Complementary Medicine

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Depressed and Craving Carbs ― Type 4 Sugar Addiction

Sugar addiction ― when you're depressed and craving carbs

Woman craving desertsThis is the 4th installment of my 4-part series on sugar addiction and the importance of identifying which type of sugar addict you are before beginning a treatment program. (This is the subject of my new book, Beat Sugar Addiction Now.) So far, I've described the following types of sugar addiction:

1. Being Hooked on “Loan Shark” Energy Drinks (the Type 1 sugar addict)

2. The "Feed Me Now, or I'll Kill You!" character (the Type 2 sugar addict)

3. The Happy Twinkie Hunter (the Type 3 sugar addict)

Today I'll add the 4th and final type to the list.

Type 4 Sugar Addiction: Depressed and Craving Carbs — Sugar Cravings Caused by Your Period, Menopause or Andropause

For women who feel worse around their menstrual cycle, or whose problems increased when they entered perimenopause in their forties, estrogen and progesterone deficiency may be driving sugar cravings.

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In a woman’s earlier years, these cravings are more likely to manifest as premenstrual syndrome (PMS, with associated progesterone deficiency) with severe irritability around their periods. In your mid-forties, as estrogen levels drop, estrogen or progesterone deficiency often produces increased sugar cravings, fatigue, moodiness and insomnia around your periods, as well as decreased vaginal lubrication.

For men, testosterone deficiency associated with andropause can also cause sugar craving along with other severe problems. Depression, decreased libido, decreased erectile function, high blood pressure, weight gain, diabetes or high cholesterol can suggest testosterone deficiency. Interestingly, supplementing with bioidentical natural testosterone (by prescription) has been shown to help all of these problems.

Standard blood testing for hormonal deficiencies will not reveal the problems until they are very severe, sometimes leaving people deficient for decades. Eliminating the sugar addiction and other problems caused by low estrogen, progesterone or testosterone is essential.

How do I tell if I have these problems?

Here is a simple quiz for type 4 sugar addiction.

FOR WOMEN (PMS-RELATED):

  1. Do you have a history of PMS (premenstrual syndrome)? (30 points)
  2. Or, in the week before your period, do you have increased and severe: irritability, anxiety, unhappiness/depression, or bloating? (15 points for each of these that apply)

If you scored 30 or higher, treating sugar addiction can help decrease your PMS.

FOR WOMEN (MENOPAUSE OR PERIMENOPAUSE-RELATED):

  1. Have you had a hysterectomy or ovarian surgery? ( 25 points)
  2. Do you have decreased vaginal lubrication? (25 points)
  3. Do you have decreased sex drive (libido)? (15 points)
  4. In the week before and around your period (or in general if you no longer have periods), do you experience noticeably worse: insomnia, headaches, fatigue, or hot flashes/sweats? (20 points for each of these that apply)

If you scored 30 or higher you likely have symptoms from estrogen or progesterone deficiency.

FOR MEN (OVER 45 YEARS OF AGE):

  1. Do you have decreased libido? (20 points)
  2. Are you depressed or have little motivation? (20 points)
  3. Do you have erectile dysfunction or decrease in erections? (20 points)
  4. Do you have hypertension? (20 points)
  5. Do you have high cholesterol? (20 points)
  6. Do you have diabetes? (20 points)
  7. Are you overweight with a “spare tire” around your waist? (20 points)

If you scored 40 or higher, these symptoms may be the result of an inadequate testosterone level.

Treatment

Natural therapies, such as edamame (soybean pods) or black cohosh (Remifemin), can be very helpful for treating estrogen deficiency symptoms naturally. When they are more severe, prescription natural bioidentical hormones can be helpful. There is a fair bit of controversy around bioidentical hormones, and I suspect that this occurs simply because drug companies stand to lose a lot of money if people realize that the non-bioidentical hormones they sell are dangerous. As a physician who makes not a penny more if you use either form, I believe the medical research shows the bioidentical hormones to be much safer.

PMS symptoms can be markedly decreased by taking vitamin B6 200 mg a day, magnesium 200 mg a day, and Evening Primrose oil (or borage seed oil) 3,000 mg a day for three months. Then the dose can often be lowered. Bioidentical progesterone can also help in severe cases that persist after three months of the nutritional treatments above.

Sugar addiction is more the rule than the exception in modern life. The good news? By taking the quizzes to see what type of sugar addiction you have, and then applying simple treatments, you will find yourself feeling dramatically better. As a side benefit, your sugar cravings will go away, your metabolism will improve (so you can lose excess weight), and you’ll live a longer and happier life!

Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., internist and author of From Fatigued to Fantastic!, researches treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia.

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