Hormones are key players in the body, they are our main messengers. At different times in our lives due to a multitude of factors (internal and external) and simply age, these hormones go “offline” and become sub optimal. Messages then cannot be delivered consistently and efficiently.
Due to this loss of translation, symptoms (such as fatigue, irritability, weight changes, insomnia, loss of libido, lack of focus and more) start occurring. The list of complaints is long and can be debilitating for some.
Hormones that are not working efficiently will slow you down and may affect your quality of life. Hormone imbalances can be corrected with supplementation (vitamins) and Bio-identical hormones for an increase in quality of life.
Thyroid hormones primarily control our metabolism. By feedback mechanism they control how fast or slow the metabolism should go. It is affected by many factors (internal and external) and being a woman is one of them.
If your thyroid is not optimized your weight, energy and moods may change. You could have the beginning of a slow thyroid or your hypothyroidism may not be fully controlled if symptoms are present. TSH should be checked along with all its hormone production to ensure good conversion and rule out underlying autoimmune disorder such as Hashimoto’s.
Thyroid hormones should be working efficiently to benefit your metabolic rate and overall body composition. A slow thyroid can be supplemented with vitamins and natural hormones such as T3/T4 combo.
The adrenal glands are critical in maintaining overall wellbeing. They are the main component in stress management. Cortisol (aka stress hormone) is one of the hormones they produce. It is very effective in acute/short stress phases (such as Flight and fight response) and can even be invigorating.
In chronic stressful situations however, like today’s fast pace and high demanding world, the cortisol response becomes dysfunctional. Once the cortisol gets into high gear of an overproduction state, inflammation sets in and an array of domino effects occur.
It may start with fatigue and weight changes but can quickly lead to anxiety, depression, sickness and unstoppable weight gain. Adrenal glands should be checked regularly if you are under a lot of stress and should be tested and controlled to avoid damaging side effects.
HORMONES ARE CRITICAL TO ONE’S HEALTH
WHAT IS HORMONE IMBALANCE?
he intricacies of the human chemistry are remarkable. It corrects its imbalances constantly by down-regulating or up-regulating the production of its messengers to face the demand of the body. We, of course do not control our internal hormone productions and are often not aware of the imbalances it encompasses. Some imbalances are transient and go unnoticed others are cyclical and we may notice mild to moderate symptoms. When the imbalances persist however, the symptoms become more obvious and can increase in severity.
Our sex hormones for example which include testosterone, DHEA, estrogen and progesterone fluctuate tremendously throughout our lives. Today, we understand the cycles of these hormones and the various symptoms they create under normal circumstances like puberty, andropause and menopause.
For some of us however, these transitional times could become quite challenging and cause more pronounced and debilitating symptoms. Hormonal changes do happen naturally but are highly susceptible to environmental and genetic factors.
The culprit of hormonal imbalances:
- Poor diet
- Inadequate intake of key nutrients
- Food sensitivities
- Leaky gut
- Lack of Exercise
- Toxin exposure
- Lack of sleep
We can safely say that Hormonal imbalances are more prevalent today. The odds also play against us as the culprit list increases and causes more and more symptoms to occur.
Also, if left untreated hormone imbalances contribute to the development of syndromes and diseases such as polycystic ovaries, Premenstrual syndrome or PMDD, endometriosis, osteoporosis, heart disease and even breast or uterine cancer.
Controlling and balancing your hormones will not only improve your wellbeing but may even prevent some diseases from occurring when your hormones are optimized and supported appropriately.
SYMPTOMS OF HORMONE IMBALANCE
here is a multitude of symptoms that can be the results of hormonal imbalances. The list can get quite long. Not all symptoms have to apply but if you start reading and get a few of them, it is probably time to check your hormone levels and see if a correction is needed.
- Experiencing hot flashes
- Having night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Dry skin
- Urinary incontinence
- Headache, migraine a week before your periods
- Poor concentration and focus
- Feeling down
- Increased anxiety
- Irritability, mood swings
- Changes in monthly cycles (shorter, heavier, crampier…)
- Skipping cycles or spotting in between cycles
- Polycystic ovaries
- Painful or swollen breasts
- Changes in libido or sex drive
- Painful sex
- Decrease muscle mass or tone
- Excess Facial hair
- Poor sleep
- Cannot sleep (wake up or hard time falling asleep)
- Fatigue or no energy
- Changes in weight distribution (around the waist area)
- Difficulty losing weight
- Difficulty getting pregnant
- Bone loss
If you recognize yourself in that list, it is likely time to get your hormones in order. Get tested, supplement with bio-identical hormones and vital nutrients to find your vibrant self again.
You do not have to endure your natural changes.
HORMONE IMBALANCE TREATMENTS
f hormonal imbalances disrupt your life, get your hormones checked with a trained healthcare professional in functional/integrative medicine for best results.
In functional/integrative medicine, we like to assess root causes to implement long term solutions to achieve balance of your hormones and improvement of your symptoms.
We chose precision over a “one fits all” model. By that we mean, assessing thoroughly your hormone deficiencies and supplementing them with bio-identical hormones that can be tailored to your specific needs to create your personalized regimen.
While we integrate bio-identical hormones in your therapy, we never lose sight of your mind, body and environmental dynamic. One’s lifestyle (high stress, poor diet and lack of exercise) may exacerbate symptoms by creating more deficiencies and damaging inflammation. Bio-identical hormones along with nutrient support and mindful reset may improve your hormone imbalances and consequently reduce your symptoms and renew your quality of life.
1/ Bio-identical replacement therapy (BHRT)
- Bio-identical hormones are not the same as most conventional hormones. Learn more… What is bio identical hormone therapy or BHRT?
- They are molecularly identical to your hormones and act like your own.
- Unlike other conventional hormone therapies, BHRT is tailored to your needs.
- Bio-identical hormones can be given in a multitude of ways to fit your lifestyle. Learn more about bio identical hormone delivery options.
- Hormone therapy should be assessed and implemented by a trained professional.
- When complimented with a functional/integrative approach, BHRT may moderate the aging process and improve your quality of life by reducing your bothersome symptoms.
2/ Macro and micronutrient testing
- Your hormones need support to function optimally.
- A vitamin regimen like your hormone therapy should be assessed and supplemented accurately.
- Advanced testing is recommended to choose your vitamin regimen carefully.
3/ Mindful reset
- Your chemistry is highly susceptible to your state of mind.
- Stress impacts negatively your body and your mind.
- Stress management is paramount.
- Yoga and meditation are powerful tools to control your state of mind.
- Corrective actions are necessary in case of maladaptive stress response.
- Diet is your number one corrective action.
Exercise will be your second most important corrective action.
Some studies show that an estimate of 40 % of adults have thyroid problems and Women are 7 more times likely than men to suffer from HYPOTHYROIDISM
WHAT IS THE THYROID?
he Thyroid is “a butterfly shaped gland” located on the front of the neck. It consists of two lobes connected by the isthmus in the middle. When the thyroid is normal, it is hard to palpate. Thyroid produces primarily T4 and T3. T4 needs to be converted into T3, its more potent and active form.
The thyroid helps maintain your metabolic rate and metabolic functions throughout the body. Its role is so critical and widespread that its dysfunction will not go unnoticed. Your weight, your temperature, your heart, you brain, and even your gut may be affected and may cause a myriad of symptoms.
Underactive thyroid aka hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism appears to be more prevalent today as stress, pollution and hormonal imbalances are on the rise. The culprit of an underactive thyroid of course has many roots and could be quite complex as the balance of its hormone production require a great deal of harmonious processes.
Common root causes of thyroid dysfunction
- Autoimmune disorder (s)
- Antibododies to the thyroid
- Hormonal imbalances
- Processed Foods
- Adrenal dysfunction
- Pollution and environmental toxins
- Heavy metals
- Leaky gut
- Iodine deficiency
- Gluten and wheat
The underactive thyroid has many reasons to slow down as it needs to focus its effort on essential functions instead. It leaves us with an array of symptoms often related to a slower metabolism that could be quite distressing to most of us.
SYMPTOMS OF AN UNDERACTIVE THYROID
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Dry skin and hair
- Brain fog (slower thinking)
- Poorer memory
- Weight gain
- Difficulty losing weight
- Losing muscle
- Changes in nails
- Hair loss or Hair thinning
- Cold extremities (hands and feet)
- Feeling colder
- Mood changes
- Decrease in libido (lack of sexual desire)
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Voice changes (deeper)
- Arthralgia (pain, stiffness and muscle cramps)
- Low immune function (getting sick more easily)
- Changes in your menstrual cycle
- Infertility and miscarriage
Symptoms of an underactive thyroid should never be ignored (even if currently treated) and always carefully considered in the treatment plan. If you think you have an underactive thyroid, it is important to discuss your options with your healthcare provider.
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR HYPOTHYROIDISM
f your think your thyroid is underactive (treated or not), it is time for you to consider using a more functional approach in your testing and treatment options.
Because the thyroid controls the metabolic rate of the body, it cannot be left untreated or symptoms will start occurring. Symptoms may be transient and mild but can quickly become bothersome and frustrating and can lead to far more worse issues.
In functional/integrative medicine, finding the reason (s) of the imbalance helps us implement better and more individualized plans to control your symptoms and achieve long term relief.
Due to its complexity and involvement, the dysfunction of the thyroid may occur at many levels and the model of “one fits all” may leave you unsatisfied with its treatment. Thorough and complete thyroid testing is paramount but other hormone functions and vital nutrient should also be added to your panel to rule out imbalances which may prevent the thyroid from functioning optimally.
1/ To treat well you need to test and follow often and accurately:
- Basal Body temperature is useful
- Rule out iodine deficiency
- Swallow test (to detect swelling of your thyroid) or thyroid ultrasound
- Lab testing and interpreting the results along with your symptoms are key
- TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)
- FT4 and FT3 and Reverse T3
- Thyroid antibodies TgAb and TPOAb to rule out autoimmune disease: Hashimoto’s
- Others may be added if balance does not occur
2/ What about the rest?
- Check the other hormones: If estrogen isn’t balanced with enough progesterone, it will suppress your thyroid.
- Your adrenal functions should be assessed especially in a busy and stressful lifestyle.
- Advanced testing is recommended to supplement your vitamin deficiencies accurately.
- Your diet counts: what you ingest may slow down your thyroid! (especially in Hashimoto’s)
3/ Treatment options of thyroid hormones
- Treatment options depend on all results and is chosen carefully
- T4 – only options (such as Synthroid, Levothyroxine…)
- T3/T4 combinations (like Naturethroid, Armour, NP thyroid…)
- T3-only products (Lyothyronine such as Cytomel or compounds)
- Supplements will be added
- Stress management and adaptogens
- Diet (such as gluten, wheat and diaries may need to be removed in case of Hashimoto’s)
- Stay active
The “unrecognized condition” with some serious consequences.
ROLE OF THE ADRENALS?
he Adrenals are small glands located on top of each kidney. They are responsible for producing several critical hormones like CORTISOL and Adrenaline. These hormones control how your body manages physical and emotional stressors.
The Adrenal glands are very effective at maintaining homeostasis in our very complex body. Its hormone Cortisol gets produced daily in a defined pattern. Cortisol also known as our “stress hormone” gets produced at a higher level when stress occurs causing your body and mind to think faster and quicker to face the demand. It also resumes its pattern once the situation resolves.
When the stressor persists however, cortisol production seems to become dysfunctional (coming off its curve) causing an array of symptoms leading to an insatiable stage of fatigue.
Adrenal dysfunction aka “adrenal fatigue”
The term was coined in the late 90’s by Dr. Wilson and it is still unrecognized today by the Endocrine Society. Addison’s and Cushing are the two known adrenal diseases where testing, diagnosis and treatments are available. If you are symptomatic and your cortisol is mildly out of range, you will likely be told that you are depressed, anxious or overstressed. The latter being likely true, there are however many ways of helping your adrenals return to a normal pattern and protect yourself from developing subsequent issues.
What causes Adrenal Dysfunction?
- Chronic stress (Physical or Psychological)
- High Emotional stress
- Stressful lifestyle with No down time or No Me-Time
- Poor sleep
- Night shift workers
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Leaky gut
- Systemic yeast
- High sugar intake
- Chronic Pain
- Intense exercise (Athletes)
- No hobbies, no Fun time
- Autoimmune disease(s)
SYMPTOMS OF ADRENAL DYSFUNCTION
- Fatigue and Tiredness
- Need to nap in the afternoon
- No energy, Feeling exhausted
- Waking up tired despite a night sleep
- Weight gain (especially around the waist)
- Difficulty losing weight
- Mood changes
- Increased anxiety or panic attack
- Low tolerance to stress
- Loss of interest in things
- Losing your oomph!
- Feeling depressed
- Decrease in libido
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Low immune function (getting sick more easily or staying sick longer)
- Dark circles under eyes
- Feeling dizzy
- Cravings in salt or sugar
- Need more coffee to boost me up
- Thyroid functions do not improve despite treatment
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR ADRENAL DYSFUNCTION
- Change your diet
- Decrease sweets and carbohydrates
- Switch to a more organic and clean eating diet
- Eat good Fats (avocado, coconut oil, grassfed butter, pasture raised eggs)
- Eat clean proteins (grass fed meats and wild caught fish)
- Control your stress
- Practice meditation and yoga
- Take long deep breaths throughout the day
- Find a hobby
- Sleep well
- Improve your sleeping habits by going to bed at a decent time
- Sleep in a dark room
- Stop all stimulants
- Walk daily and avoid high intensity exercises
- Ground yourself back to NATURE
- Support your adrenal with clean foods and supplements
- B Vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Adaptogens like Rhodiola and Ashwaganda
BENEFITS OF HORMONAL BALANCE?
Maintain Your Health
Increase Your Libido