Understanding Your Mind, Mood and Hormone Cycle and how it interacts with drugs and alcohol is the subject of my interview with Internationally Recognized Expert on Hormones and Behavior and author, Leslie Carol Botha, WHE. Leslie is also the publisher of the Holy Hormones Journal and host of the Holy Hormones Honey Radio Program, on the air Monday nights 6 to 7 pm MST on KRFC FM.
Interview with Leslie Carol Botha, WHE – Understanding Your Mind, Mood and Hormone Cycle and How It Interacts with Drugs and Alcohol
1. Your book, Understanding Your Mind, Mood and Hormone Cycle, has just been released. Briefly describe your book’s message.
Understanding Your Mind, Mood, and Hormone Cycle – UMMHC – is dedicated to the women who want to understand the intimate relationship between their hormone cycle and its impact on their thoughts and feelings in their everyday activities. It is filled with common sense information, structured to provide a deeper appreciation of the power women exercise over their lives by simply learning about, understanding and acknowledging cyclical hormonal changes.
Modern medicine has promoted the concept of specialization – a separation that pertains not only to the condition of the different parts of the body, but also encourages us to consider our own body, mind, heart and spirit as separate and not part of an integrated system. This perspective of separation has given women the idea that we need to consult a specialist to treat isolated parts of our body, as well as specialists for our mind, emotions, and spirit. We have divided ourselves into such small segments that it seems no one has the ability to put us back together again. Creating healthy begins with a shift in this perspective to one that recognizes the whole body really is something much greater than the sum of its parts; a shift that recognizes that health is our birthright and represents our natural state. Such a change in perception can change how we express vibrant health and inner peace.
Using the tools and information provided in this book, women can learn to perceive symptpms as biometric feedback from our bodies about our diet, lifestyle and the state of our mental, emotional and spiritual self. These symptoms are the ‘tell’ for conditions such as: hormone imbalances, depression, mental confusion, exhaustion, autoimmune disorders, allergies, and reproductive disorders. The purpose of UMMHC, and the basis of our research, is to help you tap into the magnificent intelligence of your body and interpret its profound language to finally understand your mind, mood, and hormone cycle.
2. What prompted you to write this book?
UMMHC is the result of a 10 year writing project between my co-author and I. It is the result of 30 years of research and teaching is represents my seminal work.
When I was in my early 20’s I started volunteering and then became part of the staff at a family planning clinic in Colorado. When I first started, the director of the clinic took me into her office, waved her arm – showing me an entire bookshelf filled with books written by women – on a whole range of topics from health, to mythology, religion, politics and history. The books changed my life. To my surprise one common theme was how the menstrual cycle (what we have been taught to hide, deny, suppress) is actually the fount of human life and was considered to by sacred in my societies. We have information about this in our book… along with artifacts and antlers bones dating as far back as 25,000 BC when women were tracking their menstruation with the lunar cycle by etching into the bones.
During my tenure at the clinic I also had the opportunity to read gynecological textbooks during my training as a medical assistant. I was surprised that a great deal of the information presented was about the manipulation and intervention of a natural cycle.
I also had the opportunity to sit at the front desk with a patient’s chart in hand – and because the clinic always kept track of the first day of the last menstrual cycle, I could see that women were coming into the clinic month after month on the same day of their cycle with the same problems; vaginal infections, herpes infections, malaise, depression, migraine headaches etc. Most of those visits were during the premenstrual phase of the cycle. I would ask women if they were aware they were coming in on Day 26, or 28 of their cycle – and they always shook their head and said ‘no’ because they are unaware of their cyclical nature.
I realized then if the symptoms were cyclical – they were also predictable and in most cases preventable with awareness – and simple changes in lifestyle.
I then began a journey of researching and sharing information with women about how their hormone cycles actually affect our behaviors. And that there are three predictable phases of the hormone/menstrual cycle with similar behaviors that women experience during not only their menstrual years but during their entire life time. I call this ‘Female Mystique- The Three Phases of Eve – and explain that we are ‘maidens’, mothers, and ‘wise women’ every single month. When women understand that simple concept they become empowered and instead of feeling like they have to ‘control their emotions, behaviors, or body image – they begin to ‘trust’ themselves – by understanding where they are in their hormone cycle and becoming aware of the shift in energy and the shift in emotions and behaviors. See diagram.
Many years ago, I worked at a home for at-risk adolescent girls 12 to 17 years old. Many of these girls had been sexually assaulted. I developed what I call a comprehensive menstrual health education program for the girls – that included women’s history.
I created a 11 x 17’ 30 day chart for the girls on neon-colored paper, bought markers and colorful stickers and made an art project out of tracking menstrual cycles. The data I walked away with was mind boggling. The girls would start out at the beginning of their cycle with bright colors, and a lot of stickers. But when they reached the paramenstrum the colors turned dark, and heavy. No matter the girl, her background the type of abuse she endured, her background, her weight, or body image – they all fell down what I call the ‘rabbit hole’ in their mind.
In fact, one very startling fact that I came away with is that over 90% of the girls in the program ended up in jail and then started menstruating. What does this mean? Girls are acting out premenstrually – not educated about the hormone and immune changes going on right before their period – and they are blindly acting out in a hormone rage which is exacerbated by alcohol and drugs. I personally believe that a lot of the ‘dysfunction’ and relationship breakdown in families is due to the lack of education about hormone changes and how those fluctuations affects our minds, moods, and behaviors.
3. You talk about the Rabbit Hole – please describe this?
The rabbit hole is a term I have coined describing the deep dark hole we fall down into in our brain. And we do not know how to get out. This happens to most menstruating women every three weeks and happens the week before our periods. We go along fine for three weeks – multi tasking; holding down jobs taking care of the home; chauffeuring kids; going to soccer games and meetings – and in the fourth week it all comes to a screeching halt. And everyone turns their heads – and says “What’s wrong with you?”
And then we say ‘What’s wrong with me?” Women do not really understand how the endocrine system functions. Our meager education has focused on reproductive health – a politically charged subject that focuses on the uterus, birth control and sex. What we have not been taught is education about how our endocrine system rhythm functions – and that is so crucial to our health and well being.
Right before we get our periods – our hormone levels decrease, our immune system becomes more comprised and our body slows down. The more hormonally imbalanced and nutritionally depleted the more severe the drop in hormones. And for a lot of women that feels like falling down the rabbit hole. Depression, anxiety, doom and gloom, hormonal rage, irritation, weight gain, cravings – all are a part of the rabbit hole. Women are unable to control their behaviors. And unable to crawl out of the rabbit hole.
I first became aware of this through my work with addicts. Addicts get caught up in a black hole or the rabbit hole of their brain. And they do not know how to get up. Now that we know that addiction is a disease of the brain that can be treated and managed, we are able create a sustainable recovery.
The same thing is true with women with hormone imbalance. If the brain is nutrated with targeted aminos, vitamins and minerals – the ‘rabbit hole’ become less deep and eventually women can climb out and not experience radical hormone changes.
There is a direct relationship between the nervous (neurological) endocrine and immune system. All three must function in synchrony for perfect health. If one of those systems is imbalanced then the other two systems become imbalanced.
4. In your work, you talk about how hormone production starts in the brain – please describe this concept and what that means for a woman in terms of her menstrual and peri-menopause cycles.
Many women believe that hormone productions begins in the ovaries – when in fact, it begins in the brain.
Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) are called gonadotropins because stimulate the gonads – in males, the testes, and in females, the ovaries. They are not necessary for life, but are essential for reproduction. These two hormones are secreted from cells in the anterior pituitary called gonadotrophs. Most gonadotrophs secrete only LH or FSH, but some appear to secrete both hormones.
LSH and FSH stimulate the production of estrogen and progesterone. Today there are so many toxins crossing the blood brain barrier – that the signaling system and hormone production (hormones are chemical messengers) go awry – causing a myriad of neurological, endocrine and immune issues. There are companies like Truehope in Canada who have developed nutrition for brain health. The supplement has been used successfully for bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. Once the brain is nutrated then the endocrine and immune systems begin to function.
Two very important things that I have learned in the last few years are 1. The brain never ages and 2. The brain can heal itself with the right care and feeding. With the advent of neuroscience, I have seen images of the brain even healing itself after meth use.
5. How does understanding the mind, mood and hormone cycle relate to addiction or substance abuse or other self-destructive behaviors.
We now understand addiction is a disease of the brain that can be managed and treated – without drugs – and with nutrition! When the brain does not have the nutrients it needs to function optimally – it will latch on to any substance or behavior that makes it feel good. And the addictive behaviors become the rabbit hole. When the brain gets the nutrients it needs – then the cravings stop and the cognitive, behavioral and experiential therapies become more effective. Courage to Change Addiction Recovery Ranch in Colorado Springs, CO http://c2cranches.org is using this nutrient therapy in conjunction with neurofeedback therapy with great success.
6. Do alcohol and drugs work differently in a woman who’s premenstrual or peri-menopausal?
Alcohol and drugs have a much more extreme effect on a woman when she is premenstrual and when she is perimenopausal.
Premenstrual – as I mentioned above, hormone levels drop, immune system becomes more compromised and the body slows down to release the uterine lining during menstruation. The potency of alcohol and drug use during the time is much higher. In fact, studies have shown that the outcome of surgeries – including dental surgery are much more positive if they are scheduled on either side of ovulation vs. on other side of menstruation.
By the time a woman reaches menopause – she is what I called ‘endocrinally whacked out’ from a combination of nutrient depletion and hormone imbalance – and that too lowers a woman’s resistance to alcohol, drugs and surgeries.
7. What should family members know and what can they do to help?
Family members need to know and respect the cyclical nature of the woman of the house. Understand that she will be competent and effective and accomplish herculean tasks for 3 weeks out of the month. And be there to support her for the fourth week. Do not ridicule her – or say what is wrong with you – and men for heaven’s sake never ask what’s for dinner during this phase – bring home take out at the very least! Roses help too. What is happening in her body is biochemical.
We just checked a 27 yr old woman into the recovery program – who had become dependent on pain pills after an injury. She is a CNA. In the last two seven years she brought two children into the world and work 12 hour graveyard shifts. And then took care of her kids.
Somewhere along the line she had an injury and was prescribed pain pills. Is she an addict? Yes and no. I would say she is nutritionally depleted and exhausted first. And totally unaware of her endocrine rhythm – and in another few years a very likely candidate for a hysterectomy.
8. What key concept would you like readers to take away?
The endocrine system – hormones and menstruation are vital signs to our health. If we are having neuro-endocrine system issues – we need to take care of them immediately.
UMMHC shares information on the importance of the endocrine system functioning – ties this in with the importance of natural cycles and brings relevance and sacredness of the importance of this cycle back into women’s lives.
This is the information that empowers women. Unless we understand how our hormones affect our behaviors – and how vital our endocrine health is the overall functioning of our body – we will always remain victims of our bodies and be victimized by our culture.
It is my goal to open your eyes to the real you – a woman who can trust herself , has confidence in her actions, understands her feelings and knows how to create a fulfilling life by living with her hormone cycle. UMMHC provides the information to do all of that.
“A woman’s body is the battlefield where she fights for liberation. It is through her body that oppression works, reifying her, sexualizing her, victimizing her, disabling her.” ~ Germaine Greer, The Whole Woman, 1999, pg 114.