Today I’m talking with Susana Puelles, LAc – an expert in women’s health and gastrointestinal disorders. I’m grateful to have her on the Oasis Healing Arts team.
Dr. Jamie: Good morning, Susana. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I’m sure many women will benefit from learning about how to treat their fibroids, cysts, and endometriosis.
Dr. Susana: My pleasure. It’s my passion to educate and help women overcome these issues.
Dr. Jamie: So let’s jump right in! What would you say are the top three factors in the development of these gynecological disorders?
Dr. Susana: I would definitely say HPA dysregulation from stress, low functioning detoxification, and poor gut health. No question about it.
Dr. Jamie: HPA dysregulation from stress. That refers to our Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis, which is basically the communication system between the brain and body, via hormones and neurotransmitters, to regulate the stress response. Could you unpack that?
Dr. Susana: Absolutely. HPA dysregulation occurs when the brain and the adrenal and endocrine system have a hard time communicating over a long period of time due to chronic inflammation, emotional issues, nutritional deficiencies, and all the various forms of stress we encounter physically and emotionally. When this happens we go into survival mode and we experience fatigue, weakened immune defenses, and compromised reproductive function. An Adrenal Stress Profile is a lab test we offer that can see if your brain is having difficulty communicating well with your endocrine system.
Dr. Jamie: Let’s say a woman has chronic stress, inflammation, fatigue, and gynecological issues like fibroids or cysts. So she takes this test and her results show that indeed her HPA axis is dysregulated. How do you correct this?
Dr. Susana: Number one – before any supplements – is you need to get to sleep before 10:30pm. Period! You can also take very high therapeutic doses of vitamin C at 2,000-5,000mg a day, or magnesium chelate at 600-800mg or more, after you ovulate.
Dr. Jamie: Why take magnesium only after you ovulate?
Dr. Susana: Because magnesium helps to boost progesterone production, and the 2nd half of the cycle is progesterone dominant. You could also take it all month long but up the dosage in the 2nd half of cycle. Another great way to utilize magnesium is to bathe in magnesium salts – it’s extremely calming.
Dr. Jamie: I love magnesium. It’s such a great alkalizing and calming mineral for so many people who are acidic and stressed. Ok, let’s get back to the 3 most critical factors in the development of ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis. You mentioned compromised detoxification and poor gut health. How would one best treat these issues?
Dr. Susana: An anti-estrogenic diet.
Dr. Jamie: What would that look like?
Dr. Susana: Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, 3-5 cups a day. I recommend cooking your greens, especially kale and spinach.
Dr. Jamie: Why cook your greens?
Dr. Susana: Some of the greens have goitrogenic properties, which can block thyroid function. So steaming or cooking helps to break down the goitrogens in the greens. The problem is that many women, when they start trying to get healthy, they start eating salads, which is not the way to go. Salads are cold in nature. So we should avoid eating lots of raw salads.
Dr. Jamie: Could you explain to our readers what it means when a food is cold in nature?
Dr. Susana: Certainly. In TCM, foods have certain properties. Raw foods are cold in nature. Cold raw foods create mucus build up in the gut and deplete the enzyme “fire” that would otherwise help to break down the foods.They stunt not just GI function and metabolism, but thyroid and reproductive function as well.
Dr. Jamie: So should women avoid raw salads and green smoothies?
Dr. Susana: Yes, or at least lightly steam their greens before adding them into a smoothie.
Dr. Jamie: What else can women do to heal, and more importantly, to prevent cysts, fibroids, and endometriosis from developing in the first place?
Dr. Susana: We have to make the liver happy. It’s important to have robust liver function. The main thing with fibroids, cysts, and endometriosis is that they are estrogen-dominant diseases. We have too much estrogen in our environment. Your liver breaks down estrogen. So we want to aid the liver in its detoxification of estrogens. So adding in milk thistle, curcumin, and a lot of B vitamins helps the liver.
Dr. Jamie: How are women being exposed to estrogen?
Dr. Susana: 90% of xenoestrogens come from red meat. Conventional meat is injected with hormones to fatten up and grow the cows. All dairy – even conventional, organic, or raw – increases estrogen.
Dr. Jamie: What about organic meat?
Dr. Susana: No, they’re still fed grains, corn, soy… so their meat is inflammatory and estrogenic.
Dr. Jamie: What about pasture-raised / grass-fed meat?
Dr. Susana: That’s better, because they’re being fed grass, not the grains.
Dr. Jamie: You mentioned poor gut health as one of the main factors. And we both know that a myriad of diseases and disorders originate from an unhealthy gut environment. Can you elaborate on the gut-hormone relationship?
Dr. Susana: Yes, your gut is one of the most overlooked factors and probably the most important. When you’re inflamed you have poor hormone production, esp progesterone, that leads to estrogen dominance. Inflammation typically comes from the gut, and 80% of the immune function resides in your gut. So it’s so important to heal the gut, especially for endometriosis because it’s an autoimmune disease.
Dr. Jamie: You explain that so well, Dr. Susana. What supplements can help heal the gut?
Dr. Susana: Probiotics, digestive enzymes, and amino acids. But it’s best if you get tested.
Dr. Jamie: What test would you recommend?
Dr. Susana: Genova Diagnostics comprehensive test.
Dr. Jamie: Is there anything else you would suggest to a woman on her healing journey?
Dr. Susana: Light exercises, restorative stuff like yoga and pilates, but no boot-camp.
Dr. Jamie: What would you say to a woman whose gynecologist is telling her to get on birth control or to undergo surgery?
Dr. Susana: Get a new gynecologist! Seriously, find another gynecologist and develop a great relationship. The standard approach of a gynecologist is a wait-and-see approach. They put you on birth control and literally wait and see what happens. Well what happens is that the fibroid almost always ends up growing, and then you end up in surgery.
Dr. Jamie: Why would they do such a thing? Knowing that fibroids would grow?
Dr. Susana: They have nothing else in their toolbox. They can give birth control and pain killers, but there’s truly nothing in their pharmacopoeia that can help. That’s why looking at it from a holistic perspective is the best approach.
Dr. Jamie: If the fibroid is huge and painful, like the size of a grapefruit, what treatment would you recommend?
Dr. Susana: Myomectomy, not hysterectomy, and then recover. After that, implement a holistic plan so this never happens again.
Dr. Jamie: What about the size of a golf ball or smaller, like a grape?
Dr. Susana: In the Chinese pharmacopoeia there are wonderful herbs that can eat away at the tissue and help detoxify the liver and decrease inflammation and pain in the uterus.
Dr. Jamie: Would acupuncture help?
Dr. Susana: It will help to increase circulation to the uterus, minimum of 2 treatments a week to really help shrink the fibroids.
Dr. Jamie: Acupuncture also helps to correct HPA dysregulation.
Dr. Susana: Yes. So acupuncture in combination with herbs and lifestyle changes would be the most effective plan.
Dr. Jamie: Thank you so much, Dr. Susana, for your time and incredible insight.
Dr. Susana: You’re welcome. It was a pleasure.