What are hormones?
Hormones are chemicals produced by the endocrine glands that carry a message from one cell to another. In fact, only a small amount of hormone is needed to make a change in cells metabolism. Our bodies have hormone receptors everywhere, so we are very sensitive to changes in our hormones … and I know that you ladies… know that !
Scientists are now aware that exogenous (external) chemicals have similar effects (mimics) to some of our natural hormones, and therefore affect our bodies, just as our endogenous (body made) hormones do.
Why do we see so many hormonal imbalances in women today?
Hormonal problems are caused by many things: The first cause is endocrine disruptors (phthalates, pesticides, chemical fertilisers, heavy metals, Teflon, chlorine, benzene, formaldehyde, or parabens). The second cause is lifestyle (poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, or chronic stress, etc.). Other very common causes are blood sugar imbalance, lack of essential fatty acids (fish oils), and digestive issues, which are excessively frequent. Finally, we must always think about the liver in any kind of hormonal issues, because the liver is the one that manages hormonal fluctuations. Adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems, and neurotransmitter imbalances are also related to hormonal disturbances. It really takes a holistic approach to get our hormones in balance.
What are the symptoms of hormonal imbalances?
They are so many, but just to name a few:
– Irregular, and/or heavy periods, cramps, sore breasts.
– Mood swings such as irritability, anxiety, depression and obsession.
– Insomnia or poor sleep quality
– Headaches and migraines
– Water retention and weight gain
– Hot flashes and night sweats
– Fatigue and exhaustion
– Hair loss and brittle nails
– Cold extremities or lack of circulation
– change in skin elasticity
– PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and endometriosis
– Fibroids and cysts
– Decreased libido
– Infertility or difficulty maintaining a pregnancy
– Vaginal dryness
– Brain fog and lack of concentration
– Bladder weakness
Pre-menopausal symptoms can begin 10-15 years before menopause. The official age of menopause is 51, and when there is no more menstruation for at least a year. It is normal for hormone levels to decrease with age. However, if you test hormones correctly, you will often find that there is an oestrogen dominance, which means that the hormones are no longer balanced, and this is what will give you a whole range of symptoms.
When hormones are balanced, they have anti-inflammatory properties, meaning that we tend to be more inflamed after menopause.
On the other hand, the adrenals glands (rarely discussed in allopathic medicine, but much in functional medicine) are an integral part of our hormonal system. If they are healthy, they will ease your transition to menopause. If they are not, many of the symptoms listed above are likely to occur.
How do you test your hormones?
You can ask your doctor to order a blood test to check your hormone levels. However, it will only measure the hormone levels on the day you take the blood sample. We know that our hormones fluctuate daily. For this reason, in functional medicine, we prefer to test hormones by saliva and at home, which allows us to take several samples at several days interval, during an entire cycle if the woman is still menstruating, or over a few days if the woman is menopausal.
If you would like to know more about how to be tested, please feel free to talk to me directly.
A natural approach to hormonal imbalances:
To balance your hormones, you must first work on a good foundation:
- Eating healthy food
- Healing the gut (broths) and feeding your gut flora with lacto-fermented foods.
– Treat blood sugar imbalances.
– Take care of your adrenals.
- Eliminate inflammation caused by food intolerances, infections, heavy metals, chemicals, and/or stress.
- Help brain and neurotransmitters with essential fatty acids.
Finally, if needed, you can use food supplements such as chaste tree, phosphatidyl serine, borage oil, etc., BUT there is no substitute for proper testing and individual recommandations by a health care practitioner.
Yours in health,