Women in America often find it hard to navigate their way through the medical system. Our concerns are often dismissed or not taken seriously. It doesn’t help that most of us have been conditioned to some degree to not make a fuss. And many of the symptoms are interchangeable among conditions, taking years of testing to reach a diagnosis- if we’re lucky.
Some conditions can start to feel like they have no solution. It doesn’t help when your provider doesn’t seem as curious as you to find the cause. Luckily, there are alternative treatments you can try to take control of your body’s health. Trying some forms of holistic therapies like acupuncture, nutrition therapy, and meditation- in addition to traditional medicine, can significantly improve one’s quality of life.
Who can benefit from alternative treatments?
Everyone can benefit from holistic healing. For women, it can be life-changing. Many of us have been suffering for years with situations like:
- Chronic pain
- Anxiety and depression
- Chronic fatigue
- Hormone imbalances
I’ve researched these conditions thoroughly for my own health, and the suggestions are all the same. Get rest, exercise, go get an expensive treatment, etc. I’m not here to give you the same old advice. I’m going to provide you with suggestions that are easy to implement, are cost-effective, and I have personally found to work miracles.
Women and Chronic Pain
There are 100 million people in the U.S. suffering from chronic pain, and 50 million more women experience chronic pain than males. Not only do we suffer more, we often live with more than one pain condition like fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, and pelvic pain.
Women are also less likely to receive treatment for their pain. The backlash of the opioid epidemic is the suspicions cast upon a woman struggling to get through each day with pain. Even asking for pain relief can affect your future relationship with your provider.
The medical institution is patriarchal, so it should come as no surprise. Did you know that the chainsaw was invented to assist women in labor? We’ve still got a long way to go before equality reaches the healthcare field.
You’ve probably researched remedies many times and found the ‘solutions’ aren’t realistic, so I wanted to offer some less-known pain treatments.
- Trigger Point Manipulation focuses on the many knotted muscles in a painful body. Pressure is applied directly to an area of focus for a few minutes, causing the muscle to release its tension. You can use a tennis ball to do this at home or see a massage therapist. Massage schools often have student clinics where you can get a discounted rate.
- Binaural Beats involve two different frequencies played simultaneously through headphones. The difference in the frequencies is where the healing properties occur. They are a relatively unknown treatment for conditions like chronic pain, insomnia, and migraines. Sound too good to be true? When the National Institute of Health studied the effects of binaural beats on pain, the results were surprising. They found that the binaural group showed significant decreases in pain perception, pain medication intake, and reduced anxiety after just one week! You can find tons of them on Youtube, by condition for free.
- Foam Rollers are fantastic, but especially for those with sore muscles or knots. Instead of rolling, try laying on it in place a few inches at a time until the muscles relax. Do this up and down your spine, but not above your shoulder blades. You can also lean onto your side and use the foam roller on your hips and thigh muscles to get more muscle knots out.
- TENS Units can be excellent for disrupting the pain signals your body experiences. Some settings release a natural painkiller in our bodies. You can buy them at any drugstore, and they are pretty affordable.
Women and Anxiety and Depression
It feels so familiar. The feelings of dread and anxiety that dominate our waking life can be disabling. It’s especially true for those suffering from other conditions that impact how we live our daily lives. The experience of feeling worse than our peers can become tied to our sense of value. High levels of stress release the cortisol hormone. Excess cortisol can lead to mood swings, weight gain, and heart disease. The excess can also seriously impact our delicate hormonal system.
Learning to master your stress can change your health and improve your quality of life. It’s easier said than done, but it’s crucial because anxiety leads to depression, and we don’t want it coming to visit. So what can we do about it?
- Acupuncture is proven to be effective for many conditions, but people suffering from anxiety and depression may find it especially useful because it’s a safe, drug-free alternative.
- Simple breathing techniques are proven to work wonders on stress relief. Counting slowly to four and then back to zero at an even pace repeatedly is a fast remedy when I get overwhelmed. It’s also easy to do anytime you need to as it’s very discreet.
- Try binaural beats to help alleviate your stress. It’s highly effective and scientifically proven to work. The audio files are naturally soothing, and binaural beats are a reliable mood booster.
- Tai Chi and Qi Gong are Chinese practices that combine breathing, poses, and deliberate movement. By focusing on these elements, you can find a meditative state that may elude you if you find it hard to calm your mind through traditional meditation methods. It can also reduce pain and improve mood. You can find YouTube videos to learn how it’s practiced.
Women and Chronic Fatigue
Chronic fatigue is one of those ailments that often co-exist with other conditions like fibromyalgia. Chronic fatigue is debilitating when not adequately addressed. It affects the intensity of pain, mental health, relationships, and career. How can we possibly fight this?
- Get plenty of sleep– just kidding! I hate it when I see that as a ‘solution’ for chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Nutritional therapy, like B-12 shots, can make a significant impact on fatigue. Adding magnesium can help with sleep, pain, and migraines. Fifty percent of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, which significantly affects our energy levels. D-ribose is a type of sugar in your body that produces energy. Supplementing with Ribose can improve sleep, brain fog, and pain. CFS sufferers are often low on Essential Fatty Acids. Supplementing has been found to reduce fatigue within 8-12 weeks. Coenzyme Q-10 deficiency is also common in CFS patients. Remember to always check with your doctor before beginning any supplements, especially if you take prescription medications.
- Binaural Beats can help you drift off into blissful sleep. They are highly effective at inducing sleep, and you can select a longer video on YouTube to make sure you stay asleep and get rested.
- Create a peaceful bedtime routine that feels luxurious. An extra long shower can help relax your body. Comfortable bedding, silk pajamas, a lavender sleep mask- anything that feels like you are treating yourself will help your body and mind transition to sleep mode.
Women and Hormonal Imbalances
Hormones. As women, they rule our lives. They can affect your body, mood, and sanity. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal problem, as is Metabolic Syndrome. An imbalance can lead to infertility, diabetes, mood disorders- just to name a few. This is also where that pesky cortisol problem lies as well. Our endocrine system produces thirty hormones, so it’s essential to be evaluated by either your primary doctor or gynecologist. Here are some things you can do to help your body maintain balance:
- Acupuncture as a treatment for hormone imbalances is exciting. It has been so effective that there are now specialty clinics whose sole focus is treating women with hormonal issues. Many fertility centers also now suggest acupuncture for their patients because it has been shown to increase the chances of IVF success. It can sometimes take a few months to see results, especially if you’ve had problems for years. Do not get discouraged! Don’t think you can afford it? Try looking for local acupuncture schools. Often they offer lower rates so the students can apply their learning, supervised by their teacher, of course.
- Nutritional Therapy is very effective for balancing hormones. In the case of hormonal imbalances, I suggest you see a Nutritional Therapist to identify your body’s specific needs (not a nutritionist). If you’re not taking a Vitamin D supplement yet, get on it. It will strengthen your bones while it helps regulate your hormones. Black cohosh, evening primrose oil, and maca can have positive effects if you’re in perimenopause or menopause,
- Binaural beats, again for the win! Remember when I said they help for many conditions? There are plenty of selections for naturally balancing your hormones.
- Diet is more important than you know for treating hormone imbalances. In general, the body does best with a steady level of blood sugar. But you may also want to consider a gluten-free diet. Specifically, a healthy-carb, gluten-free diet. Carbohydrates affect women differently than they affect men. Avoiding processed or starchy foods can improve weight, mood, and hormones. If you experience stomach troubles, you may find that a gluten-free diet is a game-changer.
The most important thing you can do is become your own health advocate. Become more curious during your medical appointments. Ask follow-up questions. If your doctor wants to try a treatment, ask him how much time they want to give it before trying something new. Many times doctors begin a treatment plan and are on auto-pilot until you bring it to their attention.
Taking control of your health is empowering and necessary. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see positive changes. Don’t get discouraged if some suggestions don’t work for you. Each of our bodies is unique. Keep trying until you find what’s right for you, and know that you are not alone.