Hormones are your body's natural chemical messengers and effect all aspects of your health. These hormones include adrenaline, insulin, estrogen and testosterone. Our bodies produce hormones through many different glands and organs, including your thyroid, pituitary, testicles, ovaries, and pancreas. Your endocrine system includes all of these glands which work together in your body to make hormones. These chemical messengers play a key role in making sure your body works the way it should. A slight imbalance in any one of these can cause major health problems.
Many people experience hormonal imbalances, which are conventionally treated by using synthetic hormone replacement therapies, thyroid medications, and insulin. The danger for those suffering with hormonal imbalance, using these types of treatments can lead to:
- Serious side effects like anxiety, stroke, reproductive problems, cancer and more.
- It doesn't solve the root problem, it only covers it up, which means the person can get worse while the disorder progresses.
- Too many become dependent upon the treatments or medications for the rest of their lives.
Here's the good news... you can balance your hormones naturally! In this article we will discuss the signs and symptoms of the common types of hormonal imbalances, what the root causes are and how you can help heal the problem without the negative side effects associated with conventional treatments.
The Endocrine System
When understanding optimal hormone health, it's important to know how the endocrine system works and the relationship it have with hormones to maintain proper hormone health. The endocrine system is a network of glands that controls and produces hormones throughout the body for a wide range of functions.
Once inside your bloodstream, hormones work as chemical messengers inside the body attaching to tissues and cell receptors to signal your body's daily functions.
The endocrine system consists of many different glands, including the pineal gland, the pituitary gland, the thyroid gland, and the adrenal glands.
The pituitary gland is a tiny organ, the size of a pea. It's known as the "master gland" of the body because it produces many hormones that travel throughout the body, directing certain processes or stimulating other glands to produce other hormones.
The pituitary gland secrets two hormones which are responsible for growth, development, and milk production in women after childbirth.
The other important glands of the endocrine system include the thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, pineal gland, thymus gland, and adrenal glands. All of these glands work together to send hormones throughout the body, but when any one of these is not functioning properly, major health issues can occur.
Here's a breakdown of the major groups of hormones that are found inside the human body:
- Steroid hormones
- Protein hormones
- Amine hormones
- Peptide hormones
Our bodies have special hormone receptors that relay the information to cells inside the body. The entire endocrine system work together to regulate hormones throughout the body. These hormones are interdependent of each other meaning a slight imbalance in jut one can lead to major health problems that affect sexual function, metabolism, sleep and more.
9 Signs of Hormonal Balance
Here's the top 9 most common signs of hormonal imbalance.
- Infertility & irregular mensural cycles.
- Unexplainable weight gain or weight loss
- Depression and anxiety
- Low libido
- Changes in appetite
- Hair loss & hair thinning
- Digestion issues
Health problems associated with hormone imbalances include:
- Dominance of Estrogen: this causes change in sleep patterns, can cause change in weight, appetite, higher stress levels, and a slowed metabolism.
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrom (PCOS): this causes infertility, acne, abnormal hair growth, weight gain, and higher risk for diabetes.
- Low Estrogen Levels: this causes a lower sex drive, reproductive issues, irregular periods, and mood swings.
- Hypothyroidism: this causes a fatigue, anxiety, digestive issues, weight gain, slowed metabolism, and irregular periods.
- Low Testosterone Levels: this can cause fatigue, mood swings, weight gain, muscle loss, and erectile dysfunction.
- Hyperthyroidism & Grave's Disease: this causes thinning hair, wight loss, IBS, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, and anxiety.
- Diabetes: this causes nerve damage, high risk for loss of vision, dry mouth, skin issues, fatigue, trouble breathing, and weight gain.
- Adrenal Fatigue: this causes reproductive issues, brain fog, trouble sleeping, muscle aches, fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
The Risk Factor and Causes
Hormone imbalances can be caused by a combination of factors such as environmental toxins, stress levels, genetics, diet, and medical history. Below are some common causes:
- Extreme Stress, lack of sleep, or rest
- Exposure to toxins from: pesticides, toxins, heavy metals, viruses, cigarettes, and excessive alcohol.
- Inflammation: Inflammation can be caused by a poor diet or a sedentary lifestyle.
- Overweight or obesity
- Food allergies- can seriously affect your gut and hormones
5 Natural Ways to Balance Hormones
- Get more sleep
- Eat more healthy fats and avoid less unhealthy carbs
- Supplement with Electromagnetic Nascent Iodine
- Exercise Regularly
- Understand medications and birth control
Get more sleep. If you're not getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night, you may be putting your body at risk. Lack of quality sleep can disrupt natural 24 hour internal clock which can contribute to an imbalance in hormone levels. How can sleep really mess with your hormones? Well, because hormones work on a time schedule. For example: Cortisol the body's main "stress hormone", is regulated at midnight. So if you're not getting to sleep until very at night then your body never has an opportunity to destress and relax. (1)
There's evidence that a lack of sleep can also lead to changes in the blood serum levels of many hormones like growth hormone, prolactin, glucocorticoids, and catecholamines.
When we sleep our bodies get an opportunity to keep hormones balanced, rebuild the body to recover efficiently and to build energy for the next day. Poor sleep and too much stress are linked to high levels of cortisol in the mornings, as well as poor work performance, decreased immunity, higher susceptibility to anxiety, depression, and weight gain. For best hormone function, try to get to bed by 9 or 10 p.m. and stick to a regular sleeping schedule.
Eat more healthy fats and less "bad carbs". Increasing your consumption of healthy fats like, medium and long-chain fatty acids can be the secret key to keep your hormones in order. Unlike refined carbohydrates, which lead the way for inflammation and unbalanced hormones, healthy fats have the opposite effect by promoting good overall health. Both saturated fat and cholesterol are needed for you're body to create hormones. These essential fats are not only the chief corner stones for hormone production, but they also work to keep inflammation levels low, and boost the metabolism to promote weight loss.
The best anti-inflammatory foods high in healthy fats are avocados, grass-fed butter or ghee, wild-caught oily fish, and coconut oil. Coconut oil has numerous benefits, but two of the best are it's anti-bacterial and fat-burning effects. Avocado is an amazing superfood rich in potassium and healthy fats. Eating more avocados has benefits like lowering inflammation, improving heart health, and appetite control.
Wild-caught oily fish like sardines, anchovies or salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower inflammation, promote good heart health, and improve cognitive functions. A recent study in 2013, shows that omega-3 fatty acids has shown protection against several neurologic disorders and reduces inflammatory responses. (2)
Avoid oils and foods cooked in oils rich in omega-6 fats like: cottonseed, sunflower, canola, soybean, peanut, safflower and corn. Instead consume more healthy omega-3's like: wild caught oily fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, avocados and grass-fed beef. Use coconut oil or grass-fed butter to cook with instead of canola or vegetable oils.
Supplement with Electro-Magnetic Nascent Iodine. Iodine is an essential trace mineral that is used by every cell in the body but is especially important for the thyroid gland. The function of the thyroid gland is to take iodine, and convert it into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Hormones like T3 and T4 help control growth, repair damaged cells and support a healthy metabolism.
There’s a reason that iodine supplementation, in addition to an overall healthy lifestyle and diet, is being called the new essential breakthrough in the wellness community. Many people's iodine levels are dropping at an accelerated rate... and it’s not being replaced in the standard western diet.
As we age, our bodies’ begin to dramatically get depleted of vital vitamins and minerals. Are you over 25? Your body is probably not getting enough iodine as quickly as you are losing it, since it depletes with age.
Normally iodine is found as 2 molecules of iodine paired together and this is called “I2”. Unfortunately I2 has been shown to be difficult for the body to process and as a result, doctors in that past have used potassium iodide with I2 to supplement iodine with limited success. In fact, iodized salt is table salt in which potassium iodide is added in small amounts. The problem with potassium iodide is that it can cause an inflammation in the thyroid.
The word “nascent” means newborn. Nascent iodine is a special form of iodine that is made by taking molecular iodine, I2 and exposing it to a strong magnetic field. This form of iodine does not cause congestion in the thyroid gland like other forms of iodine and because it is very bioavailable, you will only need to take it in small amounts. The body can easily eliminate this form of iodine through the kidneys if you take more than your body needs and it is not toxic.
An electromagnetic nascent iodine is superior to any other form of iodine because it creates the only consumable form of iodine which can be taken internally to provide iodine to the entire body. Other non-consumable forms of nascent iodine have very short lifespans and have limited uses, mostly for external uses.
Exercise Regularly. To maintain proper health, and optimal hormone levels, your body needs to exercise regularly. Light exercise can help lower cortisol and may even help regulate hormones inside the body. Exercises like swimming, walking, hiking, pilates or yoga are great choices for lowering the "stress hormone" cortisol.
There's also evidence to suggest that higher intensity workouts like HIIT, resistance training and long distance running may raise cortisol levels. If you're looking to lower stress hormones, choose light exercises instead of highly intense workouts. Another study found that exercise can help hormones level improve for those with an under-active thyroid. (3)
Understand your Medications and Birth Control. Did you know that some medications can disrupt your natural hormone production? It's true, they can even lead to fatigue, depression, affect sleep patterns, and even trigger low libido. Some of the medications linked with a hormonal imbalance are stimulant, statins, dopamine agonists, corticosteroids, and glucocorticoids. Take caution when using medications, and always consult with your doctor about the negative side effects and when possible research natural wholistic approaches.
Birth control drugs are another medication that can actually change hormone levels and should be used with caution. Some birth control pills can raise estrogen to dangerous levels which can cause many complications. Instead, explore other ways of preventing pregnancy like abstinence or condoms. Data suggests that long-term use of birth control can include:
- Increased breast cancer
- Weight gain
- Back pains
- Mood Changes
- Benign liver tumors
- Breast tenderness
- Increased blood pressure
- Bleeding in between cycles
- Increased uterine bleeding, blood clotting, heart attack, and stroke
If you are worried or would like to learn more about your hormone health, you can get tested using the following methods:
- Blood testing: Blood testing requires a blood sample to be taken at a lab then analyzed for hormone levels. It's used to measure total or active hormone levels.
- Saliva testing: This type of testing measures the amount of hormone available inside the body and target tissues. A saliva test can measure estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, progesterone, and DHEA levels. Saliva testing has been used as a good option for monitoring hormone therapy.
- Urine testing: Urine testing is the most extensive hormone health test because it calculates your hormone levels throughout the day. Blood and saliva tests are limited because they only measure hormone levels taken at the specific time of the testing.
- Follicle-stimulating hormone testing: This test measures follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which plays an important part of the reproductive system. Follicles produce progesterone and estrogen in the ovaries of women. They also help regulate the menstrual cycles in women and play a part in the development of sperm production in men.
In some cases, it may be necessary to use synthetic treatments such as the use of insulin or thyroid medications. However, most people can feel way better by making the lifestyle changes stated above.
For people diagnosed with hormonal disorders like type 1 or type 2 diabetes, adrenal insufficiency, Grave's disease, and Cushing's syndrome it is advised that you always speak with your doctor first, before taking any further action or discontinuing prescription usage.
Because hormone imbalances range from person to person in severity, and symptoms always conduct your own research and monitor how you feel using different treatments. Natural treatments can help you overcome your challenges and greatly reduce symptoms, but do not take these recommendations in place of professional medical supervision.
- Hormonal imbalances affect millions of people worldwide. Many common disorders include high levels of estrogen, low levels of testosterone, infertility, irregular menstrual cycles, thyroid disorders, and even diabetes.
- Common symptoms include: fatigue, weight gain or weight loss, irritability, anxiety, depression, low libido, trouble focusing, and poor appetite.
- Common causes include: inflammation, poor gut health, extreme stress, exposure to toxins, and genetics.
- Balancing hormones naturally includes eating an anti-inflammatory diet, getting more omega-3's, 7-8 hours of sleep, regularly exercising, and supplementing with nascent iodine.