The Most Common Health Concerns of Women

By James E. McMinn, M.D.

I have been abundantly blessed in my life to be associated with some very special, kind, loving, smart, talented, and overall amazing women, starting with my Grandmothers, my mom, my sister, my wonderful wife, to my daughters, and finally my patients.  Over the years, I have heard the struggles of the sisterhood repeated over and over, and it brings me great joy to partner with these special women in their journey to better wellness. Revived and vibrant women are better able to lead productive and happy lives.

Fundamentally women are biologically, chemically, hormonally, genetically, mentally, spiritually, and sexually different than men.  As a result, there are a whole host of conditions and diseases that disproportionately affect women. Time after time, I have witnessed the power of a holistic integrative approach to women’s health care with attention to the fundamentals of wellness. In this edition of Natural Awakenings, we’ll explore the most common concerns of women in America today, along with practical and specific suggestions for improvement.

1.  The number one concern of women I see in my office by far is fatigue. The list of potential causes goes on and on.  Some of most common causes include poor sleep, stress, hormone dysfunction, (including adrenals and thyroid), allergies, food sensitivities, and nutritional deficiencies. More often than not, it’s not just one cause, but multiple causes acting together.  I consider fatigue to be overarching. It affects every other aspect of a woman’s life. Fatigue affects not only the patient, but also the marriage and the family.   Fatigue also has many friends such as insomnia, brain fog, weight gain, decreased libido, headaches, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome.  The key to treatment is to get to the bottom of the cause of the problem, and to then devise a targeted customized approach.   This may take a painstaking search for the needle in the haystack, but to give a woman her energy back is to give her life back.

2.  The next most common concern of women is weight gain or trouble losing weight.  We all know about the effects of proper eating habits and exercise on weight.  These are essential aspects of any weight maintenance program.  However, there are two other aspects that are also important but often underestimated.  First is the power of the mind.  It all starts with intention.  From there we need to do goal setting, create a plan, and build in tracking, monitoring, and accountability.  The other major underappreciated component is the importance of hormone and neurotransmitter balancing.  Hormone imbalance, low thyroids, and dysfunctional cortisols and neurotransmitters can all make it very difficult to loose weight.  It’s truly is like swimming upstream against a swift tide of extra pounds.

3.  The third most common concern is hot flashes / night sweats:  These two don’t always run together, but many times they are co-conspirators in the plot of misery.  For those who have experienced them or witnessed them, they are profound.  I have seen many a nurse just dripping with sweat, while standing in front of the air-conditioned vent.  The night sweat portion can keep a woman up all night. Together or separate these can be debilitating and must be taken seriously.  Usually, they are due to estrogen dysfunction, however low adrenals and low serotonin may also contribute to hot flashes.  The good news is that these symptoms are usually quite treatable with bio-identical hormones.

4.  The fourth most common concern of women is low libido.  There is no reason to feel that we necessarily have to give up this part of our life as we grow older.  Healthy sexuality is important for the woman, her partner, her family, and it is important for overall health.  Unfortunately, low libido is a very common problem; there are often multiple contributing factors such as stress, kids, fatigue, medications (especially anti-depressants), vaginal dryness, pain with intercourse, and relationship issues.  Hormones also play a major role in libido.  It is hard for a woman to have any interest if she is deplete of testosterone.  Estrogen, DHEA, and thyroids, and neurotransmitters also play a major role in a woman’s sexuality. In most women, optimizing hormone balance with bio-identical hormones can significantly enhance low libido.

5.  Insomnia is the fifth most common concern of women.  Approximately 60 million Americans suffer from lack of sleep.  This can have far reaching consequences on obesity, fatigue, depression, mental illness, autoimmune disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, fibromyalgia, headaches, and low libido.  Hormones and neurotransmitters can play major roles in sleep quality.  Bio-identical progesterone and serotonin precursors tend to promote getting to sleep, while estrogen supplementation promotes staying asleep.

6.  The next most common concern is hair loss.  A woman’s hair loves estrogen, while it generally does not care for testosterone.   Thyroid dysfunction (low or high) can also damage hair.  Nutritional deficiencies, low stomach acid, inadequate protein, and low iron may also result in hair loss.

Other common concerns of women include “brain fog,” depression, anxiety, mood swings, and irritability.  These conditions are frequently, but not always, due to treatable organic causes.  A search for hormone dysfunction, toxins, nutritional deficiencies, infections, drug side effects, or neurotransmitter imbalance, accompanied by an appropriate treatment regimen may result in a significant improvement in the above symptoms, and in turn may profoundly enhance a woman’s quality of life.

 

Hypnosis for Weight Loss

2 New Classes Starting Next Week!
When:         Monday 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm*                         Where:  McMinn Clinic 
           OR   Tuesday 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm*                        3125 Independence Dr
Weigh-in:   15 minutes prior to meeting                              Suite 114
                                                                                            Homewood, AL 35209

Session begins: March 16 (Mon) or Mar 17 (Tues), 2015 
Session length: 6 Consecutive Mondays* or Tuesdays*

*To build cohesiveness within the group, please register for either the Monday session OR the Tuesday session. Days are not interchangeable. 

Cost: $95 for 6 Week Session Enrollment: 
 Limited to 20 Class Members

To register call McMinn Clinic at (205) 868-1313 or come by our office at
3125 Independence Drive, Suite 108, Homewood, AL 35209

Program Leader and Hypnotist: 

Donna Mullinax, BCH, CI
(256) 454-7353

Sessions Include:
Nutrition Information
Education
Behavior Modification Suggestions
Group Discussions
Hypnosis
This Hypnosis for Weight Loss session can be used independently or in conjunction with other weight loss programs.

McMinn Clinic also offers individual hypnosis appointments for stress management, insomnia, relaxation, and other areas of concern/interest.

Get Your Mojo Back with Dr. Mac

 By Dr. McMinn

I saw a 70 year old gentleman yesterday.  He first came to see me a couple of years ago. He had started to feel that life was slipping away from him. He had no energy, decreasing cognitive function, no life drive, no sex drive, and was somewhat depressed.  We got him on the “get your mojo back with Dr. Mac” program, and now he’s doing great. He is exercising again, eating better, and sleeping great.  His energy is back, his life drive is back, and he and his wife of 40 years are like newlyweds again.

He is a great example of the basic principles of integrative medicine, functional medicine, and optimization.

-Integrative medicine- we used a combination of traditional and alternative therapies.

-Functional medicine- we got to the root cause of his problems. We didn’t just treat the              symptoms with drugs.

-Optimization- He didn’t have a “disease.”  He just felt awful, and had no hope of ever             getting better. We got him “optimized” and now he has a much better quality of life.

Our goal is to help every patient be the best that he or she can be at every stage of life.

 

Don’t Suffer Needlessly

This patient first came to McMinn Clinic several years ago experiencing issues and challenges that many women face including migraines, low energy, brain fog, joint aches, irregular and painful menstrual cycle, PMS,  and night sweats.  She was unable to exercise because of the pain in her joints, and this had resulted in significant weight gain.  These issues were affecting her ability to function at work, and she was not able to be the mom that she wanted to be to her young children.

 Dr. McMinn worked with the patient to evaluate and balance her hormones.  Now, the patient indicates that her headaches and night sweats have stopped, her brain fog and PMS have subsided, her menstrual cycles have regulated, and she is excited with her newfound, boundless energy.

 Because her joint pain is gone, she is now exercising regularly and is pleased with the 30 pounds she has lost.  She says that she is back at 100%.  She feels that she is approaching perfection in mind, body, and spirit.

Although he hears similar stories daily, Dr. McMinn never tires of listening to the life-changing successes his patients are experiencing. Many women suffer needlessly.  With proper attention, many women can get complete relief from their symptoms.  They can get their lives back and once again fully enjoy their families, their lives, and each new day.

“Optimization”

By Dr. James E. McMinn

I had a lady in last week who has been on the hormones for a while. When she first came in to see me she had all of the usual concerns including terrible hot flashes, night sweats, brain fog, low libido, vaginal dryness, pain with intercourse, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and fatigue.  She was spiraling downhill quickly, with no hope of any significant quality of life.

Now, she’s feeling GREAT!  In fact, I asked her the question, “What separates you now from perfection in mind, body, and spirit?” She said, “I’m there!”  Furthermore, she said that she’ll never get off her bioidentical hormones.   ”If they want to take away my hormones, they’ll have to pry them out of my cold dead hands.”

Now that’s “optimization.”

Hypnosis For Weight Loss-Session 1

THE EXCITEMENT IS GROWING…

Due to the success last month, McMinn Clinic is again offering Session 1

Hypnosis for Weight Loss-Session 1

When: 

  • Tuesday 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Weigh-in 6:45 pm – 7:00 pm
  • Session begins February 24, 2015
  • Session Length: 6 Consecutive Tuesdays

 

Where:  

McMinn Clinic

3125 Independence Drive

Homewood, AL  35209

 

Cost:               $95 for 6 Week Session

 

Enrollment:    Limited 20 Class Members

 

Registration: 

McMinn Clinic

(205) 868-1313

3125 Independence Drive

Homewood, AL  35209

 

Program Leader and Hypnotist: 

Donna Mullinax, BCH, CI

(256) 454-7353

  • Board Certified Hypnotist (NGH)
  • Certified Instructor of Hypnosis (NGH)
  • Educational Specialist, Counselor Education

 

Meetings Throughout Session Will Include:

  •   Hypnosis
  •   Education
  •   Nutrition Information
  •   Behavior Modification Suggestions
  •   Group Discussions

 

Did you know…

  • hypnosis can create a sense of heightened awareness, focus, and attention?
  • hypnosis is a state in which a person becomes highly responsive to suggestions?
  • hypnosis can be used to alter a person’s behavior and eating habits?
  • research indicates that hypnosis can be effective in losing weight and maintaining weight loss?

 

This Hypnosis for Weight Loss session can be used independently or in conjunction with other weight loss programs.

 

McMinn Clinic also offers individual hypnosis appointments for stress management, insomnia, relaxation, and other areas of concern/interest.

Good Health Starts in the Gut

After seeing various gastric doctors over a five-year period and being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, then later diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, this patient had three major inflammatory episodes during the first seven months of 2014.  One resulted in a seven-day hospital stay and another resulted in a 20 pound weight loss within a month’s time. The conventional medication he had taken for four years was no longer effective in addressing the intense pain, ongoing bloody diarrhea, and other symptoms that often left him unable to work or even leave home.

Understanding that there was no cure in conventional medicine, this patient came to see Dr. McMinn in August, 2014.  By focusing on the concept of functional medicine to identify the root cause of the pain and diarrhea, and by using integrative medical techniques, Dr. McMinn worked with the patient to heal his gut by changing his gut flora.  Addressing the root cause of the patient’s medical issue not only relieved his pain and other challenging symptoms, but, by creating a healthy gut, also alleviated many of his food allergies, as well as enabling him to absorb needed supplements.  The integrative treatment included changes in diet, as well as supplements, nutritional IV treatments, and an anti-inflammatory drink to heal the lining of the gut.  According to the patient, he has had no inflammatory episodes in the seven months since he has been seeing Dr. McMinn.  “I use to take supplements, but didn’t absorb them.  Now I absorb the supplements I take. ”

The patient has been quite pleased with his results.  “Before, I was so drugged-out, I could hardly go.  I had it bad.  It was horrible.  It’s much better now.  I am very pleased with what we have accomplished.  I am very pleased with Dr. McMinn.  I like how he thinks about things and how he treats his patients.”

Do you or someone you know deal with gut health issues?  Come see Dr. McMinn and get your personalized gut health program.

Who is The Captain of Your Ship?

By James E. McMinn, M.D.

ER Doctor:  What medications are you on Mrs. Jones?

Patient:  I’m taking a blue pill, a red pill, and a yellow pill.

ER Doctor:  What is the name of these pills?

Patient:  I don’t know.

ER Doctor:  What are you taking them for?

Patient:  I don’t know, my doctor just told me to, so I take them.

I heard some variation of this theme played and replayed hundreds of times in my many years as an ER doctor.  It characterizes a paradigm of the dogmatic, paternalistic doctor on the one hand, and the unquestioning naive patient on the other. This is a doctor-patient relationship that I feel and hope is archaic and rapidly changing.

Old school: the doctor is completely responsible for the patient’s health.  The patient blindly trusts the doctor, follows orders, and never gives it a second thought.

New school: The doctor and patient work together as partners, but ultimately the patient is the captain of the ship.

Clearly, if the patient is in the ICU, unconscious and on a ventilator, then the doctor makes the calls. However, for the other 99% of the patient’s life she should be given the opportunity to fully understand her individual health status, and participate in decisions regarding her health. The relationship between the doctor and the patient should be a dynamic two-way exchange of information that allows the patient to make informed decisions about her health.

In my practice I frequently take my patients through a visualization exercise.  I invite you, the reader, to do this with me now.

Imagine that we are out on the high seas in a magnificent sailing vessel. The name of the vessel is the “Titanic.”  You are the captain of the ship, and I (your physician) am your humble navigator:

Navigator to Captain:  “Ahoy, Captain, iceberg straight ahead. I can see it in plain sight captain. If you turn to the right you’ll miss it completely and sail out into clear waters.”

Captain (you) to navigator:  “Don’t bother me now navigator.  Can’t you see, I’m busy?”

Navigator to Captain:  It’s getting closer Sir.  I can see a name on the side of the iceberg.  It says, “HEART ATTACK, STROKE, DIABETES.”

Captain to Navigator:  “OK, OK, I’ll get around to it tomorrow.”

Navigator to Captain:  “You must change courses NOW Captain, or you’ll sink the ship.”

The end of the story has not yet been written.  Each of us will finish our own script according to our day-to-day choices, actions, and inactions.  As a physician, I can tell a patient over and over, until I am blue in the face, to lose weight, to exercise, to get more sleep, to stop abusing alcohol and drugs. Furthermore, if I am an excellent physician, I will teach them, give them tools to be successful, and hold them accountable.   However, ultimately it is up to them to heed the call and steer their ship to clear waters.

We are each given a magnificent vessel. I never cease to be amazed at the beauty, complexity, and splendor of the amazing human body.  It is up to each of us as to what we do with it.  Do we respect it, love it, nurture it, and make it prosper, or do we abuse it with stress, toxins, obesity, drugs, alcohol, no sleep, and junk food?

It reminds me of the parable about the ten talents.  One person buries his talents beneath a rock and stagnates, while the other grows and nurtures his talents and prospers.  Which path do you choose?

Gone are the days when a patient should just take the blue pill and the red pill just because their doctor told her to. Patients need to ask the questions and health care providers must we willing to provide the answers, so that the patients can be empowered to optimize their wellness.  For it is the empowered patient and the educated patient who becomes an inspired, and compliant patient.

Physicians and health care providers need to realize, as Bob Dylan once said, that “The times they are a Changin,”  Just yesterday one of my patients, who happens to be the nicest, sweetest, most humble lady, said that her doctor actually got irate with  her because she didn’t “just take the pill.”  She wanted to know why she had to take this pill.  She wanted to know her options. It’s her body.  She has a right to know what she’s putting into it.  Unfortunately, he didn’t see it that way.

In summary, the pendulum is swinging toward a more empowered, educated patient.  To patients I say: take ownership for your body.  Take care of the amazing, miraculous vessel that you were given. Ask the questions. Read the books.  Be proactive.  Shake off the shackles of the victim role. Grow, learn, and cherish this mind/ body/ spirit that you were given.  Understand that you are the one who ultimately must be accountable for your actions or inactions.

To physicians and health care providers, I ask that you embrace this change.  It’s hard to teach us old dogs new tricks, but at the end of the day, patients and providers will benefit.  Partner with your patients in their treatment of disease and their quest for optimal wellness.  Love them.  Care for them. Teach them.  Empower them.  Show them the way, and motivate them to go there.   Hold their hands when you need to. Steer them away from the looming icebergs of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, fatigue, and countless other maladies, and guide them to clear sailing.  At the end of the day, understand that it is the patient who is the Captain, and you are the humble navigator.  The days of the dogmatic and paternalistic medical paradigm are over. In the end we will all be better off for the change.

 

Getting Your Life Back-The Scourge of Drug Addiction

Getting Your Life Back-The Scourge of Drug Addiction

 As a physician for many years, I have had the privilege of caring for many thousands of patients.   However, there are a few that stand out, and whom I will never forget.   One of those was a distraught mom who came in with unbearable sadness and anxiety because she had just lost her daughter to a heroin overdose.    We, the staff, rallied around her and we did everything that we possibly could to comfort her, but she was inconsolable in her grief over the tragic and senseless death of her young daughter.

I have always felt that “there but for the grace of God” go any of us when it comes to being addicted to drugs, or having a family member addicted to drugs.  We’re all one car accident away from getting on a lifetime of narcotic pain relievers.  That in-turn may begin a cycle of dependence on drugs, which many of us cannot escape.  This addiction to drugs morphs into a many- headed monster.  It can get us fired from our jobs, take away our children, ruin our marriages, estrange us from family, land us in jail, and even rob us of life itself as with the young girl mentioned above.

As a wellness doctor, my goal is to help every individual reach his or her maximum potential. I strive to help the patient be the best that he or she can be in mind, body, and spirit.  I have also come to realize that drugs destroy lives in all of these same areas.  They dumb-down the mind, destroy the body, and rob the spirit.

As with many addictions, those who are addicted to drugs may have to hit rock bottom before they are ready for help.  However, when they get to that point, fortunately there are many resources that can help.  Ideally the process to recovery involves a comprehensive program of treatment, support, counseling, and targeted nutrition, along with a loving family in order to help the affected individual get his or her life back.

If you or your family member has a drug problem please seek help. Don’t wait until it’s too late.