Balance Hormones Naturally with Chinese Medicine
May 01, 2018 12:17AM
● By Beverly Fornoff
Hormone balance is vital to maintaining a healthy body and mind. Natural fluctuations occur in response to daily activity and life stages; however, a modern stressful lifestyle can lead to chronically unhealthy levels of hormones, resulting in discomfort and illness. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which includes acupuncture, the oldest healing system in the world, has been used to treat hormonal imbalances, without the negative side effects of hormone replacement therapies.
Hormones are chemical messengers secreted by endocrine glands to control bodily functions such as reproduction, digestion, growth, tissue repair, metabolism and sleep. Steroids are made from cholesterol and affect physical development; cortisol is an example. Peptides are hormones made from amino acids that regulate bodily functions such as sleep and blood sugar levels. Insulin is a peptide.
Stress, poor diet, tumors, medications, diabetes, injury or exposure to toxins may cause hormonal imbalances. Natural hormone shifts occur during life stage transitions, such as puberty or menopause, and individuals can also create optimal conditions for getting pregnant by controlling different phases of the menstrual cycle.
When gonadotropin hormones are not at optimal levels at the correct times, menstrual difficulties, infertility or exaggerated menopausal symptoms can arise. It has been hypothesized that because acupuncture impacts the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormones through its influence on the hypothalamus, it has a positive effect on menstruation, ovulation and fertility.
One study found that acupuncture suppressed high serum estradiol levels, which improves implantation success in the uterus. Acupuncture is also well known to lower the stress hormones cortisol and prolactin that negatively impact fertility.
The effects of Chinese herbal formulas are less understood, and study results have been inconclusive; yet they have been used with success in many clinics to manage menopausal symptoms and infertility. Perhaps this is because TCM practitioners use a more philosophical approach grounded in observed phenomena when diagnosing a condition and creating a treatment plan.
TCM practitioners seek to evaluate the quality and movement of a patient’s qi and blood and their emotional well-being to create a balance of warming and cooling, moistening and drying. Acupuncture points and herbal formulas that nourish the blood, prevent stagnation, clear heat, warm the uterus or calm the spirit are chosen based on each individual’s condition. When all of these are in balance and flowing appropriately, health can be balanced and restored.
Beverly Fornoff , MAc, a NCCAOM-certified licensed acupuncturist and graduate of the Maryland University of Integrative Health (formerly known as Tai-Sophia Institute), in Laurel, MD, specializes in women’s health issues, treating chronic pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia and low energy. For more information, call 717-381-7334 or visit LancasterAcupuncture.com.