This is the story of my patient Genny. When she first came to see me she was 54 years old and had been experiencing “Menopause” symptoms for several years. She was suffering from hot flashes, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, low libido, fatigue, weight gain and significant hair loss. She felt like she was coming unraveled.
These symptoms are more than mere nuisances; they are indicators of low Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone and low Thyroid.
Penny suffered from hot flashes and night sweats 2-3 times per night that made it impossible to get a good night’s sleep and she was tired and irritable most of the time, but the symptom that had her the most worried was her extreme amount of hair loss.
Here’s her symptom list at the first visit:
Once I have obtained the history and review of symptoms, I perform a physical exam to look for additional clues of hormonal and system deficiencies so that I know what tests to perform.
Here are the physical signs of the hormonal deficiencies that I saw in Genny’s face. She is a beautiful woman, but her hormone deficiencies are making her look older than she should look. By correcting these deficiencies, Genny will look younger longer and be able delay “normal” aging or prevent the onset of osteoporosis, heart disease, dementia, cancer and other unwanted diseases.
Genny’s hair was definitely sparse and her eyebrows were thinning on the outside one-third, which is another sign of low Thyroid function. I often find that Thyroid hormone also declines with age as does a woman’s female hormones. Significant hair loss is a strong sign of hypothyroidism, so we decided to test Genny’s Thyroid levels as well as her female hormones. Here are the results of Genny’s initial and 3-month follow-up lab tests.
As you can see in the above labs, Genny had low levels of Estriol, Progesterone, DHEA and Testosterone at the initial visit. Her Thyroid hormone Panel showed that her thryroid was just under the optimal range. These Thyroid levels would have been considered normal by most physicians, but they were not optimal and more importantly, Genny’s significant hair loss was a clear indication that her Thyroid was not producing enough hormone for her. That is reason enough to prescribe natural Thyroid for her.
How does Penny Feel Now that her hormones are getting into balance?
Within four weeks, Genny could see a definite improvement in her hair. It had stopped falling out and she could see tiny new hair growth coming in. She was so happy to see and feel her hair coming back and feeling like her old cheerful self again. Gone were the hot flashes, the moodiness, the sleeplessness and the fatigue. She felt like a new person.
Balance Your Hormones / Balance Your Life!
Here’s the bottom line, all of these hormones are essential for life. Too little estrogen will cause thinning of the bones, vaginal atrophy, thinning of the skin, easy bruising, wrinkles, hot flashes, sleeplessness, depression and droopy breasts.
Too much estrogen, especially too much Estrone and Estradiol, causes irritability, proliferation of the uterine lining, uterine cancer, breast tenderness, breast cancer, blood clots, dementia and strokes.
The ovaries produce three different Estrogens: Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2) and Estriol (E3). The two most concentrated and most potent estrogens are Estrone (E1) and Estradiol (E2). They are the hormones that stimulate cell growth of the uterine lining and breast tissue associated with preparation for pregnancy. Because they stimulate cell growth they can also stimulate cancer cell growth. Both Estrone and Estradiol are now classified as carcinogens.
Estriol(E3) is the “safe estrogen.” It is the key to estrogen balance and breast cancer prevention. Estriol selectively binds to estrogen receptor-beta (ER-beta), which inhibits breast cell proliferation and prevents breast cancer development. (Source: Postgraduate medicine, Vol 121, Issue 1, January 2009; Endocrinology. 2006 Sep;147(9):4132-50. Epub 2006 May 25.)
Estradiol (E2), on the other hand, activates the cancer activating protein known as bcl-2, which promotes cancer cell growth and decreases Tumor Suppressor Protein (known as p53), which is one of the body’s primary cancer prevention mechanisms. (Source: Ann Clin Lab Sci. 1998 Nov-Dec;28(6):360-9; Int J Cancer. 2003 Jul 10;105(5):607-12)
Estriol (E3) produces a 30% reduced risk of breast cancer; Estradiol (E2) causes a 10% increased risk of breast cancer. (Source: Fournier et al, “Breast cancer risk in relation to different types of hormone replacement therapy in the E3N-EPIC cohort,” Int J Cancer 2005 Apr 10;114(3):448-54.)
What’s more, synthetic estrogens and progestins cause even more damage because they amplify the adverse hormonal imbalance. In February, 2009, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that women who take synthetic estrogen-progestin combination hormone therapy for more than five years suffer a doubling of their risk of getting breast cancer and the risk doubles again every additional twelve months they continue to take the drugs. (N Engl J Med. 2009 Feb 5;360(6):573-87)
Natural Progesterone is essential in order to offset the potential risks that would otherwise be caused by Estradiol. It counteracts Estradiol to restore the balance doing the exact opposite: Progesterone decreases bcl-2 and increases Tumor Suppressor Protein (p53), which activates DNA repair and initiates programmed cell death (apoptosis) when DNA damage is irreparable. Progesterone also activates GABA, one of the principal calming neurohormones. I think of it as the brakes on the race car. After rushing around all day you need a good set of brakes to slow things down and bring everything to a stop. Progesterone helps you calm down and get a deep restful sleep.
Testosterone is key to balancing one’s mood, energy, interests and physical strength. It strengthens the nerves, muscles and bones. It lowers total cholesterol, raises the good HDL cholesterol and prevents plaque from building up in the arteries.
Restore Your Hormones: Restore Your Strength, Vitality and Longevity
Optimal levels of hormones provide a veritable fountain of youth. Nature designed hormones to work synergisticly to keep your body strong, active and beautiful. The major cause of deficient hormone levels is the aging of the endocrine glands that occurs due to the increasing stress and toxic load of our modern lifestyle. Without help your glands will simply wear out and wither away. They will become overwhelmed with toxic waste and oxidative damage and no longer be able to keep up with the stress of life. The cells of the glands will die faster than they can be repaired. The good news is that you can change the course of your own aging process. You can test your hormones, find out which hormones are deficient and replenish or replace them. You can take natural supplements to repair and rebuild your glands and restore the hormone levels back to level of a health 30-35 year old. The fountain of youth is within you.
Testing Your Hormones
Where do you start to figure out what’s causing what? Here’s what I recommend. Start by examining your symptoms. By taking a comprehensive assessment of your symptoms you can narrow in on the cause of your problems. Once you know which hormones are most likely to be causing your symptoms, then you can test them specifically to determine where you stand compared to the optimal range.