Hormones are messengers. They are secreted by glands, they travel to receptors on various organs and tell the cells in the organs what to do. Hormonal health is about these messages that our body receives.
More importantly, hormones control how we experience our reality. They tell us to eat or stop eating, to sleep or stay awake, to gain weight, or not, and where to gain it. They control if we feel tired or energetic. They affect our moods, so they affect whether we are calm or anxious, depressed or happy.
Hormones dramatically affect our bodies, our health, and our happiness too. As any woman can tell you, hormonal imbalance can make us feel pretty miserable!
This is the first of a three-part series on hormonal health for women. In this first blog, we’ll discuss the signs and symptoms of female hormone imbalance, which hormones are involved, and treatment strategies to restore balance.
Hormonal balance is vital as hormones affect our bodies, our health, and our happiness!
What does hormonal imbalance feel like?
I like to think about women’s hormones as a beautifully orchestrated dance, usually flowing smoothly from one step to the next, and supporting each other. But sometimes they get out of step, and step on one another, or forget to come to the party altogether!
Take this mini hormone quiz:
For each question, just tally the number of questions for which your answer is ‘yes’:
Do you, or your patient experience:
Every ‘yes’ is a sign of hormonal imbalance! But we’re here to help: there are dramatic improvements in hormone health with lifestyle, herbs, nutrients, and acupuncture.
Which hormones are we talking about?
This is the feminizing hormone, that is secreted by the ovaries, and some by the adrenals after menopause. Estrogen can be too high, sometimes called estrogen dominance, or too low, estrogen deficiency. Either can cause discomfort and disease. Estrogen dominance is mostly associated with symptoms like PMS, sore or fibrocystic breasts, migraines, and irritability. In Chinese medicine, it is treated as Liver Qi stagnation, and treatment to sedate the liver brings dramatic results. Estrogen deficiency is associated with night sweats, dryness, heat, and insomnia. In Chinese medicine, this is known as a Yin deficiency pattern.
This hormone is also from the ovaries and is secreted mostly after ovulation. Progesterone means pro-gestational and helps a fertilized embryo to implant. Progesterone can be very soothing & sedating and helps to balance estrogen levels.
Yes, testosterone is important for both men and women. It is secreted by the testes in men and the ovaries and adrenals in women. Testosterone levels are important for maintaining a sense of wellbeing, maintaining muscle mass and for libido in both sexes.
The thyroid gland secretes T3 and T4. T4 has to convert into T3 to be active in the body. Thyroid hormones control how we burn calories. It is believed by some specialists that a majority of postmenopausal women have undiagnosed and subclinical hypothyroidism. Sometimes hypothyroidism is an autoimmune condition, called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hyperthyroidism is called Graves disease. Symptoms of fatigue, low body temperature (cold all the time), infertility, depression, unexplained weight gain/loss, heart palpitations, and hoarse voice indicate testing the thyroid hormones.
This hormone is secreted from the adrenal glands that sit above the kidneys. In times of acute stress, the adrenals secrete too much cortisol. Over periods of extended stress, the adrenal glands get exhausted and produce too little cortisol. All the hormones are interrelated, and in the next blog of this series, we will look at how stress — and the stress hormone cortisol interfere with women’s hormonal health. Since most women (and men too ) live with frequent or ongoing stress, we must address adrenal health when a woman has hormonal symptoms.
This hormone is also from the adrenals; it helps to balance cortisol, and also converts into testosterone if T levels are low.
Insulin is secreted by the pancreas in response to eating sugar. Insulin has two functions:
This is the bonding hormone! Oxytocin is secreted after birth, after orgasm or a good talk with a friend. And of course, by a hug.
Women should engage in activities that promote oxytocin – such as walking and cycling outdoors.
Do lifestyle choices impact hormonal health?
There are many lifestyle adjustments a woman can make to balance her hormones, even without herbs, nutrients or hormones.
The role of herbs, and nutrients in hormone health
There are so many effective natural treatments to balance a woman’s hormones. In the third blog in this series, we will cover the best treatments specifically for each stage of a woman’s life cycle.
For women with estrogen deficiency, flaxseeds have been proven to help with hormonal health.
These are herbs and nutrients that are clinically proven to be effective: If a woman has symptoms of estrogen deficiency, I recommend:
Did you know?
If there is a deficiency of progesterone, which is often the case with estrogen dominance, a wonderful plant is chasteberry, also known as Vitex agnus-castus. It is very powerful in helping with fertility, miscarriages, and PMS.
Probiotics too are part of the treatment of hormonal imbalance because the gut flora in them has an effect on how estrogen is metabolized. In the link below there are blood type probiotics that help support each women individually.
As natural medicine practitioners, we are so fortunate to have so many potent treatments available to us and our female patients. You can be confident in reassuring your female patients who come to you in distress that with lifestyle, herbs, and supplements, they will feel better.
Click on the link below to see a list of natural supplements to support women's health mentioned in the post. You can find them in the catalog section under Women's Hormonal Support.
You can find a selection of different types of supplements mentioned in our blog through our Dispensary or click the link below.
Consult your doctor/practitioner about taking supplements for hormones.
It’s always a good idea to seek consultation from your practitioner or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have concerning a skin condition and using a natural remedy for treatment.
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Credit: Dr. Gold
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