s5 e14: Gut Health Case Study

gut health and minerals

Gut Health Case Study

We have our second case study this week focusing on a gut health case. Erin is joining me again to help break it all down for you. We went through a thyroid case last week, so if that’s of interest to you, make sure you listen to the previous episode as well. 

We will wrap up the case study series with a final review of a client that struggled with fatigue and energy issues next week. 

Our second case is of a previous course student and 1:1 client, Jenna. I reached out to her to ask if we could share her story since I think many people will relate. We did change her name, but all other details are accurate.

Jenna’s main concerns were not necessarily digestive symptoms, but many things came back to the poor health of her gut, which is why we chose her for this case. Her main concerns were headaches/migraines around her cycle, acne, hair loss, and recurrent UTI’s and yeast infections. She did an HTMA through the Master Your Minerals course and had very high copper and calcium. It freaked her out and she wanted additional guidance so she got 1:1 support through a results review and then became a 1:1 client to work deeper on healing her gut after rebalancing her copper levels. This allowed her to reduce her acne, headaches/migraines, and get rid of the recurrent infections she was dealing with. And most importantly to her, finally put a stop to her hair loss.

This episode covers:

  • Jenna’s main concerns and symptoms, including what she had previously tried
  • Create her stress timeline, determine what she was doing well, and where to focus
  • Three phases of interventions based on her HTMA results
  • Jenna’s healing results in the months following

Minerals 101 Guide: https://hormonehealingrd.com/opt-in/mineral-101-freebie-pc/

Practitioner Program Waitlist: https://bit.ly/3ZszVfL 

Copper deep dive:  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/copper-deep-dive/id1568547321?i=1000586081883 

Master Your Minerals Course

Free Resources:

Free Healthy Period Starter Guide
Mineral Imbalance Quiz
Mineral Training
Thyroid Mineral Training
Feminine Periodical (monthly newsletter)

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Amanda Montalvo [00:00:01]:

Welcome to the are you menstrual? Podcast, where we dive deep into all things women’s health to support you on your healing journey. I’m Amanda Montalvo functional and integrative dietitian, also known as the hormone healing Rd. If you enjoyed this podcast and you want to keep learning, check out the podcast Patreon, where I share a bonus episode with additional downloadable resources each week. You can go to Patreon.com forward slash Hormone Healing Rd, or check out the link in the show Notes. I have compiled all of my favorite and I think best to get started with mineral resources in one place. And that is my Minerals 101 guide. This is a free guide that I will share my screen for those that are watching the video version of this podcast and go through with you quickly now. So I basically wanted a place where if someone’s new to my podcast, my Instagram, and you’re like, wow, she mentions minerals a lot, and I can go off on tangents and talk about how they’re so important for different things.

Amanda Montalvo [00:01:03]:

I wanted a place where you could just download this quick guide and get right into, okay, what are minerals? How do they affect our hormones? How do they get depleted in the first place? How can we test them? And then I have additional learning and resources, depending on the topics that you want to get into. But I think this is definitely the best way to get started with all my content that I share, especially if you’re brand new here and you’re like, I don’t even know where to get started with minerals. Start here, and I promise you won’t be confused and, you’ll know, what are the next steps to take. And if you have specific health concerns, you’ll see at the very end of the guide here, I go through. Okay, so if you want to take our mineral quiz, if you have thyroid health concerns, if you have period concerns, if you just want to hear from me on a regular basis, here’s my newsletter. So I tried to put everything in one place. I also have Mineral Deep Dive podcast episodes that I link to if you want to get into specific minerals as well. But I highly recommend downloading the guide.

Amanda Montalvo [00:02:01]:

I put a lot of work into it, and I think it’s a perfect place to get started. So you can go to the link in the Show Notes, the Minerals 101 guide and get started now. All right, we have our second case study this week. We are focusing on a gut health case. In our previous episode, we focused on a thyroid case study, specifically Hashimoto. So if you’re interested in that, make sure you go listen. My clinical nutritionist, Erin is joining me to help break it all down for you. I did an intro for her last week, but if you don’t know who she is, she works one on one with the clients at Hormone healing Rd.

Amanda Montalvo [00:02:33]:

She does results reviews. She’s inside the course answering questions with me. She’s everywhere. So welcome, Erin. Thank you for being here and doing this with me again. Hello.

Erin [00:02:44]:

Yeah, I’m excited to do this again. It’s not my first rodeo now it’s my second.

Amanda Montalvo [00:02:48]:

So here we are, second podcast. I think the first one went really well. And then next week is going to be the last case study, and that’s going to be focusing on fatigue and energy issues. I’m excited for that one. But this is one that it covers a lot of things we get questions about a lot. It’s a previous course student. She went through the course, worked on copper, had a lot of success there. And then she ended up working one on one with results reviews and stuff.

Amanda Montalvo [00:03:16]:

I did reach out to her. She’s like, share whatever you want, just change my name. But all her other details are accurate. So, quick summary. What we’re going to dig into the client case is Jenna. Her main concerns were not necessarily all digestion related. Like, she had a long history of gut symptoms, but it wasn’t like that was her biggest thing right now. Her biggest thing was recurrent infections like UTIs, yeast infections, headaches and migraines around her cycle, hair loss, and I’m talking significant hair loss, not just like a little shedding, like a lot of hair loss and then acne.

Amanda Montalvo [00:03:56]:

Those were like the big ones for her. So obviously all those things have to do with her gut health, which we will talk about. She did her hair test through the course, really high copper and high calcium, which often go hand in hand. We’ll get into that and it really freaked her out. So she wanted some additional guidance. And we really worked on rebalancing that copper that allowed her to reduce her acne. I think it made probably the most significant change in her headaches and migraines and then get rid of those recurrent infections. It at least reduced them.

Amanda Montalvo [00:04:26]:

And then we took it a step further with doing stool testing with her. But most importantly to her, it helped with her hair loss. If anyone has the history that’s part of my health history, I think hair loss is one of the most traumatic symptoms that you can have. I mean, that’s just me being like a girl, I guess. But it’s just really hard. It’s really hard when you start losing your hair. And it’s incredibly noticeable. She was wearing wigs at one point, so for her to see a change there was really big.

Amanda Montalvo [00:04:55]:

So that’s kind of like the quick summary. Let’s get into some of her main concerns. We could talk a little bit more about some of her gut symptoms and then her health history.

Erin [00:05:06]:

Yes. So for our main concerns, amanda already talked about the significant hair loss, which, Amanda, I agree with you. We have so many clients and even personally, with our personal health journeys with hair loss, it’s just so in your face. And it’s something that you notice every time you shower, you lose hair, you brush your hair and all of these things. And that’s such a hard one because it is so in your face and it can sometimes take quite a bit of time to see improvements in it. And that was one of Jenna’s main concerns, her hair loss. But then you already touched on how many things related to her gut with her frequent infections. And anytime we see someone with frequent infections, it immediately points to gut symptoms.

Erin [00:05:44]:

Just like a lot of times we see skin conditions, and that’s going to be a red flag for something going on in the gut. So in Jenna’s case, she had frequent yeast and yeast infections and UTIs along with that, acne. So those are two big things pointing to gut dysbiosis. And then she as well had painful periods, a lot of symptoms that were cyclical around her cycle, especially those headaches and migraines. And if anyone is listening and suffers with migraines, they can be debilitating. And along with the hair loss that’s in your face, there are symptoms that are also in your face because it’s like this impacts quality of life so much. So that was Jenna’s case as well with her migraines. And then she did have that long history of gut issues, which were more common with gut cases.

Erin [00:06:33]:

Not everyone thinks UTI’s gut health or even acne gut health. It’s definitely getting more airtime now. But she did have other gut health issues like Bloating. And then once we did a GI map on her, she had big overgrowth things like Candida H Pylori and just general overgrowth. So that was for her main concerns. And then as far as her health history goes, we already talked about the gut health issues, all of the frequent infections, but significant for her health history and things that showed up and were reflected on her additional testing, like her HtMa were. She took the birth control pill for five years, and then she got the copper IUD, and she had the copper IUD in for two years at the time of doing her hair test. And this is not knocking birth control or being critical of anyone who chooses to do birth control.

Erin [00:07:27]:

That is a part of my health history. But it does have an impact on our health markers, especially when it comes to hair tests and certain symptoms that pop up. She also has a longer history of different supplements, and she kind of hits all of the big boxes that we talk about that are very common supplements for many of our clients to take. And myself, I’ve taken a lot of these as well, and they’re often prescribed without thinking about the ramifications on other minerals or just other things in our body. So she has a history of zinc supplementation, which is going to be very important when we look at her copper status in a little bit vitamin D, which should really be called hormone D because it’s just so nuanced in our body. Fish oil, ginger a multivitamin. And then she was doing digestive support because of that history of her digestive problems. And she was doing digestive enzymes and HCL.

Erin [00:08:22]:

And then another very significant part of her health history was she was mostly plant based in the year prior to finding masterminerals course, working with Amanda and the team, because she was not digesting meat well, which is something that we see a lot in gut health cases. So a lot of people will switch to plant based and they’re like, oh, my digestion is so much better. But it’s not necessarily better. It’s just that sometimes it’s easier for people to digest those things than meat.

Amanda Montalvo [00:08:50]:

And she knew, she was like, I had to stop eating as much meat because it was sitting in my stomach. Her BMS were even slower because she had a lot of the Bloating history and there was definitely some constipation and just not fully relieving herself.

Erin [00:09:06]:

She’s like, I just feel like I’m.

Amanda Montalvo [00:09:07]:

Never having a full like, even if she was going every day, I don’t feel like I’m ever having a full bowel movement. There’s always training. So, again, there’s so much nuance to different symptoms and stuff. And none of those supplements are necessarily bad, okay? It’s just like, because we have her health history and we have lab testing for her, we were able to see that, okay, these are definitely not going to help you right now with what you have going on in your main concerns. But, like, ginger, we love, we use ginger a lot. So things that she tried in the past years, a lot of supplements. I mean, there’s a lot of supplements out there for hair loss, topicals for hair loss. Same thing with acne.

Amanda Montalvo [00:09:48]:

She did them all. And when I say she did them all, I mean it. I was like, you’re dedicated. Okay? She really did try everything. And she hadn’t really done a lot in the holistic functional space until she joined the course, which is kind of rare. People are usually trying a lot before then. So she did all the things. She did acupuncture.

Amanda Montalvo [00:10:07]:

She saw some success with acupuncture, mostly with the Bloating and the gut issues. She tried homeopathy, and she did notice some improvement in headaches. Didn’t touch a migraine, but she did have less of the kind of dull headaches frequently. And then all the antibiotics, antifungals, she went like the conventional route for every UTI, every yeast infection because she was like, I just need it to be on type situation. And then she did try some more natural suppositories for the infections. She saw some success with that, but more just like, it wouldn’t be like a full blown infection as quickly. So it kind of like warded it off for a little bit. So she tried a lot.

Amanda Montalvo [00:10:49]:

And it was one of those things where she’s, like, basically she felt like she was out of options and that’s when she found the course. Because I have a very big health history with high copper similar to her from the pill and the copper IUD. So I think that’s where the connection came in.

Erin [00:11:07]:

It sounds like to a lot of the supplements, like many people, they’ll try supplements or suppositories or topicals and they’ll say, oh, I see an improvement, or it might help with the symptoms. But then, especially when it comes to UTIs or yeast infections, they’re like, okay, it kept it at bay and maybe it wasn’t as bad or I could go three weeks instead of two weeks without an infection. But they still kept being recurrent and that really drove her to find a different way of looking at things. So it’s not just, okay, we’re going to keep going with these band aid approaches because ultimately she wasn’t getting the relief that she was looking for.

Amanda Montalvo [00:11:42]:


Erin [00:11:43]:

So we talked about the stress timeline and how important this is in the last podcast episode. And it’s so important that we can’t ignore the stress timeline in this one because this is a big theme. We talk about this with every single client. We go through this every single case we do, because stress is just so important. And again, stress can be mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. So this is something that Amanda covers in the Master Minerals course on how to walk through your day and doing your stress timeline. And the big goal is to highlight stressful events that have happened so that you might be able to make connections between, again, your stressful events and possible health implications. Because our body is going to be so connected to the stress that we experience, and the stress that we can experience can come out as symptoms.

Erin [00:12:37]:

So a few big things to think about, we can think about if we go through an acute stressor, like, oh, I went through a divorce, that can be pretty top of the list. But this stress timeline is designed to look from birth to present day. So you want to think about your birth, you want to think about your childhood, teen years, all of those transitions that happen in life, whether it’s transitioning into high school, college, outside of college, and then your adult years. And there’s even more research emerging on generational stress and how the stress that your mom experienced can be carried into your life, which we will not go down that rabbit hole. We would be talking for 2 hours. But it is important to mention that and other things just to think about illnesses, living situations, whether when you were a kid in college, as an adult, family dynamics, which are very complicated, but very important. Different schools, if you transition for schools, your home environment, divorces, and then of course, bigger events that can be very good, but they can still lead into a lot of change, which can be stressful, so pregnancies, very stressful on the body. Of course, it is a miracle, but it is what kind of pregnancy did you have? How supported did you feel during your pregnancy or before your pregnancy and then postpartum? Of course, I have not been in a postpartum season of my life yet, but it is a massive change.

Erin [00:14:06]:

Amanda can, of course, speak to that more than me. And then death that you’ve had in your family, friends, and then, of course, bigger things like illnesses moving. And Jenna herself had a lot of stress growing up in a Hectic household, though she had been out of that living situation for a long time, for over a decade. When she completed the test, it was something that she grew up with, and our body isn’t like, okay, I’m out of that now. I’m in a completely new season of life. It carries through. So that was very important for Jenna when she was looking at her stress then. And this is important from a nervous system perspective as well, because she was living in that fight or flight state for most of her life, and that is incredibly hard on the body.

Erin [00:14:50]:

So that’s really what laid a foundation of dysregulation on the nervous system, which you just carry again throughout your life, and that can cause that dysfunction and disease in other areas like your gut health. And she also struggled with constipation from a young age, which, if you look at, okay, I’m growing up in this Hectic household, I’m in that fight or flight state, my nervous system doesn’t feel safe or supported. It’s more ready to flee or fight than it is to relax. And so your gut motility is just not going to be there. Your ability to have a bowel movement is not going to be there, which is where it leads to that constipation. So even though that had improved, that is a significant part of her health history that we couldn’t ignore. And then she had a history of those painful, heavy periods ever since she first started cycling. So that also really contributed to those long health concerns that she had.

Erin [00:15:47]:

It wasn’t, oh, all of a sudden, this came out of nowhere. It was leading up to bigger concerns that were reflected on her hair test and with her main concerns now.

Amanda Montalvo [00:15:58]:

Thyroid health is essential for healthy hormones, digestion energy, and more. Our thyroid is so important because it sets the metabolic pace of our body, which controls how every single system functions. Whether you think you may have some thyroid dysfunction going on based on symptoms you may have or have a confirmed diagnosis, chances are you haven’t been given the best tools to address your thyroid health. I’ve been there. Thyroid is a big part of my health journey and something I’ve been optimizing for the last decade. I’m very passionate about this topic, which is why I created a free thyroid training that walks you through how to assess thyroid health. All the labs I do cover blood work and what the optimal ranges are. I just want to say that I think we have to look beyond blood work when it comes to assessing our thyroid health.

Amanda Montalvo [00:16:41]:

That’s why I also cover hair mineral testing, urine testing, and then basal body temperature, which is a measurement you can do at home to assess your thyroid health. I’ve had so many people reach out and say they can’t believe that this training is free. I promise you won’t be disappointed. I also cover nutrition tips for optimizing thyroid health. You can head to the link in the show Notes or to my website, Hormonehealingrd.com, to watch the training. There’s just so much lacking when it comes to helpful info on thyroid health. So I’m really hoping that this training helps you and fills that gap. And it’s always interesting, too, when the first period that you have and we get actually, lately, we’ve had a lot of moms reaching out for their daughters, and I’m like, oh, you guys are such good moms, just like, trying to figure out how they can help regulate cycles.

Amanda Montalvo [00:17:32]:

But it’s like in the beginning when you start cycling, it’s normal to have it be more erratic. You’re not even always ovulating. And that can be considered normal. It’s not necessarily considered PCOS. And so for her, I wouldn’t say painful, heavy periods are normal. She could have had some estrogen dominance from a young age, and she got her period pretty young, similar to me. And I feel like I just always had estrogen dominance. And from your childhood matters, one, your mom is going to imprint her hormones onto you.

Amanda Montalvo [00:18:08]:

So if your mom’s estrogen dominant, boom. Same thing with the nervous system, how you were talking about like, generational trauma and stress and stuff. We imprint our nervous system on our babies, and then once they’re born, they don’t have a fully developed nervous system, and so we regulate them, which could be really good or really bad, depending on the health of the nervous system of the person. So all those things are going to play into it. And that’s why we like to talk about it, because sometimes we just think about why this issue now? What’s going on? How do I fix it? Estrogen dominance. I’m just going to take XYZ supplement. But it’s like, you want to look at, where did this all come from? So it definitely came back from her childhood, for sure. And when we looked at her typical day, we’re like, okay, what are you doing really well, what do we not need to change? Because that’s important.

Amanda Montalvo [00:18:58]:

We don’t want to just go in barreling and being like, you’re going to change all these things. So she was eating regularly once she had her first meal, but the first meal just wasn’t soon enough. But she always like once she started eating for the day, she was like, yes, no, I’m hungry every few hours. Her appetite was pretty normal, but she had a really intense morning routine that she loved. And I would say that’s like another thing. She was a very routine type person again, because she worked really hard on minimizing her stress and becoming the kind of person she wanted to be when she left that toxic family environment. And so she’s very routine based, which is great. Our body loves routines.

Amanda Montalvo [00:19:39]:

Our hormones are stress hormones. They love routines. So she had a really good morning and nighttime routine. The morning routine was just like more extravagant, we’ll say. So it put off her breakfast for a little bit. So we worked on that. She enjoys where she lives, right? That was really helpful. And it’s something that, again, I feel like is small.

Amanda Montalvo [00:19:58]:

But she really likes the city that she lives in and she spends a lot of time with friends and some family members. And she was really motivated but not obsessive. And this is something I wanted to highlight because especially for someone like her, coming from her background, I would 100% expect her to be obsessive with her health because of the very significant symptoms and the time that she was struggling with them and all the things that she had already tried. Right. But she was more just motivated and ready and open for change, which I thought was really cool. And I found it really impressive because when hair loss is involved, when migraines, things that are very debilitating and can be just adding to that stress cup, unfortunately, it can be really hard not to be obsessive about your health. So those were like all the things we didn’t need to change, things we did highlight and we wanted to work on with her, was eating that breakfast sooner. So she worked on adding a snack when she woke up.

Amanda Montalvo [00:20:58]:

And it was mostly just protein, like Greek yogurt and maybe a little bit of fruit, but I’m like just something and at least have protein in it to balance that blood sugar. She’s like, Well, I don’t really want to eat. And she didn’t want to mess up the routine that she had. So she had a little bit of yogurt that worked for her. She was not eating two to 3 hours after she woke up because she’d get up really early and so that was really helpful for her and it didn’t disrupt her routine, so she can keep that going. And then she had like a full breakfast once she was all done with that. We did work on light exposure and getting outside in the morning, taking breaks throughout the day. She worked from home, but she was always on her computer, right? So it’s like she can control the lighting in her home, which is great.

Amanda Montalvo [00:21:43]:

But she was like, I got to take breaks. After she had been working from home for a while, she noticed. She’s like, My eyesight is getting worse. I’m like it’s. The strain. I mean, it is real. Like, staring at your computer all day, it’s like not natural. Not only the blue light, but just like the act of staring actually puts your body in like a fight or flight state.

Amanda Montalvo [00:22:01]:

So she learned how to take eyebreaks. I learned that from Alyssa Chang, who had a great episode with her take eyebreaks and take light breaks. Take her because she wore contacts, which I know is a pain, to take your contacts out when you go outside. But certain ones, they pretty much all block blue light, except for these, like a daily brand that I forget the name of. Now you can Google it and it will come up. I can’t remember off top of my head because I don’t ever wear them. But she would take her contacts out, put them back in. She just preferred that.

Amanda Montalvo [00:22:31]:

If you have glasses, same thing. Take them off when you take light breaks outside, give your eyes a rest, but then also get that light in there and it’s not going to be filtered by your glasses. And then we had her take a break from supplements. What a shocker. Something that we pretty much have everyone do, especially because she just have been taking everything for so long. Right? And it’s important, like, how does your body function without the supplements, right? How are your symptoms? What’s really helping, what’s not? So that was a big one. And then adding more animal protein in, which we did very slowly because again, she wasn’t digesting it well, right? So it’s not really helpful if you’re like pounding on the protein, but you’re not breaking it down well, and it’s making her more bloated. So we tried bitters.

Amanda Montalvo [00:23:13]:

She still used her enzymes. So the digestive enzymes, I do feel like they helped her. And then we added digestive bitters on top of that. I don’t always do both of everyone, but she was definitely a case where I’m like, let’s see if adding the bitters helps more. Because I was like, we don’t know if you have H pylori because we hadn’t done a stool test yet. And when you take HCL, she was taking stomach acid. That can make your h pylori worse. So we never recommend it unless we know someone doesn’t have H pylori.

Amanda Montalvo [00:23:42]:

And because we didn’t know for her, we switched to the bitters. But those were like the basic things we worked on at first. And again, she already had a pretty good routine, but it took her a little while to figure out the morning stuff and what snack worked for her, things like that. And then at nighttime, like the TV thing, I’m like, you can watch TV, but let’s work on the blue light because again, she likes to wake up early, but she was kind of staying up a little too late. Lots of blue light exposure. I don’t think her sleep was as good as it could have been. I think she was just used to it. And she spent a lot of time on her phone at night because she’s working all day.

Amanda Montalvo [00:24:22]:

So we put time limits on that. And she was like, wow, my mental health is way better being on my phone less at night. And I’m like, who would have thought? So those were, like, the big things we did. And then she did do a hair test when she initially joined the course. Do you want to go through some of the highlights from her test and then some of the interventions? We went, yeah.

Erin [00:24:42]:

So, and one thing based on what you were just talking about, Amanda, of she had this really good morning routine that she loved. And I love how you really highlighted it wasn’t like, okay, you’re going to completely change her morning routine and say, hey, you have to eat breakfast right away in the morning, because she had something that was working for her and she really loved. And I think that’s something important to highlight too, because on the healing journey, we can learn something and we can be like, okay, I have to eat breakfast. But it might not fit well in your day to eat a big breakfast right away, especially if you’re a mom with kids who have to get out the door or go to school, or even if you don’t have kids, you might just not want to wake up and eat a major breakfast. But where can you find that sweet spot? And where can you just implement things that fit in your day that work and that are sustainable? So that was one thing that I really liked just talking about. Eat a little bit of yogurt and then she could still do her mooning routine and then have a little bit of a bigger breakfast later. So the hair test. So for additional interventions, and again, here we are 25 minutes in, being like, we haven’t even talked about the hair test yet, really just talking about other things we did from a lifestyle perspective.

Erin [00:25:54]:

But biggest thing for her hair test is her copper was very high, along with her calcium, which is something that we see very commonly. And for Jenna, part of her first phase was deciding to get that copper IUD out. This was completely her choice, and I want everyone listening to know that they should be and feel completely empowered to make the right decision for them. I had a copper IUD for quite some time. It did not go well for me personally, but I have friends and clients who have the copper IUD and they feel good with it. So, again, our job here is not to admonish people for their personal decisions, but again, just to give. Some education around things to consider when you make certain decisions around hormonal birth control or things like the copper IUD. So for Jenna, she really wanted to get her copper IUD out, because when she got her hair test back, she did have that elevated copper and felt like it was really impacting her health journey.

Erin [00:26:55]:

We could have still worked on the copper imbalances. With the IUD in, it’s not like, oh, well, there’s nothing we can do. Good luck, because you have the copper IUD in. But again, Jenna just personally decided that she wanted to get it out. And after having a gut feeling about the IUD, she did decide to get.

Amanda Montalvo [00:27:13]:

It people, because I know they’re going to be like, what about the pill? What if you’re taking the pill? Same thing. Because a lot of the times people that are on hormonal birth control, I’ve seen it primarily with the mixed one with the synthetic estrogen and the synthetic progestin, it will raise copper levels very high. But I’ve also seen it with the progestin only. So, I mean, to me, I’m like, there’s really no rhyme or reason because there’s no estrogen in it. So I’m like, why? Right? We don’t really know. But my younger sister and she says it’s okay if I share this because we’ve talked about a lot. She’s worked through it. She’s not on the pill anymore, but she was on it for a long time because she was like, I need to be.

Amanda Montalvo [00:27:56]:

Unfortunately, it was the only type of birth control that was working for her at the time. Again, recurrent infections like Jenna very not good. Makes her not a good person to get an IUD, because I do find that people get more infections with them. And there is research showing that with the copper IUD, there’s a higher risk of things like bacterial infections and stuff. So you can still work on it with the pill. You can choose to stay on it and still work on copper. You just may not see as significant of a change as quickly. But that’s with Jenna, she knew.

Amanda Montalvo [00:28:30]:

She’s like, I kind of had a feeling because my infections got worse when I got it in. Like, when she did her stress timeline, she saw, oh, right around the time I got it in, my UTIs got way more frequent. So do the stress timeline. It makes a big difference.

Erin [00:28:45]:

It does make a big difference because a lot of times you just don’t think about it and then it’s staring at you in the face. So for just phase one, again, we already talked a lot about some things she implemented, like starting eating a small breakfast, and then she even just started eating breakfast outside most days to get that light. First thing in her eyes, she got her copper IUD out. She stopped all of her supplements. For her particularly, the goal was without that vitamin D and without the copper IUD as well. The calcium and copper would begin to come down, which would just help normalize her minerals overall. And then she added her digestive bitters and slowly added keyword, slowly added as she could tolerate more animal protein. So it wasn’t stop everything, do everything all at once.

Erin [00:29:33]:

It’s like, okay, let’s slowly implement these things. And then really focusing on the foundational adrenal cocktail to support her sodium and potassium, which were also low, which we always want to focus on those macro minerals. And she eventually worked up to eating those four balanced meals a day, especially with getting breakfast in sooner, even with that small breakfast. And that was just phase one.

Amanda Montalvo [00:29:57]:

I would call it a snack because I don’t want to confuse people. It’s a snack.

Erin [00:29:59]:

It was not there we go, a snack. And that was just phase one, which talking through it kind of sounds like a lot, but really it was removing certain things and then adding in more lifestyle interventions rather than doing everything all at once. And Amanda will talk about more of the strategic supplements and interventions that they did in phase two and three, too.

Amanda Montalvo [00:30:23]:

And one of the interesting things that we noticed for her when she added that snack in in the morning, she’s like it actually helped her digestion. Like, she felt like her bowel movements were a bit better. And who knows? Because it was primarily yogurt. So maybe it was the beneficial bacteria in it. I think it was more like the timing because she was getting more light. She was being mindful with that. I feel like it just really supported her digestion and gut bacteria, because a lot of people, when you’re not having good bowel movements, you’re afraid to add more food in because you’re already bloated. But I would say, look at the timing of your food, because that can make a big difference.

Amanda Montalvo [00:30:58]:

So those were like, the first things we focused on. We also saw really high zinc on her hair test, which I always like to mention in gut cases, because it’s often a sign, one, she was supplementing with it, but it can also be a sign of inflammation. She had pretty much no cobalt, which means she was probably not making very much stomach acid, which we knew from her digestion and everything. And she had higher sulfur, which can be a sign that her body is working hard to detox. We use that sulfur for a phase two of detoxification. And so she had just a lot of signs of, like, metabolism being slow because calcium was so high. Sodium, potassium are low, which can affect your blood sugar. And that really was again, if we’re thinking about her sluggish digestion, where does that start? It starts with our metabolism.

Amanda Montalvo [00:31:45]:

And our metabolism is really super basic, just how we’re taking food and turning it into energy. She was doing that very slowly. She was a slow metabolic type on her hair test. And the copper, I think, was a huge driver of that. We see that a lot. And plus, if she was taking vitamin D, so that can cause calcium to increase, slows down metabolism, tends to, like a lot of people say, causes low copper. It’s not always black and white, like it’s high or low. We have to think about really high copper.

Amanda Montalvo [00:32:18]:

It means it’s not bioavailable. So meaning her body can actually use it for all those really important things that it’s supposed to use it for, like supporting the iron recycling system, making energy. That’s pretty important details also really important. It’s an antifungal, it’s important for our gut microbiome. So it’s one of those things where it’s like, oh, she has too much copper, but it’s not the kind that you can actually use. So that’s really where the concern comes in. And she didn’t struggle with mental health stuff, but that is something we see a lot because we store a lot of excess copper in our liver and our brain, unfortunately. So luckily, she did not struggle with that.

Amanda Montalvo [00:32:59]:

But just want to mention that since a lot of people can, I’ve seen a lot of hair tests where that has come up for people that have anxiety and depression. So those were like the major highlights. Phase two as far as what are we going to do for that calcium that high copper, how are we going to work on managing those? Because that was what we thought was driving a lot of the symptoms or at least like exacerbating them. So we did use some vitamin K two to help with that calcium plus calcium rich foods, because she wasn’t really eating a lot of calcium rich foods. And that can be another driver where, yes, the calcium is high, but can her body actually use it? And we can see very high calcium as a loss when someone isn’t getting enough calcium in their diet as well. So she did work on actually increasing calcium rich foods. Remember, she was coming from that plant based background, so not being afraid of those increasing vitamin K two through supplementation and through food. And then taurine for that high copper, especially when we have a constipation case, right? Because taurine is important for bile, really important for making bile acids and having healthy bile that is huge for regular bowel movements.

Amanda Montalvo [00:34:08]:

And I think a lot of constipation is related to bile issues. So if you have like for her, she had really high copper, she had a lot of estrogen dominant symptoms. We did not test her hormones because it’s probably just going to tell us exactly what we know, that her estrogen is really high and her progesterone is probably low or normal and that her cortisol is probably completely flat. Right? So I just feel like hormone testing is very expensive and not always incredibly helpful and it wouldn’t change what we were doing. Right. We had to address the copper and work on that calcium. And so Taurine is so helpful for that. I have a Copper Deep Dive podcast episode, which I will remind myself to put in the show notes.

Amanda Montalvo [00:34:50]:

But I talk about and I have some studies that show, too, that Taurine can help make ceruloplasm, which is the bioavailable form of copper, right? So that’s really helpful for people that have high copper. Not everyone can tolerate it. Some people that have sulfur issues can’t tolerate it. But I find it works for most people. Molybdenum very important. Again, helps make copper more bioavailable, helps issues with excess copper. And she did have low molybdenum levels as well. I don’t always use it.

Amanda Montalvo [00:35:20]:

If someone doesn’t have low molybdenum, I’m not always going to recommend it. But since we had her hair test, that was easy. Milk thistle for liver support, because a lot of this stuff’s happening in her liver. And of course, milk thistle is like one of those supplements, does everything. It also supports bile. So it was one of those things where how can we really support her bile, get the bowel movements going, because we get rid of excess copper and estrogen through our bile bowel movements. And then vitamin C can also help bring down that high copper, no more than 500 milligrams. And mostly I just had people like, she just ate more vitamin C rich foods because I was like, we don’t want to do a ton of supplements, and a lot of times you don’t need a ton.

Amanda Montalvo [00:36:03]:

I feel like people take very high doses of vitamin C and then they feel worse. So it’s one of those things you want to be careful with. And then castor oil packs work great for her. Again, amazing for constipation. And then we did work on nighttime light. She was not ready for this phase one. Right? It was hard for her to work on. She was like morning light first because she made it into part of her morning routine.

Amanda Montalvo [00:36:28]:

And then she was like, all right, I’ll try working on the blue light at night. And I think it’s so important to know yourself like that and know that this is going to be way too much. But that was the big focus. And all that stuff is inside the master minerals course on how to deal with high copper. And then do you want to go into phase three a little bit? I’m going to go into more of this in the bonus episode, but just like a brief overview.

Erin [00:36:51]:


Amanda Montalvo [00:36:52]:

So Amanda will go way more in.

Erin [00:36:55]:

Depth than I will in this little touch on she, because we have mentioned her stool test briefly throughout this podcast. And Jenna did a stool test because since she saw a huge improvement in yeast and UTIs, but she still had bloating and digestive concerns. So I think that’s one important thing is she did all of phase one and two a lot of lifestyle stuff, adjusting supplements for four months before she sought out additional testing. And that’s one thing that I want to highlight that we really focus on, on the hormone healing Rd team, is what things can we shift now to get wins? And we could still see an improvement, but not necessarily say, okay, let’s get all this testing right away because it might not be the right time, or you might not have the right foundations in place to do additional testing. So Jenna worked on things for four months, saw a lot of improvements, but still had those digestive concerns, especially with the Bloating. So then that then led to a gut protocol that included more support with digestion the immune system, and then eventually focused on eradicating more specific things that came up on her stool test with Giardia Candida and overgrowth which, again, Amanda will do that, go over that for the bonus episode in Patreon. But really the highlight is there are a lot of things that you can do with minimal testing so that you can get those foundations in place. So then the additional testing that you decide, if necessary to pursue can be as impactful as possible.

Erin [00:38:36]:

So she had all these foundations, light exposure in place, which is going to be very important for gut health, and then she still was able to do that GI map and have more acute support in place to make a bigger difference.

Amanda Montalvo [00:38:49]:

And I will say, normally, I would say four months is even kind of soon to do further testing, but she was getting married, so that’s like the other thing is I don’t want to say time crunch, but I knew her timeline, and I was like, I don’t want you doing a gut protocol on your honeymoon or anywhere near your wedding, right? It’s not going to do anything because no matter, even if it’s like positive stress, it’s just a lot. And she worked full time, she had long days, her husband worked full time. She was like, yeah, it’s probably going to be not the best time. And I’m like, okay, then let’s do it sooner. We did not retest her hair after four months. So usually people would say, like, when should I retest if I have high copper in my initial test and I start implementing a lot of those things that we went through, like the Taurine, maybe the Molybdenum, vitamin C, stuff like that, I would say give it six months. I usually say four to six months for a retest because your hair test shows the last three months. But I didn’t even have her do it because I was like, let’s just wait till after we do the gut stuff, because again, I didn’t think it was going to change anything that we were going to do.

Amanda Montalvo [00:39:55]:

Right? And it takes time to rebalance copper. She was on the pill for five years. She had a crapper ID for two years, she had just gotten it out. So just want to mention that because I’m like, it was kind of soon, but I did say I think you should do this sooner than later, or if she felt good enough after working on minerals. And it’s like, just wait till after the wedding, but sometimes it just makes more sense to do it sooner. So let’s talk a little bit about her healing journey, like the ups and downs and how her main symptoms that we went through in the beginning shifted throughout this.

Erin [00:40:28]:

So, yes, we’re big fans of being realistic here and saying, okay, it was not all rainbows and butterflies immediately when she started shifting things, but she did see it wasn’t like snapped her fingers and everything improved right away, but pretty quickly. She did see improvements in quite a few symptoms. So with her infections, she saw less infections pretty quickly in the months following her IUD removal. For her, Jenna always typically got something around her period, and the first month was much less severe. So that was a really quick and big win for her. Leading up to her periods, she saw less PMS and headaches, which, again, anyone who suffers with headaches and migraines debilitating. So that was another really big win after about three months of supporting her body and removing her IUD. So when you’re in the thick of it on your healing journey, three months can sound like an eternity.

Erin [00:41:25]:

But for Jenna, this is something she had been suffering with for quite some time. So three months was pretty quick in the grand scheme of things. But again, I started implementing one thing and my next cycle was perfect, and that’s another. We talked about this in the thyroid case study, but the last 100 days does impact your current cycle. So that’s also something to take into consideration, where we typically do see someone start to see improvements about three to four months in. Again, not saying things are going to be perfect from here on out when it comes to cycles, but it can take some time to see an improvement in your cycles because the last 100 days does impact your cycle. But she did see an improvement in those infections and that PMS and headaches pretty quickly. She saw an improvement in her acne.

Erin [00:42:13]:

It was still present, but it moved to being more cyclical. And this is, again, a pretty in your face symptom that it can be hard not to see a complete 100% improvement right away, but we want to look at, okay, where were you before with your acne? Was it all the time? Was it more cystic? Was it more painful, all of those things? And has it improved at all? And to see it improve at all is a win. And we always want to celebrate the little things, even if it’s not perfect right away. So she saw improvements, but it wasn’t perfect overnight. It still took time, but she was able to support her body and see it heal slowly but surely and still continue to keep those sustainable lifestyle things in place on her healing journey. So it wasn’t just like quick biohacks and then those didn’t work and you moved on to the next thing. And Amanda will talk about the hair loss too, because that was obviously a big symptom she experienced.

Amanda Montalvo [00:43:12]:

And with the acne, just a quick note on like, there’s different types of acne. We can get acne from hormonal. Everyone thinks they have Hormonal acne. I’m like, do you though? Are we sure it’s not from your gut? Because for her, it was definitely mixed, right? Like how her acne improved a ton, but it was still cyclical, so not shocking. We see this a lot in practice because it improved a ton, because we had gotten rid of a lot of overgrowth in her gut. The copper imbalances were improving, but her hormones, your hormones, are the last thing to change. And that’s why it can take a long time to see changes in your cycle or have all your symptoms resolve. A lot of people will be like, oh, my first cycle was really good, but not everything was perfect.

Amanda Montalvo [00:43:56]:

But they saw some improvements. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to see them. But yeah, we see that a lot with like, okay, well, it would make sense. After four months, she still had some acne present because her hormones are probably going to take a lot longer than that to shift. And when you’re doing a gut protocol, it’s a lot of work for your body. And it’s one of those things where it doesn’t just end. When you end the gut protocol, especially, like, receding your gut and getting good bacteria in there, feeding that good bacteria, your digestion has shifted, your immune system has shifted, so it can shift over time. And that’s something that we always like to let people know when we’re working with them of like, this is not going to change overnight.

Amanda Montalvo [00:44:40]:

And if it did, it would probably not stick. It would probably be something like, extreme that we had to do, which is not realistic for long term health. But her hair loss took the longest to improve. And I like to do the healing ups and downs because I feel like everyone’s case studies or they talk about a client or something online and it’s always like, all symptoms were gone in like 30 days or something. And I’m like, this is not real life. You can have a lot improve. But oftentimes for someone like Jenna, I mean, she had been dealing with this stuff for a very long time. For her, she was like, if I can resolve this in a few years, I’ll be happy.

Amanda Montalvo [00:45:16]:

She was very realistic and I was like, I think if we can work hard for the next year, you’ll probably be fine. But hair loss takes the longest to improve, which sucks. And that’s another reason why it’s a very traumatic symptom. And her iron was really low, which is not surprising. She had been recommended to take it in the past, but it made her UTIs worse, so she could never take it. Not shocking because it can feed non beneficial bacteria, but her copper was so out of balance, it was really impacting her iron levels, which can impact your hair. Iron is important for hair growth, for follicle health, for all those things, but you don’t want too much of it, and you want to make sure it’s truly an iron issue. She definitely was not getting a ton from her diet, but I think the biggest thing for her was that her copper was just so bioenavailable high, her body was not able to use it.

Amanda Montalvo [00:46:09]:

And when you think about that plant based diet, that’s another thing that can drive up copper. She had a lot of things driving up copper. History of excess estrogen symptoms, constipation, and of course, that can contribute to estrogen, the history with vitamin D supplementation, plant based eating, hormonal, birth control, copper, ed. So she had a lot of things, I think, that contributed to her high copper, but I think that was a big contributor for her hair health and just the inflammation in general in her body, because that will affect the follicle health, and that will 100% affect the ability of your hair to grow and whether or not it’s going to fall out. So those are huge. And I think when she started to see that copper come down and worked on getting rid of those infections in her gut, that’s when her iron really started to stabilize. I don’t necessarily think she had excess iron that was making her gut issues worse. I really think a lot of it was more related to the copper piece and then her slow metabolism, which slows down digestion, which then has a negative downstream effect on all of your gut health as far as, like, bacterial overgrowth, immune system health, all that stuff.

Amanda Montalvo [00:47:15]:

So just wanted to highlight that, because I do think iron plays a role. But hair loss is complex. It can be related to an imbalance in hormones, nutrient deficiencies, nutrient excesses. It’s not always black and white. And really, estrogen dominance plays a huge role. You need enough estrogen. Of course, we see hair loss post menopause or in perimenopause, and the estrogen levels drop. But if you have too much, it’s also not great for hair health and build up of oils and stuff on your scalp that will have a negative impact as well.

Amanda Montalvo [00:47:53]:

And then, of course, light. Okay, what doesn’t light fix? Because it just is so important for kicking off your hormones and telling your body what time it is. It communicates with your brain. It tells your body, hey, let’s turn off melatonin. Let’s start making cortisol in the morning. That’s why it’s so important to get outside and get that morning light. But I think when she first started doing that, her energy was low. And again, we didn’t test her hormones, but I really think that the light improved her energy production, helped with cortisol balance, and those two things are really important for hair growth and hormones.

Amanda Montalvo [00:48:30]:

A lot of people will notice more shedding in the winter and less in the summer, even if they’re not experiencing hair loss. It’s just kind of like a pattern that you see and it’s totally normal. So those are her healing ups and downs. That’s the case of Jenna, our gut health case study, which is also like a copper case study and like a UTI infections case study, kind of all in one. But I hope that you guys enjoyed this. I’m going to do a bonus episode going through her GI map in Patreon. You can go to Patreon.com Hormonehealingrd and then we’ll be back next week with our fatigue and energy case study. Perfect.

Amanda Montalvo [00:49:11]:

All right. Anything you want to leave people with? Are we good?

Erin [00:49:14]:

No, I think we hit everything. Like you said, she’s kind of an everything case study and just presents a lot of concerns that people come to us with. So I hope it all makes sense for everyone.

Amanda Montalvo [00:49:29]:

Awesome. And if you want to see her lab tests and stuff, I show it in. Know we’re not going to screen, share it on YouTube and stuff, but yeah, definitely join that if you want to nerd out if you’re a practitioner. I am making a practitioner HTML course. I’ll put the waitlist link in the show notes, but I think that’s it. So we will see you next week. Thank you for listening to this episode of the Are You Menstrual? Podcast. If you want to support my work, please leave a review and let me know how you like the episode.

Amanda Montalvo [00:50:01]:

This lets me know what you guys want more of less of. I read every single one and I appreciate them more than you know. If you want to keep learning, you can get access to the bonus episode and additional resources on Patreon.com Hormonehealingrd. I’d love to have you in there. Thanks again and I will see you in the next episode.

Amanda Montalvo

Amanda Montalvo is a women's health dietitian who helps women find the root cause of hormone imbalances and regain healthy menstrual cycles.

Master Your Minerals

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Hormone Healing RD