September 18, 2019
Irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, and uterine fibroids — sometimes it seems that these conditions are par for the course for many women, without realizing they could be symptoms that 80 percent of women with hormonal imbalance may experience. The symptoms vary from woman to woman, and may be difficult to diagnose if the person suffering does not recognize the changes her body is undergoing.
Because each woman experiences hormonal imbalance in different ways and may not even realize she has it, there is no one definitive cure for it. However, to effectively restore harmony to one’s hormones, it’s important to take the time to understand the cause of the imbalance.
This is where Functional Medicine (FM) comes in. Dr. Zoe Arugay, a Functional Medicine practitioner at LifeScience Center, believes that the symptoms are interconnected, therefore a holistic approach to treatment is more effective that addressing each symptom individually.
“Functional medicine works best when it comes to addressing the root causes of your health problems. Whether it be nutrition, sleep, exercise, or stress — it correlates with conventional and advanced diagnostics,” said Dr. Arugay.
Simply speaking, functional medicine takes a look into one’s genetic makeup and analyzes how it interacts with its environment. By doing so, doctors gain key insights into which illnesses a patient is susceptible to, thereby guiding him or her towards maximizing their health and quality of life. The goal of FM is to achieve optimal health.
A case study
Dr. Arugay recalls a patient named Cynthia, who was plagued with sleep issues, lack of exercise, and obesity, in addition to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS is a nutritional and metabolic issue that affects insulin and other hormones. Large amounts of sugar in one’s diet causes the body to produce more insulin in order to properly absorb the sugar into cells. The more insulin produced, the more one becomes resistant to it. This can lead to problems like inflammation, oxidative stress, high cholesterol, cancer, obesity, and infertility.
With a varied set of symptoms, it could be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the problem. Hence, it usually takes time and a lot of trial and error arrive at the proper treatment for a condition as complex as PCOS.
And yet, it was precisely the interconnectedness of Cynthia’s symptoms that functional medicine addressed, applying a holistic approach to help rectify her health problems.
In Cynthia’s case, it was essential for her to change her work routine. Hardworking as she was, her habit of reporting to work early and punching out late only wreaked havoc on her sleep schedule, allowing her only four to five hours of sleep a night. Fortunately, Cynthia was prepared to make the necessary adjustments for the sake of her health. She prioritized self-care, making changes to her nutrition intake, cutting down her work hours, getting more sleep, and walking daily to get some much-needed exercise.
In just a month’s time, Cynthia was able to reap the rewards that came with these small but significant modifications to her lifestyle. She was able to sleep more, enjoy more leisure time, and lose weight. Moreover, she eventually regained hormonal balance and her menstrual cycle was once again regular. Over time, her OB-GYN lowered her prescribed dose of birth control pills until she was no longer advised to take them.
“By going down to the roots and treating it from there, we are treating the whole person. The results also show that we are reversing the symptoms of not just one but multiple health issues because they are all interconnected,” Dr. Arugay noted.
In cases where a pill is initially prescribed to address the imbalance of the body’s hormones, Dr. Arugay advises that it would be best to take them first. “The good news is that it’s possible to get rid of pills and other medications when there is no longer a need for them. It’s the patient’s capability to make great strides towards their own healing that makes getting rid of pills possible.”
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