NourishDoc: Hello, everyone, and happy Monday. Well, hope everyone had a great weekend. I know I did, and I relaxed for a change. So, that’s great. We are talking about hormonal balance for women. We have talked about this subject quite a bit. However, we have never talked about how Chinese Medicine can help maintain hormonal balance, and that’s what we are talking about with Dr. Sara, a Chinese medicine doctor and a functional medicine practitioner focusing on helping women like all maintain their hormone balance. Thank you so much, Dr. Sara, for joining me.
Dr. Sara: Thank you for inviting me. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to our conversation.
How TCM Views A Person
NourishDoc: Great. Let’s start. I know Chinese Medicine is an umbrella that encompasses so many different things, right? It’s not only the herbs or the acupuncture; many other things are part of your tools. So, talk to us about the process if someone comes to you from a Chinese medicine perspective to help them balance their hormones.
Dr. Sara: Right. So, when patients call our clinic, they will book their appointment. Then they fill out an expanded health history. A comment we get a lot is that it’s one of the longest health histories they’ve filled out because we ask questions about their sleep, appetite, digestion, and the whole gamut of things. After all, Chinese Medicine sees the person as a whole person. It’s not that you have hot flashes. We will do this for you regardless of which patient you are. Each patient has an individualized treatment plan.
So, we may have ten women come into our clinic weekly with hot flashes, and they will each get a completely different treatment. There might be a little overlap, but it’s about a whole person’s diagnosis. We may choose to use acupuncture. We may use herbs. We may often or almost always use lifestyle and dietary advice; stress management is a massive component of our treatment plan. So, each person gets an individualized treatment plan that often includes multiple modalities rather than just acupuncture or herbs. Ideally, we treat the person with as many tools as possible to get them well.
Chinese Herbs Which Help In Balancing Hormones
NourishDoc: Okay. This is a quick 10-minute session today about what we are doing. So, most of us are familiar with acupuncture sessions. However, we must become more familiar with acupuncture with Chinese herbs. We are more familiar with Kitten Spices, and Chinese herbs have very different names. So, talk to us about common Chinese herbs that you have used to help a hormone balance and what lifestyle modifications you recommend along with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
Dr. Sara: Right. Well, the term turning young that many people have heard in Chinese Medicine is essential in how we see the body and a person, whether they have too much yin or too much yang, if they’re too hot or too cold. So, that’s a great place to start. I’ll give an example of an herb that’s popular these days, turmeric, which is, you know, a fantastic herb. It’s excellent for anti-inflammatory. Many people use it for different uses, but if a person comes into us.
They already have excess heat in their body, which may not be the most excellent herb for treating what they got going on because systemically, they’ve already, they’ve already had too much heat internally. We don’t want to add to it. So, we always look at herbs as polypharmacy in Chinese Medicine. We never prescribe one herb for a particular condition. It’s always multiple herbs for a person and their condition. So, certain herbs that we use to regulate hormones that are across-the-board hormonal regulators that we use commonly are wild yam, Dongwe, Vitex, and licorice.
We use many herbs, but we usually use them in a Chinese medicinal formula rather than, for instance, if I tell you to go out and get Vitex and take it; that’s not how Chinese herbal Medicine works. If you want the beauty of Chinese herbal Medicine, find a Chinese herbalist to help you regulate things. Then for maintenance, it may be easier to find a minor formula of three or four herbs rather than a more complex formula that I prescribe for someone with ten different herbs.
NourishDoc: Okay, and then along with that, so that makes sense, it’s like a personalized formula, a personalized medicine, right? If you think about it, precisely because you’re going to assess me as an example, whatever issues might have, you know, say, oh, a little bit of licorice, a little bit of turmeric, a little bit of Vitax versus someone else who comes might have some other kinds.
Dr. Sara: Absolutely, and there are some common herbs. We have a familiar herbal formula called Xiaoyaosan that regulates liver dysfunction; we have Xiaosan, which is called Free and Easy Wanderer, which helps to soothe the live liver, which tends to be good when we have some stress, some outside stressors, the liver, and Chinese Medicine is involved with regulating hormones. That’s an excellent gentle formula.
There, someone pulled it off the shelf; we don’t usually recommend that, but if someone did, it’s a safe formula for women if they’re looking to take the edge off, nourish their hormones, nourish their liver. It has a blood deficiency component to it. So, if someone needs to boost their blood, they can take that. Some formulas may be more user-friendly than others. However, it’s different from the beauty of Chinese Medicine, and it’s different from how we work.
NourishDoc: Sure, so it’s not like, I can take us some Chinese formula tonic daily to make sure my hormones are regulated, right? It’s not like that, right? I can’t just scoop it up and say, okay, I’m taking my greens, matcha or, you know, one of those kinds of things, that’s what I meant.
Dr. Sara: Right, so some tonic formulas would be okay for a generally healthy person to support their health, but usually, we want to clear away any imbalances before we use that type of food-based, gentle Medicine. We want to make sure that we clear any excesses, deficiencies, or imbalances. Once we get you to a better place, we could recommend some lifelong formulas.
Chinese Medicine Toolbox For Food & Diet
NourishDoc: Okay. So we’re talking about the toolbox you’re using: acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and what else? From a diet point of view, you’re analyzing yin and yang, and is there a difference from a Chinese perspective? I’m not an expert on Chinese Medicine here. But warming foods versus cold foods. I mean, that’s at least what I have read, and if you go someone else, they’ll say, oh, eat salad. I would like to know if you can explain how Chinese Medicine works regarding food and diet.
Dr. Sara: Sure. So again, going back to that hot cold. And there are more than just hot and cold, but that’s a great example that’s accessible. And Chinese herbal therapy and food therapy or nutritional advice are going to be similar in that we want to make sure that if you, for instance, have a cold or digestive system situation going on, we want to make sure that you’re not just eating salads and smoothies.
All those may make technical sense from a western view of nutrients and, you know, how many calories you’re taking in and all that. When you’re eating cold, damp foods like that, It takes your body much work to warm them up. If you already have a weak, cold, digestive system, you don’t have the fire to cook those foods within you, so it’ll be essential to cook your foods first. So, someone does have that cold, digestive dysfunction. In that case, we’ll ask them to do more soups and things that have already been partially digested by cooking before consuming them.
NourishDoc: So, you will analyze someone’s body’s constitution, the same concept, right? They have four constitutions, and then according to the heat inside the body, you’re determining the food would be recommended accordingly. That’s what I’m understanding.
Dr. Sara: There are different flavors like salty, sweet, sour, and bitter, and all of those provide different benefits for people if they have either an excess or a poor condition. So, we do a whole work up. Whatever your diagnosis, we’re not only going to formulate an acupuncture plan; We’re also going to give you a formula, an herbal formula, and then tell you things you can do to complement your diet. So, yes, it’s not necessarily just four, but there are hot, cold, and disharmonies in different organ systems. There are a lot of different things that we look at to create a diagnosis.
Diagnostic Tools To Identify Hormonal Imbalance
NourishDoc: And what are the diagnostic tools that you use to figure out what, what’s going on in someone’s body?
Dr. Sara: Right, There are a lot of different tools that we use. The primary one is your pulse. We take your pulses. You have six different pulses on each wrist that will give us information. Then we also will look at your tongue. So we’ll look at your tongue both the color of the actual body, the color of the coating, how much coating is on your tongue, whether there are scallops around the edges of your tongue if there’s a red tip on, if there’s a red tip to your tongue, we look at the to formulate a diagnosis, and that’s important because pulses can change day by day. Tongues stay mostly the same.
So, as we get to know a patient and get more pulse readings and tongue, we watch the tongue and how it responds to treatment. We can understand what’s going on in the body. If someone’s got a cold, deficient system, their tongue will be pale and maybe even a little purplish. Somebody that’s got much anxiety, and it’s one of those fast-paced people that’s constantly moving and grooving, may have that red tip on their tongue. So, it helps to give us clues. Then, we ask questions about their sleep, appetite, sense of taste, and whether they like cold or hot things. There are so many different things that we look at to formulate a plan with a patient.
NourishDoc: Okay, it’s very, very complex as opposed to giving one pill, which on the societies used to take it, and then hopefully God help you. Right?
Dr. Sara: Right. It’s the opposite of that. Because we’re not looking to put a band-aid on something, Western Medicine has some excellent life-saving tools. I’ve had my life saved by Western Medicine, and I certainly wouldn’t throw it out with the bathwater. But there are many lifestyle diseases that we can pick up on them before they become full-blown. Let’s say diabetes or, you know, a full-blown, primary health concern that does need medication. We can pick up on those imbalances beforehand. In that case, we can cultivate health instead of managing illness, which is essential.
NourishDoc: Well, I think this is a great example; the way you explained the whole process, and that’s what we need to think about our bodies, is not that one pill, we take a pill like we are a pill society, we want like Amazon, everything to be fixed within 2 hours. The package is arriving, you know, so we are used to that kind of a mentality; we shift our mentality for our bodies.
Dr. Sara: And that is our biggest challenge, as a practitioner of this Medicine, is, it’s both a beauty and a challenge in teaching our patients how to slow down and honor their body’s processes, not treat it like Amazon. Please do not treat it like we need an immediate fix because that will not always serve you, and it does not often serve you to treat your body like that.
How Can You Nourish Yourself Naturally?
NourishDoc: Exactly, and that’s what we are trying to do; we are here to advocate holistic therapies and tell people that this is not a one-pill fix that we’re going to do. It is a continuous effort that we all have to work on our bodies, on ourselves, not only physical as well as the social aspect of it, to make sure that this engine is working excellently and beautifully in a well-oiled machine here, right?
Dr. Sara: Yeah, you have to keep it well oiled with all the things that it needs and you know, stopping at the fast food place on your way home from a long day of work with a six-hour commute and yada yada yada. It doesn’t. It’s just not that you may live longer, but you may need to live better with some of the tools in western Medicine. You know, they can keep you alive. However, you know, eighty-year-old patients that come in, and each eighty-year-old is so different as far as what choices, obviously, some of the genetic things they bring to the table, but what choices they’ve made along the way will make 80 look a lot different for each person.
NourishDoc: Well, thank you so much. That is very insightful information. Anything else you’d like to add before I wrap up this Monday’s session? This is our first Monday session for this week.
Dr. Sara: Right. Well, again, we treat the body as a whole, and that’s an important thing. Whatever paradigms you choose to walk into, whether it’s Chinese Medicine, yoga, or any holistic health field. It’s about connecting mind, body, and spirit and nourishing yourself. And I love the name NourishDoc because that is what we’re doing here, teaching people how to nourish themselves while providing a service of acupuncture or Chinese herbs along the way; the part I need to nourish myself is a big huge part of our Medicine. It’s a beautiful part.
NourishDoc: Thank you. Thank you so much. Yeah, you said it very beautifully. We all have to nourish ourselves daily. So, with that, thank you, everyone, for your support. Thank you, Dr. Sara, for joining me this morning; stay tuned; our platform is ready and live. So, we are coming up with that and many other cool things. So, with that, thank you.
Dr. Sara: Thank you.