Hi There Friends!
I am so beyond excited to bring this interview to you!! I feel like I’ve been talking about it on Instagram for the longest time! I have pretty much wanted to interview Jane Kennedy (my amazing integrative hormone practitioner) since I met her a few years ago. I first visited her during a time where literally everything in my body felt off. I was having terrible anxiety, bad acne, mood swings, extreme fatigue, and really didn’t feel “like myself.”
I visited a few different western medicine doctors only to have them tell me everything tested out to be fine! I 100% knew that everything wasn’t fine though…. I felt SO out of balance. I finally came to find out that this was exactly the case (many things in my body were out of balance). Enter Jane Kennedy! I am happy to report that today I am in a MUCH better state of balance with hormone, adrenal, thyroid, and overall health and I attribute a huge amount of that to this woman. She was one of the major people in my life who ignited my passion for true wellness, and I’m so grateful for that!
If you guys are interested, I will do an entire post about what exactly my treatment with Jane has looked like (just let me know if you are interested). I’ll let that be for another day though, as this post is already going to be a lengthy one!
Final note before we get into it, I hope you enjoy the audio recording at the top of this post!
The interview was about 45 minutes, so I thought it might be valuable for you to listen to Jane’s exact responses, in a podcast style format. Please excuse the iPhone sound not being perfect. (; Below is a summary of the interview. The recording definitely has all of the lengthy and in depth information about hormone health, gut health, acne, disease prevention, and much more! Jane is truly so knowledgeable so I hope you love it and find it valuable.
So, here we go!
Tell us about yourself! What is your background in health/ wellness?
My grandfather was a naturopathic physician and my father always used all sorts of supplements and was very focused on a healthy diet. Our whole family grew up that way, we were vegetarians for the first 30 years of our lives! It was natural as I went into nursing for me to wonder “how can I be preventative and keep good health going.” I really think that thinking about the prevention of diseases is the key. I did a Masters in Public Health and then I realized I wanted to be clinically able to treat people, so I followed up with my Masters as a Nurse Practitioner and that rounded out my ability to clinically meet with patients who were having health challenges. Through the years I’ve worked in family medicine, women’s health, family planning, public health, nutrition, and dermatology. When I got to the point of having real hormonal problems in my early 40’s, I knew I needed to go into hormone health. I wish I would have known about bioidentical hormones in my early 20’s and 30’s. The news that I want to get out to young women is that you don’t have to stay stuck feeling badly!
So, what are bioidentical hormones?
Bioidentical hormones are hormones that come from yams and soy that are are then taken into a lab where they go through a process that takes off one piece of the molecule so the end molecule is exactly matching the molecules our body makes for estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. A bioidentical hormone matches exactly what our bodies should make that many times we are deficient in.
How are these different than regular birth control pills (synthetic hormones)?
The origin of synthetic hormones are from pregnant mares’ urine. Mares have over 200 estrogens in their urine and NONE of those match our estrogen exactly. So, when we are using hormones from that source (birth control pills) we’re using a “fake molecule.” It has similarities to the hormones your body may be producing but it isn’t an exact match. When you take these hormones, it can control some of the symptoms and things we want to control, but it doesn’t do exactly what the actual hormone does naturally. Taking synthetic hormones (bc pills) can set you up for risk factors of disease and other bodily imbalances.
What are some of the most common issues you see with women today and hormone health, thyroid health, etc. ?
Birth control pills are known to stop your normal production of natural progesterone. If not completely stopped, it drops it much further in a dramatic way. Some of the symptoms I see commonly are acne, decreased libido, body isn’t producing testosterone or the other hormones, extreme stress, and adrenal fatigue. For many young women, stress is a major factor in hormonal imbalances! This is why I believe so much in treating the adrenal glands with a support supplement that they need, with good diet and exercise, stress management, and then looking at if there are other things that need to happen with vitamin and mineral supplementation to help make sure the adrenals are able to to their job.
What are some of the most common symptoms you see in young patients (20 something patients)? Problems around their menstrual cycle or depression.
What is the difference between what you do and what a normal western medicine doctor does? What is functional medicine? Functional medicine basically means we are using different ways to approach imbalances in the body and bring it back to health. In functional medicine we are looking at the underlying cause of why you might have a certain symptom and in that process we want to get to that root cause of what’s going on. We believe in getting to know patients in a very extensive way to really get an idea of what’s going on for them. Then we look at lab testing to examine ways their system might be out of balance. After that, we may do some western medicine labs and some integrative medicine labs. We combine those different kinds of lab tests to learn what’s really going on in the body! Our goal in integrative medicine is always disease prevention verses masking symptoms. Another major difference is how we interpret labs and the different numbers we see as “optimal.” (listen to recording for further description here).
What kind of diet do you think is the best? What should we be eating?
You need to have good protein based on your body weight. You need to have low glycemic index vegetables. This means that they release slowly into the body and deliver carbohydrate as a complex carb. You want to have plenty of good fats including coconuts, avocados, olive oils, fish, nuts, etc. These will give you good satiety! Finally, you want to have a few pieces of fruit that are low glycemic index. (Jane beautifully describes what the glycerin index of food is in the interview at the top of this page and gives examples). Grains need to be a whole grain, don’t overdo them and focus on the other foods more!
How do you feel about dairy and gluten if people are wondering where to start in cultivating a healthier lifestyle? It’s always great to do food elimination! We know that most of the population has a sensitivity to gluten. You may be celiac negative but still be gluten sensitive. Being off dairy, gluten, and eggs are the first things to think about if you are having stomach upset, pain, or inflammation in the gut. I also suggest that if there are any foods you have a reaction to, be off those foods for at least 8 weeks before you add them back in. This is called an elimination diet.
What got you interested in hormones, did you have hormone imbalances of your own? Yes! That’s what originally got me so interested in hormone health.
Let’s talk about skin health! You’ve helped me deal with my acne by balancing my hormones… How much of acne do you think is hormonally related? Hormones are a major player in acne, so there needs to be an evaluation of the hormone balance when acne is an issue. The more cystic the acne is, the more the hormones tend to be involved. I suggest that the hormones always be looked at for balance when acne is an issue. If there is too much estrogen, there will be acne. If there it too much testosterone and too little estrogen, there will be acne. If the thyroid is off or the stress and cortisol levels are off, there could be acne. So, there are many different hormonal combinations that can create the state of acne in the body.
Other tips for dealing with acne and thoughts on why so many adults struggle with adult acne?
You also have to look at food allergies when dealing with acne. Dairy is a big one here! If you have acne and you are drinking a lot of milk, get off the milk because it’s known that could be a direct trigger. Then always we also have to look at the way you are caring for your skin. I always recommend using a product like benzoyl peroxide. I almost forgot, when dealing with acne we also need to look at what’s going on in the gut. So, this means looking at food allergies and doing the elimination diet we talked about (cutting out things like gluten, dairy, and eggs to see if those are triggering it). Hormones are a major player of acne so I feel strongly that hormones need to be evaluated (in a holistic way)! I would suggest that the hormones be looked at for balance. If there’s too much estrogen, there will be acne. If there’s too much testosterone and too little estrogen, there will also be acne. If the thyroid is off, there could also be acne!
So, what do the adrenal glands do and how do they aid in energy?
The adrenal gland’s primary function is to make cortisol. Too much cortisol isn’t a good thing because it scrambles your brain, makes you anxious, and causes inflammation in the body. Eventually if you don’t give that gland a break, they will use their strength to keep making cortisol and will burn out. This is where an adrenal support comes in and is so important!
Do you have any advice for dealing with sadness that comes every month with PMS?! I try to avoid sugar and increase water but I still get really depressed. Any advice for that time of the month would be highly appreciated!
It’s probably triggered by the hormonal fluctuations that are happening. If there is any background of hormone imbalance in the body, that will make these symptoms even worse. Things that are easy to start with are taking magnesium every night (at least 600mg & don’t use Magnesium Oxide). Then you need to be taking good quality fish oils, about 2,000mg per day. This can help with a lot of the symptoms that come around the period. B vitamins, particularly if you are having mood changes. After this, it gets a little more specific based on the individual person. It’s really important that you look at what’s happening for the individual body. What works with one person doesn’t necessarily work for the other person, so I recommend working with a clinician like myself that knows the bigger picture and will go deep to guide you and fine tune what you need. Also, a good multivitamin!
When do you think it’s the right time to go on a bioidentical hormone?
First, I always like to start by focusing on what a patient’s diet and lifestyle looks like along with basic supplementation (such as fish oil, etc). Then I test the thyroid, the gut, and then the sex hormones. We test the sex hormones during the appropriate time in the cycle.
“How to generally lower testosterone and increase estrogen and progesterone. PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) is rough on a stressed out girl like me!”
It’s ALWAYS good when a diagnosis of PCOS is made, that you find yourself an integrative medicine clinician to work with because there is so much prevention that can be so effective with that. So much that will be outside of a western medicine doctor’s specialty.
Why is it so important to take a probiotic?
We as humans don’t have optimal gut bacteria for an array of different reasons (listen to recording to learn what things can affect gut health and can lead to a leaky gut). We’ve learned that things like heart diseases, obesity, and depression can all be traced back to gut heath!! Probiotics will help to make sure the good bugs are present in your gut and the bag bugs are at bay. The health of your gut is the root of your health!
What do you think the optimal level of sugar is for us to have in a day?
It’s so hard to say because we are all so different, so I try and stay away from answering that. What I like to focus on is more the kind of diet we talked about before! Protein, veggies, fats, whole grains, small amounts of carbs and fruit! Fruit carbs I recommend are berries, cherries, apples, citrus, etc. (these are the lower GI fruits).
Where would you recommend finding a qualified integrative medicine practitioner like yourself?
I suggest looking at professional directories. You can look at bioidenticalhormonedoctors.com in major cities across the country. Another one is to look at the Institute For Functional Medicine, A4M (anti-aging institute), and then word of mouth!
If you are located in Northern CA, and want Jane Kennedy’s contact info you can call her office to make an appointment at (707) 536-9722 or visit her website at http://janekennedynp.com to make an appointment!