Hormones in Harmony

Living abundant joy through bio-psycho-spiritual balancing

Location: Ojai, California, United States

Welcome to Hormones in Harmony where I shall share pearls of wisdom gathered over two decades of consulting with the hormonally challenged. As a holistic nurse practitioner specializing in neuro-immune-endocrinology, I have merged my western education with eastern philosophies, but the key to being a successful healer is to embody physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. At 54, married for 32 years with two grown children, I strive to keep my Hormones in Harmony with a positive attitude, a loving environment, and faithful consumption of Genesis Gold.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yesterday, I buried a dear patient.

I am a family nurse practitioner and not a stranger to death, but like many health care providers, I have viewed the death of a patient as a failure. Not this time. Karen taught me how to let go. How to accept. How to truly partner with my patients. Thank you, Karen, for the gift of your life and for the gift of your dis-ease that bonded us. Thank you for the grace of your death.

On the morning of her death, I felt Karen—like a bubble of delight floating through me. Not an hour later, her daughter called to tell me Karen had just passed. For the first time in 25 years of healing, I experienced the grace of death.

I chose to become a nurse; not a doctor as my father had hoped or as my college professors had guided me toward. I chose to become a nurse because I wanted the barometer by which I served my community to be one of wellness, not disease. Medicine honorably focuses on relieving illness, but I wanted to do more. I wanted to help my patients achieve their optimal state of well being.

I consciously chose nursing over medicine, not because I couldn’t handle the work. I was valedictorian of my high school, graduated cum laude from UCLA. School was easy for me. I chose nursing because I wanted a full life.

In the early eighties, I had no models of female physicians who had a successful practice, a loving spouse and a healthy, happy family. I wanted it all, so I chose nursing. So I graduated from UCLA School of Nursing with honors and married my high school sweetheart. We are still joyously married after 25 years. He is my best friend, my closest confidante, the Divine Masculine to my Sacred Feminine. We are soul mates.

A year later, I gave birth to our first child, prematurely. We both nearly died. My young husband and I had to make a very difficult choice. Our baby was born intersex. I had had a dream of a blond baby boy, so it was no surprise when our baby’s chromosome test revealed the male XY pattern. But the pediatric endocrinologist advised we raise our child as a girl. Back then we were told, “It’s easier to make a hole than a pole.” I was shocked, not by the bluntness, but by the total lack of consideration for the effect of “his” hormones on the developing brain, and if we raised “him” as a “her” what psychological trauma would “she” undergo at puberty or later in young adulthood. The experts didn’t know. So I followed my intuition, and we raised our baby as a boy.

I then began the struggle that so many other parents of medically challenged children face. I struggled with our managed care insurer to get our son the best care possible. Because we had not followed accepted medical standards at the time, the fight was long and hard. I cannot imagine how much more difficult it would have been if I wasn’t a nurse. Yet even being a nurse wasn’t enough, so when our son was just a year old, I went to graduate school and became a family nurse practitioner.

With a Masters in Nursing, I was better prepared to research my child’s options. Following my intuition, I found the best treatments, many of them out of standard medical procedure, but which are now accepted. In fact, my entire career as a health care provider has proven that my intuition is rarely wrong. I am fortunate to be licensed to order the appropriate diagnostic tests to prove what I “know,” but my patients have come to believe in my knowing. They have witnessed the proof in their in own care and that of my son.

Although with my son’s condition, we could not change our insurance, I refused as a health care provider to be part of a system that would keep me from providing the best care possible. So I avoided working under managed care. After becoming board certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner, I started a family practice within an urgent care. Because of my focus on wellness, the family practice grew quickly. The physician owners saw a business opportunity and signed up with managed care contracts. While the physician employees did not appreciate having their hands tied by the HMO’s, they sorely resented having their compensation tied to managed care. So the other doctors started handing me the HMO patients in favor of the better insured patients.

So I left that practice to work with an up-and-coming OB-GYN. He needed the TLC of a nurse practitioner in the office while he perfected his surgical skills. There I honed my skills in treating the Hormonally Challenged. Six years later, he too was seduced by managed care. By then I had another dream-to start my own holistic health care practice.

With my expertise in hormones and in the face of the aging of baby boomers, my dream manifested into a viable practice. I chose not to deal with insurers. I figured you get what you pay for. Patients paying a $10 copay for a routine office visit left feeling they got about ten dollars worth of care. And providers pressured by the need to see more and more patients in less and less time, delivered ten-dollar care.

Although a cash based practice was a novel idea back then, many of my patients had already been paying out of their pocket to see me, so why not? I left the gynecology practice seeing 27 or more patients a day as an employee to slow down and spend quality time with my own patients; time that they gratefully compensated me for.

In 1997, Karen supported my entrepreneurial nature by following me into my new solo practice. While working her up for postmenopausal bleeding, I had an uneasy feeling and asked the ultrasound technician to look higher in her abdomen. Karen hardily agreed. She had witnessed the power of my intuition a few years earlier when during a routine pelvic exam; I discovered a problem with her liver. So the ultrasound tech lubed up her stomach and placed the probe. That is when we discovered the tumor.

I had diagnosed patients with cancer before. I had even lost a few to the disease. But this beloved patient was different. Her cancer became our dance floor. I learned to partner with her to the rhythm of her dis-ease, to the changing beat of her desire, to the symphony of her life’s purpose. I held nothing back, dancing with her through choices that I may not have chosen, orchestrating a care plan that fit her needs—physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I researched every option, conventional and alternative. She fought the good fight, but at the end…she showed me how to slow dance.

Karen’s death was the first I’ve accepted graciously. The others I resisted and thus could not fully receive the gift of their passing. But hers, I embraced. I surrendered to loving her as a person, to getting close to her family, to being a part of her circle.

At the funeral, others commended me for coming. How could I not? I came to honor Karen, to support her family and to let her go. Like many of her loved ones, I shared my thoughts. Mostly I thanked her as her delightful spirit, free now from pain, played with her little grandson.

This is the way it used to be. Before insurance carriers and malpractice, we used to get involved with our patients. We knew their families, we birthed them, we helped them get through tough times in their lives, and we buried them. We understood the circle of life. They understood too. We respected one another; we were part of a community.

My practice now is on my property. You walk through an herb garden to be greeted by a friendly tabby cat. My mother meets you at the door. She manages my practice. My medical assistant has been with me for eight years. Both joined me at the funeral. My patients love these two wise ladies who put my comparative youth into perspective. Everyone gets a hug. We genuinely care for our patients, and they care about us.

An initial consult is two hours of face-to-face time with me. There is no wait. I have nothing to do that is more important than to be fully present with my patients. We provide all the medical services customary to family practice, but sometimes we do them a little differently. Sometimes a wary toddler is best examined in the garden. Sometimes a reluctant patient opens up with a purring cat in her lap.

One of my new patients just commented during her pelvic exam that the experience with me reminded her of her doctor in France who had her office in her home, made her feel very safe, and that she actually looked forward to medical exams. Her little boy, diagnosed with autism, had been through the mill with medical providers. They were shocked at how patient I was during his exam and consequently how willing he was to “do it again!” His treat for the day was to meet my horses. We might get him into equine therapy for this little one has a way with animals.

From the time I became a nurse, I have been trying to change the face of health care. As president of the California Association of Nurse Practitioners, I led my professional organization to increase access to care for patients. I have tried to enlighten my colleagues—doctors, nurses, and health care providers both conventional and alternative. Until now, many have not been ready to receive such an evolutionary practice model. So I learned my lesson from my patients and began with myself. How can you heal others if you do not first heal yourself?

I transformed my own practice into one that suits my patients, my family and my life. I’ve never advertised. Patients come to me from around the world. I have a unique expertise as a neuro-immune-endocrinologist. My goal is to help patients get their Hormones in Harmony. I educate rather than medicate. With aging baby boomers, hormone specialists are all the rage now. In spite of my expertise and the aging baby boomers, I do not believe that is why my practice has been growing during the recession. They come to me because I dance their dance. I partner with my patients.

If you are a patient, then I believe you, too, can become empowered to partner with your health care provider to get the best care ever and learn to heal yourself.

If you are a health care provider then you can become enlightened on how to joyfully partner with your patients and survive this recession, make a place for yourself in the new administration.

A month ago, I got a call from a dear friend. She was laid off from her job as a pharmaceutical sales rep. A single mom with a medically challenged child -- this did not come at a good time. Or did it? That’s why she called me, to find the light in the darkness. “Nancy,” I said, “this is your opportunity to transform yourself.” She took the ball and ran with it.

We are partners now in a brand new business.

Our mission is to transform the business of health care.
Our plan is to Empower Patients, Enlighten Providers, and Educate Personnel.
Check us out at www.full-life-solutions.com

On Saturday February 21, 2009 we are offering our first workshop for the Hormonally Challenged—Hormones in Harmony. It will be small, intimate, a safe place for women to share their concerns and learn the secrets to perfect hormonal heath. There’s only room for 20 participants. And even before we’ve launched our site, women have signed up for this empowering workshop. Come, join us.

There is lots of room for change. A new paradigm of health care is evolving. The time is ripe for us to dance.

“For what is to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt in the sun? And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered? Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountaintop, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then you shall truly dance.” Kahlil Gibran

Thank you, Karen. May your dance be one of joy. Farewell, beloved partner.

Love and Light,

Deborah Maragopoulos MN FNP
Intuitive Integrative Medicine

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hormones in Harmony™

Whether you’re entering puberty or exiting the golden years…
…whether you’re happy, vita, and fit or sad, sick and saggy…


As the biochemical interface between the energy of the environment and the matter of your body, hormones affect everything. Your moods, your memory, your metabolism.
Your appearance, your aging, your appetite. Your sleep patterns, your stress response, your sex drive. Everything.

When I refer to hormones, I mean all the body’s biochemical messengers—the traditional hormones of the endocrine system, the neurotransmitters of the neurological system and the cytokines of the immune system. All of these act as hormones affecting everything we do, everything we feel, everything we think.

Living in today’s fast paced, high stressed world of the interminable electric light and too many manmade carbohydrates creates havoc with our hormones.

Think of the hormones as the software program of the human computer. Many of us are so hormonally challenged, sick, aging, tired, or just plain stressed out that we need a software update.

Being a woman entering the thrills of the perimenopausal rollercoaster does not make me an expert. It does make me genuinely empathetic with my Hormonally Challenged readers.

Being a neuro-immune-endocrine specialist for the past twenty years…well, that contributes to my expertise regarding hormones.

Yet as I receive more and more Hormonally Challenged patients into my holistic health care practice, my expertise becomes more and more refined. Like good wine, it takes years to reach the peak flavor of healing.

In 1997, I broke away from a conventional medical setting to practice Intuitive Integrative Medicine. My specialty of natural hormones grew to encompass the gamut of endocrine disorders (diabetes, thyroid disease, adrenal deficiency, growth hormone deficiency, low metabolism, insomnia, fatigue, infertility, andropause, PMS, anti-aging therapeutics). Still the majority of my patients were women going through the change of life.

One day I got a call from a local gynecological surgeon. “Deborah, I’m sending you all my weird hormone patients.”

I thanked him and asked what was so “weird” about them.

“Well, in medical school,” he answered, “you learn that A leads to B and occasionally C, but I get to Z and still can’t figure out these weird hormone cases.”

“That’s because, Dr G,” I explained, “endocrinology is not an exact science. It’s an art.”

“I’m a surgeon” he sighed. “and since you’re the artist, you can take care of them.”

That’s when I came up with the term—Hormonally Challenged. Health care providers are as challenged by hormonal issues as their patients.

East meets West

The other day I was illustrating the connection between the body and the environment for a new patient. On my little stick figure person, I placed seven dots.

"Those are the chakras!" The patient exclaimed.

"Yes, and they're also where the endocrine glands lie."

From the gonads in the root to the pineal in the crown, the endocrine glands correspond beautifully with the seven chakras. Chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning little wheels of energy. Remember how hormones are the interface between the energy of the environment and the matter of your body, well the glands that produce the hormones are the power points. East meets West in the endocrine system!

Hormones affect everything--our nervous system, our immune system, even digestion and detoxification. These tiny messengers communicate to the DNA within our cells what's happening in the rest of our body as well as in our environment.

The DMAR Pyramid of Health™

Imagine that health is a pyramid. There are four sides on the Pyramid of Health: the environment, our anatomy or structure of the body, and the physiology or biochemistry of our system. The fourth side is our beliefs. What we think becomes. Our thoughts influence our biochemistry which runs the entire system.

At the top of the biochemical face of the pyramid are the hormones--specifically the neuro-immune-endocrine system.

The hormones are bio-chemicals with physical molecular structure, but they also are vibrational. Hormones each have unique vibrations. Hormones literally sing to the DNA and the DNA dances accordingly.

It is ironic how many physicians will become afflicted with the dis-ease in which they specialize. I just accompanied a dear friend of mine to a gynecological oncologist--a doctor specializing in cancer who still suffered the effects of radiation therapy twelve years after a bout with cancer.

Being a hormone specialist, I am very attuned to my own hormones as well as my patients. I can "feel" when hormones are out of balance. Like an internal symphony, each hormone has its own rhythm, its own sound, its own vibration.

Years ago, a young woman came to see me. She had been a patient of mine since her adolescence and just six month earlier had a complete physical with me. She had no complaints and when I asked what prompted her visit, she said, "I just need to sit in your vibration and I stay well for about six months."

She was describing resonance. How her hormones were attuning to mine. And how vitally important it is that I stay well. My patients remind of this all the time.

Healer heal thyself.

The Neuro-Immune-Endocrine System

Just hang out with a woman about a couple of days before her menses and witness the power of hormones. As her sex steroids plummet so does her demeanor. Not all women suffer from PMS but most will admit to feeling different, less tolerant, more emotional than the rest of the month.

Not just female hormones, but male hormones affect the brain. Believe me, I see many middle aged men prescribed antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs when in fact their moods are related to declining testosterone. Both the male and female brain is affected by hormones.

But we actually have three brains. Yes, three. One in our head, one in our chest and one in our gut. The heart is the really number one brain. The aboriginals knew this truth and today science is proving that the heart gets first preference of resources for neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters are the hormones of the nervous system. And they’re produced by the gut as well as the heart. Ever been nervous before a big event? While you’re brain fusses over possible outcomes, your heart races and your stomach rumbles. Neurotransmitters. In fact, conventional medicine often treats irritable bowel syndrome with antidepressants and everyone knows that you can die of a broken heart (really severe depression means very little serotonin for the heart to function.)

You can live without a functional brain (coma) but not without a functional heart. And if your digestive tract cannot absorb nutrients, you’ll starve to death without medical intervention.

Now let’s explore the immune system. You know when you’re under a lot of stress and you become sick. You catch a common cold virus or break out in cold sores (the herpes virus). Stress affects the adrenal glands which in turn affects the immune system.

In the heart chakra lies the thymus—an endocrine gland responsible for programming the white blood cells to know the difference between you and other. Other what? Germs: viruses, bacteria, fungi, even weird cells like cancer. White blood cells (WBC) attack other and spare you. They do so best when you are asleep. Under the influence of melatonin produced by the pineal gland in the crown chakra the body shuts down normal daytime function and switches into nocturnal mode. The adrenals stop producing the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol and begin to produce metakephalins that stimulate the thymus to program the WBC’s. All hormones, all the time!

High stress means high adrenalin and cortisol production interfering with sleep and effectively turning off the immune system making you vulnerable to infection and over a very long period of time, cancer.

Think of the WBC as the pony express. The WBC can travel anywhere in the body, even pass the blood brain barrier delivering messages called cytokines. Cytokines are the tiniest of the “hormones”. These minute messengers instigate the immune response whether that be hives in response to an allergen or the attack of an invading virus. The amazing WBC carry on its cell membranes information about all the hormones, all the neurotransmitters, and all the cytokines in the body during its lifetime.

The neuro-immune-endocrine system is a massive communication network that makes the global internet look like child’s play.

So if the neuro-immune-endocrine system is the software for the human computer, what’s the operating system?

The Hypothalamus.

In the center of the brain, the hypothalamus lies vastly unappreciated. Part neurological tissue and part endocrine tissue, the hypothalamus is largely ignored by neurologists as a primitive brain structure. Endocrinologists pay it little heed because they cannot measure its hormones without sacrificing the lab animal. But the hypothalamus is crucial to life.

The hypothalamus orchestrates the entire symphony of hormones.

If the hormones are harmonious, you are healthy, vital, youthful, vibrant.

If the hormones are out of harmony, you are sick, tired, aging, stressed, and eventually dis-eased!

So to help the Hormonally Challenged, I focus on the maestro—the hypothalamus.

Balancing Hormones Naturally

I formulated Sacred Seven™ amino acids specifically to balance the hypothalamus.

Genesis Gold® balances the entire neuro-immune-endocrine system as well provides support for optimal assimilation of nutrients, detoxification of toxins and mitochondrial energy production.

I keep my Hormones in Harmony™ with Genesis Gold®.



Deborah Maragopoulos MN FNP
Intuitive Integrative Medicine
Full Circle Family Health

Genesis Gold®—Creation in a Bottle: the natural way to keep your Hormones in Harmony™

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Letting Go

Sometimes, helping others come into hormonal harmony requires a sharing of heart and soul.

Last spring, I was invited by the Grandmother’s Council of Ojai to speak about my book. The grandmothers were very interested in the Divine Daughter energy. From the moment I entered the circle, I was enveloped in their loving embrace. The grandmothers gather in fulfillment of the Hopi prophesy that “when the grandmothers speak, the earth will be healed.” My own grandmothers passed years ago and while I have my husband’s beloved Gran, you cannot have enough grandmothers in your life!

The grandmothers offer empowerments—an amazing experience of being held in the love of all that is—so in spite of being the guest speaker, I was asked by Jill, the head grandmother to come and receive an empowerment. Wow! I have been embraced by a circle of wise loving women who are always with me now. What a blessing.

Yet, alas, I am not yet of age to become part of the circle of grandmothers. A woman must reach the age of 52 and be menopausal—no longer bleeding out her wisdom—to pass into the circle. I have a ways to go yet.

Fortunately on the second Sunday of the month, the Grandmother’s Council opens the circle to men, younger women and children. All are welcome to receive empowerments and once received are encouraged to participate in the empowerments. I have invited many of my friends and patients to come. Last month, I was blessed to have my son join me in the Grandmother’s Council Solstice Celebration. It was beautiful. Jill wasn’t feeling very well though and when I asked if I could be of assistance (I meant offer her a healing), she handed me the sacred cowl and asked me to perform the empowerments.

While the grandmother’s received from healers and well wishers in the outer circle, I was supported by an inner circle of loving women. My son had commented before we arrived at the council that I looked like a high priestess. Well, I felt like one offering sacred feminine blessings to each amazing being who stepped into the circle for an empowerment.

This past Sunday, one of my dear patients joined us. Here is her letter …

Hi Deborah,

Thank you so much for inviting me to the Grandmothers Council. The empowerment circle was simply incredible. I had a totally different reaction to it than I expected- not so much a feeling of empowerment, but instead, of shedding something. And after meditating on it a while, I think I need to shed some of these walls I've put around me all these years. I've always been one who feels very blessed, and I think I've carried that almost to the point where I don't think I deserve any more. So I'm working on releasing some of that so that I CAN receive!
When I say my prayers of thanks, you are one of the people in my life I'm so thankful for!
Love, Lisa

Dear Lisa,

Thank you for coming!!!

This is the second month that Jill has asked me to take over. I have not yet offered any empowerments without the circle of grandmothers, but with you now empowered maybe we can begin. My mother needs to come and Chris too, but it takes awhile to be ready to receive.

In fact you're right...it begins with a release, a letting go of all that no longer serves, no longer fits into the new paradigm . Then we are open to receive the blessings of the next stage of life. My son was a very content child. He felt so blessed to be where he was at, that he resisted moving forward...

On the other hand, I pushed toward goals without stopping to smell the roses, not enjoying the present in favor of breathing life into the dream.

This past year has been one of great joy...wrapped in sorrow at times, all a letting go of the old way of being to make room for the new me.

I began this work in 2004...it was so powerful that I wrote an article on this disentangling our cords of attachment.

When I reconnected to my higher self, I was well aware that I was holding onto something that was preventing me from receiving more. I too feel very blessed, yet I know there is more... what I had to release was my fear...and the universe showed me all the faces of it for the past five months, until finally I could embrace it then let it go.

I realize now that life is about joy, that my lesson is to BE Joy, to be Faith, Beauty, Vitality, Compassion, Love...not wish for it, not work on it, just be it!

It's who I am. It's who you are, too.

Love, Deborah

Disentangling Our Cords of Attachment by Deborah Maragopoulos MN FNP

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