• Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life

    by Dr. Clark H. Hansen
    on Oct 18th, 2010

The word hormone comes from Greek, meaning “to set in motion.” Hormones are made by your endocrine glands, including the adrenals, thyroid, liver, pancreas, pituitary, pineal gland and genitals. Hormones direct and coordinate many of the most import functions of the body.

As we age the ability of our bodies to produce adequate amounts of hormones diminishes rapidly. Deficiencies of any one of the hormones can lead to significant symptoms of ill health that are often thought of as normal signs of aging. However, mounting research is showing that restoring hormone levels to more youthful levels can reverse many of the signs of aging and restore the strength, energy, flexibility, vitality, mood, immunity and cognitive function of your prime.

The Hormone Solution

In his landmark book, The Hormone Solution, which I recommend you purchase and read from cover to cover, Dr. Thierry Hertoghe, M.D., a fourth generation endocrinologist from Belgium, writes,

“Your body contains more than one hundred different types of hormones, and they pour into your bloodstream at the rate of thousands of billions of units per day. Hormones regulate your heartbeat and your breathing. Hormones make men men and women women. Hormones put you to sleep at night and wake you up in the morning. They control your blood pressure. They build bone, maintain muscle tone, and lubricate joints. Hormones govern growth. They make the body produce energy and heat. Hormones burn fat. Hormones govern the menstrual cycle and allow pregnancy (and birth) to occur. They fight stress, prevent fatigue, calm anxiety, and relieve depression. Hormones make and keep memories. Hormones control your sex drive, virility, and fertility. They stimulate your brain and your immune system. It is by no means an exaggeration to say that hormones are crucial to every single function of the human body.

You Can’t Live Without Them

“But in the environment we live in at the opening of this new millennium—and particularly as we ourselves age—rarely do our bodies have the optimum levels of hormones. So we don’t enjoy optimum health, whether that means arthritis or heart disease or flagging sex drive or gray hair and wrinkles or out-of-control weight gain. The program in this book, a combination of nutrition and hormone balance, can bring anyone into optimal health. The Hormone Solution is not a miracle cure or an empty promise. It is a reality. It is for anyone who feels tired all the time. Or forgets things. Or isn’t sleeping well. Or feels more depressed and anxious than he used to. Or who is at risk for osteoporosis or cancer—among many, many other things. We’ve accepted these things as inevitable, especially as we age. We didn’t like it, but we thought we had to live with it. But we’ve been wrong.

“You probably know that some hormone levels decline with age. What’s less well known is that almost all hormone levels drop, across the board, in men as well as women. Your endocrine glands cannot maintain the same production of hormones they did in your younger days. And that loss is the most crucial—and eminently correctable—underlying process that causes the signs and symptoms of aging as well as a host of other health concerns. With the proper physiological doses of natural hormones in combination with a hormonally supportive diet and vitamin and mineral supplements, you can retain your health—and your youth—more fully and for a longer time. I am not recommending the massive pharmaceutical quantities of the standard hormone prescriptions, like menopausal replace therapy (HRT), but rather the finely tuned individualized substances that are identical in structure and quantity to what young, healthy body’s produce.

“When all our hormones are at optimal levels, our bodies are healthy, efficient, resilient, flexible, and strong.”

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. Some hormones can only be tested through a blood test, some can be tested by blood or by a saliva sample.

What Hormones Should Be Tested

Adrenal Cortisol

Cortisol (also known as Hydrocortisone) is produced by the adrenal glands. It is released with adrenaline during times of stress. Cortisol raises blood sugar levels, promotes the metabolism of proteins and the breakdown of fats to provide strength and energy, makes your heart beat faster and increases your blood pressure. A deficiency will cause you to feel unable to cope with stress, wiped out and lightheaded, mentally dull and depressed, anxious, pessimistic and defeated, confused and distracted, or paralyzed by stress.

Deficiency of CortisolExcess of Cortisol
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • fatigued easily, feeling drained
  • anxiety at the end of the day
  • feel paralyzed by stress
  • taking days to recover from stress
  • irritable, angry, or easily upset
  • low blood pressure
  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • easily distracted or confused
  • low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • shakiness if miss a meal
  • faint or weak if miss a meal
  • allergies, asthma
  • frequent infections
  • arthritis, inflammation
  • lack of self confidence
  • Increased blood pressure
  • rapid heart rate
  • abdominal fat
  • puffy or fatty face
  • fat pad or hump on upper back/neck
  • excess stomach acid, heartburn
  • osteoporosis
  • loss of collagen from the skin
  • thinning of the skin
  • wrinkling of the skin

DHEA (De-hydro-epi-androsterone)

DHEA is the most abundant steroid in the body. It is produced by the adrenal glands and is converted by the body into Progesterone, Testosterone, and the Estrogens, Estradiol, and Estrone. Adequate DHEA levels give the body the building blocks necessary to produce all of these hormones. It strengthens muscles, keeps mucous membranes soft and moist, stimulates immunity, boosts energy levels, reduces anxiety and depression, improves mood, increases libido in women, enhances memory, and helps the body fight cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. A deficiency causes tiredness, decreased libido and an increased risk of cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Deficiency of DHEAExcess DHEA
  • Fat Abdomen
  • Constant tiredness
  • Memory weakness
  • Lack of calmness
  • Low resistance to noise
  • Nervousness, anxiety, worries
  • Irritability
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Difficulty feeling aroused
  • Decreased sexual sensations
  • Loss of body hair
  • Impotence
  • Facial hair
  • Acne
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Irritability/Restlessness
  • Irregular heart beats
 

Estrogen

 
Estrogen makes a woman feminine. It creates the soft contours of a woman’s breasts, hips and pelvis that prepare her for childbirth. Estrogen keeps the skin smooth and free of wrinkles. It prevents excess hair growth, and keeps the vaginal membranes moist. It enhances sexual desire, increases physical endurance, prevents osteoporosis and promotes a happy enthusiastic mood.As a woman ages, however, her ovarian function begins to decline, leading to a decline in the production of the estrogens. A deficiency of estrogen will cause the thinning of your skin due to a decreased production of collagen, which will lead to wrinkles around the eyes and mouth. With decreased estrogen your breasts will shrink and sag, you’ll lose some of your feminine shape and your vaginal mucous membranes will become thin and dry. A deficiency of estrogen can also cause you to feel tired, irritable and depressed all day long. And last but not least, the declining hormones lead to vasomotor instability that cause the hot flashes, disrupted sleep, irritability and depression associated with menopause.Synthetic Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)Drug manufacturers have been making synthetic estrogen drugs for more than 50 years to combat these changes. However, in July 2002, researchers at the National Institutes of Health abruptly halted the nation’s largest study on HRT, because the study found that the long-term use of synthetic estrogen and synthetic progesterone drugs increase a women’s risk of breast cancer by 26%, her risk of a heart attack by 29%, her risk of stroke by 41% and her risk of blood clots by 113%. (Source: JAMA. 2002;288:321-333).“Bio-Identical” Hormone Replacement TherapyThe 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. You should test your estrogen levels to make certain these two are not too high. Even “Bio-Identical” Hormone Replacement Therapy that uses Estradiol or Estrone can and does cause cancer if it gets to high, or if it is not balanced correctly with the appropriate amount of Estriol (E3) and Progesterone. I recommend that you avoid Estrone and Estradiol completely and make certain you have enough Progesterone, which protects against cancer and builds healthy bones.Dr. Hansen’s Rx: Use Estriol Only NOT Estradiol or Estrone!

To protect against cancer nature designed the body to produce the third estrogen, known as Estriol (E3), which has been shown to be protective against cancer. A woman’s Estriol level goes way up when she gets pregnant and stays up while she is breastfeeding. High levels of this estrogen protect a woman from the harmful effects of the other two estrogens during these periods. This is the reason women who have more children and who breastfeed longer have a lower incidence of breast cancer. Estriol has also been shown to not cause the excessive build up of uterine lining that is associated with uterine cancer. In fact, research indicates that low levels of Estriol place you at an increased risk for developing cancer. You should check all of your Estrogen levels periodically to make sure that they are in a healthy balance approximately equal to a ratio of 8:1:1, Estriol to Estrone to Estradiol, respectively.

Deficiency of EstrogenExcess Estrone & Estradiol
  • Thinning of the skin, decreased collagen
  • Osteoporosis
  • Wrinkles around the eyes and mouth
  • Hot flashes, vaginal dryness, droopy breasts
  • Disturbed/Unrefreshing sleep
  • Depression, irritability
  • Constant tiredness
  • Lack of sexual desire/arousal
  • Loss of feeling attracted to partner
  • PMS Breast tenderness
  • Acne
  • Migraines
  • Endometriosis
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Breast Cancer
  • Uterine Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer

Growth Hormone

Growth hormone (GH) is secreted by the pituitary gland. It is a very small protein substance that is chemically similar to insulin. It is secreted in short pulses during the first few hours of sleep and after exercise. GH promotes growth of bones, muscles, organs and all other cells throughout life.

Production of GH peaks during adolescence and falls after the age of 21 by about 14% per decade. By age 60 GH production is reduced by one-half. Individuals with higher levels of GH appear more youthful and report greater vitality and stamina.

Growth Hormone is necessary throughout your life to keep your muscles toned and firm, your bone density high and your joints flexible and strong. It protects your kidneys, heart and other organs, as well as your digestive system. It keeps your arteries clear and your mind sharp and calm. It supports the immune system and helps to prevent weight gain in your hip and thighs. As GH decreases your hair becomes thin and limp, your muscles disappear, your skin begins to sag, your lips become thin and your gums recede.

 

Deficiency of Growth HormoneExcess of Growth Hormone
  • Bloated face
  • sagging skin
  • sagging breasts
  • fat hips and thighs
  • love handles
  • cellulite
  • high blood pressure
  • poor kidney function
  • weak heart beat
  • thinning of the skin
  • osteoporosis
  • arthritis in the hips
  • lots of wrinkles around mouth and eyes
  • double chin
  • gray thinning hair
  • anxiety
  • social withdrawal
  • lack of self-confidence
  • depression
  • stressed-out easily
  • Elevated blood sugar
  • polyps in the large intestines
  • skin tags

 

Pregnenolone

Pregnenolone is known as the “Mother Hormone” because it is manufactured in the brain and the adrenal glands from cholesterol and then converted in the liver to DHEA and Progesterone (and ultimately other hormones such as Cortisol, Estrogen, and Testosterone). Pregnenolone enhances memory by stimulating concentration and clarifying thinking. It reduces fatigue, fights depression and protects the joints from inflammation and arthritis.

As we age, the body’s natural Pregnenolone levels decrease. A deficiency of Pregnenolone leads to poor memory, depression, and cognitive decline as well as decreasing bone density, lean body mass, and muscle strength.

 

Deficiency of PregnenoloneExcess of Pregnenolone
  • Poor memory
  • poor concentration
  • vulnerability to stress
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • arthritis
  • Anxiousness
  • agitation

 

Progesterone

Progesterone is also produced by the ovaries. It has its own unique hormonal functions, but a certain amount is also converted into Testosterone, then into Estrogen. Progesterone increases uterine secretions and stimulates the building of new bone. It also helps regulate salt, control blood sugar, modulates nerve function, has a calming effect and promotes a healthy thymus gland, which is part of the immune system. Supplementing natural Progesterone extracted from the wild yam can help maintain these healthful benefits. Provera (the synthetic version of natural progesterone) has some progesterone-like effects but causes an additional 30 negative side effects that are listed in the Physician’s Desk Reference.

Taking natural Progesterone can increase Bone Mineral Density (BMD) by 10-15% within 6 months and 20-25% in 3 years. Additionally, natural Progesterone protects and preserves the brain and calms nervous system, activates Tumor Suppressor Protein, which suppresses cancer growth, activates DNA repair and initiates programmed cell death of cells overcome by cancer.

Deficiency of ProgesteroneExcess of Progesterone
  • PMS Breast Tenderness
  • large swollen breasts
  • nervousness, anxiousness
  • restless sleep
  • irritability, aggressiveness
  • heavy menses
  • menstrual cramps
  • bloating
  • Moodiness
  • swollen breasts

Melatonin

Melatonin is produced primarily at night after sunset and facilitates the onset and continuation of normal sleep patterns. Working late in front of a computer, watching television late at night, working night shifts, travel across multiple time zones, stress and aging all cause changes in sleeping patterns that are likely to have adverse effects on Melatonin secretion patterns. Altered patterns or reduced levels of Melatonin secretion cause sleep disturbances, insomnia, and fatigue. A deficiency of Melatonin can be found in depression, schizophrenia, amenorrhea, anorexia, and breast cancer.

Sufficient amounts of Melatonin can relax your muscles, relieve tension, reduce stress and anxiety (especially at night), and lower your blood pressure. It calms you and provides a sense of serenity. Supplementing Melatonin can effectively synchronize the sleep-wake cycle. Physiological doses of Melatonin show little or no carry-over sleepiness. Melatonin is also a powerful anti-oxidant and at normal levels provide protection from the oxidative damage of free radicals that may cause cancer.

 

Deficiency of MelatoninExcess of Melatonin
  • Insomnia
  • Superficial sleep deprived of dreams
  • Muscle tension
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Prematurely gray
  • Suppression of menses
  • vivid dreams that make you feel like you haven’t slept

 

Testosterone

Testosterone is not just for men. Women have it and need it as well. A deficiency of Testosterone in a woman leads to fatigue, muscle wasting, low sex drive, decreased sexual stimulation, and a diminished sense of well-being. Testosterone protects the heart and reduces plaque build-up in the arteries. It prevents joint pain and osteoporosis. It builds muscle and reduces fat and cellulite. Testosterone tightens the skin and prevents wrinkles. When a woman’s ovarian function declines in the years before and during natural menopause, so does the amount of Testosterone she produces. Between a woman’s 20s and 40s the amount of Testosterone circulating in her blood declines about 50%. If a woman starts Estrogen Replacement Therapy at menopause, her blood levels of Testosterone drop even further due to a biochemical reaction.

 

Deficiency of TestosteroneExcess of Testosterone
  • sexual desire
  • difficulty attaining and maintaining erections
  • lack of orgasm, problem feeling aroused
  • lack of sexual sensitivity
  • lack of feeling attracted to partner
  • depression
  • nervousness, anxiousness
  • gray hair
  • wrinkles and fine lines
  • tired all the time
  • poor sleep
  • memory problems
  • high blood pressure, angina, high cholesterol
  • fat abdomen, love handles
  • fat hips and thighs
  • lack of muscles
  • joint pains, arthritis
  • male pattern baldness
  • aggressiveness
  • irritability
  • acne

Thyroid

The types and severity of symptoms of hypothyroidism vary between individuals. At the onset of the disease, the symptoms can be vague and develop slowly. They may include weakness, weight gain, cold sensitivity, cold hands and feet, fatigue, dry skin, brittle nails, and thinning, brittle hair. Other early symptoms include muscle achiness, joint pain, and heavy menstrual periods.

If undiagnosed and untreated, later symptoms can include confusion, thick skin, swelling of the arms or legs, slowing of speech, and depression.

Typical hyperthyroid symptoms include anxiety, shaky hands, sweating, diarrhea, difficulty sleeping, increased appetite, tremors, and weight loss. Many symptoms of hyperthyroidism affect the eyes leading to bulging eyes, eye puffiness, light sensitivity, and an intense stare.

 

Deficiency of Thyroid Hormone (Hypothyroidism)Excess of Thyroid Hormone (Hyperthyroidism)
  • Fatigue/Tiredness
  • Sluggishness
  • Low body temperature
  • Cold sensitivity – especially hands & feet
  • Constipation
  • Hard stools
  • No eyebrows or thinning outer eyebrows
  • Hair loss
  • Dry cracking skin
  • Brittle or peeling fingernails
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Gain weight easily
  • Heavy, frequent or painful periods
  • Forgetfulness
  • Foggy thinking
  • Puffy face
  • Swelling of arms or legs
  • Depression
  • Handwriting nearly illegible
  • Heartbeat almost inaudible
  • Anxiousness
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Short, infrequent or light periods
  • Low Cholesterol
  • Warm skin
  • Sweating
  • Shaky hand or tremors
  • Weight loss
  • Palpitations
  • Bulging eyes

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that is made from sunlight by the skin, liver and kidneys. Vitamin D3, known as Cholecalciferol, is the form of Vitamin D that is generated in the skin of animals when light is absorbed. Additionally, we get some Vitamin D, known as Ergocalciferol, or Vitamn D2, from egg yolk, fish oil and a number of plants.

The major biologic function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. It aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones. It promotes bone mineralization in concert with a number of other vitamins, minerals, and hormones.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased susceptibility to colds and flus, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cancer of the breast, prostate, colon and skin, periodontal disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, depression, peripheral artery disease, Parkinson’s and several autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes.

Deficiency of Vitamin DExcess of Vitamin D
  • Frequent colds & flus
  • Gingivitis or Periodontal disease
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Infertility
  • Osteopenia (mild thinning of bones)
  • Osteoporosis (major bone loss)
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic pain
  • Arthritis
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headaches
  • Apathy
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Bone pain 

 
Author Dr. Clark H. Hansen Dr. Clark H. Hansen is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor (N.M.D.) who has been in private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona, since 1986. He is the President and Medical Director of the Hansen Clinic of Natural Medicine, Aesthetics and Mesotherapy. Dr. Hansen is one of the most well respected Naturopathic Physicians in the country and a Diplomat of the World Society of Anti-Aging Medicine.

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