Signs of Abnormal Ovulation

Signs of Abnormal Ovulation

Anovulation (lack of ovulation) or abnormal ovulation is a common cause of infertility, but it can also lead to a host of other issues including digestive problems, mood imbalances, cognitive function changes, and difficulty with weight management.

Anovulation means that ovulation is either not occurring or not happening at the appropriate time within your menstrual cycle, which is typically about halfway through. This accounts for 30 to 40 percent of infertility cases.

Here are the top signs of abnormal ovulation:

  • Irregular cycle length: Cycles that are shorter than 24 days can indicate difficulties with ovulation. A short menstrual cycle may suggest that your luteal phase is insufficiently long to allow your uterine lining to adequately prepare for pregnancy. Additionally, a decrease in available eggs may prompt an increase in FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), leading to early follicle development and premature ovulation, thus shortening the cycle.
  • Long cycles: If your cycle lasts longer than 35 days, ovulation may be absent or occurring irregularly. Longer cycles can occur when a follicle does not mature and release an egg, preventing progesterone release. Without progesterone, the uterine lining thickens continuously due to estrogen, becoming unstable and eventually resulting in often heavy, unpredictable bleeding.
  • Lack of ovulation signs: Key hormonal changes during ovulation impact cervical mucus and basal body temperature. During ovulation, cervical mucus should become clear, slippery, and stretchy, like egg whites. A lack of these changes can indicate anovulation.
  • No rise in basal body temperature (BBT): BBT tracking each morning can help determine if and when ovulation occurs. A typical post-ovulation increase in BBT, due to heightened progesterone levels, will be absent in cases of anovulation.
  • Very light menstruation: Bleeding for fewer than two days or very light bleeding could suggest high cortisol levels disrupting normal hormone production.
  • Heavy menstruation: Experiencing large blood clots, soaking through pads or tampons frequently, bleeding for more than seven days, or having unbearable menstrual cramps can indicate an estrogen/progesterone imbalance. This may occur if the follicle fails to release, causing excess estrogen, or if it releases too early, leading to excessive progesterone. This results in a thickened uterine lining and heavy bleeding.

Common causes of abnormal ovulation include:

  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • High prolactin levels
  • Certain medications
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure before age 40)
  • Stress
  • Blood sugar/insulin imbalances

Many of these issues suggest an immune system under stress or nutritional deficiencies affecting the endocrine system. Addressing the root causes of these imbalances, such as parasites, chemicals, heavy metals, and stress, is crucial. Supporting hormonal health through diet—rich in healthy fats, proteins, and foods high in B vitamins, zinc, iodine, vitamin D, and magnesium—is very important.

My top three favorite supplements to support ovulation are: Ovex, Symplex F, and HPA Axis.

If you suspect you have abnormal ovulation, consult your healthcare provider or contact our office to learn how we can support you.

Dr. Taggy Bensaïd, ND

Parasites and Hormones

Parasites and Hormones

Parasites sure know how to mess with our hormones and body chemistry.

Take tapeworms, for example. These slimy pathogens release substances that imitate our natural hormones, tricking our bodies into producing less of the real deal. And that’s not all – some parasites can even target our hormone-producing organs, like the thyroid and adrenal glands, throwing everything off balance. 

But perhaps the wildest example of parasitic hormone hijinks comes from Toxoplasma gondii. This mischievous little protozoan gets into our systems, it’s been known to greatly affect our behavior by manipulating our hormone levels. In rodents, for instance, it cranks up dopamine to make them more adventurous – which, unfortunately, also makes them more likely to get eaten by a cat and spread the parasite. 

Parasites can cause inflammation in our liver and bile ducts, leading to a surge in hormones such as insulin-like growth factor 1 and estrogen. 

In fact, some research suggests that parasites might even have a role in regulating our immune systems and gut microbiome. By disrupting our body’s natural balance, they can sometimes create a state of equilibrium that helps keep us healthy in the long run. 

Some parasites, such as tapeworms and hookworms, can attach to the lining of the intestines and feed on blood, causing nutrient deficiencies, including B vitamins. These pathogens can also cause inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining, leading to malabsorption of nutrients and they can produce enzymes that break down B vitamins in the body, making them less available for use. The lack of nutrients and B vitamins, and the increase of waste/toxins in our bloodstream can lead to lactic acidosis, the mechanism behind all diseases. (learn more about lactic acidosis on our website). 

Overall, parasites can have a significant impact on the hormonal balance of their hosts, leading to a variety of physiological and behavioral changes. 

If you suspect parasites to be at the root of your symptoms, the first step is to minimize your intake of sugar, dairy, and refined carbohydrates. Supplement your whole food diet with a whole food B vitamin (liver is the best source of B vitamins), and talk to your practitioner about starting to take the steps to support your body.

Dr. Taggy Bensaïd, ND

A Commonly Prescribed Medication Is Causing Breast Growth In Boys

A Commonly Prescribed Medication Is Causing Breast Growth In Boys

Why this news story is relevant to you and what you need to know to be your own health advocate.

As a pharmacist, I am very aware of the adverse effects, risks, and warnings that come along with pharmaceutical therapy. There are limitations to that knowledge, however. Some risks and effects of pharmaceuticals are either not transparently disclosed by drug manufacturers, or not yet discovered as the cause of a problem.

A recent news headline about damages caused by one of the Top 200 Drugs (the 200 most prescribed drugs in the United States) has served as a reminder that when consumers do not have the information about risk and adverse effects of their treatment, they are vulnerable to serious harm. As a result, I am using this headline as an example of the consequences of not having the full available information in order to make choices about your health. I will go over risks that are disclosed about the drug in question, as well as outlining how to get the information you need to be your own health advocate in general.

News headlines lit up October 8th with reports of corporate giant Johnson & Johnson being ordered to pay $8 billion in punitive damages to 26-year-old Nicholas Murray. Johnson & Johnson has a subsidiary (Janssen Pharmaceuticals) that manufactures the antipsychotic drug Risperdal. Back in 2003, Nicholas (at the age of 9) was prescribed Risperdal after being diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. As a consequence of taking the drug, Nicholas developed a condition called gynecomastia (the growth of female breast tissue in a male). News Story Below:

Johnson & Johnson News article on Risperdal

Johnson & Johnson, Risperdal Maker Hit With $8B Verdict

Breast development in boys from Risperdal is most likely caused by the drug increasing prolactin levels. Prolactin is a pituitary hormone that is present in low levels in both men and women. It affects the reproductive system, immune system, and fluid regulation. When a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding, prolactin goes up to stimulate milk production. When prolactin goes too high in a male, he can develop breasts. He may also experience erectile dysfunction and loss of body and facial hair. In some cases, gynecomastia can only be treated by surgical removal.

Mayo Clinic Laboratories Endocrinology Catalog: Prolactin, Serum

Gynecomastia is not the only consequence of taking Risperdal; however, it is a very visible and undeniable adverse effect. There are other, more subtle and harder to directly correlate effects.

Below is a screenshot of some of the adverse reactions of Risperdal taken from the prescribing information:

Here are definitions of the some of the technical terms on that list:

  • Parkinsonism: Symptoms of Parkinson disease (such as slow movements and tremors) that are caused by another condition (in this case, antipsychotics)
  • Akathisia: A feeling of muscle quivering, restlessness, and inability to sit still, sometimes a side effect of antipsychotic or antidepressant medication
  • Dystonia: A disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that cause slow repetitive motions or abnormal postures. The movements may be painful and some individuals with dystonia may have a tremor or other neurologic features.

The following is a screenshot of Warnings and Precautions from the prescribing information of Risperdal.

Here is a link to the full prescribing information of Risperdal from the manufacturer’s website. This is the information supplied to doctors and pharmacists. Package Insert on Risperdal

There are many known and dangerous side effects of Risperdal. The main issue Johnson & Johnson is getting called out for is the failure to accurately disclose the risk involved, especially in children. There is also the allegation that Johnson & Johnson marketed the use of the drug in children in ways that are not FDA approved.

This judgment for 8 billion dollars in damages is eye-opening. It is a message that disregard for the public safety for profit will not be tolerated. This judgment opens the door for thousands of other pending lawsuits against Risperdal to also be awarded punitive damages and a wakeup call to Americans to question our healthcare system.

Unfortunately, severe side effects are not isolated to Risperdal. Most prescription medications have their tradeoffs. The following is a table of drugs that can cause gynecomastia taken from an endocrinology journal.

Gynecomastia: Clinical Evaluation and Management

When it comes to medical treatment, most consumers are not trained health experts. The medical system speaks a complex language.  Many of the conditions are Latin (and Greek) words, so even simple terms sound very concerning. For example, I’ve had many patients say that they were diagnosed with tonsillitis and were worried and felt pressure to take treatment based upon this diagnosis. I explain to them that although it sounds scary, it is just a combination of the word tonsil and the Latin (from Greek) suffix -itis which means inflammation. They went to the doctor because their throat hurt so learning that their tonsils were inflamed was not actually a surprising revelation. If you don’t have any background in Latin or Greek, tonsillitis sounds quite ominous.

So how do people navigate the complex and somewhat esoteric system which is conventional medicine? Often individuals trust their doctor to make these decisions for them since a doctor is trained to interpret medical data and knows the language. I implore you to look at the data I shared above on Risperdal. Seeing those warnings and adverse effects, is that really a decision you would want someone else to make for you or your child? I certainly wouldn’t, regardless of how competent they may be.

The solution to this dilemma is to arm yourself with education. Make sure you read any information provided with a medication you are about to take. Don’t throw that paperwork in the trash. The information with a prescription is there for a reason – a legal reason.

You can also gain access to the full prescribing information of any prescription drug. This information is referred to as the “Package Insert” (PI). There is also a Patient Package Insert, which contains less information, but the regular PI intended for the doctor has it all. Drug companies are legally mandated to provide information on the studied use of their drugs and also risks associated with them but are not necessarily required to provide this to individual patients. The intention is that the prescriber reads the PI and then has the information to make treatment decisions and share it with the patient. You can have access to the same information as the doctors have. Most PIs are available from the following link. Click the link, type the drug name into the search bar and click the entry that applies to the specific form of the medication you are searching for. DailyMed Drug Search

For more information on PIs, read this link: U.S. Pharmacist: The Package Insert

However, before you even get to the pharmacy or opt to do any treatment you should ASK QUESTIONS. It is your legal right and obligation to receive Informed Consent from your doctor. The Oxford Dictionary defines Informed Consent as “permission granted in the knowledge of the possible consequences, typically that which is given by a patient to a doctor for treatment with full knowledge of the possible risks and benefits.”

Below is a link description of Informed Consent from the American Medical Association. Read this information to make sure you can get the information you need from your doctors. It is your LEGAL RIGHT.

American Medical Association Informed Consent

Even if your doctor is amazing, they may not have knowledge of alternative therapies that are outside of their expertise. This is where you need to be your own health advocate and do some research on alternative treatment options to surgery or prescriptions. Holistic doctors and Naturopaths can be great resources to consult as they take a different viewpoint on healthcare.

I see many patients who have taken medications and had serious reactions to them. If this describes you, you can and SHOULD help yourself and others by reporting any reaction to the FDA MedWatch program. Reporting to this program can help with information gathering to make others aware of potential risks and may play a role in future warnings or even drugs being pulled from the market.

FDA MedWatch: The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program

Medications have effects that extend beyond what’s intended for the treatment of a given condition.

When possible (when it’s not an emergency) it is good to look at other, simpler solutions first such as diet, exercise, and natural supplements. Many conditions, even severe, can be alleviated in a risk-free manner. With autism as an example, I have good results with patients in applying principles of the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD). The foundation of this diet is healing the gut with the use of bone broth. GAPS Diet

Although it is tragic to hear about the damages individuals have suffered from Risperdal, the good news is that these headlines are bringing awareness about concerns with medications and healthcare at large. I recommend you use the resources I have provided so you have the data you need to make more informed choices. The problems of living are great, but there are solutions to explore that are safe options. It is time to be your own advocate and get the information you deserve.

Dr. Amanda Childress, PharmD
Holistic Pharmacist



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Controlling Hormonal Cravings: How Food Impacts Your Hormones

Controlling Hormonal Cravings: How Food Impacts Your Hormones

Do you often find yourself constantly snacking or feeling unsatisfied no matter how much you eat?

Your hormones may be playing a significant role in these cravings. Understanding the impact of food on your hormones is key to regulating your body and achieving a healthier balance. Let’s explore how you can take control of hormonal cravings.

To start, it’s important to understand the role of hormones in our bodies. Hormones are chemical substances produced by glands and secreted into the blood. They affect the function of distant cells or organs. While hormones are commonly associated with reproduction, growth, and development, they also play a crucial role in regulating metabolism, digestion, electrolyte balance, blood pressure, body temperature, and elimination. The endocrine system, which consists of various glands, is responsible for hormone production.

So, how does food impact our hormones, and what can we do to regulate our bodies?

One of the easiest ways to control hormonal cravings is to eliminate white sugar and refined foods from our diet. These foods cause a spike in blood glucose and insulin levels. In the book “Life Without Bread” by Christian Allen, Ph.D., and Wolfgang Lutz, MD, it is emphasized that carbohydrate consumption directly affects hormonal balance. We have been misled by the notion of eating multiple small meals or snacks throughout the day and the belief that all calories are equal. However, following these guidelines leads to increased carbohydrate and sugar intake while reducing healthy fats and proteins. Carbohydrates trigger a larger production of insulin, whose role is to transport glucose for immediate energy use or store it as fat for later. By continuously snacking, we prevent our bodies from switching to fat metabolism, as we do not allow the hormone glucagon to take over. This constant fluctuation in blood glucose levels keeps us addicted to sugar and processed snacks.

If you constantly experience intense food cravings and persistent hunger, it’s time to make some changes. Begin with your first meal of the day—breakfast. Increase your consumption of healthy fats and proteins while reducing or eliminating processed foods and refined sugars. By doing so, you provide your body with the necessary nutrients and create a foundation for hormonal balance.

Embarking on a journey towards overall health and proper nutrition is essential. If you haven’t started yet, consider scheduling a new patient evaluation to kickstart your path to a healthier lifestyle. Remember, understanding and controlling your hormones is key to reducing cravings and achieving a balanced and fulfilling diet. Take charge of your well-being today!



Hormonal Imbalance in Women: Exploring the Causes and Resolutions

Hormonal Imbalance in Women: Exploring the Causes and Resolutions

It is increasingly common for women of all ages to suffer from hormonal imbalances.

Surprisingly, even women in their twenties to thirties are experiencing pre-menopausal symptoms. While this may seem normal in today’s world, it is important to understand that it is not the natural state of our bodies. With the toxic environment we live in, it’s no wonder that young women are experiencing hot flashes, weight gain, infertility, heavy and painful periods, fatigue, and PMS. Let’s delve into three potential causes of hormonal imbalance in women and explore possible resolutions for these symptoms.

GMOs – Genetically Modified Organisms

Genetically modified (GM) soy, in particular, has been linked to various health issues. Studies have shown that mother rats fed GM soy had more than half of their babies die within three weeks. Male rats and mice also experienced changes in their testicles, including alterations in young sperm cells. By the third generation, most hamsters fed GM soy were unable to reproduce. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) even recommends non-GMO diets for everyone due to the potential harm caused by GM foods. Animal studies have shown organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility.

Resolution: Patients at the Nutritional Healing Center of Ann Arbor (NHCAA) have reported significant improvements in digestion, energy levels, and overall vitality within weeks of adopting non-GMO diets. Avoiding GM foods and opting for organic, non-GMO alternatives can help restore hormonal balance.

Environmental Toxins

Chemicals and heavy metals found in our environment can mimic or disrupt hormones, leading to various health issues, including hormonal imbalance. Studies have linked these toxins to certain types of cancers and harm to unborn fetuses. When our cells become overloaded with toxins, their ability to send and receive messages becomes compromised. This can result in pre-menopausal symptoms, infertility, and endocrine disruption.

Resolution: At NHCAA, we focus on identifying the source of toxicity, educating patients on how to reduce their exposure, and using targeted supplementation to support the body’s natural detoxification processes. By flushing out toxins and minimizing future exposure, we can restore hormonal balance.

Refined Foods and Sugar

Refined foods and excessive sugar intake can wreak havoc on our hormones. Sugar can cause imbalances, with some hormones becoming underactive while others become overactive. Additionally, sugar can negatively impact our sex hormones, affecting both men and women. Moreover, excessive sugar consumption suppresses the immune system. The average American consumes between 300-500 grams of carbohydrates per day, which all convert to sugar in the body. However, the ideal range for carbohydrate intake for optimal immune function is between 75-100 grams per day.

Resolution: Diet plays a crucial role in restoring hormonal balance. At NHCAA, we employ nutritional supplementation to support the immune system while educating patients on healthier, more nutritious eating habits. Reducing refined foods and sugar intake can greatly improve hormonal health.

Understanding the underlying causes of hormonal imbalance and implementing appropriate resolutions is essential for women’s overall well-being. If you’re experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalance, consider seeking guidance from a healthcare professional. By addressing the root causes and making necessary dietary and lifestyle changes, you can regain hormonal balance and improve your quality of life. Take control of your health and schedule a consultation at the Nutritional Healing Center of Ann Arbor today!



Are you at high risk for Breast Cancer?

Are you at high risk for Breast Cancer?

A woman’s “bio-mechanical individuality” and liver metabolism determine which of these metabolites predominates. Signs you may be at high risk for Breast Cancer

In order to determine the most appropriate intervention strategy for you to employ, we often recommend testing. Early detection and correction of risk factors can be one of your biggest allies in reducing your risk. If any of the following apply to you, you may be at high risk for breast cancer:

55Excess Iron

How to test: Have your serum ferritin level drawn
Common in women after they stop menstruating, elevated iron levels can be indicative of a heightened cancer risk. Excess iron in the body works as a powerful oxidant, increasing free radicals thereby raising your risk. If you are a post-menopausal woman or have been diagnosed with breast cancer you will certainly benefit from having your Ferritin level drawn. Ferritin is the iron transport protein and should not be above 80 ng/ml. If it is elevated you can simply donate your blood to reduce high ferritin levels and breast cancer risk.

Estrogen Imbalance

How to test: Get your estrogen ratios checked  
Researchers have found that the body metabolizes estrogen into several different metabolites that can impact cancer development. One metabolite, 2-hydroxy-estrone, tends to inhibit cancer, whereas another 16-a-hydroxy-estrone can actually stimulate tumor development. A woman’s “bio-mechanical individuality” and liver metabolism determine which of these metabolites predominates. Studies have shown that measuring the ratio of these two metabolites provides an important indication of risk for future development of estrogen-sensitive cancers, including breast cancer.

Low Glutathione Levels

How to test: Get a Glutathione level test
Glutathione is the key protective molecule of your immune system. It is the cell’s most important antioxidant and is needed in detoxification. Research now demonstrates the correlation between a decrease in this molecule and an increased risk of disease including cancer. Therefore, ensuring you have optimal glutathione levels can reduce your risk.

Elevated Breast Inflammation

How to test: Get a breast thermography
A breast thermography is a diagnostic tool that is used in to detect the potential for cancer. By identifying areas of high inflammation, you can address the underlying cause of the inflammation before cancer has a chance to develop.

Insufficient Iodine

How to test: Iodine Loading Test
Get sufficient Iodine – other than the thyroid, the highest concentration of iodine is found in women’s breast tissue. When the level of iodine is low, the risk of acquiring breast cancer is greater. Actually, it is estimated that 95% of the world’s population is iodine deficient. You can see what your iodine levels are with Iodine testing. Iodine testing is simple. It is a 24-hour urine test.

You can also do an iodine patch test on the inside of your arm with a tincture of iodine. Check to see how long it takes for your body to absorb it. If the patch is gone in 24 hours you are iodine deficient. The body’s deficiency is proportionate – the faster the iodine is absorbed by your body, the more deficient you are.

You can increase your iodine level by eating iodine-rich foods like seafood, kelp, seaweed, dulse, Himalayan sea salt or taking iodine supplementation (make sure your supplement contains iodine and iodide). However, there’s significant controversy over the appropriate dosage, so you do need to use caution here and look at your personal medical history and other factors. If any questions, please talk to us.

What else can you do to REDUCE your risk?

The steps we recommend taking to reduce your risk of Breast Cancer are also those of reducing your risk for many other diseases. In an effort to help you live a healthier life, we invite you to take note of which areas of your life need a little extra attention. Even small changes can lead to healthy habits, and can dramatically impact your future health.

In part I, of our Breast Cancer series we addressed how important your diet is in reducing your risk. Your diet can nourish your body, aid in detoxification, and support the following breast cancer prevention strategies:

Maintain a healthy balance of Estrogen

Estrogen is produced in fat tissue, which is the primary non-ovarian site for production. Consequently, women with excess weight have higher levels of estrogen which are associated with a greater risk for breast cancer. It is imperative that you maintain a healthy body weight if your goal is reducing your risk. We recommend and believe in reducing your weight and balancing your hormones, by adopting a nutritious diet and engaging in regular, physical activity to help prevent breast cancer.

Apply this advice today by structuring your week, so you log 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. If you have a hard time getting a solid 30 minutes, try breaking up your workouts into two shorter 15-minute bouts. When it comes to weight loss and exercise, weight training can have the greatest impact on your metabolic rate. In other words, when you build muscle, you’ll burn more fat calories throughout the day (even when you aren’t exercising). Over time, building muscle can have a big impact not only on losing weight but maintaining it.

Optimize your Vitamin D

Optimizing your Vitamin D will radically reduce your cancer risk. Levels that are over 50 ng/ml are satisfactory, but levels 70-100 ng/ml are ideal. Vitamin D is produced in the skin, as a response to sunlight, and many factors come into play when it comes to producing it efficiently. In the Chicago-land area and other temperate regions, supplementation may be especially helpful in the winter months. We advise getting your Vitamin D levels checked at least once a year to ensure they are supportive of good health.

Get Proper Sleep  

Proper sleep relies on getting enough sleep and sleeping between certain hours. According to Ayurvedic medicine, the ideal hours for sleep are between 10 pm and 6 am. Modern research has confirmed the value of this recommendation as certain hormone fluctuations occur throughout the day and night. If you engage in the appropriate activities during those times, you’re ‘riding the wave’ so to speak, and are able to get the optimal levels. Working against your biology by staying awake when you should be ideally sleeping or vice versa, interferes with these hormonal fluctuations.

Lisa D’ Eramo
Nutrition Response Testing Practitioner