Finding Hormonal Balance
At Naturna, we care for the transitions in hormones throughout your life. Your hormones are not only responsible for reproduction and sexuality, but they affect your metabolism, sleep, digestion, mood, and more. From first menstruation through menopause and beyond, we use a combination of evidence-based approaches including Acupuncture, functional nutrition, and lifestyle counseling to manage the female hormonal roller coaster and ensure that your body systems are thriving. We’ll help you navigate this complex terrain in order to reset your inner balance and holistic health.
The functions and malfunctions of the hormones most responsible for women’s health and well-being include:
- cortisol: the stress hormone, which controls fight and flight responses
- insulin: regulates blood sugar
- reproductive hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone
- thyroid hormones: regulates metabolism
Acupuncture has been proven to help maintain the balance of these hormones in addition to others such as serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine. This ancient healing method works by directly targeting acupoints found throughout the human body that connect to the body’s hormonal glands. Previous research has found that concentration of these hormones tend to be focused around these acupoints, allowing the practitioner to access and balance the body’s hormonal pathways.
Stress Less for Hormone Balance
Acupuncture has also been shown to help psychological concerns such as depression and anxiety by increasing the body’s production of hormone serotonin. During stressful situations, such as in the case of an emergency, emotional distress or exercise, the body releases adrenaline and cortisol. This release of adrenaline causes our heart rates to increase, causing more blood flow to the muscles and the brain. The release of cortisol affects our body’s salt balance and blood pressure. Both of these hormones are used to ensure our survival and awareness during stressful situations or situations that cause us to feel excited. But too much or too little of either adrenaline or cortisol can mess with hormonal balance.
Sleep More with Acupuncture
Acupuncture has also been shown to help establish and maintain quality sleep by promoting the production of serotonin and melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland and deficiencies in melatonin have been associated with insomnia, as well as a anxiety. Acupuncture increase the production of melatonin, causing a decrease in the amount of time required to fall asleep with fewer incidences of waking up throughout the night and feelings of rest and alertness in the morning.
What we Treat
Here are some conditions that we commonly treat, and that acupuncture can help heal. Since hormonal balance is so closely linked with nutrition, please visit our nutrition page to learn more about how we will integrate nutritional services into your acupuncture sessions.
Overeating and/or lack of exercise are not the only causes of weight gain. Other factors such as excessive stress, lack of sleep, poor digestion, and hormones may be to blame. Low hormone levels such as hypothyroidism, menopause or PCOS, can also influence unwanted weight gain. Acupuncture can help battle all of these causes by reducing stress, improving digestion, and promoting hormonal balance. In Chinese Medicine, weight gain is often caused by Liver-Spleen disharmony, and so the goal is to stimulate points that affect this channel, which is linked to stress, digestion, and hormones such as insulin. Acupuncture helps to balance the root cause to treat the body’s tendency to hold weight. Auricular acupuncture can also help manage your appetite. Through the stimulation of certain points, your body is then influenced to better regulate your appetite, either by increasing your appetite or decreasing it, to help it reach a healthy balance.
Heavy period bleeding, also known as menorrhagia, affects roughly 10 million women who are in their 40s or 50s each year. A normal menstrual cycle functions in a cycle every 28 days with a duration of 2 to 7 days and a loss of blood volume equal to 80 ml. Women suffering from menorrhagia on average lose double that amount (an additional 80 ml) and their periods typically last much longer than 7 days. Menorrhagia can be caused by a multitude of factors that are hormonal or mechanical. Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for menorrhagia by activating the CNS to release hormones that then influence the body’s self-regulating systems. Heavy periods, or menorrhagia, can also be treated with a diet low in animal fats and high in fish oils, linolenic acid (also known as vegetable oil). Introducing flaxseed and soy proteins has also been shown to help reduce the amount of blood released during menstruation. Additionally women suffering with heavy periods may want to check in with their primary care to see if they have deficiencies in iron, vitamins A, C, K or vitamin B complex as these have been linked to disorders such as anemia and may act as a contributing factor to their heavy period.
Fibrocystic breasts are a common occurrence in women; in fact, at least half of women experience the uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating symptoms at some point in their lives. It describes changes in the breast tissue, especially right before or during the menses phase of one’s cycle. Symptoms can include tender, lumpy breasts, breast tenderness, green/dark non-bloody discharge from nipples, and slightly increased breast mass. Typically, these changes are characterized by Western medicine as common and normal, but if they do persist after your period, the lumps increase in size after your period, or the pain worsens, one is advised to see a doctor for possible tumors. Acupuncture is able to help alleviate the symptoms of general breast changes. Chinese Medicine views these changes as suppressed emotions and stress causing blockage in the breasts. This creates inflammation and tenderness in the breasts. Luckily, acupuncture is the holy grail for reducing inflammation and pain management. Chinese herb tinctures are also great way to reduce and manage the symptoms of fibrocystic breasts.
Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture take sexual health and sexual functioning very seriously. Often times couples or individuals may experience lagging libido, but are unsure why. Usually, low libido is linked to emotional distress, post-childbirth, hormone imbalances, stress, and weight gain. Acupuncture is a great way to address the route of the issue and can also help with simply boosting libido in both men and women. It increases the release of testosterone to naturally increase sex drive and libido. Chinese herbs are also a great way to increase natural lubrication, relax the mind from emotional disturbances, and regulate hormonal imbalances that may be preventing you from performing.
Irregular menses can include slight variations in cycle length or a lack of period for months at a time. Acupuncture can help regulate the feedback loop between your brain and your reproductive organs via the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Ovarian axis, which helps manage the production of hormones. In this way, we can modify the circulation of different hormones during each phase of your cycle to promote healthy, regular cycles. Acupuncture will also support the healthy growth of eggs, which leads to more regular phases of the cycle, thereby helping create a more reliable menstrual cycle. It also balances the ratios of hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, LH, insulin and testosterone. In essence, it balances hormones to regulate your cycle.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a chronic hormonal disorder that may manifest with irregular or no periods, excessive hair growth or hair loss, excessive weight gain, acne, and/or fertility troubles. While the direct cause of PCOS is unknown, multiple factors may influence the likelihood of one getting PCOS. Insulin resistance can be an influencing factor, as it can cause the body to produce excess insulin and, therefore, may increase androgen levels in the body. In some cases, PCOS may be hereditary. Low-grade inflammation can also influence the onset of PCOS. The efficacy of acupuncture in PCOS cases can be contributed to a number of things, but the primary impact is on the natural regulation of hormones at the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, which is vital to a well functioning female reproductive system. Acupuncture is an effective way of regulating these hormones, as well as promoting proper blood circulation in the female reproductive organs through its effect on the central nervous system. Acupuncture can treat the acne, weight issues, PMS, hair growth and infertility associated with the condition.
Perimenopause is the time before the the onset of menopause when a woman’s body begins to produce less estrogen, leading up to the cessation of egg production that defines menopause. Perimenopause typically begins in the 40s, but can begin in the 20s or 30s for some women. In addition to the hormonal changes of the body during this period, there are many other symptoms that are common, such as irregular periods and PMS, hot flashes, breast tenderness, low sex drive, fatigue, vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex, increased urgency and leakage of urination, mood swings, and sleep problems. Clinical research has found that acupuncture can help regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, helping lessen many of these symptoms including hot flashes.
Menopause (‘menses pauses‘) is the stage of a woman’s life when she ceases to ovulate. A woman leaves one stage of life and begins what can become the greatest era of her life. The menopausal stage can last for just a few months or several years. During this time, a woman’s body must adapt to declining levels of estrogen. For some women, their symptoms are a bit more severe than the norm – these women experience hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, irritability, headaches, joint pain, fatigue, mood swings, memory loss, vaginal dryness, and weight gain. Menopause can also cause hair loss and other symptoms that may, in turn, cause an increase in anxiety and depression. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a very popular Western medical approach for the treatment of menopause. HRT is usually implemented at the onset of menopausal symptoms. HRT can be successful to alleviate the symptoms of menopause but can also increase the risk of certain cancers (breast, ovarian and uterine). Traditional Chinese Medicine does not recognize menopause as a disease. Rather, it considers the symptoms of menopause to be imbalances within the body. Whether the symptoms be physical or emotional/mental, acupuncture is able to treat them. Acupuncture counteracts the symptoms by attending the root of the cause; bringing back your hormonal levels to a balance. Research supports acupuncture in reducing hot flashes, reducing anxiety and stress, improving sleep quality, balancing hormone levels, and, overall, improving quality of life in menopausal and postmenopausal women.
Dysmenorrhea, the technical name for painful periods, is experienced by almost all menstruating women. For some, the pain can be short lived and alleviated with an advil or a heating pack. For others, their dysmenorrhea is so severe that it interferes with their everyday activities and can be accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. To them this way of life becomes their “norm” and pretty soon, they learn to expect once a month they will be rendered housebound for a day or two, while hoping that they eventually “grow out of this phase”. According to Chinese Medicine, when we experience pain, it is always the result of stagnation or a blockage. The reasons we experience these blockages are manyfold and varied, but the end result is always the same – pain. So when a patient comes in complaining of pain during menstruation, it is up to the practitioner to determine what the root cause is. Acupuncture is extremely effective at promoting blood flow and reducing inflammation, which is one of the key ways it works to help reduce pain.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) are disorders associated with symptoms caused by the onset of a menstrual cycle. PMS affects up to 50% of premenstrual women in the U.S., while PMDD affects from 3-5% of premenstrual women in the U.S. While PMS and PMDD has often been confused as the same, the symptoms of PMDD are characterized as debilitating and significantly impair one from doing daily activities. PMS, on the other hand, is characterized with similar symptoms, but do not impair one’s ability to conduct daily activities. Clinical studies of Acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments for PMS and PMDD showed a 50% or better reduction of symptoms, such as cramps, mood swings, bloating and breast tenderness, with no serious adverse effects reported.
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths found along the lining of the uterine walls. They develop after puberty and can be a huge determiner for subfertility or infertility. Common symptoms of having uterine fibroids include heavy periods and pain during menstruation and the rest of the cycle. Unfortunately, there is no known cause of fibroids, but there is a lot of research that supports two strong factors that influence the onset of fibroids. The first is genetics, and the second is the imbalance of progesterone and estrogen levels. Specifically electro-acupuncture is known to have tremendous healing and maintenance effects on the symptoms of uterine fibroids. It reduces inflammation in the body which is a significant factor of the exacerbation of uterine fibroids. It also improves blood flow into the uterus, removing any obstructions that may cause stagnation or blockage, which in turn can cause the development of fibroids.
Acupuncture is well-known for treating both autoimmune and other factors influencing the thyroid. The most common thyroid condition treated by acupuncture is hypothyroidism. Causes of hypothyroidism vary and acupuncture’s effect of cleansing and supporting the thyroid gland and related organs, can help to balance thyroid hormones. Inflammation from Hashimoto’s disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, often leads to an underactive thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism. While the causes are unknown, the symptoms include hair loss, puffy face, weight gain, muscle weakness, infertility, fatigue, low sex drive, and/or excessive menstruation. Nutritional changes and reducing stress are key interventions to managing and relieving the symptoms of Hashimoto’s.
After just one month of working with Christina, I got my first period in years, and about a year later my cycle started to come regularly.
We highly recommend Naturna as a skilled healthcare provider to our patients.
I’ve been going to Naturna for six weeks and can’t believe the difference. For the last two years I’ve suffered from brutal migraines two to three times per week. Since coming to Naturna, only mild headaches. There are even weeks with no pain at all.
When I look at my daughter, I can’t help but think of Christina and our incredible journey. Christina Burns was the sunshine brought to my angst-filled world of infertility!
I would strongly recommend Naturna to anyone who is looking to supplement their standard IVF treatment with alternative methods in an effort to maximize your chances for a positive outcome.
Christina is a skilled practitioner who is both professional and compassionate. My patients have experienced great results at her clinic as well as a warm and supportive atmosphere. I feel confident sending my patients to her.
I had been suffering from hormonal acne for years before I came to Naturna. Nothing was seeming to work and I was miserable. Naturna helped me to understand what was happening in my body, and within a few sessions I started to notice the acne lessening. After a couple months I was only having a pimple here and there. I can’t believe that it could have been this easy all along. The results were truly amazing.