What IS TMJ anyway?

What IS TMJ anyway?!

Great question! I'm glad you asked. :)

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, aka your jaw.

So why do people say they "have TMJ" then?! Everyone (or almost everyone) has a jaw!

Check out this short video to find out.

So much education and challenges to help you on your journey in my group, Fed-Up & Option-Seeking TMJ Warriors: Abundant Life Community. Check it out!

For Those With a Menstrual Cycle

For Those With a Menstrual Cycle
Today I want to talk about something just for those of us with a menstrual cycle. 🤭😉

In the spirit of being eco-friendly and reducing/reusing/recycling, let's talk about eco-friendly menstrual products.
I personally use cloth pads. (These ones here or some really cute ones you can get on Etsy too! Find what fits for your body and works for you).

I know many people who use a reusable menstrual cup.
Both I think are great! Here's my top 4 reasons for the switch:

1. Eco-friendly: this was a BIG one for me. I'm all about less waste.

2. Less toxin exposure: my period used to be longer and more painful at the beginning than it needed to be because those disposable, one-time use products contain irritants and such that BOTHER our bodies and systems in different ways. Keep in mind that cheaply made cloth ones actually can too. But... Eliminate that? Less bothering the system, and for me resulted in a less painful, more regular cycle with shorter period. Who doesn't want that?! 🙌

3. Comfort: my sensitive body is all about comfort, and once I realized it was actually more comfortable because I invested in quality pads, I felt way more comfortable!

4. Cheaper: no need to go stock up at Target or wherever every month anymore! I've been using the same set for 3 years now and they still look GREAT. I do keep some disposable on hand for random overnight trips if I don't want to think ahead more and plan for cleaning the cloth ones, but that's not often for me.

***Cleaning them is easy-peasy! I just hand-wash with the best ever non-toxic plant-based laundry soap, so they smell good AND stay really nice! Win-win! 🙌 (Let me know if you need care tips, happy to share my how-to!)

Pro-tip: if you're trying to avoid toxins like I mentioned in #2, you're doing yourself a disservice by washing them in regular laundry detergent. Go look up the ingredients of that stuff... 😬 No thanks. No matter what you're using, I recommend googling a few (or all!) ingredient names just to see what they are/do. You may be surprised at what you find even if you are using a "natural" laundry soap. Ask me about what I use for the best, most cost effective laundry soap around!

Do you use cloth pads/a menstrual cup? If not, what are your concerns? I guarantee you that I had one of your concerns before I made the switch! Ask away -- no question is too weirdo for me! 😜😊

Why Hormones May Affect TMJ Issues And How to Support the Body's Natural Hormones

The body is super complex, with many different systems working together but also performing separate functions. Your musculoskeletal system, which includes your joints and your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), can be affected by many factors, including gut health, immune system function, mental/emotional health, inflammation in the body, and hormones.

Hormones are constantly at work in your body and can even play a role in certain illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). And, conditions like this can make TMJ issues worse.

The Possible Link Between Hormones and Joint Issues

Although arthritis seems unrelated to hormones, medical research says they may be very related, especially when it comes to RA. Unlike osteoarthritis, RA is an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system begins attacking healthy cells instead of foreign invaders. And for women, the experiences of RA are closely correlated with hormonal changes that occur during menstrual cycles, perimenopause, and menopause. Although there is still much more to learn about these things, some studies have found:

The hormones estrogen and progesterone appear to protect against some issues when they are at their highest levels.
Women report less discomfort during the latter part of the menstrual cycle, when estrogen and progesterone levels are at their peak. (So if we can support the body in balancing/maintaining levels, this could be a way to support the body in optimal function.)

Pregnant women are far less likely to develop issues or experience flare-ups. Estrogen and progesterone levels soar during pregnancy.

Onset seems to peak for women between the ages of 45 and 49. This is commonly a period of hormonal decline before menopause begins, known as perimenopause.

Women are two to four times more likely to develop joint issues than men, so it’s possible that the hormone fluctuations trigger the onset of the condition in some people, and the hormonal changes that occur throughout life can either protect against symptoms or make them worse. Other factors, such as genetics, environment, diet, smoking, and alcohol use may also increase a person’s risk of having discomfort, but the hormonal link perhaps may explain why issues appear to come and go at certain times for women.

What This Means for TMJD

Knowing that women’s hormones can affect joints in general, we can assume that for some women, hormones may also affect their temporomandibular joint (TMD). This is because the TMJ is a joint like other joints in the body, so the same things can affect it as well. For women who experience discomfort, it can help them understand why their symptoms may get worse at specific times of the month or certain times in their lives.

If you’re having joint issues, it may be important to see your doctor to get testing, but there are also many things you can do to support your body on your own. I share about
my own experience with TMJ issues and addressing them naturally so that people can see that there are options, and naturopaths may be also able to assist in this.

There IS hope for those who struggle with these things -- you CAN feel empowered to support hormones naturally from home; if you'd like support along the way, I am more than happy to walk alongside you and be a cheerleader on your journey. I would have wished that for myself a few years ago, so I'd be honored to be that for you. This does not need to be fearful or lonely. There's community and hope and abundance for you, dear friend.