Alternative Therapies, Heal
Svadhisthana, the sacral chakra
Innate inner wildness.
Location: In the pelvis.
Governs: Sexuality and Desires.
Main issue: Involves ability to experience pleasure and sensation especially as these relate to our sexuality.
Externalizes: As the ovaries in women and the testicles in men.
When balanced: One feels sensuous.
Color: A harmonic of ORANGE.
Key words: Fluidity, change, polarity, movement, sensation and emotion.
Influences: The 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 somehow evil and should be denied.
Excesses: Lead one to seek 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.
Chakra two, the sacral chakra, is the source of our passionate emotions and embodies our innate inner wildness. When this wildness has been repressed we will often seek to destroy its external counterpart, wilderness; it is too painful to have mirrored back to us from nature the freedom and beauty that we’ve denied within ourselves. Where this wilderness once was we have constructed 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. When dammed, with no outlet, they stagnate and build up pressure, eventually exploding and damaging everything within their thwarted 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.
Menopause and andropause
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 make the hormone-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 a 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 ones.
Testosterone begins to decline in men usually in their forties or fifties. Compared to the hormonal roller coaster ride of menopause, andropause is often an uneventful and slow but steady hormonal downward slide. Because of this it is often missed.
Symptoms of testosterone deficiency are numerous and 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 one’s resilience, flexibility and endurance. As testosterone declines, 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 and progesterone
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 of these regimens 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, and thus its name: pro-gest-erone. 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 peddle bad. One without the other would be either 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 includes 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, somnolence and breast tenderness as well.
Decades of using synthetic versions of testosterone, estrogen and progesterone in a variety of inappropriate ways combined with some very 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 twenties 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.
Luckily, 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 now available from both compounding pharmacies and conventional ones. Bioidentical is the word 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 all natural, coming from pregnant mares’ urine, but is far from bioidentical for women.
A few carefully selected bioidentical hormones can potentially treat numerous diseases as well as provide a variety of side benefits instead of side effects. Treating the plentiful branches of a few fundamental imbalances with numerous pharmaceuticals clearly benefits someone else besides the patient. Working with an educated practitioner who knows what tests to order and how to interpret them will increase your chances of receiving an effective treatment.
Maintaining a healthy hormonal flow
To keep a healthy hormonal balance, eat organic food whenever it’s available. Many pesticides are xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens— manmade chemicals with potent estrogenic properties—are endocrine disrupters which negatively impact both the levels and the functions of numerous hormones. They 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 such as 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 hormonal flow include exercises and activities to maintain a vibrant second chakra. Focus on yoga postures and exercises that free up the pelvis such as pelvic rocks and hip circles.
Spend time in and around water. Drink a lot of it. Sit by a river watching its grace and power. Go to the ocean and let the waves baptize you. Take a bath by candlelight. Go dancing alone or with someone you love. Visit some of the millions of acres of wilderness in Utah. Maintaining a balanced second chakra is a recipe for a happy, healthy life.
NEXT MONTH: Chakra Three, the Solar Plexus Chakra.
Todd Mangum, M.D., of the Web of Life Wellness
Center is a holistically oriented physician practicing
in Salt Lake City.
Editor’s note: The Chakra Series, by Todd Mangum, MD, first appeared in CATALYST in 1995 and was repeated in 2009. These stories remain among the most read in our online library. In 2020 we are bringing you an updated version, which began with January’s Introduction to the Chakras.