Mrs. D - Hormone Imbalance

Mrs D is a 43 year old female of Afro-Caribbean descent.  She works part time and is a mature student.  On 25th December 2016 her sister died of breast cancer.  She was on her way to see her in Barbados, but never got to say “goodbye” arriving after her death. Understandably, this loss caused Mrs D considerable grief.   When she came to see me she had been suffering pain radiating in her lower back on the left side for some time, which also sometimes caused her severe nausea.  After an ultrasound, cervical smear and CA125 test (tumour markers), her doctor diagnosed the pain as a functional ovarian cyst (suspected benign) which was 5cm in size and was putting pressure on the lower back due to lack of space for growth.

Her menstrual cycle was irregular and she suffered from hormonal migraine headaches 2-3 days before her period that were debilitating and required her to retire to a dark room and lie down.  Usually these headaches would go after the first day of her period.  Energy was low and on waking she sometimes suffered from brain fog that made it difficult to study and focus.  General wellbeing was not good with a feeling of “meltdown” and fatigue.  In order to try and address the fatigue she decreased her working life from five to three days a week, but even with three days she struggled to be active and to focus.  Her consultant recommended surgery to remove the cyst, which she declined in order to seek alternative solutions before going down this route.  For the pain she took over the counter pain-killers as and when needed, avoiding other stronger medications.

Other symptoms the client was suffering from included digestion issues of bloating in the lower stomach area and acid reflux if she ate fried foods.  Her menstrual cycle had become irregular, reduced from 24 days before her sister’s death to 19 days, often with a heavy bleed, as well as intermittent bleeding in between.  Prior to her sister’s death her cycle was always regular with a light bleed. 

Cancer runs in her family.  Grandmother (mother’s side) and her sister died from ovarian cancer.   Quite naturally this added additional stress with the thought that she might be going in the same direction.

Mrs D is primarily vegetarian.  Previously she had been vegan for five years, but found that she is more healthy and energetic when occasionally eating eggs and fish in her diet.  Yoga is her main form of exercise and she practices 1-2 times a week.  Below is an example of her typical diet: 

 

Breakfast

Smoothie – kale, banana, chia, almond milk, cinnamon

Smoothie – kale, celery, apple, lemon, parsley, cucumber

Lunch

Quinoa salad

Omelet, mackerel and salad

Dinner

Toast and tea – black, herbal

Toast and tea – black, herbal

Snacks

Nuts

Ginger nut biscuits

Drinks

Water (1.5 litres daily), herbal teas – mistletoe, mint, horsetail

 

 

On first observation, as Mrs D is of Afro Caribbean descent her diet was too cold, thus depleting her energy.  Replacing smoothies and salads with more warming foods such as porridge, soups, vegetable casseroles and warm salads, with the inclusion of warming herbs – ginger, chili, garlic, cardamom, cinnamon, was recommended.

For Mrs D’s treatment success, it was important to address the emotions as well as the mind and body.  The following principles for treatment were employed:

  • Regulate the hormone system
  • Reduce the cyst
  • Reduce anxiety and grief

Mrs D was prescribed an herbal tincture to address the physical symptoms as well as the emotional foundation.  The tincture included alterative herbs (blood cleaners) and anti-inflammatory herbs, including Curcuma longa (Turmeric), adaptogenic herbs - Codonopsis pilosula and Schisandra chinensis to provide adrenal support, and Rosa damascena for emotional support.  She was also prescribed a herbal tea to re-balance and soothe her digestive system.

Additional naturopathic advice to support the healing process, included:

  • Reduction of dairy, refined sugar and wheat flour in her diet
  • Avoiding damp and cold foods – replacing them with warm foods with the addition of spices – garlic, ginger, turmeric, chili, cardamom added to the food
  • Cook vegetables as opposed to raw (80% cooked:20% raw)
  • Daily fresh air and movement outside through walking or other gentle forms of stretching and exercise
  • Meditation on a daily basis

One month later, in a follow up consultation, the pain had gone. Menstrual cycle had returned to a normal 25-day cycle with no headache, all be it only one cycle of evidence, however this is till positive. Mentally and emotionally she still felt down due to death of her sister, but she was having some good days.  Her diet was warmer, having replaced green smoothies with various types of porridge, eggs and more cooked vegetables with the addition of warming herbs and spices.  The pain radiating in her lower back was intermittent rather than constant. 

After three months treatment the pain was completely gone.  The evidence from a scan showed that the cyst had reduced by 50%, which would be the reason for the disappearance of pain.

As the treatment progressed we changed the priority from the hormone regulation to addressing her general fatigue and lack of zest for life by continuing to support the adrenal system, and the underlying emotions of grief, loss, anger and guilt. 

 

References

Chakraborty, S. A. Ali1, Subhash Kaushik, R.K. Ray, R.P. Yadav, M.K. Rai,  Darshan Singh, A.K. Bhakat, V.K. Singh, M.D. John, K.C. Das, V.G. Prasad, S.S. Nain, Mohan Sing. (2011). Curcuma longa - A multicentric clinical verification study. Available: ccrhindia.org/pdf/ijrh/5(1)/4.pdf.

Chevalier, Andrew (2000). Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. 2nd ed. New York, USA: DK Publishing Inc.. 92, 125, 190,.

Dharmananda Subhuti, Ph.D.. (1997). Treatment of Ovarian Cysts with Chinese Herbs. Available: http://www.itmonline.org/arts/ovcyst.htm.

Jagetia GC, Aggarwal BB. (2007). "Spicing up" of the Immune System by Curcumin. Available: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Spicing+up+the+immune+system+with+curc....

Jurenka Julie S., MT(ASCP). (2009). Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research.. Alternative Medicine Review. 14 (2), 141-151.                         McIntyre (2010). Anne. London: Gaia division Octopus Publishing Group . 116, 123-124, 144, 146, 148-149, 153, 156, 169, 175.

Schaffer M1, Schaffer PM, Zidan J, Bar Sela G.. (2011). Curcuma as a functional food in the control of cancer and inflammation. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21986478/.

Thomsen Michael, ND MSc, Gennat Hanni, BSc PhD (2009). Phytotherapy Desk Reference . 4th ed. Hobart: Global Natural Medicine Pty Ltd. 42, 66, 74, 109

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