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Sea Vegetables and Hormones

  • Feeling irritable and moody? "Oh! It must be my hormones."
  • Gaining weight? "My hormones must not be working properly."
  • Hot flashes? "My hormones are really out of whack."
  • Sugar, salt cravings? "My hormones are off again…they make me want to eat anything in sight."
  • Difficult period? Homonal imbalance....
  • Rough menopause? My hormonal changes feel like a tsunami!

That’s the litany I hear from my women patients to the point that I swear I can sometimes visualize little hormones with wings flying in the ether, a bit like Eros, sending arrows to make women’s lives miserable.

 

It was those comments from so many women that led me to the upcoming Women’s Hormonal Wellness Retreat where we are going to define and demystify those tricky little hormones and find ways how we can make peace with them and turn them into friends as opposed to pestering nuisance. A fantastic and beautiful journey into the deep and rich anatomy of our female bodies.

We are lucky to live at a time when we can access Eastern wisdom together with modern science, today and yesterday’s knowledge, an amazing crossroad where we can pick the best of both worlds and find many pearls of wisdom to empower us to take care of our health.

Chakras and hormonal glands

chakra balancingDid you know that our hormonal system corresponds to the ancient chakra system of vedic and yogic science as well as to some major acupuncture points in Chinese Medicine. Endocrine glands have always been considered in ancient medicine as the interface between the physical plan and the more subtle nervous system ruling over our emotions, mental and connection to the spiritual plane.

Thyroid and Throat Chakra

The thyroid, for example, corresponds to the Throat chakra, the “gate of the Lung” in Chinese Medicine and is placed along the “site of transportation of the liver”..we will see the wealth of information and self care we can get from just learning to decipher that knowledge. Modern science tells us that our thyroid plays a big part in our metabolism, how fast, slow or sluggish our energetic consumption is. Weight gain, fatigue, overheating, hyperactivity and inflammation are common manifestations of thyroid disorders.

Our thyroid, with its regulation in iodine, connects us to our oceans and our primal origin in water. Besides our thyroids, our ovaries and breasts also need high levels of iodine, all processed through the thyroid. Unfortunately, our earth today, the breast that feeds us all, is deficient in iodine as the soils have been depleted by overgrazing, monocultures and overuse of pesticides.

Thyroid = Right Speech

Emotionally, our thyroid is also linked to how we express ourselves in the world. It spiritually corresponds to the Buddhist precept of “right speech,” to expressing our truth, to others but also to ourselves. This might seem simple and really is not. How often do we say what people want to hear, how many repressive political systems as well as social dictates or internalized inner tyrants interfere with expressing our truth. The thyroid represents our Voice, in all meanings of the word.

In order to re-establish thyroid balance, we need to address all of those different levels and that is exactly what we will do during our one week Women’s Hormonal Retreat. We will be looking at the different glands of our endocrine system from a biological and physical point of view as well as a more esoteric anatomy. We will look at symptoms and various ways to alleviate them and, most importantly, get back to balance : food, herbs, supplements as well as Qi Gong movements and breathing exercises to free the flow of blood and Qi to their area.

Thyroid and Iodine

We all know for example that iodine supplements are often used to help the thyroid. However, Oriental people have been using sea vegetables as part of their daily food for a long, long time and studies have shown that Japanese people in particular, do not suffer from the thyroid deficiencies that we suffer from. In the West, we are still intimidated by them and much more timid in using them as part of our regular diet. So, our retreat will include a food preparation class on how to use sea vegetables and make delicious dishes with them. When you get back home, sea vegetables will just seem like a regular staple to you and they will not intimidate you any more!

where is the calcium rs

Below is an excerpt from our latest booklet “Where is the calcium?” co-written with my husband Didier Cuzange, that includes yummy recipes of sea vegetables.

 

Despite higher and higher consumption of dairy products (25% of the average diet, through milk, butter, yogurt, cheese etc.) and routine intake of calcium supplements, Western countries are plagued with increasing rates of osteoporosis, depression and nervous diseases that all point in the direction of deficiency of calcium. Why?

 

Why sea vegetables?

Detoxification

In the depth of the ocean where they grow, sea vegetables cleanse, oxygenate the water that they help breathe and rejuvenate. They have a similar action on our blood, in which salt bears witness to our old connection with the ocean. They constitute, therefore, a primary tool, food and medicine to detoxify the body of any kind of pollutant, be it fats or chemicals.

Sea vegetables are also a food of choice to support radiation and chemotherapy treatments as well as protect from any exposure to radiation and chemicals. In one famous Japanese story, patients in a hospital near Nagasaki were able to survive exposure to the nuclear radioactivity spread by the atomic bomb thanks to a regimen composed of brown rice, soup and sea vegetables prescribed by the head doctor. Recent nuclear disasters, Tchernobyl and Fukushima have contributed to reminding us of the importance of sea vegetables. Overnight all the shelves were cleared of sea vegetables. Yet, those precious vegetables from the sea had been neglected and forgotten, even though we routinely use iodine as a disinfectant for wounds.

Iodine: we are beings from the sea, as attested by the salt of our blood, tears and sweat. Seaweeds are the trees of the ocean and purify it just like our land trees purify our air; our thyroids also need iodine for proper functioning and play a central part in our whole body metabolism; goiters were frequent in areas where the soil was devoid of iodine and where people did not have access to sea salt or where the salt had been demineralized. In the US, the Midwest mostly was known as the “goiter belt.” The occurrence of goiters and thyroid imbalances led to the re-introduction of iodine into the salt - - from which it should never have been extracted to begin with. However, as usual, nature is more subtle than our fairly “crude” approach mineral by mineral. In spite of iodine in the salt, hypothyroidism is still on the increase. Iodine is a disinfectant that fights infections, radiation and heavy metals. Think of it: in spite of all our technological knowledge, what have we done in response to Fukushima? pour the toxins into the ocean. This is a very unfortunate and primitive response to a complex problem. However, it shows that, to this day, we have not found any better response to fight radioactive waste than salt and iodine. How much of iodine is taken away from the body to fight chemicals and radiation. That is the unknown at this point. Research does show however that pesticides and chemicals from mining sites for example deplete the soil of its iodine content. Unfortunately our soils today, and therefore our plants, are also lacking in iodine, due to pesticide use and intensive monocultures; Thyroid diseases are common modern diseases, revealing that the detoxing process of our bodies, earth, air and oceans is compromised. We live in an overtoxic and polluted environment.

Iodine supplementation might not be the only answer even if it is helpful. Sea vegetables are complex organisms rich in many minerals that balance one another. Whenever possible, foods and whole organisms are preferable to extracts. If you own a garden, think of using kelp and seaweed as fertilizers. Avoid composting with fish farm content, a harmful choice to your soil. Fish in fish farms are fed remnants from slaughterhouses, poor quality grain and are raised in appalling conditions of overcrowding and unsanitary conditions, saying nothing of the suffering they inflict on living sentient beings. Fertilize your trees, your plants, your soil with seaweed. Remember also that fruit and foods that grow by the ocean are richer in iodine than the ones from soils far away from the sea - which actually was the case also with the goiter belt and Midwestern soils that had also been exhausted by intensive grain monoculture.

Our Western diets are significantly low in iodine compared to Japanese diets in particular. The Japanese eat some form of sea vegetable every day, in small amounts. They use a bit of wakame to make a miso soup stock, they have a small amount of hiziki on their lunch tray, they cook their beans with a piece of comb to make them more digestible. They make nori rolls with sushi but also with vegetables. Of course, they live on an island with a volcanic soil particularly rich in iodine. Until recently they also ate very little meat if any and did not have any dairy in their diets. What we can learn form their tradition is that you do not need a huge amount of sea vegetables but a small amount on a regular basis.

The tissues that use the highest amount of iodine besides the thyroid are breast and ovary tissues. Until recently, it was observed that Japanese women had a significantly lower incidence of breast cancer. Both the lack of dairy intake and high intake of sea vegetables account for that significant difference between Oriental and Western women’s health.

Sea vegetables help cleanse the blood of fat and mucous deposits. They are especially useful in clearing excess cholesterol from blood vessels. They can therefore greatly assist weight loss programs through their ability to dissolve fat in muscle tissue. As we will see further, kelp and kombu are two sea vegetables used in Chinese medicine in any formula designed to reduce cysts and tumors.

To learn more, purchase our ebook: Where is the Calcium? 

Liliane Papin

Dr. Liliane Papin is a licensed Chinese Medicine Doctor who focuses on a holistic approach to health care, blending the ancient art of Oriental medicine with modern science.  Her new ebook, Where is the Calcium? and Spring Cooking | Liver Cleansing are now on sale.

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