Are you going through menopause, suffering from hot flashes, or maybe you’re just adversely affected by the hormonal changes that occur with your cycle? Many women struggle with hormone imbalance and are often told that either the only way to balance their hormones is through hormone replacement therapy, or they need to just push through because it’s not possible to safely relieve their condition. Are these really the only options, or can you balance your hormones naturally?
In this episode, I am with Dr. Christiane Northrup, who is a board-certified OB/GYN physician and New York Times bestselling author. She’s internationally known for her empowering approach to women’s health and wellness, and her goal is teaching women how to thrive at every stage of life. Dr. Northrup shares her knowledge on hormone imbalance and answers the question of how to balance hormones naturally.
In this podcast, Dr. Northrup covers
- The key factors to hormonal health (And why your doctor doesn’t tell you about it)
- Is hormone testing worthwhile?
- The first steps in balancing your hormones
- The #1 food culprit that affects your hormones according to Dr. Northrup
- How does stress affect hormones?
- Dr. Northrup’s take on vaccines (And how they affect hormonal health)
- Are you breathing the right way? How breathing can affect your health and wellbeing
- How to balance hormones after menopause the natural way
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How To Balance Hormones Naturally with Dr. Christiane Northrup – Transcript
Ari Whitten: Hi everyone, welcome back to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. I am your host Ari Whitten and today I am honored to be joined by Dr. Christiane Northrup, who is a board-certified OB/GYN physician and New York Times bestselling author, a visionary, pioneer and leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. She’s internationally known for her empowering approach to women’s health and wellness, and she teaches women how to thrive at every stage of life. So, I’m very honored to have you on the show today. Dr. Northrup, welcome to the show.
Dr. Christiane Northrup: Thank you. It’s my pleasure to be here.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. So, I’m, as we just were chatting about, I’m excited to be able to do two podcasts with you, but we’re going to split this up because you have so much great content to share. One of the topics that I want to delve into this with you is on women’s hormonal health.
Dr. Christiane Northrup: Right.
Dr. Northrup’s experience with hormone replacement therapy
Ari Whitten: And this has been sort of your bread and butter for a long time. I think you, I know you graduated from medical school, what, back in the early ‘80s or something or somewhere around there, late ‘70s?
Dr. Christiane Northrup: In the ‘70s, in the ‘70s. Yeah. Yeah. So, I’ve been at this for a while and, you know, back when the only hormone that was given was Premarin. Premarin stands for pregnant mare’s urine. So, it’s horse urine basically. And the reason why that was the gold standard was it was just sort of the first to the table was the main thing on that. And so, as I went along, I noticed there were other alternatives to that, but they weren’t as well known. And then I got into, in the early ‘90s, I met the people who were doing work with natural progesterone, bio-identical progesterone. And I found that this was working so much better than medroxyprogesterone acetate, which is a synthetic progestin. All birth control pills, by the way, are not native to the female body and they have side effects.
Or as my colleague, Dr. Bruce Lipton says, “These are not side effects, these are effects.” So, I began to use bioidentical progesterone. And Dr. Joel Hargrove ran the menopause center in Nashville, Tennessee, the late Joel Hargrove. And I had him come to our hospital to give a lecture because he was the guy who patented oral micronized bioidentical progesterone. In other words, what I wanted people to know, including doctors, was that if you take the three-dimensional shape of a hormone that is exactly what is produced in the body, you’re going to get the same effects as what the body would produce.
But if you take something in a lab and you make it different from something found in nature, it’s going to have totally different effects. Now, to this day, my colleagues do not seem to understand this difference. I just, it’s like it’s mind-blowing to me that my own profession cannot see the difference between the three…
And you know, and if I had my book, “The Wisdom of Menopause” here, we could hold up the slide that shows all the methyl groups added to native progesterone to make it not anything found in nature. Now people need to understand this. The only way to patent a hormone, you can’t patent naturally occurring substances, which is why the area of herbs and natural substances and vitamins is so underrepresented because the way it has worked for big pharma is you can’t make money unless you create something not found in nature. So, think about that one. Right? And so, therefore, there’s no money in giving women the kind of hormones they need. Although we made some progress because things like the Climera and the Vivelle Patch, these are transdermal patches. They patented the delivery system. They patented the glue that makes the patch.
The most important factor when you start on hormone replacement therapy (and the important steps you need to take BEFORE start hormone replacement therapy.)
So, I was on the Oprah Winfrey show with Suzanne Somers and the head of OB/GYN at Northwestern. And Oprah had me on one of her very last shows. Now you know, she had this show for 25 years and I’m on there as the referee between Suzanne Somers who is all bioidentical hormones, all from formulary pharmacies, and Dr. Lauren Streicher, who’s from Northwestern University.
And she and Suzanne Somers were at each other’s throats because Suzanne Somers didn’t see how you could ever get anything in a regular pharmacy that wasn’t dangerous and Dr. Streicher didn’t understand that stuff from a formulary pharmacy isn’t regulated the same thing as the FDA. It was unbelievable and I’m there in the middle trying to show the audience what’s the truth that both of them, both of them have the truth, but let’s bring it together, shall we? Okay, so that is that if you’re going do hormones then get the hormones that exactly match those found in the female human body.
And that is all the term bioidentical means. That’s all it means. You can get those in regular pharmacies because they have finally figured that out. Now, most hormones that are given are not bioidentical. So usually you have to do a little research. However, and you and I discussed this before we started this Podcast, there are so many alternatives to bioidentical hormones. When I went through the menopausal transition, I remember trying all the bioidentical stuff because I wasn’t afraid of it.
So, I would do the creams and I’d have it made up at the formulary pharmacy. And I noticed that nothing did anything because my lifestyle was the biggest determinant of whether or not I had hot flashes or anything of that nature. So, let’s just take a look at that. So, some women find that when they eat a diet high in sugar or they drink a lot of red wine or they eat certain cheeses, they get hot flashes or if they’re under some kind of stress.
So, what is stress? A plane trip between here and LA is stressful. Thanksgiving dinner with relatives you don’t like is stressful. Eating a lot of sugar, eating a lot of donuts, eating a lot of wheat. For some people who are sensitive to gluten, which is a lot of people, that’s all stressful. And all of those things change the way your hormones are metabolized. I think that is my main take-home message is that cortisol and epinephrine, the stress hormones created by the adrenals actually change the way hormones are metabolized in the female human body. So, there’s a great connection between the adrenal glands where the stress hormones are made. Cortisol from the medulla of the adrenals, and epinephrine from the cortex of the adrenals. The adrenals are two little glands that sit on top of the kidneys and they interact with the ovaries in this lovely, lovely dance.
So, when your adrenals are healthy, and probably many of your listeners have heard of chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, adrenal fatigue, that’s what’s really going on in menopause. That’s what’s, because let me just slide in a little metaphysics here. At age 42, we all go through what’s called a Uranus opposition, men as well as women. And that is a wakeup call from your soul and we call it a midlife crisis, but it really isn’t. It’s the soul saying, “Hey, wait a minute. Hey, wait a minute.” Okay, you went to school, you got your degree, you did what you’re supposed to do. You’re working in a job that you’re supposed to work in. And then you hit about age 42 and the timeline of your soul wakes up and says, “Really, really? Is this what you want to be doing the rest of your life? Because I noticed that you, too, were working, doing other people’s work.” And you said, “Wait, I have a vision that’s a little different, so I want to do this on my own.”
That’s what the whole midlife crisis is about, and if you ignore it, then the stress hormones increase because your body is a barometer of your soul’s trajectory. So, if you expect that anything outside of yourself, whether it be bioidentical hormones or herbs or whatever, is going to do it, it won’t do it until you get yourself back on the right track. Then these other things enhance your life. Now is there… There’s no question that estrogen is the gold standard in women who have hot flashes and they can’t sleep, and they can’t sleep and therefore they get depressed. But in many, many cases, their life is requiring a reset button and getting…
You know, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross way, way back, who was a pioneer on death and dying. She would say, “You know what? When you’re in pain, morphine works well.” Sometimes you just need to get the thing to get you through and I’m fine with that, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that at midlife… The whole reason, by the way, that chronic degenerative diseases increase at the age of 50, you know, when they tell you get your first mammogram, get your colonoscopy. The only reason for that is you’ve generally been ignoring your body for that many years, and finally it says, keep it up and I’m going to show you what I can do to get you back on track. There’s no reason why suddenly at age 45, 50, whatever, the incidence of breast cancer and colon cancer and heart disease should go up. That’s just demographics. That’s just how someone has been living.
Always interested in the outlier people. So, do all women need bioidentical hormones? Absolutely not. Because when the adrenals are healthy, when you have looked at your soul trajectory when you are leading a life that is driven by and guided by your soul, then you just, you don’t need nearly as many things from the outside. Now I myself started a company called Amata Life when I heard about this herb from Thailand called Pueraria Mirifica. And the people in Thailand knew this for 700 years. And a Pueraria Mirifica means “miracle herb.” In the 1930s the Germans discovered, don’t you love it? Someone always discovers what the hill tribes in northern Thailand had only been doing for 700 years and now it’s a big discovery. Not for them, this is like what we’ve been doing. And because this particular herb with a phytohormone, a plant hormone, works so well for menopausal symptoms that I started a company to bring that into public consciousness because it’s not a prescription and it works so well and it protects the male prostate, too, and all the rest of it. So, what I did for a couple years is I just recommended it with someone else’s brand. I recommended it to get the right amount of clinical feedback to know that it worked. And what I found was that there are women… So, here’s the way I do it. It’s kind of a hierarchy.
How to balance hormones naturally – vitamin D and nutrients
So, you start with changing your diet, getting your adrenal glands where they should be, and that also involves getting your vitamin D levels to optimal.
And I’m kind of on a soapbox with vitamin D levels because we’ve been taught to be afraid of the sun. And no one should burn. We know that. But we need optimal levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D is both a nutrient and a hormone, and so the level in your blood should be 50 to 80. That’s optimal. When you go and get it drawn, you’re told it’s normal, normal for what? Preventing rickets? No, no, no. You need optimal. Women who have optimal levels of vitamin D have an 80 percent reduced risk of breast cancer and men have the same reduced risk of prostate cancer because one in eight men will get prostate cancer. But if you get your levels where they ought to be, which takes 5,000 IUs per day, generally speaking. And there are those people who just don’t make the vitamin D from the sun exposure.
So, it’s not necessarily about getting more sun exposure, although that would help. So, get your vitamin D levels up there, make sure you’re getting enough iodine in your diet. You can get that through kelp, through seaweed through, you know, sea salt doesn’t have it. Celtic sea salt doesn’t have it, Himalayan sea salt doesn’t have it, however, they are replete with other minerals that we all need. So, a good way to get iodine is frankly what I do, I just get it from Amazon, Lougal’s solution, which is both molecular iodine and potassium iodide, and you just do, you know, three to seven drops per day in water and you’ve got it. It’s necessary for hormone balance. So, vitamin D for hormone balance, iodine for hormone balance, we all need more magnesium than we’re getting because the soils are depleted. And you do all that stuff first.
Then if you still need additional help, then you do the herbs. That would be either the Pueraria Mirifica or maca. They are women’s herbs that have been, you know, just used for millennia. Only then, after you’ve tried these things and if they haven’t worked for you… Oh, and then you need enough omega-3 fats. We have too much omega-6 from the seed oils like canola and corn oil and all that, and we need more omega-3s from flaxseed oil and from cold water fish and those things make up most of the cell membrane of your brain. So, people get depressed because they don’t have enough of the right stuff making up the coating of their nerves and the cells of their brains. So, all of those things, once those are in place, most people don’t need additional hormones because… Now, this is important, when your testosterone levels, the adrenals make testosterone in women and the ovaries make testosterone in women.
And there’s this interesting thing during the peri-menopause that nobody talks about, which is that the center of the ovary, the medulla begins to hypertrophy. You get more and more so healthy women make more testosterone at midlife and less estrogen. And if you have enough testosterone, which is sort of the hormone of desire, the hormone of life force, if you have enough of that, then your body will take that and make the necessary estrogen and progesterone. So, you know, I know that the conventional approach is… you know, Dr. Prudence Hall is the big hormone doctor in California that Oprah was going to and she has had women on the Wiley Protocol. This was Suzanne Somers’ approach, get your hormones at the level of a 21-year-old. And Suzanne Somers, and the Wiley Protocol was cycle your hormones so you have a period every month. Well, who wants a period every month in their eighties?
Most women don’t. And the Wiley Protocol gives you a period every month. Suzanne Somers didn’t tell the world that she’s had a hysterectomy, so she doesn’t get a period every month. So that’s something that women should know. We, okay, so here’s the thing, we all want to die young as late as possible.
Fertility after the age of 37
And what I want women to know and why I wrote “Goddesses Never Age” was that I wanted them to know that what we call aging in our culture is largely preventable and a tremendous amount has to do with the way you think with the cultural portals. You know, so age 35 for a woman who hasn’t had a baby yet, that’s a cultural portal where she’s been taught by the culture that her eggs are all going to get old now and that fertility falls off like that. It doesn’t, it doesn’t. For a large population, yes.
But I’ve seen women in their forties who are physiologically, biologically older than many women in their sixties. And the data, by the way, from Gina Ogden out of Harvard, who’s a Ph.D. in human sexuality, points out that it is women in their sixties and seventies who are having the best sex of their lives and nobody hears about this. And so, if you need additional help, there’s additional help available. No woman should suffer from what’s called, I hate the terms we use in medicine, atrophic vaginitis. What that means is the lining of your uterus, which is very sensitive to estrogen, isn’t getting the estrogen that it needs.
So, there are creams that you can use for that… I worked for years to create a vaginal gel that has Pueraria Mirifica that works really well. It’s nonprescription. However, regular sexual expression with a partner or alone keep that area in good working order by bringing the blood into that. We’re sexual creatures our entire lives and there’s nothing about turning 40, turning 50, turning 60, turning 70 that changes that. But we’re taught in our culture that things are supposed to stop working. Men, my God, men are taught that they need Viagra at the age of 40. And this is, it’s a terrible thing to teach men because there, that does not need to happen at all. Again, Dr. Oz had one of my most favorite quotes, which is, “The penis is the dipstick of men’s health.” And when erections are… And it’s true because the cardiovascular system is reflected in one’s ability to get an erection. And so, when men can get good, strong erections, which you can have forever, it means that your cardiovascular system is in good working order. And it’s also interesting that the penis is a barometer of life force. It is a turned-on woman or a turned-on man, whatever your preference is, that turns on the nitric oxide, that increases the blood flow to the penis.
And so, we need to start paying attention to that. And I think, you know, celebrate that as this barometer of life force that men have or those who identify as male, because we’re trying to be politically correct these days, that they have that. And once you understand about this life force, this Shakti, this chi that’s available to you for your entire life. And some people need hormones and some people don’t need hormones.
One in three women will have her ovaries removed by the age of 60. You sure don’t hear about one in three men having his testicles removed by the age of 60 because even though that’s a cure for prostate cancer, no man is willing to lose the family jewels. Women are willing because we’ve been brainwashed into that and we’re afraid of cancer. So those are all issues that are part of the discussion.
The Women’s Health Initiative Scare
So, I don’t think that there’s a, an either-or answer for the hormones. But if you’re going to be… You know, it’s interesting. In 1994 “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom,” the very first edition came out. And I said in there the Women’s Health Initiative is using the wrong hormones at the wrong dose so they’re not going to find out what they wanted to find out. Because the deal was, they believed that what would happen there is they would prove that hormone replacement decreased the risk of heart disease in women and therefore you needed to take these hormones. And what happened was 2002. Bam, they stopped the Women’s Health Initiative overnight, scared millions of women to death who then thought, “Oh my God, I’m on these hormones, I’m going to get cancer, I’m going to get a stroke, I’m going to die.” So, they went off it cold turkey, not really helping anyone with much of anything.
And ever since then, this was 2002, it’s almost like the OB/GYN profession has been scrambling to come up with what is the truth? What is the truth? And the truth is you need an individualized approach. So, start with nutrition and lifestyle. Then go to herbs and supplements like the iodine, the vitamin D the magnesium, maybe Pueraria Mirifica or maca. Then only then, if you need something extra, would I do the prescription hormones, but they need to be those that are found in the female human body. And those, by the way, are made from soybeans and wild Mexican yams. They start with that as the template and then in the lab, they do the conversions. But if you’re big pharma then they’ll do the conversions to make something not found in nature unless you have patented the glue that puts the patch on your skin. So that’s my big hormone spiel.
The most common reasons why there is a lot of female hormone balance in the modern world
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Well, thank you for that. That was like a masterclass on the practical aspects of what you do about menopause and female hormone balance. I almost want to step back for a moment into, and you touched on some of this, but to go back into why are women having such serious hormonal issues both before and after menopause? And there’s a lot of estrogen dominance. There’s a lot of infertility. There’s a lot of early menopause. What’s going on in the modern world that is leading to these issues with female hormone imbalance?
Dr. Christiane Northrup: Well, I would say the number one is too much insulin from a diet that’s too high in sugar. And when I say sugar, I’m talking about white bread, white flour, junk foods, anything that increases insulin. So, we’re seeing adult-onset diabetes in eight-year old’s now around the planet. We’re seeing pubic hair growing in six-year old’s. And that is because of hormone disruptors, the phthalates, that’s p-h-l-a-t…, whatever it is, phthalates. And that’s found in many kinds of industrialized chemicals.
We have kind of this perfect storm now of GMOs, genetically modified organisms, glyphosate, Roundup is found in nearly every human being on the planet. That’s a hormone disruptor.
The problem with vaccines according to Dr. Northrup
And then let me be enormously controversial here because, you know, we’re not brought to you by any mainstream media and I’m not being paid. And that is the fact that we are now injecting people with all of these neurotoxins starting at a young age.
So, in the United States, 99 percent of newborns get a hepatitis B vaccine, which contains 15 times the amount of aluminum that even the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, consider safe. And the only way you can get hepatitis B as an infant is to have sex with a prostitute or use a needle from a drug addict. Or, obviously, if your mother has it. Now, that’s a valid use for a hep-B vaccine at birth. Your mother has hepatitis B. Otherwise, no. So, what we’re doing now is we’re starting life by giving our babies, our infants what amounts to, and this is the schedule in the United States, but in very many countries it’s the same, 72 different injections by the age of 18. All of which contain trace amounts of thiomersal, which is mercury, and this particular aluminum that’s not found in nature. So, people will say to you, “Oh, aluminum is safe. It’s in the Earth’s crust.” Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of aluminum used as an adjuvant in a vaccine.
And the other thing that’s happening… Now, this started in the United States in 1986, where President Ronald Reagan was pressured by the vaccine manufacturers because of liability. To make them immune to liability. And they started a vaccine court so that the pharmaceutical industry pays in a little bit of money to give money to those whose children have been vaccine injured. Well, the rate of autism, I think it was in maybe 1970, 1980 was one in 10,000. It’s now one in 40. And we know now the HPV vaccine has resulted in infertility and premature menopause in many, many girls. And the standard rhetoric, the standard narrative is that the HPV vaccine will prevent cervical cancer. This has never been proven. And so, this is just one example of the environmental toxins people are exposed to. So, it’s kind of a perfect storm of insulin that is too high, which causes estrogen dominance and diabetes. Vitamin D that is way too low and that interacts with all the different hormones. Up to 72 different vaccines, all of which contained neurotoxins. Read the insert on a vaccine injection – formaldehyde, fetal cells, monkey cells, aluminum, thiomersal, even trace amounts. And then it’s all of this working together. Then we have the chemtrails where, you know, we’ve had weather changes, climate changes. Not enough sunlight. All of this stuff is working together to decrease fertility. In fact, the birth rate is going down around the world. And one could ask are there some kind of, you know, elite forces on the planet? When we make public health, the public health discussion… And well-baby checks are just about vaccines.
They’re not about, “Hey, let’s get the vitamin D levels optimal. Let’s make sure that hemoglobin A1c levels are optimal. Let’s get the inflammatory profile of omega-3 to omega-6, let’s make sure that’s optimal. Let’s make sure that your hemoglobin A1c is optimal.” Those would be the places to start. But what we do in modern medicine always is we wait until the horse is out of the barn and then we go back to look at the fences. “Wow. I guess that fence was broken.” But we don’t even look at that. And then what we do is we start putting things on horses to get them to stop breaking out of the fence. I mean, it’s so bass backward. It’s so nuts. Really. There’s so much, you know. Then there’s exercise and meditation and you know, don’t even get me started on people working 40 to 80 hours a week.
How to balance hormones naturally with nutrition and lifestyle
Ari Whitten: I was going to say, I mean I totally agree with you to look at some of these biomarkers like let’s say hemoglobin A1c or fasting insulin levels. But I think equally, especially when you’re talking about kids, you could just be looking directly at the nutrition and lifestyle habits that we know are either associated with poor outcomes, disease outcomes, or you know, lifelong health and prevention of disease. I don’t think you even need to wait. If you see somebody living off diet, you know, off of soda and donuts and French fries. I don’t know that you need to wait until that’s manifesting in biomarkers that are disrupted before you start a diet change.
Dr. Christiane Northrup: No kidding. No kidding. I mean that’s just absolutely the truth. In fact, it’s so obvious, right? It’s obvious to us. And so, what I would say to people, remember nutrition is still not really taught in medical schools. I mean those of us who have had anything to say about nutrition… My God, in the 1980s I had to close my door so that my colleagues would not hear me when I talked to a woman about nutrition. And it was considered so heretical then I couldn’t even talk to them. Then I would show up with my brown rice and my seaweed and all of that and people would just make fun of me. That’s, you know, and my aunt who was a pediatrician gave me a book called “The Nuts Among the Berries” when I went to medical school because she was convinced that diet has nothing to do with anything. This is insane.
Ari Whitten: I’m glad you brought that up because at one time that paradigm, the idea that nutrition was not playing any role in these diseases, was thought to be really advanced, sort of cutting-edge scientific knowledge. You know, that was the evidence-based paradigm.
Dr. Christiane Northrup: That’s right. That’s right. Yeah, so I think it’s all of those things. However, the good news is all over the planet there are what we would call subcultures of wellness. I’m sure they’re your listeners. They’re my listeners, and they are complete outliers. They’re not part of this fast food nation. They’re just not and so it’s resulted in these wonderful… Here in my state of Maine, we have an enormous number of farms to table restaurants, a lot of organic food, a lot of that, so that’s all happening at the same time. It’s almost like as the old is dying this new is rising at the same time. So, I’m not helpless and hopeless in any way because I see things changing, but you’re never, okay, you’re never going to see it in the mainstream media. That’s going to be the last place you see it because the mainstream media is brought to you by the same old, same old paradigm. I mean, I was watching this show called Forensic Files with a friend of mine. He loves this show. I could not believe the drug ads. It’s like, you know, every 10 minutes, five minutes, there are ads for these drugs that I, as a physician, have never heard of. And the side effects of them are unbelievable. You know and talk about a dinosaur that needs to be brought down. It’ll end. It will end. Maybe not in my lifetime, but it will end.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. I want to come back to what you started with, which is the practical side of treating hormonal health for women. So, it sounds like, which I love and am really excited about is that nutrition and lifestyle changes are really the foundation for women’s hormonal health.
Dr. Christiane Northrup: Absolutely.
Ari Whitten: And whether we’re talking about estrogen dominance or, you know, avoiding early menopause or whether we’re talking about infertility, whether we’re talking about, you know, hormonal balance, post menopause the foundation is nutrition and lifestyle.
Dr. Christiane Northrup: Always, always, always. There’s no way around it. And I would say the biggest issue is excess sugar. And I mean, what I mean is added sugar because there are many, many people… For instance, if they follow the work of Anthony William, the medical medium, you know, he’s talking about fear of fruit. You know, that many people think that has got too many carbs and all of that. Now, for some people that’s true. For most, it isn’t. Fruit is so loaded with hydrating nutrients, stage four gel water. And it’s absorbed very, very quickly. So that’s not the issue. It is just foods that spike your blood sugar and that’s kind of fake foods that nobody should be eating.
How lifestyle habits are connected with your hormone levels
Ari Whitten: Excellent. So, the next step beyond that, and actually I want to emphasize one point here. This is something that I encounter quite a bit when people talk about hormonal balance is, I think there’s a disconnect in people’s minds between nutrition and lifestyle changes and hormones. People think that if they have hormonal imbalances, the only way to fix that is by doing some specific intervention that targets that specific hormone. Or by using, let’s say, bioidentical hormones. They really don’t realize that doing things like meditation or adjusting your nutrition or, you know, taking certain supplements or decreasing the stress load in your life and a number of other aspects of exercise and sleep and circadian rhythm changes and vitamin D and all these kinds of things. They don’t understand that all of those are intimately connected with estrogen and progesterone and testosterone and all these other hormones. So, I’m just wondering if you could kind of speak to that interconnection for a moment.
Dr. Christiane Northrup: Yeah, I can. And I would say that the biggest wake-up call for me was the work of Dr. Rollin McCarty at the Institute of Heart Math. And what Rollin discovered and proved was that when you get into cardiac resonance, so that’s where the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous system. Sympathetic is the gas, parasympathetic is the break. So, one is fight or flight, the other is rest and restore. When those two are balanced, then the beat to beat variability of the heart called cardiac coherence is installed.
So, you have cardiac coherence when you get a nice balance, parasympathetic/sympathetic. And they can measure that and there’s software available so that you know, you put a little finger sensor on, and you can determine when you’re in cardiac coherence. Well, guess what, you’re in cardiac coherence with the breath. So, breathing through your nose and breathing out through your nose will put you into cardiac coherence. So, if we were to just take a moment, and let’s do this experiment. We will have everybody breathe in through their mouth. Mouth breathing is a stress response. So here we go. Breathe, take a deep breath through your mouth and then let it out. Okay. Now let’s rest a minute and let’s take a deep breath in through our nose. Here we go, and out through your nose. All right. Now if you do that a couple times, what did you notice in the breath through your mouth versus the breath through your nose?
Ari Whitten: It was definitely more relaxing through the nose.
Dr. Christiane Northrup: It’s also deeper because there are these turbinates in the nose that go right down to the diaphragm. And so, you literally shoot the air down to the lower lobes of the lungs where, where not only where the blood is, but where the vagus nerve, the principal nerve of the parasympathetic system goes through the diaphragm. So, when you breathe through your nose, let’s just do that again… and out.
Dr. Christiane Northrup: Alright, you have engaged the rest and restore parasympathetic nervous system just through breathing through your nose and maybe holding it a moment at the top. Now, when you go through life breathing that way through your nose and even exercising that way, this is the work of Dr. John Douillard, then you’re going to maintain cardiac coherence. And when you’re in cardiac coherence, now we’re going to get to the hormones, the level of DHEA produced by the adrenals, that’s the mother hormone. That DHEA level increases and that is what sends, that’s the mother hormone that will go down each of the pathways and create the balance of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone that your body needs. So, it begins with this meditative state of breathing through your nose, calming, getting into cardiac coherence. The cardiac coherence increases DHEA. Therefore, you now have the raw material for the hormones you need, the sex steroids that you need, progesterone, estrogen, testosterone.
You are so right. Nobody understands that. They think, “Oh no, I have a hormonal imbalance.” And then I just demonstrated to you that breathing through your nose will begin to change that hormonal imbalance because it also does something else. Breathing through the nose begins to digest the excess stress hormones, cortisol, and epinephrine, and therefore, the metabolic pathways are instantly shifted toward… See, in the face of stress hormones, cortisol, and epinephrine, your DHEA or your estrogen will actually be metabolized into another stress hormone called catechol estrogen. I learned that from Dr. Joel Hargrove and I’ve never heard it from anyone else. So, in the face of stress hormones, you’re going to take the hormones floating around in your body, the sex steroids, and you’re going to make additional stress hormones. But when you are calmed down, you’re going to take that same raw material and it’ll go down a pathway of normality.
Why hormone panels largely are a waste of money
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Fascinating. And that’s a great example. Even just something as simple as breathing is going to affect very important hormones in profound ways, you know. And also, you were mentioning cortisol earlier, cortisol is in very dynamic interplay with things like, for example, circadian rhythm and sleep as well as your stress level and whether you’re doing things like yoga or meditation. And all of those things are having a huge impact even from one day to the next on cortisol levels. So, it’s not just, I think people have this disconnect where they don’t understand that connection of the nutrition and lifestyle habits and then they think, “Oh my cortisol level is this, therefore I need to be on cortisone therapy, or I need to take a supplement to fix my poor adrenals.” And it’s no, you need to fix the nutrition and lifestyle factors that are impacting the amount of secretion of that particular hormone.
Dr. Christiane Northrup: Right. And, also, you bring up another point, and that is people are very hung up on hormone testing, “I need my hormones tested.” Well, here’s the problem with that. The hormones change minute to minute, so if you’re going to get a hormone profile, I would do what’s called the DUTCH test. And you can just Google DUTCH test and you, they’ll send you like five strips and you pee on those through the day, so you’ve got about four to five points on a graph and so it’ll give you an idea. However, I have found over the years that hormone testing is generally, other than thyroid, not very helpful because it’s one point in time and testosterone levels, for instance, peak in the morning,
Ari Whitten: I am so happy to hear you say this and I cannot tell you how few people that I speak to agree with you or understand things in the way that you understand things. But I have seen so many times people do hormone panels and literally, you can do this. You can split test it from one day to the next and you can get wildly different results in the same individual on the same hormonal panels from one day to the next. Or you do different types of hormonal testing, like saliva versus blood testing versus urine testing and you get totally contradictory results. So, there is so much of that testing out there that just is just not valid or insightful data,
Dr. Christiane Northrup: Not at all. And what happens is then people think you can take it to the bank. So, “Well, I have low this or I have low that.” It’s like not really. And it’s interesting. I mean I’ve been in this for, you know, 30 years. And if the testing were useful, I would know it by now, I think.
Ari Whitten: So, I want to come back to wrap up this Podcast. I want to wrap up with kind of going back to hormonal replacement for one minute. And I’ll mention Dr. Mache Seibel who I had on the Podcast recently who is a big advocate of hormonal replacement therapy. And his sort of central, the core of what he teaches is basically that in 2002, as you mentioned earlier, we had that big study come out, this sort of bombshell study saying hormonal replacement is dangerous. Everybody kind of freaked out. Tons of women stopped doing it. A lot of doctors also became confused as to whether they should be recommending it or not. And then in 2006 I believe there was a reanalysis of that same data and they basically concluded that when you, and I’m forgetting the exact specifics, but it’s something like when you looked at women who didn’t have a big gap between the time that they went into menopause and when they started the hormonal replacement and you looked at people that started the hormonal replacement very soon after menopause, it actually showed net benefits and really the harms weren’t there. And so, he’s essentially saying, “Hey, for people and for women in menopause, hormonal replacement is a very good thing.” And then sort of as a side, and I don’t want to misrepresent anything he says here, but my take on it is sort of as a side in addition to that, you should also be sort of working on your nutrition and lifestyle habits. But I want to contrast that with what you’re saying, which is nutrition and lifestyle is the foundation that is the core of what’s really going to promote hormonal balance. And then we have things like herbs and supplements that can help as well. And you mentioned several of those. And then if you still need further help, that’s when you should be looking into hormonal replacement.
Dr. Christiane Northrup: That’s my approach. Absolutely. Absolutely. And I know all the data he’s talking about. They have massaged that data, JoAnn Manson, that whole group, The Women’s Health Initiative, this huge cohort study. And it’s amusing to me because when I began practice in the early ’80s, we suddenly were terrified of hormone replacement because all of these women were getting uterine cancer from Premarin. So, then they brought in Provera, medroxyprogesterone acetate, which all they saw that as was a vacuum cleaner for the uterus. So, you wouldn’t get a waxy buildup that would result in endometrial cancer. So suddenly hormone replacement went, you know, went out of favor. It all started in the ’50s with a book called “Feminine Forever” by Robert O. Wilson. And I read it as a med student. I remember being in this little community hospital in Vermont and “Feminine Forever,” Robert O. Wilson. And you know, and he would say, “Well, women are no longer feminine and, you know, that’s why they all need this hormone replacement.” It sounds good.
And you then do some research on Robert O. Wilson. And chances are very good that his wife started to speak up when she reached menopause. Like, you know, she was no longer, you know, the little woman like folding the towels. She, her soul spoke. So, we call that lack of hormones. That isn’t it. That’s not it.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, that’s funny.
Dr. Christiane Northrup: I’ve been in it long enough to see it, you know, the pendulum swing. And thank God women have access to this kind of information now. And there’s no one right answer for everybody. That’s what I think we finally have to get across. And we can’t allow mainstream doctors to tell us what the best thing is because if you look at the history of medicine with flamidamine and the Dalkon Shield IUD and I swear, as I live and breathe, the HPV vaccine. You know, people believe, “If that were the case, they would have told us. If it were that dangerous, they would have told us.” Well, let’s take Vioxx. How many people died unnecessarily because of that. So you’ve got to make a wedding really between your intellect, your medical care, and your own intuition to find the right answer for you.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. And you talk in some of your work about people sort of being a partner with their physicians in the decision-making process. And there, being many options out there, you need to be armed with facts. So, I guess my final question to you would be, do you have any recommended resource and maybe your book on this subject as being the best resource for women who want to be armed with as much of the facts as possible about how to approach hormonal balance post menopause?
Dr. Christiane Northrup: I think that my book, “The Wisdom of Menopause” kind of lays out the big picture of what’s going on and I’ve never seen anything that’s like it. On the other hand, there are many, many, many books on menopause and on bioidentical hormones. There’s, you know, there is Suzanne Somers’, “The Sexy Years.” There’re all kinds of… And she does a lot with supplements and nutrition. So, I think she’s made a great contribution. But I would say just read the first five chapters of “The Wisdom of Menopause” and you’re going to find the information there.
Ari Whitten: Excellent. Excellent. Well, Dr. Northrup, thank you so much. I’ve really, really enjoyed this conversation. It’s been such a pleasure. And I know we have one more Podcast that we’re going to do. So, thank you so much for your time. And I will talk to you again very soon.
Dr. Christiane Northrup: Very good. Okay.
How To Balance Hormones Naturally with Dr. Christiane Northrup – Show Notes
Dr. Northrup’s experience with hormone replacement therapy (1:05)
The most important factor when you start on hormone replacement therapy (and the important steps you need to take BEFORE start hormone replacement therapy) (4:28)
How to balance hormones naturally – vitamin D and nutrients (12:15)
Fertility after the age of 35 (16:47)
The Women’s Health Initiative Scare (21:00)
The most common reasons why there is a lot of female hormone balance in the modern world (23:00)
The problem with vaccines according to Dr. Northrup (24:42)
How to balance hormones naturally with nutrition and lifestyle (29:35)
How lifestyle habits are connected with your hormone levels (34:24)
Why hormone panels largely are a waste of money (40:07)