I wrote a piece a few months ago called “A Story of Hope and Healing”, which was about my journey to healing amenorrhea (loss of my period) using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This is a follow up to provide an update and explain what I’ve learned so far. To my dismay, I have yet to get my period back and it has been taking what feels like forever for it to happen. Instead of being stuck in the rut of worry and disappointment, I’ve decided to explore the lessons in this experience and reevaluate what’s working and what’s not. In TCM, we learn that acute disorders usually resolve in a few weeks or months while chronic ones can take much longer (i.e. 6 months or more). In my case, having been without a period for almost 10 years definitely falls under the category of chronic. Another thing to consider is that I started this journey slow and steady because that is just how my body is and it’s important to listen to your body’s needs. For instance, introducing new foods or substances – my body responds better when I start out with half or part of the dose or serving and increase from there. Thus, my expectation of this being a quick turnaround is a bit unrealistic. What this has taught is to remain patient and keep the faith that everything will be resolved at the right time – not a minute too soon or too late.
After learning that this will take a while longer, I realized that there were other lifestyle and diet related things that need improvement. These include significant stress reduction/management, increase in essential fatty acids (i.e. Omega 3), and reduction in sugar intake. Making dietary and lifestyle changes can be daunting, especially if they have been ingrained into your daily life for a long time. My recent motto has been “just breathe and take it one moment at a time”. In addition to my motto, I have found that educating myself about how stress, essential fatty acids, and sugar affect the mind/body/spirit has been a main motivator in helping me make these integral changes. For instance, did you know that essential fatty acids (i.e. omega 3) are called “essential” because you can only get them from your diet or supplementation? Our bodies need fatty acids to aid in proper brain function and reproductive hormone production/regulation (among many others) but don’t actually produce it. Essential fatty acids are usually found in foods such as fatty fish and high fat plant sources (i.e. wild caught salmon, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds). Unfortunately, food sources alone do not provide enough to meet the recommended daily intake we need but taking an omega supplement in addition is highly recommended by healthcare practitioners. After learning this, I’m not so surprised that I am deficient in fatty acids! I don’t eat fish or much of the plant based resources. Stress’ effect on the mind and body – well I’ll stop here because I think we already know an abundance about this topic. As for sugar, the love of my life! Sad to say that sugar is extremely disruptive to our general and reproductive health. For instance, too much sugar can increase your risk for depression, drain your energy, and interrupt your hormone health. Are you as shocked as I am to learn that sugar affects our hormones?! A great suggestion my practitioner gave was to replace sugary snacks with something tasty yet healthy – like a pear or paleo cookie using dates as an alternative sweetener.
In the new year – I have made it my goal to introduce pumpkin seed butter and flax seeds for more essential fatty acids, reduce sugar and replace it with a healthier alternative like almond butter cookies, and incorporate at least 5 minutes of daily quiet time to help reduce stress. After reviewing this plan with my practitioner, we both agree that this is a great short term goal in which to build the foundation of my healing journey and getting my reproductive health back on track. I have faith that in time I will heal. I now see that this all happened for a reason because there were more lessons to be learned before I could fully heal. Overall, I am extremely grateful to have the willingness and open mindedness to exploring such wonderful holistic resources.