When I get female patients of reproductive age complaining of common ailments such as anxiety and stress, I like to review my Foundations of Health with them. I find simply following the basic guidelines outlined below can make a world of difference.
Insomnia: Sleep is always the first thing I inquire about with any patient. Getting enough sleep is necessary for a healthy immune system, maintaining a healthy body weight, memory, and it helps lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Valerian Complex contains passionflower, zizyphus (good for dream disturbed sleep) and valerian. If the patient does not have a paradoxical reaction to valerian, it may be as effective as the benzodiazepines and valium in improving sleep quality. It is also a great muscle relaxant. It has been used at 1 tablet 3-4 times during the day for severe insomnia, panic attacks, restlessness, depression and anxiety.
Anxiety: The first thing to rule out is blood sugar irregularities and food sensitivities. Often by increasing protein intake, the blood sugar regulates and anxious reactions go away. Kava can be taken during the day, as needed (1-3 per day), for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It also improves the quality and recuperative effects of sleep and can increase sex drive. St. John’s Wort increases nocturnal melatonin and helps with sleep disorders, as well as anxiety. Causes increased photosensitivity, so do not use this herb in the summer months.
Mild to moderate depression: St. John’s Wort or Nevaton, and B-complex (deficiency due to the use of birth control pills) should be considered. Due to stresses of everyday life, most patients need extra B-complex to help with stress, anxiety and depression.
Hormone Regulation: Tribulus Forte is a herb that balances the hypothalamus. It has been documented in Bulgarian trials to benefit female infertility and enhance performance amongst athletes. Dr. Francesca Naish Fertility Clinics use it for PCOS on days 5-14 to help regulate the menstrual cycle to improve conception. Pituitary Support is provided by Chaste Tree, which supports fertility through normalizing progesterone levels by decreasing prolactin. Chaste Tree balances the menstrual cycle and eases many symptoms associated with PMS; is a dopaminergic agonist; can be used for endometriosis and fibroids; increases melatonin production by 60%; and, is used in the treatment of mastalgia and FBD.
Adrenal support or stress support: Most hormonal imbalances require adrenal support in the form of adaptogens such as Rehmannia Complex and Withania Complex. Rehmannia Complex acts as an anti-inflammatory for chronic inflammation via the adrenal glands and lowers ESR. It is great for autoimmune diseases such as Graves Disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, SLE and RA. Kerry Bone uses it with Boswellia Complex to further reduce inflammation. Keep in mind that Withania Complex contains licorice, so monitor blood pressure in susceptible patients. It boosts energy, increases endurance, stamina, and improves appetite in children. Nevaton (the Canadian formula does not contain Damiana) is known as a “road rage” formula for out of control stress, PMS, wired, aggressive and agitated patients. It also has an anti-depressant effect from the St. John’s Wort. I also recommend my sheet on 53 Stress Reducers.
Estrogen excess in cases of uterine fibroids and menorrhagia, LivCo can be used to help with estrogen clearance through the liver, and Chaste Tree to balance estrogen and progesterone. Anti-oxidants (Vitanox), essential fatty acids (Ultimate Omega), Vitamin E, and anti-inflammatory herbs such as Rehmannia Complex, Wild Yam Complex, and Boswellia Complex. Wild Yam Complex contains Black Cohosh, and Shatavari, which normalizes estrogen production and balance.
Peri- and menopausal years: In addition to the above support consider Wild Yam Complex to help with irritability, PMS, hot flushes, excessive perspiration and depression.
Immune system support: Astragalus Complex supports the immune system of women who are adrenally exhausted by improving vitality, enhancing response to stress, speeding recovery from infection and post viral syndromes. I recommend taking it for months at a time. Echinacea Premium invokes an immune response through Hsp 70 (Heat Shock Proteins) expression. I recommend one per day, year-round for immune support.