What is hormone balance?
Optimal hormone balance is a foundation of health. The hormones in your body work together and if one hormone is excessive or deficient, the others have to adjust and can result in a variety of symptoms.
We live in a world of altered foods, abnormal stressors and lifestyles, medications, pesticides, and toxic chemicals that alter our hormone balance.
What are common symptoms of hormone imbalances?
- Excessive fatigue
- Easy weight gain
- Muscle weakness and joint pain
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Excessive hair loss
- Fluid retention
- Dependence on stimulants such as caffeine
- Menstrual problems
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Frequent colds and respiratory infections
- Anxiety and depression
- Autoimmune disorders
- High blood pressure
- Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides
What causes hormone imbalances?
What are a few key hormones?
Thyroid hormones affect the metabolic rate of every cell in the body. If your thyroid hormones are out of balance, you may experience high or low blood pressure, fatigue or anxiety, constipation or diarrhea, hair loss, low bone density(link to osteoporosis). We are careful to do complete thyroid testing and appropriate physical exam when evaluating thyroid function. (link to thyroid tests)
The primary hormones secreted from the adrenal glands are Cortisol, Adrenaline, DHEA
and Aldosterone. These hormones interact with other hormones as well. The adrenal hormones
help us cope with both short and long term stress, maintain fluid balance, and help regulate our immune system.
DHEA (dihydroepandrosterone) is a hormone secreted from the adrenal gland and has profound effects upon the body.
As we age our bodies make less DHEA. Replacement in elderly men and women can increase bone density, lean muscle mass, growth hormone, testosterone and decrease body fat. Diabetics taking DHEA can decrease body fat, thus increasing insulin sensitivity and helping with blood sugar control.
Low DHEA levels are also a risk factor in smokers, predicting an early death (in addition to the tobacco habit). DHEA blood or urine testing(link) is very important to determine optimal levels.
During puberty, growth hormone stimulates our bodies to grow. As adults, even though we may not be growing, growth hormone helps maintain muscle mass and bone density, as well as stimulate neurons in the brain for optimal mental focus, concentration and memory.
Estrogens and Progesterone
Appropriate use of human bio-identical
estrogens and progesterone has been shown to have extremely beneficial effects in peri and post menopausal women who are deficient. The benefits include: maintenance of the elasticity of the skin and vaginal tissue, increased bone density
, improved mental performance, retarding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease; protecting the brain after stroke; decreased abdominal fat; and decreased urinary incontinence and urinary tract infections.
Testosterone Replacement for Men
Men also commonly experience hormone imbalances. When men are low in testosterone (low T), they commonly experience fatigue, depression, moodiness, low motivation, low sex drive, declining muscle mass and osteoporosis
Appropriate testing and bio identical hormone replacement
can profoundly alter the course of a man’s life in a positive way and give him a new beginning into the latter part of life.
The Use of Bioidentical Hormones for Anti-Aging
When we use the term “Anti-Aging”, we also mean Healthy Aging
. Living a healthy life(link to diet and lifestyle) with optimal hormone balance provides better quality of life.
The benefits of optimizing hormone balance are: we often live longer, look better, feel better, have more energy, are stronger, and have more resistance against illness and disease.
Hormone testing(link to diagnostic testing) and if necessary, replacing testosterone, estrogens, progesterone, DHEA
, thyroid hormone, cortisol, growth hormone, and aldosterone can be extremely helpful in your healthy-aging program
How are hormone imbalances treated?
The good news is that you can do something about hormone imbalances.
One option is a prescription of one or more Bio-Identical Hormones
. Bio-identical means biologically identical to the hormones your body makes.
Most prescription hormones used in medicine are products from pregnant horse urine and are not the identical hormones to humans. Would you rather take the hormone molecularly identical to the one your body makes or something molecularly identical to a horses hormones?
Another option to discuss with your naturopathic doctor is taking plant medicines
that increase and/or balance specific hormones in the body.
Are there risks to taking hormones?
Some patients may have a pre-existing condition or family history that puts them at risk for taking specific hormones and this needs to be evaluated and discussed with your naturopathic doctor. For example, any woman with a history of hormone receptor positive breast cancer is not a candidate for estrogens, progesterone or DHEA.
The Women’s Health Initiative Study in 2002 evaluated women who had taken an estrogen-progestin combination drug called Prempro (estrogens and progesterone synthesized from pregnant horse urine). The National Institutes of Health had to cut the study short when their findings showed that the drug resulted in a 26 percent increase in breast cancer, 41 percent increase in strokes, 29 percent increase in heart attacks, 100 percent increase of blood clots in the legs and lungs, and an increased risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer.
Conversely, an analysis of more than 200 studies found bioidentical HRT to be both more effective and offer greater health benefits for menopausal women than synthetic hormones. “The study showed that women taking them were less likely to have sleep problems, anxiety, depression and cognitive problems” common side effects of synthetic hormones. And these women had a reduced risk of breast cancer and superior heart protection”.
Periodic office visits and follow up testing to monitor your health and safety while taking any prescription, including bio-identical hormones(link), is required by our naturopathic doctors.
To speak with one of our naturopathic doctors about achieving optimal hormone balance call (603) 427-6800 or schedule an appointment. We have a broad range of interventions to optimize your hormone balance.