Nikki McLeslie brought 10 health concerns to her local homeopath, who cleared up nine of the issues after using diagnostic tools that test saliva.
McLeslie was complaining of hot flashes, moodiness and magnified premenstrual syndrome symptoms. She was had trouble sleeping. And despite watching her diet and exercising twice a day, she couldn't manage her weight.
She suspected her body was out of balance because she was approaching menopause.
"I've felt I've had hormone problems for some time," McLeslie said.
But because she hadn't reached "the magical age of 50," she said she felt her doctors didn't take her concerns seriously. At 38, McLeslie was too young to be dealing with menopause-like issues related to hormones, doctors told her.
She saw a brochure about hormone testing at Craig Chiropractic Clinic, where Jessica German practices spinal adjustments and administers homeopathic remedies.
German got her diploma in homeopathic medicine in January, and she's currently enrolled in a diploma program on hormone analysis and regulation.
Many of German's clients are women who suspected they have a hormone imbalance, or those who've been treated for hormonal problems by medical doctors.
Some have been offered drastic measures, such as hysterectomies. Others get hormone prescriptions and birth-control pills. Her patients are seeking less synthetic solutions, and they've usually done a lot of heath research on their own.
They've been frustrated by a lack of results, or because the hormone therapies compounded their symptoms, German said. They were diagnosed based on blood or urine sample results.
German tests saliva.
"Saliva tests the biologically active part of the hormones," German said. "It's a more accurate picture of hormone production and consumption."
According to the laboratory to which German submits her samples, "The salivary female hormones correlate at 93 percent with the free hormones in the tissues."
German's clients collect their own saliva samples, freeze them and send them to the lab. German receives a report on the results and offers treatments, including homeopathic remedies, nutritional supplements and natural hormones.
Patients take multiple samples throughout the day, and as many as 11 samples in a month. It provides a picture of a patient's hormone chemistry that is more complete than the snapshots like blood or urine tests, German said.
Hormone imbalances plague most of German's female clients. They suffer from insomnia, depression, weight-gain, infertility and PMS. Some problems are as serious as endometriosis -- painful thickening of uterine tissue. Other clients have strangely intense cravings for chocolate or salt.
As a woman's body cycles from menstruation to ovulation and back, the levels of different hormones rise and fall naturally.
The multiple saliva tests can pinpoint a flawed daily hormone cycle or a dominance of the wrong hormone at the wrong time of the month.
One woman complained of PMS that was so painful she had to take time off work. She couldn't sleep. The pressure in her abdomen was so intense, "she was doubled over in pain because it was so severe," German said.
After German saw the results from the woman's 11 saliva samples, the problem jumped off the page.
During the days when the woman was experiencing the most dramatic symptoms, her progesterone levels showed a marked spike. German administered a treatment that was specific to the patient, and to the day when the hormone levels went awry.
"Now, I give her a natural hormone supplement over eight days of the month," German said. "This test eliminates the guesswork."
German discovered the saliva testing when she was having hormonal issues when she was living in Bismarck, N.D. She was pregnant at the time. She was suffering from problems with digestion and sleeping.
"I couldn't sleep, but I was exhausted. I was down, but I'm always upbeat and full of energy," German said.
Her homeopath prescribed a remedy similar to the ones German now offers.
"I've been taking these same products for over two and a half years," German said.
McLeslie is glad the remedies have smoothed her mood swings, cured symptoms of bloating, and reminded her that she wasn't going crazy -- just hormonally unbalanced.
"My poor husband never knew who he was going to come home to," McLeslie said. "It's starting to get better, especially when I'm not bloated and miserable and hurting. That helps a bunch."
Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org