Stress Signals: Listen to Lessen

by Christine Tentilucci


The term “mind-body connection” can evoke a multitude of subjective definitions. One interpretation is the relationship between mental stress and physical health. Research illustrates that stress that affects the mind directly relates to the health of the body. Therefore, mind-body awareness — remaining aware of how our mental and emotional state correlates to experiences within the body — can be a valuable tool in managing the stress response.

When reacting to stressors, the body releases cortisol, known as the “stress hormone”. If the mind is in a continual state of stress, the cortisol level remains constantly elevated, wreaking havoc on a number of the body’s functions. Chronic stress has been linked to digestive disorders, suppressed immune function, internal inflammation and even cancer.

Women’s health is significantly tied to the body’s delicate balance of hormones, which includes cortisol. This is why decreasing the stress response, and conversely increasing the relaxation response, is a key component of women’s health. These are just a few ways increased stress can affect women’s health:

Periodic Periods. Considering cortisol is part of the hormonal system, it’s no wonder that stress may cause irregular periods.

Bouts of Blemishes. Ever wonder why pimples often pop up during times of stress? Raised cortisol levels can cause excess oil production, contributing to acne breakouts.

Tummy Trouble. Prolonged stress can increase stomach acid, causing indigestion, discomfort and the potential development of IBS or ulcers.

Distressed Sleep. Mental stress and the accompanying mind chatter can be a sleep-interrupter. Plus, a common side effect of increased cortisol is a pattern of waking up during the night. Lack of sleep can lead to fogginess, irritability and low energy, causing more stress and continuing the cycle. The body’s functions rest and reset during the sleep cycle, making healthy sleep a n important part of lowering the stress response.

Weight Woes. Research has linked heightened levels of cortisol to weight gain and belly fat. In addition, stress may trigger emotional eating and increased cravings. To add insult to injury, cortisol-related weight gain can be difficult to reverse, making weight loss a more challenging task.

Seeking advice from a trusted healthcare provider is important for any woman that thinks stress and cortisol may be affecting her health, but mind-body awareness should also remain integral to her day. Take time to stop, breathe deeply and be aware, and then explore ways to turn down the volume on stress.

Christine Tentilucci is the marketing manager for Inner Spa, a fully organic, holistic, eco-friendly wellness spa in Newtown. For more information, call 215-968-9000, email, or visit and

May 2016 Issue

Matters of the (Female) Heart: 10 Things Women May Not Know About Heart Disease

CRG_AbingtonCardio_DrMeshkov_0216_1by Arnold B. Meshkov

  1. Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States.
  2. The incidence of heart disease has been increasing in women for the last 30 years.
  3. Women may not have the typical symptoms of cardiac chest pain, or angina pectoris, as a symptom of a blocked artery or atherosclerosis.
  4. Often, the only symptoms women may experience are shortness of breath and fatigue.
  5. When women do experience cardiac chest pain, it is often due to problems with the very small blood vessels of the heart, and not due to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
  6. Heart disease in women presents on average about 10 years later than in men; with the population living much longer now, women without any history of heart problems are presenting with heart disease for the first time much later in life.
  7. Women are treated with invasive procedures such as angioplasty and cardiac surgery less often than men.
  8. Women have the same risk factors for heart disease as men, such as family history, cigarette smoking, “metabolic syndrome”, elevated cholesterol and lipids, high mental stress levels, high blood pressure (hypertension), being overweight and diabetes.
  9. Women have a significant risk of heart disease after menopause, but treatment with estrogens has been shown to increase that risk even further.
  10. Women are much more likely to suffer from “broken heart syndrome”, which presents with the typical symptoms of a heart attack but is not due to hardening of the arteries, and is often associated with major life stress events.

Arnold B. Meshkov, MD, is board certified in internal medicine, cardiology and echocardi-ography. For more information, call 215-920-0815, email or visit

May, 2016 Issue

Free Hypnotherapy for Natural Childbirth Workshop at the Lahaska Wellness Center

EB_WomanBabyNewbornBirth_16160623_lDiana T. Moore, Ph.D., will offer a free introductory workshop at 11 a.m. on May 7, presenting the positive benefits of hypnosis for childbirth and how it can help women achieve their goal of a natural childbirth experience.

“For many generations we have been told that having a baby involves many hours of painfully agonizing work, an experience to be faced with fear and trepidation, ”explains Moore, a certified yoga teacher, nationally certified hypnotherapist and Venice nutrition coach.“  Fear in labor can create tension, which creates pain, then more fear, and the cycle continues. Fear and anxiety can also increase adrenaline production in the body, causing the labor to become dysfunctional.”

Moore continues, “Hypnosis for childbirth teaches a woman how to enter into self-hypnosis instantly, and create her own natural anesthesia whenever and wherever she needs it. She has total control over her body and is an active participant in her birthing process. As labor progresses, she relaxes even more, trusting in her body’s natural ability to give birth with ease. Her mind is trained to give her exactly what she needs.”

Moore used hypnosis techniques for childbirth personally before and during the birth of her daughter. The experience of giving birth naturally, with less pain , within a few hours of being admitted to the hospital inspired her to bring this offering to other women wanting a more engaged, peaceful birth experience with fewer drugs and interventions.

Cost: Free. Please preregister. Location: Lahaska Wellness Center, 5872 York Rd., Lahaska. For more information, call 267-331-1917, email or visit

May 2016 Issue

Back to Basics: Rethinking Our Approach to Menopause

by Wendy Warner

Around 6,000 women reach menopause every day — that’s more than two million per year. For many of them, it’s a rocky time filled with mood swings, poor sleep, hot flashes, night sweats and foggy thinking. The really bad news is that at least a third of women in one survey stated they don’t think they’re aware of all the options out there for treatment, or that they are not happy with the options presented to them. Add to this that in conventional gynecologic training, physicians are taught that treatment for symptoms is hormone replacement therapy (HRT)…and then they’re told that HRT isn’t really all that good for women. What’s a doc to do?

The reality is that there are a lot of options out there. HRT is certainly one of them, but jumping into bioidentical hormones right off the bat could mean that the underlying reason for the symptoms and imbalance is never addressed. At some point in the future, when these women decide to stop their hormone therapy, they might start flashing all over again because no one ever helped them fix the cause. Also, hormones can be expensive, so looking for the cheaper alternatives first makes sense.

Get some lab work done. Check a full thyroid panel (TSH, free T4, free T3 plus thyroid antibodies and reverse T3) along with cortisol and DHEA. Check fasting glucose and a hemoglobin A1C, even if the fasting glucose is normal. This information will help establish where to focus attention in treatment.

The first place to look, as usual, is food. How we eat as perimenopausal women really does make a huge impact on how we feel. All the steps in hormone production require nutrient cofactors that are found in vegetables (magnesium and B vitamins, in particular). Eating more veggies and fewer grains and sweets (even excess fruit) can make a huge difference for someone having hot flashes. Also, not everyone needs to be gluten-free, but gluten-containing grains do have a negative impact on the liver’s breakdown of hormones; focusing on gluten-free grains will decrease this. Eating more legumes also helps, as they contain flavonoids, fiber and other chemicals that impact hormone metabolism.

So, although each woman needs to work out details for herself, a good rule to use is the  following: half of what you have eaten by the end of the day should be a vegetable.  This is tough, as most of us don’t eat any at breakfast. Of the remaining half of your food each day, make one-third of it animal protein if you eat animals (this includes eggs and dairy, obviously), one-third should be healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, the oils in salad dressings and what you cook with) and one-third would include grains, fruit and anything else (like chocolate).  Following this rule will result in really small portions of these foods.

Exercise also has a huge impact on menopausal symptoms — the more the better, though it is possible to actually do it “wrong”. Move but don’t get extreme about it.  Focus on strength building and not so much cardio, since most perimenopausal women  lose muscle quickly. That might mean just a more vigorous yoga class or pilates and doesn’t need to include lifting weights in the gym.

Learning more emotional resilience and better stress management has a huge impact as well. Most of us spend a great deal (all?) of our time in the fight-or-flight mode. Too much on our plate, too much bad news, no downtime…this keeps our adrenal hormones  stuck in the “on” position, and when this happens, estrogen and progesterone balance goes out the window. Progesterone gets converted to cortisol to conserve energy for the adrenals, which leads to unbalanced estrogen. Also, the high cortisol is what triggers the temperature-regulating portion of the brain to set off hot flashes. This can be overturned by higher estrogen levels (which is why HRT works), but if it’s still going on when a woman stops her HRT, she’ll simply flash all over again.

When all of these lifestyle issues are being worked on, but sleep and thinking straight are still difficult, interventions like herbs and hormones should be considered. Many plants combat menopausal symptoms, from black cohosh to Siberian rhubarb to night blooming cereus, but all work best when used with herbal adaptogens and nervines. Adaptogens help support adrenal function and include plants like ashwagandha, holy basil and rhodiola. Nervines calm us down; fresh milky oats is a favorite. Different plants  work better for different people, so seeking out a knowledgeable provider is a must.

For some women, hormone replacement therapy may ultimately provide the best results. There are conventional hormones, which one gets at a regular pharmacy. Some  are bioidentical (chemically just like what our bodies make) and some are chemicals that are “new to nature” that have activity similar to estrogen and progesterone, but our bodies have never seen them before. Several major studies agree that among replacement hormones available, bioidentical hormones are safest. The downside to “regular” prescriptions is that they are mostly oral (probably not the best choice) and have limited doses available. Compounded bioidentical hormones, however, are designed to let each woman have the dose that is right for her, and several different forms of delivery are available, including capsules, creams, pellets and bucchal troches.  Compounded forms also allow for inclusion of testosterone and adrenal support, which are not available in “commercial” HRT.

Menopause is not a disease, but it is a transition that will likely require each of us to reevaluate how we’ve been living. We need to look at the big picture and not jump to an easy fix. Our bodies will thank us.

Wendy Warner, MD, ABIHM, is board certified in gynecology and holistic medicine. Her practice, Medicine in Balance, is located in Langhorne. For more information, call 215-741-1600.

May 2016 Issue

Using Past Lives to Gain Freedom in This One

by Elisa Smith

FiguresKeyholePastLife_51000056_xlAs a traditional psychotherapist, Elaine Berk was often frustrated by the painfully slow nature of change for many clients, despite their willingness, hard work and dedication to the process.  “My clients weren’t alone in this — it was true for me as well, ” explains Berk.  “Some issues would reach 90 percent resolution, then stall.”

Through a series of synchronicities, she discovered the field of Past Life Regression Therapy (PLRT), and with it the answers she’d been seeking. After training extensively with some of those most renowned in the field — including Brian Weiss, M.D., Morris Netherton, Ph.D., Carol Bowman, MS, and Patricia Walsh — she founded Past Life Regression Therapy PA and has been helping clients to finally resolve issues that have been plaguing them not only for years, but potentially for lifetimes.

“In my experience, one reason conventional therapy isn’t always effective is because it assumes the issues originated in this lifetime,” says Berk.  “PLRT reveals the root causes from events in other life times and thereby heals more deeply and quickly than traditional therapies.”

Even those skeptical of reincarnation can benefit, she explains.  “When considering their past life regression experience as a metaphor for current life issues, a client still has a therapeutic response. The process causes a shift that enables them to expand their awareness about their life issues and life purpose, using this new understanding to make changes going forward.

”During PLRT, for example, an asthmatic client might experience reduced or eliminated symptoms after uncovering a lifetime in which their home burned. A person with belonging and self-esteem issues might learn about a life where they were ostracized and bullied for being different. Someone with an eating disorder might find themselves in other lifetimes where they were starving or malnourished.

“In this therapeutic process, the healing — for this and future lives — comes when one retrieves and works through past lifetime experiences and feelings, and then releases old energetic blocks. This leads to the gradual re-integration of missing parts of themselves and the rediscovery of one’s personal power, ” says Berk.  “Not only can clients resolve the enduring effects of past life trauma, but they often experience a feeling of freedom, deep peace, serenity, love and light in the PLRT session.”<

Berk continues, “I have found the knowledge, understanding, experience and universal wisdom afforded by the past life therapy process to be truly profound, incredibly healing and rapidly transformative — both for me and for my clients.”

Evolving Soul, LLC, is located at 110 North State Street in Newtown, with a satellite office in Doylestown.  For more information, call 215-970-1534 or visit

May 2016 Issue

OneTaste Meetups Aim to Access the Power of Female Sexuality

WomanSilhouetteMeditatingMountain_45080254_lIt might sound wild or shocking, but Orgasmic Meditation (OM) isn’t about titillation. Its practitioners believe that the power of female sexuality, harnessed through meditation, can actually change the world. According to OneTaste, an international group devoted to OM, OM is “a consciousness practice (like yoga or Pilates) designed for singles and couples to experience more connection, vitality, pleasure and meaning in every aspect of their lives.”

OneTaste holds regular events through the popular website While there is sexual content to the meetings (which are definitely for adults only), everyone’s clothes stay firmly on. OM is about relaxation, connection, and getting past the stigmas and barriers that stand between women and the true power of their sexuality. Women are welcome to attend alone or with a respectful partner of any gender. Participants can expect to get an entirely fresh sex-ed curriculum as they learn about the benefits of OM, the Five Laws of Orgasm and why orgasm is different from climax. OMers learn how to access a grounded, conscious, orgasmic experience that can help them “develop a larger state of consciousness, have better intimacy and stronger connections.”

Thousands of people in New York, London, and around the world have discovered the joy that comes when they let go of shame and embrace their sexual selves.  To participate, women can sign up at OneTaste.Us or, and an Orgasm Expert will call them and orient them before the event, answering any questions, so they’ll know what to expect.

To find out more, or to find a One Taste Meetup Group near you, visit OneTaste.Us.

Thyroid Health and Menopause: A Naturopathic Approach

by Lynn W. Feinman


A woman’s natural life cycle presents an ever-changing landscape of potential health issues. Hormones, in particular, can be affected by the milestones of puberty, childbirth and menopause. Menopause-related hormone imbalance can be increasingly problematic due to lowered functioning of an aging thyroid, a gland that plays a large role in regulating hormones.

Thyroid imbalances can cause weight issues, anxiety and depression, fatigue, skin and hair changes, indigestion, sleep issues and more. Since thyroid imbalances can also be caused by autoimmune diseases and can have a genetic component, or can even be triggered by viruses, the first step in treating imbalances should always involve a proper medical diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is made, a naturopathic treatment plan can be created.  Because no part of the human body operates independently of the rest of the body, a holistic perspective is essential when addressing thyroid issues.

A founding naturopathic principle holds that if the body is in proper balance, it can tolerate the fluctuation of hormones. Traditional naturopathy considers the health of all major organ systems in the body, acid/alkaline balance and naturopathic detoxification. Specifically, naturopathy seeks to remove offenders (allergens), replace what nutrients might be missing and repair damage (inflammation). While a naturopathic approach to hormonal imbalance considers many factors, including exercise , stress and emotions, nutrition and sleep play a central role in restoring health.

Research shows that certain nutrients can nourish the thyroid gland, such as antioxidants and the herbs ashwagandha, schisandra and ginseng. Additionally, women  experiencing menopause benefit from specific nutrients, such as B vitamins and minerals.

Adding to the nutritional challenge, certain foods, especially when refined, often become  difficult to digest as we age. Eating more plant-based foods can be beneficial, with the caveat that soy and wheat are not nourishing foods for the thyroid and are common allergens. Engaging in nutritional cleansing can help reduce overload in the liver, the essential organ that manages hormonal fluctuations.

The lack of restorative sleep often underlies all other health challenges, especially during menopause. Naturo-pathic approaches integrate sleep hygiene, restoring sleep cycles and nourishing the nervous system. Commonly used herbs include chamomile, passion flower, valerian and skullcap.  Supplements may include melatonin and minerals, which help to calm the body. Since sleep is a naturally occurring human phenomenon, natural sleep cycles can usually be restored, depending on how long the imbalance has occurred.

Aging is a natural part of life, but with the proper whole-system approach to changing needs, delicate balances can be not only maintained, but enriched.

Lynn W. Feinman, owner of Natural Health Options, in Paoli, is a naturopathic doctor and yoga instructor specializing in health recovery and detoxification programs. For more information, call 610-608-1430 or visit

May 2016 Issue

Reader Feedback Helps Us Grow

NB_Survey_0516-01The Natural Awakenings online national readership survey allows us to better serve readers.  “Your participation takes just two minutes, and will give us a better understanding of what you need and how well we’re delivering on your expectations, ”says founding CEO Sharon Bruckman.  “We’ll also use your responses to help guide the direction of future development.”

One participant, selected at random, will receive a $50 credit at the Natural Awakenings web store (

With the interests and welfare of readers in mind, Natural Awakenings provides information and resources for living a healthier, happier life. Now publishing in more than 95 communities nationwide, as well as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, Natural Awakenings is the country’s most widely read healthy living magazine, with a loyal monthly readership of almost 4 million and growing.

Visit and select the Take Our Survey banner.

May 2016 Issue

Bioidentical Hormones: Getting Past Misconceptions

by Monica Gavin

CoupleMatureExercise_7702511_xlWhile most people are aware of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), key misconceptions still exist. HRT is most typically associated with women and menopause. And while it’s true that many women seek out help for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) can offer benefits far beyond this one issue, improving patients’ lives in a variety of ways.

It’s important to note the difference between bioidentical and synthetic hormone replacement therapy.  Because synthetic hormones do not match the molecular structure of human hormones, they often result in unpleasant side effects, some as severe as cancers and cardiovascular issues. Conversely, bioidentical hormones, derived from natural plant sources, provide an exact match to those produced by the human body, offering relief from symptoms while minimizing the potentially dangerous side effects. As Marla Viturello, of Philadelphia Professional Compounding Pharmacy, states, “The value of customized BHRT is critical in restoring balance.  Because these prescriptions are naturally derived and can be compounded in different strengths and dosage forms, patients can benefit from a regimen designed for their distinctive needs.”

So, what are the top misconceptions regarding BHRT?

BHRT is for women only.  The truth is that men can suffer the effects of declining hormones just as much as women do. Symptoms of andropause (often referred to as male menopause) include decreased libido and muscle mass, impotence, and mood and sleep disorders.

Sleeplessness is just a fact of modern life.  Insufficient sleep can have a detrimental effect on health and negatively affect all other areas of life. Sound sleep is possible at any age and is often a reflection of proper hormonal balance.

Declining enthusiasm for life is a natural result of growing older.  While life events can certainly present challenges at times, middle age is not a disease of waning vitality. Restoring hormonal balance can elevate and even out mood, resulting in a better overall outlook and renewed flair for life.

Memory and concentration naturally decrease with age.  Properly balanced hormones can and often do greatly help to restore cognitive function, resolving what many term “foggy thinking”. After BHRT, patients often report that they are better able to concentrate at work, with sharper thinking skills.

Decreased libido is a normal part of aging.  The truth is that libido is a direct reflection of  hormonal balance, in both men and women. Restoring the proper balance of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone to optimal levels will restore the libido, enabling patients to have a healthy, fulfilling sex life at any age.

Considering each of these benefits, it’s easy to see that the number one benefit of BHRT is a greatly improved quality of life. Vibrant health and vitality are possible at any age.

MonicaGavin_0516Monica Gavin, MD, is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. She provides BHRT services in Bethlehem and Hatboro. For more information, call 610-625-3000 or visit


ppc pharm logo

Philadelphia Professional Compounding Pharmacy is located at 23 South York Road, in Hatboro. For more information, visit or call 877-637-7727.

May 2016 Issue

MOYO’s Festival 108: A Summer Solstice Celebration of Love, Transformation, Elevation and Empowerment


MOYO yoga and wellness will host Festival 108, their inaugural yoga festival, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on June 18. This full day of yoga, music, food, art and healing therapeutics offers fest-goers the opportunity to deepen their conscious networks through holistic healing and positive play. Set on seven acres of farmland in Schwenksville, Festival 108 is a summer solstice celebration comprised of everything that makes MOYO a “Soulful Destination”.

After enjoying an opening speech from progressive State Senator Daylin Leach, attendees can choose from 15 different yoga classes, including Pete Guinosso’s “Morning Cup of Vinyasa” and Maura Manzo’s “Wheels of

Life: Understanding and Applying the Chakra System”. Portland-based Bibi McGill hosts “Love and Gratitude” and an ecstatic, conscious dance party. Guest teachers also include Moondog Yoga founder June Hunt, Natalie Levine, Mark Moliterno, Kyra Anastasia and Kate Goodyear.

A percentage of ticket sales will be donated to Team Red, White and Blue, a nonprofit that helps veterans connect to their communities through social and physical activity. A special class will be taught by CJ Keller, of the Veterans Yoga Project.

The Whiskeyhickon Boys will provide music to groove to while sound healer Harold Smith will give the audience music for meditation. A kids’ tent will offer activities exclusively for the younger set, and kids under 12 attend free.

“It’s all about good vibes,” says festival founder Maureen Priest. “I hope people leave Festival 108 with a smile on their faces and feel more connected to one another and the  larger community.”

Local sponsors include Natural Awakenings magazine; Women Grow; Alyssa Walters, Doterra Wellness Advocate; Pranic Healing Penn; Legend Soap Company; Chava Juice; Jeffery Miller Catering and the Center of Integrated Health.

Cost: $60 prior to May 18; $70 thereafter; $80 at the do or. Tickets can be purchased online. Location: 4335 West Skippack Pk, Schwenksville. For more information, call MOYO at 610-584-1108, email or visit

May 2016 Issue

Free Online Fibromyalgia Summit for Patients and Caregivers


Ruschelle Khanna, LCSW, is offering a free, online Fibromyalgia Summit from May 12 through 14, with more than 30 speakers and downloadable resources to aid in healing and recovery. The virtual conference, designed for both caregivers and those healing, includes interviews with some of the top specialists in fibromyalgia healing, as well as with individuals that have recovered, lifestyle experts and more.

“Too many people suffer endlessly with fibromyalgia and chronic pain. Often they have a very difficult time being diagnosed or even getting validation that they are not well,” says Khanna.  “This online event will give people the tools and inspiration to heal from within.”

Khanna says she was inspired to develop this summit upon her own recovery from Lyme disease. “I understand the connection between undiagnosed infections and chronic pain, and I want to share the tools that helped me heal,” she says.

Early registration for the Fibromyalgia Summit is open now at  Opportunities to purchase the summit for reference, along with a host of downloadable healthy living resources from experts around the world, are also available. The summit will feature a comprehensive wellness bundle and an action plan for those interested in applying the principles to their lives.

Cost: Free from May 12-14 or available for purchase online.

May 2016 Issue

Functional Origins with Audrey Fleck Preps Perkasie for Optimal Nutrition

NB_FunctionalOrigins-AudreyFleck_0516Functional Origins, a Perkasie-based practice providing customized integrative and functional nutrition services by principal dietitian-nutritionist Audrey Fleck, rolls out several new programs this spring. On May 10, new and prospective clients can receive Spectracell micronutrient testing at a discounted rate. May classes include a Liver Rinse  session on May 12 — an introductory regimen for those interested in learning the why and how of liver cleansing — and a month-long Function with Food Detox program for new and existing clients interested in a seasonally appropriate cleanse, which begins May 23.

Starting June 1, Fleck will present “B3 Metabolic Roadmap: A Beginner’s Small Group Nutrition” and “Exercise Program with Body by Brent”, a four-week introductory program blending functional nutrition with exercise. Two classes per week will be offered: one will focus on nutrition and will be held at Functional Origins, in Perkasie, and the other will focus on exercise and will be held at B3 Personal Training, in Doylestown.

Fleck is a registered and licensed dietitian-nutritionist who blends this training with functional medicine to create individualized nutrition plans tailored toward the whole self.  “In my practice, we work beyond the ‘conventional nutrition bubble’ and think about health functionally and holistically. We address nutrition from its roots rather than a ‘Band-Aid approach’ that just manages symptoms through diet without resolving the core issues,” says Fleck.

For more information, call 215-257-5301, email or visit

May 2016 Issue