently working with Pippa to understand more about my hormones, including taking something called a DUTCH Test. This analyses our hormones and can provide vital evidence for the underlying causes of hormonal issues.
However, Pippa says that practitioners can also learn a lot about the root causes of hormone issues just from our symptoms. She advises using a cycle tracker, such as the Flo app, and making detailed notes for each day of your cycle.
This information can be hugely helpful to functional medicine practitioners in understanding what is going on with your hormones. They can then help you find natural ways to do something about it.
Treating Hormone Issues
So many women suffer for years unnecessarily. Since sharing my PMDD diagnosis, I’ve spoken with plenty of people who are having problems with their cycles, or with perimenopause or menopause.
Unfortunately, there are some who GPs aren’t well-versed in these issues or the solutions. They’ll often end up prescribing the Pill or a Mirena coil – while these may help treat the symptoms, in some cases don’t tackle the underlying causes.
Pippa is wary of the Pill although like me, not completely against it as for some women it can be life saving, but she says it can disrupt our hormones and deplete nutrients, such as B vitamins. If you’re taking the Pill currently, Pippa advises taking a good B vitamin complex to balance this effect.
Regarding the coil and HRT, Pippa says that these can be life-changing for many women. However, it is important to understand that these methods can lead to other symptoms.
The coil, for example, usually suppresses ovulation, so you’ll produce much less natural progesterone. However, progesterone plays a greater role in our bodies, including sleep regulation, managing anxiety, and water retention. This is why many women in perimenopause find themselves feeling more anxious and less resilient to stress – progesterone is the first hormone to drop.
As for HRT, Pippa says that anyone taking an oestrogen replacement will want to be careful that they are supporting their body in detoxifying the hormone to avoid DNA damage and issues like cysts, fibroids, and weight gain.
There are also more natural forms of HRT, although information on these is not always available through your doctor. Pippa is in perimenopause herself and, so far, is managing it through diet and supplementation.
Managing Hormones Naturally
One thing that many of us aren’t aware of is the need to detoxify our hormones. Like anything else we introduce into our bodies, those hormones need to be cleared from our systems to maintain a healthy balance.
Oestrogen dominance is one of the more common hormonal issues and some women also have issues detoxifying oestrogen from their systems. So, Pippa advises eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables – these dark leafy greens contain an enzyme called sulforaphane that helps our bodies detoxify excess oestrogen.
Supplements like magnesium and a B vitamin complex can also help. And we want to support our liver health too since this organ is responsible for detoxifying our bodies.
Pippa also recommends seed cycling to help balance your hormones naturally. Take a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds every day during the follicular phase of your cycle (day 1 until ovulation) and a tablespoon of ground sesame seeds and sunflower seeds during the luteal phase (ovulation until the first day of your bleed).
If you are no longer ovulating, you can sync your seed cycling to the moon, using the new moon as day 1.
Hormones and Stress
Another thing Pippa and I talked about is the effect of stress on our hormones.
Although I’ve worked in the wellness sector for over 17 years now, it has still only been in the last few months that I’ve realised the importance of living in tune with my cycle and understanding my hormone health. Of course, a lot of this has been triggered by my PMDD diagnosis.
Pippa agrees that part of the reason I’ve been able to live with this issue undiagnosed for so long is that I’m dedicated to self-care and managing stress holistically. Stress can have a huge impact on our hormones, so my daily practices were helping to manage my hormone issues, without me even realising it.
So, making self-care a priority is vital for our hormonal health, as well as our overall wellness.
On that note, I’d like to share that I have a new face yoga workshop coming up on 16 September 2022. This workshop is two wonderful hours of relaxation and pampering, which will also incorporate crystal bowl sound healing.
You can book now via my shop. And don’t worry if you can’t make the live session – book a place anyway and we’ll send you the recording within 48 hours of the workshop, so you can enjoy it in your own time.