Features and Occasionals

Chakra Series: Chakra Two

By Todd Mangum

Chakra two, the sacral chakra, is the source of passionate emotions. It embodies our innate inner wildness. When this wildness has been repressed, we will often seek to destroy its external counterpart, wilderness, for it is too painful to have mirrored back to us from nature the freedom and beauty that we have denied within ourselves. Where this wilderness once was we construct strip malls, amusement parks and zoos, so someone else can sell back to us inferior imitations of our intended birthright.

Emotions are the source of our indomitable power. Emotions, like rivers, are literally Energy in Motion which, when dammed, stagnate and build up pressure, eventually exploding and damaging everything within their paths .

When the second chakra is balanced, one has a healthy relationship to pleasure, neither denying nor overindulging in it. The body will be supple, with fluid, smooth movements. Emotions will flow like those of a small child, seamlessly moving from anger to joy to fear to sadness without judgment, restriction or depression

Androgens, estrogens and progesterone

The endocrine glands governed by the second chakra are the testicles and the ovaries, both of which produce androgens, estrogens and pro­gesterone. Both men and women suffer from imbalances and insufficiencies of these hormones. A monthly menstrual cycle and the bells and whistles of menopause-related problems experienced by women much more obvious than those experienced by men.

The equivalent of menopause in men is called andropause. Andro­pause is the result of declining levels of class of steroid hormones called androgens. Like the estrogens, which are an ensemble of feminizing hormones, androgens are a medley of masculinizing hormones. Of the androgens, testosterone is unquestionably the most notorious.

Testosterone is also an anabolic steroid hormone which means it promotes the building of bone and muscle. It also positively impacts one’s mood, energy level and sense of well being. It is most renowned for its powerful effects upon libido and virility. DHEA and androstenedione are also androgens but are less potent.

Testosterone begins to decline in men usually in their 40s or 50s. Com­pared to the hormonal roller coaster ride of menopause, andropause is often an uneventful and slow but steady hormonal downward slide.

Symptoms of testosterone deficiency include fatigue, depression, apathy, diminished mental acuity, loss of sexual function and desire, decreasing muscle mass and in­creasing fat. Low testosterone also results in a loss of resilience, flexibility and endurance. Joint aches, muscle pains, stiffness and risk of injury increase. Both men and women of any age may experience problems related to imbalanced levels of not only testosterone but of estrogens and progesterone as well.

Estrogens refer to an entire class of hormones, some of which occur naturally and many of which do not. This critical distinction is often blurry to both modern medicine and the media. Estrogens promote secondary sexual development in women. Estrogens are more dominant in the first two weeks of a woman’s menstrual cycle and prepare her body to get pregnant. The prominent estrogens in women are estradiol, estrone and estriol. Estradiol is the most potent of these hormones and the one most likely to be prescribed to menopausal women. Even estradiol has proven to be problematic because it has been prescribed in isolation or with Provera. Neither regimen provides the proper hormonal balance.

Progesterone is not the name of a class of steroid hormones like estrogen is, but is a single specific hormone. Progesterone promotes gestation—in other words it maintains a healthy pregnancy, as you can deduce from its name. Pro­gesterone’s other beneficial effects include protecting against fibrocystic breasts, acting as a natural diuretic, helping burn fat for energy, protecting against endometrial and breast cancer and protecting against and even reversing osteoporosis. Progesterone acts to both balance and enhance the effects of estrogen.

Labeling estrogens bad and progesterone good would be as ridiculous as labeling the brake in your car good and the gas pedal bad. One without the other would either be a disaster or a standstill. The balance between these two hormone classes is as important as their actual levels. This applies to both hormones generated internally and those ac­quired through replacement therapy.

Too much estrogen relative to pro­gesterone creates a host of problems which include weight gain, PMS, en­dometriosis, uterine fibroids, breast tenderness, headaches, leg cramps, gallstones, high blood pressure, blood clots, nausea, fluid retention and an increased risk of endometrial and breast cancer. Too much progesterone relative to estrogen causes its own set of problems, which include depression, fatigue, somnambulence and breast tenderness as well.

Appropriate—and inappropriate—supplementation

Decades of using synthetic versions of testosterone, estrogen and progesterone in a variety of inappropriate ways combined with faulty reasoning has generated a plethora of modern myths which do not apply to balanced and biologically appropriate hormone treatments.

One such myth is that testosterone is hard on the liver and quite dangerous. If this were true, our hospitals would be full of virile young men in their teens and early 20s as their testosterone peaks. Conventional medical doctors have known for decades that progesterone counters the negative effects that excessive estrogens can cause throughout a woman’s system. With consistent use of inappropriate hormones like Pro­vera, however, this knowledge dwindled to the myth that progesterone only protects the uterus and is therefore unnecessary if a woman has had a hysterectomy

Many options are available for both men and women today besides choosing between inappropriate hormones or none at all. Bioidentical estrogens, progesterone and testosterone are available from not only compounding pharmacies but conventional ones as well. “Bioidentical” is the term that most accurately describes these hormones. Since they are synthesized in a lab from wild yam or soy they are not, technically, all natural. Unlike conjugated estrogens and Provera, however, which are also derived from soy or wild yam, bioidentical hormones are exact replicas of those found in humans. Premarin, on the other hand, is far from bioidentical for women, though it is all natural, coming from pregnant mares’ urine.

A few carefully selected bioidentical hormones can potentially treat numerous diseases as well as provide a variety side benefits instead of side effects.

How to maintain a healthy second chakra

To keep a healthy hormonal balance, eat organic food whenever it’s available. Many pesticides are xenoestrogens—manmade chemicals with potent estrogenic properties. Xeno­estrogens are endocrine disrupters which negatively impact both the levels and the functions of numerous hormones and are deleterious to almost every creature on earth. Stress, nutritional deficiencies, disturbed or deficient sleep and obesity also negatively impact hormonal levels.

For women, foods containing phytoestrogens like soy can counter some of estrogen’s stimulatory ef­fects. Many herbal preparations have hormonal stimulating and balancing properties. For men, saw palmetto berries prevent the conversion of testosterone into a hormone known to promote prostate problems and male pattern baldness.

Other ways to maintain a healthy second chakra:

Practice yoga, focusing on postures that free up the pelvis such as pelvic rocks and hip circles.
Spend time in and around water.
Drink a lot of water.
Sit by a river watching its grace and power.
Go to the ocean and let the waves baptize you.
Take a bubble bath by candlelight.
Go dancing alone or with someone you love.
Visit some of the 774,520 million acres of wilderness in Utah.

The second chakra is associated with pleasure, sensations and sexuality.

Location: in the pelvis.
Governs: sexuality and desires.
Main issue: involves the ability to experience pleasure and sensation, especially as these relate to sexuality.
Externalizes: as the ovaries in women and the testicles in men.
Element: water.
When balanced: we feel sensuous.
Color: a harmonic of orange.
Key words: fluidity, change, po­lar­ity, movement, sensation, emotion.
Influences: sacrum, pelvis, lower abdomen, genitals, gonads, pros­tate, uterus, kidneys and bladder.
Deficiencies: manifest as an ina­bility to derive pleasure through the senses, a fear of sexual intimacy or a belief that earthly sensual pleasure is evil and should be denied.
Excesses: lead to seeking pleasure in addictive ways.
Imbalances: manifest physically as impotence, frigidity, any gynecological problem, PMS, prostatitis, lower back pain especially at lumbo­sacral joint, urinary tract infections and cancers of any associated structures.

The chakras are a metaphysical system of the body from the yogic tradition, used in both religious and medical Hindu and Buddhist canons. The chakra energy centers are usually depicted as seven lotuses of rainbow colors arrayed along the spine and up into the head. Under­standing of this system has long been used both to heal illness and to promote spiritual enlightenment.

Todd Mangum, M.D.’s series on the chakras explains how this conceptual framework can be used to expand our understanding of how our bodies work. He covers the traditional and contemporary interpretations of the chakra system corresponding to various systems of the body. To be healthy is to have a free and balanced flow of energy through the body. Engaging this powerful symbolic system can help us to achieve and maintain health in a far more nuanced and active way than Western medicine can by itself.

This article was originally published on April 26, 2013.