In the last 17 years I’ve seen weight gain, hormonal imbalances and fatigue progress in a certain pattern. 

No two people are alike BUT they have similarities in this progression. 

Short on time – scroll to the end of this email to see the outline of phase I of my hormone imbalance progression theory.

If you want to geek out with me, read on!

What triggers weight to suddenly shoot up or not budge?

Why does it seem as if overnight you have dimpling, cellulite or a fat suit over you body?

What stole your energy and why is nothing working to bring it back?

Where is your brain and why can’t you think like you used to?

All of these things are a sign of an overloaded vagus nerve.

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The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body and it’s in charge of flipping the metabolic switch between fight or flight stress mode and parasympathetic chill mode. 

Trauma, big stressors, accidents, break ups, having kids, c-sections, kids moving to college, taking care of parents and any other big life change can trigger it to get confused. 

If you look back at when your symptoms of hormone imbalances, fatigue and metabolic messiness started…

… you will find it shows up after a big life event or long period of stress.

Stress triggers your vagus nerve to put you in a hyper-alert state aka fight or flight mode.

Stress interferes with circulation of blood, nutrients and signaling chemicals in the body over time.

The deceased circulation impacts cell and organ function causing…

  • weight gain
  • fatigue
  • hormone imbalances
  • diabetes
  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • elevated heart rate
  • accelerated aging

Ever notice how some people seem to age faster than others?

The aging process can be set off early in life based on life’s experiences and exposures.

Yes, you can feel chill, have no stress in your life currently yet still have stressors impacting your body.

Stress can come from various sources…

  • air water, food and environment  – the basics
  • situational, work, family and traumas – relational
  • pressure you put on yourself, self dialogue, substance abuse – self induced

While the stress response triggering the vagus nerve to switch into fight or flight mode varies the liver’s response to stress is similar. 

Vagus nerve gets a message from your brain that there’s a threat.

When the threat doesn’t go away after months or years the vagus nerve gets confused.

It doesn’t know when it’s safe to flip into parasympathetic chill mode.

The inflammation created from being in fight or flight mode stays and the liver takes the biggest hit.

This initial stage of my hormone imbalance progression theory is something Chinese Medicine practitioners were talking about thousands of years ago. 

They call it “liver qi stagnation”.

I call it shocks to the system.

These shocks send shockwaves through the vagus nerve either in the moment of a trauma or over time with compounded stress.

The shockwaves are enough to throw off liver function and cause it to back up. 

A backed up liver doesn’t detoxify chemicals, hormones or nutrients well. 

It becomes fatty, messes with your blood sugar over time and causes estrone, inflammatory estrogen to build up in the liver. 

All the while the liver is slowing down, the adrenal glands are making cortisol and keeping the body in fight or flight mode. 

The longer you stay in this mode the more impacted your liver function will be.

With 1 in 4 Americans having fatty liver disease, it’s clear the liver is a big player in inflammation and stress. 

Stress throws you off your routine. 

It causes you to go into survival mode and ditch your rational solid healthy habits and routines. 

And stress even causes you to breath more shallow and differently than before. 

This messes with your oxygen and nitric oxide levels, leaving you fatigued and further in stress mode. 

Ever “fallen off the wagon” with your healthy habits after a vacation?

Yes, the change of habits with a vacation or any life event can get you off your routine. 

This is how many who have “chill lives” end up with stress.

How do you prevent this from happening?

Be aware that these things happen and plan ahead!

You likely have a history in your head right now of what happens each time you go on vacation or work ramps up. 

Knowing how you respond and making notes of it can help you to prevent issues in the first place.

Are there herbs to help you counter the increased coffee and alcohol that often come with this stage in the progression?


Awareness is huge in being able to predict and prevent possible liver qi stagnation messing with your overall health. 

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What does this type of stress aka “liver qi stagnation” present like?

  • anger or rage
  • frustration, irritation and overwhelm
  • anxiety or depression
  • increased tendency to drink coffee, wine or alcohol
  • fullness in the abdomen, burping, gas
  • difficulty taking a deep breath
  • constipation

Is there a health impact from a liver that’s stagnant?


Livers that are stuck do not circulate blood through the body well.

Nor do they…

  • detox chemicals or hormones
  • make hormones effectively
  • balance cholesterol molecules

Can you tell if your liver is stuck on labs?


Signs of “liver qi stagnation” in blood labs:

  • elevated triglycerides with total cholesterol or LDL elevation
  • elevated C-reactive protein
  • elevated liver enzymes
  • low or high ferritin (iron storage)
  • elevated fasting insulin and hemoglobin a1c
  • elevated estrone
  • low iron, B12, folate, thyroid hormones (free T4/3)
  • hormone detox pathways off on a DUTCH test (urine metabolism)

What other signs can tell you the liver is stuck?

  • fatty liver on liver ultrasounds
  • tongue with swollen purple edges with teethmarks
  • constipation
  • difficulty digesting food
  • cold hands and feet
  • food sitting in the stomach and not moving on at a normal rate
  • low libido

What can you do?

  • decrease or eliminate seed oils
  • watch fats and find your sweet spot for these
  • consider a metabolic detox with at least 2 weeks off of all fats to let the system reset
  • move every hour to help with circulation of blood
  • get into chill parasympathetic mode every moment you can
  • find your joy and steer clear of what frustrates you
  • ditch energy vampires – people and situations
  • take breaks every day 2-5 minutes at least twice
  • lay down with legs up after each workout x 5 minutes
  • slow down on workouts, less crazy cardio and HIIT workouts
  • stay hydrated with filtered water
  • limit or eliminate alcohol
  • take milk thistle
  • take Free and Easy Wanderer by Kan Herbs
  • start working on breathing in and out your nose to increase nitric oxide and improve oxygenation of your blood
  • acupuncture is incredible as are ear seeds
  • fascial work around the vagus nerve and vagus nerve trigger point resets

While it seems like a lot, take a deep breath. 

Restoring vagus nerve function and liver balance takes time.

I use a one day at a time approach.

Start by becoming curious about yourself and how you respond to interventions. 

Having a guide to help you identify things in this process that may be in your blindspots is huge. 

What if you don’t do anything in this stage?

You’ll progress to a state of decreased circulation of blood to your digestive system, other organs and cells. 

Chinese Medicine calls it liver and blood deficiency or spleen qi deficiencies. 

Western medicine calls it anemia, thyroid conditions, low nutrient absorption, decreased pancreatic and stomach enzyme production. 

It’s very interesting how one goes from a stressor or trauma to developing thyroid, blood sugar, fatigue and metabolic issues. 

On Wednesday I’ll be talking about my second stage in my hormone imbalance progression theory, decreased circulation. 

Be sure to check out my infographic where I break down phase one of my hormone imbalance progression theory. 

Here’s to your health,

Dr. J

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