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Understanding Hormones And How They Impact Your Health



The key to much of how we really feel is governed by the balance of our hormones. These hormones are chemical molecules that float around our bodies and impact all of our cells. When our hormones are balanced we feel energized, loving, nurturing, soulful and when our hormones are not balanced well we feel flat, washed out, depressed, apathetic.

There are many powerful hormones in our bodies including the Adrenal Hormones: Cortisol, DHEA, Pregnenolone, the Sex Hormones: Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone, and the other equally significant hormones such as Melatonin, Insulin, and Thyroid hormone.

Each of these hormones performs many actions, but all work together to create a flow of life and energy. At Primary Plus Organic Medicine, we specialize in helping patients get their hormones back in balance through lab testing and the use of bio-identical hormones and precursors. Below is more detailed information about our hormones:

Cortisol

Cortisol is the primary Adrenal hormone and is often referred to as our Stress Hormone. Cortisol is responsible for managing our overall energy levels and responding to inflammation. Having sufficient balance of Cortisol allows us to manage our internal and external stress levels without getting fatigued and burned out.

Cortisol is produced in response to any type of inflammation and is normally secreted at high levels in the morning and then comes down gradually throughout the day to allow us to go to sleep at night.

Many hormone imbalances start with a dysfunctional metabolism of cortisol which eventually leads to adrenal fatigue. By measuring your specific levels of cortisol, we will be able to know precisely how to revive your adrenal gland so that we can get you feeling like you again.

DHEA

DHEA is another adrenal hormone that significantly impacts our health and well being. DHEA is most commonly known as the precursor for our estrogen and testosterone, but DHEA also provides the role of balancing out your cortisol.

It is vitally important to maintain healthy levels of DHEA in order to ensure that your adrenal gland is balanced. When your DHEA levels begin to fall (due mostly to internal stress), you will stop producing your other hormones and thus start to experience hormonal disharmony.

Also, as your DHEA levels decline, you will begin to feel washed out, fatigued, and have more stress as you will not have good reserves to handle your day to day stress. We can measure your DHEA levels and if needed, replace DHEA with a topical cream, sublingual drop or oral capsule.

Pregnenolone

Pregnenolone is often deemed the “mother hormone” as all of our other hormones derive from pregnenolone. The hallmark of a healthy adrenal gland is your pregnenolone level.

When your pregnenolone level is stable, you will be able to have the reserve to produce your other hormones, but when your pregnenolone levels start to decline, all of your other hormones will suffer.

As a result, you will start to feel fatigued, flat, have more anxiety, and lose that spark you once had. By measuring your pregnenolone levels, we will be able to determine if you will benefit from supplementing with pregnenolone.

Estrogen

Composed of three estrogens: Estradiol our main Estrogen, Estriol and Estrone. Estrogen is the hormone the shapes the vitality of your mind, emotions and body. Estrogen balance is crucial to many organ systems including our skin, our heart, and our bones.

Estrogen helps make your skin glow, brings moisture to your eyes and clearness to your mind. Most women continue to make plenty of Estrogen as they age, as Estrogen is the last hormone to decline.

However, when Estrogen levels are too high, women experience proliferative symptoms such as Uterine Fibroids, fibrocystic breast disease, breast and uterine cancer. On the flip side, as Estrogen levels decline, women may experience hot flushes due to the fluctuating Estrogen levels, dry skin and vaginal dryness. Only by measuring your unique Estrogen levels can we determine where your Estrogen levels fall.

Progesterone

Progesterone provides hormonal harmony and calmness to your body and soul. Progesterone protects your breast and uterus and acts as a hormonal harmonizer with estrogen. When Progesterone levels are sufficient, you will feel calm and strong and balanced and will not have to suffer through PMS symptoms.

When Progesterone levels decline, you may feel irritable, foggy headed, have breast tenderness and weight gain. Progesterone is the first sex hormone to decline and thus many women suffer through symptoms when they don’t have to. Far and away, low Progesterone is the most common hormonal imbalance for women. By adding some bio-identical, natural Progesterone, you will be able to feel like you again and return to a state of calmness and feeling of grounded that may have disappeared.

Testosterone

Testosterone is crucial for endurance, sexual function, healthy bones, muscles, and overall strength. Testosterone is the dominant hormone for men and declines in production as men age. When Testosterone levels fall, many men will experience a loss of drive, fatigue, loss of libido and lack of endurance.

By measuring your Testosterone levels, we will be able to determine if adding back Testosterone will help you regain that energetic drive you may be lacking. Testosterone is also important for women and helps with vitality, libido, and energy levels.

Melatonin

Melatonin is an often ignored hormone. Melatonin is produced and secreted by our pineal glands in our brain and is vastly important for helping us sleep. Melatonin is responsible for regulating our day/ night circadian rhythm.

When our melatonin levels are sufficient, not only will we be able to sleep better, but we will lower our cortisol levels thus exerting an anti-inflammatory effect for our bodies.

Insulin

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that is responsible for getting your blood sugar from your bloodstream into your cells and organs. Your Insulin increases when your blood sugar increases.

Unfortunately Insulin is weight promoting and causes us to gain weight. Due to any imbalance of Insulin secretion you will tend to gain weight and have trouble losing weight. By measuring your individual Insulin levels, we will be able to determine how to keep your Insulin metabolism steady to prevent you from slowing down your metabolism.

Thyroid

Thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) are secreted from your Thyroid gland which sits in the front of your throat. Our Thyroid gland is like the thermostat for our metabolism and sets the pace. When our thyroid metabolism is slowed, our metabolism slows and can lead to hair loss according to Dr. William Yates, fatigue, brain fog, constipation, dry skin.

Unfortunately the testing for thyroid disorders is far from perfect. Due to vast experience helping patients with an underactive thyroid, I understand how to properly test for a thyroid disorder. On top of that, I offer my patients many natural treatment options for a sluggish thyroid. At Primary Plus Organic Medicine, we test hormone levels using saliva, urine, and blood testing to figure out your individual hormone profiles

Neurotransmitters (Chemical messengers in the brain)

Serotonin

Serotonin is our primary neurotransmitter. When our Serotonin levels are balanced, we feel grounded and stable–imagine whistling while you work! Adequate Serotonin levels can be difficult to maintain for a variety of reasons.

When our Serotonin levels start to fall, we may feel anxious, depressed and start having obsessive-compulsive thoughts. It is as if a dark cloud has appeared over your head and follows you around. To help restore Serotonin levels, I recommend 5-HTP or L-Tryptophan.

GABA

GABA is both an Amino Acid and neurotransmitter and is like our natural Valium. When GABA levels decline we tend to feel stressed and anxious and muscle tension. Instead of taking a habit-forming, sedating prescription medicine, I recommend using GABA itself as a supplement to increase GABA levels. The results: less stress, less anxiety and more relaxation.

Dopamine/Epinephrine/Norepinephrine

These are collectively known as the excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain. When their levels are replete, we feel motivated, are able to concentrate, have great recall, feel more energy and have more mental clarity.

As one or all of these levels decline, we tend to feel less organized and have more difficulty sustaining attention and staying on task. In place of taking a prescription medicine that works on these neurotransmitter receptors, I often recommend natural L-Tyrosine as a way to increase Dopamine/ Epinephrine/ Norepinephrine levels. The results are generally felt within a day or so and side effects are very rare.

Dr. Craig Koniver is the founder of Primary Plus Organic Medicine located in Charleston, SC. He is an expert in the field of natural and organic medicine. Learn more about hormonal testing in Charleston by visiting his website with the link above.

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Category: Hormones & Health.