Hot Flashes and Menopause in Portland

Menopause Portland Oregon

Menopause Portland Oregon

You’re not hot just because it’s hot out!

One of the most common health complaints I hear in my naturopathic practice in Portland, OR is hot flashes.  Often women don’t realize what’s happening at first – I’ve had patients complain that they keep getting fevers, or they are waking up drenched in sweat every night and worried they have a horrible disease.  Once we determine that indeed they are experiencing menopause symptoms, then we have to dig a little deeper to determine the best treatment.  Because, let’s face it, hot flashes are distracting at best and walking around drenched in sweat is downright uncomfortable.  Sweaty, disrupted sleep at night is a deal-breaker, in my opinion, and getting sleep back on track is key to thriving in menopause!

We start with in-depth customized hormonal testing – and this varies depending on the exact symptoms you are experiencing as well as any other health complaints.  I dig into family history a bit, too, because we want to make sure that you don’t have any concerning genetic markers that will impact your experience of menopause or the treatments used to optimize your hormonal health.  Often in addition to testing the usual hormones associated with menopause symptoms – estrogen and progesterone – we also assess testosterone, cortisol, dhea, FSH, and insulin.

There are so many options for hot flash treatment, not to mention the other symptoms that can come with menopause.  Bioidentical hormones are one option, and I prescribe those if appropriate, though many women find their symptoms are alleviated with herbal or nutritional approaches, and they are able to skip the hormones.  But, let’s get back to the other symptoms you may be experiencing, which include:

  • memory loss
  • vaginal dryness
  • low libido
  • sleep problems
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • weight gain
  • hair loss
  • dry skin

Kelly came into my office complaining of fatigue, insomnia, difficulty remembering why she walked into a room, hot flashes & sweats, weight gain, and feeling irritable 24/7. These were all new symptoms for her in the last 6 months. Her menstrual cycle, once very regular, was alternating in being absent for months and then twice in a month.

We tested Kelly’s hormones and found that she was low in both estrogen and progesterone, her FSH was high indicating she was in peri-menopause, and her cortisol was super low all day long. In addition, she had high insulin showing that her body could not properly process carbohydrates. No wonder she was feeling poorly!

We used a low-dose bioidentical progesterone, along with herbal capsules, to relieve most of Kelly’s symptoms. In addition, she added very specific targeted exercise to increase her insulin sensitivity, and we worked to move her to a less carbohydrate-heavy diet. The last piece for Kelly was working on stress response, and we’re still tweaking her plan there. Overall, Kelly’s symptoms are 90% gone, and that last 10% will budge as she continues her self-care plan at home. She’s feeling like her old self, and she loves that she now has the energy and focus to tackle some big projects she’s been putting off. Success!

The good news: all of these symptoms can be improved with the right treatment!  If you are struggling with the symptoms of menopause, you are in the right place.

Phone me right now to schedule your appointment 503-244-0500, and get yourself on the road to feeling like yourself again!

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Posted in hormones, hot flashes, insomnia, menopause, Portland, Uncategorized

Nervous System Overload

Stressed?  Of course you are.  We all are.  Our nervous systems are still living in the stone age, when stress was a very different animal.  Back in the days before cell phones, mechanized transit, and artificial light at night, our nervous systems evolved to keep us alive.  Our fight or flight response was developed to kick in and make us run from threats.  When the fight or flight response is triggered, our blood flow is directed to our skeletal muscles so that we can flee the threat.  Our digestion halts, our pupils dilate to let in more light, and our body is charged with endorphins that give us extra energy (sympathetic response).  This response is very helpful for a quick getaway, and once we are safe, the response dissipates and our resting nervous system takes over (parasympathetic response).


Enter modern life, with constant input to our nervous systems.  Driving a car, checking email, answering cell phone calls and messages – all of this combines to give repeated stress to our overtaxed nervous systems, keeping us in sympathetic nervous system mode.  When we feel attacked, upset, or simply overwhelmed by these stresses, our nervous system gets stuck in reaction mode.  Sometimes, we can’t turn that off, which results in poor sleep, fatigue, anxiety, or depression.  Sound familiar?


How to bring balance back to our over-taxed selves?  Minimizing nervous system input while eating and before bed is crucial.  We do not digest if we are stressed.  Sit quietly while eating, enjoy your food, chew well and focus on digestion.  1 hour before bed should be set aside for winding down, and allowing your nervous system to relax into parasympathetic mode.  In addition, regular craniosacral therapy can help tonify and re-train your nervous system to maintain a more relaxed state.

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Posted in fatigue, health, insomnia, naturopathic medicine, Portland, stress

The Pelvic Bowl

Last weekend, I had the honor and privilege of studying Holistic Pelvic Care™ with an amazing force in women’s healthcare, Tami Kent, author of Wild Feminine.  When I signed up for Tami’s course for healthcare practitioners, I tried to talk myself out of it.  After all, I had completed more than my required continuing education hours for the year, and had spent quite a bit of money in the process of completing those hours.  But, this course was with Tami Kent, one of my heroines of women’s healthcare, and I wrote the check, filled out the application, and registered.

Well, all I can say is I made the right decision.  This work is amazing, and I am so honored to be using it with my patients to achieve their health goals and shed the issues they have been carrying with them, shed the issues that have been blocking their connection to themselves and the earth.

Holistic Pelvic Care™ blends structural rehabilitation and energetic balancing in the female pelvic bowl.  By opening blocked energy and clearing long-held tension patterns, women gain access to the creative potential and native intelligence of their root chakra, lower dantien, or feminine energetic center.

The primary technique utilizes gentle inter-vaginal massage with restorative breath work to encourage relaxation and healing.   By combining gentle fascial and trigger point release with energetic atunment to the muscles, organs and spaces of the pelvic bowl, we restore balance, enhance blood flow, and create new body awareness.  Depending on a patient’s sensitivity and needs, external energetic healing may be indicated before internal work is performed.

This therapy is particularly suited for women with pelvic floor complaints such as urinary leakage, uterine prolapse, pelvic muscle weakness, pelvic pain, or pain with intercourse.  It can be helpful in decreasing pelvic congestion which is often a contributor in conditions like dysmenorrhea, PMS, and infertility.  Post-partum women find this therapy incredibly helpful in speeding recovery from childbirth.

Most women will only need between 3 and 6 treatment sessions for their symptoms to abate.  By teaching self-care techniques, we then empower women to continue their own healing through a regular relationship with their root.

Posted in dysmenorrhea, fertility, incontinence, Maya Abdominal Therapy, natural fertility, naturopathic medicine, pelvic floor physical therpay, pelvic pain, PMS, Portland, Tami Kent, Wild Feminine

Fertility and Maya Abdominal Therapy

I often see new patients who are having difficulty conceiving.  Some have been trying to conceive for 3 months, others for 3 years, some are taking the first step of getting medical assistance, while others have had full fertility work-ups and perhaps even assisted procedures such as IUI or IVF.  Each woman’s story is unique, and I work with each woman to find the keys to build her health and realize her dream of building a family.

Coming home to your body, getting in touch with your center, is crucial for your health.  The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy (ATMAT) is a wonderful form of bodywork that can bring you to this place of balance.  A series of massage and manipulation techniques, an ATMAT session is relaxing and rejuvenating.  I work with your belly and back to restore your uterus to its proper position, as well as improving circulation and nervous system flow to your abdomen and pelvis.  Facilitating flow and positioning in the abdomen and pelvis creates hormonal balance and improves chances for conception.

In addition to your ATMAT sessions with me, I teach each woman how to massage her own belly to maintain the benefits of her treatments while at home.  We also devise a nutritional and herbal medicine plan to optimize health and fertility.  In addition, using Maya prayers during your sessions with me can clear any past imbalances that may be contributing to current health challenges.  You and I will discuss each option and plan your ATMAT sessions, as well as your home treatment plan, in a way that feels right to you.

I was first introduced to the work of Dr. Rosita Arvigo in 1995 when I read her book Sastun.  Dr. Rosita wrote of her apprenticeship with Don Elijio Panti, a traditional Maya healer in Belize, and I was enchanted by the power of the herbs, prayers, and abdominal massage described in the book.  I hoped at the time that I would be able to study with Dr. Rosita someday, and in early 2012 I realized my dream of traveling to Belize and training with Rosita Arvigo.  I completed trainings in both Maya Spiritual Healing and Maya Abdominal Therapy, and then brought these amazing therapies back to my naturopathic medical practice in Portland, OR.  I feel honored to bring this work to you, and am happy to discuss how it can improve your health and help you reach your goals.  I offer free 15-minute consultations by phone.  To book a consult, call me at 503-621-2611.

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Posted in dietary change, fertility, health, Maya Abdominal Therapy, natural fertility, naturopathic medicine, Nutrition, OR

Moving Forward

It is almost the New Year.  That’s right, time to make resolutions that promise great beginnings, only to be left in the dust by Valentine’s Day (or by the second week of January!).  What if you could make lasting changes in 2012, changes that would not wane with the coming of the next indulgent holiday, but changes that would endure and serve you no matter the stress level or meal you are faced with at a fancy restaurant?

Now, I’m not necessarily talking about dietary change, here, but more about how to get what you want out of your life, out of your health care, out of your interactions with others.  Without feeling guilty about the changes you should have made, could have made, at the beginning of the year.  How does that sound?

A few years ago, I gave up the annual ritual of the New Years Resolution.  I got tired of feeling like a failure for not doing what I had set out to do on January 1st.  And, in the process of giving up, I found a lot more than I bargained for.  Peace of mind.  Confidence in myself.  Commitment to my health on all levels.  I very much enjoy setting goals for myself, but I now do that throughout the year.  It works for me, and maybe it will work for you.

Have health challenges or goals you’d like to work on?  I’d be honored to assist you in reaching your goals!  Contact me for a free consultation to find out how my own special brand of naturopathic medicine can help you achieve more than you thought possible on the road to optimal health.

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Posted in confidence, dietary change, health, Motivation, new years, peach of mind, Uncategorized

Change and the unknown

I generally like change.  New clothing, new haircut, new information, new treatment options – I love them!  I am moving my office, as you may know.  Beginning Monday, October 3rd, I will be at Kwan Yin Healing Arts in NW Portland.  I am so excited to become a part of this fantastic healing space.  But, as I clean, sort, recycle, and get ready to move into my new space, I find that I am unsettled.  Read more ›

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Posted in health, Motivation, naturopathic medicine, Nutrition


I love breakfast foods, but the typical high carbohydrate, high sugar weekend breakfast will leave me feeling bloated and exhausted in a few hours. Check out what I cooked for my family this morning – so much more nutritious and filling than the standard weekend breakfast options. We are lucky here in Portland, Oregon to have a local market, New Seasons, that has fantastic bulk turkey sausage that does not contain sugars.

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Posted in Nutrition

Food Sensitivities

What is a food senstivity?

Reactions to foods can come in many forms – digestive disturbance, mood change, chronic pain, and other symptoms. While a severe allergic reaction to foods, such as anaphylaxis, can be life-threatening, other food reactions are more subtle and less easy to identify. Conventional allergy testing can identify potential life-threatening allergies, but it is less able to identify foods that contribute to an overall sense of dis-ease in the body and mind.

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Posted in Nutrition

New Years Solutions

I like to think about solutions, as opposed to resolutions.  To me, if I am unsatisfied with an aspect of my life, it is far easier to remedy if I can come up with a solution.  A resolution, on the other hand, smacks of failure before I even start.  I read recently that most Americans abandon their New Year’s Resolution within a week of the start of January.  Resolving to do something without coming up with the solution will result in failure.  So, join me – stop resolving and start solving! Read more ›

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Posted in Motivation

Adrenal Fatigue – What Is It?

The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys, and produce many hormones including cortisol, aldosterone, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and DHEA, among others.  These glands are responsible for our fight-or-flight stress response, and are commonly functioning at suboptimal capacity in our modern society.  As our stress continues year after year, our adrenal glands become, well, tired.  We may see high or low cortisol and DHEA output, depending upon how the adrenal glands are responding to the daily stresses of modern life.  With our crazy lives, adrenal fatigue is very common!
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Posted in Health Conditions