Hormones are the messengers of our bodies. They communicate with all of our organs and ensure proper function. Hormones are produced within endocrine glands, such as the pancreas, digestive tract and thyroid, adrenal, pineal and reproductive glands. Therefore, dysfunction in one of these structures may lead to hormonal imbalance.
When hormone levels are abnormal, it can lead to a host of serious health problems in other bodily systems, including inflammation, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia and more. A person suffering from hormonal imbalance may experience mood swings, anxiety, depression, bloating, constipation, fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, infertility, low libido, irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes, unintentional weight gain or loss, allergic reactions, dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, migraines or headaches, or hair loss.
The typical daily habits of an American lifestyle contribute to abnormal hormone levels and lay the foundation for malfunction of body systems. For example, an unhealthy diet high in sugar can lead to inflammation, weight gain and increased production of insulin. Chronically high insulin levels have potential to initiate a downward spiral of autoimmunity, hormonal imbalance, and prolonged tissue damage. Dairy also plays a significant role in hormonal imbalance as well, due to additive antibiotics and the many hormones found naturally in milk. Even organic milk can come from pregnant cows, which can offset hormone levels. Another trigger that disrupts hormonal balance is usage of medications containing estrogen, such as birth control pills, can result in an imbalanced estrogen to progesterone ratio. Abnormally high levels of estrogen are common in American women and can lead to altered body composition and emotional symptoms including irritability and aggression. Increased estrogen levels are also linked to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), stroke, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts and increased risk of breast cancer. Additionally, stress is a contributing factor of imbalanced hormone levels. Stress increases cortisol and aldosterone, decreases levels of progesterone, and depletes neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Imbalanced hormone levels can also result from malabsorption of foods and nutrient deficiencies, as in leaky gut. Abnormal gut flora can manifest from use of antibiotics, NSAIDs, parasites, food sensitivities, processed foods and stress. Other habits which may contribute to hormonal imbalance include exposure to environmental toxins, alcohol consumption, insufficient sleep, lack of regular exercise, and consumption of gluten and dairy.
In traditional Western Medicine, symptoms of hormonal imbalance are often treated with hormone replacements and other drugs. Unfortunately, medications don’t treat the root cause of the condition. Without addressing the underlying source, your overall health will continue to decline and require to more and more medications to control symptoms. While many elements can cause an imbalance in our hormones, the good news is that this can be fixed without pharmaceutical use. Advanced testing with functional medicine can provide insight to the underlying cause of your hormonal imbalance, guide treatment and restore balance.
Schedule a consultation today to harmonize hormones and prevent downward decline. (link to new patient page)
Muis, MJ. Bots, ML. “Insulin Treatment and Cardiovascular Disease; Friend or Foe?” Diabetes Med. February 2005.