What is functional and integrative medicine? What is the most important information we should know about our hormones as women? How do hormones affect our weight?
In This Podcast
In this podcast episode, Kathryn Ely speaks with Dr James McMinn from the McMinn Clinic in Birmingham to share with us important information about hormones and our health.
Meet Dr James McMinn
Dr McMinn completed his residency in functional and integrative medicine. He is the founder, owner, and Medical Director of the McMinn Clinic in Birmingham, as well as the co-founder, president, and Medical Director of the Brain Health Institute. He is also currently an Assistant Professor at the UAB School of Medicine and was formerly on the faculty of Harvard University School of Medicine, Brown University School of Medicine, and Michigan State University School of Medicine. He is also the host of The Functional Medicine Podcast. Visit his website to learn more.
That’s definitely an impressive resume, right? Even more impressive to me is how Dr McMinn interacts with and cares for his patients.
Dr McMinn changed my friend’s life
I have seen first hand with my own family member who is a patient of Dr McMinn’s, and I have friends and clients who are also patients and sing his praises. In fact, one friend found out I was having dr McMinn on the podcast and asked if she could write a testimonial for him.
Here’s her story.
My friend had spent several years feeling fatigued and unmotivated. She was taking medication for hypothyroidism. She had been to an endocrinologist who said her bloodwork was normal. But my friend was gaining weight, which had never been an issue for her and she just didn’t feel well. Frustrated and unsatisfied, at 49 years old, my friend finally found Dr McMinn at the Mcminn Clinic. He noticed something in her bloodwork that was not in the normal range. He switched her to natural thyroid medication and added a couple of other supplements to her routine. And after years of fatigue and low energy, within 1 month she felt like a new person. She felt good enough to begin running and swimming, was able to sleep less, and felt renewed-and she lost the weight. She checks in with Dr McMinn a couple of times a year and continues to feel fantastic! He truly changed her quality of life.
What is functional and integrative medicine?
After Dr McMinn trained in general medicine for the first 20 years, at some point, he became enlightened that there was more to medicine than drugs and surgery such as nutrition, hormone therapy, exercise and mindfulness. After the ER, he began to integrate it into his practice. He wanted to add more to the toolbox and add in more holistic and natural therapies to his practice, integrating it with medicine. Functional medicine is always looking for the root cause and the ‘why’ then discovering how to treat it.
Can you give us a crash course on the importance of hormones? What do we as women in midlife need to know about hormones?
Hormones are the most important aspects of our health, and are up there with nutrition and gut health. They are powerful chemical messages around our body that give us fundamental processes like growth, repair and fertility. Hormone balance is necessary for bone health, heart health and so much more, even mortality. The way they affect our physical wellbeing really depends on the hormone in question.
Too much estrogen can cause weight gain, breast swelling, vaginal bleeding, anxiety and more. Estrogen being too low can cause night sweats, pain with intercourse, poor skin quality, depression and more.
Progesterone is what makes a woman a woman. If it’s too high, it can cause weight gain, changes in the period, drowsiness, low mood and low libido. Whereas low progesterone can make women prone to moodiness, anxiety and endometriosis or more.
Low testosterone can cause dry skin, irritability, loss of muscle mass, poor memory, loss of motivation and reduce sexual arousal. Too much testosterone can cause acne, excessive hair, increase muscle mass or more.
The bottom line is hormones are very powerful in every stage of a woman’s life to maintain a balanced, healthy life and managing them can be preventative medicine.
How do women’s hormones change during perimenopause and menopause?
The average woman goes through menopause at the age of 51. Some sail through it and for others it’s a really profound thing that they go through for many years. Perimenopause starts at around age 35 when progesterone drops, followed by estrogen, and testosterone. Because progression drops first, women are often left with estrogen dominance, which creates things like weight gain, PMS, fatigue, etc. Start checking hormones at the age of 35, when symptoms come about and then check your hormones every year or so.
How do hormonal changes affect our ability to maintain our weight or even lose weight?
We can’t ignore what you eat and how you move your body. But there are so many other factors that contribute to weight.
Some women are swimming upstream against a hormonal battle between weight gain.
If you are experiencing estrogen dominance, this is what makes women put on weight. Some women also have too much progesterone and get bulked up, so that means looking at a specific diet and exercise for their condition. The thyroid is also huge and 90% of doctors give medication for this but so many women do well on alternative medicine.
Cortisol also really affects weight gain. We all live stressful lives and sometimes the stress cup fills up too much and it can make us put on weight.
What are the three most common questions you get from women in midlife?
The first is around energy matters, and Dr McMinn has put together an energy program specifically for women struggling with this. Energy affects your relationships, career and so much more. It even affects your mental wellbeing when you can’t enjoy the things you love, you stop exercising, or are too tired to have sex. It’s a trickle-down effect. Get to the root cause of why you have low energy.
Weight gain is the second topic. And as mentioned, it goes way beyond exercise and diet. There are so many reasons why women can’t lose weight and we owe it to women to figure out why.
A lot of women also suffer from low libido and sexual dysfunction. We often sweep women’s sexual health under the rug, and women often suffer in silence as a result. We have done our best to put together programs and protocols in place that are used to help women stay vibrant in that area.
What is the one imperfect action you would suggest our listeners take today that will bring them closer to mental and physical wellbeing?
Embrace the concept of being the empowered patient. Take ownership of your body and your health, read books and listen to podcasts. Be your own advocate. Nobody cares more about you than you! Find a provider that will listen to you and your concerns without just handing you a pill.
And when you do that, pat yourself on the back, and celebrate the fact that you took action toward the life you want.
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Meet Kathryn Ely
I’m Kathryn Ely and at age 50, I’m enjoying my very best life. I spent years as a lawyer and then stay-at-home mom helping others go out into the world and live their best lives. While this was very important to me, I did not realize that I was losing myself in the process. I followed all of the “shoulds” like “women should always care for others” and “taking time for yourself is just selfish”.
As two of my children were getting ready to go out into the world I realized I was lost, without my next purpose, and it was scary. So I went back to school and over the course of several years, I not only found myself, but I designed the formula for women in midlife to achieve their most fulfilling lives. It is my mission to equip as many women as possible with this design and the tools to make this chapter of their lives the best chapter.
Thanks for listening!
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Imperfect Thriving is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you thrive, imperfectly. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom Podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
KATHRYN]: Imperfect Thriving is a part of the Practice of the Practice podcast network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you thrive imperfectly. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
Welcome to the Imperfect Thriving podcast for all of us women in midlife to discover yourself limiting beliefs, determine exactly what you want your life to look like and the imperfect actions to get you there.
Hi, this is the Imperfect Thriving podcast and I’m your host, Kathryn Ely. I’m so glad you were here today and I’m so excited about today’s podcast. Today we have Dr. James McMinn from McMinn Clinic in Homewood, Alabama to share with us so much important information about hormones and our health. But real quick, before we jump into today’s episode, if you enjoy the episode, please rate, review and subscribe to the podcast. This podcast is designed specifically for you. Let me hear from you what’s working, what’s not, so I can bring you more of what you want. And if you haven’t already done so, head on over to imperfectthriving.com/course to get your very own Blueprint to Thrive. This is a free email course I designed to guide you step by step to assess your satisfaction with your current life, determine exactly what you want your life to look like and how to take daily imperfect action to get you there. So, go on over to imperfectthriving.com/course and sign up today. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Now, let me tell you a little more about Dr. James McMinn and I have a little surprise for him. Dr. McMinn completed his residency in functional and integrative medicine. He’s the founder, owner and medical director of the McMinn Clinic in Birmingham, Homewood, Alabama, really, cofounder, president and medical director of the Brain Health Institute. He’s currently an assistant professor at the UAB School of Medicine and formerly was on the faculty of Harvard University School of Medicine, Brown University School of Medicine and Michigan State University of Medicine and he’s the host of the popular podcast, the Functional Medicine Podcast. Now that’s definitely an impressive resume, but to me even more impressive is how Dr. McMinn interacts with and cares for his patients. I’ve seen, first hand, with my own family member who was a patient of Dr. McMinn’s and I have friends and clients who are also patients and they all sing his praises.
In fact, one friend found out that I was having Dr. McMinn on the podcast and she asked me if she could write a testimonial for him. I didn’t ask her, she asked me. So, I thought y’all might enjoy hearing a little bit about her story. See if you can relate.
“My friends spent several years feeling fatigued and unmotivated. She was taking a medication for hypo thyroidism at the time, she had been doing endocrinologist who said that her blood work was completely normal, but she was gaining weight, which had never been an issue for her before, and she just didn’t feel well. She was frustrated and unsatisfied. And at 49 years old, my friend found Dr. McMinn at the McMinn Clinic and he noticed something in her blood work that was not in the normal range. He switched her to a natural thyroid medication and added a couple of other supplements to her routine. And after years of fatigue and low energy, within one month, she felt like a new person. She felt good enough to begin running and swimming again. She was able to spend less of her time sleeping and felt renewed and she lost the weight. So, she checks in with Dr. McMinn a couple of times a year and continues to feel fantastic. He truly changed her quality of life. So, I just can’t wait any longer to introduce all of y’all to Dr. James McMinn. Dr. McMinn, thank you so much for being here with us today. It’s such an honor.
[DR. McMINN]: Well, good morning Kathryn. I’m honored to be here and I thank your friend so much for giving that glowing testimonial. That’s so kind of her. I really appreciate it. It’s very touching.
KATHRYN]: Well, she meant it. She was all about making sure that I got that on here.
[DR. McMINN]: Much appreciated.
KATHRYN]: So, I’m more thrilled to have you today. And I guess first of all, tell us a little bit about what functional and integrative medicine is. I’m not sure everybody knows about that and I want to make sure we’re on the page.
[DR. McMINN]: Yeah, I’m happy and excited to go into that. You know, for the first 20 years of my career, I was what my patients call a regular doctor. I use that in their quotes, in you know, I was trained in just regular medicine but at some point, I say jokingly became enlightened and I realized that there’s more to medicine than the standard drugs and surgery that we learn in regular allopathic medicine. So, and I’ve always kind of personally been interested in things like nutrition, exercise, mindfulness and that kind of stuff. So, when I got out of the emergency room after 20 years in the trenches of the ER, I opened my practice. I began to integrate these things into my own medical practice. And, what I found is that first of all I wanted to expand my toolbox and add other tools to the toolbox, like nutrition, like hormone therapy and all those kinds of things.
And that’s what is called integrative medicine. You’re continuing to use the same tools you always had. I mean, if somebody comes and they need drugs, find if they need surgery, I refer him to a surgeon. But I also add these kinds of more holistic natural therapies to my practice. And that’s what I call integrating these therapies in to integrative medicine. The other, functional medicine means you’re always looking for the root cause. When somebody comes in with a problem, like your friend who had fatigue, I was thinking, well, why does she have fatigue? And if you kind of get to the why, then you can always treat it in kind of a more holistic approach and not just be putting pills on it for kind of a bandaid, and that way you can kind of get these people optimized, give them their life back, and it’s really profound.
You know, quite frankly, before I knew about integrated functional medicine, I practiced just like everybody else. And they’d come in, can’t sleep, I give them a sleeping pill, got anxiety, I give anxiety pill. But now with the tools I have, I can get to the root cause with functional medicine and I can reach into my integrated toolbox and pull out those other tools and I could get them well and get them optimized and then have them live vibrant living again. And it’s really exciting, and the outcomes are quite frankly, incredible. When I was a regular doctor, if somebody told me I could have the outcomes that I have now, I would not have believed them. But once my patients start coming back and I’m using this approach and like everything is better, it’s really joyful and I’m very grateful to be able to practice this kind of medicine and do the work I do and change many lives so dramatically.
KATHRYN]: Yeah. So, it really sounds like a different approach while you’re trying to solve the current problems that a patient has, but it’s just as much about preventing future problems.
[DR. McMINN]: It is. You know, one thing, there are four sort of pillars of what I do. One is kind of what I call advanced prevention where I try to think about, okay, what’s going to get you? What are your risk factors or personal factors that someday are going to take a toll on you? Is it a heart disease, diabetes, whatever? So, I try to really look into my crystal ball and sort of have a more of a personalized approach to preventive medicine. And, and let’s face it, hormones are an important part of a preventive medicine strategy. The other thing I do is called integrative medicine, we just talked about that, and then I do the functional medicine. And then finally what I do is called optimization, because I think sometimes in medicine, we have a very reactive approach. We just treat diseases. You go through life to get this disease, you get this pill, you get disease B, you get another pill, and it’s disease pill, disease pill, disease pill. But what I try to do is to sort of not just treat diseases but help people have optimal living, to be the best you can be in mind, body, spirit. So that’s a whole different way of looking at it. It’s not just treating disease. It’s all about really helping people live a vibrant life.
KATHRYN]: Absolutely. God, that sounds wonderful. Can you give us a kind of a crash course on the importance of hormones when it comes to our overall physical wellbeing and our overall mental health and wellbeing?
[DR. McMINN]: Sure. Happy to. Hormones, of all the tools I put in my toolbox, I think hormones are probably the most powerful and impressive to me. I mean, up there with nutrition and gut health and all that kind of stuff. But let’s kind of start with what are hormones just for the audience who may not know. They’re really powerful chemical messengers that travel all throughout the body, coordinating these complex processes like growth and repair, metabolism, fertility, all of these really fundamental processes. They’re absolutely necessary for life and likewise, hormone balance and optimization are unnecessary for so many things. it’s not just hot flashes, night sweats, heart health, brain health, skin health, bone health, vaginal health, quality of life, and even mortality. And so, likewise, if you have hormone dysfunction, that can create all kinds of serious problems of many types.
So, I think as far as how they affect physical wellbeing, it really kind of pins on the hormone question. And without going into great detail, you know, if you have too much estrogen and have weight gain, breast swelling internist, vaginal bleeding, anxiety, you know, all kinds of things like that. Estrogen being too low, on the other hand, either classics, real hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, atrophy, pain with intercourse, more [inaudible 00:10:43], more you attract infections, poor skin quality, depression, blah, blah, blah. I mean, they’re usually powerful and of course, estrogen is kind of what makes a woman a woman and so as it’s chosen to get that, optimize and balance with what we call the bioidentical hormones, which we’ll go into in just a bit. If progesterone is too high, that can cause weight gain, water retention changes in the period of drowsiness, low mood and low libido. Low progesterone, on the other hand, makes women more prone towards moodiness, anxiety, irritability, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis.
Finally, it’s really important to understand that we underestimate the role of testosterone in women. We think of it as a man’s hormone, but it’s also very important for women and when they’re low, that can result in low mood and low energy, dry thin skin, loss of muscle mass, poor memory, the loss of motivation and life drive as well as reduce the sexual function including interest, arousal and orgasm. Some women have high testosterone on the other hand, and that often creates things like acne, excessive hair on face and body, increased muscle mass, irregular periods and mood changes. So, the bottom line is that hormones are very powerful, and they’re important at every stage of a woman’s life. To maintain optimized balanced hormones is very important. So, anyway they’re also a part of what we call preventative medicine and, so yeah, I’m pretty aggressive with it. And I think it depends on the woman to want to start checking hormones. Certainly, I think most hormones sort of start to drop off the curve at about 35. So that’s when I start checking most women. However, as you know, there are some young women who have hormone issues. Even as teenagers or young women, they have terrible PMS, which is just not fair to them because in their heart of hearts, they’re really nice women but these hormones take a hold of them. They make them irritable and agitated and it’s not their fault, it’s the hormones. And so, I get those women in and I correct them with biogenical hormones and it is profoundly effective for things like anxiety and PMS and that kind of stuff.
KATHRYN]: Oh yes. I mean, when I have clients, coaching clients and counseling clients come into my office, one of the things that I ask them on the very first day is, when is the last time you’ve had blood work done and have you had your hormones checked? Because I’ve seen firsthand how that can lead to anxiety or depression.
[DR. McMINN]: That’s right. Mood changes, PMS, brain fog, all those things. Some of the mental health things that we have. It’s so interesting. We had this knee jerk reaction, somebody comes in with depression, here’s your Prozac. You know, they have anxiety. Here’s your Xanax. But I think we owe it to women to ask the question, why do you have depression? Or why do you have anxiety? If you ask that question why, you can often find things that are correctable that are not just you know, giving them more drugs, which have side effects as we know. And so, yeah, that’s what I do. And often when you get their hormones balanced, anxiety and depression are much better.
KATHRYN]: Absolutely. So how do women’s hormones change during perimenopause and menopause?
[DR. McMINN]: Well, you know, the average woman goes through menopause at about the age of 51. Now, some women can experience it many years earlier and some later, I’ve had women who went through menopause in their thirties, and others lasted till almost 60. Still, others fall in to what we call surgical menopause, if they, for instance, have hysterectomy with their ovaries taken up. And that creates a huge rapid shift in their hormones. And it’s interesting Kathryn, how some women really sail through menopause just like no big deal, whereas with others, it’s really profound, they feel miserable and this can go on for many, many years. I mean, some of them three to four or five years. I’ve had women who have been in menopause changes and feeling miserable for 20 years, literally, and so, even well, before menopause, women are going through that hormone change called peri-menopause that typically starts at about 35 or so.
And so, one of the first things that drops is progesterone followed by the estrogen. And then the also the testosterone begins to drop at that time as well. And so, since the progesterone comes down first, these women are often left with something called estrogen dominance, which creates things like weight gain, hot flashes, night sweats, bloating, PMS, low libido, brain fog, insomnia, and fatigue. So, once again, I recommend [inaudible 00:15:20] checking at about the age of 35 and then well before menopause we can keep their hormones balanced and so they don’t have to go through all this misery.
KATHRYN]: Yeah, absolutely. So once women get to be about 35, how often do you think we should have our hormone levels checked?
[DR. McMINN]: You know, some of it is guided by symptoms. One thing I try to do, and I think it’s very important, especially for a functional integrative doctor, is to be a good listener. You know, I think as a doctor you have to really take the time to hear the story and to hear the concerns, the complaints, and try to connect the dots. And that’s one thing unfortunately most doctors don’t have time to do; is to really connect the dots. So, if the woman’s having a lot of symptoms, I might check them more often, but I think that from the get go, I’d probably check them every year or so. It’s just part of the routine sort of preventive medicine to check them and so yeah, I think as a general rule about once a year.
KATHRYN]: Okay, great. Now you mentioned a little bit about weight gain, but how, tell us a little bit more about how hormonal changes affect our ability to maintain our weight or lose weight?
[DR. McMINN]: Well, you know, weight is so interesting to me and I think that, we certainly can’t ignore the calories in calories out equation. It does matter what you eat and how you move your body. And that’s a lot of it. However, I think there’s so much more to it. There are so many reasons why women struggle with weight issues and I think sometimes we put a guilt field call on them and say, “Well, you’re eating too much or you’re not exercising well.” Some women are doing those things and they still struggle with their weight. And some of them are what I call, they’re swimming upstream against a tide of hormonal dysfunction and when it comes to this battle of stubborn weight gain, some of the classics are that estrogen dominance I talked about earlier. When they’re going through perimenopause, the progesterone drops down first and then they become estrogen dominant, which makes them put on weight in thighs, hips, lower abdomen, and sometimes breast.
Sometimes, once again, some women actually have too much testosterone. These are women who often have some degree of polycystic ovary syndrome or some other condition like that. And these women often get kind of bulked up, and therefore one’s going to have a kind of a specific diet and exercise regimen for their condition. Other women maybe have too little testosterone. They could be kind of flabby, they can’t maintain muscle mass. Thyroid is also huge. You know that’s an important hormone as well, and I think that, back to your friend who gave a testimonial, there’s so many ways of looking at thyroid, but to me, if somebody comes in and they’re kind of what I call low normal in the range and they’ll say, “Doctor, I feel fine,” I don’t mess with it. But if they come in and they’re low normal and they struggle with weight or their fatigue or they have brain fog or cold hands or feet or whatever, you know, classics start with symptoms, it’s important to get those women optimized.
And another thing with thyroid, you know, I think most doctors just prescribe what I call Synthroid and, it’s a good medicine. It works well for a lot of women but on the other hand, I have found over the years, a lot of women, do a lot better with a different form of thyroid, such as Armour thyroid, nature thyroid, NP thyroid, Cytomel, all these other things that I use and it’s really, I individualize it for the patient, and ultimately I’m all about whatever works best for them. And I find sometimes when you switch them over to a different thyroid and you get their thyroid optimized, yes, like a light switch going on and they feel so much better, have better energy, the brain fog goes away, cold hands and feet go away and they lose weight because thyroid is what really controls your metabolic rate. You know, you can have calories in, calories out, but you also have to look at that box of how you’re burning calories and it’s the thyroid that really sets your rate of burn. So therefore, if your thyroid is kind of low normal, then you’re going to be burning calories slowly and you’re going to put on weight. So, I try to keep these women optimized on their thyroid and it can make a huge difference for them.
One last hormone that can affect weight is cortisol. You know, we all live stressful lives these days and sometimes that stress hormone cortisol builds up and that can also make us pack on weight, especially around the middle in that muffin top distribution.
KATHRYN]: Oh, okay. I didn’t know that.
[DR. McMINN]: Sure, yeah.
KATHRYN]: So, what are the three most common questions you get from women in midlife?
[DR. McMINN]: Well, let me kind of rephrase that to three most common concerns. In as a by far, number one is low energy. And you know, I’ve become convinced Kathryn, energy matters and, I’ve worked hard to put together an energy program and what’s good, it gets very customized for each patient. You know, I teach at the medical school, and I can guarantee you these kids nowadays, they get zero education in energy in how to treat that. It’s the number one complaint of my women patients. And my daughter just finished medical school and she had no courses, no lectures in what to do when a patient comes in with little energy. And so, I think most doctors, they get blood count and a metabolic panel, maybe a urinalysis and TSH and it’s all normal and they say, “Well, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re depressed, here’s your Prozac. I’ll see you next year. Have a nice life.” And so, but it’s such a disservice to women, and so I have really worked hard to look at all the root causes of low energy. And I go through them one by one with every patient and we put together a functional integrative program and I’d say 90% on them comeback with much better energy as your friend did.
Because if you have low energy, Kathryn, it affects your relationships. You can’t be the wife you want to be, the mom you want to be, the employee you want to be. It just affects everything in your life and next thing you know, you’re not exercising, you don’t have the energy to cook a good meal, so you start buying fast foods and the next thing you’re putting on weight. It’s just a, you know, one of these overarching things is energy. So, I get after it and, put together a great program for energy. But beyond that, the other things I think are here, yes, certainly weight gain is up there as far as the common concerns or questions I have from patients, and there again, it’s way beyond diet and exercise. I mean, I can’t ignore those things if, you know, if they’re eating candy all day, what I mean, certainly that matters. But there are so many reasons why women can’t lose weight and I think we owe it to them to kind of go through all of those reasons and make sure they’re not swimming upstream, to give them a kind of a level playing field, if you will.
And then I say the third one, so many women Kathryn suffer with low libido and sexual dysfunction. And you know, I think that we often sweep women’s sexual health concerns under the rug. Let’s face it. The guys are out there getting pumped up with testosterone and Viagra and the women often suffer in silence, but in the clinic, we have definitely tried to embrace that issue and do our best to put together protocols to help women be their best they can be in that arena too because it affects their marriages and affects who they are as a person. And for some reason I think, well, there again, as I said, I teach the medical school and my daughter’s just finished medical school here. So, if you ask the actual medics, “Do you get any classes in how to deal with low libido in women?” The answer is no, and so doctor’s don’t know what to do and women are left struggling. So, at McMinn Clinic we’ve worked hard on putting together programs and protocols that we can use to help women to stay vibrant in that area. So, I say those are some of the main things that we see and then beyond that, just a whole, the mood changes. If I could have one more of, you know, the anxiety and depression angles that women deal with so much. And there again, that’s usually fixable without resorting to these powerful meds, which kind of zoned them out but never really deal with the underlying issues.
KATHRYN]: Right. Absolutely. And going back to, you know, the number one problem of low energy, so much of what goes on with that has mental effects, not just physical, because when you don’t have the energy to do the things that you enjoy in your life, of course it’s going to lead to depression or anxiety.
[DR. McMINN]: It’s a huge trickle-down. You know, so, let’s take a little, kind of a make-believe scenario. Let’s say for instance, a woman’s going through life and she’s doing well, but then she starts getting hormone dysfunction. They become out of balance and so because of that, maybe she’s not sleeping well because she’s up at night with hot flashes, night sweats, and because of that, she has what we call chronic sleep deprivation. Well, what’s one of the main issues that come from that? Well, low energy, brain fog, that kind of stuff. And so because she has low energy, then she stops exercising, at night when her husband wants to have intimate relations, she just too tired, she’s exhausted, and so it’s just this, you know, if you could start at the top of the waterfall with low hormones, we see from that you get low sleep, you get low energy, you get low life drive, you get, I mean, all these other things that come from the hormones function.
So, yeah, I think you have to start at the top of the waterfall and we have to be a good listener, we have to have asked all the right questions, we have to get to the root cause of why does she have low energy? And you’ve got to get her sleep and better got to get her hormones balanced, you got to get her gut right, got to get her nutrition right, get her moving again, deal with stress and toxins and all that kind of stuff. And so, I think that when you do that gosh, it’s amazing. They come alive again and I’d say 90% of women get their energy back. It’s a beautiful thing to behold there when people come in and they’re like they are warmed over and you can see it in their eyes and they come back and they just are vibrant and probably with energy. It’s a beautiful thing to behold.
[KATHRYN]: I mean, there’s absolutely no area of our lives that hormones don’t touch. That must be incredibly satisfying for you when you see that transformation in women.
[DR. McMINN]: It is. And like I say, when I was a regular doctor, I would not have believed it. You know quite frankly that you can have these kinds of outcomes with women but now I’ve seen it in my own eyes with thousands of women. And it is miraculous and it’s beautiful and I’m very grateful to be practicing the kind of medicine that I do because these women come back in and it’s life altering for those.
[KATHRYN]: Well, I could talk to you about this all day long, but we’ll wrap up the podcast with the same question that I always ask, which is what is the one imperfect action you would suggest our listeners take today that will bring them closer to better mental and physical wellbeing?
[DR. McMINN]: Well, it’s a great question Kathryn. And I say, if I just have one answer for that, it would be to embrace the concept of being the empowered patient. You know, let me tell you just a quick little story. When I was in the ER one night, I was just trying to get to a medical history from this lady. I asked her what medications are you taking?
And she said, “Well doctor, let’s see. I take a red pill, a yellow pill and a blue pill.”
I said, “Well, what are they?”
She said, “Well, I don’t know.”
And I said, “Well, why do you take them?”
She said, “My doctor told me to.”
And so, that’s what I call the dis-empowered patients. And so, what I try to get people to do is to really take ownership for their body and their health and be accountable and to learn about their condition, read books, listen to podcasts like yours, like mine, functionalmedicinepodcast.com, and to be your advocate. And nobody cares about you as much as you. And so, you know, I can give you some great recommendations. You know, Sarah Godfrey, Christine Northrup, Pam Smith, Elizabeth Lee. All these are highly respected physicians who are, have wonderful books out about women and hormones and work with your provider and find a provider who will listen to you and take your concern seriously and who will value your input and who will put together a good personalized, comprehensive program for you. Bottom line, lean in and be the empowered patient. And finally, let me say, it’s not good enough just to treat disease. You want to become optimized and you want to have vibrant living. And I think that through hormone balance and optimization it’s a very important tool that can help you achieve that goal.
[KATHRYN]: That is so good and really just speak up until you find the right doctor to listen.
[DR. McMINN]: That’s right. And I think that, you know, listen, I greatly respect the doctor patient relationship and I’m not trying to suggest anybody go through and leave their doctor, but you’ve got to find somebody who will listen to you, who will take you seriously, who will work hard to put these tools in his or her toolbox so that they can help you be the person you want to be. And you don’t want somebody who’s going to just stand up on the doctor pedestal and bark out orders to you and you just follow the orders like that patient I told you about in ER. You want to be the empowered patient, lean in and be your own advocate. Read books, listen to podcasts and learn about your condition. If you have fatigue, learn about fatigue. Jacob Teitelbaum has a great book called From Fatigue to Fantastic. That will be a great place to start right there.
So, learn about fatigue. If you have osteoporosis, learn about osteoporosis. Don’t just go take these drugs they hand out to you. I have most women who come in and get on a good osteopetrosis plan with natural hormones, vitamin D blah, blah, blah and they come back and they have better [inaudible 00:29:24] and without drugs. And so, I think that we just have this knee jerk reaction in medicine to hand out drugs to people, but most people don’t need them. And every drug has collateral damage. They all have side effects and so I think that when they’re needed, they’re needed. And I get that and I use them some time, but I think that it’s often a cop out. It’s often an excuse to not really do our homework and take the time to get to that root cause why do you have the problem? If you can fix the why, then often you don’t need the drugs. So, my encouragement would to be, for all of us doctors and patients to kind of make this mental shift into not putting bandaids on our problems, but to really explore the why. Why do we have the problem to take a functional, integrative approach.
[KATHRYN]: I love that so much, where should our listeners go to learn more about you and your practice?
[DR. McMINN]: Well, thank you Kathryn. I have a website, mcminnclinic.com. I have also a podcast; functionalmedicinepodcast.com. I occasionally post on Instagram and Facebook. You can look up there as well. So, I’m not a huge social media guy. I should be, but sorry, I’m not but I know, you know, I didn’t grow up with it and it’s just not part of my shtick, but I try to post down there. But I’d say, yeah, check out our website. It’s pretty thorough and it looks good. We’re right here in Homewood, Alabama and I love to see new patients. You know, when I look at my schedule every day, I have a lot of old patients. I love my old patients, but I always am excited about new patients because once again, I know I can help them.
Let me mention a couple of other things that I really kind of specialize in and love to do, Kathryn. I love gut health. I think that good health starts in the gut and so many times, you know, doctors have not learned about kind of a functional approach to gut health. So many people have IBS and diarrhea, constipation, bloating, all this stuff, CIBO, whatever. And so, I really have put a lot of energy into putting together great gut health protocols and of course it’s all customized for each patient. And another thing I’ve learned to specialize in over the years is autoimmune disease. So, we have an epidemic of autoimmune disease. So, if you’re somebody out there struggling with these hormone issues or low energy, gut health issues, autoimmune disease, that kind of stuff, come see us at McMinn Clinic and we have great programs. And also, we talked briefly earlier about just mental health. Yeah, I deal a lot with things like cognitive decline and stuff like that and so I have good programs for that as well. All right, but that’s what I do, Kathryn.
[KATHRYN]: So, thank you so much. If y’all are having any problems with your hormones or any other unexplained problems with your health, go see Dr. McMinn. He will work so hard to get to the root of the problem and figure out exactly what’s going on with you in the best way to deal with it. Dr. McMinn, I’m so glad that you joined us today for this episode. I have learned so much and I’m sure that our listeners have.
[DR. McMINN]: It’s been my honor and privilege, Kathryn. Thank you for inviting me.
[KATHRYN]: Thank you. And so, I would encourage everyone to do exactly what Dr. McMinn said and educate yourselves about your condition and speak up to your doctors. They are experts, but you are the expert on you. So please educate yourself and speak up until you find what you need. And when you do that, pat yourself on the back. Celebrate the fact that you took action toward the life that you want and until we meet back here next week, thanks to y’all and to Dr. McMinn for being here today.
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