Posts Tagged ‘eczema’
I feel that my situation was pretty typical of what a number of female athletes go through. I was prescribed Ortho Tri Cyclen* when I was 17 because I hadn’t had a period for more than two years. Not wanting to put anything artificial in my body and being scared about the hormones, I didn’t actually start taking the pills until I sustained a stress fracture in my foot during my freshman cross-country season at college.
After the fracture, a doctor convinced me that it occurred because my bone density was low. He said my bones were suffering because I didn’t have periods. This was the case because the absence of menses meant that my body didn’t have enough estrogen… and estrogen was the key to calcium being absorbed by my bones. He told me that my estrogen was low because I ran so much. And he said all this could be corrected by taking the birth control pill because it would supply my body with artificial estrogen that would keep my bones strong.
The Female Athlete Triad- of disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis- was a relatively new buzzword ten years ago and doctors, trainers, and coaches were quick to jump to the conclusion that the birth control pill was the easiest, quickest-fix band-aid solution to the most bothersome part of it. I wish that I could say that as a community, sports medicine has made tremendous progress – that doctors, coaches, and trainers know a great deal more about how to address these situations with their athletes, but I don’t really believe it’s much better. Birth control pills are more than ever being prescribed to young athletes (and non-athletes alike) as a quick-fix solution to problems that require a much deeper and more comprehensive look at the whole system.
When I look back at my own situation, I realize that the Doctor made a lot of assumptions in his hypothesis. First, he assumed that my stress fracture was due to having low bone density, though he never measured the density of my bones. In reality it was my training that changed significantly – I had gone from running maybe 40 miles per week on dirt roads in high school in Colorado to running 70+ miles per week in college mostly on pavement.
The other reality about my situation was that running or body fat percentage wasn’t the cause of my amenorrhea. I was always a very active teenager and a “late bloomer.” I played 3-4 varsity level sports during high school. I only had a couple “regular periods” when I was 15 years old and they ceased when I left to be an exchange student in southern Brazil. In Brazil I wasn’t allowed outside of the house alone. It was, by far, the most sedentary I have ever been at any time in my life. And like all exchange students, I gained a few pounds. And yet this is the time in my life when my periods stopped. When I returned from Brazil, I embarked on a 30-day wilderness education course backpacking across Colorado’s San Juan Range. But still my cycle didn’t return.
Over the years I stopped taking birth control twice for several months at time to see if my period would return on its own. Each time I noticed a marked improvement in my mood and digestion, but each time a friend or doctor encouraged me to go back on the pill because I needed it for my bones. I remained on a mono-phasal birth control pill until the age of 25. At that point, my digestive problems and allergies were so bad that I wanted to try anything to alleviate the situation. I read as much as I could find on the subject, scheduled a bone density scan that came back on the low side of normal, and quit the pill for good. It was a liberating feeling!
Eventually, about 7 months later, my cycle returned naturally for the first time in over 10 years. For the first year or two it was not consistent- some months it wouldn’t come, some months it would only last a day. However, the overall trend was one of progress.
Acupuncture has been the single most helpful tool for me in finding hormonal balance and regulating my periods. I highly recommend it!
Today is the first day of my “fall cleaning” detox. Yesterday on my run home from downtown, I decided that I needed to take some action and be proactive about changing how lousy I’ve been feeling. I don’t want to put the entire blame on the iron pills, because it might have been a little before that… but they are an easy scapegoat.
A few weeks ago I purchased a copy of the Raw Food Detox Diet and have been contemplating making some changes to my diet. I eat far too much imitation cheese, tortilla chips, cashews, dried fruit and energy bars. And not enough fresh produce. The ironic thing to me is that I am the OPPOSITE of constipated all the time… and I’m drawn to these foods that are dense, both literally and calorically. And yet, I have NEVER remotely had problems with elimination.
In fact, this last spring I went in for a colonic and the therapist told me that I was probably not a good candidate for colon hydrotherapy because of my “constitution”… saying that I have a tendency toward coldness and watery stools, etc. (sorry to be graphic) I do simply just HATE the idea of old putrid waste lining the walls of my intestines and allowing toxins to absorb back into my tissue. yuck!
Last weekend I purchased a new juicer, the one that the author of the book recommends for its ability to handle a large quantity of greens. I’ve been scared away from so many of the “green” drinks and powders since going gluten-free. You see, wheat grass or barley grass shouldn’t contain gluten, BUT it could. The “could” comes from the fact that once it is processed we have no way of knowing whether the grass sprouted first. If it did- then the juice could contain gluten. ugggh, it is another one of those huge gray areas for me.
So I decided, that I should juice my own green goodness from veggies- hence the new juicer.
I know what you’re thinking: “what about the fiber?” Well, I have three answers for this:
1) I could never handle tough greens like Kale, period.
2) Myself, and most people, would be hard pressed to eat the vast quantity of veggies it takes to make a couple glasses of juice
3) Since our bodies have a difficult time processing much of this hard plant matter, we are probably not absorbing all the vitamins and minerals that are locked inside.
So, I’m going to start juicing again regularly. I’m even going to try to stomach beet juice, it is such a good blood builder.
More on my progress later. Off to the lab to get some blood drawn.
So how does a compulsive baker with a running addiction and a holy reverence for the perfect banana bread find herself giving up gluten? For the health of it, of course.
I always feel like this is a little AAish, but here goes… I’ve been gluten free for a little over 6 months now. [insert smiles and nods of congratulations here]. To say that it has been a rough half year would be lying. In actuality, I only really miss my oatmeal addiction*, soy sauce at sushi restaurants, and not being able to eat the bread basket at restaurants when they have a wonderfully fragrant olive oil. For the most part, though, I’ve been OK with it. If someone tried to take tortilla chips or cashews away from me, however, there would be a fight to the death.
The funny thing is that I had tried to give up wheat a couple of times in the past on the suggestion of docs, naturopaths, accupuncturists, and a chiropractor- but I never stuck to it more than two weeks because I didn’t see any results. The difference was wheat vs gluten though… I still ate spelt and bulgur and oats and am not sure if I read labels carefully enough. Needless to say, it did nothing for me back then.
The tipping point for me was my digestion. It has always been terrible- maybe my whole life. And, of course, they say it is Irritable Bowel. Let’s just say I tend heavily toward the D side of things.
I come a family of chronic stomach aches. My mother’s was so bad that when she was a teenager, they opened her up (like a c-section) and took out some “needless” stuff like an appendix and a spleen and maybe even her pancreas. Nothing solved her aching though, until at the age of 28, she had me. Since then she still has a sensitive stomach and eats very carefully, but the pain isn’t what it used to be. A pretty good case for pregnancy in my book!
So…. at one particularly terrible point last spring the pain was becoming unbearable. Not only was my stomach distended and painful, the eczema on my hands had returned with a vengeance and was keeping me up at night with the burning. So… I decided to sign up for a cleanse through a naturopath in town. (More on cleansing later). This time I really did give up GLUTEN for two weeks and I noticed a difference immediately, both in my stomach and my skin.
The most striking and obvious affect was that by the end of the two weeks, the eczema that was covering my hands had completely disappeared. Instead of the bright red scaly skin with sores, I had my hands back! The skin was actually soft and normal- it seemed like a miracle.
And so it began…..