WHAT ARE HORMONES?
Hormones are special chemical messengers in the body that are created in the glands of the endocrine system. These messengers control or affect most major bodily functions, from simple basic needs like hunger to complex systems like reproduction, emotions, and cognition. There are many types of hormones in the body and they all work together in concert to promote balanced function in the body.
The primary female sex hormones are the estrogens (estrone, estradiol, estriol), and progesterone. Even though most folks don’t consider testosterone and DHEA when thinking of women and hormones, they can be key players when it comes to libido, bone density, confidence, and body composition.
The primary sex hormones in a man (androgens) are testosterone, dihydrotestosterone and DHEA. Men have estrogens and progesterone, as well – it’s just the amounts that are different
WHAT CAUSES HORMONAL IMBALANCES AND DEFICIENCIES?
Hormones optimally exist in balance with each other. It is when one or more is deficient or found in excess, that symptoms arise. Sex hormone imbalances can happen for a variety of reasons like the presence of excess body fat, toxicity, stress, poor gastrointestinal health, and nutritional deficiencies. Therapies meant to treat hormonal issues, like oral contraceptive pills, can cause nutrient and hormone deficiencies. Certain hormones also decline with age.
SYMPTOMS OF HORMONAL IMBALANCE IN WOMEN:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Sleep disturbance (insomnia, nocturnal awakening)
- Menstrual irregularities
- Emotional lability/irritability
- Low libido
- Memory issues/decreased concentration
- Vaginal dryness
- Dry skin
- Muscle aches/pains
- Decreased muscle tone
- Decreased bone density
SYMPTOMS OF HORMONAL IMBALANCE IN MEN:
- Fatigue (physical and mental)
- Decreased muscle mass
- Erectile dysfunction
- Night sweats
- Decreased libido
- Weight gain
- Sleep disturbances
- Decreased bone density
- Hair loss
- Prostate problems
IDENTIFICATION OF IMBALANCES
Identification of imbalances begins with a good history and physical exam. Some imbalances may appear to be clear immediately, but because there is significant overlap in symptoms between deficiencies and excess, testing will likely be performed. Testing can be performed in many ways (blood, saliva, urine or a combination), each have their own relative advantages and disadvantages. Other systems that affect sex hormone production and metabolism may be tested, as well.
ADDRESSING HORMONAL IMBALANCES
The ideal way to deal with dysfunction in the body is to identify and correct deficiency and toxicity. Slathering a bunch of progesterone cream on a body crying out for what it needs to make its own progesterone, sets you up for failure.
To have a stable building, you need to build on a good foundation. That foundation is predicated on these basic tenets of good health.
- Avoid toxic and inflammatory foods.
- Eat an organic or biodynamic, whole foods diet. 1
- The foundation of your diet should be plants.
- Cruciferous vegetables support the liver and help to appropriately metabolize hormones.
- Lower carb diets are generally better. Blood sugar spikes and problems with insulin are thought to underly many hormonal imbalances like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).
- Eat three meals with adequate amounts of high-quality protein and fats. Avoid snacking. Contrary to popular belief, this DOES NOT “stoke your metabolic furnace.”
- Exercise regularly
- Don’t be afraid to include resistance training. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat and helps to resolve issues with insulin.
- Resistance training is one of the best boosters of HGH (human growth hormone) and testosterone.
- Drink plenty of clean water. A good rule of thumb would be ½ your body weight in ounces of water daily (i.e., 100 lbs./2= 50 ounces of water).
- Avoid plastics. Even BPA free plastics contain other chemicals that act as foreign hormones in your body.2
- Get rid of those metal fillings in your mouth with a dentist trained in safe mercury removal.
- What you put on your body is as important as what you put in it.
- Personal care and beauty products can be significant source of hormone disrupting chemicals.
- Use clean, safe cosmetics and personal care products.
- Use Skin Deep at www.ewg.org to evaluate your current products. Also learn how to pick those that are safer.
- Address stress with prayer, meditation, counseling, etc. Cortisol, our chronic stress hormone can wreak havoc with your thyroid and sex hormones.
- Exposure yourself to bright sunlight first thing in the morning.
- Reconnect with nature.
- Regularly “unplug.”
- Get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep nightly.
- Address sleep apnea.
Once you’ve addressed these foundational tenets and you are found to have a continued hormonal imbalance there are other things to consider. Some people need liver support, specific nutrient repletion (like vitamin D), support of the systems that regulate hormonal control, or treatment with specific hormones themselves.
If hormone replacement is necessary. We use bioidentical hormones delivered in quantities sufficient to address your needs.
WHAT ARE BIOIDENTICAL HORMONES?
Bioidentical hormones are synthesized from plant or animal sources to be identical in chemical and molecular structure to the hormones made in the body. Since this is the case, they behave in the same fashion as would your body’s own hormones.
Contrast this with synthetic conventional hormones. Conventional hormones are engineered to be just different enough from the hormones that your body makes to allow them to be patented by pharmaceutical companies.3
ROUTES OF ADMINISTRATION
Your hormones will be prescribed to be delivered in a way that is most suitable for your clinical situation. Topical administration typically mimics the body’s natural production the best, but some may do better with or need hormones delivered by sublingual, oral, vaginal, or injectable routes.