Posted on: January 24, 2019
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word ‘hormones’? If you’re like most people, the first thing that comes to mind are the so-called ‘sex’ hormones: estrogen and testosterone.
As important as those two are, there’s a lot more to hormones. They affect everything. They can make you feel wired, tired, turned on, or ticked off!
You may be surprised to learn some of the symptoms that hormone imbalances can cause.
Hormones 101 — Why They Matter
Hormones are tiny biochemical messengers secreted by your glands.
Most hormones travel through your bloodstream, carrying vital information to other parts of your body, turning other cell functions on and off. Their messages control your immune system, your growth and metabolism, your responses to stress, and your sexual function.
As just one example of a hormone, cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands, and this hormone inspired the famous ‘fight or flight’ phrase. When you feel threatened, cortisol sends messages to various receptor cells, causing respiration and heartbeat to speed up, digestion to slow, and blood to rush to your muscles, all to prepare you for fighting or running from the perceived danger.
Cortisol was designed to be employed ‘sometimes‘, not all the time. Too much cortisol chronically flooding the body can cause anxiety, weight gain, and many other symptoms. Balance is the key.
When hormones are balanced and working properly, supported by a healthy lifestyle, you’re more likely to feel and look great, while the aging process … slows … waaaay … down.
Which came first, accelerated aging or hormone imbalance?
Historically, a person’s optimal hormone levels were reached during his or her 20’s and 30’s. Past research considered these the healthiest years of a lifetime, with the fewest cases of cancer, diabetes, inflammation, bone fractures, and other ailments. (These statistics may not hold true any longer, due to worldwide environmental and dietary changes, but we’ll address that in a future blog.)
The fact is, your hormones start declining by your late 30’s, which sharply accelerates aging. You may not notice physical changes until your mid- to late-40’s, but when your biochemical markers are measured, they reveal the truth.
Symptoms Chalked Up To Aging
How many times have you heard someone in their 30’s, 40’s, or 50’s say they have some health issue? Then they laugh and say, “Just getting older, I guess.” We have all been trained to think that feeling bad while aging is normal. It’s not!
Symptoms commonly attributed to aging are:
- Weight gain or loss
- Dry skin and wrinkles
- Weak bones and joint pain
- Anxiety, irritability, and mood swings
Did you know that all of these symptoms (and many more) can be caused by hormonal imbalance?
But the best news is that once we discover the root cause, symptoms can also be corrected by putting your hormones back into balance — and the results can be astonishingly fast!
Cindy1 was a patient who came to me in her mid-forties. She and her husband had high-powered careers, teen-aged kids, and elderly parents. Her attention was stretched in many directions.
She’d always been pretty healthy, eating a whole foods diet and drinking pure water. She didn’t drink alcohol or smoke, had a positive outlook, and she tried to stay active and get enough sleep. When each of her three children was born, she noticed that she lost a lot of hair, but she’d heard that was normal. (It also signals low thyroxine, a thyroid hormone.)
In her mid-30’s, she began experiencing severe seasonal hay fever and migraines. (Both can point to hormonal imbalances.)
Her sleep — or the lack of it — gradually became a big problem. She’d sleep three or four hours when she first went to bed but then woke up in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep. She preferred getting up and staying busy in the middle of the night to lying in bed not sleeping. She still had tons of energy during the day, so she thought that three or four hours of sleep was all she needed.
However, as this went on year after year, she began to lose her sense of joy in life and felt like she was just going through the motions on a treadmill. She thought it was probably due to job and family stress — but there was always too much to do to slow down.
As she lost her positive outlook, she feared she might be sliding toward depression. She told her doctor about her insomnia, and he gave her a sleeping pill to take every night. But that doctor only listened to her symptoms, never took any tests to see if hormonal imbalances were causing a problem.
When she came to me, I did a complete battery of tests and discovered several hormones that needed adjusting, which we accomplished through lifestyle modification and natural, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).
A few months later, Cindy felt and looked fantastic. Her energy and positive outlook had soared, she was sleeping longer, her migraines abated, and she was ecstatic. Even her skin was glowing!
When your hormone levels are balanced, the results are profound and far-reaching.
Synthetic vs. Bioidentical Hormones
Many people fear taking hormones, and for good reason. You may have heard that Premarin is made from pregnant mare urine, and too much estrogen can cause cancer.
One important fact to note is that in the early days of hormone replacement, doctors used synthetic hormones. They believed that if a synthetic chemical mimicked the molecular structure of a natural substance, then it would be used by the body exactly the same way.
However, there’s a vast difference between how the body handles natural versus synthetic substances. Imagine plastic fruit that looks just like real fruit…
Synthetic hormones may look just like natural hormones, but they also carry lots of other unnatural biochemical substances that the body can’t process.
For example, xenoestrogens,2,3 such as the plastic compounds BPA and phthalates, mimic estrogen. They are fake hormones. Xenoestrogens (“xeno” meaning “foreign”) are common in our “plastic-everywhere” environment, and scientists have evidence that they do cause health problems.
Every cell has hormone receptors, waiting for your body’s biochemical messages and instructions. If you don’t fill them with all-natural, bioidentical hormones, fake hormones will attach, along with all their junk information.
Discover your uniqueness
Everyone is unique. Our functional medicine approach, along with our comprehensive hormone level testing, reveals your uniqueness.
Most doctors only listen to your symptoms long enough to prescribe a drug to suppress them. Unfortunately, this never seeks to discover why the symptoms arose in the first place.
You deserve more than a cookie-cutter approach to medical care, which never addresses the root causes and keeps leading to dead ends or more drugs.
Ready to feel and look fantastic?
To discover your root causes, I dive deeply into your whole biochemical and symptomatic picture. Only then can we accurately and safely balance your hormones.
Are you wondering if this approach might benefit you? Schedule a complementary 15-minute phone consultation with me here.
Whatever your age, prepare to experience your “best” you.
1Not her real name.