February 2023

Hormones and the Nervous System

Sympathetic tone overdrive and hormones

No...you are NOT Crazy

Bring balance to your Autonomic Nervous System during Menopause

The Autonomic Nervous System can often be in Sympathetic tone overdrive in women and this is magnified by perimenopause/menopause when we naturally develop a YIN DEFICIENCY from the hormonal changes that take place.

What does this mean? Sympathetic Tone Overdrive? Very briefly, when we are under stress, we enter into what we call a “fight or flight” response. The Autonomic Nervous System has two arms, the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system. Certain bodily functions are turned on when you are in either of these states. Although essential for our survival, when the sympathetic nervous system is turned on too strong, it is usually under stress and we are responding appropriately but either for too long, too strong or both.

Signs of sympathetic overdrive may include but are far from limited to:

  • Feeling on edge or startle easily which can lead to feeling anxious and/or short fused and much more
  • Muscle tension in shoulders, neck and back     
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Light-headedness
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep difficulties

How does Sympathetic Overdrive connect to a woman’s hormones?

 When our estrogen and progesterone levels drop during perimenopause, women often experience challenges with adaption to stress because we are more easily overwhelmed by what is our life. This is then further complicated when we find ourselves metaphorically cleaning out the closets, sweeping under the bed and shaking out the rugs. This cleaning house phenomena is something all women do during this hormonal shift in life and it can be very destabilizing because we stored/pushed/hid or just took out of our constant view those things that were just too much to deal with at the time and they ended up in our metaphorical closets, under our beds or under the rugs. The issue here is that we put them there for a reason, as a life survival tool and as a way of moving through our life with less complications in the moments we were living THEN. Well, Menopause makes a screeching halt to that survival tool practice as life rises to the surface. During Perimenopause/Menopause, women go back to work, change jobs, divorce husbands/life partners, eliminate toxic relationships with family and friends, move out, leave the country …..the list is eternal.

But remember, we are now in a different neurochemical state. Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone are Neurohormones. That means hormones that act as neurochemicals. Popularly known neurochemicals are Serotonin and Dopamine as well as GABA. Hormones are just as important neurochemically and completely underrecognized in this capacity. As we enter into a different neurohormonal state and without our conscious awareness, we are making lifetime changes in our world. Sounds daunting and it is.

For these reasons and so many others that I have experienced as well as witnessed women endure, I want to emphasis the importance of honoring Menopause as a dawning of our woman Self and ask women to step up to the plate and honor themselves always, every day and for the rest of their life as they enter this time of transition and evolution in their lifetime.

Awareness around change does not necessarily come at the time of blood cessation; this change starts well before the bleeding stops. Once awareness has been brought to the forefront of her mind, a woman starts to make change, consciously or not well before the bleeding ends.

I like to support a woman during this time of life change. The nervous system imbalance raised earlier, Sympathetic Overdrive, is best addressed with a multi-faceted approach. First and foremost, it is often very important to facilitate relaxing the mind during this time of hormonal transition. Why? We continue to do all the things we do and this often means many things done in tandem, as we live that classical female multitasking life. But, with this transition in our neurohormonal and neurochemical life often comes a sensation of overwhelm which leads to an insidious feeling of discontent and/or true agitation as we do more and more under the influence of physiological stress. This stress goes beyond what is going on in our life, and is actually the stress of being inside our head, inside our heart, inside our gut, inside our joints and/or muscles. “What is wrong with me?”, often comes to mind as we may feel anxious and short-fused, heart palpitations, heartburn, gas/bloating/belly pain, headaches, joint aches and pains or muscles that ache and feel tight. Again, these are just the tip of the iceberg of symptoms that rise to the surface through perimenopause which are signaling a woman of hormonal change and that she may want to consider making life changes at this time… (the closet, under the bed and rug metaphor) to better support her mental, psychological, physical and spiritual health.

Suggestions I may make at this time in a woman’s life are the use of bio-identical hormones, which I have prescribed safely since 1989, neurochemically soothing and supporting herbs and nutraceuticals, various forms of movement such as stretching, cardiovascular energizing exercise, yoga, walking, and in general moving that body more in a very structured and routine fashion. I also ALWAYS have to recommend cleaning up the food we put in our mouths. Clean eating is necessary to process our world with a clean slate and clear head that does not predispose us to preconceived notions or expectations of the way life should be. For that matter getting rid of the words, SHOULD, COULD and WOULD is also a great idea, as we launch towards what we want and visualize how to be who we want to be without expectations or self-judgement.

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Natural Hormonal Neurochemical Support Program

Neurochemically soothing and supporting Herbs and Nutraceuticals are always best in well made formulas. I have used Tranquility and NightGain for many, many years.

Please take the NightGain 3-4 before bed and Tranquility 2-4 daily either together or in divided doses.

Tranquility™ features a blend of classic tonic and relaxant herbal nervines. Tonic nervines are herbs that nourish the nervous system to promote healthy function. Relaxant nervines are herbs that exert a calming effect on excited nerves. These botanicals are useful for promoting mental and physical relaxation. In addition Tranquility™ promotes healthy levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and possesses adaptogenic qualities to support healthy cognitive function and mental performance during stress.*

Night Gain® combines amino acid chelates with botanical extracts to encourage neuroendocrine harmonization and restoration. Taken before bed it supports the body’s natural restorative processes during sleep that promote cellular repair rebuild muscle tissue and balance the hormonal system. By supporting healthy production of testosterone dopamine and growth hormone Night Gain® encourages lean muscle strength a healthy libido and optimal circulatory system function. This unique blend works at multiple levels to enhance vital energy and youthful vigor

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As always...to your optimum Self-Care and Natural Health!

Ariane Cometa MD

your holistic doc