September 23, 2019

CASE STUDY // Irina’s Integrated Hormonal Balance Connection

Irina was only a client for 3 months, yet it feels like we could write a whole book on the intricacies and connections of the impact and improvements to her wellbeing and vitality.  Especially how integrated the hormonal balance connection would be.

Instead – we’ll pull out some of the most interesting findings and solutions that enabled her to finally push her health forward after 17 years of chronic symptoms.

I was experiencing hormonal imbalances, low libido, irregular periods, feeling moody to the point when my family didn’t know what to do with me, pain during intercourse, poor concentration, low energy levels, feeling unsatiated from food, food intolerances, bones pain especially knees, unable to loose body fat, constant tummy pain and moving heavily!

Onset Age 12

Irina is now in her late Twenties and it’s almost two decades of chronic health challenges.  Yet it all began age twelve when her periods began.  It was like a switch and from this point she was experiencing increased body odour, vaginal discharge, irregular and painful periods, asthma and spots.

This ‘hormonal balance’ piece is of course significant.  But it doesn’t mean that it accounts for every piece of the puzzle.  There are often other factors to consider.  For example, what about nutrient status, other forms of inflammation in the body, toxicity levels, structural and physical imbalances, diet etc.

They are often not investigated at the onset because they are not considered connected.  Every approach out there has its validity and value – But here, we have a completely different perspective.  We’re fascinated by the interconnectedness and bio-tensegrity of this system of systems!

That’s why the first step of the Health Restoration Program is to collect comprehensive health history and timeline details.

Our client’s do need a degree of patience. It’s a pre-requisite. And thankfully Irina certainly had it.

Otherwise – could we truly, realistically and with integrity be of any value to Irina’s health goals of 17 years duration?

After decades of struggling with many symptoms, guessing, ignoring, visiting doctors that told me that I’m alright and it’s all in my head – I said STOP! No more! I’m not getting anywhere and I am just a living zombie

The Timeline and Increasing Physiological Load

From onset at age 12, over the next few years (we are fast-forwarding here) the hormonal balance symptoms increased in intensity and were joined by indigestion, weekly severe diarrhea episodes, gut discomfort, lower energy levels, difficulty concentrating, cravings, weight gain and more joint pains.

The picture builds and we can see more systems, tissues, organs, glands and cells providing ‘feedback’ to Irina.*

*Irina would get used to the term ‘feedback’ being synonymous with ‘signs’ and ‘symptoms’!

Whilst there had been some frustrations with the medical system and her visits to the Doctors, there had also been a great deal of value and input here.  Especially with the ability to rule-out anything that would require medical diagnosis and treatment, that can sometimes be underestimated.

So by the time Irina contacted me in 2018 there was a significant amount of Load (stress) in the body and plenty of Feedback (symptoms) from it too! Let’s take a look…..

PRE Symptoms

Pre Symptoms

Can you Relate to these?  If you’d like to take some action, consider:

Irina Chose a Functional Approach to Health and Hormonal Balance

I believe that the world needs more people like Jack that practice this approach.  That know that the body is a system of systems and one needs to take it as a whole in order to make it functional. I am blessed to have worked with him!

These are kind words from Irina!  For anyone searching for a way to solve their health challenges – one thing is for sure – and that is there is no shortage of options!

There are many therapies, modalities, approaches, philosophies, institutions, practitioners, delivery methods, resources, products, services etc.

Thankfully – there is something out there for everyone.

For example – The ‘Functional Health Approach’ is not for all and that’s ok.  What’s important is that it is viable for the person’s situation and goals, it isn’t replacing their options of other interventions or advice and the individual sees it as a good fit for them.

Earlier this year I presented a functional model to a group of final year University Medical Students.  They were about to embark on a career delivering the Allopathic model and we had fun discussing the balance of advantages and disadvantages of both approaches.

If you want to learn more about Functional Medicine then Join the Health Restoration Program here:

Join the Health Restoration Program

POST Symptoms (3 months later)

Let’s jump forward 3 months of coaching and support and look at Irina’s symptoms at the end.

Post Symptoms

After few months of working 1 to 1 with Jack and following some ridiculously simple but very effective steps that he recommended, my symptoms started to fade away and I could see and feel day by day how my organs are gaining back their functionality.

Hormonal BalanceIn my experience – once the physical symptomology of pain, hormonal balance and fatigue etc begins to subside – the REAL goals and reasons start to emerge.

It can be hard to identify at the beginning when overwhelmed by the chronic health challenges, but there is an expansion into all the other areas of life.

By the end of the program Irina could get back to some impressive study and passed exams for a new qualification and was travelling Europe, feeling robust and enjoying different foods and adventures!

“My family could see a significant improvement and I could finally have a better relationship with them and be my normal self.”

What Steps did she Take?

This is maybe why you’re here!  On one hand I hope you find some great insight into some steps you can take to achieve your health goals.

On the other hand – I don’t recommend cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all steps, copying or following exactly what worked for somebody else.

What works well for one person, may not for the next.  This is not unusual.  It’s simply based on the principle that we are all individuals and have different needs.

We could have ten people with a specific symptom (eg headaches, back pain, low libido, abdominal pain etc) and they could have significantly different causations. Hence – they could all potentially benefit from approaches that looked significantly different from each other.

So, my advice is to embrace the ‘principles’, not so much each exact step.

Here’s a quick summary of the flow of the Support we put in place to help hormonal balance and vitality:

  1. We started with a comprehensive case review of health history and timeline.

  2. Irina came into the Functional Health Clinic (Newcastle UK) for a full assessment day 1-to-1: https://functionalhealthclinic.co.uk/functional-gut-health-day/

  3. We ran the Digestive/Gut Health Test: https://functionalhealthclinic.co.uk/digestive-health-test/

  4. Postural Alignment and Movement Assessments.

  5. Additional Functional Assessments into Blood Chemistries, Nutrient Status and Toxicity.

  6. 3 Months of Support including weekly coaching.

  7. Functional Medicine Protocols.

  8. Hormonal Balance Tracking

  9. Structural Integration / Bodywork.

  10. Movement Therapy.

  11. Individual Nutrition steps implemented gradually.

Now, let’s expand on some fascinating areas that were fundamental and foundational for health and function in this instance.

Hormonal Balance and Nutrition

Irina had already (like many other folks) tried several other diets before.  There was a range of success with these, but none were sustainable, meeting all her individual needs or complementary across the different systems of her body (gut, detoxification, skin, energy etc).

Therefore – one of the key elements of nutrition is that the process aims to establish an individual’s nutritional requirements.

It’s not just a case of ‘following’ an external diet.

It’s a process of discovering ‘The [insert your name] Diet’!

Do more of what helps you thrive and less of what doesn’t.

This may sound overly simple.  But it takes the judgement out of it.  Removes the restrictions.  Re-establishes the control and responsibility.

The nutrition steps aren’t actually ‘hormone-balancing’ per se.  But if we make changes that reduce the inflammation, immune stress and toxicity of the body then we have a great opportunity for rebalancing hormonal levels.

Here are some foods that were NOT supporting her Vitality:

Lettuce

Tuna

Mackerel

Spinach

Broccoli

Sesame

Almonds

Walnuts

Cooking with olive oil

This list will no doubt be a surprise to some. We can have some fascinating discussions on explaining why these foods may be disruptive to some people (not all).

These simple steps lead to some significant and early improvements for Irina.

I’m feeling good, better posture, energy, skin is amazing, glowing, feels like baby skin and my boyfriend said it looks young
The hormonal balance appeared to be related to her long-term symptom of ‘pain during intercourse’.  This is often related to the levels of hormones Progesterone and Oestrogen and interesting links to other stress hormones like Cortisol and Adrenaline.

Yet after just a few weeks of changes Irina reported that this discomfort had improved and then eventually completely alleviated.

Structural Balance link to Hormonal Balance

Food/Nutrition is important. Yet not the only tool in the toolbox. In my practice I have developed a system and model that integrates the use of:

Nutrition

Functional Medicine

Structural Integration

Movement

There are many different types of ‘Structural Integration/ Bodywork’.  The type I perform in clinic is called Bowen Therapy and I apply a specific approach developed by Graham Pennington.

It gives us an opportunity to work hands-on and directly with the physical connective tissues (fascia, muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin) of the body to create more balanced alignment, symmetry, tone and movement.  All with the objective of restoring Function.

Not just function of the physical postures and movements.  But function of the nervous, reproductive, cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine/hormonal, vestibular, digestive systems etc.

Most clients experience the apparent impact that Bowen has on the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) and quite quickly notice an improved quality of sleep, for example.  This can be due to the potential balancing effect on the Parasympathetic (rest and digest) and Sympathetic (fight and flight) branches of the ANS. Irina followed suit and was sleeping better and waking up full of energy.

Assessment Shows us Where to Work

Pelvis Sacrum Coccyx

There is a specific alignment assessment I use for every client in every session. It quickly helps to identify where the Primary Stressor is in the body.  This Primary Stressor is having a significant impact on the nervous system and contributing to the imbalanced alignment, tension, compensations, restrictions, pain and more.

Interestingly, during Irina’s bodywork sessions the assessments consistently identified that the primary inhibiting muscle tensions were always around the pelvis, coccyx and sacrum area.

Every time we released the area, we cleared another layer of dysfunction and the body moved further towards balance.  How this also appeared to correlate with hormonal balance and function is somewhat explained by the anatomy and physiology of the areas that the bodywork moves were on.

Sacrum Coccyx Fuse Box

This somewhat explains the improved sleep as both the Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Nervous System have ganglion in this region of the Sacrum and Coccyx.

There is much more to the work though than the ANS mechanisms.

There are also many connective tissue relationships throughout the pelvis, sacrum and coccyx to reproductive organs and tissues.  A structural connective stress here could easily impact the structure, space, circulation, sensations and function of this area, which may explain some of the improvements.

My early Bowen teacher would describe the coccyx bone as like an electrical fuse box and a tangle and mesh of wires (see my abstract artistic impression).  When we apply moves across it, there can be a great amount of communication with different cells, tissues and organs.

Irina would often describe a tangible connection between her lower back discomfort and mood.  They seemed to mirror each other.  Alongside the bodywork there were also some interesting changes with the regularity of the menstrual cycle and period, but that is perhaps beyond the scope of this case study article.

Movement as Medicine

When Irina first came into the clinic she was a very active person – but felt very fatigued doing it.

Over the next few months we changed the approach and role of movement and exercise. Instead of exercise representing a way to drain the resources and push the body into a catabolic (breakdown) state, we designed a program that would help cultivate energy and promote more flow, quality movement, alignment, less restrictions and better breath.

We assessed her functional movements and postures throughout and following a great deal of diligence form Irina she achieved:

  • The ability to full squat down to the ground with great form, ease and without the original knee and shoulder pain.
  • A more upright and lighter gait (walking) pattern, with less reliance on an inefficient swaying side to side and much more natural rotation movement.
  • An upright, lengthened and open posture.
  • Improved ribcage position.
  • Significant improvement of a right ankle over-pronation, most likely a factor in the original right knee pain that also alleviated.

Zone 2 Exercise and Emotional Release

We also applied a zonal approach to exercise selection, which focusses on specific areas/organs/muscle groups.  One of the most useful was a Zone 2 (pelvic region) Exercise that within just a handful of repetitions would create an emotional related deeply to her primary hormonal balance health challenges and goals.

Irina was able to carefully and safely work with this and incorporate it into her routine to master it.

Fallen Organs, Inflammation and Lower Abdominal Function

This connection had perhaps the greatest impact of all.

Fallen Organs, also known as Visceroptosis occurs when then the body’s internal organs are not supported in the abdominal cavity effectively.  The intestines/organs typically move down and outward.

There can be a myriad of causes at play.  It could be that the body’s natural ‘weightbelt’ and core inner unit is inhibited and unable to actively create a supportive abdominal wall.  It could be a postural and spinal inhibition of these muscles.  A constipated and congested colon could put extra load and pressure on the abdominal wall.

Pre

Visceroptosis Pre

Post

Visceroptosis Post

So let’s look more closely at what we discovered about this specific relationship between Inflammation >>> abdominal wall dysfunction >>> visceroptosis >>> abdominal organ dysfunction.

***We’ll get a little more technical now, so if you are fascinated please read on.  If not, why not skip to the end and read Irina’s full testimonial or reach out and ask me a question.***

CBC Markers of GI Inflammation

One of the ways we identified signs of inflammation in her body was to run a functional analysis of her Comprehensive Blood Chemistry Test.

Interestingly, she had ran a similar test previously with her Dr and the interpretation was that everything was ‘Normal’.  This of course is great to hear and of great value.

But we were now interested in a ‘Functional Analysis’ of the blood chemistry markers.  This is different from the Drs interpretation where the remit may be to diagnose a condition or disease using the test results.

Instead, we are looking to understand how the body and its various systems are functioning.  Without diagnosing and treating markers, we are looking for patterns.

CBC GI Inflammation

A combination of subtle levels of several markers suggested how much the metabolism and immune system was demonstrating that the gastrointestinal tract was inflamed.  In this case the imbalanced markers were Monocytes, Uric Acid and Globulin.

GI Map Digestive Health Test and a Toxic Gut

There is a simple, yet highly useful marker on the comprehensive digestive health test called ‘B-Glucoronidase’.  It can give insight into a few aspects of gut function.  One of the most useful is that it can be a sign of toxic load in the gastrointestinal tract.

GI Map B-Glucuronidase

As you can see here there was a High level which suggests that several factors appeared to be causing increased toxicity. A toxic gut will most likely create some challenges.  It could irritate tissue, cause inflammation, affect the immune system and even burden the liver.  Will it be the only cause of every single symptom?  Perhaps not, but definitely key insight when gathering answers to the following two questions:

  1. Why do I feel the way I feel?

  2. What can I do about it?

Irina was looking for this type of insight and leverage, so wasted no time in adjusting a few simple nutrition, hydration and lifestyle factors.

I took away precious information from him that I still apply today and know I will use it for the rest of my life.
This seemed to have a big impact given the relatively quick changes in wellbeing and symptoms such as energy, weight loss and joint pain.

There’s even a correlation between B-Glucuronidase and Oestrogen levels – so the potential for improving hormone balance was there too.

Toxic Gut and Stubborn Weight Loss

Irina was struggling to change body composition and reduce adipose tissue fat.  It didn’t seem to be related to physical activity levels or calories in versus calories out.  This is where the toxicity side of things comes in and is something that many clients over the years have experienced.

There are two key mechanisms to consider:

Firstly. When the body is toxic it is a sensible for it to attempt to dilute the intensity of the toxicity. It  can do this via water retention, leading to weight gain and is why there is a swelling or puffiness to the adipose layer.

Second.  When toxic, the body will prioritise and protect the vital organs by keeping the toxins as far away from the vital organs as possible.  Hence the toxins will be sequestered away and stored (relatively safely) in the fat/adipose tissue.  Can you see the value and role of this incredibly important action and tissue.

These two aspects demonstrate that the body is always hard-wired to protect and preserve function and vitality.  Of course – low levels of toxins are preferable, but when that is not the case, the body will prioritise a response.

As soon as the environment, nutrition, lifestyle, function etc change to reduce the toxic levels, the body will follow suit and have no reason to retain water or sequester the toxins in fat tissue.

Inner Unit and Lower Abdominal Inhibition

So, we had begun to understand that certain factors were inflaming these gastrointestinal and visceral organs.  Now, due to the different segments and reflex pathways of the spine, these inflamed organs can also inhibit certain muscles.

The result may be that the deeper abdominal (inner unit, TVA, pelvic floor etc) musculature could be inhibited.  This particular group of muscles have an important role in that they are naturally stabilising when they fire correctly.

They provide stability around the spine, pelvis etc in order for the ‘outer’ unit to create movement/strength/power.

Yet – instead of just trying to guess – we decided to assess.

There are a few subtle inner unit and lower abdominal function tests I like to perform in clinic to establish whether these deeper tissues are firing correctly.  Irina’s tests identified that this neuromuscular function was inhibited and weak and not only that.  We also discovered that a simple drawing-in and activation of the inner unit would cause pain.

What this told us was that without the coordination and strength of the abdominal wall, her body would find it very hard to hold her visceral organs with integrity in the abdominal space (fallen organs/visceroptosis).  Hence she would also likely be experiencing pain on movement, struggle to achieve functional movement patterns and be easily fatigued.

If you have the patience (these exercises are not exciting 😉 there is a sequence of exercises that can be implemented to re-activate and re-write the software.  Which is very effective alongside getting to the root cause of the inflammation.

Targeted Structural, Movement, Nutrition and Gut Health

With all this (and more) in mind we put a program together that was an educational, non-miracle-based, non-quick-fix-focussed, learning process.

Here we’ve focussed on a few of the most influential elements of Irina’s Case Study. There were in fact many other areas of interest.  Perhaps we will delve into these areas in future case studies.

For example – take a look at all the patterns that the Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis uncovered as part of the 50-page report:

CBC Patterns 1
CBC Patterns 2

A Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis is one of the most educational tests of all, especially when backed up with the correct blood, urine, saliva and stool analyses.

HTMA

Functional Lab Tests for Beyond Hormonal Balance

I have no doubt that Irina had the ability to achieve these results with or without my support!  That may sound like a strange thing to say.  Given that she achieved more in the 3 months we worked together than she did in the prior 17 years of chronic health challenges!

The point is that the steps that we actioned and actually put in place were relatively simple.

What really helped us and guided the strategies was the fact that we employed more assessing and less guessing.

There are many ways to Assess, especially where hormonal balance is concerned.  Some are free and some have a fee. Some are quick and some take time.  Others are simple and some are complex.

Though there so many options that really nobody needs to guess their way to wellbeing!

Functional Lab Tests are one great way to find out pieces of the puzzle.  But they certainly aren’t the be-all of testing, or a replacement for medical input.

If you are interested here are the three key functional lab tests that Irina ran:

Gut Health

Gut Health Test

CBC

Functional_Blood_Chemistry_Analysis

HTMA

Any ‘Hormonal Balance’ Questions?

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about health and hormonal balance.  Or about the steps you could take on the Health Restoration Program.

Irina’s Full Testimonial

After decades of struggling with many symptoms, guessing, ignoring, visiting doctors that told me that I’m alright and it’s all in my head – I said STOP! No more! I’m not getting anywhere and I am just a living zombie.

I was experiencing hormonal imbalances, low libido, irregular periods, feeling moody to the point when my family didn’t know what to do with me, pain during intercourse, poor concentration, low energy levels, feeling unsatiated from food, food intolerances, bones pain especially knees, unable to loose body fat, constant tummy pain and moving heavily!

So, I sat down with myself and as relaxed as I could, asked my intuition what else can I do? Who’s help can I ask for? What really do I need? And it led me to Jack. 🙂

Everything felt right. It finally felt like it was the right choice and one of the best choices I have made in my life. It was worth every penny. After few months of working 1 to 1 with Jack and following some ridiculously simple but very effective steps that he recommended, my symptoms started to fade away and I could see and feel day by day how my organs are gaining back their functionality.  And how I am becoming stronger and stronger.

My family could see a significant improvement and I could finally have a better relationship with them and be my normal self. He has been such a good and patient guide and I am forever grateful, appreciating all his years of expertise. I took away precious information from him that I still apply today and know I will use it for the rest of my life.

I believe that the world needs more people like Jack that practice this approach. That know that the body is a system of systems and one needs to take it as a whole in order to make it functional. I am blessed to have worked with him!