It is thought that more than 300 million women have used the contraceptive pill and that around 100 million women are currently taking it, this may be to control a variety of hormonal issues, not just for birth control.
But how is this hormonal drug affecting our bodies and minds?
The contraceptive pill contains synthetic hormones which
mimic naturally occurring hormones in the body.
This alters the hormonal balance in the body and induces a biochemical
state which temporarily makes you infertile.
The synthetic hormones role is to stop ovulation and make the uterus
unreceptive to the implantation of an embryo.
Our bodies naturally produce hormones as part of the function of the endocrine system, which is made up of various glands in the body. These glands work together to regulate mood, growth, tissue function, metabolism and development. They are also responsible for sexual function and the reproductive process. As you can imagine, the health of our endocrine system is paramount in our bodies ability to function optimally!
Many women note side effects from taking the contraceptive pill:
- Weight gain or loss
- Reduced or increased acne
- Mood swings
- Irregular bleeding
- Breast tenderness
- Lower libido
- Higher blood pressure
- Gallbladder disease
- Decreased bone density
- Yeast overgrowth
- Blood clots
These side effects may be enough to deter some women from taking the pill, but for others the side effects may not be extreme enough to warrant stopping the prescribed medication, but they should still be seen as a side effect or a sign that your body is trying to adjust to the imbalance from the synthetic hormone. In some cases, the side effect can be extreme and a second drug is prescribed to counteract the original side effects. Quite often this is as a result of the pill making women feel depressed, leading to a prescription for anti-depressants being prescribed.
These physical and emotional symptoms are noticeable to most women who are in tune to their bodies, but what is also worth considering is the nutritional deficiencies caused by taking the pill. It is not so well known that the pill affects the mineral, vitamin and fatty acid levels in the body. This balance of minerals etc is vital for good health and normal body functions in our bodies. Alas, many women either currently on the pill or who have previously taken the pill for a number of years are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals.
Some signs of deficiency may be obvious, such as vitamin B1,
which when reduced can lead to fatigue, weakness, insomnia, oversensitivity to
noise, muscle aches, loss of appetite, sugar cravings and circulation
issues. If vitamin B6 is deficient
symptoms will include nausea, feeling easily stressed, anxiety, depression,
skin eruptions and lethargy.
Minerals such as magnesium are also affected, which can cause symptoms of premenstrual cramps, anxiety, insomnia and craving for sugar and chocolate. The pill will also affect the bodies stores of potassium, zinc and selenium, all of which result in additional physical and emotional symptoms.
The contraceptive pill is prescribed for a number of hormonal problems
Doctors prescribe the contraceptive pill for various hormonal problems – polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, acne, period problems, anaemia. All these symptoms are signs that the hormonal system is already out of balance, and many women find that when they stop taking the contraceptive pill, the symptoms then return as the pill has not dealt with the underlying imbalance. In addition to this, the liver and kidneys are put under additional stress to process and eliminate the toxins of drugs in the body. Another organ of elimination is the skin, so many women will experience skin breakouts and acne after they stop taking the contraceptive pill. This is particularly the case if the liver is under strain as when this organ is struggling to process toxins through the natural channels (bowels and kidneys) toxins are released through the skin.
Symptoms are messages and signs that your body isn’t happy
Acne may indicate that your colon, lymph and liver need support and cleansing. It may be as a result of intolerances to food, that your life is stressful or that your thyroid and adrenals are fatigued. Acne is also a sign of the presence of yeast infections such as candida. Long term use of the pill often leads to candida overgrowth, which amongst other things, affects the quality of the cervical mucus.
How can I help support my body?
It is essential to replace the nutrients the pill depletes your body of, either in your diet or by including a supplement in your daily routine.
- Vitamin B6:
Fish, poultry, whole grains, potatoes
- Folic acid: Dark green leafy veg, dried beans
- Riboflavin: meat, poultry, fish, green veg,
grains and cereals
- Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, juices, broccoli,
peppers, spinach, cabbage
- Vitamin A: Green veg, yellow veg and yellow
- Iron: Red meat, poultry, fish, cereal products,
dried beans, green veg, prunes
- Zinc: Seafood, nuts, whole grains
What supplements should I consider taking?
Eating a balanced diet would be the first choice for accessing the essential vitamins and minerals, but sometimes we need additional support from good quality supplements, my preferred range is from Cytoplan, a UK based company which uses mainly organic and vegan products.
The following products are helpful for supporting hormonal
- A multi vitamin: A good all-rounder vitamin will contain all the major vitamins and minerals we require on a daily basis.
- Vitamin B Complex: B vitamins are important for the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the body. They are also important for energy production, digestion and hormone imbalances.
- Omega 3 oils: founds in oily fish and flaxseeds or as a supplement, these oils are helpful for dry skin, fatigue, depression and lack of motivation. They are also helpful for blood sugar imbalances and weight problems.
- Evening Primrose oil: helpful for breast tenderness, dry skin and vaginal dryness.
What can Homeopathy do to help?
The aim of Homeopathy is to address the reason behind why
you became ill in the first place, finding the right remedy to create an
improvement in your health. This may be
with just remedies or with the additional support of herbs, supplements or
small changes to diet. Each person is
seen as an individual, so the remedies and support offered varies for each
Let me know if you’d
like to learn more about how homeopathy could help you.
Virginia Satir, a famous family therapist, once said:
“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”
There are moments in time when no present in the world could boost the sense of belonging, of being accepted and appreciated for what you are. Hugs are designed for that, as they are simple and pure manifestations of empathy.
So what’s the science behind it?
Hugs improve levels of oxytocin, promoting feelings of contentment, reducing anxiety and stress,
allowing you to restore your emotional balance. Oxytocin also helps by lowering both our heart rates and our cortisol levels
(cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress, high blood pressure, and heart
A hug is one of the easiest ways to show appreciation and acknowledgment of another person.
Think about it, how many times have you just felt better from a good hug?!
Affection also helps
in the reduction of stress which prevents many diseases. The University
of Miami School of Medicine has carried out more than 100 studies into touch
and found evidence of significant positive effects, including faster growth in
premature babies, reduced pain, decreased autoimmune disease symptoms, lowered
glucose levels in children with diabetes, and improved immune systems in people
Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the solar plexus chakra which stimulates the thymus gland, regulating the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.
With almost 70% of
communication being nonverbal, the interpretation of body language can be based
on a single gesture and hugging is an excellent method of expressing yourself
nonverbally to another human being or animal.
Hugs stimulate the brain
to release dopamine, the pleasure hormone. Low dopamine levels play a
role in the neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s as well as mood
disorders such as depression. Dopamine is responsible for giving us that
feel-good feeling, and it’s also responsible for self-motivation!
Hugging releases endorphins and serotonin into the blood vessels. When released, these improve feelings of pleasure and negate pain and sadness. They also decrease the chances of getting heart problems, help fight excess weight and prolong life.
Even the cuddling of pets has a soothing effect that reduces the stress levels. Anyone with a pet will know this already!
Hugging for an extended time lifts our serotonin levels, lifting our mood and creating feelings of happiness.
But as we became more and more confined in our in our own lives, with stress for jobs, worries and social norms, we also got uneasy to ask or to offer hugs, despite their health enhancing effects.
So don’t hold back, give a someone a hug today, it’s good for their health and yours
Even if you don’t say this often, there are definitely
periods of our lives when we all feel exhausted. I’ve certainly had stretches of time where I
feel as if I’m running on the hamster wheel, not getting anywhere with what I
have to do, but feeling exhausted as a result.
In fact it’s thought that 80% of us will undergo adrenal fatigue multiple
times in our lives.
Feeling tired and exhausted seems to be a natural state of everyday
life for many of us nowadays, and as a result we reach for stimulants such as
caffeine and sugar to keep us going. But
these quick fix pick me ups actually make the matter much worse.
The primary gland in the body to cause fatigue are the
adrenal glands and the biggest thing to impact them is stress. We’ve all heard of the term ‘fight or flight’
and stress of any kind can put our body’s into this state for long periods of
time, leading to what we refer to as adrenal burnout.
Stress comes in many forms, both physical and emotional and many of us are used to having a low level of stress in our lives and may feel we thrive on it. In addition to this, different stages of our lives, such as pregnancy and child birth and the menopause, put additional strain on our adrenals as they are required to work harder during these times. This may mean our usual levels of stress become overwhelming and we need additional support.
Let’s look at some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue:
- You crash in the early part of the day, or
throughout the day.
- You feel tired all day, but more alert at home
in the evening. This happens when your
adrenal glands hold on to energy reserves in case an emergency arises.
- You’re exhausted but can’t sleep. The body needs adrenal hormones to help with
sleep, so a lack of these will cause sleep issues.
- You feel tired even after a night’s sleep. Again this is because of the adrenal
hormones needed to aid sleep.
- You are continually sweaty. This is a result of the entire endocrine
system being under stress and having to work harder to compensate for the
- You feel thirsty all the time and cave
salt. Cortisol affects the electrolytes
in your blood and results in nervous system problems.
- Blurry vision or difficulty focusing. Again this is down to a flood of cortisol,
which dehydrates the body. You may also
find dark circles around the eyes, which is an adrenal sign.
- Craving stimulants. This is usually a sign of
needing a quick energy boost for the lack of adrenal hormones. Alas the crash afterwards forces the adrenals
to over perform and then become exhausted, which over time makes the issue
Many of us can recognise a number of these symptoms as present in our lives. So how do we go about avoiding this and boost our adrenals, so that they perform at their optimum for us?
How to avoid fatigue:
- The most obvious but possibly hardest is to
avoid long term stress and extreme stress as this sets up the over production
- Avoid artificial stimulants such as caffeine,
energy drinks and drugs that give you an artificial boost.
- Strong negative emotions are another strain on
the adrenals. Fear, anxiety, anger,
grief. Anything that makes you feel bad emotionally. Positive emotions will give you a boost!
- Eat regularly.
Eating 3 times a day will cause your blood sugar to drop and this forces
the body to use hormones such as cortisol to keep it ticking over. This puts strain on the adrenals and little
time to recover. Snacking every couple of hours on foods such as apples, dates,
avocados will help keep blood sugar levels stable.
- Avoid eating too much meat. The fat in meat will put a strain on your
pancreas and liver, eventually creating insulin resistance. This is turn makes it difficult for your body
to maintain stable glucose levels, which your adrenal glands then need to
regulate by creating additional hormones to compensate.
Supplements and herbal support:
You could take an all-round adrenal support supplement, which contains a range of vitamins and herbs to optimise the glands function. Or if you prefer, you can take individual supplements as noted below:
- Ginseng: More suited to men, but women may take it. Will balance the adrenals, increase stamina, energy and libido. Helps to protect the adrenal glands from overreacting to stress.
- Borage: Anti-inflammatory properties, supports adrenal cortex. Helps revive and renew adrenal glands particularly after steroid treatment.
- Discorea: Excellent for restoring the endocrine system. Anti-inflammatory and blood purifier.
- Passiflora: quietens the nervous system, aids sleep in those who are stressed and overwrought.
- Skullcap: a wonderful herb for anxiety and nervous tension.
- Liquorice: can support underactive adrenal glands and boosts the entire endocrine system. Seen as a natural steroid. Will balance the levels of cortisol and cortisone. Can be taken as a tea.
- Vitamin C: Lowers inflammation in the body and soothes the adrenal glands.
- Magnesium: Lowers anxiety and calms overactive nervous system, reducing adrenal stress.
- Chromium: Helps balance insulin levels and improves the strength of the adrenal glands, thyroid gland and the pancreas.
- Selenium helps to normalise the immune system, thyroid function and protects the body against stress.
- Ashwagandha: helps balance the production of testosterone and cortisol. A great supplement for use during the menopause.
- Astragalus: strengthens the immune and endocrine systems
- Lemon Balm: replenishes the nervous system and helps regulate the production of insulin
- Rhodiola: optimizes adrenal function.
My two essences Calm and Energise contain a combination of many of the above herbs and are worth considering as an easily accessible support. Have a browse through my shop page for more information on them.
Of course, there are many homeopathic remedies which can be considered too!
Do get in touch if you’d like my help and support
With Gratitude, Sophie x
would your response to that question be?
Is your daily medication, which you take to reduce your blood pressure,
stop your menopausal symptoms, reduce your asthma symptoms, whatever the
medication is for, could it be undermining your healthy diet, by depleting your
body of the vitamins and minerals it needs.
The answer is yes!
of whether they are prescription drugs or over the counter medication, without
hesitation, they will be stripping the body of what it requires on a daily
basis to maintain a level of health and wellbeing.
So, now not only do we need to think about eating enough fruit and veg every day, we also need to think about what shortfalls there may be as a result of medication. Enough already!
Let’s look at a few examples of this
Antibiotics are widely taken across the world and it is commonly known as a medication which depletes the body of beneficial gut flora, the friendly bacteria in our guts. In addition to this, antibiotics will also steal from our body’s stores of B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and iron.
Blood pressure medication will remove a large number of vitamins and minerals from the body. Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, potassium, melatonin and zinc.
How about HRT and other hormonal medications? These will deplete the body of beneficial gut flora, magnesium, zinc, vitamins C and B.
A simple pain relief pill, taken for a headache perhaps, will deplete the bodies’ stores of vitamin C, Folic acid and iron.
Regardless of what the medication is for, the effects will be a shortfall of essential nutrients.
But what does this mean to our general health? The symptoms of these shortfalls in vitamins and minerals are varied.
Vitamin C, which we all think to take when we need to boost our immune system, is responsible for the integrity of connective tissue in the body. A lack of the vitamin will result in frequent infections, lack of energy, bleeding gums, slow wound healing and poor skin.
Vitamin D, helps to support bone health. A shortfall will lead to muscle cramps, arthritic pains, tooth decay, hair loss, excessive sweating and a lack of energy.
A lack of Zinc in the diet will cause infertility issues, poor sense of taste and smell, skin issues, frequent infections, poor appetite and depression. A sure sign that you have a Zinc deficiency are white marks on your nails.
The big one, which the majority of us are short on regardless of what medication we take, is magnesium. Magnesium is a natural tranquiliser, soothing and cooling the nervous system and brain. A lack of this mineral causes muscle weakness and pain, insomnia, depression, high blood pressure and an irregular heart beat. It can also lead to constipation as it is a natural laxative.
Can I just nip to the shops and buy a cheap multivitamin?
When clients come to see me for nutritional advice, I always suggest they buy the most expensive vitamins they can afford (such as those made by Cytoplan). It’s the one area that I advise not trying to scrimp and save on. Vitamins from the supermarket may seem good value, because they are inexpensive, but this is because they are full of cheap fillers such as corn starch and chalk, which in themselves cause problems in the body.
Our bodies are literally under attack every day. From the environments we live in, our stressful and busy schedules, the pesticides used for foods and the chemicals added to foods and water. It would be a tall order to try and remove all of these from our diets and eat clean, organic foods, avoid medications and pollutants every day for the rest of our lives. However, making a few small conscious changes to your everyday life will have long term benefits for our body’s various organs and our quality of life.
And of course, I’m here to help
I’ve been amazed by how early people’s hay fever symptoms have started this year, but perhaps with the lack of winter and the resulting early blossoming of many trees and flowers, that’s a bit naïve of
The expectation is that this year, we will see pollen levels many times higher than has been recorded
for decades. Not good news if every spring you expect to be affected by these pesky pollens for 3, 4 or 6 months of the year.
Thankfully,there are a few things you can do to help support your body and lessen the symptoms affecting your eyes, nose and throat.
Just three things can help to alleviate your symptoms, a few vitamins supplements, changes to what you eat and keeping a few Homeopathic remedies or a tincture to hand.
First, consider removing or reducing Histamine forming foods in your diet:
Histamine is produced by the body as a local immune response, and very often we hear of people being given an anti-histamine to reduce the reaction to an allergic response.
Histamine in its natural form is found throughout the body, such as the brain where it plays a role in the sleep wake process and in the stomach. It is this second area of the body that we can look to support by adjusting our diets to remove Histamine forming foods, thereby lessening the allergic response by allowing your body to focus on removing the allergens from pollen rather than the histamine foods in your stomach.
So, if you look to remove the following foods from your diet, you may notice an improvement in your symptoms:
Alcohol, particularly red wine and champagne. But also white wine and beer.
Smoked and processed meats such as salami, ham and bacon
Certain vegetables: tomato, spinach, avocado,mushrooms and canned vegetables as well as commercially prepared salads
Certain fruits: strawberries, bananas, papayas, kiwi, pineapple, mango, tangerines, grapefruits, prunes,
Red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, Soy sauce, Mustard, Ketchup
Bread and confectionery made with yeast
Peanuts, cashews, walnuts
Chocolate/cocoa, Coffee, black tea
Ok, so maybe giving up wine for 6 months isn’t likely, what supplements can you add to your daily diet to help…
Wholefood Cherry rich in vitamins and minerals, in particular vitamin C important for supporting the immune and respiratory system.
Selenium once available from soil, where it is now mostly depleted, Selenium treats inflammation in the body and improves respiratory conditions such as asthma
Vitamin B12 as well as boosting energy levels and mood, B12 also helps to balance the hormone levels
in the body, which can be affected by increased histamine.
Vitamin D3 is another vitamin which supports the body’s immune response which can be compromised by allergies.
And finally some remedies…..
Nat Mur the symptoms of this remedy are of watery discharges from the eyes and nose with lots of sneezing. There may also be a loss of smell and a tickly cough.
Arsenicum, a remedy for symptoms that are burning, usually the eyes and the skin around the nose.
Symptoms often leave the person feeling restless and exhausted.
Euphrasia also has burning, prickly eyes, with lots of sneezing. People generally feel worse indoors
Nux Vomica sufferers are very light sensitive, they have blocked noses and itchy inner ears. This is also a good remedy for migraine type headaches.
My most asked for remedy is my hay fever tincture,
which combines a number of remedies and herbs that are known to support the
respiratory system and reduce hay fever symptoms, drop me an email if you’d
like to learn more.