August 4, 2017
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan
We don’t think about hormones when in our 20s, and most of us don’t even know what the are. Maybe we start thinking about it in our 30s when something goes wrong, like infertility or low libido, or we noticed changes in our parent’s life and health. Anyway, when we are young we don’t think about chemical processes in our body, and yet these processes are nothing short of a miracle. The miracle which we can regulate.
Read along, and you will learn why you need to know your hormone levels from the blood or saliva tests. So you will know what to demand from your doctor.
There is a bit of a conflict between popular opinions on health. The old traditional medicine lets you believe you have very little control over your body, and when something is off your best bet is a prescription medication, surgeries, etc. That somebody else will be in charge of your well-being.
The other polar opposite lets you believe that you are completely in control of everything going on in your life. The power of mind, and the way you eat will solve all the problems. It is an attractive viewpoint, and it’s here because a majority of people are tired of not being in control and not getting results. We want to feel better, be younger, and have more energy. So the modern “gurus” are selling just that – you can do everything by yourself, and all the “wonder” supplements are sold online and preached from TV screen.
It’s unfortunate that with rapid technological advances we are still not being properly guided by professionals. And the fact that greed drives the reckless advertising behavior.
So what is the solution? Are you in control or not?
The answer lies in-between. You are in control of doing the research and self-education not from Google (that has everything under the sun) but from trusted professionals you can find. You are in control of asking direct questions from your doctors expecting educated answers back. You are in control of keeping records of your medical tests, keeping in your life only what benefits you, participating in events that empower you and communicating with people who help you grow in positive light.
How hormones tie to that? A lot of things can alter your hormonal balance, and it affects your mood immediately. Nobody will feel it better than you, and you got to learn how to notice these feelings. And then you can take action to do something about it.
Hormones are chemical messengers that set everything in motion. They run back and forth between your brain and various body organs giving out directions on what to do and how to do it. For you, everything is happening automatically – your heartbeat, breathing, growth, digestion, and so on, when in fact there is a whole transportation system in working inside your body 24/7. It ensures that automated system is functioning flawlessly, or to be realistic, as flawlessly as it can, given the specific conditions your body is in. About 50 different hormones are circulating through your body all the time. Some of them are steroids, some – peptides, some – neurotransmitters, and some are combinations of the above. I will talk about the most common ones and their connection to the mood.
Keep in mind that balance of hormones can be achieved naturally. There are times when some people take hormone substitution like creams and medication, and for various reasons decide to stop. The withdrawal can create anxiety, depression, mood swings, and other unpleasant symptoms.
Fluctuating Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone
For healthy young people, these 3 hormones are balanced. Man and women have them in a different proportion, and these hormones are responsible for our sexual development as well as some other factors
As you experience changes in your body (such as prolonged stress, junk food, pregnancy, toxic exposure, etc.), these hormones start fluctuating and affecting your nervous system and production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin – a happy hormone.
A critical thing to know that nutrients play a major role in hormone production. Deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals can lead to hormonal dysfunction. Some lifestyle habits can seriously affect hormones and vital organs associated with them.
Let’s take a look at 3 hormones (out of 50) that majorly affect your state of mind:
- Estrogens are neuro protective by helping the formation of new synapses in the brain. The healthy estrogen levels contribute to maintaining serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels – the neurotransmitters regulating your mood. Low estrogen can create havoc in your moods – such as depression, brain fog, anxiety, irritability, as well as weight gain and other physical health conditions.
- Progesterone has an anti-anxiety effect by acting on GABA receptors in the brain. The role of GABA neurotransmitter is to promote relaxation and sleep. In the brain, it helps balance excitation with inhibition. Often with age progesterone levels fall and estrogen levels are remaining high due to toxic exposure, being overweight, birth control pills, incorrect nutrition, etc. It creates a dangerous condition called “estrogen dominance” – when relative levels of estrogen and progesterone are tilted towards estrogen (there is a formula to calculate the ratio). There are multiple reasons why it can happen, and it might lead to serious health issues.
- Testosterone is a vital sex hormone that plays an important role in health for both man and women. It is responsible for energy, sex drive, memory, concentration, and many other functions. Elevated levels contribute to anxiety, rage, anger, and can lead to dangerous health issues. When decreased it can lead to depression, fatigue, muscle loss, cognitive decline, and more.
Other hormones are also playing significant roles in emotional and physical health. They include cortisol, insulin, leptin, ghrelin, and others. There are ways to balance them all with a strategic integrative approach.
My suggestion is to make all the healthy changes in your life, monitor your hormone levels, and only then decide if you want to give the power of your body to prescription medication. Sometimes it’s necessary, but most of the times you can give your awesome body a chance to restore its healthy state.
July 23, 2017
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan
So you decided to do something, you are very motivated, time is right, conditions are perfect (well, almost), and you even told some people about your plan. You are ready to start. “Monday. This week. Oh no, not this week… it’s a friend’s birthday, and then the forecast said it would be raining; next week my family is coming to visit. Ok, next month will be perfect.” Silently though there is some self-loathing starts creeping up, and you reserve to old self-destructing habits you are trying to overcome. A classic Catch-22. We all been there!
Actions are great; they are awesome, I love action perhaps a little bit too much, that’s why for me it is especially difficult and important to understand, learn, and incorporate what I’m about to share with you. And you heard it many times before I’m sure, and perhaps even tried it too. But I will remind you again, and I’ll do it in the way I usually do – we will practice together.
When you decide to do something based on the feelings you are experiencing, your emotional self is getting engaged. Pure emotions are great, and they can get you places. However, they don’t last long as being replaced with other daily emotions. Therefore these decisions are short lived as well.
There is a way to decide to do something and achieve it. Your brain has an amazing ability to help you achieve your goals when you set them in clear and precise way. At the same time, your brain is already pre-wired to keep you safe and in your comfort zone. So it’s a bit of a conflict for the brain – you want something but if it’s not in your comfort zone – which means for the subconscious part of the brain that what you want might be potentially dangerous for you. It’s not cognitive thinking – it’s rather a survival mechanism.
Every change can bring growing pains of stretching your imagination, your cognition, and most of all your comfort zone.
Therefore you got to set goals smartly – that will override limiting portion of your brain’s protective mechanism.
So, I can think of 2 ways to set goals:
- Based on everything you ALREADY know, your old beliefs, existing limitations, skill set. It works well with everyday routine tasks, when it already works well and spending energy doesn’t make sense. Like brushing your teeth, making your bed, or some small task you mastered to the level you are satisfied with.
- When you really want something you don’t have/can’t do yet, you actually have to set your goals ABOVE what you BELIEVE is achievable by you. That will stretch your mind and even scare you (so you might start making excuses to revert to old ways). And there is a trick to do it.
I will talk about the 2nd way.
Say, you want to lose weight, and you have been 20 (or more) lbs overweight for 20 years. Your mind and your body got the set point of your “comfort zone” – your current weight. Even though it’s not comfortable, it is there. Therefore, it’s “safe.” Your current beliefs are that this is what you weight, you see yourself in the mirror, you have that size clothes, you see this number on your scales, and you talk about it including negative self-talk. You created a sort of an ecosystem with your current body setup.
To make you successful in achieving your goal you must do 3 things:
- Condition your brain for success – to override old beliefs and habits
- Define motivation that is much stronger than old beliefs and habits
- Create a clear and precise plan based on your motivation and SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-based
It definitely takes time to do it and you are worthy of this time to create a life lasting change that will enable you to live freely, be successful, be able to come up with new goals, and to stretch your imagination. So you will be enjoying opportunities and achievements in every area of your life.
July 17, 2017
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan
If I had put $10 into my savings account for each time my patient realized a connection between their health issue and unresolved emotions in their life, I would be now buying a ticket to see the penguins at Galapagos island!
Yes, there is a solid connection between aches/pains/chronic health conditions/“mysterious” health conditions and the whole world of emotions within you. And there is certainly a link between emotions and stubborn weight set point.
Natural medicine found this connection a long time ago and documented it in health and wellness protocols, not only to cure diseases but to prevent them. Chinese Medicine specifically is well known for that. I’m practicing the Five Elements modality of Chinese Medicine, where the emotional evaluation is as important a diagnostics as a physical discomfort.
To dig a little deeper in the connection between your extra pounds and unresolved emotions I would recommend doing a bit of a self-evaluation. In fact, I recommend doing it for any physical issues you have – pains, headaches, etc. Stressful emotions take up a lot of energy otherwise needed for healthy body function.
I’m inviting you to answer these few questions for yourself and see what you can find out. Because you are answering them in complete privacy (even more than Facebook quizzes!) you can be 100% honest:
1. What in your life takes up most of your time?
Often we serve others or some important purpose for a long time and forget who we are. Other people’s emotions and comfort become greater than our own. If it’s happening in a short term frame – it’s a healthy response; however, a long term practice of it is damaging to the body. I’m not judging, but you cannot offer anything to people if you don’t have it yourself. You cannot provide kindness, comfort, love to anybody if you don’t have it first for yourself. And your body knows that and reminds you of it by creating unpleasant situations in which you are forced to take care of yourself. I believe you know what I’m talking about. Find your passion and your self-love, and then share it with others!
2. Are you in a relationship with a narcissist?
You will know it by noticing your energy and confidence drop with certain people. You might feel self-doubt, guilt, embarrassment in their presence. You might not be able to explain it because narcissists are very manipulative and often charming. Their relationships are highly toxic, and your body will react to it. For some people, it will be extra fat protecting their vital organs from toxins and possible damage. For others, it will be losing too much weight as if to “disappear.” In my clinical experience, a relationship with a narcissist causes severe hormonal imbalances in people. If you are suspecting a narcissist in your life, do yourself a favor and get educated on that subject. You cannot change a narcissist. You can only eliminate them from your life altogether. Your mind and body will thank you for that.
3. Are you sweating small staff?
How many things are important in life? I’m not talking about possessions; I’m talking about reactions to events. Events come and go, and most of them don’t relate to you at all. I stopped watching the news a long time ago (well, lately I started a little bit due to all the craziness) because most of the news is upsetting with no resolution in mind. The social media is another black hole of unnecessary information. I call it an “emotional vomit.” It is easy to take it on, relate to it, and process it – with no resolution in mind! We have a lot of incoming information with social media and news, and some people are prone to get upset and take it all personally. Yes, you want to take a stance on some social and political issues, but not at the expense of your health. You got to learn how to disconnect emotion from an action. It is possible.
4. Are you an emotional hoarder?
You have to declutter – for so many reasons! And one of them is an emotional attachment to things/clothes/memories. At some point in life, I gave away half of my furniture, 80% of my clothes, took down all the decorations – and felt the new wave of life is coming to me. Wow, the freedom from things. What I did is radical, and you might not do that, however, evaluate your material life, identify emotional attachments (especially toxic ones) and get rid of them. Put it on your calendar.
To be continued…
Your typical day is clattered with emotions and most of them run subconsciously. Which means they set the course of your life and you have no control. There are ways to recognize your own thinking patterns and learn how to respond to events and memories in the way that’s healthy and beneficial for you. This will be one of the best things you can do for yourself.
July 11, 2017
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan
We age – it’s a normal part of life. However don’t confuse aging with getting sick, feeling bad, and having less energy. It can happen but I am looking at it not as “signs of aging” but rather “signs of imbalance/disease”. And addressing these symptoms according to the age, life situation, hormones history, menopause/andropause, nutrition, medical history, etc.
So what is the minimum information you need to know about your hormones as you are entering menopause/andropause?
That stage of life usually happens after 50, and now more than ever people started celebrating this stage of life. Think about it, women don’t think and don’t worry about getting pregnant, if you have children they are most likely is out of the house, your views on life and relationships are changing, and you even might have more financial stability/wisdom than in your 20s. It is a reason to celebrate, isn’t it? Except that at that age many of us start experiencing a decline in energy, weight gain, high blood pressure, etc. And it’s happening more in the developed industrialized countries than in rural tribal communities. There has to be a reason for that!
- One reason is that you worked really hard for 20-30 years, didn’t take care of our bodies, and didn’t know much about proper nutrition.
- Another reason is your genetics could have started working against you given the influence of the environment you have been living in. Some of us are lucky with better genes but it’s rather an exception.
- Yet another reason that you perhaps got really sick at some point in your life, had to take lots of medication that disturbed your gastrointestinal health (as digestion and gut microbiome), and it depleted levels of nutrients in your body. And because testing for these nutrients didn’t exist you didn’t know why you are not feeling well and never replaced them.
- It also can be hidden allergies and food sensitivities that create silent inflammation you don’t feel for years. Now we have powerful tools to detect all of them and resolve the inflammation. These tests didn’t exist before.
- And of course – your hormone levels are declining and there are many symptoms associated with it. Estrogen, for example, is responsible for 400 functions in the body!
Let’s take a closer look to hormones.
Many people experience weight gain and sluggishness as a result of hormonal imbalance, It generally happens in the second part of life, however, some people start experiencing it in their 20s. These symptoms can be a result of many events. Examples of it include menopause, physical stress, emotional stress, old age, incorrect nutrition, chronic illness, congenital factors, contraceptives. When these events happen your body gets confused and normal chemical signaling gets disrupted.
Why not just start with taking bio-identical hormone replacement therapy? It is an option in many cases, and I am not against it, however there is more to it due to the complex nature of your body. There are underlying reasons why hormones are low, and if these are not addressed first you can experience health issues related to these reasons and hormone replacement therapy itself.
- By not addressing these issues and covering the symptoms you will put yourself in further trouble. Symptoms are there to tell you that something in your body is out of sorts. So if you are not addressing it your body will find another way to warn you and it might not be pretty. It might seem unrelated but it usually is. Actually almost 100% it is related.
- Hormone replacement therapy might be dangerous for people with genetic deficiencies in detoxification pathways and methylation.
- Hormone replacement therapy might be dangerous for people with a genetic mutation of various kinds of cancer.
- Hormone replacement therapy might be dangerous for people with underlying physical conditions such as cysts, fibroids, calcifications, and any kind of infection in reproductive organs. Doctors often don’t prescribe thorough examination like a complete ultrasound of abdominal cavity and breast tissue prior to prescribing hormones. I have seen patient’s cysts grow while on hormone replacement therapy.
- Hormone replacement therapy requires some tweaking. I see many patients complaining that it either doesn’t do anything or they feel worse. You cannot just stop it once you started. Your body gets adjusted to receiving something from within so it doesn’t do what it did before. If you just stop something else can go wrong.
Your body is super smart – it’s like a factory producing all the drugs that you see in the pharmacy including drugs not invented yet. You are creating everything you need all by yourself when you give your body an opportunity to do that. Sometimes we are our worst enemies – when we neglect ourselves. Then our bodies start adjusting to that neglect.
Your body is a magical vessel and it requires lots of care. It needs sleep, air, relaxation, good nutritious food, proper elimination, and lots of love. It needs many other things but here we will concentrate on basics, mainly because basics are free and most important. Once you create a habit of self-care you will feel so much better.
April 20, 2016
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan
April 20, 2016
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan
From time to time a new patient enters my clinic complaining of physical pain of “unknown origin”. The pain been there for a while and nobody knows what it is. I have a rule to not right away treat the pain, no matter how tempting it is. There are too many components involved – type of pain, duration, location, age of the patient, history, and many more. Especially when patient states no other specialists succeeded in eliminating his/her pain. At that point I proceed to my usual diagnostic methods to figure out what I’m dealing with.