LARA BRIDEN is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) practicing in Sydney. If you’ve never heard of naturopathic medicine, it’s an approach to healthcare that “uses holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness,” according to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. For over eighteen years, Dr. Briden has done just that: used holistic and nontoxic methods to successfully treat the hormonal imbalance symptoms of hundreds of women, without ever resorting to pharmaceuticals. After some time blogging on topics such as natural solutions for cramps and PMS, how to alleviate endometriosis and the Pill’s impact on libido, she is releasing a book this month entitled Period Repair Manual: Natural Treatment for Better Hormones and Better Periods. In this straight-talking troubleshooting guide to treating everything from acne to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) — and the myriad period problems in between — Dr. Briden overthrows the idea of the Pill as a necessity for those suffering with reproductive health issues. With so many women now choosing to come off the Pill and looking for alternatives, it’s set to become an essential handbook for that transition.
LadyClever spoke with Dr. Briden to find out more:
How did you come to be interested in reproductive health?
I treat period problems because that is what my patients need help with. When I started practicing in the 1990s, it was a scary time for women’s health. Back then, women’s only options were high-dose birth control pills and surgery (it’s not much better now). I wanted to see my patients get better, so I simply had to find a way to make natural medicine work for them. I prescribe diet changes, as well as nutritional supplements, herbal medicine, and sometimes natural hormones.
Have you personally experienced any particular menstrual health issues and how did you heal those for yourself?
I’ve been blessed with fairly easy periods myself. That’s partly luck, I think, and partly the fact that I’ve never taken the Pill. Also, I’ve used natural medicine for more than twenty-five years.
Can you share with us how you would treat each of these common period problems?
- I came off the Pill and I haven’t had a period in months.
The first question to ask is: What was your period like before you took the pPill? Pill-bleeds are not periods, so your last real period might have been years ago. Was it regular then? If not, you probably had a problem way back then. It’s time to get a diagnosis. Please see your doctor for blood tests. From her investigations, she may determine that you have either PCOS, or a condition called hypothalamic amenorrhea. (Note: Amenorrhea means lack of periods.)
Nutrition and herbal medicine work very well for both of those conditions.
For example, the nutritional supplement D-chiro-inositol treats PCOS, and helps to re-establish regular periods. The herbal medicine Vitex treats post-pill amenorrhea.
- My periods are so painful for two days I can’t move, feel nauseous and have to take a ton of pain medications.
Really strong pain like that might mean that you have a condition called endometriosis. Endometrios is is quite common (affecting about one in ten women). It causes other symptoms such as spotting, pain between periods, and pain with sex.
Please speak to your doctor about your pain, and be sure to explain how strong your pain is. For example, tell the doctor how many painkillers you take. She might not understand that at first. Also, mention any other symptoms (such as spotting, pain between periods, and pain with sex).
The conventional treatment for endometriosis is surgery, but it also responds really well to a dairy-free diet and to the herbal medicine turmeric.
- I seem to always be on my period. It feels like I have one every two weeks.
Count your cycle from your first day of heavy bleeding (that’s “day 1”) to your first day of heavy bleeding (in your next cycle). From “day 1” to “day 1” should be at least 21 days. If your cycle is shorter than 21 days, then it might mean that you’re not ovulating. That means that you’re not having real periods (because you did not go through all the normal steps of a cycle — follicular phase, ovulation, then luteal phase). You’re having something called “anovulatory bleeds,” which are common with PCOS and during perimenopause. They can also happen with stress and thyroid disease.
Your treatment depends on the underlying reason why you are not ovulating. If it’s thyroid disease, you might need thyroid hormone. Please see your doctor for blood tests.
- My doctor says I have PCOS but I don’t like taking the Pill.
The Pill is absolutely not a solution for PCOS because the Pill causes the very thing that probably caused your PCOS in the first place: insulin resistance.
Your best solution for PCOS is to treat the insulin resistance. Eliminate concentrated sugar from your diet, and take supplements such as magnesium and D-chiro-inositol.
If you’re keen on transitioning off the Pill and looking for alternatives to treat your reproductive health issues, you need to check out Period Repair Manual. A Kindle version just got released on Amazon.com (and if you don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry — the Kindle app is free and works on nearly every tablet/smartphone on the market.) And for more on Period Repair Manual, Dr. Lara Briden, and all the great work she is doing for women, check out her website.