Understand Your Hormones to Feel Great Again
Get to Know Your Body
Fatigue, depression, and irritability can caused by a hormone imbalance. Getting to know the key players can help. Hormones rule our brain, bone and heart health. I’ll explain a little about how the key players work together. Hormone health helps in preventing disease and feeling better day to day.
These play a role in maintaining bone and muscle strength. DHEA and testosterone are two I look at closely. DHEA-S can indicate inflammation. Androgen metabolites will push one way if there are PCOS like symptoms like acne, head hair loss or facial hair growth on women. Anxiety and depression in men can be due to low testosterone. Specific botanicals and nutrients can shift the metabolism to a more favourable path. GLA, zinc and saw palmetto are some key ones I use.
Estrogens are essential for female characteristics as well as brain, bone and heart health. The pathways for estrogen have been studied extensively. Preference for certain metabolite pathways may prevent breast and ovarian cancer. Excess estrogen can cause weight gain, heavy cycles, fatigue and irritability. Depending on the pattern, we can support the 2 methoxy pathway with diet and supplements from cruciferous veggies. Boron can support estrogen or testosterone when these are low in women. Perimenopausal women will have a different healthy hormone profile.
Cortisol affects all of the other hormones so when we are looking at testosterone for example we must also assess the role cortisol is playing. Cortisol is anti-inflammatory. It manages immune function, blood glucose, energy and metabolism. Depending on the pattern there are several nutraceutical grade supplements that can balance cortisol. Adaptogens are not always the answer. In Functional Medicine we use the phrase, “why guess when you can test?”
And Finally Progesterone
Progesterone balances estrogen and also is protective of brain, bone and heart health. It’s essential for menstruation, fertility and pregnancy. Estrogen dominance is when progesterone is low in relation to estrogen. Increased consumption of healthy dietary fibres can improve estrogen elimination. Phytoestrogens like flax seeds are excellent because they block xenoestrogens from accumulating in the body. These are prolific in our environment especially if you use any conventional beauty care products or have plastics in your kitchen.
Oh wait! Don’t Forget Melatonin
You can think of melatonin as the sleep hormone. It’s secreted from the pineal gland and regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Its lesser known that melatonin is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It works with serotonin. Adequate sleep is important for reducing pain and cravings. These are actions of serotonin. Micro dosing melatonin can see better results. Trytophan or 5HTP can support serotonin.
Medications Have an Impact
Medications like opioids, steroids and Accutane can damage the endocrine system. For example, a common acne medication is known to destroy cells in the hypothalamus. Another example is thyroid medication at too high of a dose can cause increase total cortisol. Its important to do thorough testing and if you need to take a medication please have it monitored.
These work for balancing common hormone imbalances. They include nettle, broccoli sprouts, food high in zinc, inositol, fibre from whole foods. Nettle works on the increasing androgen metabolism down the 5a reductase pathway which is good for anyone with PCOS like symptoms. Broccoli sprouts contain a chemical called sulforaphane. This is one of the most potent antioxidants and detoxification substances that we know of. Inositol balances blood sugar which at the root of many hormone issues. Zinc is often deficient and can be found in oysters, pumpkin seeds, spinach and a variety of pastured meats. Fibre from root vegetables, flax and chia seed and gluten-free supplements can help clear excess hormones.