Hormone Health by Helios Academy

Hormone Health: things you can do yourself to enhance it

Menopassage: a holistic Journey through the menopausal years

 In the course of menopause, our estrogen and progesterone levels vastly diminish, no question about it. And yet, in the framework of enhancing your life in the course of MenoPassage, there are many things you can do for yourself that makes this trend have less of a negative impact. Thus the change in hormone levels can be seen as a great call to pay attention to the foundation of our health to ensure some level of stability and maximize our vitality.

 Let’s look at how hormones work for a moment, there are a few principles that we need to understand:

  • In general, hormones – sex hormones not exempt – activate receptors inside the cells to stimulate them to act in a very specific way. Now the receptors are set to a particular level of sensitivity, the stronger the signaling, the less sensitive they become. Thus as the hormone levels diminish and the signal becomes weaker, the sensitivity goes up and the response continues to be more than one might expect. This definitely acts in our favor.
  • For the hormones to act on our receptors, they need to be taken into the interior of the cells, and this process can be enhanced with essential fatty acids, EFA’s, as they help to maintain ideal cell membrane fluidity, allowing optimal transport of hormones across the cell membrane and into the cell.
  • The estrogen we do retain – or supplement for that matter – gets metabolized, meaning broken down and made ready for excretion. This process occurs in the liver and the gut, and can take several pathways, some of which are more toxic than others. One of the pathways can actually end up with carcinogenic metabolites, meaning that it will increase your risk of cancer. There are ways of guiding this in the right direction, especially with appropriate diet. There are also ways of measuring which pathway predominates, I recommend this for anyone on hormone replacement or at higher risk of cancer to begin with. Ask your doctor for the test.
  • It is worthy to note that we not only have our own estrogens on board but also are exposed to a variety of estrogens in what we consume, be it phytoestrogens form a variety of vegetables which actually help us stay healthy and vibrant, or xenoestrogens, the wide array of estrogen mimicking compounds present in plastic, packaged food and drink trays and containers, ( more so when they’ve been heated in the sun or an oven ) as well as hormones fed to animals and transmitted through meat and milk consumption. All of these need to be metabolized and eliminated and it behooves us to maximize healthy elimination.
  • Hormones are also eliminated through the intestinal tract. There are a few items that will enhance this elimination. For example, a healthy gut flora is essential for this process to occur. Thus PROBIOTICS are particularly helpful for this issue. In addition, plentiful fiber is essential as we will see below.

Thus the four pillars of hormone health are:

1.Healthy lifestyle and dietary choices that support optimal hormone function
2.Complete high-grade multiple vitamin-mineral formulation
3. Omega-3 essential fatty acids rich in DHA and EPA
4. Probiotics with multiple species and high count

Hormone Healthy Lifestyle & Diet

Appropriate diet, exercise, rest, sleep, recreation, social interactions, hydration, and detoxification all contribute to vitality and health. Sleep deprivation, excessive stress, or inadequate exercise can each result in decreased levels of testosterone and thyroid hormones, and in an increased risk of obesity. A balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, salads, fish, and lean meats or poultry will support optimal hormone health.

The foods that actually promote hormone health and  promote proper metabolism and detoxification of estrogen include:

  • High quality protein, fish, poultry, meat, eggs… will provide the necessary amino-acids that the liver requires for a healthy detoxification process
  • Essential fatty acids, as we discussed above, as can be found in salmon and mackerel. EFA’s come primarily in 2 highly beneficial forms, DHA and EPA, and I generally recommend a combined content of more than 2 g/d.
  • Eat seeds such as sesame, fenugreek and flax, they produce a fiber called lignan that helps eliminate estrogens form the intestinal tract. In fact dietary fiber of all kinds enhances healthy estrogen metabolism
  • Eat cruciferous vegetable, broccoli, brussel sprouts etc… they contain an enzyme referred to as DIM, which helps to safely eliminate estrogens. It ahs actually been shown that people with higher levels of DIM have lower cancer rates,
  • Keep your levels of VitD optimal, it definitely is able to promote healthy metabolism of estrogens
  • Eat fermented food such as sauerkraut, kimchee and pickles and/or add a good probiotic to your diet.
  • Avoid sugar! Sugar has been shown to INHIBIT the regulation of testosterone and estrogen, causing imbalances in hormone balance

These are all simple things that are part of a healthy diet to begin with. It behooves us to pay attention to all these details to have a healthy passage through menopause… and in the end, a highly productive MenoPassage, a holistic journey through the menopausal years that opens a door to new levels of vitality and creativity.

Please add your comments at the bottom of this page. Don’t hesitate to contact us for any questions you may have.

by Angela Ingendaay, MD

Angela Ingendaay






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Riding Your Planetary Cycles through MenoPassage

– an astrological guide to emotional turbulence, growth, and renewal in midlife and onwardhttp://blog.dr-ingendaay.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Riding-Your-Planetary-Cycles-1.jpg

MenoPassage: a holistic journey through Menopause


In the MenoPassage years, most women undergo profound psychological shifts, often causing some instability and possibly leading to quite a new sense of identity. We are going to explore whether these shifts, challenges and transformations may actually coincide with the influence of the planets upon our lives, in the framework of the well charted system of astrology.

Indeed, for some, the MenoPassage years may be accompanied by significant emotional turmoil, anxiety, depression, and sometimes, the fear of aging and the unknown. For others, it is simply a time to shed one skin, perhaps a part of them very oriented to caring and nurturing, and move into another part of their lives,  – often a creative, more focused and determined part.

Regardless of the shape it takes, what is clear is that a new chapter is opening. And we tend to attribute so much of these shifts to the level of our hormones and, perhaps, make attempts to keep things in their status quo by taking on hormone replacement,- yet women seem to undergo these shifts,  regardless of this physiological aspect. The following article will shed light on this issue.

Riding our planetary cycles through midlife and beyond

~ William Sebrans, evolutionary astrologer and coach

We live our lives in cycles;  no-one knows this better than every woman that endures the energetic ebb and flow of the menstrual cycle. And so our lives also encompass much larger cycles and recurrences, and through them, we have a chance to change, grow, mature, expand… and if one takes a very large step back, one starts seeing very specific patterns, and these patterns in turn do in fact reflect astrological patterns, as we shall explore.

Throughout history, many have referred to these larger cycles… Shakespeare referred to it as the seven ages of man,; psychologist Eric Erickson speaks of five stages; the ancient Chinese speak of 7 stages. By understanding these greater laws, we have a chance to embrace our changes and even move deeply into  and through them to come out stronger on the other side.

According to astrology , these cycles are guided and influenced by the planets, as we will examine more closely. It paints a very detailed map of how our psychology gradually unfolds and what opportunities and challenges arise at various points of our lives.

Some of these planetary influences, of course, are highly individual, but there are also broader patterns and cycles that can be delineated and help us understand our road map regardless of our personal chart. This does not require for you to take on the whole ideology of astrology;  simply may shed some light on patterns that unfold.

Understanding these cycles may well reassure one that, despite the legion messages that spill out from the glossy lifestyle magazine covers, that ambush us with an overwhelming menu of options for living the good life –  in fact, all the great lessons that often happen in midlife, when one’s  whole being seems to be thrown into greater flux, deeper experiences such as loss, shock, disorientation, regret, and other tart experiences are all quite normal and built in to the greater scheme of things.

And it is reassuring to understand that these enormous challenges guided by the planets may lead to a renewal of ourselves, and may even be our sacred invitation.

So What Do Planets Have to Do With It?

In every culture on the planet and from every epoch, there have been astrological traditions that have observed the relationship between planetary movements and the lives of people,  nations, and even the Earth itself.

Without claiming it as a belief system that some planet  –say, -Mars made me throw the dishes at the wall… or that Venus made me fall for a jerk…it has been verified repeatedly through the millennia that when the planets (and distant stars)  are in certain positions in the sky and in relationship to each other, certain lines of character develop in a newborn child and certain predictable ranges of events unfold throughout the life. So, while we might not proclaim the planets and stars are the CAUSES of our lives, we can confidently assert  there are compelling and useful CORRELATIONS to them, validating the ancient maxim from Trismegitus – As above, so below. As without, so within.

As a person progresses through the “ages of man” (see– Shakespeare’s  As You Like It) — there are fairly predictable seasons of expansion and contraction (Jupiter vs. Saturn), abundance and loss, love and loneliness, growth and decay.

By the time we are in mid-40s, we should be getting the impression that  we are not entirely in charge of this play in which we play a part. Change happens. Falls follow rises, and rises follow falls. We are in favor, then not, – in a flow, then not.

“Fate leads she who follows and drags she who resists.”  — Plutarch

Fate is tricky, though. I am biased to think that Fate is not digital terrain of either-or... but rather an analog field of maybe, but also.  Fate has a range of potentials, as does its more upbeat sibling — Destiny. That said, there are times, when something’s gotta give, and that’s what we will explore in this piece.


Everyone has a unique trajectory in life…even twins. That trajectory is based on what planetary influences were present at birth, the planetary movements (transits) that follow over the years, family and societal conditioning, karma perhaps, soul age and soul perception, and even Grace.

The diverse elements in that stew of influences suggests that planetary movements affect people quite differently, despite what the astrology tabloids might influence the gullible to believe.

There is no fixed recipe for how people will experience outer and inner change.

But there are parameters.

Speaking quite broadly, here are some classic times of shift, change, growth, and/or loss.

Saturn Return: Saturn works in a cycle of 29 years, and within one cycle it leads us through all one’s “astrological houses”, i.e. all the different aspects of one’s relationship to oneself and intimate sphere as well as the greater world one interacts with. Thus at the end of the first Return, age 29, one has had a good taste of all that is within one, one’s challenges, and potential. It is a certain coming of age, often challenging with more responsibility. One may well have achieved a basic level of maturity and stability. The next Saturn cycle, ending around age 58, will bring potential deepening and refinement. Most of the MenoPassage years land up within the second cycle of Saturn and are reflecting the challenges of this maturation process. The wine of one’s being acquires depth and character.

At the Second Saturn return the year around age 58, we have a life accounting of sorts — a harvest and/or a sober recognition of what has passed and what is possible. Third Act begins. This coincides with a certain kind of graduation from the MenoPassage Journey, and reflects to some extent how deep the Journey has been.

Jupiter return – every 12 years. New cycles of growth. A Jupiter’s return adds a hue of meaning and being supported by the universe in a mysterious way. When you align with what you’re meant to be doing, magic happens. This may well recur several times in the course of MenoPassage.

Uranus oppositionsomewhere between the ages 40-44, often over the course of a year or more — involving radical breaks from the past, liberation, sudden loss. For many, this marks the time of entering the MenoPassage Journey, setting up the process of becoming remolded. For some, the sense of liberation is a gradual unfolding, for some it comes quite abruptly.

Chiron return, around age 50. — involving an activation of a sacred wound, up for healing, and also a break from the bonds that have held us back. THIS may very well be the greatest contributor  and challenge to the MenoPassage Journey.

These are very broad strokes…In reality, it can be more complex and confounding with multiple significant transits occurring at once that either accentuate or attenuate the themes at play, or both,  — for better or for worse.

Understanding these cycles can help one to take on all the challenges of MenoPassage with courage and an open heart, knowing that it represents a great calling upon one to emerge stronger and freer, more deeply connected to who one truly is. We will explore this in greater detail in section 2 of this article, please stay posted.

by Angela Ingendaay, MD

Angela Ingendaay







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Do I need Estrogen?

MenoPassage – a holistic Journey through the menopausal years

 In the menopausal years, our hormones vastly diminish, no doubt about it. WhetherDo I need Estrogen? to opt for hormone replacement or not is perhaps one of the most hotly debated subjects concerning menopause, it is a multifaceted subject and there are many schools of thought, each supported by volumes of scientific literature and statistics. In the end, a woman must of course chose what feels right for her body, and we encourage her to develop the sensitivity to know what that might be. By being in tune with our body’s needs and tending to its holistic care, we make the choice easier for ourselves and place it in the framework of a larger perspective, that of the MenoPassage Journey, a gateway to new chapter full of creativity and vitality.

The very short answer to the question “Do I NEED estrogen?” is : MAYBE

One principle that has always worked in my practice is: respect the body’s own self regulatory physiology and intelligence. Listen to you your body and its cues and see what is really going on with you… then find a practitioner that is willing to work with support you in the most appropriate manner. The fact is that even if you do supplement with hormones, they will always be “extrinsic”, i.e. applied from the outside and not incorporated into the regulatory loop that has dictated our hormone levels until now. Their levels are now imposed upon the body, it no longer has a say as to what they should be according to its own intelligence. In health, the level of all hormones are regulated by the brain with the aid of feedback loops so that we can make adjustments from day to day, according to need and circumstances. When you ingest or apply a topical hormone, that is outside of the feedback loop.

The following discussion by Jim Paoletti, (BS Pharmacy, FAARFM, FIACP, Clinical Consultant with over 30 years’ experience creating and using bio-identical hormone and faculty member for the Fellowship of Functional Medicine) very much resonates with my own clinical experience. His approach facilitates a healthy and fruitful MenoPassage Journey.

First of all, let us address the need for estrogen in the PERIMENOPASUSAL years, while a woman is still menstruating…

“The truth is: A woman’s estrogen levels do not decline until the last 6 to 12 months of perimenopause. Furthermore, estradiol levels typically rise slightly when a woman first enters perimenopause, so the hot flashes experienced at this stage of life are not actually caused by a lack of estrogen.”

Many health practitioners were taught to measure FSH levels to confirm that estrogen levels were low. However, it has been shown that estrogen is not the major controller of FSH. Instead, FSH is controlled primarily by inhibin, a hormone produced in the corpus luteum i.e.the ovaries.

Once ovulation ceases, the corpus luteum will no longer produce inhibin, so FSH rises due to lack of inhibit and not lack of estrogen. Progesterone is also produced by the corpus luteum, so elevated FSH is reflective of decreased production of progesterone. A physiologic amount of progesterone is required to make estrogen work correctly.

In early peri-menopause, a woman’s hot flashes are most often caused by a lack of progesterone rather than lack of estrogen.

Although progesterone is key for obtaining optimal effects of estrogen, other hormones may cause or influence the symptoms that we often perceive as a lack of estrogen.

  • High cortisol levels can also cause weight gain, irritability, irregular cycles and hot flashes, even in the present of normal estrogen levels. Consistent low cortisol can also cause or aggravate hot flashes.
  • Low thyroid function can cause similar symptoms that appear as estrogen deficiency.
  • Insulin resistance can do the same.

In recent years, one of the biggest changes to approaching physiologic hormone balance is the way estrogen need is approached. Because so many other hormone levels affect estrogen and estrogen receptors, correcting other hormone issues have led to further and further reduction in the amount of estrogen commonly administered. In other words, if the other hormone or endocrine issues are addressed first, then the amount of estrogen required to treat her assumed “estrogen deficiency” symptoms becomes much less.

No symptom or set of symptoms guarantees estrogen needs.

Many symptoms can be explained by another possible hormone imbalance. Even vaginal dryness or atrophy, which almost always indicates a lack of estrogen, can exist when estrogen levels are normal. Vaginal tissues are also supported by testosterone and thyroid, and a significant deficiency in one or both of these hormones can be the source of the problem. Lack of progesterone can also result in ineffective estrogen. Properly assessing estrogen need and assessing response to estrogen therapy requires balancing the other endocrine hormones simultaneously or prior to estrogen administration.

At certain stages, even precise estrogen level measurement may not reliably indicate need. Estradiol levels begin to fluctuate during peri-menopause, with much wider vacillations towards the end of perimenopause. Therefore, it is wise to not rely on estradiol level measurements during this period. The best approach would be to correct deficiencies or issues with progesterone, cortisol, thyroid, insulin resistance and nutrition or lifestyle, then correlate remaining symptoms with levels, and address estrogen therapy as required.

Does she really need that much estrogen?

Even when women do need estrogen replacement therapy, they are often given too much. Excessive estrogen may help control the hot flashes for a month or two, but eventually the symptoms return.

Too much estrogen causes the same symptoms as too little estrogen, just with a slight time delay before the symptoms return.

At first, excessive estrogen increases the number of estrogen receptors, but after a period of time the body downregulates the number of receptors, so the estrogen cannot work properly regardless of how much is there.

The keys to optimal physiologic estrogen replacement therapy are:

  • Make sure she needs estrogen by correlating symptoms with measurement of levels.
  • Never assume a woman needs estrogen.
  • Always restore progesterone to a physiologic level before assessing how much—if any—estrogen is needed.
  • Test cortisol with a 4 x per day saliva test to help determine adrenal influence on “estrogen deficiency” symptoms. Address as necessary.
  • If symptoms of hypometabolism (hypothyroid) are present, test the TT4, fT4 direct, fT3 direct, TPO and TSH to properly assess. Address appropriately.
  • Check insulin resistance if symptoms indicate and address appropriately
  • ALWAYS start very low on estrogen dosing and make changes slowly.
  • Take steps to ensure safe estrogen metabolism by optimizing liver conjugation, bowel elimination, methylation and glutathione conjugation and by reducing lipid peroxidase activity.”

*From Jim Paoletti, A Practitioner’s Guide to Physiologic Bioidentical Hormone Balance, 2015.

Thus it is really about addressing the foundation of your health before moving forward to hormone replacement and not just treating the symptoms without understanding the underlying condition.

These endocrine imbalances mentioned above also very much reflect the wisdom of Chinese medicine and their view on the multiple self regulatory systems involved in menopause. Once properly identified, they can all be supported in their own specific manner to support overall wellbeing and a holistic approach to menopause.

Understanding these principles is an essential step in a healthy MenoPassage, a journey that can lead you to the next stage of your life in a balanced and well supported state that opens the doors to new vitality and creativity.

by Angela Ingendaay, MD

Angela Ingendaay, MD







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MenoPassage: a holistic journey through menopause

We help you make menopause a great time in your life

Part 1: Introduction

Menopause is definitely a time when many take a pause – whether it is accompanied by highly irritating symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mood swings etc… or is a more silent passage, we cannot deny that as a woman we spend several years transitioning into a new phase. But while our bodies are showing signs of aging and requesting more care and attention, this phase also can allow us to be ever more expansive with a great assertion of who we really are.

I have coined the term MenoPassage to point to the great marvels inherent in this time of change, the great new potential that lies beyond the gate of ceasing menstruation and all the hormonal fluctuations that accompany that time. It is so clearly a natural transformation point in a woman’s life. And the gifts become more readily available when we embrace the passage. As Dr. Christiane Northrup says:

“How much easier it is when we can become conscious about the desire to give birth to something new and remember that there are many ways to do that without actually becoming a mother again. “

The gate into the next phase is often obscured by a whole array of problems that seem to arise out of nowhere, and yet are a compilation of the struggles of previous years. Stressors have accumulated as we have struggled through various challenges in our lives, creating and raising a family, building a career, dealing with losses, and they have all made an impact. Now that the supporting and nourishing hormones are retreating, the impact of these stressors suddenly becomes much more apparent. The need for sorting things out and dealing with them effectively becomes imminent.

This is precisely what makes MenoPassage such an opportunity. The discomfort of this period leads us to find new solutions. For many, it is the first time of not being able to take youth, beauty and stamina for granted. And yet, by dwelling with these feelings, addressing all the issues and then learning to release them, attending to the need for more self-care and proper support, we can take a major turn for the better. As Anthony Robins stated:

Transformation begins when you can no longer dwell in a place of pain.”

There is a well proven road map that can guide a woman through the maze of symptoms, it really just requires treating this midlife madness like any other challenge in life. It is perfectly feasible to regain control of health and happiness by identifying and tending to all the areas of life that are calling for attention: menopause symptoms, nutrition, fitness, beauty and – perhaps most importantly – the emotions.

At the Helios Academy, we guide you through the process, resting on both the Western and the Oriental model of this passage. We believe that with insight and understanding of what is actually happening, we have already won half the battle. 5 element Classical acupuncture sheds a very different light on the need for self care at this time of life and is highly beneficial in untangling the knots that lead to difficulties around menopause and then providing the proper support. This generally takes the from of acupuncture, and can be supplemented with herbs and other forms of support.

Within the Western medical model, we do recommend adequate blood testing without being overly concerned about “the right numbers”, looking at the test results in the perspective of the whole person. We do support bioidentical hormone replacement, and also feel that it is not the right or complete answer for every woman.

It is a time to take a pause, reassess and gently build upon the beauty and health that you do have, unfolding new potentials by attending to your needs with deeper care. Celebrating your uniqueness from this deeper place will catapult you through the gate of MenoPassage into a new phase of life, release you into greater care for yourself, your family and your community, accompanied by ever greater creativity.

At Helios Academy, we offer to guide you through this process step by step, offering you expertise:

–       in supporting the challenging changes in your body with both Western and Oriental medical approaches

–       and in helping you release the burden of stress and hurt

for you to emerge into a new phase of life, a new peace and creativity.

We are holistically-minded doctors, counselors, and educators. . Dr Angela Ingendaay has been practicing Western medicine and 5-Element Classical Acupuncture for more than 20 years and has guided many women through this challenging time of life. We bring decades of experience to this area and love to guide women going through “the Change” to the core of their own well-being.

by Angela Ingendaay, MD

Angela Ingendaay








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