We sat down with Dr. Robin Berzin MD, Functional Medicine physician and founder of Parsley Health. Parsley Health offers holistic medicine and encourages women to use natural therapies wherever possible. From changes in diet, exercise, and stress-management, to natural herbal supplements, Parsley aims to help people find their best selves. Whether it’s balancing hormones to deal with fertility, endometritis, or yeast issues, Parsley often advises on health issues specific to women.
The Broadcast: We all lead busy lives, and it’s hard to prioritize what’s good for us on a daily basis! What are the habits you’ve established in your daily life to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Robin Berzin: I’d say there are really three things I try to do regularly:
1. Even if I can’t get to the gym, I try to do some physical activity every day. Even if it’s just intervals or yoga in my living room, or a 10 minute workout video, I always do something.
2. I have a Parsley health protein shake for breakfast every morning. Vanilla is my favorite flavor. They’re packed with nutrients and vitamins. It’s a fast and easy breakfast and keeps me full until lunch.
3. I avoid alcohol. It isn’t easy when you get co-opted into social plans, but I try to skip drinking at least four to five days a week.
TB: We’re always curious which tampons doctors prefer, so tell us, what kind of tampons do you use and why?
RB: I use a natural tampon brand. I like them because they don’t have any chemical additives. We have LOLA in the Parsley office, but for environmental reasons, I choose an option that doesn’t have any applicators or packaging.
TB: It sounds like you prefer natural to synthetic tampons – can you tell us more about why? And which type do you recommend to your patients?
RB: There are already so many toxins in our environment. It’s not exposure to the one chemical that is going to make the difference, but rather repeated, constant exposure over time. Take the evidence showing that girls reach puberty early when exposed to chemicals in conventional home cleaning products.
For me, it’s important to be green my life in as many ways as I can control as possible. I make it a priority to avoid toxins in my tampons, which is significant because the vagina is a very vascular absorptive surface. It’s interesting that it isn’t something that comes up often with my patients. I would love to talk about this more though, and to create a guide to help women make choices around the products they use.
It’s not exposure to the one chemical that is going to make the difference, but rather repeated, constant exposure over time.
TB: We get asked all the time about how long women should leave in their tampons. Do women really have to change their tampons every 8 hours?
RB: The recommendations on changing tampons frequently are based on data on the development of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which is an overgrowth of a particular bacteria that tends to have higher growth rates when a tampon is in place. The bacteria produces a toxin that causes TSS. It isn’t that after the recommended time, “bam,” you’re going to get TSS, but it is better and more mindful to take the tampon out at this time to proactively limit your risk for TSS.
TB: Can you explain the relationship between tampons & TSS? Does using a tampon put me at risk?
RB: TSS is caused by a bacteria that occurs naturally, and TSS itself is very rare. Every woman may have a certain amount of that bacteria in her vagina, and some types of tampons are shown to have increased the risk of promoting the growth of this bacteria, which can lead to the development of the toxins that produce TSS. It can be life threatening in its worst form.
TB: What are the most common questions you receive from women about feminine care products/habits and how do you answer them?
RB: Menstruating women want to know two big things:
1. What natural solutions can I use to balance out hormones that cause discomfort during PMS?
2. What are the natural options I can consider to avoid, prevent and deal with yeast infections if I am prone to them.?
I always tell them that changing your diet to one that limits sugar, refined grains and processed food, and taking certain oral probiotics that will help balance your microbiome, are helpful strategies. We also sometimes recommend women use vaginal probiotics, which naturally help manage and prevent yeast infections.
TB: How can I learn more about Parsley Health?
RB: Well first, check out our website at www.parsleyhealth.com. We do a lot of community building, and really focus on education. We have a great blog that is super informative, and a weekly newsletter with in depth information as well. Beyond that, we have once monthly webinars that range from free to $7 on all different topics. The next one is on thyroid issues, which are a huge issue for women, and many of which are lifestyle and diet driven. We also give lots of talks and presentations, like one we just did with an all natural skin care product shop in the west village.
We also offer both a medical membership, where people can work with a doctor and a team of health coaches in an ongoing way. And, we offer a health-coaching only membership, where for for $99/month for 3 months, a person can restore their digestive health and discover food sensitivities properly. We also have a 7 Day detox program, which is a great reset after travel or an excessive weekend, as well as a 21 Day detox program, that’s perfect for lowering inflammation and unravelling chronic issues.