Menopause is not an event that many women look forward to. The “Change of Life” is shrouded in stories of hot flashes and insomnia that accompany the ending of menstrual bleeding. No woman can know what kind of menopause she will have, but if her biological mother had a menopause, then her experience can be a guide.
My own mother had a hysterectomy in the 1970s, and back then they took your ovaries too. Her menopause happened very early and was not helpful to my own expectations for myself.
Turns out menopause came really early for me in my 40s. I was feeling hot all the time and went into the western doctor to see if I had some kind of low grade fever/infection. I was totally surprised when my FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone) was at 121. FSH is a hormone your body makes to induce ovulation. But! When there are no more eggs left, your body keeps making the FSH because it doesn’t get the feedback that ovulation happened. As a result, FSH keeps going up and up. A menstruating woman’s FSH ranges from 4-20, then in peri-menopause goes up to 30, and then once you have stopped menstruating completely the number goes up to 130.
I was shocked and for a time, a little sad, and had to grieve the end of my menstruating self. As a pragmatist above alll else, I needed to set about how to relieve the symptoms that were so foreign to me, like suddenly being hot all the time. I have spent my life freezing to death and ceaselessly shopping for the perfect cashmere sweater. Now I am hot and sweating and looking for caftans.
I dove back into my Chinese Medicine books with a renewed and intimate understanding of what “steaming bones” and “yin deficient fire” meant. Chinese Medicine serves women’s health in detail and with a deep understanding of constellations of symptoms. I engage the medicine everyday in treating women for all manner of menstrual irregularities, and this includes menopause too! I found a formula that worked really well right away. My hot flashes and sweating reduced, and I was able to sleep through the night.
I also had a more thorough hormone test done with a new company that does dried urine testing. The more data I could collect on my hormones the more focused my treatment could be. It would also spare me the expense of purchasing a whole bunch of supplements and just using trial and error to figure out what made me feel better. With the merging of Chinese medicine formulas, 1 hormone test, and 3 supplements, I have gotten my symptoms under control. I still have a hot flash here and there, but I’m not wondering if I will burst into flames at any moment. I am also not expecting that I can stop the natural flow of aging. Growing old is a privilege. I look really do forward to my hair graying and carrying the accumulated wisdom and experience that I have earned through these years.
By Dr Jennifer Bezjak
Photo Credit - Mahle Air Cooling
I've been thinking about how the Year of the Pig in 2019 closed the 12 year astrological cycle, and how it 2020 might represent a year to wrap things up, end old patterns, and be ready for a new life. I've been reflecting on the themes of the last 12 years, and the profound shifts that have happened. I've also been feeling the urge to remove objects that lost their importance as a way to mentally prepare for this next cycle. I'm excited to see what this next 12 years will bring.
In the year 2020, we greet the Rat. The Rat is the first of the twelve signs. This means we are beginning a new 12 cycle. According to legend, the Jade Emperor set a challenge to create the order of the signs – they would be arranged according to their arrival to his celebration feast. The Rat and the Cat hopped lightly up onto the Ox’s back, unbeknownst to her, and hitched a ride. As they were crossing a river, though, Rat bumped Cat off into the water. When the Ox was about to cross the finish line, Rat jumped down and landed before the Emperor first!
What does this story mean to us? - The Rat is a bit tricky and opportunistic, but also quite clever and resourceful. Being first in the cycle, he represents the dawning of a new day, with plenty of Yang energy. Rats’ ability to multiply in numbers makes them a potent symbol of fertility and abundance.
Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Each circle of twelve years also brings through a new cycling of the elemental energies that develops over the course of a 60-year calendar. Rat of 2020 is Metal. Metal rat is relatively grounded and stable. On the surface, he is always positive and sure of himself, but in secret, he worries that he is not always in the right.
Rat’s optimism and dynamic personality make him popular, even though his way of expressing himself might seem a bit brash or even downright rude. Rats know how to make the best out of a bad situation. They like to hoard rather than spend. This can be thrifty, but might also lead to hanging on to things that aren’t essential. Time to keep only objects and people in your life that spark joy.
Rats tend to run around in a burst of energy and then get tired and sick. They also tend to get busy and forget to eat, and then eat too much of the wrong things. So, let’s all remind ourselves to pause frequently for rest and nourishment, setting ourselves up to do well when it’s go time.
From San Francisco Integrative Medicine, we wish you good health and all the very best that the New Year has to offer!
Photo credit anonymous pintrest photo
Fabulous Fertility Over 35 - 12 Week Online Fertility Course to Maximize Your Chance of Getting Pregnant Naturally
It's that time of year again for my popular Mini Reset Program holiday offer - 2 functional medicine consultations with me AND a Wellness Profile blood test included. The Wellness Profile is an extensive blood test screening which gives us a in-depth snapshot of where your health is at and screens for many conditions which may have an adverse effect on your health and/or hormones (normally $300). For more information, click here:
Package must be purchased before 12/31/19 in order to get the Wellness Profile testing included for free, but can be used at any time in 2020. To learn more or purchase, email email@example.com.
In other exciting news, I have been busy over this past year pouring my heart, soul, and 20 years of clinical experience into creating my new online program!
Introducing: Fabulous Fertility Over 35!
Fabulous Fertility Over 35 is a 12-Week Online Fertility Course to Maximize Your Chance of Getting Pregnant Naturally
I’ve worked with so many women who have struggled for so long getting access to this information…and there’s no reason you should struggle too.
Fabulous Fertility over 35 is an online 12-week holistic course for women over 35 looking for expert holistic guidance on how to conceive naturally and help prevent miscarriages. I take all of the guesswork out of it for you! This course includes my Fertile DREAM Method: My five-phase proven approach to maximizing your chance of getting pregnant naturally.
My mission is to give you a concrete, proven plan to help you take back control of your health so you can best maximize your chances of getting pregnant naturally, in less time.
Each module is packed with information in a bite-sized format, using audio, action tasks, weekly meal plans, and accompanying cheat sheets. It is easy to follow, with actions you can begin immediately to have a positive impact on your fertility, and can be done at your own pace. You will also have direct access and weekly support with me, Dr. Laurie Terzo, as your expert guide during these 12 weeks, and with whom you can ask any questions to during our live calls.
Throughout the 12 modules, I’ll walk you through how to:
It is a perfect compliment to receiving your acupuncture treatments and will enhance your work with your Chinese medicine practitioner because it shows you everything you need to be doing at home to maximize your fertility, in between your treatments.
For more information about the program, see HERE.
For more information about Dr. Terzo, visit HERE
1. What is Microneedling
Microneedling is designed to minimize the appearance of wrinkles, scars, stretch marks, large pores, and acne scars. Elanita uses Dermapen, a handheld device that resembles a pen but uses 12 microscopic needles to breach the surface layers of skin, creating very tiny wound patterns which break up old collagen and stimulate a natural healing process. The micro wounds stimulate the body’s natural healing response, which floods the area with red and white blood cells, oxygen, and all of the beneficial nutrients found in the blood. Additionally, microneedling is known to stimulate collagen production. Our collagen production tends to decrease as we age, but this treatment tricks the body into producing more of this compound necessary for smooth, youthful skin.
2. Why get micro-needling?
These treatments smooth the look of scars, enlarged pores, fine lines, wrinkles, and imperfections. Micropens have sanitary, disposable needle tips which can be customized for different areas of the face, which will need different levels of penetration for optimal results. The hand piece vibrates, which also stimulates collagen production. The results are usually fully visible in four weeks. Once the procedure is finished, we can utilize high grade serums or stem cells which can now penetrate deep into the skin.
3. Is micro needling good for everyone?
Though most people can be treated very successfully with Micro Needling, there are those who have pre-existing conditions which keep them from being candidates for this service. The following issues are contraindicated for the
Hemophilia Skin diseases, eczema, allergies, autoimmune diseases, current cold sores, history of cancer, tendency to keloid, current open wounds or infections
4. Is it painful?
No, because our medical grade numbing will remove all sensation.
5 Whats the procedure like
Depending on the method applied, the area of the skin and device used, a micro-needling procedure lasts between 45-75minutes. For safety and precision, sterile needles with disposable tips are used in the procedure. To numb the any possible discomfort, a topical anesthetic cream is applied to the skin’s surface after makeup and cream residues have been removed off the skin. The Elanita will proceed to create tiny punctures on the intended sites with a dermapen. After which an ice pack, serum, and/or hydrating mask is placed over the operated surface.
It should be noted that in some instances, negligible pinpoint bleeding might occur which is nothing to worry about, as it can easily be controlled.
I'm so excited to be offering Collegen Induction Therapy or, as its commonly known, Micro-Needling. As many of you know, I've been offering acupuncture rejuvenation facial treatments for a few years now and 6 months ago when Dermapen reached out to notify us of upcoming trainings, I jumped on it.
I love this therapy because it is a minimally invasive skin rejuvenation treatment with a quick recovery time. It promotes natural collagen reproduction, similar to fractional laser treatments, IPL, and laser resurfacing, but without the side effects and downtime.
This is a unique way to address and improve:
All appointments will include a powerful, rich serum customized for you along with Celluma LED light therapy
Have questions? Book a phone consultation with Elanita by clicking here
Love Research? - So Do We!
One of the keys to a youthful-looking skin is having plenty of super-protein collagen. Collagen is the scaffolding that prevents complexions from becoming droopy or slack. It’s a wonder-working, naturally-produced ingredient that keeps faces looking plump, taut and radiant.
Where's the catch...
As we age, our production of collagen slows down, and the reserves of this protein diminish. Without this on our side, the signs of ageing – lines, wrinkles, uneven texture and sagginess – start to become visible.
Luckily, it’s possible to replicate the process that leads to collagen being formed. Did you know whenever your body is injured, it triggers the production of collagen to aid in the healing of connective tissues. That’s why treatments like Micro-Needling and Acupuncture, which involve small, almost imperceptible skin punctures can organically provoke the collagen response.
Both involve micro injuries to the skin to stimulate collagen synthesis, but they are distinct treatments. What are the main differences? And how do you know which one is right for you?
Micro-needling in a nutshell
Also known as Collagen Induction Therapy or Micro-needling, is a therapy that involves repeatedly puncturing the skin with tiny, sterilised needles at a specific depth. Over a number of sessions, this causes the body to produce collagen. It is used to treat scarring and acne and to counter the effects of ageing. There is minimal downtime, though you may appear a little pinkish after your treatment – as if you’ve had too much sun. Swelling and minor bleeding can also result but the treated area is anesthetized to eliminate any pain. Six treatments spaced out over a year are recommended for optimum ‘wow’ results.
Facial Acupuncture in a nutshell
Facial Acupuncture also replies on needles. But unlike Micro-needling, this treatment is not about rapidly pin-pricking the skin, but about inserting needles and leaving them in there. Usually for a period of 20 minutes. The needles are carefully positioned in areas of the face where a blockage of energy is perceived or into the muscles that control our facial movements (where wrinkles often occur). Unblocking this energy has an overwhelmingly positive effect on the whole body. Facial Acupuncture is a Chinese therapy, rooted in ancient medicine and is therefore a more holistic approach to take. The process not only works to enhance the complexion, it also improves the mood and boosts general well-being. There is no downtime. And like micro-needling, six treatments are recommended to see results. But Facial Acupuncture is one of those treats you’ll want to get over and over again – whenever you need a pick-me-up.
Still confused about what to go for? At San Francisco Integrative Medicine we are expert in both treatments and can advise you on what’s right for you, your skin-type, your expectations and your lifestyle. Book a consultation today.
Cupping and acupuncture can be very helpful. If you've been affected by the fires either physically or emotionally, please don't hesitate to reach out so we can find a time that works for you!
Autumn and Chinese Medicine
While summer emphasizes being physically and socially active with its long days and warm weather and even though its still warm this week, the changes that autumn brings is already becoming evident. Now in October, the nights are noticeably cooler, daytime temperatures can wildly fluctuate, leaves change color and sunlight is intense but lessening. As the veil thins as we approach winter solstice, it is important to make a conscious transition from this outward time of summer to a more yin and contracting time of autumn for maintaining a healthy balance in both physical and emotional well-being. With this shift, comes natural changes in our bodies, mood and health.
This is a time to strengthen and protect your health. Fortifying during autumn months will in turn create a reservoir of wellness to sustain vitality in winter months.
The Lung Organ
Ways to Support the Lungs
Nourish Fluids Since autumn is a dry season, we need to protect ourselves from cold-air evaporation of moisture from our skin. Pay attention to hydration with fluids coupled with moistening foods, such as pears, sea vegetables, cabbage, turnips and parsnips.
Breathe Take time to focus on full, deep abdominal breaths as you become aware of that which needs to be released.
Purge Free up more space by letting go of clutter and excess possessions- donating and giving away unused clothes will be deeply appreciated by those who need them this winter. This can also mean letting go of relationships and friendships which no longer serve you in a positive way.
Grieve There is no one right way to grieve, there is no standard timeframe and each person's grief process is unique. Chinese medicine is concerned with grief that is repressed and unexpressed.
Sleep In general: aim to go to bed an hour earlier and wake an hour later. It definitely may be appropriate for you to sleep longer than that as we head towards winter.
Dress Appropriately Wear a scarf - even a light one will protect your lungs and throat from harsh wind and cold.
Compost! Another crucial way of letting go of what is no longer needed and supporting the lungs of our planet.
The secret of how gua sha works lies in how connective tissues function in our body. Connective tissue supports, connects, transmits, and contains every cell in the human body. Fascia, a type of connective tissue, connects the skin to deep layers of muscle, and to all other tissues, in what has been called a “body-wide signaling network.” The stroking technique of gua sha activates the most superficial level of fascia, which in turn activates both deep layers of fascia and organs far from the site of the stroking. This action releases deep muscle tension, increases micro-circulation, and causes vasodilation, all associated with pain reduction.
Clinical research has demonstrated that gua sha immediately reduces pain near the site of application as well as far from the site of application, making it a fantastic treatment method for any type of pain in the body (new, old, musculoskeletal, organ, digestive, headache, or just about anything else you can think of).
Gua sha has been around for a loooooooong time, it is incredibly useful and versatile and we love using it here in our clinic because of its unique ability to stimulate of the immune system through fascia and connective tissue.
Benefits of Gua Sha:
What Are Those Red Marks?
Don’t be alarmed, though; absolutely no pain or drama was involved. Sha of the skin may cause splotchy red marks (similar to cupping) to appear in the area as the blood rises to the surface of the skin. In Chinese Medicine we call this Sha
The "Sha" only appears in areas of tight muscles or area with muscular adhesions.
Don't worry, the marks are painless and will go away after a few days.
What To Do After Your Gua Sha Session
Whether you're trying to conceive, prevent pregnancy, or understand your body better, OPKs (Ovulation Predictor Kits) can be pretty darn helpful. Ovulation predictor kits react to the luteinizing hormone that is present in urine, which is at its peak 12–36 hours before the egg is released (or ovulation). While they are not my favorite way of determining ovulation, they are fairly easy to use and have a high accuracy rating. That being said, OPKs come with a few perimeters and a bit of a learning curve.
Below are the basics, pros and cons, tips, brands, and the problems we run across the most in the clinic.
Which to Choose
I've found that patients new to tracking their cycle will choose fertility monitors, such as ClearBlue, to track ovulation. These are a bit more high tech because they involve plugging the tests into a small machine that signals low, medium, or high fertility because they track both luteinizing hormone and estrogen levels.
These are as basic as it comes, They have one line for negative and two lines for positive, because they only track the rise in luteinizing hormone. When used every day you can see the line get darker and darker until it peaks.
OPKs are designed to test your urine for luteinizing hormone, which peaks mid-day, so I usually recommend testing sometime between noon-5pm. Begin testing 4-5 days prior to when it's estimated you ovulate, and test every day until after you get a positive. Some tests also often recommend you stop testing once you get a peak, but some women get at least 2 or 3 days of luteinizing hormone peaking before ovulation actually occurs. You can't know which day was your peak day unless you see another negative test again.
5 Common Problems We See In The Clinic
1. OPKs do NOT confirm that ovulation has occurred
Although both urine and saliva kits test for increased hormone levels prior to ovulation, they do not confirm whether ovulation actually occurred. An LH surge can sometimes occur without the release of an egg. Likewise increased estrogen levels are not always followed by ovulation.
2. It is possible to miss the LH surge
Because the LH surge can be extremely brief, it can be easy to miss. For this reason, some women may need to test their urine twice a day. If you find that your OPK is never positive, you may just be missing the LH surge. However, it could also mean that you’re not ovulating.
3. You may experience a ‘False’ LH surge
It’s possible to have a ‘false’ LH surge before the ‘real’ one occurs. This can result in timing intercourse too early and missing your true fertile time. Women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) can continually produce false LH surges.
4. Knowing when to test can be difficult (and can end up being expensive!)
If you have irregular cycles, it can be a challenge to know when to begin testing with an OPK. Because the day of ovulation can vary widely between cycles and a urine based kit typically contains a limited number of tests, one kit is sometimes not enough. This can soon become expensive
5. Ovulation predictor kits will NOT alert you to a fertility problem
An OPK can only identify when you might ovulate and will not provide other valuable information about your fertility. This is why we always recommend to collect at least 3 months worth of data before "trying" to conceive and use in tandem with another tracking method until you have a good grasp on your cycle.
If you suspect you're not ovulating, or if you're having a lot of trouble figuring out if you are, make sure to work with a healthcare provider to create a plan that makes sense for you. If you'd like to work together to regulate your cycle you can learn more about acupuncture, send me a message, or make an appointment.