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It’s a Wondrous Woman’s World

Women's Wellness Women's Wellness

Women of all ages are getting savvier about their wellness and are willing to do what it takes to ensure vibrant longevity as they pass through their life phases.

It’s no secret that today’s women are empowered to live their lives on their terms so that they can give as much of themselves to the world as they deem best.

Young women are savvy and selective. They are sassy, they are vibrant and there are no boundaries in their minds—making them outstanding partners in their health journey with you as their leader.

Middle-age and older women today are taking cues from their younger counterparts rather than the other way around, refreshingly creating more steadfast health partners who are also proactive, not reactive.

Phase Concerns

According to women’s health expert, naturopath Tori Hudson (ND), founder of Oregon-based Vitanica, key wellness concerns have some age-related influences. She explained that women in their 20s and 30s commonly deal with PMS, menstrual cramps, endometriosis, fertility, pregnancy and post-partum health issues as well as some common infections such as bladder and vaginal infections.

For women in their 20 and 30s, there is often a hormonal component to depression and anxiety, pointed out David Winston RH(AHG), president, Herbalist & Alchemist, New Jersey. Herbalists will combine herbs that address conditions from different angles and work well together.

In their 40s and 50s, women may now be dealing with abnormal menstrual cycles, heavy menses, uterine fibroids, perimenopause/menopause symptoms, weight gain and changes in sexual function, Dr. Hudson pointed out. In their 60s and beyond, she noted, “we see more women addressing issues related to bone density and osteoporosis, arthritis, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.”

With those general distinctions, Dr. Hudson added that “there are many health issues that cross over into any old time of life, as we each are dealt a genetic hand and we each choose different lifestyle habits that influence our health and our risks for chronic disease. There are also health issues that may be due to environmental influences such as air and water quality, as well as toxic exposures via other avenues. And of course, many of our life experiences, including health are unexplained and we must continue to make as wise and healthy choices as possible for our mental, spiritual and physical health.”

As an example of how women’s concerns have changed through the years is cardiovascular health. One common aspect of health that even younger women are paying attention to is heart health, making this concern a bit more universal among women than ever before. And as most women understand the value of taking omega-3 EFA supplements, a new published study on krill oil, for example, validates the cardiovascular wellness link. A new study published on Jan. 6, 2022, in JAMA Network Open, shows the effects of krill oil supplementation on 520 individuals with very high triglyceride levels in their blood (hypertriglyceridemia). Participants were randomly assigned to receive krill oil capsules or placeboes over the course of the experiment. The participants’ triglyceride levels, plasma omega-3s, and cholesterol levels were measured before, during and after the 26-week duration of the trials. The findings show that those consuming the krill oil experienced a 26 percent reduction in blood triglyceride levels from baseline. And, after 26 weeks, those consuming krill oil experienced a 33.5 percent reduction in blood triglyceride levels from baseline.

Le’Nise Brothers, mBANT, mCNHC, registered nutritionist and author of You Can Have a Better Period, also offered insight into key wellness differentiators between the decades of a woman’s life.

During the menstruating years is when “we see lifestyle and nutrition choices beginning to have a clear impact on menstrual and hormone health in the young woman,” she stated. For example, you may see a woman in her late 20s and 30s whose period was fairly normal at five days with a regular flow and little to no dysmenorrhea tell you she is beginning to experience a much heavier flow with high levels of dysmenorrhea. These women are often given hormonal contraception to regulate their periods, with very little discussion of side effects or the root causes of the changes to their menstrual health. “It’s important for naturopathic practitioners to educate their patients that menstruation and the menstrual cycle is the fifth vital sign and thus changes in our health are reflected in this vital sign,” she stated.

Perimenopausal years are not always felt distinctly but are recognized through some time. And, said Brothers, these are the years where long-term lifestyle and choices begin to affect the transition into perimenopause. She pointed out that many women “run into trouble when speaking to their physicians for support, with some advising them that perimenopause is not a real stage of life and telling them to come back once menstruation has ceased for 12 months.”

Brothers pointed out that it is not uncommon for some physicians to misdiagnose perimenopause, sending their patients off with anti-depressants, when instead these women would “benefit from a program to support their gut health and improve ovulation when it does occur. In other cases, a patient may present with fatigue, brain fog and weight gain but because she is in her mid-40s, these concerns are attributed to changing levels of estrogen and progesterone, rather than a potential thyroid issue. A full functional investigation that includes blood work, stool testing and hair mineral analysis can help women navigate the changes in their menstrual and hormone health with confidence.“

Once menopause has occurred, women who still are extremely youthful and active, are concerned about how to manage changing energy levels, mood, mental focus and weight gain around the middle, among many other symptoms, Brothers noted.

“While there are specific concerns to every generation, women have some common nutrient needs no matter what their age,” observed Cheryl Myers, chief of scientific affairs and education, EuroMedica, Inc., Wisconsin. “I think practitioners are looking for products that deliver bioavailable, verifiable and clinically studied ingredients [that] can often be recommended for women at any age.”

For women at any age, stress is now a primary concern. A woman of any age may consult with you about a health issue, and invariably unprompted, she may likely talk about stress. If you ask, her response is likely, “Yes, doc, I do have stress.”

According to Winston, women are more likely than men to acknowledge that they are struggling with stress and mental and emotional challenges. In addition to stress reduction techniques (yoga, mindful meditation, Tai Qi, Qi Gong, breathing exercises), self-care, emotional support and therapy, herbs can offer significant benefits for helping women to relieve their stress and reduce anxiety or depression, he stated.

Winston explained that for stressed women of any age, the two most important types of herbs for botanical stress relief are adaptogens and nervines. Adaptogens act like what he called a “stress vaccine,” upregulating molecular chaperones that better prepare the body to effectively deal with stress and help prevent stress-induced mitochondrial and HPA axis dysfunction. “Nervines help to restore our emotional foundation and relive irritability, anxiety and agitation. Different combinations of adaptogens, nervines, anxiolytics, antidepressants, nootropics or restorative tonics are chosen to specifically address common mental and emotional problems,” he elucidated.

Products for Consideration

As you know, anything from vitamin C, to magnesium, to ginger, to lavender essential oil is a credible and effective natural regimen to help women of any age achieve some balance and relief of the physiological stress their changing bodies are enduring, which include menses as well as pregnancy.

Vitanica is a boutique brand that, since 1994, has been led by Dr. Hudson explicitly for women’s wellness in all her phases. As Dr. Hudson described, Vitanica is formulated to support your women clients/patients with “everything” from gynecology specific categories of Menstrual Support, Menopause Support and Pregnancy Support, including fertility, a.k.a. the reproductive system functions, and vaginal suppositories for maintenance and support; to primary care issues such as Cardiovascular Support, Digestion and Detoxification Support as well as Mind/Emotional and Sleep Support; and a catch-all category we call General Body Support, featuring endocrine supportive areas, like thyroid health and adrenal health, all of our age-specific multivitamin-mineral complexes, a stand-alone iron supplement, and hair, skin and nails support.

Another clinician line is BioClinic Naturals, which has many supplements that include singular such as fenugreek, which supports healthy milk production for mothers-to-be, to formulas such as GABA-Pro, which promotes calmness, and EstroVantage EM, an estrogen modulator. This latter supplement, according to the company, “provides a comprehensive formula of plant-based compounds that may help support the normal metabolism of estrogen and its metabolites. Cruciferous vegetables contain a variety of glucosinolates, which some studies have associated with maintaining healthy cellular structure and function and supporting normal cell division most likely by causing a shift in metabolism to healthier estrogen metabolites. EstroVantage EM contains indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and its metabolite 3,3’-diindolylmethane (DIM), as well as sulforaphane from broccoli powder, all of which have been shown to support normal cellular structure and function as well a healthy estrogen profile.”

Most of Herbalist & Alchemist’s products are tinctures made from either fresh or dried herbs. Winston has taken years of experience to identify and formulate products for women to address key wellness concerns at different stages in her life.

Herbalist & Alchemist’s Women’s Formula, for general reproductive health, contains chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) to balance hormone levels and reduce estrogen dominance, herbs to build blood, processed rehmannia root (Rehmannia glutinosa) and dong quai (Angelica sinensis), with an herb to tonify the uterus, raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus). The company adds ginger (Zingiber officinale), which is anti-inflammatory, to support digestion and circulation, as well as motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) for relieving menstrual pain, stress and anxiety.

Women’s Calmpound is formulated by David Winston to help restore emotional balance, especially PMS-related irritability or peri-menopausal anxiety. The formula includes chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus), which has been shown in human studies to reduce both PMS and peri-menopausal symptoms, especially emotional ones, and the anxiolytic herbs motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), blue vervain (Verbena hastata), skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), and pulsatilla (Pulsatilla vulgaris).

Herbalist & Alchemist’s Replenish Compound is a combination of herbs that correct vaginal dryness often accompanying the hormonal changes of menopause. It contains fresh milky oat (Avena sativa), which was used by the eclectic physicians (1830-1940s) to enhance sexual performance in women and men, Winston pointed out. It also has shatavari (Asparagus racemosa), the classic ayurvedic female reproductive tonic, which augments hormonal levels, moistens dry tissue and supports healthy sexual functioning, licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra), which helps to re-regulate hormonal levels, as well as dong quai (Angelica sinensis), which promotes pelvic circulation and cornification of vaginal tissue. The last ingredient is white pond lily rhizome (Nymphaea odorata), an old Thomsonian/Physiomedical remedy for atonic, irritated mucous membrane tissue. This combination of herbs gently improves the health and normal lubrication of vaginal mucous membranes.

Herbalist & Alchemist’s Women’s Adapt “combines adaptogenic herbs with nutritive tonics, formulated to help women who are fatigued and experiencing dryness, brain fog and hormonal imbalances,” described Wintson. This formula includes the energizing adaptogens shatavari (Asparagus racemosa) and red ginseng root (Panax ginseng) to rejuvenate and support female libido, endocrine, immune and nervous system function. Women’s Adapt also contains processed rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa), a restorative yin and blood tonic, and fragrant rose petal (Rosa gallica, Rosa damascena, Rosa centifolia) for antidepressant and nervine activity and to heal the “emotional heart.” The last herb in this formula is damiana (Turnera dif-fusa), a nervine with an extensive history of use for supporting both female and male libido, and improving mood and mental function, he added.

Patient One Flora-Biotic Ultra from MediNutritionals Research LLC, is a 10-strain probiotic with a minimum 47.5 billion bacteria per serving. The proprietary blend contains significant concentrations of well-documented strains, including L. rhamnosus, L. casei, L. acidophilus and L. reuteri, as part of a comprehensive formula. Flora-Biotic Ultra supplies HardiStrain standardized bacteria cultures, produced with a proprietary system that promotes increased viability over an extended shelf life. The company’s freeze-dried probiotic cultures are shelf stable and provided in an acid-resistant, delayed release capsule. Flora-Biotic Ultra supports the proliferation of beneficial microbiota and helps to inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria, enhancing the body’s ability to resist undesirable microorganisms while aiding digestion. The bacteria have the ability to adhere to the intestinal epithelial cells and to implant in the intestines and positively modulate the mucosal immune response. Certain strains promote a healthy vaginal pH.

EuroMedica, said Myers, offers natural practitioners and their clients a wide range of products for women’s wellness, including supplements for moms-to-be, and options for women in menopause. And it’s important to get the right nutrients for the right circumstances.

“For example, when women are pregnant they often hear they need to boost their folic acid intake in order to prevent spina bifida and other neural tube defects. While it’s true that increasing consumption of folates is critical, supplemental folic acid may not be the ideal choice,” she said. “That’s because anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of the population has a genetic predisposition that prevents them from properly converting supplemental folic acid into the active form, L-methylfolate. Because this is an issue some women face, we include the L-methylfolate form in our Essential Multivitamin. This form is bioavailable and readily utilized to help with proper cellular division, forming nucleic acid precursors and helping prevent any deficiencies during a baby’s development in the womb.”

This is just one component of EuroMedica’s Essential Multivitamin for women, which Myers described as “an excellent option for women during and after menopause, so it has great range across generations.”

Menopausal women may enjoy benefits from taking EuroMedica’s DIM + Curcumin, which Myers described “is especially formulated for women dealing with dysfunctional estrogen metabolism.”

Today’s woman, no matter her age, is likely a joy to work with on her health journey, as she understands her health and is extremely willing to learn from you how to help herself even further to enjoy a full, healthy life.

Healthy Take Aways

• In their 40s and 50s, women may now be dealing with abnormal menstrual cycles, heavy menses, uterine fibroids, perimenopause/menopause symptoms, weight gain and changes in sexual function.
• During the menstruating years lifestyle and nutrition choices beginning to have a clear impact on menstrual and hormone health in the young woman.
• Perimenopausal years are not always felt distinctly but are recognized through some time.

For More Information:

Bioclinic Naturals, www.bioclinicnaturals.com
Eat Move Love, www.eatlovemove.com
EuroMedica Inc., www.euromedicausa.com
Herbalist & Alchemist, www.herbalist-alchemist.com
MediNutritionals Research LLC, www.patientoneformulas.com
Vitanica, www.vitanicapro.com