In this episode, I am speaking with Shawn Tassone, MD – board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, with a PhD in mind-body medicine. He has helped more than 40,000 women balance their hormones and improve their health using integrative medicine. We will talk about the SHINE method, and how to use it to balance your hormones.
In this podcast, Dr. Tassone will cover:
- Why most health experts cause more problems than help their patients
- The SHINE protocol
- Soy – is it good or bad for you?
- The 12 types of hormone imbalance
- The role of testosterone in women’s health
- Infoceuticals – do they work?
- How to balance estrogen dominance
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How To Balance Your Hormones for Women / The 6-Step SHINE Method with Dr. Shawn Tassone - Transcript
Ari Whitten: Hey, there. This is Ari Whitten, and welcome to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. Today, I have with me Dr. Shawn Tassone who is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, and by the American Board of Integrative Medicine. He holds a medical degree, an MD, in addition to a PhD in mind-body medicine. In his 20 years of practice, he’s seen over 40,000 women and is a highly regarded patient advocate. As an integrative health practitioner, Dr. Tassone believes you should have an active role in your health. His work includes studies and publications on spirituality in medical care, whole foods to heal the human body, and integrative medicine. He’s been featured in many publications, including The New York Times, NBC News Online and Stanford MedX. Welcome to the show, Dr. Tassone.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I’m glad we finally were able to get it together since I couldn’t get the time zone right last time.
Ari Whitten: Yes, no worries. By the way, am I pronouncing your last name correct? I always just call you Shawn. It’s the first time I’ve ever said your last name.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: If you’re in Italy, that’s exactly how you pronounce it. It’s Tassone but-
Ari Whitten: Tassone.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: – they changed it to Tassone when they came over, but growing up I was called many things by teachers that couldn’t pronounce it.
The biggest issue with many health experts
Ari Whitten: Well, you and me both. First of all, before we get into women’s health-specific stuff, I have a broader question for you, which is– We’ve had some talks about this in person. At least one I think, and then we’ve had some exchanges on Facebook related to this. There’s some conversations that have come up, for example, in the mindshare health expert group around, how should I phrase it? Issues relating to maybe people without enough expertise that are promoting themselves and teaching people about health and maybe shouldn’t be. I know that you’re very vocal on this issue. You feel very strongly about it. I wanted to just bring that up before we got into the women’s health stuff.
In case you wanted to say something about it, I, for example, I very often in my private member’s Facebook group will take examples of how people cherry-pick the literature and will point out the mistakes and it’ll say, “Here’s the literature that contradicts this person’s perspective. Be wary of people who are out there with an agenda who are misrepresenting the evidence, either out of their own ignorance and lack of scientific literacy or due to some bias and agenda that they’re trying to promote.” That’s something I feel very strongly about and I think you do as well. I just wanted to ask you about it if you wanted to say anything about that issue.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Sure. I think it’s one of those things where it’s on both sides. Kim Wover has this thing he calls the pre trans policy which is both sides can’t be right. The scientists can’t all be right, and the woo-woo spiritualists can’t all be right. Otherwise, some of these got to be wrong. It’s the same thing I think with this expertise, no expertise thing. I think what happened was you had these degrees that start popping up. Right now, you can be a doctor of medical science which is for a physician assistant and then they’re called doctors.
It’s really confusing. What happened was, I think a lot of health coaches, which I think is a great thing, health coaching is awesome, started finding that they wanted to niche. When they started to niche, then all of a sudden, they were experts in mental health or experts in hormone health. That’s fine. There’s the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell that talks about expertise, and how you really need to have 10,000 hours or something to be an expert, but you can say anything on the internet anymore. Like you said, some people that will call it a study but it’s got 26 participants. There are so many open journals now that anybody can publish a study. It’s not a peer-reviewed.
I get it on the other side. Pharmaceutical companies push agendas that they do the research on their own products and it’s amazing obviously. What do you believe and where do you believe it? It’s hard. It’s really difficult for me because there’s a practitioner here in my city who’s a Chinese medicine doctor. She’s wonderful, but on all of her marketing things she actually puts in there that she is an integrated OBGYN. I was really nice and I called her up and I said, “Hey, I’m a little bit offended because it took me 12 years be calling myself that. I don’t call myself a Chinese medicine doctor or pretend to do acupuncture which should be if I said I was, that would be offensive to your training.”
She got upset with me and said that she was. I said, “Well, you can say women’s health, but OBGYN is an actual profession. Now, we have functional neurologists that are not actually neurologists or endocrinologists that aren’t endocrinologists. I just think it would be nice if you could just call yourself what you are. If you are a chiropractor, say you’re a chiropractor. Why do we have to have all these titles? I always make this joke. “The more letters after your name, the probably less of an expert that you actually are.”
Ari Whitten: Well, that’s interesting coming from somebody with an MD and a PhD.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I got bored. Actually, my PhD was silly. My mom passed away 18 years ago and I was a dyed in the wool MD, and I just was reading this crazy book at the time called 8 Weeks to Optimum Health by Andrew Weil. He was talking about fish oil and CoQ10. This was 20 years ago. I was like, “Man, this is crazy stuff.” When my mom passed away, I was like, “You know what, I got to find out more about life.” Then that led to this PhD, but it was more of a personal journey for me than anything else.
Ari Whitten: Interesting. I think there are some issues for people who have gone and gotten a naturopathic doctor degree or they’ve gotten a chiropractor degree, there’s an issue that they come back in those areas where if they say, “I’m a chiropractor” or if they say, “I’m a naturopath” there’s so much of the world that either doesn’t understand what those people do, or they have some bit of knowledge “Chiropractors are quacks.” Or naturopaths, “You’re not a real doctor, you’re just a quack.” I think because of those issues some people with those degrees I think have moved away from calling themselves naturopaths or calling themselves chiropractors.
I know a bunch of people I’ve interviewed on this podcast who have those degrees. When I look at their bio on their website, it doesn’t actually mention naturopath or chiropractor. They specifically do not mention it. I think mainly just because they’re trying to avoid the public’s negative stigma, the public who generally doesn’t even know what those professions are. My point is, I think there is at least some aspect of it is warranted just to help those people get around this negative public perception by people who don’t actually know what they’re talking about.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I think those type of degrees to me are a little bit different too. They are graduate degrees. Those are people that actually have gone to extra school and have put in the effort. For the most part, a naturopathic school their four years is very similar to medical school. To me, that’s a different degree than some of these other ones that are popping up, that are maybe one year or more. They’re bachelors but it’s this doctorate of some made-up thing that– That’s where I struggle. Yes, those other ones I think because, personally I couldn’t survive without referring patients to naturopaths. I’d pregnant patients I’d refer to chiropractic all the time.
I think it’s one of those things where it’s difficult, but it’s confusing and then you’ve got some people even in my own profession that charge cash versus insurance. The whole thing it’s just a mess. I don’t know, I hope it doesn’t come down to it, but I have a feeling at some point that the medical boards are going to start really just dropping down on people because it’s getting a little bit out of hand, I think.
Ari Whitten: It’s interesting. To get a little personal, I’ll say I don’t even really know. I tell people this all the time, I don’t even really know what to call myself. I’ve been studying natural health for 20 plus years, and I’ve done a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. I’ve done a bunch of certifications in corrective exercise and Performance Enhancement and Fitness and Nutrition. I went through PhD program in clinical psychology. I have all kinds of expertise and I’ve been studying a science around lots of topics that don’t even fit within those for many years.
For example, my last book was on light therapy. My next book is going to be on light. I talk a lot about circadian rhythm. I have a lot of expertise there. I feel like to call myself a nutrition expert is not the right fit. To call myself a health coach is not the right fit. I basically don’t even know what to call myself because I have such a broad area of interest and area of expertise.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Part of in this field, in this arena, is branding. You want people to find you. You want to give your message out. Google right now is in the middle of smash and everything. People that search, say, Josh Axe, he’s Dr. Josh Axe, but like you said, probably nobody knows he’s a chiropractic physician. I want women to find me, so I try to brand myself as expert in hormones. It’s like, you have to have something to call yourself, which is difficult. That’s, I think, where people are drawing these fuzzy, gray areas. It’s like guru, maven. There’s all these words that people are using to connotate this expertise, or they’ll just come right out and say expert. Then, the question is, what is an expert? I don’t know. It’s so blurry. I don’t know.
Ari Whitten: It’s interesting. I think that the big take away here, at least the one I try to teach people is, there is a lot of people out there who are either not as knowledgeable as they are promoting themselves as, or who have an agenda, who are cherry-picking, who are misrepresenting literature. Basically, just be wary of who you trust as a good source of information.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Good, yes.
Ari Whitten: One of the other things you alluded to there is you refer people out to naturopaths and chiropractors often. That in itself is very interesting for an MD because for a lot of MDs within, who are very hardcore, conventional medicine, there is this kind of meme that if it’s not conventional medicine then it doesn’t have science to support it. If it had science to support it, it would be within conventional medicine. That’s the distinction. If it’s not already accepted in common practice within conventional medicine, therefore it must be quackery and pseudoscience. Obviously, you don’t believe that. How did you end up in this place where you’ve become more holistic, more integrative?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I struggle with that on occasion, too, because I have one foot in each side. I can get offended on both sides of [unintelligible]. As you’ve seen in the [unintelligible] group that we’re in, there is a lot of anti-doctor kind of talk. I don’t think that people realize that there is a lot of doctors in that group who aren’t of that mold. It’s like Republicans and Democrats almost. It can be that heated sometimes. I think that how I got to where I am is, I graduated residency with the moniker that we heal with steel. We were surgeons.
We literally would say that. It’s true, to a certain extent, that some people do have to have surgery. It’s great when you need it. Dr. Wile used to say, “If I’m in a car accident, take me to the emergency room. If I have a cold, take me to my naturopath.” There is definitely a place for everybody at the table. The problem is, I think, people are stepping into– My colleagues will call themselves integrative, but they have actually no integrative training. They want to get in on the deal, so they’ll call themselves that. Then, people will go see them.
They’ll think integrative medicine is a scam because this doctor just prescribed me a bunch of birth control bills and all this other stuff. Then on the other side, you have it the other way. What happened, I alluded to it earlier was that when my mom passed away, I think I just had that moment, I was 34. I had that moment where I started having these spiritual moments where I would smell my mom’s perfume, or I’d have these dreams. It was like, there is this tribe in the Amazon that when their boys are 15, they make them drink Iboga, which is like Ayahuasca.
Then, they crack them on the head with a rock. The rock opens their heads to all the teachings of the ancestors. I viewed my mom’s death as that rock hitting me on the head. I just felt way more open to there’s got to be more,” kind of thing. Really, my mom had cancer. It was ovarian cancer, which was in my specialty. The problem was I knew what to do for the cancer part, but where she really struggled was the five years that she survived. The chemo was horrible. She would call me crying because her joints hurt so bad, and her hair was falling out and she didn’t feel good.
I didn’t know what to do. I had absolutely nothing– I had all this training and I couldn’t give her quality of life, my own mother. I was like, “I cannot do this and not be able to help people.” I didn’t have it in my quiver. I didn’t have that ability. I could prescribe Phenergan if you’re nauseous, but I didn’t know about herbs and things like that. For me, the integrative training was a way for me to figure out a way because I don’t want to know it all. I can’t know it all. What I do is I assemble a team around me that I can refer to, whether it’s physical therapy or acupuncture, psychology, whatever it is.
I have people that I have either gone to myself or recommended to friends. I think it’s good to just have a team. They refer back to me so it’s working. I have a psychologist here in town who called me. She wanted to refer patients to me. She had to interview me first because she wanted to make sure I wasn’t going be a crazy person and tell her patients that she was crazy. Now, she refers me all these women who are depressed, but actually might have hormone imbalances.
It really works out great if you can have that relationship because so many of those providers are minimized by the medical institution, and all they really want to do is help. Rather than me prescribing somebody Prozac because they have post-partum depression, how much better would it be if there is a psychiatrist here in town who’s holistic and that’s what she does for a living is post-partum depression. I can just send people to her. It’s that kind of work that’s great.
Ari Whitten: In terms of your own personal knowledge, what did you take away from your holistic, your integrative, your forays into natural health that you feel was really important to your current knowledge, that you did not get from your medical doctor program?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Like I said, it’s a daily struggle. It’s like you go to church or something, or whatever you do. Then, you drive home and you’re swearing in your car because somebody cut you off. It’s a constant battle. For me, it was the eight weeks in my integrative medicine program at the University of Arizona that we did on spirituality. I grew up Catholic. I don’t know how spiritual that is, but I grew up Catholic. What I found out was that there was this connection between mind and body. Through my PhD training, I went to South America. I was buried overnight in a Peyote ceremony. I have discovered–
Ari Whitten: You were buried overnight?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Yes. I had to dig my grave during the day. The Peyote shamans, the Wegels, they made me dig my grave all day. Then, at night, I had to get in it. He covered me with dirt and I stayed there all night. The thought process was, in order to be a healer, to be a shaman or a healer, you have to have a death, you have to die. Obviously, they meant more egoic death probably. What was interesting was, my American brain was like, “I’m going to show him. I’m going to take in all these books. I’m going to have a flashlight.”
I was going to thumb my nose at him and get in the grave. I turned on my flashlight. I didn’t dig very much because I was tired, so it was really narrow and it freaked me out. I turned the flashlight off so I ended up being in the dark. What I found was, this is cliché, but it doesn’t matter. There was a fire and he was sitting out there singing. The singing [foreign language] were there to tie me to the place, so I could hear him. What I realized was it doesn’t matter what I brought in because I can’t see it, I can’t touch it. I don’t want to look at it because it’s irrelevant but it was him singing out there that was the most important thing.
That was the people talking about me or the ways that I talk to people and connected with people. It was just that kind of stuff. I think, for me, when I interact with patients now, I don’t do this all the time, like I said, it’s a struggle. Sometimes you’re tired. Sometimes you’re mad, you’ve got to pay your bills, whatever. I realized that when I go into a room with somebody, I’m in their energetic field. That may sound wo-wo. I have about 20% wo is what I call myself. That wo factor is, if you can just be there and not realize even something simple like the air that they’re exhaling is air you’re inhaling.
When somebody smokes a cigarette and you can smell the smoke, it’s been in their lungs and they’re blowing it out and you’re smelling it. We’re doing that all day long. That energetic exchange is pretty powerful, and me telling a patient, you’re never going to get better that no CBOE effect is pretty damn powerful. I could hurt people by saying stuff like that, versus me saying, “You know what, we’re going to help, I’m going to help, we’re going to fix this.” Being more positive, and it makes a huge difference.
Ari Whitten: Absolutely. Is there anything specifically with spirituality that you work with your patients on? Is it integrated? I’m asking, is it integrated, just in you in very subtle ways and how you interact with the patient? Or is it that you’re actually setting into motion here’s the specific practices that are designed to help you better integrate or optimize the spiritual dimension of your life?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Shameless Plug next year, I have a book coming out with Harper that talks about the 12 hormone imbalances in women. What I did with those was, I turned them into energetic archetypes like the nun, the queen, the mother, the overachiever, there’s 12 of them. In those 12 archetypes are each of those has six steps to correct the imbalance. One of those six steps is a spiritual practice. Say like, for a queen, which is estrogen dominance as a hormone imbalance in order to be a benevolent, so there’s two types of queens. There’s off with your head type of queen, and there’s a benevolent queen. How do queens survive? How do they survive the Game of Thrones, if you will?
They surround themselves with good advisors, they have family, they tap into that maternal archetype. I will recommend for them as a spiritual practice to spend time with their mothers, spend time with their sisters, connect with women’s groups in the area that you can just build that rapport. Or it might be something like journaling. I have a lot of people that have low normal cortisol who they have low cortisol because they’re fried, they’re burned out. I had a lady the other day, a pharmaceutical rep drives 300 miles a day, has three kids under the age of seven, she’s fried, and yet she’s going to the gym. Her spiritual practice would be, I literally told her to go out and walk and not work out, just walk, and while you’re walking, maybe repeat a mantra, like I love you over and over and over again, stuff like that.
The 12 types of hormonal balance
Ari Whitten: Very cool. I like it. You mentioned hormonal balances. Let’s talk about what these 12 types are. We don’t have to go through all 12, but maybe you can give an overview of some of the key principles that differentiate these 12 different types.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: What happened for that was I was realizing over the last few years that I was repeating myself over and over and over again, and that’s because I was hearing the same story. These archetypes are just stories. Hormone imbalances, tell a story. Most of these and that’s what I distill down into those 12 archetypes. Far and away the number one hormone imbalance in women is testosterone deficiency. I see it all the time.
Ari Whitten: More than estrogen dominance.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I thought it was going to be estrogen dominance. I reviewed this with my patient population. I’ve got about 20,000 women that have taken my quiz online, and it’s about 36 questions. I thought for sure estrogen dominance would be number one, and it’s not even close. Testosterone deficiency is by far and away in all age groups. Testosterone deficiency, I call the nun jokingly because the good nuns don’t have sex and you ain’t getting none really. All the archetypes they’re not negative, so there’s benevolent queen, there’s off your head queen.
While nuns are great because the only nun that maybe wouldn’t be great would be a cloistered nun, so a nun that’s secluded. A nun that doesn’t want to go out and do anything, because testosterone is a hormone of feeling good. It’s a quality of life hormone for women. Women that have testosterone deficiency sometimes will cloister themselves because they don’t feel like doing the things that they used to do. They don’t want to go out with their friends, because they don’t feel good and they’re run down, and they’re tired in the afternoon.
I would hear this story over and over and over again. Then decrease libido, obviously and we know libido isn’t necessarily testosterone-driven. If you don’t feel good because you’re run down and your body image, whatever, you aren’t going to be interested in sex. I’d hear these stories over and over again. When I talk about these archetypes, it’s not just like a negative thing. There are definitely positive. Nuns they’re very loyal, they’re very knowledgeable. They are very serious, they have a lot of positives to bring, but you don’t necessarily want to live there your entire life.
When I say these imbalances are a problem is when they interfere with the way that you want to live your life. A lot of these women will come in and they’ll say, “I don’t want to have sex, I don’t feel like having sex.” I say, “Well, first of all, who’s asking you to come in? Is it your husband or is it you and she’ll usually say him? I’m like, “Well, if I made you make a list of 10 things today that you had to get done would sex be on the list?” I will tell you 100% of the time, it’s no. It’s not on the top 10. For guys, it’s probably in the top three somewhere, so there’s that mismatch. It’s just more of a relationship thing at that point.
Far and away testosterone deficiency. All of the archetypes have a storyline, but then there’s also a six-step correction. One being a spiritual practice, two being hormone balancing, which I can do with the actual hormones if we need it. Something I call infoceuticals which is Allah Harry Massey. Infoceutical is more the energetic information that’s transferred to the body. That can be through acupuncture, essential oils, things that convey more of an energetic, that’s Reiki, healing touch. Nutrition obviously, is hugely an important exercise and then finally supplementation. I combine all six of those things for each of those storylines and have a plan for everybody.
How testosterone imbalance affects women
Ari Whitten: I want to go back to there’s actually like five questions that I want to ask after everything you just said, but I want to go back to testosterone. It’s interesting, I’ve interviewed at least two, if not three, no, at least three other women’s hormones experts, and I don’t think testosterone deficiency has ever come up once. This seems to be a-
Dr. Shawn Tassone: We all specialize, I think in different things. Most of the people that I know that you probably talked to either deal with PCOS or obesity. It’s probably a populational bias that they see. I tend to see a probably a wider range of people. I just see different things, I think. It’s like I tell, the lady we did an interview with, [unintelligible] she sees women that all day long that hate their IUDs, they hate them. She hates IUDs.
I’m like, “I have put in thousands of IUDs, and I hardly ever had people that want them out. Because of her population, and I think it’s the same thing with me. maybe I see women that are older, like maybe in their 40s and 50s. They probably have more of a testosterone deficiency. Women in their 20s and 30s probably have more PCOs and estrogen dominant. It is probably more of an age group thing.
Ari Whitten: What do you see as the main causes of testosterone deficiency in women? Is it some of the same causes as testosterone deficiency in men or does that differ?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I think it’s obesity is a big one, I think it’s lack of moving your body. I think a lot of–
Ari Whitten: Need to be obesity per se or excess body fat.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: A little abdominal fat yes, abdominal fat is the killer. Same thing for men. It increases estrogen levels, estrogen then increases sex hormone-binding globulin and drop in your testosterone levels down a little bit. I think the ovaries are just overwhelmed with environmental toxins, pollution, the stuff that even EMFs. We don’t even know the tip of that iceberg. You probably know that better than I do. I think women nowadays are so toxic with birth control pills.
I don’t know if that really ever– There’s a big argument right now, there’s another physician out there who has a book out and she really pushes birth control pills in girls that are 12 to 14, and how they don’t need to have periods because the periods annoying. It’s like yes, but do we really know what birth control pill is doing to the brain of, not even just a teenager but a woman in general? Sarah Hills, I think her name just came out with a book on oral contraceptives and what it does to your brain.
Ari Whitten: Jolene Brighton also.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: In Jolene’s book the post on birth control, Beyond the Pill is a great book and I recommend that to a lot of people.
Ari Whitten: I had her on the podcast recently.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Jolene sees all the bad stuff with birth control, just like Fiona Macola does PCOs and there’s a lot of great information out there. It’s just getting the diagnosis, and actually getting the labs whereas that’s what Jolene does, and some of these people guess. Sometimes it’s hard to guess. You really need the lab work.
Ari Whitten: List off those main causes. Obesity, or excess body fat, stress.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Diet, I also think that we’re just– I think that the ovaries make about 50% of the female’s testosterone levels, and the adrenals make the other 50. I think with overwork, not sleeping, the adrenals are getting a little bit squashed. I think adrenal, I don’t like to call it fatigue or insufficiency because it sounds, I don’t know if that’s a real thing or not. It’s just one of those things that I think does add to it, because it just doesn’t put out the same amount that it could. Then I think a lack of sleep is probably a huge factor. You can see my dog in the corner there. He needs to go outside. I think those would be the main things
The role of estrogen dominance in women
Ari Whitten: Got you. So, next thing I want to go to is estrogen dominance. Talk to me about what that is, first of all. What does it mean for people listening? What does it mean to be estrogen dominant? What are the main causes of that? What are the main symptoms and then let’s talk about the causes?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Estrogen dominance is basically either your estrogen is just too high. Usually it’s, I look at it more as too high compared to your progesterone. You could have normal progesterone and a super high estrogen. You could have a normal estrogen and a very low progesterone. Which would be two things, it would be not just estrogen dominance, but also progesterone deficiency. Symptoms of estrogen dominance, breast tenderness, mood swings, irritability, irregular periods, weight gain, headaches, just water retention.
I call it jokingly choke a bitch syndrome, because think of estrogen as a very stimulatory hormone. Then progesterone comes in and calms everything back down the second half of the cycle. What happens is they’re constantly being stimulated by this estrogen and they just feel wired all the time. Then they don’t have the calming effect of the progesterone and Gabba and things like that that come in to help them sleep and recover, and so they’re constantly just being barraged by estrogen.
They just feel like they want to– these are the women that come in and say, “I’m yelling at my kids, I don’t know why? I’m not like this usually. I’ve gained 20 pounds in the last year. My periods are all messed up.” Then it can throw your thyroid off. It’s a lot of just that irritability, mood swings, weight gain. Roughly, probably most of the women that come to my office complain of stuff like this. Hair thinning, headaches, things like that.
Ari Whitten: These are the two most common hormonal imbalances, testosterone deficiency, estrogen dominance. Is there any other one that is remotely close to this?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I would say subclinical hypothyroidism, or what I call the underdog is super common nowadays. It’s one of those things that’s like, it’s really making a big rise right now. I would say it’s a really close second to estrogen dominance. Again, that’s interpretation of labs and symptoms. It’s not just normal abnormal. It’s like how are you feeling, weight gain, hair thinning, can’t get up in the morning, can’t stay awake during the afternoon, and a free T3 which is 2.4 to 4.4 and you’re 2.4. The doctor looks at that and says it’s normal, but you don’t feel very well, and I can bump that up to 3.3, which is still abnormal, but you might feel a hell of a lot better.
It’s just one of those. It’s symptoms, so it’s like do the patients feel better with a little bit of thyroid. It’s hard because the medical boards they’re really starting to crack down on people that are prescribing thyroid meds if the labs aren’t abnormal. There’s doctors all around that are getting nabbed for this now, and it makes me a little nervous. Because I have so many people that feel better in the 50th percentile versus the fifth percentile for a lab value. I can defend myself, but it’s sad.
Ari Whitten: That doctors are getting in trouble for it.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Yes.
Ari Whitten: I think there’s also this issue of the lab ranges of what’s normal getting narrower and narrower. People rightfully I think, at least in some cases, asking the question, how much evidence is there to support that this particular range is better than this range? I think in many cases there’s just a lack of evidence, it just hasn’t been tested very well. To some extent it is this speculative jump to say, somebody will feel better if they’re in the 80th percentile as opposed to the 20th percentile.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I think it give heedance to this possibility of bio individuality or whatever word we want to make up. Somebody like you who’s super active, work out a lot, you got muscle mass, you got kids, you got to do all this stuff. You might need more thyroid hormone than somebody that sits on the couch. For you, you might not feel good at a 2.4 where somebody else is probably like, “Yes, I’m fine. I don’t feel anything different.”
I do think that that, but that going along with it because of the way that you live your life, your thyroid probably isn’t an issue. There are people genetically I just think that, and that’s another thing is that we better can talk about just the genetic possibility of the way that your body is shaped, the way that you gain weight. Trying to live past your genes. That whole epigenetics stuff, that’s probably 10 episodes that you could do on that.
How to use the SHINE protocol to balance your testosterone and estrogen levels
Ari Whitten: Indeed. I want you to take me through on testosterone deficiency and on estrogen dominance. Take me through like a brief example of what the shine’s protocol, your six step protocol looks like in each of these cases. I know that there’s lots of other variables for each individual patient, but give maybe a couple examples of how this would work.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I think what I would say with estrogen dominance would be like, so I talked about how I think women that have that extra dominance, I call them queens. They need to surround themselves with what I would call good advisors, or friends or females that can tap them into that maternal or that female archetype. To get those women involved in your life that are a positive influence that aren’t going to, like you want to be the benevolent really. You don’t want to be that off with your head type person. Hormonally for estrogen dominance, you want to get the estrogen down, and the best way to do that in many instances is weight loss which you can do.
Increase your fiber intake, so that the fiber holds on to the estrogen. Use D glucorade or glucoronic acid to inhibit the glucoronic enzyme in the stool, so that the estrogen doesn’t jump back off the stool and go back into the bloodstream. You can eliminate in that way. You can also improve detoxification pathways in women that don’t that have livers that aren’t necessarily detoxifying. You can get women off of birth control pills, get their diets fixed. Infoceutical-wise, I would say I send people to acupuncturists all the time for hormone imbalances. I don’t know what they do, because I don’t know acupuncture, but there’s energetic integrator number nine, I think it’s a big one that works on the ovaries.
Ari Whitten: Just to be clear here, so you’re lumping acupuncture under the umbrella of infoceuticals, or when you say infoceuticals you’re specifically talking about Harry Massey’s thing?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I do refer people to Harry’s products, but I just use infoceuticals as a word because it fits into the shines. I could come up with a better name like information but yes, I use Harry stuff that people don’t want to do acupuncture and they just would rather put the water drops in. There are some essential oils that I’ll recommend. Clary sage is a good one for estrogen dominance. I’ll refer people to Marita Snyder, who you probably have had on your show.
Ari Whitten: Actually as you’re mentioning we’re thinking about this and mentioning names, I realize I’ve had like six or seven female hormone experts on instead of three.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I know them all really well, and they all have their thing. Like Marita, she’s a naturopath that really knows the bottom out of essential oils. Nutritionally obviously, with estrogen dominance, you want to increase fiber intake. You want to decrease vital estrogens in the diet. It’s not as big a deal anymore. I think we’ve consumed a lot of fibre in about 10 to 15 years ago because it was cool to eat soy. Exercise, anything that’s going to increase metabolism, get you moving a little bit more. Burning more calories, getting rid of the body fat, whether it’s– Most women could be 10 to 20 pounds overweight and still have estrogen dominance.
It doesn’t have to be a ton. Then supplement-wise, like I talked about glucuronic acid. You can use Dim if you have a detox pathway that pushes more towards the harmful formethoxy pathway versus tomethoxy estrogen, which you can find through Dutch testing. It really just depends on and obviously, there’s tons of supplements. I’m more of a purist when it comes to supplements rather than using a formula. I like to use the actual product. For stuff, I’d rather use glucuronic acid than some estrogen decreasing proprietary blend because then I don’t know exactly what’s in it.
Is soy good or bad for you?
Ari Whitten: You mentioned soy a minute ago. I want to dig into that a second. I also want to go back to the infoceutical thing. My understanding with soy is that it’s mostly been given a bad rap unnecessarily, and it’s maybe not– like most of the literature reviews I’ve seen recently have indicated that it’s not necessarily a big problem when it comes to creating any negative hormonal side effects. I think I’ve looked maybe more in the literature at like, does it cause problems for men, as opposed to does it exacerbate estrogen dominance in women? What’s your take on soy?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I think you have to eat a lot of it. For women, you’re talking 25 to 50 grams a day. It’s quite a bit. I think that would be like six glasses of soy milk, which probably nobody’s going to consume.
Ari Whitten: I know some vegetarians who are consuming massive amounts of soy milk every day.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: It’s just like anything else. I’m actually doing a podcast with Allan Christianson fairly soon. We’re going to talk about how estrogen doesn’t cause breast cancer, or else every woman would get breast cancer. I think if you have a genetic makeup that predisposes you to breast cancer, and you have higher levels of estrogen, estrogen could be the fuel for that DNA damaging issue. It would be the same, it doesn’t matter if it’s from plants or not, if you have that family history, I just don’t think you need to consume it. It’d be a problem.
You probably know being a muscular guy and you understand the whole thing with testosterone and estrogen in men. Men don’t want estrogen either. Not too much, because you need some, but too much then can have all of its other problems. Any guy that’s gone on testosterone therapy that has had problems with, it can actually slingshot the other way and you can feel horrible because your estrogen is too high. Some guys aromatase, they do aromatize more than other men. Women do the same thing on testosterone therapy, but we really don’t give them enough testosterone to do that.
If you’re directly consuming a phytoestrogen, it fits that lock and key fairly similar, the nice thing about it is it doesn’t what you’re making reference to, like a birth control pill will hit that lock a lot harder than a phytoestrogen will. The synthetic hormones are much stronger. You might have a much higher increase of breast cancer risk with the birth control pill, because it’s seven times stronger than hormone replacement with [unintelligible]. Phytoestrogens are probably even a little bit weaker than that. It really also depends on how hard those receptors are getting hit.
Ari Whitten: Speaking of Allan, I know he put out an article recently actually reviewing soy consumption in thyroid and how it affects thyroid health. Basically, to make a long story short, the conclusion is that there isn’t really good evidence to warrant soy avoidance to support thyroid health. That’s definitely different contexts and specifically estrogen dominant.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I think it’s like you said, for most part, and I’m just away with just anything. Moderation is probably a key, and I don’t know I’m not a vegetarian, so I don’t know how hard it is to not consume phytoestrogens. I think it’s like the carnivore diet or whatever. It’s like is any one food just good for you to eat all the time? I don’t think it probably is, or else we wouldn’t have all these different types of foods to eat. Again, that’s a political battle that we probably shouldn’t get into.
Infoceuticals – do they work?
Ari Whitten: Yes, indeed. [chuckles] The other thing I wanted to go back to is infoceuticals. I’ve seen some of the NES products and the bioenergy scanner. Then the software that makes all these recommendations based on it, and the infoceuticals and stuff like that. I have some very big problems with it and an extreme degree of skepticism. I don’t want to go on and on about my skepticism around that, but I’ll just say my skepticism is pretty much through the roof when it comes to that stuff. What has led you to the conclusion that there’s validity to it?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I guess I wouldn’t say that I feel that it’s necessarily validity as much as I say that I’m agnostic. I put it out there because I feel like we are all about options. In my opinion, and I’m going to talk about that in my book. It’s not necessarily that it has these gobs of research behind it. You may be taking drops of water in water, and it does absolutely nothing. We also know that Prozac has a 60% placebo effect and worked pretty well. If infoceuticals do something similar, and I’ll put it out there, it might be placebo. Maybe it’s doing something maybe not, I think–
Ari Whitten: Let me ask you this, because we had a little bit of an exchange recently in a private conversation where you were calling out muscle testing or applied kinesiology. Which I completely agree with you, and I’ve reviewed the literature on that extensively. It’s very clear from the science that has tested it, and there’s a bunch of good studies on it. The science is very clear, it’s no better than random guessing. If any seeming effect from that, that someone might feel they’re getting as far as this is accurate diagnosis.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: You probably know her too, Terry Cochran. She does it all day long, and she helps tons of people. It wouldn’t be something that I would probably refer a patient to. I might talk to them about it if they wanted to do it. I don’t see the harm in it, and maybe they’re spending some money. I guess it’s just one of those things I don’t need. You know how studies are they could probably find a study that would say it does work.
Ari Whitten: Interestingly, I talked about it in an episode with Allan Christianson a while back. I had a woman who did her PhD dissertation on muscle testing, who reached out and said, “Dr. Christianson and Ari, I think you guys are really misguided on this. Here’s my study showing that it does work.” The specifics of it, I reviewed her study and basically what it showed was, they muscle tested true false statements. They had people say like, for example, if I muscle test you and say your name is Steven, or your name is Sean, your name is Stephanie, and we did a bunch of statements like that.
Or I said you have a dog or you don’t have a dog. Simple true false statements like that. What they found is that muscle testing had a 59% to 65% accuracy, whereas random guessing would be 50% accuracy. The other part of their experiment is they also removed the human tester components. They used a grip-strength measuring device, which measures it objectively instead of relying on the subjective measurement of the muscle tester. Once they did that, they found it was a 50/50% chance of getting the true false statements right.
Basically, my response to her I cited a bunch of the existing studies and I said, “All these studies including your study, really show that it’s no better than random guessing.” My feeling on it it’s like yes, if I muscle test you and say, you should eat broccoli and start meditating and start exercising and sleep eight hours a night. Just give you a bunch of common-sense good health advice, like the muscle testing could have been translated into something genuinely beneficial and helpful. At the same time, how much do we really want to support the use of things that are just placebos, or basically just an elaborate form of guessing?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I think what can be done is you can be, and this is not my forte for sure, but you can be gentle about it. I think do what you’re doing is you say, “Hey-” and I’m getting better about this, “I really respect what you’re doing, but here’s what I see.” What you’ll find is that people do get offended pretty quickly when you start doing this kind of stuff, because especially it coming from a physician, they feel like I’m just pooh-poohing them. I think it is about empirical data. That’s very important. I think the other side is trying to make empirical data not as important.
They talk about the N of one, which is if you’re the one person that it helps, it doesn’t matter, I guess. It’s definitely a debate. I would love to have a conference, a national conference and call it N of one and have this stuff that’s talked about. Where we have these anecdotal things that are floating around in the medical community, like this is one example of it. I’ve been muscle tested by Terry, and I do think that sometimes she pushed harder because you can’t push exactly the same every time.
Ari Whitten: Yes, I’ve been muscle tested by a lot of people and they absolutely, every single person I’ve been muscle tested by if you pay attention, they absolutely alter–
Dr. Shawn Tassone: You’re super strong. If you put your arm out there as hard as you can, I don’t think Terry Cochran could push your arm down because-
Ari Whitten: The particular position is mechanically advantageous enough, just a little biomechanics fitness [unintelligible 00:50:06]. Basically, the muscles that are involved in lifting your arm up from this position are very small muscles. When the lever arm’s fully extended like that, if someone pushes on the hand, a very weak person, even a child could push down the arm of somebody who’s very strong, because the muscles that they’re using to pull down to pull or push that hand down are much bigger muscle groups that basically have the potential for much greater strength.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Like the lat is pulling down versus, what the deltoids or something?
Ari Whitten: The front delt, yes, exactly.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Yes, we all know how hard it is to do side raises with a five-pound weight.
Ari Whitten: Exactly. I will say I think it’s mostly benign, mostly placebo, but I actually have heard examples where it’s disastrous, like somebody is extremely ill, they’re going to see somebody whose muscle testing them and giving them a genuinely wrong diagnosis. These are stories I’ve heard from a practitioner friend of mine who I’ve had on the podcast named Dr. Jay Williams, where he gave the example to me of somebody who was in acute liver failure or nearing liver failure, and the person that was muscle testing him was saying, “Your liver is fine, you don’t need to do what those other doctor’s telling you to do for your liver.”
He listened to the person that was muscle testing him and the guy died. It’s for reasons like that that I don’t necessarily think these kinds of things are just benign, and I do think that we need to speak about those things that have been tested, and have been shown not to be valid. If something has never been tested– I’m not trying to just squash anything that’s never been tested, or is outside of the realm of the correct body of literature. We should explore things and with an open mind, but if something has been tested and it’s just not valid, then we need to recognize that.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I think it’s all about common sense. If you got somebody whose doctor is telling them to do something, just be an adjunct to that but don’t negate it. You would hate it if they negated what you said. I had that happen to me all the time. I have patients on a really low dose of something like Armour Thyroid and they feel great, they feel better than they felt in five years. They’ll go to their endocrinologist who will then take them off their medication saying they don’t need it, because their labs were normal and they say that, “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.” She’ll go off of it, and then she feels horrible again. Why can’t we just work together?
That’s two doctors, let alone, could you imagine trying to deal with a complementary practitioner who already is a little bit feeling inferior? I think the whole point with the mindshare group that we’re in is to try and make it work where we can work together and do stuff like that. It’s hard, it’s really hard. Even in the group that we’re in, there’s negativity on both sides. I think at some point, if we could– I’m sure somebody like our friends that do muscle testing, they’re really good at it, and maybe they help a lot of people. But if they didn’t, if somebody was getting worse, that they would refer or that they would say, “You need to see your PCP,” or “You need to go do what we told you to do.” Don’t negate it. Yes, that’s horrible.
Ari Whitten: I agree. I want to be sensitive to your time here. I have a few more questions, but I want to make sure you don’t have to jet out right now.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: [unintelligible].
Ari Whitten: Five minutes, 10 minutes?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Five minutes, maybe.
How the SHINE protocol works for testosterone deficiency
Ari Whitten: I want to come back to specifically testosterone. What would the Shine’s protocol look like for that? Just a quick run-through of some of the key things for correcting testosterone deficiency?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Testosterone deficiency. For that, for a spiritual practice, obviously, I don’t want those women cloistered. I want them to get out and experience nature, even if it’s just going out hiking, getting outside, going out with your pet, going out with your kids. Just getting outdoors and not allowing yourself to just stay in the bed, even if you don’t feel like it. A good friend of mine, Christina Wise, who you probably know, she’s been going through a little bit of time, and she didn’t want to go out.
Her daughter came and got her every day and made her go to yoga. She said that was literally what saved her, was that she had that person taking care of her and doing that. Otherwise, you stay in the house and you just become secluded. Just getting that out there and doing that. Hormonally, obviously, testosterone replacement. That’s a rocket ship to get there, right? [laughs] You’re going to get there a lot faster–
Ari Whitten: You jump to that? Is that a first option or is that after you’ve exhausted all the-?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: It’s not a step by step. I give them all six things, and you can pick and choose, but testosterone will get you there the fastest.
Ari Whitten: Don’t you have to worry about downregulating their natural testosterone production if you’re doing that?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Not as much as in a man. In a woman, not nearly as much. You’re talking about a low testosterone for a guy of about 300, whereas a woman as low as 6. It’s not the same. For the informative side, it’s more about self-care, it’s more about– Going to a Chinese medicine doctor, I send women all the time for decreased libido, and they’ll do the needles. I don’t know exactly what or why the meridians they choose, but for some people, that seems to work. Acupuncture is one of those complementary medicine type therapies that actually has some research behind it.
We know it does for fertility, for sure, and I think more is going to come out regarding, but it might just be the relaxation of it. I don’t know. The nutrition is obviously, super important too. I think cleaning up the diet– You probably know a lot more about this than I do. Getting rid of processed foods, eating more clean foods like proteins, good proteins, good fats because your hormones are made from, obviously, cholesterol. That’s the other thing, is we’re so afraid of cholesterol these days that we tend to stay away from fats. I think that’s changing.
Supplement-wise for women, I’m a huge fan of Maca. The problem with Maca right now is that years ago, the Chinese came in and bought all the Maca in Peru. Then, what they did after they pulverized it was they mixed it with a bunch of other stuff. If you just buy a bulk Maca, I can’t tell you for sure what’s in it. I’m a huge fan of Femmenessence, which is a great company called Symphony because they came in after the Chinese bought all the products and they bought all the land. They pay fair wages, they’ve done a ton of research on Maca, and it’s a really solid company. A guy named James Frame is the president. You should have him on. He’s really great interviewing him.
Ari Whitten: Yes, I’ve met him a few years ago, and talked about all these different variations of Maca that he has.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: And all that stuff. That’s one of my favorite things for supplements. Obviously, a good fish or flaxseed oil is great. Magnesium is great. You can use things that don’t have a ton of research behind them. Yohimbine works fairly well, but it’s got a real narrow window of safety, so you can take too much of it. Tribulus, which is a Guggul lipid. Probably not as much research on that one that’s positive, but bodybuilders use it all the time. That doesn’t mean it’s good, I guess. There’s things you can try.
Ari Whitten: Excellent. You have these 12 hormonal types. Is there a quiz that people can go take on your website to figure out what type they are?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: If you go to tassone, T-A-S-S-O-N-E-M-D.com/quiz, it’ll give you the quiz. Eventually, what I’m going to have is the book is going to be more of like you can just go right to your particular archetype. You will get an email. After you take the quiz, it tells you what you are, and will give you some information about it. Then, I do have some hormone reset stuff that’s $9 to get your– It’s a week-long program. I also tell you free stuff at the end of each– It’s the Wim Hof method.
At the end of your shower, try to turn it cold for 30 seconds. You might have to work your way up to it. I can do maybe 10 right now and I can’t stand it any longer. Eating one little square of super dark chocolate, 87% cocoa. That’s actually a fun thing to do too. You probably have done it. I’ve tasted all the chocolates going up in percentages all the way up to 100%. Trying to eat that– A friend of ours, Summer Bock, she likes the 100%. I don’t know how she eats it. I can’t physically get it down.
Ari Whitten: [laughs] Yes, it’s an acquired taste. I would’ve found it disgusting a few years ago, but I’ve actually learned to like it as well.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Do you consume it a lot?
Ari Whitten: Well, that, and I also consume just pure cocoa sometimes in hot water without any sweetener.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Wow.
Ari Whitten: It’s actually quite nice.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Good for your cardiovascular system.
Ari Whitten: It is, indeed, yes. Awesome. Thank you so much Dr. Tassone. This is a lot of fun. I really appreciate your time. People can go to your website. I’m trying to remember I was going to say something. You have a book coming out relatively soon. When is that coming out?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Won’t be till next fall.
Ari Whitten: Next fall. Fall of 2020?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Correct.
Ari Whitten: Excellent.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I do have stuff so you can start there.
Ari Whitten: Yes, excellent. Now I remember what I was going to ask. These different hormonal types that you’ve formulated, you’ve actually I assume dug into the data on people’s labs and things like that and actually looked at the correlation of how often a particular type means. That someone is likely to have testosterone deficiency or estrogen dominance. I guess I’m asking how from without actually looking at labs and getting these hormones measured from these symptomatic-based and subjective-based questions. How accurate do you feel they are in helping people through their hormonal balance?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Well, you made a good point. It’s an answer based on your answers. It’s not a lab. I had a lady email me once and she said, “I just took your test. It says I’m hyperthyroid. It’s wrong, because I’m actually hypothyroid.” I said, “When was the last time you had your lab check? She said, “It’s been like six months.” She emailed me back two weeks later and said, “Your test was right. I was actually taking too much medication”. Now, that might be an outlier, but the way that I’m a math major and in college I majored in math. The back end of my quiz, it’s a huge grid. What I did was, I took these 36 questions and these 12 archetypes.
Each box has a symptomatic question and I weighted each one from one to 10, and then there’s a grid on the answer sheet. You can either answer middle, totally me or totally not me. Based on which button they hit it, it hits that as a multiplier. Then, all of these grids add up at the end, and it gives you the highest one. I had a hard time with my web developer because he couldn’t understand my grid. I do think that it’s probably– Obviously I haven’t talked to everybody that’s taken the quiz, but I’d probably say 90% of the time is pretty darn accurate, but it’s only because–
Ari Whitten: I thought you’re going to say 70%. That’s great that you have high accuracy, I can say that.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: I’m probably a little biased, obviously but it’s giving you an answer based on your answer. If you answer the symptoms accurately and you’re honest about it, it should be pretty accurate. Unless you’re not answering it very well, like you say that you like to have sex but you really don’t, something like that.
Ari Whitten: Unless I go on as a man, as a 36-year-old man and start answering as a 73-year-old woman.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: You should try it and try to skew it, and think you have it like you could go on and say, ” I’m want to have estrogen dominance” and answer the questions like you think you have estrogen dominance and see if it comes up estrogen. I have done it.
Ari Whitten: If the result is like you are a 36-year-old male, I will be supremely impressed. [laughs]
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Well, actually I do have one. It’s the testosterone excess is actually an archetype called the warrior. You should get that one.
Ari Whitten: Cool. Dr. Tassone, thank you so much for coming on the show. This was a blast. I really appreciate it. Again, the link to go to your website is Dr. Tassone/quiz. Is that what it was?
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Tassonemd.com.
Ari Whitten: MD.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: /quiz.
Ari Whitten: Got it. Awesome. Thank you so much, really a pleasure and look forward to our next chat.
Dr. Shawn Tassone: Thanks for having me.
How To Balance Your Hormones for Women / The 6-Step SHINE Method with Dr. Shawn Tassone - Show Notes
The biggest issue with many health experts (1:26)
The 12 types of hormonal balance (22:39)
How testosterone imbalance affects women (26:32)
The role of estrogen dominance in women (30:53)
How to use the SHINE protocol to balance your testosterone and estrogen levels (36:10)
Is soy good or bad for you? (40:13)
Infoceuticals – do they work? (44:00)
How the SHINE protocol works for testosterone deficiency (54:11)