In preparation for the annual fall Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference, Corinna Wood interviews Aviva Romm about her work with supporting women in "overcoming overwhelm" and getting out of S.O.S. (Survival Overdrive Syndrome), as well as some of the root causes of trauma and oppression that contribute to these health issues in the first place. Aviva Romm is a midwife, herbalist, and Yale-trained MD, bridging the best of traditional medicine with good science for over three decades.
Corinna: Aviva, what is SOS, and how does it impact women you see in your practice?
Aviva: SOS is a term I coined which means Survival Overdrive Syndrome, and it's based on a few things: one, it started because so many of my patients were coming in and saying things like, "Aviva, Dr. Aviva, I feel like I'm constantly in overdrive. I feel like I'm always stuck in survival mode. I feel like I'm going from one thing to the next, and I can't turn off the stress. I'm constantly overwhelmed." I started to pay attention to the words women were using and at the same time started looking at the impact of various contributors to health and imbalance on what symptoms that they were exhibiting, for example brain fog, forgetfulness, poor concentration, weight gain, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, hormonal problems, insulin resistance, anxiety, depression, fertility challenges, mood challenges.
Corinna: You seem to view sleep as a form of medicine. I love that. How has your perspective on that developed, and would you share some of your personal and/or professional experience regarding benefits of sleep for women's health?
Aviva: Sleep actually is medicine, and it's particularly important medicine for SOS because much as we like to think of ourselves as modern human creatures, and much as science likes to tell us that nature is unimportant and science can always win over nature, the reality is that as human beings we are hardwired to be in harmony and relationship with our planet, including the 24-hour cycle of the Earth around the sun. That's called our circadian rhythm. Cortisol is released on what's called a diurnal rhythm, which means it's got two 12-hour cycles. Those 12-hour cycles together make up that circadian rhythm. Cortisol should be high in the morning, decrease throughout the day and be much lower at night to where it reaches its lowest point about midnight or 1:00 AM or so and then it starts to go up again.