hair loss, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

Stop Hair Loss in Its Tracks

I recently taught a workshop on healthy hair care and preventing hair loss and I just want to share a few tips from the class with you!

Hair loss can have several causes, from stress to genetics to autoimmune disorders. Some of these are easier to solve than others, but treating our hair (and bodies) well can help slow -and in some cases reverse- hair loss no matter what the cause.

Some amount of hair loss is a natural part of the hair cycle. It’s normal to lose between 50-100 hairs on days you don’t shower, and up to 200 hairs on days you do. Which should tell you right away that if you’re concerned about hair loss you should be showering less often!

At any given point, about 90% of your hair follicles should be in the active growing phase and 10% should be in the dormant or falling out stage. Hair loss can involve either an imbalance in the number of active vs inactive follicles, or a change in the growth of active follicles so that they no longer produce hair of the original color, length, or texture. If you’re concerned that you’re losing too much hair, take about 60 hairs between two fingers and gently pull. If you get more than 5-8 hairs you likely have an imbalance in the number of active vs inactive follicles.

The most common form of hair loss is also the most well-known. Commonly called ‘male-pattern baldness’ or androgenic alopecia, it actually occurs in all genders. While there is certainly a genetic component to this type of hair loss, it can also be mediated with herbs and hair care -if you catch it in time. Hair loss that has been present for 3-5 years or more becomes very difficult and sometimes impossible to resolve. This type of hair loss typically presents as a receding hair line or thinning of hair along the part or crown of the head. It is generally caused by DHT, a form of testosterone that is also responsible for many prostate issues, which essentially ‘attacks’ hair follicles. Luckily, DHT can only function in low-oxygen environments, so by increasing circulation to the scalp we can prevent this type of hair loss.

Androgenic Alopecia: Saw Palmetto as an herbal supplement blocks DHT, and topical rosemary oil (like Prism’s Hair Growth Serum) blocks DHT directly in the scalp. 7 Star Treatments, like Prism’s Hair Restoration Treatment, also increase circulation to the scalp, blocking DHT.

The second most common form of hair loss is called ‘telogenic effluvium’, which literally means your hair is falling out. There’s no change in your hair follicles, simply too many of them are in the dormant vs growth stage. This is usually caused by hormonal stress like starting or stopping birth control, HRT, or hormone blockers, after birth, menopause, or even just a stressful time in your life. Yes, you can actually stress yourself out so much that your hair falls out! Besides tackling whatever caused this problem in the first place (getting acupuncture and a custom herbal formula to balance hormones and reduce stress, practicing mindfulness meditation or other stress-reduction techniques), the best thing you can do is to be gentle with your scalp to prevent as much hair loss as possible.

This also applies to hair loss caused by chemicals, heat, or other types of physical damage to the hair and hair follicles. This is most likely the case if you suddenly notice your hair refusing to grow more than a few inches long and then breaking off.

Care for Your Hair Follicles:

Beauty Routines:

  • Prevent sun damage: wear a hat or scarf to cover hair and scalp
  • Switch plastic brushes for a pure boar bristle brush or a wide tooth comb, only use on dry hair
  • Air dry hair or use a hair wrap instead of blow drying. Heat protectant sprays do not help because wetting hair before drying actually increases damage!
  • Wash hair only 1-3 times per week

Avoid drying, damaging, and toxic product ingredients (organic products generally do not contain these ingredients and are a good choice):

  • Silicone
  • Ethanol, isopropane, propanol or isopropyl alcohols (fatty alcohols like lauryl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, myristyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol and behenyl alcohol are ok)
  • Aerosols (use pump sprays only)
  • Sulfates (organic coco-sulfates and sulfonates are gentler)
  • Parabens
  • Fragrances (essential oils are ok)
  • Zinc Pyrithione and Coal Tar (in dandruff shampoos, use an organic dandruff shampoo instead)
  • Sodium laurel/laureth sulfate (SLS), aka ammonium laurel sulfate, sodium dodecylsulfate, sulfuric acid, sodium salt sulfuric acid, A12-00356, Akyposal SDS, Aquarex ME, and Aquarex methyl
  • Proplyene glycol (PG), PEG, or Polyethylene
  • Salt Sprays (too drying)

Try these hair-safe products instead:

Avoid chemical and heat styling and harsh dyes. Check out salons that use organic products and ammonia and paraben-free dyes:

Hair breakage (and hair loss) can also be caused by malnutrition, either not getting enough nutrients your hair needs to grow, or something is preventing you from absorbing those nutrients. Most commonly this is due to anemia. Make sure to get checked out by a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause!

Nutrition for Hair Health:

  • Hair and Skin from Nature’s Way
  • Hair, Skin, and Nail Support from Gaia Herbs
  • A prescription formula from Prism, tailored to your individual constitution
  • Omega Plus from Thorne, or:
    • Omega-3 from salmon, mackerel, tuna, white fish, sardines, walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds
  • Basic Nutrients (if you don’t need iron), Basic Nutrients IV (with iron), or Basic Prenatal from Thorne, or:
    • Vitamin C from oranges, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, strawberries, grapefruit and kiwi.
    • vitamin D from halibut, mackerel, eel, salmon, whitefish, maitakes and portabellas.
    • Vitamin A from Sweet Potato, pumpkin, Carrots, Peaches, Kale
    • Vitamin E from Fish, Beans, Leafy Greens, Meat, Nuts and seeds, Whole grains
    • Biotin & B5 from chicken, avocado, legumes, nuts
    • Niacin from Fish, lean meats, Portabellas, Sunflower seeds, Avocado, Mushrooms, Tuna, Nuts
    • Iron from spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, navy beans, black beans.
    • Zinc (especially with autoimmune alopecia) from oysters and other seafood, Whole grains, Legumes, Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin
    • Selenium from brazil nuts and other nuts and seeds, oysters, tuna, mushrooms
  • Collagen from bone broth; or boost your own collagen production with dark leafy greens and red fruits and veggies like cherries and beets
  • Lycopene from guava, papaya, grapefruit, asparagus, purple cabbage
  • Avoid Inflammatory foods like dairy, red meat, trans-fats (like margarine), gluten, alcohol, coffee, eggs, bananas, mango, pineapple, watermelon, nightshades (eggplant, paprika, peppers, potatoes, tomatillos, tomatoes), and soy.

If you’re not sure what kind of hair loss you’re experiencing, a dermatologist can examine your hair under a microscope and determine this for you. Beware the Rogaine they may prescribe, however, as it can often cause hair growth in unwanted places! Rosemary oil on the scalp (like Prism’s Hair Growth Serum) has been shown to be as effective as Rogaine and does not have this side effect.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

Herbs for Transitioning: Feminizing Herbs

This is a follow-up post to “The Basics.” Also see the transmasculine post here.

Hormones and surgery can be expensive or not accessible. Herbs can also be used if you don’t want to use hormones or undergo surgery, but still want to create changes in your body, or after being on synthetic hormones for many years to maintain the changes that you have made without the side effects of continued synthetic hormone use. Note: Most herbs are unlikely to have a significant effect without any other transition methods.

DO NOT combine these with your medications without discussing with a healthcare provider.

Vitex: The Regulating Herb:

Vitex (Vitex agnus) is a hormone normalizer that works with the pituitary gland to keep progesterone stable and prevent  it from converting to estrogen or testosterone. This helps to hold secondary sex characteristics that have developed with synthetic hormones. Vitex increases LH and reduces FSH secretion, which increases progesterone relative to estrogen and testosterone (Wright & Morgenthaler, Natural Hormone Replacement). This helps it regulate emotions, prevent acne, hormonal edema and bloating, and it can help you transition onto and off of synthetic hormones, as well as stabilize fluctuations in hormones while taking hormones.

Estrogenic, Progesterogenic, and Anti-Androgenic Herbs:

  • Example combination: Vitex, Hops, Maca, and sprouted Fenugreek
  • Rhodeola Rosea is a controversial herb, however, the most informative sources I’ve found say that it increases estrogen levels unless they are already unnaturally high (such as when taking estradiol), in which case it decreases them. Overall this is a strong herb that should be used with caution and medical supervision.
    • If you have had estrogen sensitive breast cancer, bleeding disorders, diabetes, or take acetazolamide, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, anti-anxiety agents, antibiotics, anticancer agents, antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, antivirals, COMT inhibitors, drugs that affect the cardiovascular system or the immune system, P-glycoprotein-regulated agents, sedatives, theophylline, or stimulants, you should use caution or avoid this herb.
  • Maca is known for its effects of creating curves, has estrogenic effects, and is fairly inexpensive. It is also known for its aphrodisiac effects, and can increase erectile capacity and sperm counts, which may be a positive or negative thing for you depending on your goals. It also boosts the immune system and helps combat osteoporosis (which can be a side effect of taking spironolactone). Also available in a women’s libido blend.
  • Chaste tree berry/Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) mimics progesterone, is also considered to be mildly estrogenic, and increases breast size by stimulating the development of milk ducts. It can therefore have a side effect of causing lactation.
  • Black cohosh/Sheng Ma (Cimicifuga racemosa) contains several compounds in its root (aceteine, formononetin, and triterpenes) that, though not estrogenic themselves, create similar effects to estrogen and can increase breast size. It decreases LH and increases estrogen in relation to progesterone [opposite of Vitex] (Wright & Morgenthaler). Only use this herb under supervision of an herbalist.
  • Fenugreek/Hu Lu Ba (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seeds contain a compound (diosgenin) that’s estrogenic and promotes breast tissue growth. Sprouted seeds contain much more diosgenin than the unsprouted seeds, so breast enlargement is more noticeable if you sprout the seeds first. Fennel works in much the same way.
  • Hops have 0.2-20% the potency of estradiol
  • Dong Quai/Dang Gui (stimulates estrogen receptors, providing some estrogen stimulus to receptor sites (Wright & Morgenthaler), however, it is not actually estrogenic itself.
  • False Unicorn (used during menopause for estrogen replacement)
  • Licorice (somewhat anti-androgenic and mimicks estrogen). Licorice also notably counteracts side effects of spironolactone (the most common anti-androgen used in the U.S.) like low blood pressure, gastic upsets, fatigue, dehydration, and frequent urination.
  • Other options from other pracititioners, I can’t vouch for any of these myself:
    • Pennyroyal (never take the oil internally!)
    • Goats Rue (promotes lactation)
    • Southernwood
    • Red Clover/Hsun Tsao
    • Caraway
    • Partridge Berry
    •  Anise
    • Raspberry Leaf
    • Mugwort/Ai Ye
    • Yarrow (encourages progesterone)
    • Cramp bark (mildly estrogenic)
    • Turmeric (mildly estrogenic)
    • Alfalfa
    • Burdock
    • Evening Primrose
    • Pau D’Arco
  • Blends:
    • Phytoestrogen Herbal from Vitanica
    • My Evanesce has several herbal blends, most of which have many unnecessary added ingredients, but their Feminol product has a more useful blend of dong quai, black cohosh, chaste tree, white kwao krua, fennel, fenugreek, licorice, kudzu, sarsaparilla, boron, plus b6, d3, and b12. They recommend taking all of their formulations at once which is not only completely unnecessary as they mostly contain the same ingredients but also could lead to dangerous dosages of the herbs. Do not do this and do your own research!
    • “HRT Companion” formula (formulated for side effects of synthetic hormones)
  • Foods:

Note: DON’T combine synthetic hormones with St. John’s wort/Guan Ye Lian Qiao, it changes the way that medications are metabolized. It also encourages bleeding, so avoid before surgery too!


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.


References include:
http://www.sfherbalist.com/holistic-health-for-transgender-gender-variant-folks/
http://midnightapothecary.blogspot.com/

Acupuncture, Menopause and Beyond, Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery

10 Reasons LGBTQ Seniors Should Get Acupuncture

  1. LGBT older people face significant health disparities, “linked to a lifetime of stigma, discrimination, violence and victimization; higher poverty rates; a lack of access to LGBT-competent providers; and low rates of health insurance coverage” (Out & Visible). Therefore, LGBTQ older adults need even more access to healthcare.
  2. Acupuncture helps to protect the immune system and prevent the potentially dangerous infections that become more likely as we age.
  3. Acupuncture eases pain and arthritis as well as strengthening bones to prevent osteoporosis and injuries, so you can maintain mobility and reduce the need for surgeries and medications.
  4. Acupuncture lowers blood pressure and strengthens the circulatory system, preventing potentially life threatening cardiovascular events.
  5. LGBT elders “deal disproportionately with mental health concerns, which is a primary risk factor for social isolation” (Sage USA). Acupuncture reduces anxiety and depression, helps you to adapt constructively to change, and to move through grief.
  6. Acupuncture helps your body prepare for surgery and to heal faster after surgery, reducing complications and need for pain medications.
  7. Acupuncture does all of this without having to worry about drug-drug interactions!
  8. AIMC Berkeley is an LGBTQ safe space so you don’t have to worry about healthcare discrimination. “44% of transgender older people worry that their relationships with healthcare providers would be negatively affected if their gender identities were known, as opposed to 20% of LGB older people” (Autostraddle on LGBTQ Seniors).
  9. Treatment is determined based on the individual, not the illness. All the symptoms are seen in relation to each other leading to a unique treatment for each patient instead of cookie cutter prescriptions.
  10. You get more time with a practitioner than you would with an MD. With 60 minute appointments, Katrina can take time to really listen to you.

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

 

Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

Chest Binding Safely: Save Your Back!

Interested in binding, or already binding? Here are some very important health tips that you need to know!:

  • Do NOT use an ace bandage or similar homemade device for binding. Wrapping around your chest several times can result in dangerously tight binding that cuts off circulation, breathing, tissue damage, and skin irritation. If you want to make a binder, cut off the top of some control top pantyhose and sew on some straps. This is much safer and still just as cheap!
  • NEVER sleep in a binder (unless you are in a place where it is unsafe for you to sleep without it). Don’t leave your binder on for more than 8 hours at a time. Your body needs time to stretch and breathe. Think about those pictures of women who wore corsets daily and how it changed the shape of their abdominal organs permanently. This can happen so a lesser extent with binding too and tissue damage caused by constant binding can make top surgery more difficult!
  • Wear the right size binder. Don’t wear a smaller size thinking it will be more effective, it won’t flatten your chest more effectively, it’ll just cause more damage to your ribs and make breathing more difficult.
  • If you wear a binder frequently, make sure its made of breathable fabric (not neoprene), or wear a tank top or apply cornstarch underneath it to prevent chafing and breaking out.
  • If possible, take a “day off” at least once a week. Wearing even a tight sports bra once a week instead of a binder can help take some of the pressure off of your ribs.
  • Go braless or wear a loose bra as much as possible. Actually bouncing your chest can help restore circulation and prevent tissue damage. Take your binder off as soon as you can, and spend a few minutes either jumping or just manually moving your chest. This can help prevent issues like breast cancer and tissue damage (and is even recommended for people who wear underwire bras regularly).
  • Binding can change breast tissue, potentially increasing chances of breast cancer. It is important to do regular self exams so you recognize any changes in your body right away. The most important thing is to notice what lumps are normal for you and which are abnormal, immovable, and/or don’t go away.
  • Give yourself chest massages (or get a loved one to do it for you!) to work out any tightness that wearing a binder causes. Pay special attention to the sides of your ribs, collar bone area, shoulders, and use a tennis ball (or two tennis balls taped together) on a wall or the floor to get the knots out of your back and between your scapula.
  • Buy at least two binders so that you can alternate between them. If you give them a day off to regain their shape they’ll last longer! Wash them in special detergent that keeps them stretchy too: you can find soaps for medical braces, swimsuits, or nylons that all work well for this.
  • If you are younger than 20, your body is still growing and changing and this makes binder safety even more important. Don’t wear a binder more than 3-4 times  a week. At younger ages you are more likely to cause dangerous changes to your ribcage and chest tissue by binding more frequently.

Resources for Buying a Binder:
This site has information on fitting, buying, and wearing binders
Low cost binders
T Kingdom
Underworks
Underworks swim binder
Binder reviews

Binder Alternatives:
Frog Bra Substitutes
Qwear sports bras


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

 

hair loss, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

How Does Saw Palmetto Decrease Baldness?

Normally, hair follicles remain active for up to a decade, producing a long strand of 10 year old hair. In alopecia, however, follicles stop producing hair before the hair is long enough to even emerge from the skin. Male pattern baldness, or Androgenic Alopecia, is both genetically determined and influenced by hormones.

Genetics cause some people’s hair follicles to be more susceptible to DHT (dihidrotestosterone), which changes the growth phase of hair follicles. This gene can be present in any sex, but is only expressed when DHT, a form of testosterone, is present. Hence the name “male-pattern” baldness. This is the reason why many trans men develop this pattern of baldness while on T, and why this process of balding stops in most trans women once they start taking anti-androgens (like spironolactone).

Though we cannot change the gene, we can prevent testosterone from converting to DHT to stop this balding process. Testosterone converts to DHT via the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase. Research has shown that saw palmetto inhibits 5-alpha-reductase, preventing this pattern of baldness.


Saw palmetto is very effective for hair growthSaw palmetto together with the supplement beta-sitosterol has been shown to have a 60% effectiveness rate for hair loss reversal. In my experience this does not increase facial hair growth, however studies have shown inconclusive results about its effect on overall testosterone levels. It likely blocks aromatase, an enzyme which converts testosterone to estradiol, a major hormone involved in breast development. If you’re concerned about saw palmetto supplements increasing your testosterone levels, a good alternative is to use it topically. It has been used topically with similar effectiveness.

Saw palmetto also prevents the accumulation of DHT in the prostate, lowering the risk of prostate cancer. It acts on estrogen and progesterone receptors to lower the risk of breast cancer. It’s helpful for colds and coughs, sore throats, asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic pelvic pain syndrome, and migraine headaches. It is also a diuretic (makes you pee more), a sedative, and an aphrodisiac, so be cautious if those are effect you do not want.

DO NOT take saw palmetto with spironolactone because they are both diuretics and could significantly lower your blood pressure or cause dehydration. People with bleeding disorders or who are taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications (“blood-thinners”) such as warfarin (Coumadin), aspirin, or clopidogrel (Plavix) should avoid taking saw palmetto unless under medical supervision. It should also be avoided at least two weeks before or after surgery. Saw palmetto may interact with other medicines, including anti-inflammatory drugs, blood pressure medications, birth control pills and antibiotics.


Another great herb for hair loss is Shou Wu. Shou Wu Pian (aka Fu Ti) is an ancient Chinese herb that increases hair growth. It is generally used for scalp hair growth, but in my experience it increases mustache growth as well. If increased facial hair would be a problem for you, you may not want to take this formula. It’s also important not to take this formula if you are already taking synthetic hormones or other medications as it can increase the strain on your liver.


More hair loss prevention
Massage daily with Rosemary hair oil
Topical borage seed oil works like Propecia to block androgen receptors in hair follicles
Teas of silica rich herbs like horsetail, oats, or nettles
Nourish your kidneys with asparagus, artichoke, celery, aduki beans, parsley
Using a plum blossom needle to stimulate hair growth.

Finally, to support your overall constitution and get treatments tailored specficially to your goals, come in for a treatment!


Where to find:

Shou Wu Pian (aka Fu Ti)

Saw Palmetto with Beta-Sitosterol

Topical Saw Palmetto

Read more


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

 

Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships

14 Foods to Soothe Herpes Outbreaks

Two amino acids have a significant impact on both herpes simplex (mouth or genital herpes) and herpes zoster (shingles).

Lysine reduces the strength of a herpes outbreak, while Arginine can actually increase the intensity and duration of the outbreak. You can take lysine as a supplement to prevent outbreak, or eat foods containing lysine and avoid foods containing arginine, before and during the outbreak to shorten the duration.

You can also take the formula Long Dan Xie Gan Tang for herpes outbreaks either externally or internally. It usually takes 2-3 days for the formula to work (edited based on Liana’s comment).

Foods with Lysine: add before/during outbreak (in order from most lysine to least)

  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Goat milk
  • Cow milk
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Cheese
  • Beans (especially mung beans, lima beans, and soy beans)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Sprouts
  • Crustaceans
  • Eggs

Foods with Arginine: avoid! (in order from most arginine to least)

  • Hazel nuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Peanuts & peanut butter
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Cocoa powder
  • Sesame
  • Cashews
  • Carob powder
  • Coconut
  • Pistachios
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Garbanzo beans or chickpeas
  • Brown rice
  • Pecans
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Oatmeal
  • Raisins
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Corn

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships

How Can Acupuncture Help With Hep C?

There are many acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and its complications, whether or not you are undergoing western treatment.

Often western medical practitioners will advise patients with early stage HCV to wait to seek treatment until there are drugs available with less serious side effects, but you may already be experiencing symptoms at this point. Chinese medicine can be invaluable in alleviating the symptoms and slowing the progression of the virus until you are able to seek further treatment to clear the virus.

Current standard western anti-viral treatment involves interferon and ribarin, which together are able to clear HCV infection from about half of people affected. By combining these drugs with protease inhibitors, many more people can be cleared of the virus, but this combination produces serious side-effects. Many patients stop taking these drugs because of the side effects they produce, sometimes creating medication resistant HCV strains in their bodies. These side effects can be even worse if the patient is already in poor health when they begin taking these medications. Chinese medicine can be used to lessen the side effects of those western treatments and work on any concurrent health problems that may interfere with treatment.

Guan Ye Lian Qiao (St. John’s Wort), Chai Hu (Bupleurum), and Shui Fei Ji (Milk Thistle) don’t mix with western HCV treatment. Two weeks prior to starting western treatment, and during the course of treatment, the following herbs and supplements should be avoided: silymarin/milk thistle (though this herb can reduce liver inflammation for folks with HCV who are not taking anti-virals), St. John’s Wort, Chai Hu/Bupleurum. The following herbs and supplements can help soothe symptoms of HCV and side effects of treatment: lactobacillus acidophilis/probiotics, b-compex (especially B-12 and folic acid), omega 3 fatty acids & essential fatty acids, selenium, chromium, carotenoids, lycopenes, vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid.

It is recommended to get an acupuncture treatment within 24 hours or receiving an interferon injection, to help relieve side effects of the injection. Furthermore, HCV infection is the leading cause of liver transplants in the U.S., and chinese medicine can be helpful in supporting patients through this surgery and support their transplant as well.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships, Transgender Wellness

Ways Your Doctor Lied to you About Weight

What does weight have to do with health? Not much, it turns out.

Most people in our society believe they’re overweight. And many people are deemed overweight, or even obese, by doctors: did you know the definition of “overweight” for a 5’4″ tall woman is 145 pounds, even though the average weight for that height is 144 pounds? So if you’re one pound over average (aka almost half the population), you’re considered overweight.

Americans are afraid of fat because they believe it’s bad for your health. But it’s less related than you think. Contrary to common belief, there is actually NO correlation between body fat and atherosclerosis (fatty plaque in arteries). There IS however a correlation between amount of exercise and risk of diabetes, but NOT between body weight and diabetes. In fact, obese people who exercise live longer than thin people who don’t.

So what’s really unhealthy about fat? For one thing, it makes you less likely to get health insurance because obesity is a “preexisting condition.” Even if you can afford to pay for preventative care out of pocket, you’re a third less likely to get breast exams, gynecologic exams, and pap smears (but just as likely to get hands-off tests like mammograms) as thin women. This is probably due to both doctors’ and patients’ embarrassment at performing these tests, because of shaming around weight issues in our society. “Peter Muennig did research at Columbia University that found that being under the stress of constant shame and stigma over a long period of time was correlated with the same diseases with which obesity has been correlated” (Dances With Fat).

Doctors also often overlook the health concerns you actually came in for and just focus on talking about weight loss. You might come in to talk about a lump you found in your breast and your doctor won’t even do a breast exam until you’ve talked about weight loss options. So you could end up going months to years without knowing what kinds of health issues you’re dealing with. Even if you find a body-positive doctor, they may not have blood pressure cuffs, MRIs, or other test equipment that fits larger bodies so you can’t get the tests you need. So, though studies seem to show that fat women are more likely to get breast, cervical, endometrial, and ovarian cancer, but researchers have concluded that the lack of preventative care may actually account for this.

Dieting, too, can actually HARM your health. Dieting tricks your body into thinking that you are starving (and maybe you are!) so that when you do start eating real food again, your body automatically stores extra calories, so that it’s prepared for the next diet. This explains why many people gain more weight than they lost after each diet. This jumping back and forth between sizes is extremely hard on your body and can cause more health problems.

So what are the facts about our health? It’s true that getting regular exercise and eating plenty of protein and veggies and limiting sugar intake is better for your health. But this is true for everyone, regardless of body size. So, if we’re really so concerned about health, everyone should focus on eating a healthy diet and getting exercise, NOT losing weight!


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

Herbs for Transitioning: The Basics

Herbs can be used for many aspects of transitioning: transitioning with herbs alone, switching from synthetic hormones to herbs to maintain secondary sex characteristics, and supporting the body with herbs and nutrition to counteract side effects of synthetic hormones.

The Basics:

It’s first important to take care of your body with proper nutrition so that you can handle the changes  and stress that will accompany transitioning. All hormones are made of fat, so it’s important to eat good fats (raw oils & omega 3s especially) to help your body form and transform those hormones, and also to coat your nerve cells (their myelin sheaths are also made of fat) to help you cope with stress and stay emotionally healthy. Fats form the boundaries of our cells–they keep out and let in what we want to–we need good fats in our bodies to have good boundaries physically and emotionally!

We ALL have the same hormones, just in different amounts and we USE different amounts of them too. Furthermore, we can change how our bodies use the hormones we already have. Every body makes progesterone from cholesterol, and that progesterone can turn into estrogen OR testosterone. The estrogen and testosterone in our bodies can also convert back and forth (estrogen to testosterone and vice versa). This is the reason you want to get your hormone dosages right: if you take too much, your body is just going to convert it into another hormone to maintain balance in your system. This could actually counter the desired effects of the hormone you are taking: too much estrogen in your system and your body will start converting it to testosterone, counteracting the changes you want to make.

Coming up with a plan for your body:

There are many different options for transitioning, even when just using synthetic hormones. Progesterone itself helps to build tissue and can often be useful for developing breasts (taken externally) or muscle tissue (taken internally). Aromatase is what turns testosterone into estrogen, so you can take extra aromatase instead of (or in addition to) taking estrogen. Likewise, you can take aromatase inhibitor to prevent that testosterone from turning into estrogen, instead of taking testosterone. There are many options for prescription hormones; it’s important to talk to your doctor about what will work best for your body.
For most people, herbs aren’t going to change your hormones drastically alone, so you might choose to start out taking synthetic hormones and, once you’ve achieved the effect you want, use herbs to lower your dose of synthetic hormones or switch to herbs entirely. Herbs can maintain the hormone levels and characteristics you’ve built up with synthetic hormones. This is a good alternative to the sometimes health damaging side effects of long-term synthetic hormone use.


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References include:
http://www.sfherbalist.com/holistic-health-for-transgender-gender-variant-folks/


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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