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August 2011 | Newsletter archives

Why endocrinology is important for you

I’m often asked what endocrinology is and what an endocrinologist does. The short answer to both has to do with hormones. Endocrinology is the study of hormones and an endocrinologist is a hormone specialist, helping men and women deal with the damaging effects of hormones on the body both inside and out. Hormonal imbalance causes fatigue, weight gain, dry skin and hair loss. It’s also responsible for lack of sex drive, and contributes to accelerated aging. If you look in the mirror and notice your skin looking older than it did yesterday, chances are, it’s because of hormones.

If you have a physical symptom that isn’t site specific (like a stomach ache or chest pain), most doctors don’t know what to do about it.  In the western world, physicians are taught how to treat life and death and disease almost as individual components, not as part of a larger picture.

As an endocrinologist, I look at medicine through a much broader perspective.  By the time I was 30, I had traveled to more than 100 countries, and I have continued my travels throughout my life often studying how indigenous peoples deal, both medically and philosophically, with the ills they face in their communities.  I’ve been to South America to learn about native Indian cultures, to Australia to learn about Aborigines’ eating habits; I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to see how people responded to the extreme changes in climate.  I’ve been to many parts of Asia to learn meditation with the monks, to China, Mongolia, and Tibet, where I gathered information on how those cultures deal with issues of aging and fatigue. 

Western society is beginning to incorporate some “alternative medicine” into its practices—mostly Chinese herbs and acupuncture.  But we’ve ignored the traditions from the land where humanity started: Africa. We rarely study the medicine that comes from that part of the world, and yet it’s been around almost since the birth of mankind. The most important lesson I have learned from their practices is that they don’t just give their patients potions and powders and send them on their way. They look at everything that’s going on in their lives—at their daily routines, their relationships with family and friends. Depending on their illness, they might be given medicine plus instructions on what time to get up in the morning, what kinds of food they must eat, and how they must now treat their mother-in-law.  It’s all a part of the healing process.

Now when I ask questions of my patients, I explain it’s not because I’m a gossip interested in their juicy details.  I ask questions because unless I understand how you function in your family, your job, your travels, and in your daily life, I can’t understand what’s going on with you hormonally. 

If we can get your hormones rebalanced, we can also turn back the clock, internally and externally. When your hormones run as they should, your youth, energy and overall health can be restored. That’s endocrinology.

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