Your Hormone How-to
You have probably heard of Hormone replacement therapy or HRT for short, but how do you know if it is for you? Is it really where you need to start, will it help you, or is it something you are going to be on for the rest of your life?
These are the best questions to start with! First of all, you should only start with the hormones if you have been tested and have been found deficient.
HRT can be for you, but it may not be the only thing you need to do for your health. First, let me give you a little background on hormones.
Did you know that hormones come from cholesterol? So, if you are on any type of statin, they will reduce your ability to make your own hormones. That is the best first step, figure out if something is blocking your body’s ability to make hormones.
There are many types of hormones in your body, not just estrogen and testosterone. There is progesterone, cortisol, thyroid, and insulin, which are often not discussed as HRT.
First of all, the hypothalamus is like the control center – it signals to the pituitary and adrenals of what to do and how to respond. In addition to chemicals and environmental stressors, major life stressors can really affect your hypothalamus. Even good stress like marriage or a move can affect your hypothalamus. Other stresses such as the loss of loved one through death or a break-up can factor in, divorce, auto accident, and those chronic unrelenting daily stresses.
Chronic stress is the perfect way to land you right in adrenal burnout and thyroid dysfunction, not to mention your sex hormones will plummet. Biologically, your body isn’t thinking of sex when it is under constant threat, and stress makes your body feel threatened.
Did you know that 1 in 4 women over the age of 40 have thyroid that is too low? This is often very overlooked by many doctors, but something that can really change someone’s life once they get the right treatment for it. Don’t underestimate yourself and think you are just getting old, you may have low thyroid.
How do you know if you are one of the people with hypothyroidism? It can present in many ways and some of the symptoms are quite vague, but the biggest signs of it are fatigue, depression, weight gain, joint pain, hair loss, constipation, feeling cold, and menstrual irregularities.
Also, too little thyroid can lead to too much cholesterol. Isn’t that something? We can naturally correct cholesterol, without using something as damaging as statins, with a little support to your beleaguered thyroid.
Listen, we do more, talk more, sleep less, and know way more bad news than ever before, in addition to being exposed to so many chemicals even superman couldn’t leap them in a single bound! No wonder your thyroid is pooping out on you! Holy cow. It’s an easy fix and something that gives tremendous relief to many, many people.
Now, on to your adrenals. Your adrenals should actually be looked at even before your thyroid. Your adrenals are often the first to go, then your thyroid. So, if you have a fatigued thyroid, chances are, your adrenals have been limping along for way too long.
Your adrenals are small glands that sit on top of your kidneys like a little cap. They are quite cute really. For as small as they are, they are powerhouses! One of the hormones that come from here is cortisol. Cortisol gets released in times of stress – fight or flight – to give you a burst of energy! It increases blood sugar, breaks down muscle, and decreases inflammation. Hydrocortisone is a synthetic form of cortisol and as you know, is often used as an anti-inflammatory. However, chronic use can lead to blood sugar problems.
If you go through enough stress, with enough spikes of cortisol, your adrenals just get wrung out – like a towel squeezed too hard, after enough wringing – nothing more comes out. Welcome to adrenal fatigue!
Now, as a result, you have little energy, low immune system, blood sugar is going all over the place, weight gain especially around the hips, and increased estrogen! This is for men and women. You don’t want that. Maybe you have tried several weight loss programs, but they don’t work. They give you stimulants to burn fat, but only burn your adrenals out further, so now, you may have lost 5 or 10 pounds but feel exhausted on the other side of the program and very likely to put it all back on again.
Does any of this sound familiar? The good news is, there is an easy test for this and naturopathically, we have excellent therapies and can get you feeling better fast.
One more thing: cortisol competes with progesterone and steals from DHEA. Often, it would appear that you have low progesterone and you do – but it is getting converted to cortisol. Simply replacing progesterone will only add fuel to the fire and won’t make you feel better all on its own without also treating the adrenals.
Okay, so now onto the sex hormones…
Our market seems to be filled with low T advertisements and hormone replacement commercials. But why? What’s going on with your sex hormones? A lot of things.
Did you know that testosterone gets converted to estrogen? Simply replacing it will not always fix the problem. You must also encourage quick removal of estrogen by using DIM or I3C. Some people will use chrysin as an aromatase inhibitor, but it has also been shown to inhibit the conversion of T4 to T3, which affects thyroid function.
Did you know that many women have too much estrogen these days? All soft plastic, including that soft plastic your water bottle is made of, has estrogen in it that leaches into the water you’re drinking. Even if you have kept the water bottle chilled, chances are, it came from a hot warehouse and shipped in an unrefrigerated truck, cooking the plastic into the water, before it got to you. This is one super easy fix to decrease your exposure to unnatural estrogen storming into your body. We call estrogen coming into the body from an outside source– exogenous estrogen.
Too much estrogen can have disastrous effects on the body: accelerated aging, weight gain, thyroid dysfunction, fibroids, blood clots, and can increase cancers in the body. Estrogen is what we call proliferative – causing cell growth.
Progesterone is like estrogen’s happy sister. It helps balance cholesterol, is important in optimal function of estradiol and thyroid and helps prevent cancer.
So why not just replace progesterone? Often, you can. Sometimes, progesterone replacement seems to just make everything worse. Remember the cortisol? If we don’t fix the adrenals at the same time, progesterone doesn’t get to do its own job.
Andropause and menopause are a natural occurrence in later life but can come with some uncomfortable symptoms. Replacement of these hormones can give great relief, but simply looking at the sex hormones is not fixing the entire picture.
Insulin is a hormone that comes from your pancreas. This controls the ability for glucose to enter into cells. With the many hidden sources of sugar, even when you think you are eating well, this can cause spikes of insulin release which drive sugar into the cells. If you are eating a lot of sugar, your cells will respond by making it harder to get the sugar into your cells – thus higher levels of sugars floating in your blood stream. The more sugar in your blood stream, the more insulin your pancreas kicks out – and the more the cells start to resist. It’s a terrible cycle but can be fixed with herbal medicine and diet and exercise – our ole’ standbys. I know that may sound dreadful to you – but we can make it fun and you will be so thankful!
Replacing hormones can be hugely successful, but it is important to first look at the big picture of what is going on within you. Look at exposure risks, sleep patterns, and liver function. Get an adrenal stress index done.
Before you start any hormone replacement program, you must improve liver function.
So, are you concerned or confused? Have you determined that HRT is for you? Make a free 15 minute consultation to discuss what you’ve tried or if you would like to start working on therapy options. You deserve to get some answers.