Janna: Hello, everyone. I’m very excited to have a very special interview guests here today. And this is Dr. Jolene Brighten. Welcome. It’s such a pleasure to have you here Dr. Jolene Brighten.
JB: Yeah. Thanks so much for having me. I’m really excited to chat with you and your audience today. I think this is going to be fun.
Janna: Yes. And before we dive into the topic we chose for today, could you please take a minute and introduce yourself? Who are you? And what is the work you’re doing?
JB: Yeah, I am a Naturopathic Medical Doctor with a background in Nutritional Biochemistry and Clinical Nutrition, who has a focus in women’s endocrine health. My focus is on lady parts and the hormones that make them function. Really, the entire body. I have a fascination with hormones and brain health as well. That’s my focus.
I help a lot of women with birth control related side effects and Post Birth Control Syndrome, which is the long term side effects and consequences of popping that daily pill or placing that patch or having that IUD. So I help women understand their body, but also if they want to choose to stay on hormonal birth control, that they can minimize the side effects, know what to monitor and get help from their physician when appropriate. Then as they transition off, feeling confident that their skin isn’t going to freak out, that they can get a handle on their periods, and really start to learn what the signs and symptoms that their body displays, what they really mean, and how to address those at the root cause.
Janna: Okay, wow. So on one hand, a very specific topic, but nonetheless, a super important topic. How come this became your main topic you’re talking about? Do you have a personal story behind it? Or was it just the things you experience the most with your clients that this is something where we need more information about? How did that go?
JB: Well, part of it is no one’s talking about and what’s really funny is that I feel in the last year, there’s so many more women talking about it. I love this because back years ago, like six, eight years ago, when I was out trying to talk about birth control side effects, how to stay safe, what I was observing, many people there are a lot of haters. People were very upset for even questioning hormonal birth control because they very much come from this place of, “It’s black or white. It’s either or–“ And they still have a hard time wrapping their mind around the fact that like, you
I just heard someone saying, “What is the least evil birth control?” And I’m like, “Can we not call birth control evil. It’s not evil, okay?” But it may not work for your body. It may feel the devil’s up in your space depending on how you’re reacting, but it’s not evil. We’re not going to vilify this. I for once spent 10 years on hormonal birth control. Lot of side effects, lot of things I didn’t know and when I came off, I developed what I now call Post Birth Control Syndrome. It didn’t have a name then and doctors didn’t even acknowledge that I lost my period. I broke out with cystic acne. They said to me, “Well, it’s likely that you had along.” And I’m like, “No, I counted on my period like Doomsday. It was regular.”
It came a game every single month. It took me down and I would be vomiting and in pain, and it was terrible. I knew my period was regular and I had clear skin. I never had cystic acne before. When I had that experience, thankfully, I had the background in Nutritional Biochemistry, I was at a naturopathic medical school. I could leverage herbs and just look at the body in a very different way that I was able to get my period back, to clear my skin. It went through all of that I thought I was a freak. I thought I was the only one. My doctor did a good job convincing me that no woman in the history of ever had experienced this.
When I got into clinical practice, I came to observe that the majority, if not all of women, struggle when they come off of hormonal birth control which makes sense. I got this reputation of the doctor who believes women’s birth control stories. So women would call my practice and say, “I’d like to schedule an appointment. Now I heard that she will believe my birth control story.” And the first few times, it was so odd. I was like, “What an odd thing believe in you believe you.” Until I got into the room with these women and have these discussions and came to realize that they would get an IUD and they would complain of new onset mood symptoms, and their doctor would say, “There’s no way there’s a correlation.” Even though they felt inherently that they would stop the pill.
Then suddenly they felt like they were a teenager raging, having acne, having really heavy periods, and their doctor says, “This is just normal.” And when like hear them that they felt something had changed with being on hormonal birth control. Coming from a research background, I just started to document all of this and stay really curious with it. Documenting this and really coming to understand there are protocols, and there’s a things that we can do to make the transition much easier to reverse these symptoms that come up.
As I got into the research, I just was blown away by how much we know about birth control, but how much we don’t talk about, and how women aren’t being given the full story, which is the basis of prescribing. You have to give an informed consent. It isn’t the doctors are bad, it’s just that they’re not being educated about this as well.
I came from a background of doing two years of clinical rotations in a homeless youth clinic, which is why I would never be anti-birth control. These women are at high risk for sexual assault, but in addition, they are hit pretty hard with menstrual inequality, which is the fact that a lot of people we don’t realize that not has access to these products. And being able to administer to this woman didn’t get pregnant and didn’t have to worry about having a period for a few months. Was a pretty nice thing these women to have. I would argue medically necessary.
What I came to realize is that when I would be discussing with a woman, there was a whole lot I had to say. As I did rotations in internal medicine, it was like you’re going to college. Talk about even things like things because well, she’s young. I should worry about, you might have a test that. Maybe she’s young, but mutations says otherwise in terms of her risk. It’s really about like, “Yes, there’s my personal experience. There’s my clinical experience.” But it’s the fact that like, “How did you get this far in medicine?” Really the pill became finally have a book out in 2019.
There’ve been books on birth control, books on women’s health, but there’s never been a book that says, “Hey, let’s talk about all things women’s health, including autoimmune disease, liver [inaudible 00:07:00] health and all of our hormones. And let’s talk about birth control in depth.” Which is a huge missing piece because every single woman on this entire planet has had birth control become part of her world at some point, whether or not she’s taken the pill, had to patch, had an IUD, had an abortion and any of these things. There is some point this has been part of the conversation. I thought that’s entered her mind. There’s a knowledge gap there and we need to shut that down because women should know about their body, they should know about their options.
In addition, we shouldn’t be just now and after 2010 starting to question the impact of hormonal birth control on brain health in women like we’ve been giving this to generations of women, and we’re now just getting research? That’s unacceptable. That’s completely unacceptable in women’s health.
Janna: Yeah, absolutely. I can already feel how passionate you are about the topic. I like that and I think, of course, we know the main reason why we have this hormonal birth control. Why we have the pill? To not get pregnant. But even when I look back in my personal story, also took the pill for over 10 years, and when I went as a young teenager, basically, the first time to my doctor was like, “Oh, you have acne or you have these cramps.” The best thing would be to take the pill. It’s also the nice side effect that you won’t get pregnant and I can totally click with what you’re saying. It’s like, “Aha, everybody around me is doing that. That’s the thing to do. All right then”.
After 15 years, I was like, “Wait a minute, maybe all these migraines, maybe all these things I’m experiences not just something that’s happening in my life, but because I’m actually taking a medication every day.”
JB: Yeah. And you’re in Germany, Right?
Janna: Exactly. I’m living in Switzerland now, but I’m from Germany. I think it’s pretty much in Europe. It’s kind of the same. That lots of women crosstalk.
JB: And I’m in the United States. And here we are, across the ocean having the same story and the similar experience. That’s when I talked about this, I’m like, “This is not other woman’s issue. This is every woman’s issue across the planet.” Because we’re all getting the same really dumb story about our body. Like periods are inherently awful, your hormones are your body’s way of betraying you. These things are just not real. What you said there is so key. It’s a medication. It has been definitely marketed as our Savior. I call it the pill for every female ill. It’s been marketed in such a way that we forget as doctors, and we forget as women that this is a medication that we’re taking every day.
There’s also the piece I don’t know. I’m curious. How was sex education for you because in the United States we’ve only got like a handful of states that mandate that we have scientifically accurate sexual education? It’s not even scientifically accurate what women are being told. A big thing we get told is, “You can get pregnant any day out of the month.” I remember when I learned, I had one day, I was so bitter. I was so bitter that here I was in my late 20s, when I learned this. I meet with women who don’t learn this until they’re mid-30s. Until you want to get pregnant, you get taught that. I was so just like, “How have I been having periods since age 14? Here I am almost 15 years later and I had no idea how I could get pregnant. When I could get pregnant or how my menstrual cycle even worked?” That’s completely unacceptable.
Janna: It’s the same here. We have sex education at the schools, but it’s like these two to three hours where biology teacher stands in front of you super embarrassed. Shows you these models of the penis and vagina. Talking a tiny bit about it. But how a cycle works, how my body is trying to mean, I found that out when I actually went off the pill and somebody told me, “You have a cycle. It will be different throughout the month.” And I’m like, “What are you talking about? Isn’t every day the same?”
JB: Yeah, right. Because men have been doing research and they’ve been studying other men. They said that we were the same, but as it turns out, we’re nothing the same. The other thing too is on the focus of the menstrual cycle is, for some reason, always on the period, but the period is not the main event. Ovulation is the main event. Period is the outcome that happens when you don’t actually conceive.
I feel there’s a lot of– we’re at a time in a place where the majority of healthcare practitioners in the United States are women. I think things are starting to change. But I still hear from patients who say, “Well, my female gynecologist told me there’s no reason to be on a multivitamin or prenatal while you’re on birth control pills.” And I’m like, “But it depletes all these nutrients.” If she puts you on Metformin, a diabetic drug that depletes B12, she would tell you to take B12 because that’s not her [forte? 00:11:56]. She would be sending you to an [endocrinologist? 00:11:57] for all that, like [inaudible 00:11:58] your PCP.
We thought it’s either still a lot of misinformation made by women for women that we need to overcome. And there’s a root cause issue to all of that but it’s interesting to me. This is why I was really excited for this conversation. Is that we can have more of that global. What are women actually experiencing globally not just what is it like in United States. It’s that we see that really it’s pretty universal. “The don’t talk about women’s bodies, and don’t educate them about it.” I joke in my book. I actually have a session that’s like the sex. That it was an epic fail, and here I’m going to teach you what your [Sex-Ed? 00:12:43] teachers should have taught you beyond how to put a condom on a banana. You should actually know how your body works [inaudible 00:12:49].
Again it’s that fear, right? We’re supposed to be afraid of pregnancy and afraid of becoming pregnant. And certainly, if you’re not ready for a baby, and that’s not on the agenda, it will hijack your life. We can acknowledge the need for contraceptives in that education. There’s also need to understand your body at a deeper level. As you said, you were put on birth control for symptom management. I had periods that were well over seven days, super painful. When my doctor said I can give you a pill, it can stop all that noise and you won’t get pregnant, I was like, “Sign me up. I don’t even care.” Now I look back and I’m like, “Oh, I just needed more omega three fatty acids, more magnesium in my diet, I elevated prostate gland, and it’s like estrogen dominance. I could have fixed all that.
What nobody told me then, is that if you had estrogen dominance and you’re making the wrong kind of types of metabolites, when I give you the pill, it doesn’t change anything about that, in fact, that if you’re making the wrong metabolites, that increase the risk of breast cancer. That’s going to go on because we didn’t address the root cause. We [inaudible 00:13:54] those symptoms so you can’t see the wound. We didn’t really fix what was going on. I fought the pill for a very long time. I think for the full 10 years. I was like, “This fixed me.”
Then I had the reality check of when I went off. Then if you go off, if your [inaudible 00:14:10] medication makes your acne go away, so why is this important? Because almost 60% of women are given birth control for symptom management. Symptoms that have a root cause and not for pregnancy prevention with that. If your symptoms go away but you come off and they come right back, it didn’t really fix what was going on. It just give you a break. Maybe you did need that break. I am not judging you. I was happy to not have. I spent a few years just not having a period, I thought I was so clever and so much smarter than my body. Things I would tell my 20 something year old self.
Janna: I’m curious because I think the knowledge is getting bigger and bigger on how birth control can affect certain organs and certain biochemistry processes in your body. I think what’s a bit new is how it can affect your gut health, and how many nutrients you need, and also your thyroid. Can you give us a little bit of insight on these three parts? How birth control can affect that?
JB: Totally. Nutrient depletions has been well documented since the 1970s. We understand that hormonal birth control can cause nutrient depletions in [CoQ10? 00:15:24], vitamin C, vitamin E. Important antioxidants protecting you from free radicals, selenium, zinc. We can also see magnesium and our B vitamins, like [inaudible 00:15:36] is one of those [inaudible 00:15:38] vitamins while you’re on the pill. This always gives me [inaudible 00:15:47 is only 91% effective with typical use. That means nine out of 100 women will get pregnant. If you’re [inaudible 00:15:56] time you know you’re pregnant. You already needed that [inaudible 00:15:59]. That’s something that’s you have to be taking a multivitamin, prenatal, then we add on that it impacts gut health.
Now, that’s how we absorb everybody listening. You’re not what you eat. [inaudible 00:16:16]. With that, why did we not understand so much about gut health? Well, we didn’t under– and the pill, is because we didn’t understand so much about gut health. I have been [inaudible 00:16:25] community for over 20 years now. I remember when I was getting my Nutrition degree that we were taught that the micro [inaudible 00:16:33] that they give you a little bit of vitamin B12, vitamin K, but other than that, they just like ate your food. Now we’ve come to understand everything. There are some questions like I want to be [inaudible 00:16:48] that we just started studying all this birth control. There are some questions that [inaudible 00:16:53] answer until now. We didn’t have knowledge or the understanding. That is when you get into the research.
There’re studies that shown hormonal birth control has similar effects as antibiotics in terms of decreasing microbial diversity, except who spends decades on antibiotics. Right? When I read that, and they’re like, “[inaudible 00:17:11] the same as antibiotics.” [inaudible 00:17:13] that’s huge because microbial diversity [inaudible 00:17:19] associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Diseases and death. We know that just altering the microbial can alternate personality and your mood. This is huge.
We also have come to understand hormonal birth control and uses. What’s called intestinal hyper permeability. The lay person usually calls this [leaky gut? 00:17:39]. Something that once upon a time people said was not real, and that you are crazy person if you talked about it. Now we understand its central and pivotal role in how we develop autoimmune disease, eczema, food sensitivities. Why is it that people randomly in their 30s, 40s, 50s can no longer eat an egg? What happens with that? When those proteins get through, and then your immune system’s like, “That doesn’t belong here and it does its job.”
This is where we really have to change our lens and how we view things. At least so much of what is termed dysfunction and I say this a lot in women’s medicine, especially sexual dysfunction. There’s a code. We can actually code that and diagnose that. Is we need to flip it’s not dysfunction. It’s adapted physiology. It’s not that you’re broken, is that your body’s adapted to what’s going on in the environment, and it’s trying to survive. I hope everybody listening if you take nothing away, take that you’re not broken, and the dysfunction is actually survival. And it’s adaptation so that you survive in this environment.
With that being said, we understand that has impact on the [gut health? 00:18:40] and for people who are like, “Well, is that really of a big deal?” Well, understand this that your gut is where the majority immune system lives. If you want to turn on an autoimmune disease, go mess around with your gut in a bad way.
A study came out of Harvard showing that if you had a family history of inflammatory bowel disease, and specifically [Crohn’s? 00:18:59] disease, the [inaudible 00:19:00] 300% increase risk of developing Crohn’s disease after being on the pill for five years or more. If you don’t know what Crohn’s disease is, people who are listening, this is where you got alterations through the entire tube. They might show up as canker sores in your mouth or they might show up as ulcers in your intestines. Now, you don’t absorb nutrients. In addition, you can understand if you had an ulcer on your leg, it would hurt. Have an ulcer in your intestines, and have food keep passing by it over and over. Not only does it hurt, it can perforate, it can break open, it can become life threatening. This isn’t something where it’s like, “Oh, you might–“ When we talk about acne and hair loss that comes up with being on the pill. There’s some serious stuff that can happen with that.
Now, to your point about thyroid. This is something that is so astounding. I’ve seen so many of my patients, I would say the majority of my patients, who have gone on to develop hypothyroidism or Hashimoto. Hypothyroidism, which is the autoimmune disease that causes hypothyroidism, predominantly in places where you have access to iodine. Is not generally due to an iodine deficiency.
Majority of my patients had hormonal birth control in their history. I had a question, what could this impact be? And I would see women who are on the pill, and their thyroid levels were just odd. They have low T3 syndrome and I’m in there [inaudible 00:20:22]. I’m like, “What is going on?” And so I went into the research and my husband, he likes to tell people when we’re at dinner parties, “I remember when she stumbled onto this thyroid birth control connection, and how she was locked in her office for like weeks being like studying. Suddenly the first doctor who really brought in all of and gave you full picture of what happened with thyroid.” And part of that is because I have Hashimoto thyroiditis. I actually have Hashimoto hypothyroidism. I take a medication every day, which is why whenever people are like, “You’re just anti-pharma.” I’m like, “Well, that would be hypocritical because I take a medication everyday and I’m super grateful to have it.”
With that, hormonal birth control impacts every single step of the way when it comes to thyroid hormones. When you take a medication that messes with how the [pituitary? 00:21:13] signals to the ovaries, although there’s a compartmentalization in medicine that’s the medication for Reproductive Health. Therefore, they only impacts reproductive health, [inaudible 00:21:22] any medication. Your systems are not separate. Your uterus is not a vacuum container. These hormones interplay and they interact with each other. These medications impact every single system in your body. We thought if you’re messing with the pituitary signaling to the ovaries, then the ovarian adrenal thyroid access is going to be disrupted as well.
TSH, for people who are not familiar with thyroid physiology, I’m going to explain what’s going on. I’m going to take you through thyroid physiology, and hopefully that’s helpful. TSH is brain hormones, thyroid stimulating hormone. It’s what your brain says to your thyroid. This is often the only thing doctors will do test and that’s a bit of a problem because it’s just saying how is your brain communicating to your thyroid. We need to ask the question, how does your thyroid respond? We do that by looking at T4 and your thyroid will make T4 predominantly and a little bit of T3.
Now T4 is the inactive thyroid hormone. I’m going to flush out free versus total T4 here as we get into, how is birth control messing with you? To synthesize T4 and to convert it to a T3, there’s key nutrients we need. We need things like selenium, and B vitamins. These things that are depleted by hormonal birth control. Your [inaudible 00:22:35] may not be able to function because of that and make that hormone. Now when T4 goes out into the periphery. Your other organs and tissues have to convert it to T3. Some of the primary organs that do that are gut and your liver. We just talked about how your guts impact about birth control.
Your liver is also incredibly impacted by birth control. It’s the one that has to detox all those chemicals out, those artificial hormones coming through. We can have an issue with conversion. We’re also lacking nutrients to make that conversion. Now, even if you can make that conversion to T3, because hormonal birth control is inflammatory, the cells can become rigid, and you won’t actually [dock? 00:23:13] that hormone on the receptor. This is receptor resistance. We are most familiar, I think all of us, with [inflammatory? 00:23:19] resistance. Same mechanism become resistant to any hormone at the cellular level.
In addition, we need things like zinc and vitamin A and vitamin D to make that whole mechanism work to get into the into the cell itself. And you’re depleting those with hormonal birth control as well. Now, even if you manage to make thyroid hormone, convert thyroid hormone and get it to the cell, there’s this problem with binding proteins. When you are on hormonal birth control, this is a physiological adaptation need to keep you safe that also gets termed as a dysfunction. Your body’s really smart. Bodies don’t get things wrong as much as our brains get things wrong in terms of cognition. With that, your liver proceeds. There is danger. What is that danger? That you are taking a high enough dose of hormones that even as you pop that pill orally, it’s still gets processed through the liver and then it’s still effective to shut down brain ovarian communication.
For everyone listening, if your doctor said to you, “Well, they’re low dose. This is low dose. Don’t worry about it. It’s low dose.” Where does that come from? That comes from the fact that the first [inaudible 00:24:23] of birth control was so high dose that women died. Women had clots, women were so nauseous and so sick. They dropped out of trials because they didn’t want to take it. Migraines were super bad, depression was super bad, and so as time went on, they lowered the dose. To your doctor, they’re like, “It’s a low dose. It’s low dose. Don’t worry about it.” Comparatively speaking, yes, but physiologically speaking, still a high enough dose to control your reproductive system. This is a drug that’s strong enough to shut down an entire system of your body. Let’s just pause for a minute. You’re like, “Wow, that’s a lot.”
Now, your liver keeping you safe because all those hormones like [inaudible 00:25:00] to stimulate. Ovarian cancer that decreases while we’re on birth control with the risk for breast cancer, brain cancer, liver cancer that increases while we’re on birth control. We have to look at that. That yes, some things they’re protective and other things not so much. But your body being wise, increases sex hormone binding globulin, which is going to grab onto those sex hormones. It also increases thyroid and [cortisol binding globulin? 00:25:25].
Now that thyroid hormone, even if you made it, you’re going to grab onto it. Now, there’s this research study that makes me giggle every time. I’m glad they did this study because the information was really useful. But the conclusion was inaccurate in that they measured what happens to the thyroid hormone [inaudible 00:25:42] and your total T3 will be elevated while you’re on hormonal [inaudible 00:25:59] you don’t use that. You use your free T4 and your free T3. They have to be hormones and so conclusion was incorrect. It’s made a lot of doctors [inaudible 00:26:09]. Your thyroids helps by being on birth control. No, that’s incorrect. [While? 00:26:14] your total hormones go up, you cannot use those at the cellular level [inaudible 00:26:17] found the protein.
I’ve had some people challenge me and say, “That’s not [inaudible 00:26:23] is actually taking birth control. They can know if you’re telling the truth or not, or your binding proteins elevated, sex hormone binding globulin with adrenal hormone, and thyroid binding globulin. Those are all elevated. “Oh, you are in hormonal birth control.” That’s how they know that you’re on it. It’s going to mess with all those hormones. Now that’s just thyroid physiology, but as I said at the top of it, [inaudible 00:26:51] long time here.
[inaudible 00:26:54] the top of this, the number one cause of hypothyroidism. There’s also [inaudible 00:26:58] disease, hyperthyroidism. Much less frequent in the population is [Hyper Hashimoto? 00:27:04] that is an autoimmune disorder. As we talked about, Dr. [Fasano? 00:27:09] brilliant researcher defined what I call the Three Ingredients to Autoimmune Disease, and I’m a foodie, so I just like to talk in ingredients. We thought that you have to have the genetic predisposition. There is intestinal hyper permeability or leaky gut, and then there’s a triggering event.
For women, hormones can be a triggering event. Starting your periods, stopping your period, having a baby, having a miscarriage, getting pregnant, going through menopause, perimenopause. These can all be triggering events. This is part of why we are at highest risk for autoimmune disease. If you’re on a medication that causes leaky gut, and it’s a hormone that can be the triggering event, you may much higher risk of developing an autoimmune disease, and Hashimoto is no exception to that. There’s a lot of information, but you asked me like a three part question. So [crosstalk 00:27:53].
Janna: Yeah, and I love it. Even if maybe not everybody understands everything right now into the tiniest detail, I think, the message it’s huge. It’s impacting everything, and it’s very interesting. Thank you so much for all these inflammation. And so–
JB: Yeah, and for people listening, if you didn’t get it the first time, go back and listen to it again. I hear a lot from my audience that they usually listen to me two to three times through. If you feel like that’s what you need to do, no shame in that. I just had somebody who was like, they had to listen to your book three times on audible and then I went and actually bought the physical book as well to write things down and track things because they’re like, “There’s just so much that I’ve never heard before.” And so understand that if you’re like, “I didn’t get that.” It’s not because you’re not smart or you need to catch up [inaudible 00:28:45]. It’s because this is such new information. That it can take a minute to wrap your head around it. So rewind, re-listen and get in on it.
Janna: And please don’t forget that Jolene and I we can talk about this and say, “Yeah, yeah.” Because we studied that over a decade. It took us years to understand that, right?
JB: Totally, very fair statement.
Janna: Yeah. So one last question about being on the pill. We said before it’s not black and white. There are very personal reasons why you still want to be on the pill, and that’s fine, too. Can you give our listeners a few tips if you decide, “Oh, for my very personal reason, I want to stay on the pill.” What can I do to not live in horror right now? Like, “Oh my God, my whole body will mess up?” How can I support my body while being on the pill?
JB: Yeah, I [run? 00:29:35] this question and it’s something that so many people who’ve read my book they’re truly shocked at how much I give support for them because there are people who got my book being like, “Yeah, I hate birth control, the devil.” And then they get it and they’re like, “Whoa, you seriously, legitimately support women in this?” It’s not my body, it’s not my choice to make for somebody else. And so in the book, you’re going to get lots of labs that you can test and how to talk to your doctor so that you can go in and advocate for yourself. I talked to you through, like how to [inaudible 00:30:04] things, how to look at things and how to protect your body while you’re on it.
This is a big thing that I wish somebody would have just told me like, “Hey.” Because I’m a first generation college student. I don’t know that I would go back and not take the pill. Knowing what I know now I’m like, “I could’ve used fertility awareness method.” But still I’m like, “Would I really trust my 20 something year old self?” That’s a very individualized discussion, right? [inaudible 00:30:27]. I want to be real about things and not be like, “I have so much knowledge now that I can say I do things differently. Oh, my 20 something years old self is a different person.”
With that, [inaudible 00:30:40] every woman to understand that, like, “Yes, I talk about supplements in my book.” But food and lifestyle that is foundation, and you cannot supplement a poor diet and lifestyle. If you are on hormonal birth control, you can’t out diet it in terms of the nutrient depletion. Our food supplying is so low in the nutrients that it once had. That’s hard for us to really replenish when a medication is depleting those and not to say you shouldn’t try because there is, and I hope in the next 20 years that we see the expansion of science that it’s not about macros, and it’s not about micros. That there’s so much more to food because food is really information. And we you know, we’ve got things like fiber phytochemicals.
I just saw something the other day about how trees actually talk and cuddle each other underground and all this stuff. And I’m like, “[inaudible 00:30:40], the planet.” All these organisms are so complicated to think that we’ve ever reduce this to just like, “It’s carbohydrates or fats or proteins. It’s a great way to learn.” But there’s a lot more to it. [inaudible 00:31:44].
What’s important about that is that we all need to eat six to nine servings of vegetables a day. If you don’t even eat vegetables, you’re going to be like, “That’s for [inaudible 00:31:52]. How do I get there?” One thing I encourage [inaudible 00:31:55] you. It’s true. I think about like I do have patients who are like, “I can eat one serving [inaudible 00:32:00].” We start there. Then next week I want you to add a second serving. The next week add a third serving. When we try to change everything overnight, we usually crash and burn. If we go slow and create that change, it usually sticks with us.
One thing that you can add in that is the most bang for your buck and your efforts, is broccoli sprouts and cruciferous vegetable sprouts. Why is this? Because if you’re on hormonal birth control, your liver is in need of a lot of support. The vitamins, amino acids, all of these nutrients that help it run its detox pathways. That’s what we want to do. We want to support what your body is designed to do. That you can bring in things like broccoli sprouts, which are always winning in the research. If you are someone who’s like, “I’m afraid about the breast cancer risk, but I’m not ready to come off.” Broccoli sprouts have been shown to be beneficial and preventative in that. Now that’s not going to undo everything, but it is one step that you can take every day. No matter what your economic status is, everybody can get some organic broccoli seeds somewhere and sprout them in a paper towel on the window. It can be that simple.
Broccoli sprouts are way more potent than broccoli itself in terms of the health benefits that it provides you and it will help a liver detoxification. It will also help feed those little [critters? 00:33:12] in your gut as well. That’s part of the six to nine servings of vegetables a day. I teach women how to do that, and I give a ton of recipes in my book for that as well. We want to build on that foundation, the diet, we need to bring in healthy fats. Our brain needs that. That’s how we build hormones, and I teach you about that in the book.
Then we do need to have a high quality protein because without amino acids, we cannot run the detox pathways. Plus you need to try to keep your muscle mass up and muscle is incredibly energetically expensive. There’s a lot to that high quality protein.
With all that, we want to get that diet [inaudible 00:33:48] style then and we want to make sure that we’re bringing in a prenatal or multivitamin so that [inaudible 00:33:54] the difference is, generally speaking, if you are a woman who’s still menstruating, you usually do need a bit more iron because birth controls effect on the thyroid. We might have lower hydrochloric acid and so that can make it a little more difficult to get your iron [stores? 00:34:07] up. Looking at that, making sure you have [inaudible 00:34:10] vitamins, that you have the right balance of selenium and iodine, and really replenishing those nutrients stores.
Women that feel better just when they start to change their diet and take a multivitamin or prenatal while they’re on the pill and they’re like, “Wow, like I have more energy. I’m less fatigued.” Is like, “Yeah.” Because your system has– you’re getting that signal that the environment is safe and your system has a lot more to work with. That’s a little bit about that [inaudible 00:34:35].
The other thing you want to do is start thinking about, and I always love to think about like, “How can we do one thing and have it effect multiple systems?” And because the pill is inflammatory, bringing in something like [turmeric? 00:34:47] root can be really beneficial. They actually like women to [inaudible 00:34:51] fresh turmeric. Whether you put it into a mug and you chew it up at the end, not everybody always loves that, or you just [inaudible 00:34:56] it straight into food, because as you’re eating that, that’s going to lower your inflammation in your gut, inflammation throughout your whole body.
In addition, that fiber is going to feed those gut bugs. It’s not just about probiotics, but you probably will need one, it’s also about giving the [inaudible 00:35:11] what it needs so that it can thrive. If you are taking in [collagen? 00:35:15], if you are taking in the diverse fibers, it’s not just take [inaudible 00:35:19] every day or take [flaxseed? 00:35:21] every day, but it’s like diversity of fibers equal diversity in the [microbiome? 00:35:25]. We want to set it up so that despite that pill coming in and cutting down the number of troops you have to protect your body, you can help feed them and protect them while they’re on it. That’s a few of the things that I would in terms of dietary, and these are somewhat lifestyle factors.
The other thing is to say [inaudible 00:35:25] your body repairs and your brain repairs. It is while you’re sleeping and while you’re on hormonal birth control, [inaudible 00:36:10] sleeps going to be really important so that your brain [inaudible 00:36:13] and so that you can optimize your health and all of that. If it [inaudible 00:36:18] right and beyond the pill, you won’t be afraid of going on birth control, coming off of birth control or being afraid to take a natural [route? 00:36:27] and not use birth control symptoms. That’s really very well [inaudible 00:36:33] supported.
I want them to know what should they be asking their doctor for, how to talk to your doctor, and when to go to your doctor, seeing them [more ally? 00:36:43] and not an enemy and all of this, and none [inaudible 00:36:47] and making fear based decisions. I think that what I set out to do in the book, is to educate you so well and help you know your body so well that when you go to your doctor, you can’t help but have a productive conversation, because you now are very-body literate, and you can speak to them. That’s part of the gap, right? Is that we don’t get taught about our bodies. We go to a doctor and they’re trying to talk to us. We didn’t know what data to track, we didn’t know what to pay attention to. We don’t even know what’s going on in our body and then they don’t have the time to educate us in that way.
And so I really wanted to start this book up. It’s written for both the clinician and the patient. Is a patient guide but it’s also something that so many doctors have written me and they’re like, “This is changing my clinical practice. This is changing how I approach things. This is changing the conversations that I’m having with women.” We had one doctor as soon as the book came out, I have to share this, they actually sent me a message and they were like, “I’m a doctor and this is so much information, like Whoa.” I felt like I got hit with a fire hydrant. Like this is a clinicians manual. This is [inaudible 00:37:44] more than medical school did about. These hormones and birth control. I had a panic in that moment. And it was like, “Oh my god, I put too much in the book. Everybody’s going to be overwhelmed.” I freaked out and like “Oh.” And then I was silly, and everybody [inaudible 00:37:58] to me, but it was awesome. I calmed down.
But I had a moment where I was like, “Oh my god, I just overwhelmed people, which is the exact opposite of what I wanted to do.” The book, people know, it’s designed for you to get in and get out. You can get all the way through which is very tricky thing to do as an author as I designed it to be read all the way through but also designed it so that you can take the hormone quiz in chapter one. Go exactly to the section you need, read about that and start feeling better tomorrow rather than reading 200 pages of problems and me say, “Now read another hundred pages to get the solution.” I hate that. I personally [inaudible 00:38:33] feel better.
Publishers were like, “Of course we want them to read it all the way through.” And I said to them like, “Bless my publishers because they look out.” When you have editors on your book, they’re looking out for the reader journey and the readers’ experience. They’re like, “Of course, we want everyone to read it.” And what I said to them is, “Yeah, we do.” But if you have a woman with estrogen dominance, who has extreme mood swings and PMS, and you say, “You just read all these problems. Now read another two hundred pages to get this.” She will rip the book in half. She will [inaudible 00:39:04] and then curse my name. We can’t do that to women. If your hormones are off the chain, then you just need a solution right now. Then you can go back and you can read more.
Janna: Perfect. I have to give you a heads up here. Your book is amazing for me as coming from the medical world too. I love that. I love how you broke it down, but still so many information in the background there. I was sitting there reading a book thinking like, “When did you [inaudible 00:39:32] do all that? Did she hide in a cave for 10 years to do that?” I was really amazed. Also the clients I give the book to, they also find it so helpful. Thank you so much for writing this amazing book.
JB: Yeah, well, it’s something that– the book writing process is about two years, but people are like, “Oh, so you did this book in two years?” I’m like, “No, this book was really like 10 years because I was observing and documenting, and observing and writing things down.” When I was in that homeless youth clinic, I actually had, people who grew up with the internet are going to kind of laugh, but I had written notes. I had written notes on all of this. What I saw with women and so the people think like, “Oh.” The moment that they see you is the moment that you arrived. People were like, “This Post Birth Control Syndrome thing. I feel like you just started talking about this in the last year.” I’m like, “Oh, no, I was talking about it for a long time.”
But you don’t come out and start to talk about things until you have validated it for yourself enough times. I didn’t want to come out and be like, “Hey, I think this is going on, but I’m not quite sure.” And [inaudible 00:40:39] my patients so much because they trusted me and there’re why the protocols exists. These protocols in my book are from one on one consult with patients who track their data. We ran a hypothesis, we tested it in this individual, this end of one, and they came back. Then we did it again with the next woman and saw really what helped the most, what didn’t have the most. It’s a big question.
I get is standard elimination diets. They take out eggs but we threaten protocol. You didn’t take out eggs and I’m like, “How many patients prove to me that I didn’t have to do that [inaudible 00:41:12] immune disease maybe.” But if you’re a woman and really, with all of that, what do you get with eggs? You can’t buy a [inaudible 00:41:19] that’s going to help with your hair loss and re-growing hair. You’re going to get those healthy fats in and healthy cholesterol to build your hormones full of antioxidants, if it’s the right kind of egg, amino acids, you run your detox. It helps with insulin sensitization. All of this stuff that’s in the power of an egg, but then I’m like, “[inaudible 00:41:37] my patients when they would come back.”
They would be like, “I did everything but I didn’t take out eggs.” Like, “I kept it.” Because it was really a struggle for them. I’m like, “Oh, wow, and you got better and things improved?” And so I’m like, “Well, then the standard elimination diet doesn’t totally apply in terms of what we’re doing with hormones and Post Birth Control Syndrome. I’m not going to take it out. Let’s leave it in for women. They were way less stressed with the dietary changes they need to make.” I think that also results in positive outcomes because we can get stressed out about our diet.
So appreciate you saying all that, but that’s really how it was developed and how it came about. For me, you just don’t step onto the scene and offer, raise issues and say we’ve got problems without offering solutions. That is in the book. I made it. It’s like if I present a problem, immediate solution, problem, solution, because what do I know about women? If your progesterone is not right, if you’re on the pill, the patch, the ring, the IUD, any of these things, you’ve come off of it. Your Post Birth Control Syndrome, odds are, you’ve got some anxiety and that’s going to be like– and I didn’t want to be contributing to that like, here’s the problem, immediate solution.
That is something so many women have reported back. Is the most satisfying thing and I’m like, “I wrote it [inaudible 00:42:51]. What if I was 14 with no attention span? What do I need? Read it. Get a solution? What if I’m like 40 something years old, and I’m having extreme symptoms, and I don’t feel, well, problem, solution right away. That you never once have to feel like, “Oh, I’m screwed and I’m the stupidest person in the world because I took this.” We need less shame and less judgment.
Janna: Yeah, absolutely. So my last question on that. When women, when they are listening to that and they are on the pill and they debated for quite a while, “Should I get off it or not?” Of course they all should read your book. This is a short note, they should, but what are your top tips to prepare getting off the pill? To prepare your body and also your mind?
JB: Yeah, so when you get into, excuse me I’ve been talking all morning, trying to drink my tea. So when you get into the principles of Getting Started chapter, that’s where I cover this information of what to consider. This whole book is choose your own adventure based on your individual factors. If you got on the pill because you have acne or heavy periods or regular periods, if you got on it for symptom management, prep your body for a good three months through the [inaudible 00:44:10] you going to do [inaudible 00:44:16] so that’s not you’re going to leave out the foods all this time. We’re testing which foods, how they affect you, what’s true for you.
Everyone listening, there is no bad food. There is no like we need to stop vilifying food. I don’t. Yes, we could argue sugars not the best thing ever, but when it makes your dopamine go boom, and you feel amazing, like there some benefit there. But for real, we need to stop creating [orthorexia? 00:44:39], so to speak, in women by saying foods [inaudible 00:44:41], foods information. The information we want to glean is how does food interact with you? What’s true for you? And because there’s lots of true information out there, but all it matters at the end of the day is, is it true for you? You’ll want to prep your body for a good three months. You’ll go through the dietary protocol, you want to [inaudible 00:44:57], you want to keep eating in the detox way of lots of cruciferous vegetables, amino acid. This is just foundational for all women’s hormonal health.
And then as you make that transition off, you’re going to do the quiz, you’re going to document everything of how you’re feeling as you transition off, you’re going to take the quiz again. That way you can refine and really fine tune those quizzes throughout this entire book so that you can refine and fine tune. I wrote this book to be something that stays with you for life. That initially you’re going back to this book with very high frequency and then as things get better, you’re visiting this book like twice a year, but that you can always go back. If something comes up with your hormonal symptoms and you have hormone imbalance, you can come right back to the book, dial it in and start to intervene sooner than later. And that’s the ideal.
As a doctor, I’m like, “If everybody just recognize that oh, I have PMS. Let me go and make these shifts before it becomes– I can’t even function two weeks out of the month.” That is seriously something you can gift yourself with, and it’s [inaudible 00:45:56] birth control for something like endometriosis. If you got on hormonal birth control for something like endometriosis, that is something you might need to spend a good six months prepping. You want to have a healthcare team that you’re working with because as you transition off with endometriosis, you’ll always need a healthcare team. One doctor can’t be everything for you. You’re going to need a doctor, you’re going to need a really skilled surgeon as part of the team.
If you need that massage therapist, mental health specialist, because anybody with chronic pain ends up with depression, it [inaudible 00:46:33] say that General, but it’s very common. You might want to spend six months before you transition off and have a plan with your provider. All the anti-inflammatories and period pain solutions I gave you in the book can help with that as well. If you’ve gone on hormonal birth control because you didn’t want to have a baby, when you get to the end of the pill pack or it’s time to take off that patch, remove the ring, you can go ahead and do that. Only a licensed medical provider who has prescriptive rights for these can advise you on that. If you want to get advice around that, I recommend you meet with the provider and do not remove your IUD yourself. I just got tuned in that there’s this whole internet community of women who do this. Don’t do that. That’s a bad idea.
There are some things to DIY. Removing an IUD is not to DIY because if you do it wrong, it’s going to hurt. Skin hurts so bad. Don’t do that. It’s seriously in a doctor’s office. It’s such a quick procedure. Why mess around with it? And so as you come off of hormonal birth control, you are going to make sure that you’re adhering to dietary practices that optimize the natural physiology of your body, the lifestyle factors. I go through the book of how to safeguard circadian rhythm, how to reduce stress, how to move your body, how to time your meals, if that’s something you need.
We talked about the whole gamut of like, if you have autoimmune disease, if you have got issues, if you have detoxification issues, if you have a low libido, if you’re wanting to get pregnant, and we take you through the different considerations that you should have around that and different ways to approach it within each of the chapters to really support your body and all of that. As you take the quiz and you figure out your hormone imbalance, like the key troublemakers, what I call it in your body, you will be taken to a section that talks about, “Okay, eating this is going to be really helpful, these lifestyle factors are going to be the most beneficial for you. Really [inaudible 00:48:27] on those so you don’t feel so overwhelmed.
Then here’s supplements that can help as well. I call supplements the Rocket Fuel to Healing. If you are in the healing phase, odds are you’re going to need supplements in that. We have to recognize, though, that you can’t just pile supplements on top of eating fast food. It’s not going to work that way. I do give supplement charts and supplement protocols. Like I said, you have to replenish nutrients stores, and there are things that can help aid in balancing your hormones and optimizing your own natural physiology. That’s really what supplements work to do.
It’s important for women to understand when you work with your body naturally to support your physiology, that takes time. If you take a medication that [strong-arms? 00:49:13] your body into submission that can work overnight in some cases. Thank goodness that we have that because when you need [pregnant? 00:49:19] zone, you need pregnant zone and that working overnight is so amazing. When you really want to heal naturally, it’s going to take time. One thing I can say that’s a good rule is that as long as you’ve been on hormonal birth control, so let’s say you’ve been on it for like 10 years, it’s going to take a good 10 months of loving your body and really paying attention to it to help you support, getting back on track.
Does it mean it will take 10 months until you feel better? No, it doesn’t mean it will take 10 months until you feel better, but you have to recognize that you’ve been on this medication, there’s been some stuff done We need to really show our body some love and support to make that transition successful.
Janna: Okay, wow, thank you so much for so many information. My head is spinning already. I love it so much and that just can recommend everybody to really get your book and read it through a few times. And see in which way you want to use it. What I really, as you said before, it’s having so many solutions for so many different variations of lifestyle. If you want to stay on the pill, if I want to get off it and all these kind of things which are very important to make it very individual. Thank you so much for that.
JB: Thank you so much for all the work that you do and for helping support get this message, supporting and getting this message out.
Janna: Oh, absolutely. Is there anything you would like to add to? Is there anything we missed out you really want to share with my audience to wrap this interview up?
JB: I think the biggest thing is that you know your body better than anyone else. You are the only one who’s knows what’s normal and what’s not normal. There is a phenomenon that’s well documented in the United States called Medical Gender Bias and Gaslighting that happens where we are told that symptoms are in our head and what we’re saying isn’t actually true. Write it down, document your symptoms because if you write it down, there’s no way somebody can tell you that your story is not real because you’ve got that data right there. If you don’t write it down, they can [Jedi mind? 00:51:28] trick you but women, respect your story and respect your body. Don’t ever stop advocating for yourself because you do know what’s normal for you and what is not.
Janna: Yeah. Thank you so much for sharing your message here. Giving us all these information. I will link in the show notes and everywhere else where all my wonderful ladies who are listening too that can find you.
Thank you so much for taking the time and sharing.
JB: Yeah, well thank you so much for having me and it’s just so exciting to me that in this day and age, we can be in totally different places in the world and be able to connect and have this conversation. Thank you so much.
Janna: Thank you