Hormone Imbalance: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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Hormone Imbalance: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Hormonal balance is vital to a healthy mind and body but can be disrupted in many ways. There are many causes of hormonal imbalance and understanding these causes is critical for both preventing and overcoming these challenges.

The Endocrine System
The endocrine system is the system of the endocrine glands in the body. The endocrine system chemically controls the various functions of cells, tissues, and organs through the secretion of hormones. The endocrine system includes the adrenal glands, parathyroid gland, pituitary gland, and thyroid gland, as well as the ovaries, pancreas, and testes.
There is always an underlying cause for hormonal imbalance and a skilled Integrative Health Practitioner will see this as a sign of disease, inflammation, or pathology somewhere within the body.

Below we outline the causes, symptoms, and different methods for dealing with hormonal imbalance.

CAUSES
Hormonal imbalance is deeply connected to multiple lifestyle factors. Examining how these numerous factors impact the overall equilibrium of the endocrine system is crucial.

Hormonal imbalances may be caused by a combination of lifestyle factors such as;
• Gastrointestinal (gut) disease or disorders
• Food allergies and sensitivities
• Being overweight or obese
• An unhealthy diet
• Medical history
• Excessive alcohol consumption and/or drug use
• Certain prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications
• Elevated levels of inflammation caused by a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle
• Genetic susceptibility
• Toxicity from the environment such as xenoestrogens found in plastic water bottles and personal care products such as make-up.
• Chronic stress overload
• Lack of sleep and poor sleeping patterns
• Exposure to endocrine disruptors

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.Even tiny doses can lead to devastating effects which don’t show up for years or even decades down the line after exposure.

Listed here are some of the more common ways people are exposed to endocrine disruptors:
• Certain pharmaceutical drugs
• DDT and other pesticides
• BPA found in baby toys, pacifiers, and teething rings
• BPA found in canned food
• Hormones, pesticides, and fertilizers found in animal products and non-organic fruits and vegetables.
• Eating farm-raised fish
• Liquids, such as water, that are stored in plastic
• Storing and heating foods in plastic containers
• Cooking in non-stick pans and pots
• Drinking tap water or poorly filtered water
• Chemically laden cleaning products at home or work
• Chemicals found in personal care products such as shampoo, conditioner and soaps
• Chemicals found in make-up, nail polish and nail polish remover
• Artificial air fresheners
• Tampons and sanitary pads

SYMPTOMS
Some of the most common signs and symptoms associated with Hormonal Imbalance include:
• Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
• Depression and anxiety
• Fatigue
• Insomnia
• Low libido
• Changes in appetite
• Digestive issues
• Hair loss and hair thinning
• Belly fat and loss of muscle mass
• Anxiety, irritability, and depression
• Sweating
• Cravings

Symptoms of hormonal imbalances can range dramatically depending on what type of disorder or illness they cause. For example, high estrogen can contribute to problems that include endometriosis and reproductive issues, while symptoms of diabetes often include weight gain, changes in appetite, nerve damage, and problems with eyesight.

WOMEN
• Progesterone deficiency is most common among women of all ages
• Estrogen deficiency is most common in menopausal women
• Estrogen dominance is caused by the absence of enough progesterone
• Excess androgens is caused by too much sugar and simple carbohydrates

MEN
• Testosterone deficiency is most common in men over the age of fifty

BOTH
• Hyperthyroidism & Grave’s disease
• Diabetes
• Adrenal fatigue
• Cortisol deficiency which is caused by tired adrenals, due to chronic stress.

 

TREATMENT: HORMONE REPLACEMENT VS FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE

There are two different models of endocrinology: The replacement model of endocrinology and the functional medicine model of endocrinology.

The replacement model revolves around accurately measuring what hormones are low and replacing them, or determining which hormones are elevated and using drugs or other forms of therapy to lower those levels.

The functional medicine model is concerned with determining the underlying causative factors behind hormonal imbalances and then addressing the problem at that level. In doing so, the practitioner entrusts the client’s body to regulate these hormones which will usually regain balance and optimal levels.

One of the greatest challenges with the replacement model for treating hormonal imbalances is that there’s a lack of regard for the causes themselves, especially if you’re seeing a primary care physician who works off algorithms alone.

The functional medicine model may be a superior treatment pathway in that its primary aim is to search out the causative factors behind the hormone imbalances and then treat these causes directly. In this way, treatment has a strong, positive effect on regulating hormone levels. With that said, in some cases hormone replacement therapy, usually in the form of bioidentical hormones, is an important component in the overall treatment protocol, but this is not the only treatment offered.

The good news is there are not only ways to balance your hormones naturally, but also to avoid exposure to endocrine disruptors at the same time:

  • Eat an organic, nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet and avoid some‘modern foods’ that can provoke oxidative stress and inflammation
  • Buy local produce that is organically farmed
  • Buy only wild-caught fish and seafood
  • Buy only organic, grass-fed meats
  • Develop healthy sleeping patterns and get enough sleep
  • Buy only products that come in glass jars or bottles. Avoid plastics and eat fewer packaged foods in general. In 2016, the EWG report found 16,000 foods and drinks that come in cans, bottles and jars could contain the estrogen-like chemical BPA
  • Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic
  • Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware
  • Filter your tap water, both for drinking and bathing
  • Use only earth-friendly personal care products and home cleaning products
  • Purchase only chemical-free make-up brands
  • Scan your health and beauty product labels for “fragrance” or “parfum,” which are catch-all terms that can include 3,000+ chemicals that often contain phthalates
  • Look for products that are fragrance-free
  • Rethink your birth control options by choosing a more natural approach to birth control
  • Implement stress-reduction strategies and learn to manage your stress
  • Avoid canned foods or ensure cans are BPA-free
  • Do the right amount of exercise. Overtraining can undoubtedly interfere with hormone balance, but so can an overly sedentary lifestyle, which is typical nowadays

Looking for some help purchasing non-toxic products? Check out this excellent (Australian) checklist:

Maxie Mama Non-Toxic Living Checklist

The Key Essentials

Hormonal imbalance is deeply connected to multiple lifestyle factors. Examining how these numerous factors impact the overall equilibrium of the endocrine system is crucial.

These imbalances are often a sign of disease or dysfunction within other systems of the body, such as the gastrointestinal or immune system.

The functional medicine model may be a superior treatment pathway in that its primary aim is to search out the causative factors behind the hormone imbalances and then treat these causes directly. In this way, treatment has a strong, positive effect on regulating hormone levels.

Supporting your body with enough rest, exercise, and proper nutrition is vital to maintaining long-term health.

If you suspect that your health concerns are related to a hormone imbalance, speak to an Integrated Health Practitioner from The Body Genius Institute who specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of hormonal imbalance.

Our practitioners can diagnose and treat various hormone-related conditions, and our strategies emphasise the ‘Foundation Principles’ of health. Get in contact with us today!

2018-04-13T10:02:58+00:00 February 27th, 2018|Blog|
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