Natural Xanax: No Prescription Needed!

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Stress…you don’t ever experience that, do you? I’m so glad. Me neither. Phew!! That was a short post. Y’all have a good day, now! Oh, wait, is that you furiously waving your arms in the distance? What? You feel like you’re stuck inside a pressure cooker sipping a cocktail of obligation, guilt and exhaustion?

BOY, DO I HAVE GOOD NEWS FOR YOU, OH STRESSED ONE!

I never really used to understand people who complained all the time, “I’m just so stressed out!”. Having a very laid back personality, I used to take things in stride. Go with the flow, if you will. That was back when I had hormones and life was good.

Now that I’ve quit my day job to pursue my own business(es), I should be on cloud nine, following the American dream, no boss but me. Well, let me tell you…I work harder now than I ever did playing office politics three days per week. I never stop working, or at least thinking about work. It’s all up to me now whether I earn a paycheck. On top of that, I still have 3 kids and a home to manage. And that is stressful!

Even though it’s my stress now and no one can tell me what to do, I still find myself needing a little help to unwind and be “still” so I don’t get snappy or overwhelmed. Since I’ve started on this Young Living Essential Oil journey, I’ve learned a thing or two about taming the inner tension and letting go.

TROPICAL VACATION IN A BOTTLE

What can you do when the world is on your shoulders and you feel like one more task will cause you to explode? I find relief naturally with STRESS AWAY. This is a little bit of Heaven in a bottle and one of my personal favorite scents that Young Living carries.

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Stress Away is an essential oil blend of: Copaiba, Lime, Cedarwood, Vanilla, Ocotea, and Lavender.

Copaiba is an interesting oil from South America. It contains the highest know amounts of a compound called beta-caryophyllene of any essential oil. Guess what else has high amounts of this oil? Cannabis! Why do you think so many people reach for marijuana to self-medicate? Only, the great thing is that Copaiba doesn’t produce a high like marijuana. It has been shown in studies to act via a different pathway that helps relieve anxiety and depression. Win win!

Lime is not only invigorating and uplifting, but it is also well known for its ability to stimulate the immune system, aid in weight management and provide antioxidant support.

Cedarwood has a warm, woodsy aroma that is comforting and relaxing. I use this oil with Lavender in my diffuser at night to help with sleep.

Vanilla…well, vanilla just makes everything smell yummy!

Ocotea helps aid the body’s natural response to irritation and injury. Ocotea also has natural cleansing and purifying properties.

And then there’s Lavender. What’s not to love about Lavender? We’ll be doing a whole separate post about this one!

How do you apply Stress Away? My favorite method is to rub a few drops on my temples, behind my ears, and to my wrists any time I feel anxiety or tension creeping in. I then cup my hands over my nose and inhale deeply. Bonus: It smells so good, people will ask you what wonderful scent you’re wearing at the grocery checkout!

Stress Away is one of the 11 oils that comes with the PREMIUM STARTER KITNot only that, you get a free diffuser with your purchase, which makes the kit a steal! Diffusing is the #1 way to get essential oils into your system quickly. I run my diffuser 24/7 in my house, and I never leave for a vacation without it.

So how can you get some stress reduction in your life on the go without having to make time for meditaiton, yoga, and a nap? Check out this page to get started on your journey to a healthier, happier, and more relaxed life!

P.S.- If you’ve missed any of this series, start here and catch up! We’ll wait for you.

*If you are outside the U.S., please contact me, as your starter kit may vary.

Joy To The World…Or I May Keep It All For Myself and Give You the Recipe!

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Joy. Such a simple word. Yet it instantly paints a complex mental picture of all that is good in life. The first kiss; a bride’s smile on her wedding day; a baby’s laughter. What power is found in those three little letters! So how do you take all of those intricate nuances and weave them together in a scent?

So far in our essential oil education series, we have focused on science and physical health. Don’t get me wrong, those are vitally important in any discussion of alternative medicine. But what is often overlooked is the emotional component of health.

As someone who has suffered off and on for…well, pretty much most of my life…with intermittent depression, the mental aspect of health is HUGE. It doesn’t matter if my lab numbers are perfect or I look great in my size 4 bikini if I can’t figure out what my mood will be from one week to the next.

I’ve looked high and low for the “thing”. That thing that will finally make my moods even and reliable. Ok, so that thing is called Estrogen! But, that one is out after having breast cancer. So, what’s left?

I’ve struggled a lot with the loss of my hormones due to chemotherapy. A lot. Not with the hot flashes that so many women experience, or the joint pain. No, my struggle has all been in my head.

For a week or so I feel absolutely fantastic, on top of the world, able to leap tall mountains. I finally think to myself “This is it. I’ve beaten it. I can pursue all my plans.” And then, just as quickly as it came, it’s gone. I don’t fall into a dark hole very often, thankfully. I just get a bad case of the “blahs”. I lose my ambition, I no longer want to socialize or make plans for my business. It still catches me by surprise, every month. It’s as if my mind has forgotten that my body is no longer capable of having a monthly cycle.

When I took my first class about Young Living Essential Oils and signed up for my Premium Starter Kit, one of my biggest hopes was to find an oil or oils to alleviate some of these monthly ups and downs. I was impressed with how inhaling the oils sends them straight to the brain within a matter of seconds.

After a little bit of experimentation with my free diffuser, I finally hit on a combination that does wonders for my mood. I told you about my love affair with Peppermint oil in the last post. But…when you add the oil blend Joy to the Peppermint, then you’ve really got something!

What’s in that little bottle of Joy? Are you ready? Joy contains:

  • bergamot
  • ylang ylang
  • geranium
  • lemon
  • coriander
  • tangerine
  • Roman chamomile
  • jasmine
  • palmarosa
  • rose 

Remember when I told you in a previous post that Rose was one of the absolute most expensive essential oils because it takes 5,000 pounds of rose petals to produce one pound of rose oil? That’s right, it’s in Joy. And this comes as part of your Premium Starter Kit with 10 other oils to try.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not a big floral girl. Never have been. So, I wasn’t crazy about the smell of Joy at first. That’s right, I kind of poo poo’d the Joy. But let me tell you…it grew on me like ivy on Harvard! When that combo of Peppermint and Joy hits my brain, it doesn’t know what hit it! It is the best feeling I’ve had in a long time. It just plain makes me happier.

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So what is Joy good for?

  • sadness
  • sleep issues
  • emotional imbalance
  • hyperactivity
  • emotional pain/grief
  • defiance or occasional moodiness in children
  • bump up the romance (and I know a few ladies struggling with that one)

This smells so good to many people that they wear it for perfume on the wrists and over the heart. It is also great in homemade lotions and bath salts. Check out this recipe for an uplifting body cream:

HAPPY ALL OVER BODY CREAM

body butter plain

1 cup extra virgin unrefined coconut oil

1 tsp vit E oil (make sure it is not synthetic vit E)

5 drops Young Living Joy Essential Oil

10 drops Young Living Peppermint Essential Oil

Whip coconut oil with a mixer for about 3-5 mins until the consistency resembles icing.

Add in other ingredients and mix well.

Will fit in a half pint jar. Should last until it’s gone. Young Living oils never expire.

This smells Heavenly!!

To get started on changing your family’s health naturally and get some Joy of your own, check out this page.

Hormone Update

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It’s been almost a month since I saw the integrative MD and received the forbidden hormone prescription, hands trembling. I felt such mixed emotions that day. On one hand, I knew from experience how wonderful estrogen makes me feel…enthusiastic, outgoing, sexual, and just happy. On the other hand, I was acutely aware that I could be signing my own death warrant.

My first prescription (yes, there have been several) was for a vaginal cream containing mostly estriol along with smaller amounts of estradiol, testosterone and progesterone. Ironically, the day before I started it, I felt fantabulous! I was in a great mood, full of energy. Then I used the cream. At night it gave me hot flashes, and when I woke up I felt slightly hung over, tired, and generally blah.

I recognized my symptoms instantly as the “progesterone doldrums”. I’ve tried progesterone several times before, and I just don’t tolerate it well. I called the doctor’s office to get the prescription tweaked. The second attempt had no estriol (it gives me hot flashes), half the progesterone, and testosterone. No dice. My libido was definitely improved by the testosterone, but the progesterone was still too much.

After another call to the doctor, he decided to separate out the progesterone so I could adjust the dose as needed. The estradiol and testosterone are still combined. I’m supposed to use the cream once at night, but I’ve had to experiment because it seems that I need a dose in the daytime as well. I’ve tried splitting it in half and using it twice, but that makes each dose too small to be effective.

Meanwhile, taking hormones has been causing a lot of stress. I’m so torn about the risks vs the benefits. There are several studies showing that breast cancer survivors who take hormones are at no greater risk of recurrence and actually have better survival than those who don’t. But I can hear my oncologist’s voice in my head, telling me that I’m making a really bad decision.

So what are we to do, the breast cancer brigade? Do we fade quietly into the background with painful joints, weakened hearts, mushy brains and zero sexuality? Or do we forge an unpopular path less traveled and hope for the best, armed with our own research? Yet again, the choices are impossible.

As for my hormonal foray, it has proved to be much more difficult than I was hoping. As I write this, I’m in the middle of a hot flash, perhaps caused by the Arimidex I took an hour ago per my new doctor’s instructions. He’s willing to give me hormones, but he doesn’t want my body producing any extra or the wrong kinds.

And truthfully, I can’t say that I feel better emotionally, which was my main goal in starting this journey. I’m up and down. Saturday I felt on top of the world, but the past two days I’ve been quiet and withdrawn. And my chin is breaking out just a little, maybe from the testosterone.

So, let’s review. I was willing to take a huge risk with hormones for the trade-off of having brighter moods, less fatigue, a sex drive, a clearer mind and protection for my bones, joints and heart. And what have I accomplished? Sex drive…check.  Clearer mind…check.  Less fatigue..sometimes. Brighter mood…still quite unpredictable and fleeting. And that last one was at the top of my wish list. I’m just tired of feeling blah.

Wednesday I go to get my hormone levels checked. I started to cancel since I haven’t been on a steady dose over these past few weeks. But then I decided that it might be a good idea to get a snapshot of where I am for future comparisons.

At this point I’m not feeling enough of a benefit to justify the risk, and the thought of taking Arimidex goes against my gut. I’ll give this expensive experiment a little more time before I make a final decision. At $55 per prescription, I’m about “tweaked” out.

Playing Chicken With Cancer, Part 2

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There is one thing that those who know me well realize, and you will also come to realize if you stick around for a while. Time is a relative concept for me. When I say that I’ll post the rest of the story “tomorrow”, that means tomorrow”ish”. Just like my daughter’s school start time is 8:15″ish”. I was born with the procrastinator’s curse; it sometimes even annoys me. So here, without further ado, albeit a day or so late, is the rest of the story…

When we last met, I was sitting across the desk from the new integrative MD, soaking in his tons of advice to prevent breast cancer recurrence while simultaneously scanning his entire being for self-doubt or hesitation. I can’t help it; it’s what I do. I have to think that you know more than I do, or at least that you believe you do, before I’ll listen to one iota of what you’re telling me. As I related last time, I saw no chinks in his armor, and I was fairly impressed.

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One of my main purposes in making the appointment was to find out if it would be possible in any way, shape, or form to use bioidentical hormones to feel like more alive and womanly. Now, I have it better than many “menopausal” ladies, meaning that I sleep pretty well most nights, I only have a few, minor hot flashes, and my energy level is decent. If the only concern was hot flashes, I’d have this licked.

No, the nagging problem that makes me willing to put myself at great potential risk is a combination of apathy, mood swings, and an overall feeling that I may never be “happy” or fully functional again. I’m not miserable or suicidal; I’m just blah. Blah at work, blah in love, or on bad days, fighting with myself to keep from snapping at my kids. I’ve given up on the chiropractic office idea for now because it feels too overwhelming. I feel very withdrawn from the outside world. And I know from experience that all this is due to low estrogen. I’ve reacted badly to hormone fluctuations my whole life, and this is the mother of all roller coasters!

So, I’ve made the decision to go ahead with the hormones….

I was relieved to see that there was a prescription for hormone cream sitting prominently on the doctor’s desk when I walked in. I talked to him about Dr. Wright’s work, and he said that Dr. Wright was one of his biggest teachers. He told me that the key to hormones is balance and that without even testing me, he could tell me that mine, at this moment, “sucks”.

He said that menopausal women no longer make much estriol, estradiol, or progesterone. What they make from their fat cells is estrone, a potent form of estrogen. Without estriol and progesterone to balance it, it has the potential to cause cancer. So it is actually dangerous, from this perspective, to deny someone in my situation the opportunity to balance her hormones. Not a mainstream opinion, for sure, but one that has merit.

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When I got over my initial excitement about the hormone prescription, I saw one next to it for Arimidex, the ugly step-sister of Femara. I’m sure my jaw dropped as I thought “WTF!!??”. After all this expense and gut-wrenching doubt, he wants to put me on an estrogen blocker? I had to object. “I know several ladies who’ve taken this, and I really just don’t want to do it. The side effects are terrible. The joint pain, the brain fog, etc.”

He looked at me with a knowing smile. “The side effects are terrible because they have no estrogen. I’m going to give you estrogen, so I expect you to do fine.”

“Then why are you giving me Arimidex?”

“Because I don’t want you converting any estrogen to estrone. The aromatase inhibitors stop that conversion. So I want you to take the hormones for about a week and then start the Arimidex.”

Ok, well I sure didn’t see that one coming, and I’m not sure I like it. I already vetoed Tamoxifen, and here we go again. Maybe I can bring myself to take it if he’s telling the truth and I can sidestep the bad stuff.

In addition to the hormones, I got a lot of supplement and diet recommendations, B12 shots, and labs including a hair analysis test for heavy metals. I felt pretty good, like I finally had a plan.

And then I started the hormones. Not at all what I was expecting. Stay tuned for the riveting conclusion…

Playing Chicken With Cancer, Part 1

80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

I’ve been reminded of this, my favorite poem, several times over the past few days as I wrestle with the decision of whether or not to take bioidentical hormones. I know, you’re thinking at this point that I’ve finally lost my mind. After all, I just finished treatment in December for a cancer that was 95% positive for both estrogen and progesterone receptors. Do I have a death wish?

Quite the contrary. I have a life wish, a desire for a full, vibrant life. For those who have been down the path of being suddenly and completely thrown into a premature hormonal black hole from the effects of chemotherapy, you can attest to the fact that it takes away something of your essence. You may not be a raving lunatic, but the light in your soul is dimmed.

Of course, some will fare better than others, but it nevertheless leaves you forever changed from the person you were before. Last June, I was a young woman with a regular (albeit overzealous) menstrual cycle; fertility was a stretch, but still within sight. Boom! In July, I was menopausal, my ovaries poisoned and relegated to the role of dusty internal decorations.

Now, if you are diagnosed with cancer in your 60’s, as most women are, hopefully you have been allowed to gracefully cross over the threshold of menopause, and perhaps some of the hormonal side effects of chemo are less pronounced. But at 45, or God forbid 30, like some of my blogging sisters, you are asked to live like a woman 20 or 30 years your senior and just be grateful to be alive at all.

To add insult to injury, the final step in breast cancer treatment is often Tamoxifen, Femara, or one of their ugly step-sisters. These drugs eliminate whatever poor, lonely molecule of estrogen that might remain in your body, trying desperately to hang on. The side effects of these drugs can include: joint pain (post-menopausal arthritis), mood swings, weight gain, cognitive impairment, depression, uterine cancer, osteoporosis, heart problems, etc. If you complain to your doctor, you’re likely to get a pat on the shoulder and a prescription for pain meds and anti-depressants.

I understand the thinking in the medical community that IF estrogen drives breast cancer, the best course of treatment is to eliminate the offending substance, thereby creating a “cure”. What puzzles me is that there are a few chinks in this hypothesis. First, the times in a woman’s life where she has the highest level of hormones, i.e. pregnancy and in her late teens/early 20’s, also happen to be the times with the lowest incidence of breast cancer. You are much more likely to be diagnosed in your 60’s or 70’s, when estrogen levels have been low for some time.

Also, I see all around me women on these blogs who have towed the party line, done the chemo, radiation, and estrogen-blocking drugs, only to see the cancer recur in a more aggressive, or metastatic form. Sometimes it works, sometimes not, which would lead me to believe that cancer is a multi-factorial disease which can’t be watered down to a simple “kill the estrogen” approach.

I wrote about the work of Dr. Jonathan Wright, the doctor for Suzanne Somers, in this post. Dr. Wright is the pioneer of bioidentical hormones in this country, and he has had Suzanne on them since her breast cancer diagnosis over 10 years ago. He believes that estrogen (in it’s natural form and when properly balanced) does not cause breast cancer and may help prevent it.

He uses a formula made of a small fraction of estradiol (the aggressive estrogen), and a large fraction of estriol (a weaker protective estrogen). He believes that the estriol acts as a sort of Tamoxifen, attaching to beta receptors on the cell, which actually discourages cell growth and proliferation. He then balances the formula with progesterone and other hormones as needed.

I’ve read his book, and it makes a lot of sense. But, being me, I feel more comfortable consulting with someone who is knowledgeable and respected in his field, so I had an appointment this week with an integrative MD. Yes, I’ve been down this road before, but the previous guy I saw, while a lovely person, didn’t project the confidence that I need to see in such a serious matter. I don’t mean this to sound arrogant, but most of the time I leave a doctor’s office feeling like I know more than he does about nutrition, supplements, and the relevant research that’s out there. I want to be wowed.

I spent 3 hours at the new doctor’s office on Tuesday. Good start. For the first hour, I sat with the nurse as she took a detailed history and listened to my issues. She then gave the doc a synopsis while I had vitals taken. The next hour was spent with the doctor, going over his thoughts on my case and his recommendations. He told me right off the bat that he is not an oncologist and he wants me to be monitored by my own doctor. He also said that while he is an MD, he would be offering things that no mainstream doctor is willing to do, often at the risk of being attacked by the medical board.

I appreciated his honesty and his willingness to step “out of line” in spite of the repercussions. It was clear that he must have tangled with oncologists before, as he included in my packet a “Dear Medical Oncologist” letter that he had written in response to an angry doctor who challenged his use of hormones in a breast cancer patient.

He wasn’t the kind of warm and fuzzy that I prefer, and I actually put off going to him because I had heard that he is very arrogant. In truth, he is not so much arrogant as confident and efficient. He stared at me intently as he laid out his plans in a no-nonsense fashion. I scanned his eyes for signs of hesitation or self-doubt as he spoke. I saw none. I asked tough questions. He answered them, sometimes in a surprising way.

So what did the doctor suggest as the next move in this high-stakes chess game? Stay tuned tomorrow for the results of my visit and my decision.