Wild yam

Wild yam

At last!  Winter has softened into Spring!  Persephone, the Goddess who spends half the year in darkness with Hades, God of the underworld, has returned to us. Spring Beauties, Violets, Bluets and and Toothwort are blossoming on the forest floor, Welcome dear friends, our plant allies! You have been missed! What I have learned this Winter, and what I will share in this newsletter, affects the reproductive system, energy levels, weight concerns, menopause, aging, and more.

The winter months have been a time of deep realizations and processing, rather than outward expression. I became aware of being hypothyroid, and the knowledge of this has helped me tailor the ways I care for myself.  I’d been witnessing thyroid challenges my sister has been facing these past months, and through our conversations became aware that I have been managing symptoms of being hypothyroid for quite some time, using herbs, diet and supplements. 

Because diabetes runs in both sides of my lineage, I thought I was staving off that disease. I have been successful in that. However I had been frustrated with lingering symptoms such as weight gain, dry skin, fluctuating energy levels and brittle hair. In my research I have found that hypothyroidism is epidemic, particularly among women. Symptoms include fertility issues, menstrual challenges, overweight or weight gain, menopause challenges, fatigue, brittle hair, dry skin and moodiness, exhaustion, brain fog, and so many more.My Earth Day

Many of the symptoms I have mentioned above often show up in my clients, as they are mostly women coming to me for therapeutic massage, herbal consultations, Maya Abdominal Therapy, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy and/or Pre and Perinatal Trauma Resolution. While hypothyroidism is a challenge for me, I am happy to now, through this experience, to have a much deeper understanding of the issues facing my clients, and many more tools to support them, not only in achieving relief from these challenging symptoms, but in gaining optimal health at any age!

You may see yourself, or someone you love, in the abbreviated symptom picture I have described. My intention in this newsletter, is to empower you to regain vibrant health by helping you discover likely, greatly variable causes for the disease; share information essential to your getting an accurate diagnosis; and offer resources for resolving symptoms.

CAUSES

The causes of hypothyroidism, and other thyroid diseases, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are many, and often genetic predisposition is present, but can
also be caused by other factors. Genetic expression may be turned on through prolonged periods of intense stress, pregnancy, menopause, aging, and head and neck injuries. Other contributing factors include over-treatment for Graves disease, or Hashimoto’s; bromide (in seafood and some baked goods) and/or fluoride (an added chemical to our drinking water) toxicity; iodine insufficiency, selenium and/or iron deficiency; B12 utilization; thyroidectomy; pituitary gland failure and more. 

For a more complete list and explanation you might be interested in purchasing the book Stop the Thyroid Madness, by Janie Bowthorpe, M.Ed. It is a compilation of the experiences of thousand of thyroid patients. Though I find that writing and editing are not top notch, the10755 information is incredibly useful. And to be fair, I’m sure expediency of delivery was the objective, in order to help as many as possible.

SYMPTOMS

As mentioned above, the symptoms of hypothyroidism are many and varied, including fertility and/or menstrual challenges, overweight or weight gain, menopause challenges, fatigue, brittle hair, dry skin and moodiness, heart palpitations, exhaustion, brain fog, psychiatric diagnoses, and so many more. Symptoms can begin slowly. A person may go from being hyperthyroid when younger to hypothyroid over time, with fluctuations along the way. And for some, hypothyroidism may turn into an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

I have been focusing on supporting my thyroid, based on the research I, and so many others have done, again, through herbs, supplements and diet. And I am very happy with the results so far. My feeling, is that this autoimmune disease, like type II diabetes, may be cured and at the very least managed. Success is possible through developing a supportive community for managing stress that includes family, friends and professionals, through dietary choices, and by using supportive supplements.

UNDERLYING ADRENAL FACTORS

It is essential not to ignore the adrenal glands when determining the causes of  symptoms. The adrenal glands are walnut sized glands that sit above and adjacent to the kidneys. Like the thyroid, they are cued by the pituitary, the master gland of the body. The adrenal glands play a powerful role in managing stress, whether physical, emotional or mental. They are the glands that produce aldosterone and cortisol. 

Cortisol stimulates blood sugar levels. You can see that if under chronic stress, blood sugar levels remain high, causing chronic inflammation, which in turn causes weight gain and oxidative stress on all systems of the body.  The adrenals also produce aldosterone which regulates internal fluid balance and blood pressure, as well as sex hormones testosterone and estrogen, among others. When seeking treatment for thyroid issues, it is essential to test for adrenal function, as adrenal fatigue may be the underlying cause a cascade of symptoms, resulting in thyroid dysfunction.

BLOOD and SA16636-1LIVA TESTING

The place to begin is to have relevant blood tests and a saliva test done to determine where your body needs support. Thyroid issues do not respond to a one-size-fits-all approach. Relevant blood tests are Iron and TIBC panel (Total Iron Binding Capacity), Thyroid antibody panel, anemia panel (including B12 levels), and a Weight Loss Panel which includes TSH, free T3 + Free T4, hormone levels, cholesterol and more. Adrenal testing is done through a saliva test, resources for this can be found on http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/ site. The book, by the same name, provides detailed information on why these tests are needed for proper diagnosis and treatment.

HERBS, SUPPLEMENTS AND DIET

There are many plant allies that support adrenal and thyroid health. In the case of thyroid issues, it is helpful to consult a practitioner to find which herbs are right for your situation. Herbs supportive of adrenal health are schizandra, ashwagandha, licorice and ginseng (panax). Herbs that are supportive of the thyroid include bladderwrack, hops, passionflower and sage. 

It is also useful to know that thyroid imbalances have been found to be aggravated by gluten. So, step one might be just to remove gluten (wheat, rye, barley) from your diet. It’s much easier to do than you think. I did, and my I soon had no discomfort in my abdomen, and I dropped about seven pounds!

Supplements that are supportive of thyroid health specifically include iodine and l-tyrosine. Patients have found that raw dessicated porcine thyroid works much better than Synthroid, and even the newly reformulated Armour. I offer this information as a beginning point, and recommend seeking supportive health care providers to assist you on your journey.

FINDING SUPPORTIVE HEALTH CARE PROVIDERSfoot work

It is important to work with a doctor, or other health care provider who understands and supports thyroid and adrenal health. Again, the website http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/ is a valuable resource in helping you find a suitable doctor. Another resource is http://www.brodabarnes.org/, though you may need to pay to receive a listing of doctor’s in your area.  I am an advocate for health professionals that will support your return to optimal health. 

Remember, our genetics are a factor: Experiences that have been passed down to us through our lineage, such as famine, war, surviving holocaust and more, influence genetic expression. There are countless people who would benefit from this knowledge, yet they are unable to use it, as they have no support from family, friends, nor the society around them.  I welcome the opportunity to support you in finding your way on your journey, through the challenges discussed here, or another.

It is through educating ourselves, and making empowered choices, that we will change our own lives to reflect our true values. By living these values we shape our communities, influencing the directions of institutions designed to support us. If established institutions will not support our values, our empowerment will be the catalyst in creating structures that do. 

May we all flourish in the gentle sunlight and warmth she brings!

Yours in health, 

Angela,
Body and Soul Healing Arts

When I was asked to write about prenatal massage, I could only think of all the things I am learning about how pre and perinatal birth experiences may imprint us for life, and have the potential to affect generations!. Common prenatal massage benefits are the mother-to-be’s physical and emotional well-being. Sometimes it is mentioned that the unborn little ones receive benefits from endorphin release as well. All true. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg!

The latest in neuroscience and the new field of epigenetics have shown researchers that there is so much more to this. As I am in a Pre and Perinatal Trauma Resolution training I’ll be able to explain it all better soon. But for now, since it is transforming the way I language things. And is permeating all aspects of my practice. In the paragraphs that follow, I’ll share resources I believe will support any child at any stage of life, whether in utero, childhood or adulthood.

pregnancy imageSome of you may already know that we are present in our mothers, when our mothers are in our grandmothers womb. Yes, a four month old fetus already contains all the eggs she will carry forth into her maturity. Epigenetics tells us that the emotions, thoughts and experiences of our grandparents effect the expression of genes (which genes are turned on or off) in their grandchildren. Consequently, the greater the endorphin enriched environment a little one is exposed to, the more resiliency the child will express, as will their children!

Science finally supports the instinctual bonds that exist between generations. It it no longer a question of nature vs. nurture: it is nature AND nurture. If your are interested in learning more about this refer to the research eloquently and exuberantly demonstrated in the youtube lecture, The Biology of Belief  by Bruce Lipton, PhD;  The Neurobiology of We by Daniel Seigel, MD; and The Neurobiology of Secure Attachment a youtube interview with Allan Schore, MD. Enjoy!

Loving prenatal care in all forms will positively affect mother, father, family system, newborn, and their little ones; rippling out into the future. Prenatal massage and bodywork is certainly supportive of resiliency. Prenatal care that supports the empowerment of the family is essential. As is the environment surrounding birth and infant development, as mentioned earlier. One of many wonderful resources supportive of empowered birth is Spiritual Midwifery, a very readable classic by Ina May Gaskin. I highly recommend it to anyone planning on parenthood.

So, this wasn’t exactly an article on the benefits of prenatal massage. But I hope it offers compelling resources that are empowering to mothers and families for generations!.  With love…..Angela

Prolapses of the uterus, and attending other lower abdominal organs, i.e. the bladder and rectum sometimes occurs after childbirth with some women. For other women, most of whom have had children, these challenges often appear in our 50’s or later. And for women who have never had children, as well as for those who have, posture plays a huge role! This was a recent epiphany for me.
The following resources support prevention and rehabilitation of these challenges:
  • Maya Abdominal Therapy is very supportive in rehabilitating prolapse/cystocele/rectocele. The self-care massage, which is taught during the session, is done with a pillow under the glutes, tilting the lower abdominal organs back into the body and allowing for greater access to them manually.
  • Postural corrections are essential for rehabilitating the condition and to prevent these challenges from happening at all. It is important to realize that we, as women, are supposed to have a curve in our lower back. Our behinds are not supposed to be tucked under us. Enculturalization, whereby anything remotely provocative of sexuality is suppressed is the basis for requiring denial of healthful posture, and by extension, healthful expression of sexuality. By healing your posture you can heal your sexuality.To remedy the physical aspect of these challenges, strengthening the gluteal muscles and the lateral (outside) aspect of the hips is suggested. Great resources in supporting you to heal your self  (imagine that!), are found at the following websitesWhole Woman, Inc.Aligned and Well, and Hab-it Pelvic Floor Exercises.
  • My experiences have taught me that most dis-ease begins at the psycho/spiritual/soul/emotional level: To support your self in preventing or healing prolapses, I highly recommend reading and following the suggestions in my colleague, Tami Lynn Kent’s book, Wild Feminine. It will empower you in ways that you hadn’t imagined.
  • And finally, the latest yummy oil I have been exposed to is Ashwaganda/Bala Oil, made with a sesame oil base. Soaking a tampon in the oil and inserting in brings it’s tissue tonifying properties to where they are needed. It can also be used as a topical over the abdomen, or anywhere  muscle or fascia may be damaged, debilitated, or in need of restoration. You can purchase this oil at Banyan Botanicals.

Please feel free to share this with anyone you know who might benefit from this information. Share the love and help create a wider and wider circle of empowered women!

Your local actions create the future;

Locally, though receiving little press, Maryland midwives are fighting for their right to exist. Over the last few years there has been a nation-wide effort by the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ACOG) to take away the rights of CPM’s to attend births resulting in more than a few local seasoned midwives to have charges brought against them for practicing medicine without a license. These wise women are being terrorized for practicing their livelihood, and are in fact threatened with loosing their ability to practice and provide this sacred work to mother’s to be.

Regardless of whether or not you would consider the services of a midwife to support you in your own life, increasing numbers of women, as they become educated about the effects of medicalized childbirth on their own health and that of their newborn, are seeking out the support of these women. The World Health Organization supports midwifery as the most sensible choice to insure best outcomes for mother’s and babies. In fact, 26 states already license CPM’s to attend home births. Our state government, spurred on by ACOG, is seeking to limit the choices women have to give birth.

As a woman who supports women in rebuilding their health and along with it, their sense of being empowered persons, I urge you to sign the petition on the site; Maryland Families for Safe Birth Petition. And if so inspired, please write your legislators as well, at  Maryland Families for Safe Birth. This is an opportunity to shape the future by supporting empowered births, empowered women, and consequently their families. YOU!

With love, Angela