Maybe You’re “Just Hormonal”: Dr. David Edelberg’s Triple Whammy

By Tracy Morris

How bad do you feel, in general, on what you’d call a “regular” basis? A lot of us would answer anywhere from “occasionally” to “most of the time” — and we’ve come to accept that as normal.

pic1David Edelberg, M.D., summed up his thirty-plus years of medical practice in the book The Triple Whammy Cure (Free Press, 2006) to inform women that what we’ve come to accept as normal may not be.

What is the Triple Whammy?

It helps to first take a holistic viewpoint of the concepts of wellness and illness. The Triple Whammy is not a disease in the traditional sense. In fact, you might say that the term refers to some evolutionary hay wiring in the female body.

Before you go radically defensive on behalf of the sisterhood upon reading that last sentence, bear in mind this reality: we don’t want to hear that the world around us has moved faster than our bodies. Not only females, but males, too, are playing catch up in terms of how our bodies respond to the stressors of our day and age, most of which didn’t exist before a few decades ago.

On the female side of things, one result of our being poorly equipped to handle what’s most often thrown at us by life is the Triple Whammy.

The Triple Whammy refers to a situation (not a disease) that involves the following circumstances in a female body:

Low levels of serotonin in the brain

Stress, too much and too often

Imbalance of female hormones

No, it’s not all in your head. And while it is a bit closer to truth to state that it’s “hormonal,” it cannot be dismissed as therefore an inevitable part of being female.

No, Really

There are a lot of health gurus out there, most often writing books about what they know and you should do. Dr. David Edelberg might fall into that category; he has, after all, been on TV to talk about his book, and the book’s website is loaded with first-person testimonials and a buy-here supplement regimen. But just being a guru doesn’t make the message incorrect.

In fact, after spending the last decade hearing women (and a few men) discuss fertility problems and the myriad underlying causes and treatments for infertility, I long ago came to the conclusion that most of us enter adulthood knowing virtually nothing about our endocrine systems. We’re taught rudimentary facts — mostly in an effort to keep us from becoming pregnant before such an event fits into a condoned schedule — about our menstrual periods and how babies are made. Even the most health conscious of us wind up knowing more about our cardiovascular and muscular systems than our hormones. That, and the fact that the term “hormonal” is most often used in a derogatory way to mean “dismissible” — belie the truth that hormones are what make all the other parts work. Or not.

Important point: when I use the word “hormone,” I’m lumping in virtually all of them, not just the ones we typically think of (reproductive hormones such estrogen.) Serotonin, which is heard often in discussions about depression and its treatment, is in fact a hormone.

One more point to assure you that this is not merely a politically correct way of slandering women: men have their fair share of “being hormonal,” too, especially when we factor in neurotransmitters like serotonin. The male body is just as beleaguered by life as the female; the differences are primarily expressed in their behavior. For example, men may more typically demonstrate depression with outwardly angry behavior, as compared to women who may withdraw more.

So, We’re All Hormonal?

Well, yes. It’s part of the human, not just the female, condition. And there’s so much more to it than PMS.

Dr. Edelberg describes the combination of stress, low serotonin, and fluctuating hormones as resulting in “feeling ‘beaten up’ — tired, achy, anxious, depressed, forgetful, headachy, and lacking energy and focus.”

He goes on to describe, well, most women I know as we alternately strive and muddle through our typical daily activities and loftier goals. He says we have sleep problems, crave carbs, are constipated or have diarrhea. The catch is that if you bundle these symptoms up and take them to most doctors, you’re likely to be given the diagnosis “Sounds normal to me.”

In his book, Edelberg offers a long list of “disorders” that can happen if you’re Triple Whammied and don’t do anything about it. It’s a list that a whole lot of us will nod at when reading:

pic2Anxiety disorders Chronic fatigue syndrome

Depression

Fibromyalgia

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Menopause transition

Memory loss and brain fog

Migraine headaches

Postpartum depression

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Sleep problems

Smoking

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)

Weight loss agonies

Notice how many of the above we’ve all come to accept as simply part of being alive, especially after a certain age. Dr. Edelberg and a host of other holistic physicians have been trying to get our collective attention for years now, just to give us a different perspective on what a healthy body is like.

Incredibly, so few of us know from first-hand knowledge.

Fortunately, The Triple Whammy Cure is able to take complex medical concepts with basic anatomy education and boil it down to text that’s readable for the average woman. Edelberg explains the terminology, outlines a program, offers tips and recipes. The website also offers supportive bits — a quiz to determine if you’ve been Triple Whammied and a newsletter that’s mercifully concise.

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