stress and hormones

Managing stress to balance hormones

The bodies response to stress

Human bodies were designed to very effectively address stressful situations. The fight or flight response was a lifesaving mechanism back in the day.

Nowadays the body can feel the stress of a busy work week, a challenging coworker, traffic when you are late, but it cannot differentiate that your life is not on the line. So, not recognizing the distinction, pumps out all the same chemicals and hormones that it would if you were in fact, in a life or death situation.

The hormone cascade during a stress response

The hypothalamus and pituitary gland (both in the brain) are talking to each other and telling each other what to be doing when stress happens. They send signals down to the adrenal glands (sitting on top of the kidneys) to release a specific cascade of stress hormones.

Think adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline boosts blood pressure and heart rate.

Cortisol sends glucose to your muscles so you can outrun danger.

When the body is in a constant state of stress, with elevated or unregulated adrenaline and cortisol levels, the perpetual state of ‘on alert’ can wreak havoc on your hormones.

If you read the previous blog post on blood sugar levels, you will know that mismanaged blood sugar is a stressor that can cause this effect in the body (see how its all related).

Over prolonged periods of time, this may lead to something that is called adrenal fatigue. This I often see in overworked people, CEO’s, single parents, or anyone in a longterm state of stress.

A few ways to manage stress in the body

As you have learned, there are internal stressors in the body, like unregulated blood sugar levels; and there are external stressors on the body, like job stress, traffic, finances etc.

As you would have read in previous blog posts, there are a few simple steps to help manage stress, although they may not always be easy.

Get enough sleep. This is wear your body rests, repairs, and manages inflammation.

Manage blood sugar levels

Exercise regularly  – high intensity or low impact will depend on your bodies needs and current symptoms

Meditation or flow state – even 1-2 minutes of meditation per day can be impactful. If meditation doesn’t feel right, find an activity that allows you to be focused, present and playful.

For a more comprehensive program to help your body manage stress, get in touch for a virtual or in person consultation.

Call 1-778-400-6360 to book.

 

stress and hormones

Balancing hormones by regulating your blood sugar levels

What does blood sugar have to do with hormones and menstrual cycle?

Unstable blood sugar can be an important underlying cause behind hormonal problems.

“Your endocrine system (hormone system) performs all of its complex functions via the language of the hormones. One of its main functions, first and foremost, is transporting glucose to your brain, muscles and heart. If anything with that process is amok, you’re going to have mismanaged blood sugars as your first problem; as a result, though, none of the other parts of your endocrine system will function according to plan either!” – Vitti

Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers, helping to control nearly every physiological process in the body. This includes metabolism, immune functioning, the menstrual cycle, and overall reproductive health

Balanced hormones are essential for overall health. (Head back to this article to learn more about that.)

Blood sugar metabolism in the body

Three of the organs associated with blood sugar regulation in the body, are the pancreas, the liver, and the brain.

When you eat an abundance of sugar, or things that turn into sugar, the pancreas reacts to this increase in glucose in the body by releasing insulin. When your blood sugar is low, your pancreas pumps out glucagon, which the liver turns into glucose so that it has enough to send to your muscles, brain and heart.

Maintaining control of your blood sugar levels can become a delicate seesaw process that easily goes awry.

Therefore, a diet high in sugar can have significant effects on the reproductive hormones.

How to stabilize blood sugar levels

A good place to start is by working with your health provider to do a simple blood test checking for fasting blood sugar and insulin levels.

Depending on results, these tests may be repeated after a few months of diet and lifestyle shifts.

A few simple steps to get started:

  • Notice how you feel after you eat certain foods. Are you tired, lethargic, energized, or bloated?
  • Eat well rounded, nutrient dense meals, avoid snacking. This allows time for the body to metabolize the food and self regulate blood sugar levels (if you have any other disorders, like diabetes or PCOS, talk about this with your care provider)
  • Less refined white sugar, instead try fresh fruit or substitutes like honey or maple syrup
  • Drink enough water. This can help with over eating and proper elimination
  • Avoid processed food, fast food, oily and greasy food

These are great steps to get started regulating blood sugar levels, for more personalized support get in touch to book a virtual or in person initial consultation.

Call 1-778-400-6360 to book!

 

balanced hormones

Balanced hormones- for more than fertility

The importance of a healthy menstrual cycle

We all know the importance of balanced hormones, but do we really know why? Many of my patients come into my office thinking that the only reason to address hormonal imbalances or menstrual cycle challenges is if they want to get pregnant.

While, if that is a goal of yours, it is essential to address these issues, your menstrual cycle health has so much more to do with your overall health than just your ability to conceive.

Balanced hormones and a healthy menstrual cycle has major roles in

  • Cardiovascular health
  • Bone and joint health
  • Libido (sex drive)
  • Stress management
  • Adequate sleep

to name a few!

Hormone balancing basic

There are a few basic tools and steps I invite my patients to incorporate during their treatment plans to help reach their health goals.

The book titled ‘Womancode’ by Alisa Vitti, is one I encourage all my patients to read. It offers a step by step introduction to hormone balancing. It is easy to read and understand.

I will be elaborating on these steps in this blog series. Vitti breaks it down into 5 simple steps:

  1. Regulate blood sugar levels
  2. Address stress and the adrenals
  3. Proper elimination
  4. Understanding your menstrual cycle
  5. Living in alignment with your cycle energy

Simple, but not always easy

While the information I will be sharing with you about balancing hormones may seem simple at first, it is not always an easy adjustment if you are used to eating, acting and living a certain way.

I will be the first to admit, it is not always easy to see the correlation between these actions and our symptoms. With anything cycle related it can takes weeks, or even months, to notice any change. So, often times you will not see the direct benefit from your actions right away.

However, if you stick to these simple hormone balancing tools, with time, you will start to notice a change in your menstrual cycle, energy levels, and more!

 

 

 

As always, get in touch with any questions of concern you may have, or to book an initial consult either virtually or in person.

Call 1-778-400-6360 to book.

balanced hormones

Preconception Care – Trimester Zero

Planning ahead for the important things in life

We all know the importance of planning ahead for those big, life changing decisions. Like buying a new house, planning a wedding, preparing for your next vacation, yet often times we don’t spend very much time at all, planning for one of life’s biggest journeys – parenthood, and more specifically – getting pregnant. This is called preconception care.

Have you ever considered that most folks spend more time planning their wedding than they do planning to conceive?

Research confirms that the growth cycle of both sperm and eggs is approximately 90 days. So that means, if getting pregnant is something you are wanting or planning for in the near future, taking steps at least 3 months in advance to make sure you and your partner are healthy, is super important.

What is preconception care?

Preconception care is defined as:

a set of interventions that aim to identify and modify medical, behavioral, and social risks to a woman’s health or pregnancy outcome through prevention and management.

These 3 months prior to conception are considered Trimester Zero. An integral part of the pregnancy journey.

What you should be doing to prepare for pregnancy

Some things to include during trimester zero:

  • A good prenatal supplement
  • Family doctor or Naturopathic Doctor check up with lab/blood work
  • Regular acupuncture treatments
  • Limiting stress or incorporating mindfulness technique like meditation or gentle walks in nature

When you received regular acupuncture treatments in preparation for conception, some of the benefits include:

  • More relaxed
  • Stress management
  • Increased blood flow to the reproductive organs
  • Balanced hormones
  • Improved egg quality

Many things impact our health and ability to conceive

When I work with patients who are trying to get pregnant there are many important factors that come into play. Having support from your health care team is one of those integral factors.

We know how influential the external environment and lifestyle can be for your overall health, and the health of your eggs and unborn children. Your genetic material is influenced by these factors so taking pro active steps for you and future baby is essential!

Schedule your consult for preconception care by calling 1 778 400 6360.

 

cosmetic acupuncture miiko skin co

Cosmetic Acupuncture product highlight – Miiko Skin Co.

My favourite products to use during cosmetic acupuncture treatments

During cosmetic acupuncture treatments, and especially while doing gua sha, it is essential to have good (actually… great) quality products. This is why I swear by Miiko Skin co. and their line of facial serums.

Not only do they have products for every skin type, Miiko is also a locally owned business that prides itself in ingredient integrity and sustainability.

Your skin is the largest organ in the human body and can ingest many of the ingredients it is exposed to.

As you have previously read, facial rejuvenation acupuncture addresses imbalances from the inside out, and making sure you are using clean products on your face is a very important part of that equation!

“How come the picture of health has only included diet and exercise when there is evidence showing the ingredients we are ingesting everyday through our skin and lungs can contribute to obesity, hormone disruption, cancer, and cardiovascular disease”.

But wait… are you worried facial oil will just make your face MORE oily??

It might seem counter intuitive to use an oil based product to treat acne and oily skin types but have you ever heard of the phrase “fighting fire with fire”?

Your skin naturally produces oil and when it is chronically stripped of its oil with harsh soaps or oil-free products, it will go into overdrive to try and balance its oil production.

You do not need to worry about feeling greasy, this product absorbs quickly and immediately makes it look and feel more hydrated.

How it all comes together

When you come in for a facial rejuvenation acupuncture session, I will apply a facial serum to prep your skin for gua sha. This helps the gua sha tool glide smoothly over the skin to increase blood flow and circulation. Then you receive facial rejuvenation acupuncture and relax with the needles in for about 20 minutes.

You leave feeling refreshed, vibrant and renewed.

 

To inquire about local or virtual skin consults please contact us at 1 778 400 6360 / hello@stefaniemiska.com

 

Read more about hormones and skin care, on a guest blog post over at Miiko Skin Co. here.

 

cosmetic acupuncture miiko skin co

Cosmetic Acupuncture

Cosmetic Acupuncture Treatments

What is cosmetic acupuncture treatment and why is it all the rage?

Cosmetic Acupuncture has been gaining popularity recently with interest growing for natural healthcare. Facial fillers and botox have become incredibly popular over the years, with millions of individuals undergoing each treatment.

Did you know there is a natural alternative that can help treat the signs of aging and help with other health issues at the same time?

Cosmetic acupuncture (also called Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture) is a unique style of treatment that helps to revitalize and brighten the complexion.

It is effective for eliminating puffiness, reducing wrinkles/fine lines and giving the face and neck a bright, healthy glow.

 

All the fresh blood and oxygen flooding the face is like a reawakening of the complexion

 

What happens during a cosmetic acupuncture treatment?

When a new patient comes in for an acupuncture facial, there are a few different tools I will use.

These tools are:

  • facial rejuvenation acupuncture
  • gua sha (lightly rubbing a small tool over the surface of the skin)
  • facial cupping
  • topical oils and serums to enhance the overall treatment

In addition too attending to the face and neck, other acupuncture points will be used to help regulate other imbalances that have been observed.

For example, ‘problem skin’ like acne, may be due to hormonal imbalances, so additional points may be used to address the underlying cause.

What benefits can you expect?

There are many visible benefits of cosmetic acupuncture. Patients report softer, firmer skin, a reduction of deeper wrinkles, better skin tone, reduced puffiness or darkness under the eyes and overall more vibrant complexion.

Cosmetic acupuncture is not only a safe and exceptionally effective way to firm up the skin, there are many benefits to this treatment that goes beyond beauty alone.

As a whole body treatment, this specialized protocol addresses the internal system, balances hormones. You may experience additional benefits such as reduced stress and anxiety, better sleep, improved digestion, which are all essential for optimal skin health.

To book your cosmetic acupuncture consult please call 1 778 400 6360.

I work with clients virtually to help address skin needs holistically, please email hello@stefaniemiska.com to inquire.

 

Cosmetic Acupuncture

Tracking your BBT

How to tell if you are ovulating – Tracking your temperature BBT

Ovulation Marker #1 – Tracking your BBT

Tracking your basal body temperature, abbreviated as BBT, is one of the main, and most common ways to track ovulation.

Taking your BBT, involves taking your temperature at roughly the same time every morning before getting out of bed. This includes logging your results, either by paper chart, or one of the handy apps you can download on your phone, to keep track of daily measurements and patterns

How to track your BBT

In order to do so, you will need a thermometer that goes to 2 decimal points, for example 36.68C or 97.68F. This makes it easier to notice temperature shifts, which is what you are looking for.

After ovulation, a hormone called progesterone, is released from the same follicle that the egg came from. This release of progesterone creates a slight temperature increase in the body. This is how we know ovulation has occurred, by tracking BBT.

For example, if you are taking your temperature throughout your entire cycle (which is required to get an accurate reading) your temperature will be lower for the first half, and higher for the second half.

Understanding your menstrual cycle

If you are unsure about the different phases of the menstrual cycle, their duration and what’s happening, I encourage you to go back and read the previous posts:

Menstrual cycle simple explained

Your period

Follicular phase

Ovulation

Luteal phase

If a person has, say, a 28 day cycle (let me clarify though, a ‘normal’ cycle is anything between 21-35 days) from day 1 (first day of bleed) to day 14 (ovulation), body temperature would be roughly 2 tenths of a degree cooler than from day 15 to when bleeding starts again.

*If pregnancy occurs, progesterone levels continue to rise (throughout pregnancy) and therefor body temperature continues to rise and will not drop again at day 28.

You can purchase a BBT at any drug store, or easily off amazon. While you can get more fancy versions, it is not necessary, and you can easily get started with a thermometer for $20.

Apps to use when you start tracking your BBT

Some apps to check out are:

  • Kindara
  • Daisy
  • Natural Cycles
  • Clue
  • Period Tracker

 

It is important to remember, that in order to get accurate readings, you must take your temperature after 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep, at roughly the same time every morning, and certain things like drinking alcohol, staying up late, or illness will effect your body temperature.

If you need help with charting your cycle or learning to read your BBT, book your consult by calling 1 778 400 6360 or if you are not local, we can connect virtually by booking your 15 minute here.

 

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Tracking your BBT

Selfish Santa Christmas

Can you believe that we are half way through November?

That means Christmas is only 6 weeks away.

As festive and lovely as this time of year can be, it can also be full of stress, at work to end off the year, and socially with all the commitments we have.

Now, I know no one likes a self serving gift, but I want to tell you about my Selfish Santa Acupuncture punch card.

Let me explain; you give the gift of acupuncture to your friends, colleagues and loved ones, and not only do they get to feel good, but you get to be surrounded by relaxed, happy, and healthy people. Sounds like a win-win situation, doesn’t it?

The punch cards come in packages of 5 and have a special holiday pricing of $400.

The most common holiday woes I hear are:

  • Overeating, resulting in bloating, indigestion, cramps, irregular bowel movement
  • High stress, feeling overwhelmed and over committed
  • Drinking copious amounts of alcohol, feeling hungover, headachey, tired and irritable

*Fine print: Treatment costs can still be claimed by your extended health benefits. All treatments must be used by March 30, 2019.

Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal Allergies - Ritual MedicineDo you suffer from seasonal allergies?

Allergies are an overreaction by the body’s immune system to a certain substance. The body’s immune system misidentifies a normally harmless substance as a threat to the body. An anti-inflammatory reaction takes place in an attempt to eject the substance from the system. The irritant or allergen can be pollen, dust, mold, pet hair, or certain chemical products like perfume.

You can imagine that by triggering the immune system, your body is working in overdrive to defend against these allergens which also leaves your more susceptible to illness.

Some common symptoms of hay fever are:

  • itchy & red eyes
  • itchy & runny nose
  • sneezing
  • nasal congestion
  • headache
  • rash

In Chinese medicine, the body’s protective later, our defense mechanism against outside influence is called ‘wei qi’, and connects with the lungs.

The lungs are responsible for proper function of the entire respiratory tract.

Because of this, it is important to boost or build up the lungs before you are exposed to allergens. Acupuncture helped with allergy symptoms by calming the body’s exaggerated immune response.

Ideally, acupuncture treatments are started 4-6 weeks before allergy season. Of course, if your allergy season has already begun or if you are allergies all year round, then starting treatment immediately can still provide great relief. And if you are currently taking allergy medications, then acupuncture and herbs can help wean you from them.

One of the ways you can prepare for allergy season is by consuming tonifying or immune boosting herbs 1-2 months before.

Before and during allergy season, herbs like astragalus (huang qi) or atractylodes (bai zhu) can be steeped to make a nourishing tea that boosts immunity.

During allergy season, herbs like magnolia flower bud (xin yi hua) are great for nasal congestion or chrysanthemum flowers (ju hua) for itchy eyes.

Quercetin is a natural antihistamine and can be found at any vitamin store.

Try using a neti pot daily and eucalyptus essential oil in the bathtub to clear out the sinuses.

Spring time is coming and It is possible to enjoy the outdoors if you take some pre-emptive measures for your well-being.

3 Tips for a Springtime Cleanse

Spring time cleanse

To cleanse or not to cleanse seems to be the question come spring time in my clinic.

We know that some detoxing or cleansing methods can be great after a weekend away with the girls or when you have started to feel a little stagnated and backed up. Most often, cleansing programs highlight the benefits on the liver and flushing out toxins that have accumulate over time.

In Chinese medicine, the season of spring brings us into the wood element and connect with the Liver organ and meridian system.

 

Can you see the connection here? Considering clearing out lingering toxins in the body involves the liver, then spring would be the best time to incorporate some daily cleansing rituals.

Now juice cleanses or fasting may not be appropriate for everyone but there are a few things you can try at home.

Drink warm water with lemon first thing in the morning.

Warm water is more absorbable and easy to digest, especially first thing in the morning when you have been warm and cozy all night. (Please avoid cold smoothies and cereal first thing in the morning, no matter what season!) The lemon flavor is sour which connects with the liver and acts as a mild diuretic to flush out toxins from the day and night before.

Eat an artichoke!

Consuming artichokes can help clear liver heat. The plant also contains a compound called cynarin, which promotes bile production and urination.

Pick some weeds!

You likely know dandelion as a pesky little weed that pokes up through cracks in the sidewalk. Did you also know that we can use all parts of the plant medicinally as well? Considered the ideal liver remedy because it is completely non-toxic and gently restores liver function. It enhances the flow of bile and supports the kidneys during cleansing and detoxification of the liver and bowels. I like to send my clients to the farmers market to pick up some organic dandelion greens to toss into a salad or stir-fry.

Happy cleansing!