Category Archives: Hormones

Water, water everywhere and….and don’t drink from that plastic bottle!

Here we are in the throes of the annual hotter-than-Hades Texas summer when staying hydrated is more important than any other time of the year. I think we all know the dangers of poor hydration by now: increased fatigue, yawning and sleepiness despite getting enough sleep, increased risk of kidney stones and urinary tract infections, headaches, poor concentration, etc. Severe dehydration can even lead to a chemical imbalance in the body that can cascade all the way to death.

So what do the vast majority of Americans do when they feel the need to hydrate? They stop by the store for a bottle of water. We’ve all gotten the commercial message that bottled water is superior to tap water, a message that is largely untrue, but is nonetheless heeded.

Then along comes an e-mail or Facebook post about the dangers of bottled water. Have you seen one yet? There’s probably one in your inbox right now. The one that is making the rounds again this summer warns women not to leave their plastic water bottles in the car as this will release dioxin, a toxin which causes cancer. Sometimes this is advice is attributed to a doctor, sometimes there is a quote from Sheryl Crow allegedly from the Ellen Degeneres show about how drinking bottled water caused her breast cancer.

While a quick trip to will show you that this is an urban myth, there is some truth in the claim too. Plastics folks say plastic water bottles are safe, many scientists say no they aren’t. I’m not here to referee this debate, so I will point out that there are enough scary facts that are undisputed to make you think twice about buying bottled water.

  1. Heated plastics leach out chemicals.
    Plastics, when heated, can release some of the many chemicals that are used to create them. Dr. Rolf Halden from Johns Hopkins School of Public health says there are no dioxins in plastics, but confirms that plastics release chemicals when heated – this might be heating foods in plastic in the microwave or drinking hot liquids from straws that are not designed for exposure to heat. Both cause a heat extraction of chemicals which then transfer to your food or beverages.

    Any time you heat something the likelihood of pulling something out of what is heated increases. That’s why when you want a cup of tea you heat the water then pour it over the bag. Have you ever made “sun tea?” You put a whole bunch of tea bags in a jar you can seal, fill it with water and sit it out in the sun all day. That jar generally doesn’t get as hot as a plastic water bottle sitting in your car, yet out comes the tea.

  2. Cancer, endocrine dysfunction, and depression, oh my!
    Phthalates, often used to make plastic bottles less brittle, are contaminants which function much like hormones do. These can disrupt your endocrine system. This is dangerous for anyone, but in women it can promote the growth of hormone related tumors such as breast cancers.

    Antimony, which is found in PET plastic bottles, even in very small doses can cause depression and dizziness. In larger doses it can cause nausea, vomiting, and death.

  3. Plastic bottles are wildly inefficient.
    It takes 17 million barrels of oil to make the water bottles used in the US alone each year. For the record, that would fill up 1.3 million cars for a year.

    If you drink the recommended 8 glasses of water per day, filling up a glass at the tap in your kitchen you will drink about 49 cents worth of water. But if you buy it all in bottles? $1400 a year!Most sources agree that when you buy a liter of water it took 3 more liters to get the stuff into the bottle. You are in essence, wasting 75% of the water you used by purchasing water in a bottle.

So what is the solution?

  • Get a water filter and filter the water out of your tap.
    This improves the taste and pulls out contaminants that might be lurking in the tap water. Options abound – you can use a Britta type  pitcher to filter a liter or so at a time, or you can go for an under-sink filter. All of these do a respectable job of keeping your water clean and good tasting.
  • Tote your own!
    Spend a little bit to save a whole lot. Ideally, you want to get a stainless steel or glass bottle. Neither is as expensive as buying a weeks’ worth of bottled water, both clean up easily, and both are free of taste and smell.Stainless steel will set you back about $20. I carry a Kleen Kanteen stainless steel bottle that serves me well. You can get flip tops for them now that are far easier than unscrewing the bottle each time you want a drink. This makes it more likely that you will hydrate yourself and stay healthier.

    Glass is more fragile, but you can now get bottles with silicone sleeves that help protect against bumps and breaks. Lifefactory makes a bottle like this which is currently available at Whole Foods.

  • Get a filtered water bottle
    Spend a lot of time away from your house and need to be able to drink more than you can carry? Camelbak now makes a stainless steel Eddy bottle with a built-in changeable filter that sells for about $25.

Even if you have to spend a little to ditch the plastic bottle habit, you’re about to save more than $1300 per year. That’s like getting a $100/month raise!

Now that I have just saved you a ton of money and maybe even your health, why not schedule an appointment to come see me, improve your health, your energy, and your ability to get back out there with your new water bottle and have fun!

Call 512-619-5549 for an appointment or book online!


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Filed under Hormones, Nutrition, Processed foods

But I’m too young for hot flashes!

When I was growing up and becoming an adult I associated menopausal symptoms with women in their mid 40’s. That’s about the time my aunts and older cousins (it’s a big family, folks) began to fan themselves when I thought the temperature in the room was just fine.  And right on target when I was 45 I had my first “power surge” hot flash that started on my arms, thighs and back and then spread all over. I felt like I’d stepped into a microwave. That’s about the time I learned to appreciate that big refrigerated room in CostCo with all of the vegetables in it, the one I affectionately refer to as ‘my hot flash room.’

What I didn’t know was that this train had been bearing down on me for years. Perimenopause, the years before you hit the technical definition of menopause, can happen 10+ years prior to menopause. But no one talked about it: not my family, my doctor, or my friends. Maybe it’s because none of us were really aware it was happening. I was 35 years old when I started experiencing some serious mood swings. I could go from zero to angry Amazon warrior queen then crumple into a pile of tears in 20 seconds or less. My mother commented that I acted like a woman in menopause and I needed to get a grip. I was exhausted all the time and was gaining about five pounds a year I just couldn’t shed no matter what I did. My doctor suggested prozac, wellbutrin, diet pills (speed, basically) and a host of other pharmaceuticals.

What was really happening? Hormonal shifts and imbalances. See if these symptoms sound familiar:

  • Irritability
  • Depressed mood or sadness
  • Weight gain, especially around the middle
  • Fuzzy thinking or “brain fog”
  • Feeling overwhelmed, confused, or just not like yourself
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular periods
  • Heart palpitations
  • Achy stiff joints
  • Less interest in sex
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Cravings for sweets or alcohol
  • Yeast infections or urinary tract infections
  • Bouts of gas, bloating and/or diarrhea
  • Hair or skin is getting dry, fragile or brittle

If any of these sound like you, what do you do about these things? Don’t just suffer through it. This is your body’s way of telling you something is off kilter. You can do a lot to help balance your hormones even after you start experiencing symptoms. My recommendations:

  • Educate yourself.
    Find out all you can about your hormones and how to balance them. Read Ann Louise Gittleman’s book, Before the Change: Taking Charge of Perimenopause. If you can’t afford it or want more information after you’ve read it, check out the author’s blog.
  • Change your diet.
    You can regulate your hormones quite a lot by changing your diet. I know that’s hard. Believe me, I know. Change a little at a time so it’s not so difficult. The book and blog above has some great suggestions for you. The book lays out a diet to aspire to and a support group like Weight Watchers can help you not feel overwhelmed by the changes you might need to make.
  • Get some acupuncture.
    It de-stresses you, makes you feel more balanced, clears the mental fog, and helps your hormonal balance right away. It can also relieve insomnia, irregular periods, PMS symptoms, anxiety and palpitations, depression, and the other symptoms listed above. Call and talk to me if you have questions: 512-619-5549. I’m happy to chat with  you.
  • Herbs and supplements.
    Your body needs some extra help. I can help you with herbs and supplements to help your body come back into balance. You can book an appointment with me by calling 512-619-5549 or by going to my online booking site.
  • Exercise.
    Another dirty word, I know. Moderate exercise is great for helping your body out though. It even helps with the next recommend, managing your stress levels. Why not take a yoga class or a tai chi class? You’re getting two things done at once. Pat yourself on the back for multitasking!
  • Manage your stress.
    Stress is a killer. Literally. And it doesn’t do your hormones any good either. If you’ve got Netflix, look for a National Geographic production called Stress: Portrait of a Killer. You can stream this online or order the DVD from them. It’s the best and simplest explanation of what stress does to the body that I have seen.  It starts a little corny, but within 5 minutes it gets really good.

Give me a call at 512-619-5549 or drop me an e-mail. I’m happy to talk with you about painless ways to make these changes and get control of your life again.

Yours in health,

–Cat Calhoun, L.Ac.
 Calhoun Acupuncture 

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Filed under Hormones, Perimenopause