Every hormone has a counter hormone. Some build your organs and tissues up and others break them down. We are always remodeling and rebuilding. If you are out of hormonal balance, you will experience side effects of too much or too little. The hormones I will highlight in this article are the steroid hormones. Don’t be scared- they are not the synthetic hormones that have been abused. These are the natural hormones that your body makes to be healthy and strong.
Out of Hormonal Balance
So how do you know if you have hormonal balance? You will feel great, sleep well, wake up refreshed, have lean, strong muscles, energy, clarity, normal weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol as well as supple, moist skin and a health sex drive. What symptoms would you have if you didn’t have hormonal balance?
- Poor sleep
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Loss of sex drive
- Temperature swings
- Poor memory, mental fog
- Loss of strength, energy and endurance
- Hair loss, dry skin, dry eyes, dry vagina
- Food cravings especially sugar, carbs or salt
Commandeer Your Cortisol
Hormones have a pecking order. Some take precedence over the others. Consider cortisol the general. It can commandeer all of the resources to make cortisol, which is the fight or flight hormone. Cortisol is a hormone of survival. You need it to face challenges such as running for your life or fighting off predators. A hormonal imbalance of cortisol excess would be excessive breakdown of your bones, muscle, collagen in skin, and a rise in heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar.
Cortisol is triggered by stress that can be:
- Physical such as pain, being too hot, too cold, too little sleep
- Mental such as worry about situations, people, things. The problem is we don’t live in the Stone Age anymore. The only challenges that we have are how we react to things in our own mind. How we perceive stress.
- Hormonal such as too much or too little estrogen, progesterone or testosterone, or thyroid
- Infectious such as a known or hidden bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic infection
- Toxic such as exposure to BPA in plastic, herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals, synthetic hormones found in meat, poultry and dairy, as well a chemicals in personal care products such as phthalates, parabens, fragrance
- Nutritional such as lack of nutrients, too many stimulants such as sugar, caffeine, alcohol, simple carbohydrates, processed food
Cortisol takes precedence of the hormones for rest, digest, relax and reproduce meaning you will not make enough estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA – the hormones that give you strength, emotional stability, fertility, mental sharpness, temperature and mood control and many other things. If cortisol is up, the other hormones will be down. Bringing cortisol down will often bring you back to hormonal balance.
Hormonal Balance Case Studies
A recently retired man came to me and was found to have low testosterone and high cortisol. He was feeling old, grumpy, lacked energy strength, sex drive and motivation. I gave him adaptogenic herbs and supplements, educated him about nutrition and gave him strength training exercises to do as well as other techniques It worked! He regained his motivation, energy and strength and his testosterone levels increased. He felt great again.
A patient came in to see me about fatigue, weight gain, mental fog and hair loss and her thyroid levels were normal but not optimal. She implemented the strategies for hormonal balance and her hair returned, she lost weight and regained her energy and clarity without the need for hormones.
Manage What You Can – You CAN Achieve Hormonal Balance
You can manage many of the things that affect cortisol. If you think you have hormonal imbalance of cortisol, see a functional medicine physician to measure cortisol throughout the day and before you go to bed. You can have a good picture of your cortisol levels and the circumstance that may have influenced it. First try the following:
- Physical – aim for relief of pain. Supplement such as fish oil and curcumin can give relief from pain and inflammation.
- Mental – reframe the situation into something you can manage, prioritize, ask for help and learn relaxation techniques. My favorite relaxation technique for hormonal balance is deep belly breathing. You can do it anytime, anywhere and it is easy and free.
- Breath in deep and slowly while your belly and ribs expand to a SLOW count of 5 and breath out to a SLOW count of 5 while contracting your belly and ribs. Do several rounds. This will activate the vagus nerve, which is part of the parasympathetic nervous system that governs rest, digest, relax and reproduce. We all need more of that.
- Hormonal – Have your hormonal balance measured. Thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone are key hormones for temperature and mood control so if you are too hot, too cold or having hot flashes or night sweats, mood swings or irritability find out the root cause. There are herbs that can alleviate the symptoms as well as hormone replacement therapy. There is nothing like the feeling of having optimal hormonal balance. You can be slim, sharp, sexy and supercharged with optimal balanced hormones and feel like yourself again, preserve your youth and sexuality as well as your overall strength, energy, clarity, mental and metabolic functions.
- Toxic – avoid BPA in plastic, have hormone free, antibiotic free meat, poultry and dairy, eat the dirty dozen organic, look at your personal care products to determine if they have any hormone disruptors. Use the app called skin deep from www.ewg.org to see if your personal care products are safe.
- Infectious – consult a functional medicine doctor to see if you have viruses, dysbiosis which is an imbalance of good vs. bad bacteria in your gut. Gut infections don’t necessarily give you symptoms. Your gut can harbor bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungus, parasites and worms without your knowing it. You won’t find what you don’t look for so if you have tried everything else and you are still not right, get your stool and blood tested.
- Nutritional – you have to get rid of your hormones and break them down properly.
- Fiber is your friend. It can bind excess estrogen and cortisol and you can eliminate it so it is not reabsorbed. Get your fiber from fruits, vegetables, ground flax, gluten free whole grains, chia seeds.
- Cruciferous vegetables help you metabolize your hormones and detoxify your liver that processes those hormones. Eat your broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, radishes, cabbage and other crucifers to help with metabolizing estrogen to a non toxic form.
- Avoid sugar, starch, simple carbohydrates and processed foods. They can raise cortisol, cause blood sugar fluctuations, mood swings, mental fog, hot flashes, night sweats, and weight gain.
- Eat plenty of colorful vegetables and no more than 2 pieces of fruit in every color of the rainbow to get the nutrients you need to stay healthy and keep your body healthy and less stressed as well as help with hormonal balance.
These are some simple strategies so you can achieve hormonal balance and be slim, sharp, sexy and supercharged. Start with these and if you still have symptoms, consult a functional medicine doctor.
Dr. Lorraine Maita is a recognized and award-winning holistic, functional, and anti-aging physician and author. She transforms people’s lives by getting to the root cause of illness using the best of science and nature. Her approach is personalized, precision medicine where you are treated as the unique individual you are. If you’re ready to start your journey to a healthier, happier life, schedule your visit today!