The endocrine system is a complex and beautifully refined feedback mechanism. It can be compared to a world-class orchestra, where all of the musicians work together to create harmony. If one section of the orchestra is out of tune or loses tempo with the rest, the entire effect can be ruined.
Because the areas of the endocrine system work so closely together, you’ll find that treating one area will have a cascading effect into another. The traditional western medical approach to treating hormone imbalances is to do a blood test for a single hormone. I believe it is vital that the entire endocrine system be evaluated together to diagnose potential hormonally related conditions.
Many women who should really be treated for estrogen dominance and adrenal dysfunction end up misdiagnosed and unnecessarily taking thyroid medication for years.
For example, estrogen dominance can interfere with thyroid hormone conversion. Estrogen, particularly estradiol, interferes with insulin’s actions in the body, leading to carbohydrate cravings, weight gain, and excess cortisol production (which can then lead to sleep disturbances and high blood pressure). For some women, eating excess simple carbohydrates (such as sugar, bread, pasta, corn, and rice) can create improper conversion of estrogen to testosterone, leading to thinning hair, facial hair, and polycystic ovaries. Hormone imbalances also play a part in chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, depression, panic disorder, and other debilitating conditions.
As you can see, there’s more to balancing hormones than just drawing blood to test progesterone and estradiol levels. There’s also more to the process than picking up a natural Progesterone or Wild Yam cream from your local health food store. You are unique, your diet and habits are uniquely yours, and your history of trauma, both physical and emotional, has contributed to the body you currently inhabit. Similar symptoms may have different underlying causes and require unique treatments in varying body types. For example, a blonde woman of northern-European descent suffering from hot flashes may need an entirely different approach than a dark haired, Latin woman also suffering from hot flashes.
What Are Natural Hormones?
Natural hormones are derived from building blocks found in plants. Soybeans and wild yams are the most common sources. Many prescription medications are plant-derived chemical synthetics that have been dramatically altered. As a result, their molecular structure is no longer compatible with the human body. Naturally derived herbs and hormone replacements, however, maintain their molecular affinity for the human organism. Natural hormones, unlike synthetics created in laboratories by pharmaceutical companies, are identical in molecular structure to the hormones the body makes.When taken in a transdermal cream (a quickly-absorbed cream applied topically to soft skin), the natural hormones bypass the digestive tract. This is very important when you are talking about hormone therapy. If hormones are consumed in pill form, they are broken down in the liver and may not be sufficiently strong enough to be effective.
Warning! The next sections are full of big words and technical information. It may make for dry, but informative, reading. Proceed with a light heart and mouse in hand.
Progesterone balances most of the hormones, particularly estrogens.
It both enhances the benefits of estrogens and prevents the problems associated with estrogen excess. Progesterone also helps balance all other steroids, even cholesterol. In addition, it has calming and diuretic properties. Progesterone plays an important role in helping men maintain prostate health.
There are three estrogens-estradiol, estrone, and estriol.
In adults, they maintain the reproductive tissues, breasts, skin, and brain. Often estradiol is the culprit in many uncomfortable symptoms for women, and it is the hormone most often measured in blood tests. Estrogens are responsible in our early years for feminine characteristics, and in proper balance, keep us youthful and vital.
Improper Amounts Of Estrogen
Whether naturally occurring or as a result of incorrect Hormone Replacement Therapy, improper amounts of estrogen can cause fluid retention, weight gain, migraines, and overstimulation of the breasts, ovaries, prostate and uterus. Imbalanced ratios of estrogen to progesterone or testosterone can cause symptoms associated with menopause or andropause, such as hot flashes, enlarged breasts in men, vaginal dryness, rapid skin aging, prostate problems, urinary problems, excessive bone loss, and possible acceleration of dementia.
Androgens (Testosterone, DHEA, Androstenedione)
Androgens play an important role in tissue regeneration, especially the skin, bones, and muscles. The adrenal glands are vital to the formation of androgens, and attention must be paid to their role in your body’s recovery of health.
Testosterone helps maintain lean body mass, bone density, skin elasticity, sex drive and cardiovascular health in both sexes. Men make more of this hormone, accounting for their greater bone and muscle mass.
DHEA is the principal androgen for repair and healing in both men and women. These levels naturally decline with age, and unnaturally decline too quickly if the body isn’t given ample opportunity to repair and maintain itself, especially at nighttime.
Androstenedione is a building block for both estrogens and testosterone, especially in females. Often during early menopause, this hormone can be produced in excess by the ovaries. Too much of it can cause some “androgenic” symptoms, such as scalp hair loss and facial hair growth.