June 7, 2017

Women in Balance Symposium

Abstracts from the fifth annual event
The National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) recently hosted a conference to address hard-to-treat medical conditions that affect women. Experts presented on conditions ranging from infertility to endometriosis. They provided education, insights, and recommendations for practice.

The National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) recently hosted a conference to address hard-to-treat medical conditions that affect women. Medical experts presented on a number of challenging conditions, from infertility to endometriosis. Experts provided education, insights, and recommendations for practice, such as clinical assessment tools and updates on pharmacologic, nutritional, and herbal treatments. Read on for a compilation of abstracts that summarize the lectures given at the symposium. 

For more research and updates on integrative women's health, check out our recent special issue.

Managing Endometriosis: Naturopathic Care is Key 

Speaker: Amy Day, ND 


Patients with endometriosis are usually left frustrated by conventional medical treatments. While women are coping with severe pain or eagerly trying to improve their fertility, the typical hormonal treatments can throw them into a whirlwind of side effects, and surgeries often do not provide lasting benefit.

There are many myths and misunderstandings about endometriosis. We now know this is a body-wide disease, not just lesions growing in the pelvis. Endometrial growths are only the tip of the iceberg. We must not only consider the growths themselves, but also the environment in which they occur.

Naturopathic doctors and holistic practitioners are perfectly poised to give these women the comprehensive help and guidance they need. Our holistic approach is safe and mostly without side effects. By providing a range of natural treatment options, we can help empower women who suffer from endometriosis and address the many issues related to this complex disease.

Learning Objectives

This presentation enabled participants to:

  • Effectively and compassionately communicate with patients about their experience.
  • Understand endometriosis as a multifactorial condition, not just a gynecologic disorder.
  • Apply this information to create treatment plans that consider the many aspects of endometriosis, addressing hormones and the immune system as well as digestion, detox, and mind/body approaches.

PCOS and Infertility—Research Updates and Management

Speaker: Corina Dunlap, ND


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) accounts for a large percentage of all ovulatory dysfunction disorders in cases of female-factor infertility. Women with PCOS have complex healthcare needs that vary depending on etiology sub-type and severity of diagnosis. There are many natural and conventional medical approaches to treatment of PCOS-induced infertility. Management of PCOS, as supported by the most up-to-date research findings, were discussed in detail throughout this presentation. An introductory overview of epidemiology and pathogenesis, etiology subtypes, differential diagnosis, diagnostic criteria, and clinical presentation were also reviewed.

Learning Objectives

This presentation prepared participants to:

  • Identify female infertility factors of PCOS in clinical practice.
  • Work-up and appropriately diagnose etiology subtype.
  • Utilize appropriate conventional and natural medicine treatment as supported by most up-to-date research.

Female Fertility—Establishing a Healthy Ecology

Speaker: Chris Meletis, ND


The optimal level of fertility treatment balances a woman’s ability to conceive with her health, and her baby’s health, during and after pregnancy. More than ever there are risks of becoming pregnant, due to the toxic world, medication, mitochondria dysfunction, and nutrient insufficiency pervasive throughout North America. The future generations are no longer guaranteed an unfettered start in life in utero, and the toxic stressful world is having a very measurable impact on the health of the children of the future, both their neuroimmunological health and health trajectory.

During this presentation, the following topics were discussed/reviewed: folate, iodine, iron, and vitamin D; the huge impact that maternal stress has on a woman’s body and the epigenetic impact pregnancy stress can have for a lifetime for her yet-to-be born child; creating a healthy full-body ecology for an expectant woman; lab testing for halide burden and organic acid testing for total toxic burden and mitochondria biochemistry; obstacles to fertility, including cervical mucus and role of neuroendocrine homeostasis. Male specimen contribution and clinical considerations for sperm quality were briefly reviewed. Questions can be sent to: [email protected].

Learning Objectives

This presentation helped participants understand:

  • Individual clinical considerations to augment female fertility.
  • The impact of stress on pregnancy and health of child.
  • Mitochondria dysfunction and diagnostics.
  • Halide burden and iodine status relative to impact on thyroid and intelligence.
  • The role of neuroendocrine balance and environmental variables for fertility.
  • Evidence-based use of nutraceuticals and botanicals in the pursuit of optimized fertility.

Life in The Balance—Healing Women with Cancer

Speaker: Neil McKinney, ND


Naturopathic physicians working with female cancers strive for “Enhanced survival and quality of life for people living with cancer through the integration of naturopathic oncology into cancer care” (Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians [OncANP] vision statement). Natural medicines can meld harmoniously with allopathic therapies to reduce harm and increase the potential benefits. They can also follow conventional care to reinforce remissions, rebuild genuine health, and change the dietary and lifestyle contributors to cancer occurrence.

This presentation covered supports for surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, as well as comprehensive naturopathic therapies for all female cancers—breast, uterine, cervical, ovarian, fallopian, and vulvar. All common nutritional, nutraceutical, botanical, and drug treatments were detailed, including oral, subcutaneous injection, intravenous, and nebulizing routes of administration.

Learning objectives

This presentation was designed to help participants understand how to:

  • Integrate with common medical oncology procedures to reduce adverse effects and increase response rates.
  • Apply nutraceutical and botanical remedies in gynecological cancers.
  • Prescribe selected pharmaceuticals or provide alternatives for cancer care.
  • Select and apply intravenous therapies in cancer care, and in some cases use nebulizing as an alternative.
  • Set up a ketogenic diet and other dietary interventions in cancer care and prevention

Perspectives on Women’s Health and Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy—From 43 Years of Clinical Practice

Speaker: Jonathan Wright, MD


Jonathan V Wright, MD, pioneer in natural medicine and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), presented a multitopic 4-hour discussion regarding women's BHRT issues, as well as a wide variety of topics specific to women’s health. Topics included the basics of BHRT therapy for women, monitoring estrogen metabolites for efficacy and safety, influence of cobalt and iodine on estrogen metabolization, general discussion of natural treatments for many women's health conditions based on Dr Wright's 43 years of clinical applications, topical hormone preparations for enhancing the appearance of facial skin, and the use of BHRT to strengthen autoimmunity. Information can be applied by physicians to their menopausal patients, as well as patients of any age.

Learning Objectives

This presentation enabled participants to:

  • Recognize the general principles of effective and safe BHRT for women.
  • Understand how to monitor steroid metabolites of estrogen, particularly with the use of cobalt and iodine to influence metabolism.
  • Recognize natural treatments for common ailments such as the nausea of pregnancy, menorrhagia, hair loss, eclampsia/pre-eclampsia, plus many more.

Perimenopause: What Is Going On? AKA “Reverse Puberty”

Speaker: Jennifer Lush, ND


The term perimenopause, which literally means "around menopause," describes the period of time when a woman’s body transitions to menopause, a natural process that marks the end of the reproductive years. However, there is no agreed-upon age of onset, with some women noticing emotional and physical changes as early as their mid-30s. Typically, by age 40 nearly all women are experiencing some type of perimenopausal change. This talk will cover diagnosis of perimenopause and naturopathic treatments, including nutrition, botanicals, and bioidentical hormone replacement.

Learning Objectives

This presentation enabled participants to:

  • Identify and define perimenopause.
  • Understand the basics of herbal and nutritional support for perimenopause.
  • Understand various BioHRT treatment protocols for perimenopause.

Muscle as Medicine: Balancing Women's Hormones & Health with Strength Training

Speaker: Tyna Moore, ND, DC


Strength training should be included in any naturopathic basic treatment guidelines. Muscle, as an organ system, has myriad benefits on the body, including potent therapeutic health and hormonal effects. If a woman isn't building and preserving muscle mass, she will never achieve optimal health outcomes. Age-related sarcopenia and osteoporosis are common female afflictions and a kiss of death as we age; strength training reverses this. The vast benefits of strength training were covered in detail in this lecture.

Learning Objectives

This presentation prepared participants to:

  • Recognize the common conditions related to low muscle mass/sarcopenia, specifically in women.
  • Understand the health benefits of skeletal muscle.
  • Apply their understanding and knowledge of the benefits of muscle mass in clinical practice.

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