Hormones have a profound effect on your everyday health and well-being. Although present in only tiny amounts, hormones act on every cell of your body. Hormones have individual effects, but also interact with each other to produce dramatic outcome in the body. Because of these interactions, they are able to trigger multiple body systems .
Hormone imbalances are very common. This is due to the fact that there are many things in our body, life circumstances and environment that can affect our hormones. This is just as true for children as it is for adults. Hormone imbalance is not just a problem for middle-aged people. Children are affected now more than ever due to changes in the environment. Here are just a few of the underlying causes for hormonal imbalances. This is not an exhaustive list.
There are multiple causes for hormone imbalance, but the majority of cases are experienced due to estrogen dominance or increased amounts of estrogen in the body and not enough of progesterone.
Common causes include
• birth control pills,
• chemicals found in cosmetics,
• chemicals we breathe in the air,
• foods processed with sugar and other additives,
• heavy metal toxicity,
• Plastics and Chemicals that are used in food packaging & production,
• hormones and chemicals found in water and non organic animal products.
Other medical causes include
• tumors.Other causes include
• lack of exercise,
• autoantibody production, and
• a sedentary lifestyle.
• Of all of these causes, obesity is the number one medical cause for hormone
• imbalance while pregnancy is the number one lifestyle change that causes the condition
The important thing to remember is that one hormone can affect other hormones. Also nutrients can affect the level of hormone production and can also help in the use of the hormone. One key nutrient, for example is iodine. Fluoride, such as that found in fluoridated drinking, water can displace iodine on the thyroid molecule. In this way the fluoridated drinking water can create a thyroid imbalance because that change in the molecule changes how the thyroid binds to other molecules.
Evolving science now shows us that there are several types of thyroid sub tests that need to be done to determine which type of imbalance exists. After making corrections to the thyroid balance, it may or may not be necessary to manipulate any further hormones. Each patient’s individual history and circumstances help us identify which direction to take and how to help them reach their goals.
The two other hormones that it is important to address early on are cortisol (produced by the adrenal glands) and insulin (produced in the pancreas). Cortisol is tested in saliva while insulin is tested by blood as is the thyroid hormone. Recommendations are made specific to each person’s results and there is normally a nutritional and/or exercise solution. If you have several of the symptoms on the list below, you may have hormonal imbalances.
Some Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance
Symptoms of female hormone imbalance
When hormones are out of balance, these imbalanced interactions may provoke a wide range of symptoms.
The adrenal glands produce three types of steroid hormones: glucocorticoids (cortisol), mineralocorticoids (aldosterone), and androgens (DHEA/DHEAS).
Cortisol enables the body to respond and adapt to the stresses of daily life. It also helps to maintain blood sugar levels and promote a healthy immune system. Aldosterone works to balance salt and water in the body. Androgens secreted by the adrenals provide the majority of DHEA for both men and women. For women, the adrenal glands are the major source of testosterone. Imbalances in the adrenal system can contribute to problems with the nervous and immune systems, body composition difficulties, blood sugar irregularities, and high androgen levels.
Symptoms of adrenal imbalance• Allergies / asthma
• Bone loss
• Chemical sensitivities
• Morning/evening fatigue
• High blood sugar
• Increased abdominal fat
• Memory lapses
• Sleep disturbances
• Sugar cravings
Thyroid Function Imbalance
Thyroid hormones control the body’s metabolism. The brain produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) which triggers the thyroid gland to produce two types of hormones – T4 and T3. In hypothyroidism, the body has inadequate levels of the thyroid hormones. This often leads to imbalances in relation to other hormones. Hyperthyroidism is a less common condition that exists when excess thyroid hormones are present. Because every cell of the body is affected by thyroid hormones, symptoms of imbalances are often varied and affect multiple body systems.
Symptoms of low thyroid function
Insulin is secreted by the pancreas. Insulin “unlocks” the cells to allow glucose (sugar) from food to enter and be converted into energy. When too much glucose is present in the body, the pancreas increases the amount of insulin being produced. High insulin as well as high glucose may contribute to multiple symptoms. A number of conditions are associated with insulin and glucose imbalances and regulation problems. These include chronic stress, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.
Symptoms of insulin imbalance• Abnormal blood cholesterol
• High blood triglycerides
• Increased abdominal fat
• Increased hunger / sugar cravings
• Low/high blood sugar
• Poor circulation to extremities
• Skin changes
Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency
In childhood, human growth hormone (GH) controls a child’s height. It is normal for GH levels to decline as a person reaches adulthood, but new research suggests that some adults may have too low a level. Low levels of GH are linked to poor muscle tone, increase body fat, low energy levels, and cardiovascular changes. GH insufficiency is associated with pituitary gland problems, brain injury, autoimmune disorders, and nervous system conditions.
Symptoms of adult growth hormone deficiency• Abnormal blood cholesterol
• Bone loss
• Decreased muscle mass
• Decreased stamina and exercise ability
• Increased abdominal fat
• Increased risk of heart disease
• Lower life expectancy
Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy
A better solution
Many women experience significant changes in their health before, during and after menopause. Many of these health problems are associated with hormone imbalances that can be overcome with natural therapies or HRT (hormone replacement therapy)- whether it be using traditional or bio-identical hormones. Hormones are powerful chemical messengers that circulate throughout the bloodstream to specific target cells where they generate biological responses. The interdependent relationship between adrenal function and sex hormones has a profound effect on many organ systems. Women have traditionally used “synthetic” oestrogen’s and progestins (traditional HRT) to protect against osteoporosis and heart disease. These “synthetic” hormones offer some protection against heart disease and osteoporosis but have many unwanted side effects. Because of these side effects many women abandon traditional HRT very soon after starting. This has led to a strong interest in the use of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).
What are Bio-Identical Hormones?
Bio-identical (BHRT) hormones are derived from natural plant sources to produce molecules which are physiologically identical to hormones made in the human body. Bio-identical hormones are chemically processed from precursors found in yams or soy plants, yet they are identical to the hormones produced by the human body.
Hence the term “bio-identical plant-derived hormone.” These hormones are able to follow normal metabolic pathways so that essential active metabolites are formed in response to hormone replacement therapy. Synthetic hormones are chemically altered and are not identical in structure or activity to the naturally occurring hormones in the body.
No two women are alike, of course, and the value of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is that it can be adapted to fit your individual body and hormone levels. In fact, hormones can be made in a variety of strengths and dosage forms including capsules, topical creams and gels, suppositories and sublingual troches or lozenges. With the help of your doctor and a compounding pharmacist, a woman can start and maintain a bio-identical hormone replacement regimen that closely mimics what her body has been doing naturally for years..
BHRT includes oestrogen’s (estrone, estradiol & estriol), progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and pregnenolone (and many metabolites).
Benefits of BHRT include:
1. fewer side effects compared with traditional HRT 2. protection against heart disease 3. reduced risk of breast cancer , and 4. improved lipid profile.
Hormone related symptoms or problems occur throughout the feminine life cycle:
• Dysmenorrhea (cramps)
• Fibrocystic breasts
• Weight gain
• Reduced libido
Goals of Natural HRT• Alleviate the symptoms caused by the natural decrease in production of hormones by the body
• Give the protective benefits which were originally provided by naturally occurring hormones
• Re-establish a hormonal balance.
The three types of hormones typically prescribed for natural hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are estrogens, progesterone and androgens. The precise components of each woman’s therapy need to be determined after physical examination, medical history, and laboratory testing are considered. Close monitoring is essential to ensure that appropriate dosage adjustments are made.
“Natural Hormones” are used to correct hormone imbalance during each cycle of human life. This imbalance can be established by blood or saliva testing and treated with
(a) Traditional HRT., e.g., oral contraceptives or HRT,
(b) BHRT (using bio-identical hormones) or
(c) natural therapies, e.g., herbals or homoeopathics.
Lisa Everett (Int. Jnl. Of P’ceutical Compounding Vol 2 No 1 ’98) confirms a few essential truths about HRT. Seeking the meaning of life is a worthwhile endeavour. As the axiom goes…. ‘anything worthwhile does not come easily’…and so it is that our journey through hormone imbalance remains a task.
• The first rule is that there is no simple answer to HRT;
• Each patient is a unique individual….thus standardising a drug or dose has potential for harm;
• Hormone imbalances cannot be treated with hormones alone. Educating the patient on hormones (be it synthetic or “natural”), diet, nutrition, lifestyle & spirit are all of paramount importance.
Your current hormone status can be assesed by either a blood, saliva test, or a bioenergetic device.
After determining the level of hormonal imbalance, the following natural hormones can be prescribed:
• in various combinations, e.g., progesterone cream, triest & progesterone troches,
• in various dosage forms, e.g., cream, troche/lozenge, capsule, pessary, gel or oil.
Where more than one hormone is deficient, they can be incorporated into one dosage form, e.g., DHEA & testosterone troche. In effect, the doctor prescribes a complete BHRT supplement tailored for the individual patient in a dosage form suitable for that patient.