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The New Woman

Women's Health Women's Health
EuroMedica
 
Longevity By Nature

Women are increasingly health-minded and proactive, but still need guidance to sort through the noise and enjoy excellent feminine well-being.

Here’s a cool stat: According to GWI Market Research, the number of women in the U.S. who say they use herbal/natural medicines to support specific health concerns has risen dramatically by 18 percent since the end of 2020.

In the viewpoint of nutrition consultant Nicole Avena, PhD, associate professor of neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and visiting professor of health psychology, Princeton University, women’s focus has largely shifted from the early 2000s ideology that “thin is best” to more overall wellness. “Another important note as of late is the shift from symptom-based medicine to root cause, where hormones play an important role, especially for women,” she observed. “A large majority of concerns today for women stem from hormonal and endocrinological health—speaking on means of energy, wellbeing and metabolism.”

This of course sets the stage for more meaningful consultations. And it’s worth comparing how today’s woman differs from women since Y2K, which wasn’t too long ago. The difference is sophistication, dedication to a more holistic lifestyle and knowledge of natural means to attain better health is drastic, then, let’s say between women in Y2K and 20 years prior.

For example, practitioner Serena Goldstein, ND noted that women are preferring to use natural options instead of hormone therapies, either from birth control or hormone replacement. “A pill or medication just doesn’t seem appealing anymore, and they want answers and a deeper understanding, in other words, trusting their intuition that it’s more than just a ‘faulty mechanism,’” she commented.

Holistic fertility specialist Rosia Parrish, ND related that she has “had the privilege of witnessing a significant evolution in the health and wellness concerns of women over the past several decades.”

Since 2000, she explained, there has been a distinct shift in the types of concerns women have along with their more sophisticated depth of knowledge about their health and wellness.

Here’s a snapshot of what today’s women are thinking in their life phases, and a few supplement options to consider recommending.

Fertility

Discussion about fertility and reproductive health primarily switched from focusing on the mechanics of reproduction and medical interventions, to delving into fertility as a complex interplay of hormonal balance, nutritional status, stress levels and environmental influences, according to Dr. Parrish. “Women are increasingly seeking natural and holistic approaches to enhance fertility, reflecting a shift towards wanting to understand and optimize their body’s natural processes.”

On the other side of the spectrum, birth control, there are recent advancements in non-hormonal contraceptives representing a significant milestone in fertility health and family planning, Dr. Parrish noted. The emergence of non-hormonal alternatives, which target men’s sperm motility or employ other innovative mechanisms to prevent fertilization, comprise what she characterized as a new era of safer, side-effect-free options for family planning, as the goal is the minimize health risks linked to hormonal options.

Pregnant, desire to be pregnant, or not, Dr. Avena “highly” recommends women to consume a pre-natal supplement as a quality pre-natal will provide the necessary nutrients to sustain reproductive health. She said, “I love using DIM (diindolylmethane), as it has been shown to regulate estrogen absorption. This leads to fewer symptoms prior to menses.”

My Women’s Formula from New Jersey-based Herbalist & Alchemist is targeted toward general reproductive health. It includes chaste tree, an herb that balances hormone levels via the pituitary (LH, FSH) and to helps reduce estrogen dominance, according to Company Founder and President, Herbalist David Winston, RH(AHG).

“We add herbs to build blood such as processed rehmannia and dong quai, which also enhances pelvic circulation,” he explained. My Women’s Formula also contains raspberry leaf, which supports the uterus and helps prevent excessive menstrual bleeding. Ginger improves digestion, systemic circulation and is anti-inflammatory. In clinical trials, ginger has also been shown to reduce excessive menstrual bleeding, while relieving dysmenorrhea. Motherwort is included to relieve menstrual pain, anxiety, PMS-induced headaches, irritability and stress.

The Fertility Bundle from Thorne encompasses Thorne’s Basic Prenatal, a daily multi-vitamin/mineral supplement for women trying to conceive or who are pregnant or lactating; prenatal DHA, and 5-MTHF, an active tissue-ready form of folate. This pack is supported by Thorne’s Fertility Test, which measures and analyzes specific biomarkers—reproductive hormones, thyroid hormones and adrenal hormones.

“During pregnancy, it’s crucial to focus on comprehensive nutritional support. Prenatal vitamins, DHA (such as SUPER DHA by Seroyal), high-dose ginger for nausea, calcium-magnesium supplements, Perque Choline for high-dose choline intake, vitamin D, and collagen are all valuable,” Dr. Parrish emphasized.

Mental Well-being/Stress

Stress is at an all-time high, and the tension that goes with it is impacting women’s emotional and mental well-being.

Biotonic, from Biocidin Botanicals, California, is an adaptogenic formula that supports a healthy stress response, helps modulate the immune system, and aids digestion so that foods and nutrients are assimilated efficiently, according to Shawn Manske, ND, assistant director of clinical education. A blend of traditional Chinese herbs and botanicals, Biotionic supports the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in adapting to stressors.

“One of our newest products, GI InnerCalm has great potential to support a healthy stress response for women. Let’s face it—women are asked to wear many hats throughout the day. Balancing it all can be stressful and often leads to issues in the gut,” he commented.

Dr. Manske explained that the powder works to soothe and restore digestive wellness and intestinal barrier function while also contributing to a sense of calm, supporting a healthy stress response, and encouraging healthy sleep. GI InnerCalm features glycine, GutGuard deglycyrrhizinated licorice, zinc carnosine and quercetin, as well as soothing botanicals like chamomile, lemon balm, aloe vera and ginger.

Hormonal Balance/PMS

When the reproductive hormones kick in during the luteal phase, it can often kill a mood for women who endure premenstrual syndrome symptoms. The good news for practitioners is that in general, women’s knowledge about the importance of hormonal balance has expanded dramatically. Dr. Parrish has observed a growing interest in natural ways to support hormonal health, reflecting a broader understanding of how hormones affect mood, energy levels, weight and overall health.

For PMS, Tori Hudson, ND, co-owner and director of research and education Oregon-based Vitanica believes that “the research is the strongest for vitamin B6, chaste tree, St John’s wort and regular aerobic exercise.”

Supplements that Dr. Goldstein likes are those that may help directly and indirectly (cofactors in producing hormones) provide hormonal balance; these include magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin D3/K2, inositol, methylated B complex, fish oil, and some form of adrenal support (e.g. blends of herbs like maca, ashwagandha, eleutherococcus), and “Ribes Nigrum by Seroyal works really well across all stages for regulating hot flashes, hormone imbalance and stress levels.”

Herbalist & Alchemist’s Women’s Calmpound helps restore emotional balance, said Winston, “especially for women suffering from PMS irritability or peri-menopausal anxiety,” Winston described. The ingredients include chaste tree, which has been shown to help manage both PMS and peri-menopausal symptoms, especially emotional symptoms. He further explained, “We add the anxiolytic and nervine herbs motherwort, skullcap, blue vervain and pulsatilla, a classic combination dating back to the Eclectic Physicians who first noted that these herbs used together are far more effective than any one used individually. They are indicated for anxiety, irritability, emotional agitation, a sense of fear or foreboding, labile emotions and stress-induced muscle spasms, headaches and nervous tics.”

Biocidin Botanicals’ Proflora 4R spore-based probiotic formula blends three probiotic strains with quercetin, marshmallow and aloe vera. Dr. Manske noted that the formula “supports healthy microbial balance that can aid hormone balance. Proflora 4R further benefits a woman’s overall health by maintaining a healthy digestive barrier and inflammatory balance and supporting immune function.”

For managing PMS, Dr. Parrish recommends magnesium, vitamin B6, chasteberry (Vitex), and evening primrose oil. “Additionally, products like FemCycle by Dr. Garber, Vitanica’s Women’s Phase I, Guna Fem and the Pekana Upelva offer targeted support. Supporting liver health through supplements and liver-friendly foods can also be beneficial, along with options like Vitanica PMS Tonic and PMS Support by Vital Nutrients, among others.”

Menopause (Peri- and Post)

What was once colloquially called “The Change” and talked about in secret, menopause is not only an open and inclusive discussion, women are keenly aware of how peri-menopause symptoms begin, and are readying their bodies—and minds—to float through it gracefully.

Vasomotor symptoms (VMS) assail most women enduring their menopausal years, and hot flashes tend to be the primary symptom that causes the most discomfort. Other issues largely experienced are irritability, and loss of libido.

“Peri and post menopause can be difficult depending on the woman,” said Dr. Avena. “For those experiencing symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings, Pycnogenol is a great natural supplement that helps balance hormonal shifts within the body.”

Dr. Parrish recommends black cohosh, and red clover are beneficial for bone health and symptom management. Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitanica Women’s Phase II, Menopause by Vital Nutrients, and Menopause SAP by NFH can also provide support during this transition, among other helpful options.

“For perimenopause, it really depends on the symptoms one might be having but for the most common symptoms of hot flashes/night sweats, my top options are black cohosh or maca,” related Dr. Hudson. “For post-menopause, again, symptoms matter and herbs or nutraceuticals target the symptoms.”

When experiencing menopause symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety and low libido, more and more women are looking to herbs for support. Winston explained that although black cohosh is known as the menopause herb, “it’s not very effective when used as a stand-alone remedy, only providing modest benefits for reducing the number and severity of hot flashes. However, a far more effective herb for hot flashes and night sweats is chaste tree, which works via the pituitary re-regulating FSH and LH levels. But when combined, these two herbs are far superior than they are singly.

Herbalist & Alchemist’s Women’s Transition Compound also includes dong quai and night blooming cereus which support circulation and cardiac health. Additionally, dong quai has been shown to promote uterine health and vaginal cornification. “Building the formula further, we add the anxiolytic blue vervain and the nervous system trophorestorative fresh oat to relieve emotional irritation, anxiety and reduce sleep disruption,” he added.

Replenish Compound is Herbalist & Alchemist’s herbal formula that address the vaginal dryness resulting from the menopause-related hormonal changes. It includes fresh milky oat to enhance sexual performance and the ayurvedic reproductive tonic, Shatavari, which moistens dry tissue, augments hormonal levels, and supports healthy sexual functioning. It also includes the yin tonic licorice to balance hormone levels, dong quai to promote pelvic circulation and vaginal tissue cornification, and white pond lily. This herbal combination enhances the health and normal lubrication of vaginal mucous membranes.

“And to support women who are fatigued, experiencing yin deficiency (dryness), depression, brain fog and hormonal imbalances, I formulated Women’s Adapt, a combination of adaptogenic herbs with nutritive tonics,” Winston said. It combines the energizing adaptogens Shatavari and red ginseng to rejuvenate and support female libido, endocrine, immune and nervous system function. It also contains processed rehmannia, a restorative yin and blood tonic, fragrant rose petal for mood support and nervine activity and the uplifting nervine damiana, which Winston said, “has an extensive history of use for promoting both female and male libido and improving mood and thyroid function.”

Supplement Systems

Some clients may fare well with a system of supplements designed to provide long-term support and nourishment of their bodies.

Colorado-based Best Nest Wellness offers brain-focused women’s multivitamins for pregnancy, postnatal care, and formulated by “America’s Dr. Brain Mom,” company founder/CEO Mika Gupta, MD. The Mama Bird line includes Prenatal Multi+, Prenatal DHA, Vegan Prenatal DHA, AM/PM Morning Sickness Relief, Prenatal Multi+ (caplets and gummies), Probiotics and Prenatal Multi+ Iodine & Iron Free, as well as Postnatal Multi+, along with fertility formulas for men and women.

According to Dr. Gupta, the line is distinguished by its inclusion of methylated vitamins, which are included to support brain health and promote mental energy. She explained, “Methylated vitamins are essential for proper absorption and utilization in the body, making them highly effective for cognitive functions. Methylated vitamins are a form of vitamins that have undergone a process called methylation, which makes them more easily absorbed and utilized by the body. This is particularly important for individuals with genetic variations (like MTHFR mutations) that affect how their bodies process certain vitamins.”

The Essentials by Florida-based Revivele system is comprised of six daily products formulated to work synergistically and be taken throughout the day, according to founder Kavita Desai, PharmD. “Designed for enhanced tolerability and absorption, Essentials aims to help improve all facets of women’s health, especially focusing on cognitive function, energy, sleep, mood, gut health, immunity and hormone balance,” she said.

The line is comprised of: Inhale for improved energy production, increase fat burning and boosting brain function; Flow, an adaptogenic supplement designed to boost brain and immune function, and to regulate energy and blood sugar; Enhance, a combination of omega-3s and fat-soluble vitamins to strengthen heart and brain functions, as well as improve mood, skin and bone health. Bloom mushroom blend gummies for energy, cognitive and immune support; Flourish probiotic blend to strengthen the gut’s lining, improving digestion and absorption of nutrients; and Exhale, for better relaxation and restorative sleep.

How About Them Apps?

Women approach wellness today in an easily integrative manner, based on the adage that knowledge is power. They don’t simply supplement. Health and wellness apps are proliferating, and our practitioner resources have several they like to recommend to their women clients. “There are so many but the one I seem to recommend the most is Headspace,” said Dr. Hudson.

For general wellness and nutrition, Dr. Parrish recommends MyFitnessPal, Fitbit, Chronometer, Headspace and Insight Timer, for diet and exercise tracking to understand nutritional intake, in addition to mindfulness and meditation to improve mental health. “For fertility and menstrual tracking, I like Premom, Kindara and Oova, to understand menstrual cycle patterns and find fertility windows. I always caution that period prediction is not always accurate and utilizing other methods including tracking basal body temperature and tracking LH with ovulation strips can really help to find the different phases of their cycle.”

There are numerous pregnancy apps, but Dr. Parrish tends to recommend Ovia Pregnancy Tracker, which provides insight into the baby’s development, and tracks pregnancy milestones, symptoms, and appointments. “There are other apps like Baby Center that offer weekly pregnancy guidance, due date calculator, and there is a community forum.”

For wearables, she likes Fitbit, Oura Ring and Tempdrop.

Dr. Avena asserted that Natural Cycles “is one of the best apps for all women. If they are seeking to start a family or not, this app allows women to keep in touch with their hormones and track changes throughout the month. “I also love Hers, which is an online program for all things women’s health—from mental health care to hair growth. It makes getting health care accessible and convenient for almost any woman,” she said.

As March is Women’s History Month, women’s health can be at the forefront of your practice by reminding your female clients of checkups, what’s new in supplements and apps, and what’s new in study findings. Provide samples of gummy vitamins and other practice promotional items women will love, like tumblers, totes and charging cables. Beyond March, though, women—and their wellness—should be celebrated all year long.

Healthy Take Aways

• According to GWI Market Research, the number of women in the U.S. who say they use herbal/natural medicines to support specific health concerns has risen dramatically by 18 percent since the end of 2020.
• Women’s focus has largely shifted from the early 2000s ideology that “thin is best” to more overall wellness.
• There are recent advancements in non-hormonal contraceptives representing a significant milestone in fertility health and family planning.
• Stress is at an all-time high, and the tension that goes with it is impacting women’s emotional and mental well-being.

For More Information:

Best Nest Wellness, www.bestnestwellness.com
Biocidin Botanicals, www.biocidin.com
Herbalist & Alchemist, www.herbalist-alchemist.com
Revivele, www.revivele.com
Vitanica, www.vitanica.com