"The only thing I know is that I don't feel like a woman anymore."
What were her symptoms?
When Martina came to me in May 2021, she was in a very unhappy place. Her symptoms were causing her a lot of upset, and understandably so. After just a few months since coming off the pill she noticed many unpleasant symptoms including hair loss and acne. Sometimes there can be what's refereed to as the pill honeymoon period which is the time between stopping the pill and noticing symptoms and side effects from the hormonal imbalance caused by it.
However Martina's symptoms were unpleasant and affecting her daily life:
Heavy, painful periods
Major gut concerns including bloating & constipation
Stressed and fatigued
Fighting off cravings
As part of our initial discussion I also learnt Martina had been on quite a journey already. She suffered from food poisoning in Bolivia, had been diagnosed with PCOS and diagnosed with Hypothyroidism in 2018, and an intolerance test revealed a lactose intolerance. Unfortunately, previous treatment strategies left Martina feeling worse, or acted as temporary relief, not a solution.
It was clear we needed some more concrete evidence to work from so we completed a comprehensive stool analysis and had regular blood tests to keep on top of our progress. The stool test was very enlightening as it showed us she had severe bacterial imbalance in the gut which would be the cause for much of her bloating and constipation which can also have a contributing factor for her acne and weight.
The hair loss, bloating and heavy periods were of the greatest concern for Martina so we started by focussing on small easy changes she could make to start to feel a bit better each day.
Where did we start?
First things first, we assessed Martina’s daily eating habits and noticed she drank less than 1 litre of water throughout the day, and that she ate very little vegetables. Immediately this was a read flag, especially as water retention is often a sign of dehydration. For the first few weeks of her protocol Martina focussed on:
Daily nutrition targets
Supportive nutritional supplements
Once these small changes had started to take affect we looked at the bigger picture - revitalising her gut health and balancing Martina’s hormones to improve her PCOS symptoms, reduce cravings and weight fluctuations. Constipation is going to the toilet less than once per day and when this happens, the body is unable to detoxify properly, which means hormones, toxins and wastes will recirculate causing you to feel sluggish, more period pains and cause skin outbreaks of acne to name just a few symptoms.
Over the first few weeks Martina’s symptoms started to reduce from a 9 or 10 in severity to a 6 or 7, most notably her increase in energy. By working on Martina’s whole physical body as well as taking into consideration stress, sleep and mood, we were able to work through any and all symptoms that could be holding her back along her journey. We also ensured we did this by tracking Martina's labs along the way to track her progress, with continuous testing partnered with her GP and endocrinologist.
One of the symptoms which was really getting Martina down was the hair loss and I see this a lot in my clinic. There are several reasons for female hair loss and this can be from hypothyroid, anaemia, poor nutrient and protein intake and one of the biggest factors...stress.
With hair loss its important to understand the contributing factors so we analysed her blood tests to work on iron levels, thyroid and looked at her stool test for products of protein breakdown to see how much protein was being consumed in the diet.
Once we assessed the possible contributing factors we were able to support her nutritionally and supplementally to start the regrowth. It can take a few months to start seeing baby hairs as the trigger factors need to be removed (for example: stress, poor nutrient and low protein & iron intake). It is quicker to loose hair than it is to regrow it, so it's important to find the cause as soon as possible.
What did we do long term?
Where there is a will there's a way and together we broke down the barriers of what was preventing Martina from getting well.
We realised her job was one of the driving forces behind her stress so we worked together on developing coping mechanisms such as breathing exercises.
Stress is usually one of the main triggers for my clients symptoms. Its often misunderstood how important stress is when it comes to imbalances in the body. Mental stress, as well as physical stress (eg: from high intensity exercise, poor sleep) can often be the root cause of symptoms, be one of the main reasons people don't get better and one of the main reasons for relapse. The stressor needs to be removed, in order for the body to heal. Without doing this, the immune system will be compromised which means the body cannot repair and symptoms will prolong.
Over time, Martina prioritised the importance of her health, so was fortunately able to change jobs which had better working hours and less day to day stress. This meant that she had more energy in the evenings and was able to start seeing friends again, spend more time with her boyfriend and adopt a regular exercise routine. As she began to exercise then this increased her energy even more.
One of the biggest changes Martina made, which was absolutely instrumental in her feeling better, was improving her fruit and vegetable intake. The more nutrients you put in the body, the more the immune system is able to function, the better the body can repair and the faster you will improve. This was very noticeable when it came to her water retention and tired legs.
When the body is lacking in nutrients (and its dehydrated) then cell membrane fluidity is reduced and means water can pool in the body. Its important to ensure the cells of the body are healthy so that fluid and nutrients can pass through them easily, this can be done with proper hydration, fruit and vegetable intake, as well as healthy fats such as omega 3, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
I regularly checked Martina's food and drink diary to see how she was progressing and gave her feedback on what could be added into meals to make them more nutritious. It was incredible to see her transition in the kitchen too and the creations she was learning to make.
What changes did Martina see?
We know when we were on the right track as her energy levels massively improved, her legs didn't feel 'like deadweights' when walking up the stairs, she had enough energy to stay up past 8pm, her period pains reduced, and she was going to the toilet regularly.
Martina was seeing such improvement, she even asked to cancel the last appointment in her package as she felt she was doing so well, that she didn't need me any more!
"I now have more energy, my hair has stopped falling out and I can finally eat without having any digestive issues. I would recommend her to anyone suffering of any kind of gut issues and/or hormonal imbalance." Martina
Where is Martina now?
After 6 months, Martina was back to her old self. She had buckets of energy, her hair loss has ceased and new hair is growing, her PCOS symptoms are much more manageable, her skin is glowing, her weight is stable, her bloating has gone, she no longer "feels like a balloon", she is going to the toilet 1-2 times per day. She has her "mojo" back and "feels very good".
My most proud moment was to hear that Martina had seen such a huge improvement in her symptoms that, like me, she decided to change careers and enrolled at The College of Naturopathic Medicine to become a Nutritional Therapist herself.
As part of her maintenance protocol, Martina continues to eat well, exercises and does her breathing exercises to help manage any incremental stress.
In total I worked with Martina for 6 months, and it has been such a joy to see her come so far in managing her own health, and to see her feel like her old self.
Here is what Martina had to say...
“I decided to start this journey with Kelly as I was dealing with hair loss, bloating, water retention and fatigue. But working with her, helped me to start feeling myself again.
It took me almost 4 months before starting to see some results and almost 6 months to feel completely well. She was very supportive during the entire protocol and ready to answer all my questions. I also love the fact that I was able to have 30 minute follow up with her every 3/4 weeks and this was very helpful."
How can we help you do the same?
I see so many women just like Martina, whose hormonal imbalance is impacting so many parts of their life. If you're suffering from one, some or all of the same symptoms as Martina it's worthwhile getting help. Martina was on the 3 Month Nutritional Therapy Package.
At The Natural Balance we work holistically addressing the entire body, not individual parts. We have package options tailored for everyone, so why not book a free 20 minute consultation with us today to see how we can help you.
Registered Nutritional Therapist
Kelly is a Registered Nutritional Therapist who focuses on positive physical and mental wellbeing, achieved through diet, lifestyle, sleep and exercise. Having struggled for years with IBS and hormonal imbalance, and increasingly frustrated with the lack of support and helpful advice from her GP, Kelly began her own journey of healing the body from the inside out. After seeing huge improvements she quit her job to study nutrition and focus on harnessing the healing powers of food to help other people in similar situations.