by Dr. Tina Marcantel
Hormones are the bandleaders of the body. These chemical messengers control many of our bodies’ functions and if they are imbalanced, it can cause us to be “out of tune” in ways that we may not realize.
Hormone imbalances are not just menopause or andropause-related. While menopause certainly can play a role, there are many factors that can cause imbalances. The most prevalent cause I see in my own practice is stress!
If we focus on specific symptoms, we often don’t think to trace the root causes that may be triggering those symptoms. By bringing our hormones into proper balance we can help our bodies achieve homeostasis (equilibrium) that will alleviate many of the unwanted symptoms we’re experiencing.
Consider a few common problems people have and how hormones may affect them:
*Mood swings and depression
*Unusual weight gain
All these (and many more) can point to imbalanced hormones. Insomnia, anxiety, and fatigue may indicate an overproduction of cortisol by our adrenal glands. An imbalance of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone can lead to hot flashes and mood swings in women or BPH in men. An underproductive thyroid gland may trigger any or all of these symptoms.
It’s also important to know that all of the hormones affect each other. This is why a holistic approach to hormone treatment is necessary—we want to look at the big picture of how the body is functioning rather than just focusing on one specific hormone or symptom.
Diagnosis and Treatment
So how do we identify hormonal imbalances?
Start by sharing your concerns with a healthcare provider who is experienced with these types of treatment. A thorough health history will tell your provider what types of testing and next steps are indicated.
For example, if your symptoms point to an underproductive thyroid, a complete thyroid blood panel (not just TSH) can give an accurate picture of how your thyroid is functioning. For other types of hormones like cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, a hormone saliva test can provide a wealth of information. Unlike blood-based tests, saliva diagnostics can measure the amount of free, unbound hormone that is available to act on a target tissue.
Once your provider has identified specific imbalances through a combination of testing and listening to your history and symptoms, she will offer a treatment protocol designed specifically for your needs. Often this may mean some relatively small hormonal adjustments that can lead to very big overall results.
Hormone replacement therapy does not necessarily mean taking prescription drugs. Using natural botanicals and homeopathic remedies can be an effective way to aid the body with its natural ability to heal and come into balance.
Many patients are amazed how a bit of thyroid supplementation can positively affect their overall health and well-being. Supporting stressed adrenal glands is also important—it can help bring our stress and sex hormones more into balance.
If you have chronic conditions that may be hormone related, you don’t have to just “live with it.” Talk with your doctor about getting those hormones in tune so you can make your life a health symphony!
Visit our Hormone Balancing page for much more information on this subject!