Getting Down to the Basics of PCOS Care with Dr. Carol Lourie

Welcome to Episode 2 of Season 7 of The PCOS Revolution Podcast:

Getting Down to the Basics of PCOS Care With Dr. Carol Lourie

From integrative medicine to acupuncture and naturopathic practices, there are various ways to heal your PCOS naturally and we’ll be discussing a few of our favorites on this episode.

This week on PCOS Revolution Podcast, I am having a conversation with Dr. Carol Lourie. She is a special guest with three decades worth of experience working with women dealing with hormonal imbalances. She uses integrative medicine, acupuncture and naturopathic practices to help women.

Dr. Lourie worked in doctor’s office that received patients that standard medicine couldn’t help. This really opened her eyes to natural healing and what it could do for people. Carol has always been a champion for women and women’s health. Her fascination with chronic illness led to her concentration with PCOS.

During this episode we discuss a variety of topics from menopause to gut repair. Menopause is only going to be as easy as your hormones are balanced. We’ll talk about different contributing factors to hormone imbalances.  We also discuss the liver and looking at how it is backed up, brain gut connections, what to look for in a probiotic and becoming a smart shopper. Carol has a lot of tips when it comes to vitamins. She has spent a great deal of time and energy researching how they are made. Carol recommends a healing smoothie as a meal replacement, using eco-friendly products and being aware of estrogen disrupters.

When it comes to life changes such as menopause it’s all about having a strong emotional foundation. Your personal attitude about yourself and how you feel about yourself can be a really determining factor in how you progress through the different phases of life. Learn more from Dr. Carol Lourie during this episode of The PCOS Revolution.

Episode Spotlights:

  • How Dr. Carol Lourie became interested in naturopathic medicine ([1:22])
  • Her interest in women’s health and PCOS ([3:02])
  • Personal story related to overcoming challenges using natural medicine ([4:23])
  • What you’re looking for in a Dutch panel ([6:58])
  • Hormones and gut health ([9:27])
  • Ideas for someone wanting to replenish gut bacteria ([12:41])
  • Lifestyle recommendations for PCOS ([17:15])
  • Moving through stages of menopause ([20:51])

READ the Entire Transcript Here:

Read Full Transcript

Farrar Duro [0:01]
Hi everybody and welcome back to The PCOS Revolution podcast. I’m here with Carol Lourie, who is a special guest today because she has about three decades of experience working with women with hormonal imbalances through a combination approach of integrative medicine, acupuncture, and naturopathic medicine. She practices in Berkeley, California at the Natural Healthcare and Healing Center and she often refers to hormonal imbalance, PCOS and fertility as a wheel with many spokes. They’re interrelated and respond to some similar approaches to treatment and the contributing factors or spokes of the wheel, or metabolic syndrome or blood sugar dysregulation, inflammatory processes, HPA or hypothalamic, pituitary adrenal axis imbalance, and your body’s response to environmental toxins. And each of these spokes contribute to PCOS and impact of women’s health or fertility. So welcome, I’m so honored to have you here today.

Dr. Carol Lourie [1:00]
I’m honored to be here, I’m very excited to share all my experience and the love of what I do with your audience.

Farrar Duro [1:08]
So you have been practicing for quite some time. Tell us about how you became interested in naturopathic medicine. I know you’re in Berkeley, so that’s kind of a mecca for complementary medicine and integration in general. But how did you get interested in working with that area?

Dr. Carol Lourie [1:27]
Well, I was always interested in being a doctor and had planned on going to regular medical school, but I ended up living in a spiritual community in New York and my roommate at the time had just recovered from being treated for cancer and sought out a holistic doctor to help her detoxify. You have to understand this was in the early 70’s and in the early 70’s, the word detoxify was a strange word. People didn’t know what that meant. Now, it has become part of our normal daily life and our health. But in the 70’s, that was like you’re, you’re doing what-what’s detoxify? I ended up working in this doctor’s office and he got all the rejects that standard medicine had not been able to help. It began to open my eyes to what the power and the beauty of natural healing could do for people. And as your your path would have it, there was a catalog to the National College of naturopathic medicine in his office. I saw that and I realized I had found my path. I applied there and was accepted and that was the beginning of my education.

Farrar Duro [2:47]
Very nice. Awesome! Tell us a little bit about how you became interested more in PCs, women’s health in general, what what attracted you to that?

Dr. Carol Lourie [2:58]
Well, I’m all about I’ve always been a champion for women and for women’s health, that’s just part of who I am. I love working with complex a chronic complicated illness and PCOS is one of those, It’s a combination of many different factors. It also can influence a woman’s fertility, and I do a lot of fertility work in my practice. So it just seems like a natural approach to begin to incorporate working with PCOs and fertility and women’s hormones and underlying health conditions, to put them all together into a comprehensive protocol.

Farrar Duro [4:04]
Can you tell us a personal story of something that you overcame using natural medicine and to help with hormonal imbalance in general?

Dr. Carol Lourie [4:17]
Well, I would say that for me, it was as I transitioned into menopause and my perimenopausal time, I had a child late in life, I was 42 and a half when she was born at home. So I went through the pregnancy when I was in my early 40s. And then I had a an infant and a two year old as I became mid in my mid 40s. I’d say that right after the birth, I really began to realize the difficulty of the postpartum period personally, because you’re not sleeping very well, you’re nursing, and then there is the pressure of going back to work, especially if you’re self employed and you have a practice. So I began to really realize that I needed to use on myself all the tools that I used in my practice, and started eating really cleanly. I made vegetable juices, I took supplements that were safe to take while I was nursing, I made sure I got exercise and sleep, and really practice mindfulness and distressing.

Dr. Carol Lourie [5:25]
And then as soon as I stopped nursing, I really went into a full detox protocol and supportive protocol to balance my hormones. Because one of the things that it’s important to know is your menopause is only going to be as easy as how much balance you have with your hormones. So if you’ve been suffering from imbalanced hormones all your life, when you start menopause, it can be very difficult with the hot flashes, the irritability and all of the changes occurring it with see like roller coaster speed.

Dr. Carol Lourie [6:02]
So in my practice, I always start with women, no matter where their age is with doing a Dutch hormonal panel, and seeing how they are breaking down their hormones and where are the imbalances. From that, we can then really begin to address it from the root cause or foundational approach.

Farrar Duro [6:23]
I really love that test, and I want to talk a little bit about that, because I feel like women of all ages should know about this test. I think it’s true that things that happen, like they always say, if you have PMS, then look out for menopause, because there’s things that are existing that could compound, those hot flashes and all that later in life. So it’s good to address it earlier. When you do the Dutch test, what are you looking for, in particular, if someone’s having PMS or PCOS?

Dr. Carol Lourie [6:57]
specifically? Absolutely. So you want to look at how your body is breaking down your estrogen and also what is the estrogen progesterone ratio, and that the Dutch panel, I feel like it’s the most comprehensive test. It also gives you all the biochemical pathways. And you can take your time, it takes several hours sometimes to really go back to the beginning and look at the biochemistry and to really assess for each woman as an individual, what her body is doing with her hormonal status, and how can you best help her break down estrogen and eliminate it. So you don’t have a buildup of estrogen, which is called estrogen dominance.

Farrar Duro [7:42]
And those things you see they actually used to it. For those of you who are not familiar who missed our episode with Dr. Kerry Jones from Precision analytical about the Dutch test, you can go back and listen to that. She gives you a pretty good picture about what it does. You can also go to their website at Dutch test calm, and you’ll see all the different panels that they do and different things. But it’s very cutting edge, it’s a newer type of the way of looking at the hormones that I feel like it’s going to be standard and maybe 10 or 20 years, as far as what it can be. I think that everybody metabolizes hormones in different rates, and that’s one of the problems with a one size fits all approach with birth gray, and estrogen replacement therapy, not everybody is going to respond the same. Many years ago I said I can’t take birth control, some doctors would look at me like I was crazy. Well, I found out from the Dutch test why I couldn’t take it. I don’t metabolize estrogen very well. So there’s a way to find that out. And then there’s ways to help when things do come up. So when you have women that are coming to you for help, and you start with the Dutch house, you go into detail about what the body is doing, how you’re processing, the hormones, and all of that, it even goes into markers for vitamin deficiencies and neurotransmitters and all kinds of things. At that point, how long does it take for you to start seeing the results when you start treating?

Dr. Carol Lourie [9:15]
Well, it really depends on how big the imbalance is and what we need to start, the hormones are very connected to the health of the gut. So it’s hormones are not just an individual thing out there floating around in your body, they’re part of a very complex, interrelated system within your body. We need to attend to all of those little pieces, which is why I was saying in my little bio, that it’s like spokes on a wheel. If there is a lot of buildup of estrogen and the woman is estrogen dominant, it’s often a sign that there’s gut disposes and/or the liver is not able to break down the hormones properly, so we need to start with gut repair and maybe do some functional medicine test testing for the gut to assess what’s happening with it, and also look at the liver and see how backed up it is and what can we do to support the liver with natural things like the castor oil pack, juicing, changing your diet and some liquid tropic factors are milk thistle herbs are wonderful. The liver responds very well to herbal medicine.

Farrar Duro [10:28]
I’m going back to maybe a an example that some of our listeners can be identified with or not. I was on antibiotics for eight years growing up eight to 10 years of my childhood, mostly most of my childhood, from sinus infections. We know in Chinese medicine that when you have PCOS, you tend to be more on the damp side or Flemmi. And so definitely those antibiotics over time, just destroyed my gut function and my ability to process my hormones and detoxify them out. After the years and years of antibiotics, I found Chinese medicine, which is great but I come from a family of MD’S and nurses. And that’s the best thing that they could give me at the time. That’s what they knew. I didn’t get better until I actually started herbal medicine and acupuncture but, and low and behold, a cycle started changing. So I think when that was happening, you don’t realize at the time, because you’re young, what your gut is going through. But it absolutely just destroys everything. If you continue on antibiotics, and now they’re finding out all the whole gut brain connection and all that. I think there’s many ways to put back those good flora and the gut and change up the diet. But, when you come from many years of antibiotics, like a lot of our listeners have probably identified with. For some reason or another, being on antibiotics for a long period of time. And really, replacing that bacteria over time, I think that it can definitely trigger hormonal imbalances. A lot of times people don’t go that far back, and that’s what the beauty of this medicine is, as you start to go. What happened? When did things start going wrong? It didn’t start out this way, and what some things are hereditary, and some things are not and some things are environmental. But I really believe there’s a strong environmental hereditary reaction with PCOS, and that it’s a combination of things, not just just one What kind of ideas would you give someone who is trying to replenish their gut bacteria? besides just buying a probiotic at the drugstore? What would be the best thing?

Dr. Carol Lourie [12:47]
Well, let’s just start with that. To buy a probiotic over the counter at the drugstore is not going to get you what you need. I am what I am, I’m a self proclaimed what I call vitamins snob. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy researching how vitamins are made, how did the companies comply? Do they make them to pharmaceutical quality? production line? Do they research each of the individual products that go into the capsule, and if you have a bottle and it has an ID number on it, if you would call the company, would they be able to say Oh, yes, this part of this bottle came from this company. And it was third party tested to the standards. These are the standards in which I support and use supplements in my clinical practice and I recommend very specific products to my online community. That is one of the things that I really want to encourage women to be become smart shoppers, and spend your money wisely. And if you are going to use a probiotic or prebiotic, and you’re going to get it from health food store. First of all, it should be refrigerated and it should be dairy free. You want to get one of the more expensive ones not because more money is always better but because that company has used very high quality standards control when they produce their products. It takes more than pre or probiotics to replenish the gut flora, and I think it’s a complicated thing to do this by yourself.

Dr. Carol Lourie [14:30]
I would encourage women to find a naturopath or a functional medicine doctor or a Chinese medicine practitioner who has taken functional medicine classes and really understands or even a chiropractor, who really understands how do you start, what testing do you need, and how do you then be able to begin to build the program, because when somebody comes to see me, I may know that eventually they’re going to need 10 different supplements, I’m not going to give them 10 new products at once during their initial visit, because one, they’ll be overwhelmed, and they won’t do it. And two, it’s too much for their body to adjust to. So we really need to build the protocol slowly and start out with a few things and make the dietary changes. And then in a few weeks, you add a few more products. One of the ways of getting really the nutrient dense nutrition and nurturing that you need, I do something called a healing smoothie. We can start with either a whey protein or a pea isolate vegetarian protein, to that we can add some prebiotic power powder, either water or not unsweetened nut milk with quercetin, ascorbic powder, and some other ingredients in there too, flax seeds, you can put in there blueberries for antioxidants. You can really be giving yourself a healing smoothie as a meal replacement. But it will also really help provide your body with the nutrition and nurturing that she needs. You can also put in an isotonic powder in there that’s specifically very good for women with PCOS.

Farrar Duro [16:15]
Definitely, that’s really good. And it can be it can be enjoyable to it doesn’t have to be something that, you’re taking a million pills, because we see that in our practice to patients who come in with, they’re going to three or four different practitioners, and they’re just loaded down with supplements, and I’m like your poor liver, it’s going to work really hard to have to predict all that down. And I don’t really know how much of it is getting to where it needs to go in the first place. So kind of have to press pause and just start to, kind of take take things in one by one and see how your body responds, so it’s great that you’re saying that. There are phases of treatment that it takes kind of knowing when to introduce something so that your body is ready to assimilate it. Can you share one lifestyle recommendation that maybe is your favorite one that you’d like to give for women with PCOS?

Dr. Carol Lourie [17:15]
I love telling the story. And I’m happy to do that. I had this lovely young woman come in to see me, she had pretty bad PCOS and she had on a lot of perfume. In my office, of course, I always tell people before they come in, this is a century office so please don’t wear perfume. And I said to her, did you not wear perfume today? Or did you wear perfume today? She said, Oh no, I don’t have any perfume on. So I believed her. But I realized she must be using body care or hair care products. So I said to her, tell me a little bit about your house. She goes Oh, I love sense. I have those like that sense stuff all over that plugins stuff in the wall. And I use and I don’t want to name many products, but I used that product that they advertise where you have a smelly couch and you’re supposed to spray that on the couch. And I use dryer sheets and I’m sitting there and I’m thinking oh my goodness, estrogen disrupting 101. I said her do me a favor. When you go home, I want you to grab all of this stuff, I told her about estrogen disruptors and I said and put it on the table and take a photo. All of the cleaning products, all of the dryer sheets, your laundry, and all of that smelly stuff, and the spraying stuff and everything and she took a picture, there were 29 different items that she was using as part of her daily life that was interfering with her estrogen disrupting, and she couldn’t get pregnant. So this I , quote, The last ditch effort, it was either me and it was going to work or she was going to end up spending $35,000 on IVF. And I said, let’s give this like three to six months. And I I can’t imagine you’re not getting pregnant. So sure enough, after we detoxed her home, and we put her on a really healthy Mediterranean style diet with the healing smoothie and supplements in four months, she was pregnant.

Farrar Duro [19:13]
Awesome. Wow, it’s great!

Dr. Carol Lourie [19:16]
That is my favorite story. And that photo of the 29 different items. And I said not only are there 29 different items, but how many hundreds of dollars of product here are you using that is one, not healthy for you and two, keeping you from getting pregnant, and it’s not healthy for your husband and the baby to be. I think detoxing your home and using eco products is one of the first steps that all women need to do for not only for themselves, but for their household and their family and loved ones.

Farrar Duro [19:50]
That’s so true. And it’s interesting, because a lot of times people will know, okay, I’m not supposed to wear perfume, and I’m not supposed to eat foods that are not organic. But yet they’re Home is full of estrogen disruptors. So that’s important. There’s a website we can link to that will also give people advice, if you guys want to check it out, and it lists things that are like the Dirty Dozen, and all those things are not good. I think that it’s really important to to share these stories, because not only have you had over 30 years of practice, you see what works and you are sounds like you have a pretty clear system, as far as really getting to the root of what these imbalances are that women are coming in with. Can you are something personally, that you found very helpful for moving through the different stages of menopause, and pre menopause, and all that helped you?

Dr. Carol Lourie [20:51]
Well, for me personally, and for the women I work with, because I work with women who are younger, as well as older. I think having a strong emotional foundation is very important. Of course, we want to be eating properly and do stress management and life healthy lifestyle choices. But when it comes down to it, your personal attitude about yourself and how you feel about yourself, and how you talk to yourself inside of your mind, that can be a really determining factor on how you progress through the different phases of life. In our society, the messages we get from advertising are so linear about what women should look like and how we should act and how we should dress. And what our body types should be. That it’s very hard not to sometimes feel bad about yourself. It’s those little, those little brain moments where you look around and you go, oh, people are younger, or they’re taller or thinner or whatever, that kind of self comparing is called “How to make yourself feel bad without even trying”. I think that having a calming centering practice that you do every day, even if it’s only for 5 or 10 minutes, can make really big difference in how you ease and you transition through your different lifestyle moments.

Farrar Duro [22:22]
That’s so true, I it just keeps coming back to the self care part, which is also a mental hygiene as well,

Dr. Carol Lourie [22:29]
Mental Hygiene, yes.

Dr. Carol Lourie [22:30]
And also something that you love to do that nourishes you that doesn’t have anything to do with work or taking care of yourself or the kids or the laundry or the garden or the house for me. I love to garden. So that is very nurturing and nourishing. I also love to look at art. So I think it’s wonderful and important to find something that you love to do that doesn’t have anything to do with anything rational, but just is positive and makes you feel good, could be coloring, it could be art, could be knitting could be exercise, whatever, it just needs to bring you joy and have fun. And when you hold on to that, and you’re eating properly, and you become aware of that inner negative voice as you get older, it makes things go a lot easier for you.

Farrar Duro [23:18]
So true. I think, in general, we say things that we don’t even realize we’re telling ourselves and I’ve heard it called compare slugger or you just go out there, they look like they’re so healthy, they can get pregnant so easily and what’s going on with me and I should be getting pregnant to that after one month of trying and that sort of thing. And it just becomes it’s like a poison from the inside.

Dr. Carol Lourie [23:45]
I know everybody’s journey and everybody’s path are really different. And you can look at somebody on the outside and think oh, they have it’s so easy. But one of the things I’ve learned being a doctor for all these years is you never know what kind of trauma and pain people have. Once you scratch the surface and everyone has something, it’s impossible not to even though people that you think have it’s so great. You scratch that surface, and they have pain just like the rest of us. And that’s what brings us together, I think that we’re all on a healing path and healing journey.

Farrar Duro [24:23]
So true. I really appreciate you bringing this all together. Because, I don’t think there’s any hormonal imbalance that can’t be overcome. And I think that’s true. If you could recommend an internet resource that you tell your patients to go to, or anything that are an app that’s been helpful, what would you recommend?

Dr. Carol Lourie [24:48]
You know, I’m sort of old school, I do one on one work with people, I don’t generally refer them to the internet for something that I hope I can provide them with.

Farrar Duro [25:00]
That definitely there’s some good resources out there. And there’s some that are a little bit more confusing. So I think that, you know, having books even in mind that would be helpful for patients. Do you recommend any books?

Dr. Carol Lourie [25:17]
There’s some good books about, Well, I like to read human psychology, which most people don’t appreciate. But

Dr. Carol Lourie [25:26]
Donald Kalsched is a union analyst who’s written several books on trauma, which I think they’re very deep and they’re very beautifully written. And if you have trauma, and that emotional experience is influencing your health, which most times it does, in addition to doing your therapy and healing work, I find that reading books about it are very helpful. So I would recommend Donald Kalsched some of his books on trauma.

Farrar Duro [25:57]
Very nice. And also, if you could recommend a party piece of guidance for our listeners, and the best way to connect with you, what would that be?

Dr. Carol Lourie [26:09]
The Parting piece of guidance is that it is a process it takes time. It takes a long time sometimes, but the word long is a misnomer because it takes as long as it takes, it takes as whatever the time it does need to take for you to heal. It is a process and a journey. And it’s important to find someone that can work with you on as many levels of that as you need. And it takes commitment and determination from you as the woman who wants to heal, but it is totally possible. I believe healing is always possible always. And how to reach me, my website is my name, And that will bring you to my practice website and all my contact information is on there.

Farrar Duro [27:02]
Perfect. Thank you so much, Dr. Carol. I really look forward to looking into all the different things that you have on your site as well. Thank you guys for listening. I hope everybody takes care of themselves has a wonderful week, and we look forward to seeing you next time. Take care, everybody.

Dr. Carol Lourie [27:22]
Thank you so much and wonderful to be here. Thank you

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