Vanderhaeghe talks hormones

Well-known expert in natural health for women, Lorna Vanderhaeghe presents a free lecture, Everything you need to know about hormones."

Katherine Mortimer

Morning Star Staff

Lack of energy, weight gain and hot flashes are just a few of the many complaints women have as they go through menopause.

But Lorna Vanderhaeghe said there are a number of things women can do to help sail through menopause with a minimum of symptoms.

One of Canada’s most well-known women’s natural health experts, Vanderhaeghe is bringing her expertise to Vernon on Wednesday, with a free lecture at the Schubert Centre on the topic, “Everything you need to know about hormones.”

Open a women’s magazine, flip on the TV and hormones are a hot topic. The reason, said Vanderhaeghe, is simple.

“It’s the first time in history we’ve had more women over the age of 50 than under the age of 50 — it’s the largest group of women to go through menopause at the same time,” she said. “At the same time, the average doctor visit is seven minutes long, so it is challenging to treat a woman’s hormone problems, which can often be complicated.”

Vanderhaeghe has been researching nutritional medicine for more than 30 years and has degrees in nutrition and biochemistry. She is the author of 11 books, including her latest, A Smart Woman’s Guide to Hormones, written with Dr. Alvin Pettle, a Toronto gynecologist.

She said hormones have been a hot topic for a number of years, when the safety of synthetic hormones was called into question.

The Women’s Health Initiative was a study that was supposed to put to rest the debate about the safety of synthetic Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for women.

“This was a big clinical trial they halted in 2002, using synthetic hormones, and it brought the whole treatment into question because they found that in fact synthetic hormones are not safe and that they posed a significant health risk to women, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke and/or breast cancer.”

In A Smart Woman’s Guide to Hormones, Vanderhaeghe and Pettle offer a straightforward guide to teach women how to balance hormones, which tests they should have at the doctor’s office, what those tests mean, whether they need hormones or not and what foods can create hormone havoc.

In her lecture, Vanderhaeghe will offer women information on the following: how to stop hot flashes and night sweats; how stress affects weight gain; treating endometriosis, PMS, fibroids, ovarian cysts and more; what nutrients help you sleep; low thyroid and your hormones; the secret to halting bladder incontinence; how to stop hair loss; the secret to beautiful skin; how to get your energy back; how to use bioidentical hormones safely; and more.

“When we look at hormone problems — and they start young by the way — if you have period problems and acne in your 20s, these are signs that your hormones are out of balance.”

Vanderhaeghe said it comes down to recognizing hormone imbalance early and dealing with it.

“But what I’m there to talk about is how quickly we can fix it; we can use diet, lifestyle and nutritional and herbal remedies.”

Vanderhaeghe said it’s not just physical symptoms women are dealing with in menopause: anxiety and panic attacks, mood swings, irritability and depression, loss of libido and adrenal fatigue are also common complaints.

Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life, but with a busy western lifestyle, many women are hit hard by this change.

“We are under huge stress, menopause itself is stressful; and your adrenals are the backup hormone system, so if you’ve been going crazy during your 20s, 30s and 40s and expect to keep going in your 50s, it’s not going to work.

“But if we support and nourish our adrenals, we’re going to have less hormone issues; the adrenals and thyroid speak to each other.

“The key message is we can fix all of this, easily and safely.”

Vanderhaeghe said 80 per cent of women can treat their hormone problems using diet and lifestyle, while a few will need short-term bioidentical hormones.

She offers three lifestyle tips: walk for 30 minutes per day — take more time for yourself; drink less coffee, caffeinated beverages and alcohol; sleep eight hours per night and say no to extra requests.

Weight gain is on many women’s minds and Vanderhaeghe said it’s essential for women to make some changes when they hit their 40s.

“Women will say ‘I haven’t changed anything and I’m gaining this weight and I can’t get it off my belly.’ But when we hit 40 we do have to change things; estrogen is what gives you your curves, your estrogen went up as you developed.

“But in the perimenopause years your estrogen is surging, so you get belly fat; it blocks your thyroid and makes your metabolism go slower, low thyroid lowers the body’s ability to burn calories.”

And yes, she said it comes down to what you put in your body: and processing grains becomes more difficult for women as they age.

“I’m not saying you can never eat pasta again, or enjoy that glass of wine but you really do have to limit those things to control blood sugar, keeping our estrogen and other hormones in balance if you want to lose that belly fat.

“But we still want to continue to enjoy our lives and live our lives.”

Vanderhaeghe’s lecture is presented by Simply Delicious in Vernon and takes place Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Schubert Centre, 3505-30th Ave.