Posts

Autoimmune Disease Explained

orangeimmunecells bursting outThe relationship between autoimmune disease and immune resilience.

These are very delicate times we are facing, especially with our health. And more specifically, because the coronavirus virus (COVID -19) has hit hard. To make things a little more clearer, we really need to understand the relationship between autoimmune disease and immune resilience. This, at least, may help people with autoimmune diseases feel a little more secure about the whole COVID-19 situation.

So, autoimmunity… and why does the body attack itself?

In my previous blogs I talked about immune tolerance and immune resilience. However, it’s important to understand that having an autoimmune disease doesn’t mean to say it will weaken immune resilience. But we’ll get to that later. First, let’s look at what autoimmunity really is.

Autoimmunity, to describe it in medical terms, is a disorder where the immune system erroneously destroys and attacks body tissue. Put simply, it is the immune system going slightly crazy (it’s gone into ‘tilt mode’) and mistakenly eats, destroys, and attacks body tissue. As an example, Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, where the body mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland; or rheumatoid arthritis, where the body mistakenly attacks the joints. Other examples of autoimmunity are type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, alopecia, vitiligo, etc.

Under normal circumstances the immune system is able to tell the difference between foreign (nonself)cells and your own (self) cells. And protect against germs like bacteria and viruses, sending or releasing, an army of fighter cells, natural killer cells, etc, to attack the foreign invader.

When we look at autoimmune disease, however, the immune system erroneously thinks parts of the body, such as the thyroid, joints, skin, etc, are foreign. Your immune system is in ‘tilt mode’, and sends out, or releases autoantibodies that then attack healthy cells.


How does autoimmunity affect your chances of contracting an illness – viral, bacterial or otherwise?

Well, that depends. When we talk about autoimmune disease and immune resilience we need to look at how well your immune function is working in relation to your autoimmunity. To put it another way, different people may have the same autoimmune disease but either a higher or lower immune state. And in fact, autoimmunity can either heighten or dampen immune resilience.

As an example, some people with Hashimoto’s may have a high white blood count and some a low white blood count. Some may have different levels of natural killer cells, T-cell regulation, and B-cell activity, etc. Everyone is different, just because you have the same autoimmune disease doesn’t mean your immune status will be the same!

What this means is some people with autoimmunity alone may have a heightened immune status, meaning they have a high immune resilience. One way to tell if your immune resilience is strong is if you haven’t caught a cold or flu over the last 5 years or so. Even when, at the same time, heightened immune activity may exacerbate autoimmune attacks against bodily tissues. This may seem a little complicated but really it isn’t. A good way to look at it is, we should think of autoimmunity and the immune resilience as two functioning processes that can harm us or protect us. Autoimmunity is a disease which harms us, whereas immune resilience, which can be built or broken depending on your lifestyle habits. When immune resilience is strong we will be less likely to catch get ill. And less prone to chronic disease.

Do people with autoimmunity need to be cautious when taking botanicals?

Well, yes and no!

Let me explain. Because autoimmunity instigates such a diversity of immune responses in each and everyone of us that have it, we need to think before we start taking any herbs, medicinal mushrooms, or other botanicals that can influence the immune system. Of course, it is always best to speak with a qualified functional/restorative doctor before commencing any regime.

If we take a look at the immune-stimulating botanicals such as echinacea or maitake mushrooms in some autoimmune people, they can fire up the immune system and make their autoimmune symptoms even worse. Again, botanicals that actually delay or slow immune response, such as antibody production, can also make autoimmune people worse. We need to be very careful here. Talk to your qualified functional/restorative physician or doctor.

The best way to modulate the Immune system and improve resilience with autoimmunity

So, let’s cut to the chase. If you are one of those people who finds it difficult to balance your immune system, or measure chronic disease, your lifestyle picture should be looked at. As mentioned in my previous blog they make a world of difference. These lifestyle strategies include:

Of course, there are many other healthy lifestyle habits you can take on which help balance immune function. But just start off slowly and you’ll see, you’ll get there. The key is to understand how important your life is…and your health. We only get one shot at this, and we only have one body. You can’t buy a new one, it’s not like a car or fancy dress. Take care of yourself and learn to love yourself. Remember you are the best thing that ever happened to you 🙂

You can find previous blogs here:

Healthy Immune System – Healthy You

The Immune Reset

To your health

Jill:) xx

Why Are You Not Taking Bioidentical Hormones?

Peri_wordswhite abckgrouI often ask myself why every menopausal woman (including perimenopausal and postmenopausal women), isn’t on bioidentical hormones. A therapy known as bioidentical hormone restorative therapy (BHRT). To me it is a phenomenon that just doesn’t fit. Something is wrong here. I’m perplexed, considering the immense benefits they can give you, both short-term and long-term.

Is it because they don’t know enough about this therapy? Is it because they’ve been conned into thinking it is dangerous or, that they just don’t work. Of course they work!

Could it be because they have never heard of them before? It is true that we don’t often hear people, including doctors, debating or talking about bioidentical hormones in Europe. And when we do it’s usually negative, strangely enough. Even if it has existed for over 30 years in America.

That’s basically a long-term study right there for you. We need studies to give us scientific proof, facts, and truths. Long-term studies are the best for bringing out the truth and to see if the subject in question is valid or not, whether it be a medicine or a plastic implant for joints. This long-term study on BHRT, that I put before you is definitely a resounding YES! It works. And how it works!

To give you a better understanding of bioidentical hormones, and body physiology, let’s take a quick look.

Hormone Decline

Hormones decline with age, starting at about age 30. The decline is slow until we reach about 40ish, let’s say 45, where the majority of women enter menopause. And where there is a sudden and drastic drop in female hormones. This phase is known as perimenopause, and usually lasts from 5 to 10 years. Perimenopause is where women begin to suffer symptoms, due to the hormonal decline, such as hot flushes/flashes, mood swings, brain fog, aching joints, sleepless nights, weight gain, and many more, that I am sure you are all aware of.

When our hormones decline many women lose themselves…or at least I did. I was no longer the person I had once been. I lost my lust for life, my positivity, my stamina and Jill herself. She was gone. She has of course since returned, and better than ever. Thanks to BHRT.

When there is a hormonal imbalance, havoc erupts within the body and trouble begins. Basically, when hormones decline it creates problems within the endocrine system (where hormones are made) and follows on to other body systems, including immune, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems. You may have noticed you don’t digest foods as easily as you once did. That’s a sign (or even symptom)…listen to it!

If you want to be healthy, both physically and mentally, and continue to be healthy you need to optimise and balance hormone levels so as to support optimal physiology. Hormones are vital for repair and are the most powerful agent in the regulation of optimal physiology. Physiology simply refers to a healthy, well-functioning body and mind.

What Your Local GP Usually Has to Say

When symptoms occur and perimenopause hits, women usually go to their local GP and ask if they are in menopause…of course you are. Your age suggests it and your symptoms are telling you you are.

Your GP will most likely offer you HRT (synthetic), antidepressants, and sleeping tablets. Pat you on the back and tell you, all will be ok, and that it will pass. Hmmm…I’m not so sure about that! In fact, it doesn’t pass, hormonal decline only gets worse.

Your symptoms will pass once your body has adapted to its new hormonal environment…low hormone production. But hormonal decline doesn’t go away unless you do something about it…like restore them. It only gets worse. We are now moving towards total degradation and chronic disease, but that’s for another discussion.

Your symptoms by the way, are actually withdrawal symptoms, due to lack of hormones (hormonal decline). It’s a hormonal revolt. It only makes sense the body is going to suffer if it is missing the major messaging molecule. Yes, hormones are our messaging machine. They make us or they break us, simple as that.

Bioidentical Hormones And What They Can Do For You

What are bioidentical hormones? Why are they so good…GREAT really?

Bioidentical hormones are biologically identical to the hormones that are produced in our body. They are identical in molecular structure – hormone replicas. They come from soya, wild yam and other plant extracts. This is one of the reasons they are so well accepted by the body (because they are exact in structure), and therefore, can be used just as our own hormones, for regeneration and repair.

Importantly, they make us feel great…fantastic in fact. They give us our life back. They are miracle-molecules. They nurture the brain and feed the body. One way of looking at it is, they are the body’s endogenous (made in the body) food. When perimenopause is upon us we are in hormonal- starvation mode. Do we really need this when we can restore them so easily?

Hormones are the essence of life itself. They regulate every bodily function: sleep, growth, blood pressure, heartbeat, breathing,– without them we would simply die. They control muscle tone, build bone, make us fat or thin, maintain correct levels of sugar in the blood and tissue, control women’s menstrual cycles, make men males, rule the passage of time and the voyage into menopause.

They make us happy or sad, they make us cry or laugh, they are us. They give us beautiful skin, nails and hair or vice versa. When hormones decline our skin begins to wrinkle and sag before its time. Hair loses its shine and thickness, and nails start to crack and become brittle, or even become soft. That is just a few examples for you.


Hormones and Immune System Support

Another major benefit of optimal hormone levels is they support our immune system and its function. When hormones decline so does our immune system.

We are the ones that make the choices which strengthen or weaken our immune system. Our immune system is the protector of our health and vitality, which enables us to feel good both physically and emotionally. If our immune system is weak we are less able to handle stress and more susceptible to illnesses. When our immune system is suppressed over a long period, we are definitely more likely to suffer from far more serious diseases such as breast cancer, arthritis, autoimmune diseases and more. I am protecting my protector. You? A major component of having a strong immune system is restoring hormone levels.

In short, without optimal levels of hormones our body slows down and becomes inefficient. We then deteriorate at a great rate and age at a faster speed.

Why do that to yourself?

Take this opportunity to live your best life.

If you would like to know more please read my book, “The Menopause Cure – Hormonal Health

To your health

Jill

5 Perimenopause Reads for Menopause Awareness Month 2015

menopause awareness peri-menopause

For Menopause Awareness Month 2015, I am focusing on the perimenopause because it’s vital women are armed with information in their early 40s. Understanding the hormonal changes in your body and the role they play in your health and quality of life is the first step in dealing with the perimenopause, menopause and the ageing process.

Furthermore, I want to turn this life stage, that is traditionally considered negative, into a positive! I wrote the book, The Hormone Cure: Hormonal Health, to share my own experience of the menopause, the difficulties I faced and how I overcame them by restoring my body to optimal hormonal levels. I wish this information had been available to me when I hit 40!

Perimenopause

Let me tackle one misconception about the menopause early on. The menopause is when you stop having your period for one whole year. But… and not every women is aware of this… the six to thirteen years leading up to that are characterised by symptoms such as hot flushes, disturbed sleep, bone loss, irritability, mixed up emotions and mood changes, to name just a few. This period of time is known as perimenopause. It can be a difficult transition, not just for women, but also for their husbands, partners, friends, children, and the entire family.

Be Prepared

Although the menopause is a normal part of ageing, many women are not fully prepared for the symptoms. The symptoms are caused by fluctuating hormone levels. We are all different, so although your friend may experience hot flushes that leave her gasping for breath, you may not. Instead you may have migraines, brain fog or forgetfulness (one of my girlfriends drove off with her handbag on the roof of her car not just once, but almost every morning!)

For others, mood swings are a burden, not just for them but their entire family who have to tiptoe around on eggshells in order to avoid yet another unexplainable, wild tantrum.

It doesn’t have to be this way! Contrary to the conventional menopause stereotypes that we often see in the media, you can have a happy, healthy, strong and sexually vibrant life, into your forties, fifties and beyond. The key is to get the right information early on.

So, get informed now, read my 5 most popular articles on the menopause.

  1. I’m too young for this! Perimenopause is the precursor to the menopause no one tells you about. Read more…
  2. What to expect from the perimenopause. What to expect from perimenopause but more importantly, what you DO NOT have to accept about it! Read more…
  3. The emotional side of menopause. I often hear from women saying that they feel anxious, sad, depressed, or that they have lost something deep down inside, something emotional, something almost heart-rending; is it that they have lost themselves? Read more…
  4. What is oestrogen dominance? In perimenopause both oestrogens and progesterone levels drop. Oestrogens drop by 40% to 60% and progesterone levels can drop to nearly zero. Read more…
  5. Bioidentical Hormones Frequently Asked Questions. Everything you needed to know about Bioidentical Hormones. What is Bioidentical Restorative Hormone Therapy? Also known as Bioidentical HRT or BHRT. Read more…

Don’t forget to check out the signs and symptoms of menopause.

You can find out more about Menopause Awareness Month below.

menopause-awareness-month
Menopause Awareness Month

How do women cope with the menopause at work

Dont’ let it get the better of you.

“I am coming out, and have nothing to be ashamed of! I am stepping out onto the stage of life and shouting it loud and clear, “I am a menopausal women and I am proud of it!” I Am a MENOPAUSAL WOMAN… who restored her body and got her ‘mojo’ back, in its entirety. I got it all back and I can cope with anything. Yes, you heard right, ‘There ain’t no stopping me now’.”

Why is it that we feel we have to hide this fact? Maybe it’s because we don’t feel as good about ourselves as we used to, we are less confident, maybe because most people believe the definition of menopause is the end, old, finished – not so!

Maybe it is because we are less able to cope, and no one should know this. That’s a big one! I am so desperately sad when I hear from women who say they can’t cope, that they can’t keep up with their male counterparts, or younger colleagues.

“How do professional women cope with the menopause? How do women manage their high-flying career when they are suddenly hit with hot flushes, foggy thinking and/or mood swings, together will sleeping disorders?”

This is the question I am constantly asked. This is the question I am going to answer for you!

Hot flushes

What do you do if you are sitting in a meeting with a table full of men and suddenly a hot flush hits you? Do you perspire and suffer in agitated in silence, getting redder and redder, or do you excuse yourself telling your colleagues that nature has just presented you with something that is known as a ‘hot flush’ and you just need to step out and cool down a little.

No way. You hide it, you sit there and perspire, fidgeting in your seat. There’s no need for them to know that you are menopausal, that would just start the ball rolling. We do not have to suffer these embarrassing moments anymore, there is a solution. A safe solution.

Foggy thinking

What if you have to present that all important project that you’ve been working so hard on, and for so long, when you can’t remember your words. Not good when you need a high degree of intellectual control. This is a normal perimenopausal process, but needn’t be so debilitating .

We have a hormonal imbalance and our brain is rewiring. Who wants to lose their thinking power at 40 or 50. Who wants to let go of their experienced, efficient, sophisticate and more mature brain? We are at our peak, we are at the top of our career, why let go? We do not have to, there is a solution, a safe solution!

Emotions

What if you are suddenly overcome with weepiness or even heart-felt sobbing, for no apparent reason, when you are walking through an office full of people. Your professional self-esteem just hit the floor, but it’s not your fault – your hormones are playing tricks on you; you have an imbalance.

Whoever would have thought that hormones could play such an critical role in the body and be such a powerful molecule? They literally make or break us. This is why menopause can break us, our body is suffering withdrawal symptoms, our hormone levels are in a decline, and are no longer at optimal. Our body desperately needs those precious hormones to enable it to function correctly, as we did before we entered menopause.

Sleep

Sleep is so important to our health, without enough sleep we cannot function correctly, we become moody, angry, put on weight, are constantly fatigued, our energy levels drop, and in some case, we may even get depressed.

Without enough sleep our healing hormones cannot regenerate themselves, with insufficient sleep our hormones become imbalanced, with a hormonal imbalance we cannot sleep. How does that sound? It is a vicious cycle. It can work both ways! What we need is to regain balance. We need to restore our body.

Feeling lousy most of the time and having to hide it is not something women want but most of the time they do, either out of embarrassment, or out of fear of being seen as less competent. Would you ever go to HR to discuss this particular problem? Of course not! You’ve just put a black mark on yourself!

Is conventional HRT (synthetic hormone replacement therapy) an option?

In one word, NO!

HRT can help with hot flushes and night sweats, but the consequences (breast cancer, strokes and blood clots) far outweigh the benefits. The WHI study which finished early, in 2002, concluded that HRT did not protect against cardiovascular disease, strokes, cognitive loss, nor did it improve mood or sexual dissatisfaction. Do you consider this an option?

Is Bioidentical Hormones Restorative Therapy an option?

In one word, YES!

When you restore your body you restore yourself and every system in the body; mind, body and soul. Bioidentical hormones are life-giving hormones with no side-effects attached. With the use of restorative medicine you can glide through the menopause and onwards, to a new lease of life. There’ll be no more need to worry about your career.

Your brain will be sharp, quick-thinking and energetic – no more foggy moments. Hot flushes will be gone…forever! Your energy, lust for life and vitality will return to youthful levels – you’ll be better than your younger colleagues; you have far more experience and your brain is mature, remember, you can have it all? There’ll be no more crying or mood swings at inappropriate times – your professional-esteem will pick itself up off the floor. And you will sleep, blissful sleep.

And as an added bonus, you will lose weight and be able to keep it off.

A hormonal imbalance affects your everyday life and your career – it doesn’t have to. Restore your body! There is your answer. Don’t just take my word for it. Read up on the importance of your hormones here.

The emotional side of menopause

Don’t let the perimenopause take your edge!

I often hear from women saying that they feel anxious, sad, depressed, or that they have lost something deep down inside, something emotional, something almost heart-rending; is it that they have lost themselves? Perhaps they have lost their positive outlook on life, sharp-thinking, memory, focus, sex drive. Perhaps they feel they can’t cope as well as they once did, or maybe it’s that inevitable happening of gradually blending into the background and becoming invisible, that has such an impact on their lives.

I’ve been there, I felt it. Initially I didn’t accept it – that I was going through perimenopause, that it was happening to me too – ‘impossible’ was the word that was imprinted on my brain! I preferred to put my head in the sand and attempted to power through it as usual, for as long as I could. The perimenopause took my edge away, it threw me into a world I did not recognise. So how did I conquer it? I started researching and educating myself on what happens to and within the body during menopause and the significance of hormones during that phase, and the huge impact they have on a women’s emotions and physical health, as they decline.

According to the mainstream media, menopause is all about those hot flushes, otherwise known as flashes, that rise to an all time high just when you don’t want them to. However, it’s also very common for women to feel irritable, anxious, tense and utterly exhausted long before hot flushes take over their body. If you are in your late 30s, or early 40s or 50s and experiencing any of the following, it’s not you, it’s your hormones! You have an imbalance.

A decline in female hormones during perimenopause greatly affects the way we think, behave and react, and are responsible for changes in mood; whether we are happy, sad or even depressed.

1. Anxious or feeling you can’t cope

Fluctuating hormone levels in perimenopause can often have a negative effect on emotions. We all understand the effect hormonal changes have on our reproductive system, but fluctuating hormones levels also greatly effect our brain. Quite simply, a change in hormone levels influence much more than just our reproductive system, they affect the production of our mood monitoring chemicals (neurotransmitters) such as serotonin (the feel-good neurotransmitter), GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and dopamine.

2. Feeling sad and tired

As well as waking up drenched in sweat you might also feel sad and tired. It’s frustrating that most of the lifestyle advice recommended to women today, experiencing these symptoms, is to get more sleep. Seems easy! When hormones are fluctuating and therefore imbalanced, it is almost impossible to sleep, when we can’t sleep hormones will never be balanced – it is a vicious cycle. Chronic insomnia is one of the most debilitating symptoms of perimenopause and puts the body under an extreme amount of stress. The fluctuation of the sex hormones oestrogens and progesterone, at this time, and the significant decline in DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) cause the stress hormone cortisol, to become dominant, which makes if very difficult for you to get a peaceful, uninterrupted sleep, as cortisol is partially in charge of sleep/wake patterns.

3. Temper tantrums

Many perimenopausal women feel they are in a never ending state of PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Once again, this is because of fluctuating hormone levels. The ovaries produce oestrogens from about the age of twelve, in perimenopause our ovaries are incapable of balancing these two female hormones and maintaining the correct ratios that are so desperately needed.  Wildly fluctuating oestrogens together with low progesterone may lead to more frequent and erratic mood swings and temper tantrums that you truly don’t understand, as well as migraines. If you are having more mood swings and can’t understand why, you may well be entering perimenopause.

4. Everyone walking round you on eggshells?

Feel like nothing makes sense anymore? One minute you are on a high, the next minute you are on a huge low that has you crying for no apparent reason – maybe someone accidentally pushed past you on the street, or said, ‘no’ instead of ‘yes’, and there you go, floods of tears. “Doesn’t make sense, never used to be like that! It’s your hormones. Your ratios are out, the two female hormones that tango together become confused. Who is leading who? Your ovaries are failing you and your hormones are abandoning you, you are suffering withdrawal symptoms.You do not have to cry anymore or expect the people around you to walk on eggshells, perimenopause can be positive event, if you restore your body and balance your hormones.

What can you do?

These emotional changes are an expected part of menopause but are something we no longer have to accept. By understanding hormonal health you can regain control of your life, and make this inevitable passage so much better. Restorative medicine is your answer. To find out more read Jill’s book, The Menopause Cure: Hormonal Health.