Maybe you used to think that using the Pill was no big deal. But did you know that using hormonal birth control to treat symptoms (such as acne or heavy periods) is only covering up an underlying issue and potentially allowing the symptoms to get worse or the underlying issue to progress? Maybe you used the Pill for its intended use – to prevent pregnancy. But did you know that while it can be extremely effective, there are some major negative consequences of long-term use? Some of the side effects are heart attack, stroke, blood clots, skin & breast changes, hair loss, effect on your libido, and so much more. And that doesn’t begin to cover the increased risks of depression, plus the hormonal mess this kind of birth control can create.
So if you are considering ditching the pill or another form of hormonal birth control, it’s important that you understand what happens when you stop using it. Please read on so you have the info you need…
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GO OFF BIRTH CONTROL
You may think going off of hormonal birth control will lead you to regular cycles and no side effects, (and a few lucky people DO start regular cycles again and have minimal symptoms), but that likely won’t be the case. Because most women using hormonal birth control (like The Pill) are doing so to regulate hormonal imbalances, that means that when they stop using it, their hormonal imbalance symptoms return. This equates to menstrual irregularities, acne, hair loss, mood swings, depression, anxiety, and vaginal infections. Symptoms usually show up withing 4-6 months after discontinuing use.
This is called post-birth control syndrome (PBCS).
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PBCS
Post-birth control syndrome has been around since the introduction of hormonal birth control. The underlying causes can include nutritional deficiencies, impaired liver, stress, and more. If you’re suffering from PBCS you may have some of the following symptoms:
- Menstrual irregularities such as loss of menstruation, painful periods, short cycles, or heavy menstruation
- Breast tenderness
- Adrenal dysfunction
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Anxiety or depression
- Hair loss
- Blood sugar dysregulation
- Leaky gut
- Gas or bloating
- Inflammation and other immune imbalances
Not a lot of fun, right? Luckily, with a few diet & lifestyle changes you can beat post-birth control syndrome and all without using anymore drugs that might affect your body negatively.
What do you need to do?
HOW YOU CAN REBALANCE YOUR HORMONES
Realign your gut. Using hormonal birth control can disrupt gut flora and create an environment that breeds harmful bacteria which can lead to leaky gut. You can help restore your gut by incorporating fermented foods like sauerkraut and fiber-rich foods such as flaxseeds into your diet. You could also reduce the amount of grains, legumes and processed foods you consume, as they can be hard to digest. Start taking gut healing supplements such as probiotics and fish oil.
Replenish your nutrients. Birth control has been shown to deplete important nutrients your body needs, including folate (vital for fetal development if you want to get pregnant), B12, B2, B6, Vitamins C & E, and more. Restoring nutrients to your body should be at the top of your to-do list! Make changes to your diet by incorporating plenty of fruits & veggies, plus quality fats and grass-fed meats. Also, up your supplement game by taking a good prenatal vitamin that has plenty of zinc, magnesium, Vitamins A & D, and the rest of the nutrients mentioned.
Love your liver. Your liver removes excess hormones, but birth control can cause a hormonal buildup, making it harder for your liver to detox what it needs – especially because the process relies partially on B vitamins which birth control can deplete. This means your liver needs some major TLC after going off birth control! It’s not a bad idea to do a detox to clean out your liver, for starters, as well as adding liver-supporting foods to your diet such as beets, dandelion root tea, and garlic.
Dial back the stress. Chronic stress causes adrenal fatigue which messes with the hypothalamus & pituitary glands that help regulate the menstrual cycle causing irregular cycles and sometimes leading to amenorrhea (no longer having periods). If you’re trying to overcome post-birth control syndrome your cycle may already be out of whack so managing stress is essential. Try meditation, journaling, yoga, going for a run, or whatever helps you relax, on the reg to maintain lower stress levels!
Up your sleep game. You know sleep is important, but sometimes it just seems that there’s too much to do and you don’t get enough. Plus, chances are you aren’t getting as good of a sleep as you might think due to late night TV, tablet reading, or cell phone/device use. All of these affect your body’s natural sleep process in negative ways. You’ve likely heard of circadian rhythms – the natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. This affects all endocrine hormones, some of which are vital to maintaining a regular menstrual cycle. When you get less than enough or ineffective sleep, these hormones aren’t released at the right times. One of the biggest ways to combat this is by reducing your light exposure at night. Try using blackout curtains or even a sleep mask to have as little light as possible near you while trying to sleep. And turn off the TV and electronics at least an hour before bed – their artificial light tricks the brain into staying awake! Plus, you can up your ‘sleep health’ by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. You’ll soon find you sleep better than ever.
Identify your hormone imbalances & fix the issue. The Pill works by shutting down the conversation between your ovaries and your brain, so when you stop taking it they sometimes have issues starting the conversation back up again. And the synthetic hormones in the Pill impact estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, insulin, cortisol, and the thyroid. It’s no surprise that all of this disruption results in mood swings, painful periods, and more! The first thing you should do if you’re suffering symptoms of PBCS is to get your labs checked – this includes comprehensive thyroid testing, adrenal testing, and checking sex hormones. Once that’s done and you’ve discovered the root cause of your symptoms you can work with an integrative wellness practitioner to develop a plan that balances your hormones and gets your ovaries & brain speaking once again.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
If you’ve decided to go off hormonal birth control, I want to support you on taking the first step to a healthier better you! If you find yourself suffering from any of the symptoms of post-birth control syndrome, I’d love to help you with that. Let’s chat so I can help you identify what’s going on with your hormones and get you back to feeling happy, healthy, and normal in no time! Before you know it you’ll feel like your best self yet.
It’s that time of year again – time for the Environmental Work Group (EWG)’s Dirty Dozen list! What’s the Dirty Dozen list? It’s the EWG’s yearly list that singles out produce with the highest load of pesticide residue, and it serves as a solid reminder that we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to cleaning up the food system. What did they find out this year? Well…this year, the annual report found that almost 70% of 48 non-organic samples tested positive for AT LEAST one pesticide. (And in many cases, the numbers were much higher.) The USDA found a total of 178 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on the thousands of produce samples it analyzed. The pesticides persisted on fruits and vegetables even when they were washed and, in some cases, peeled. Example: a single strawberry sample harbored 20 different pesticide residues. Example: Researches found DDT, a neurotoxic insecticide banned in the U.S., in an alarming number of spinach samples.
Here’s what made this year’s list:
EWG’S 2017 DIRTY DOZEN LIST
Sweet Bell Peppers
And the key findings of this year’s report were:
However, all is not lost! EWG also puts out a yearly Clean 15 report as well! This list identifies the non-organic produce least likely to be contaminated with pesticide levels. We advise choosing organic whenever possible, but we know it’s not always an option. Use these lists to choose foods lower in pesticide residues. This way you can have the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables while limiting your exposure to pesticides!
EWG’s CLEAN 15
Frozen Sweet Peas
*Some sweet corn and papayas sold in the United States are GMOs, so choose organic to avoid GMO versions of these crops.*
The key findings here?
- Avocados and sweet corn were the cleanest: only 1% of samples showed any detectable pesticides.
- More than 80% of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbage had no pesticide residues. (Note: Some papayas are GMOs. Choose organic to avoid that.)
- No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen tested positive for more than four types of pesticides.
What are the key takeaways? First and foremost, this list should NOT deter you from eating fruits and vegetables! But it should make you wary of modern chemical farming. Using chemicals to fumigate the soil and kill weeds, microbes and bugs has some unwanted side effects, including killing soil health and beneficial microbes. Pesticides are linked to dozens of health problems, including certain cancers, symptoms of ADHD, autism, Parkinson’s and a whole host of other issues. There’s more to health than just eating your fruits and veggies – you need to make sure you eat those properly grown!
So remember these lists next time you’re at the grocery store and check out the Environmental Working Group’s website for even more data about pesticides and the best and healthiest produce to eat. You get one body, so treat it kindly. Live well!
In 2014, the FDA announced that manufacturers had to show that antibacterial soap was both safe and more effective than simply washing with conventional soap and water, or they would have to take it off the shelves in the next few years. In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration finally announced it’s banning triclosan and related antibacterial soap chemicals, meaning manufacturers have one year to remove it and 18 other antibacterial ingredients from products (or pull products containing these ingredients from store shelves). Is this a good thing? Don’t we want to have antibacterial cleansers around to keep us healthy? Well, not when they’re actually causing more harm than good!
For years, even the FDA admitted that regular soap and water proved just as effective as antibacterial soaps but without the harmful side effects, urging everyday people to skip out on the overkill of using antibacterial soap. The largest concern about antibacterial soaps and cleansers? Using them contributes to antibiotic resistance, meaning the more we expose germs to germ-fighting substances like antibiotics and antibacterial soaps, the better they adapt. (Nature is really good at adapting!) If this happens on a broad enough scale, it can essentially render that chemical useless against the strain of bacteria. This is currently a big problem in medicine—one the World Health Organization calls a “threat to global health security.” (That alone should convince you not to use the stuff!)
If that doesn’t do it, however, perhaps this will – triclosan is one of the worst endocrine disruptors to date. It interferes with the body’s regulation of the thyroid hormone, possibly because it chemically resembles the hormone closely enough that it can bind to its receptor sites. As such, it could lead to problems such as infertility, artificially-advanced early puberty, obesity and cancer. It can even hide itself in breast milk!
Add to that the fact that children with prolonged exposure to triclosan have a higher chance of developing allergies, including peanut allergies and hay fever. Scientists speculate that this could be a result of reduced exposure to bacteria, which could be necessary for proper immune system functioning and development. Prolonged exposure to this chemical also causes liver damage and is linked to liver cancer.
So we applaud the FDA’s decision to finally ban triclosan and 18 other antibacterial chemicals! Here are the important points that you need to know:
The active ingredients involved in this FDA antibacterial ingredient ban include: cloflucarban, fluorosalan, hexachlorophene, hexylresorcinol, iodine complex (ammonium ether sulfate and polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate), iodine complex (phosphate ester of alkylaryloxy polyethylene glycol), nonylphenoxypoly (ethyleneoxy) ethanoliodine, poloxamer-iodine complex, povidone-iodine 5 to 10 percent, undecoylium chloride iodine complex, methylbenzethonium chloride, phenol (greater than 1.5 percent), phenol (less than 1.5 percent) 16, secondary amyltricresols, sodium oxychlorosene, tribromsalan, triclocarban, triclosan, triple dye
- Manufacturers will have one year to comply with the rulemaking by removing products from the market or reformulating (removing antibacterial active ingredients) these products
- This FDA ban applies to over-the-counter consumer hand soaps and body washes . It does not ban the uses of these antibacterial soap chemicals sanitizers or wipes, or in soaps used in hospital or food service settings.
- The FDA is allowing one more year before ruling on three other antibacterial ingredients in consumer soaps and body washes— benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol (PCMX) Consumer antibacterial washes containing these specific ingredients may be marketed during this time while data are being collected.
Oversanitation is making us sicker than ever, guys. It does all of the above; it can lead to nutrient deficiencies and digestive issues; and it even affects the environment. So make sure you go the soap and water route always and clean friendly!
Remember puberty – that awkward, sometimes uncomfortable phase of childhood that somehow meant you were turning into a young woman? Do you remember how old you were when it hit or when you first got your period? Well if you have a daughter, chances are she has or will be experiencing puberty much, much younger than you did. It’s called “precocious puberty” – the appearance of secondary sex characteristics like pubic hair or breast growth before age 8, or the onset of menarche before age 9 – and impacts at least 1 in 5,000 U.S. children, and the rate is on the rise.
Currently the average age of the onset of menstruation is 12. But even before the first period, changes start to happen to girls’ bodies – signs of development, such as breast “budding” and growth of pubic hair. And these developments have become so common amongst 7, 8 and 9 year olds that doctors have simply deemed it the new “normal”. But are our girls ready for these changes and puberty at such a young age? What negative consequences might there be? Unfortunately, many. Early puberty can set the stage for emotional and behavioral problems, and is linked to lower self-esteem, depression, eating disorders, alcohol use, earlier loss of virginity, more sexual partners and increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases. There is also evidence that suggests these girls are at increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer, later in life.
Why the change in onset? There are several theories out there with the biggest being that environmental chemicals are playing a role. We’re surrounded by chemicals in products everyday and some of these chemicals contain estrogen-mimicking, “gender-bending” chemicals – chemicals that disrupt hormones. For example, Bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial petrochemical that acts as a synthetic estrogen, is found in our plastics and our tin can linings, in dental sealants and on cash-register receipts. In tests done by the Environmental Working Group, 90% of of newborns tested had BPA in their umbilical cord blood. Scary, huh? Other chemicals include phthalates, a group of industrial chemicals used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible and resilient. They’re also one of the most pervasive of the endocrine disrupters, found in everything from processed food packaging and shower curtains to detergents, toys and beauty products like nail polish, hair spray, shampoo, deodorants, and fragrances. There’s also PCBs and DDE which may also be associated with early sexual development in girls. And on top of all that, these chemicals can increase the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Another possible factor in early puberty is a deficiency in Vitamin D. In one study, upon measuring vitamin D levels in 242 girls aged 5-12, researchers from the University of Michigan School of Public Health found that those who were deficient were twice as likely to start menstruation during the study period as those with higher levels. Vitamin D deficiency is also a major risk factor for cancer, heart disease and many other diseases. Entering puberty early also puts one at more risk for certain cancers such as breast cancer because one is exposed to estrogen for a longer period of time. So it could be that some of the increased risks that come from early puberty are linked to low vitamin D levels.
And finally, obesity and stress have both been linked to precocious puberty. Obesity exposes girls to more estrogen because estrogen is both stored and produced in fat tissue. The main theory about stress seems to be: “Evolutionary psychology offers a theory,” the New York Times reports. “A stressful childhood inclines a body toward early reproduction; if life is hard, best to mature young. But such theories are tough to prove.”
So what can you do? Looking at the above, you can try to avoid environmental chemicals as much as possible. You can make sure your daughter is getting plenty of sun exposure (while wearing plenty of sunscreen!) and taking a Vitamin D supplement. And regular exercise appears to be one of the best known ways to help prevent early puberty. Other things to keep in mind though are that because of precocious puberty, you may need to start broaching some tricky subjects with your child a bit earlier than you’d planned. Make sure your child knows their body will be changing and that it’s normal for everyone to change at different rates. Younger children are often far more receptive to talking about body issues and puberty. And there’s a possibility that the “birds and the bees” talk might need to happen earlier as hormones are hitting earlier. Most important of all though? Our daughters need us to model loving their bodies and appreciating what those amazing bodies can do rather than criticizing it or wishing for something different.
If you’ve heard talk of aloe juice recently and thought to yourself, “EW”, you’re not alone. Most people hear the word “aloe” and think of summer & sunburns & thick, goopy gel. Definitely not something you want to ingest, right? But aloe juice is a VERY different part of the plant; a part that can help heal your body from the inside. (We promise it’s not as bad-tasting as it sounds!) What exactly can aloe juice help with?
Have heartburn? Then you’re probably taking a proton pump inhibitor like Nexium. But if you’re doing that, you’re only treating the symptom and not the underlying cause, which can lead to more health problems. PPIs suppress the production of stomach acid, and contrary to popular belief, most cases of heartburn are actually due to having too little acid in your stomach, not too much. So taking a PPI will actually worsen your condition since stomach acid helps digest food protect against ingested pathogens.
Lack of stomach acid makes you more vulnerable to a number of problems, like nutritional deficiencies, food poisoning, and digestive system infections. However, the juice of the aloe plant naturally helps reduce inflammation, which may ease symptoms of acid reflux. Aloe is also known to soothe and cleanse the digestive tract, helping improve digestion, as well as helping to decrease the amount of unfriendly bacteria in our guts.
What other benefits do we get from aloe juice? Pure aloe vera juice reduces dental plaque as effectively as mouthwash. Pretty impressive, huh? In a mouth rinse study of 300 healthy people, 100% pure Aloe vera juice was compared to the standard mouthwash ingredient chlorhexidine. After 4 days of use, the Aloe vera mouth rinse was found to be just as effective as chlorhexidine in reducing dental plaque. Aloe vera does this by killing the plaque-producing bacterium Streptococcus mutansin the mouth, as well as the yeast Candida albicans.
When it comes to inflammation, the next time you are suffering try drinking some aloe vera juice. It contains over 12 different substances that can help you get rid of it! In fact, this juice is a rich mix of vitamins and minerals. It contains Vitamins A,C, and E; a contingent of B (including B1, B2, B3, B6 & B12); folic acid and choline. Plus it has over 20 different minerals including calcium, sodium, potassium, selenium and iron, and contains fatty acids and 8 essential amino acids. This is one powerful juice!
I’ve got a wonderful aloe juice to get you started (amongst other aloe products) and am available to answer any questions you may have. Here’s to healthy & happy!