You are trying to fix your hormones, tame your hormones, survive your hormones…is it working? If not, here’s help and an explanation of why it’s so complicated.
Your body is complex- 11 systems comprised of 37.2 trillion cells working together with 100 trillion bacteria to keep you energetic, sleeping well and thinking clearly. Source
Our modern environment is also complex. Wi-fi, international news reports, food additives, long work days…we all have a lot challenging us right now.
You are probably already trying to be healthy. Did you cut down on sugar, caffeine, gluten? That’s great! Are you noticing some steadier moods or a slimmer waistline? I hope so.
You may also be trying to get regular exercise, and maybe even meditating. That’s great too! How about reading blogs like this one and attending online health summits? Yup. These foundations of diet, exercise, stress reduction, and education are all very important.
But what if you are still tired? What if you still have no sex drive? Raging acne? Creeping weight gain?
You may think, “well I must have adrenal fatigue.”
That’s the mindset I had several years ago. I was eating really well but still had spotting before my periods and really low energy in the afternoons. I thought, “Well, it’s the stress. I need to do a better job of handling stress.” But I never seemed to accomplish that.
Later I had a DUTCH (Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones) test, and it revealed something new to me. It suggested I may have low thyroid function, which I had never suspected. I didn’t have the hair loss, weight gain, etc. that I had learned about with low thyroid.
Important Point #1: Your hormone problems are not always what you think.
It’s easy to come to a conclusion that you have estrogen dominance, low hormone levels, low adrenal function, etc, but you don’t really know until you test. You can, like me, beat yourself about a diagnosis you’ve decided on and keep self-treating for it, but it’s better to test and really know.
After my DUTCH results suggested I had low thyroid function, I ran a full thyroid panel on myself for the first time. Although I had run blood tests in the past, I had never tested my thyroid antibodies as I hadn’t suspected an issue there.
My results showed a very low level of thyroid antibodies, and I’m so glad I caught it early. Around the same time I was chronically sick, and, at first, I figured it must be this thyroid issue.
But soon after we learned that we had toxic mold within the walls of our house, which took me down a deeper rabbit hole of testing.
Important Point # 2: Your hormone problems came from somewhere.
It’s important to realize that your body will not randomly give you a thyroid condition, or any other hormonal imbalance. It wants to have a working thyroid gland and balanced hormones.
As I learned about mold, I learned that it, among other triggers, can contribute to thyroid issues. This is why I still do not identify with a Hashimoto’s diagnosis, but rather I consider myself a person in the process of healing and clearing deeper causes of illness.
Recently I had a new type of stool test. My past stool tests had revealed some bacterial imbalance and H. Pylori infection, an infection I cleared without any improvement in my gastrointestinal symptoms.
I was ‘inspired’ to run a GI Map test by Diagnostic Solutions laboratory after interviewing Dr. Todd Watts about parasites on my podcast, and then promptly passing a worm in my stool the next day! What timing. Side note: if you see something that looks like a pad thai noodle or a bean sprout in your stool, but you’ve didn’t eat either the day before, you should be highly suspicious!
The GI Map is different because it looks for DNA fragments of parasite and other infections in your stool. So it doesn’t miss much. However, according to Dr. Watts, it is still inadequate because it does not test for every type of parasite.
But for me, a parasite was found, and it did appear to roughly match the specimen I had found in my stool. I lived a year in rural South America about 20 years ago, and I had suspected a parasite back then. But you don’t need to leave the country to get a parasite! Again according to Dr. Watts, “everyone who has a pulse has a parasite.” According to the Center for Disease Control's website, " Parasitic infections affect millions of people in the United States every year."
I mention stool testing because 100% of the clients in our coaching program have GI issues contributing to hormonal issues.
When you are housing candida infections, aberrant bacterial growth, parasites, H. Pylori infection or Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), it’s a chronic stress or your body, leading to inflammation, malnutrition or even autoimmune disease. It’s incredibly common, and digestion and hormones are not often enough linked in the medical conversation.
Important Point # 3: Your primary care doctor probably doesn’t take a functional approach to health care.
Many people comment to me that they want to feel better and they are very interested in the functional approach, and then their next question is, “Can my doctor run these tests for me?”
Yes and no. Sometimes your doctor to run a full CBC blood panel for you, and have them add vitamin D and thyroid antibodies. However:
Within a conventional medical system, she can’t run labs for diagnoses they don’t suspect based on their training
If she is not a functional practitioner, she will not interpret your results in a functional way, and may tell you you are fine (when you don’t feel fine)
She definitely cannot run the advanced urinary, saliva and stool tests we use because these tests are not available to them through the conventional medical system
You can’t ask your doctor to practice functional medicine if that’s not what she practices.
It’s like asking your massage therapist to give you acupuncture. It's not within their training.
Our clients can sometimes get helpful blood tests through their doctors that we can review, and I also encourage them to use a Health Savings Account (it’s pre-tax money you put towards health expenses) when possible.
I understand that spending money out-of-pocket on medical expenses is not fun. I understand that many people are living on modest means and supporting kids, parents, and other family members financially.
Our family has spent, get this, at least $100,000 in remediating mold in our house, replacing all our stuff, missing work, moving to a safer space, and treating our health. And the spending hasn’t stopped because I’m not all healed up yet, and we still have some mold-infected belongings to replace.
So I am sympathetic, but at the same time, I have made incredible sacrifices to heal myself and my family. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.
The experience I went through with mold was a huge growth opportunity. It made me realize how short and fragile life is, and gave me a deep hunger to get well and live my life to the fullest.
I recently read this quote in the book, Gratitude, by author and physician Oliver Sacks, after he learned he had advanced liver cancer, "It is now up to me to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can."
I had a firsthand experience with the web of diseases and how they interconnect. It was not easy to identify my root causes nor navigate the options for care.
As a health coach, my experience made me a strong advocate for my clients to persist and get well, even if the path seems impossible to find, or the mountain too big to climb.
We have women in our program who are too sick to work, homemakers or who are working low-wage jobs. I am fiercely proud of them for choosing to invest in their health. Others have parents that choose to support them in their healthcare, often in cases of infertility where the odds of becoming a grandparent are increased!
It comes down to choosing more for yourself- to believing your health could be improved, which allows you to be happier and more productive. You also have to be willing to work and to pick yourself up when you have a hard day of symptoms.
If you'd like to have a conversation with me about your health journey and what we do in our functional health coaching program, please check out our current coaching options Our private coaching program does include choosing the best lab test for your case, placing the orders for you, interpreting your results, setting a protocol based on those results, and adjusting and monitoring your protocol for best results.
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Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDNP, is trained in functional health coaching and has worked with thousands of women over her career since 2004. She is the founder of Women’s Wellness Collaborative llc and HormoneDetoxShop.com.