Feel like your hormones are a little out of whack?

Here’s a few tips to steer you in the right direction.

Hormones are chemical messengers in your body. They send constant messages to every organ and alters things like energy levels, mood, weight, digestion, temperature and much more. Hormone producing organs include your brain (hypothalamus, pituitary and pineal glands), thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas, adrenals, gastrointestinal tract and reproductive glands (ovaries and testes).

As it is in life, we never truly appreciating the effects of something, until it’s not working as it should. This imbalance can be from, too much or too little or not the right ratio of this to that. In hormone land, there are loads of negative & positive feedback loops, so one anomaly can cause a cascade of effects.

In Naturopathic or integrative medicine, we aim to find the root cause and rectify and support your natural hormonal balance and keep you symptom free. This is why we often use salivary hormone testing. It’s more sensitive and measures the unbound or free portion of hormones that acts on your tissues. So it’s easier to titrate doses of natural hormones, herbs, nutrients and the like and correlates better with symptoms.

Mainstream medicine however tends to favour serum blood tests, which measure total blood levels, so bound and unbound. So, it’s hard to see what’s working and what’s not to fine tune it. You’re often given high doses of synthetic tablets or creams, to replace a deficiency and often result in an array of side effects and potentially hazardous long term outcomes. Otherwise, if your symptoms don’t correlate with abnormal blood results you’re told you’re just getting old, offered antidepressants or told to lose weight. When really the testing wasn’t sensitive enough to pick up the problem.

Here’s some common hormonal symptoms I see and you may be experiencing right now.

1. Progesterone
Important men and women have right balance to counterbalance the effects of excess oestrogen, which can become harmful left unchecked, causing growths, cancers and much more.

Signs of progesterone deficiency:
Swollen breasts
Cyclic headaches
Anxiety
Weight gain
Irregular periods
Foggy thinking
Infertility
Joint pain
Depression
Low libido
PMS
Acne

Find out your levels: Salivary male or female hormone profile is best or blood test. CLICK HERE to book in for salivary hormone testing.

2. Oestrogen
Women and men have a delicate balance between three forms – E1 (Estrone), E2 (Estradiol), E3 (Estriol). An imbalance can lead to prostate problems, cancers and heart disease.

Symptoms of lack of oestrogen:
Sleep disturbances
Memory lapses
Foggy thinking
Depression
Dry skin
Hot flushes
Night sweats
Vaginal dryness/painful intercourse
Recurrent bladder infections

Symptoms of excess oestrogen:
Water retention
Sugar cravings
Nervousness/anxiety/irritability
Weight gain
Fatigue
Mood swings
Low thyroid symptoms
Facial flushing
Fibrocystic breasts
Uterine fibroids
Heavy, irregular menses

Find out your levels: Salivary female or male hormone testing, most sensitive or blood tests. CLICK HERE to book in for salivary hormone testing.

3. Testosterone
I often see both extremes in this area, especially when other hormones are out of balance as well, such as thyroid problems. Low levels of testosterone have been linked to breast cancer, heart disease, low sex drive and higher mortality.

Symptoms of testosterone deficiency:
Diminished feeling of wellbeing
Fatigue
Low libido
Muscle weakness
Fibromyalgia
Mental fuzziness

Symptoms of testosterone excess:
Hypoglycaemia
Acne
Irritability/moodiness
Male pattern hair growth/loss of scalp hair
PCOS/ovarian cysts

Commonly in men, testosterone can over convert to oestrogen through aromatisation, when the enzyme is over active. Causing low testosterone and high oestrogen, with the following symptoms:

Erectile dysfunction
Breast enlargement
Irritability
Weight gain
Low sex drive

Find out your levels: Salivary hormone testing (most sensitive) or blood test, with SHBG. CLICK HERE to book in for testing.

4. Thyroid
Thyroid hormones set the metabolic rate of every cell in your body. Many underlying thyroid issues won’t show up in standard blood tests, such as conversion issues due to thyroid autoimmune antibodies, nutrient deficiency in thyroid pathway or thyroid resistance, due to high rT3.

Symptoms of low thyroid function:
Exhausted often
Gaining weight
Constipation
Feeling cold
Depression
Mental sluggishness
Hair loss
Dry skin

Find out your levels: Blood tests – TSH, fT3, fT4, Thyroid antibodies, rT3. A practitioner that specialises in thyroid can offer more comprehensive testing. As it happens I’m one of those, with a FREE thyroid testing offer (valued at $140) with an initial consult until 28th Feb 2017. CLICK HERE to book or find out details.

5. Cortisol
Your adrenals secrete main stress hormones, cortisol and DHEA. When your cortisol rhythm is out of balance, adrenal fatigue can happen. Presenting as high cortisol when it should be low or vice versa, significantly altering the body’s eco system. Problem often lies in brain’s communication with adrenals. It’s amazing how thoughts and pressure rather than actual danger are our stressors today.

Symptoms of high cortisol:
Anxiety
Irritability
Insulin resistance
Sleep onset insomnia
Overweight
High blood pressure
Immune dysregulation
Accelerated aging
Osteoporosis

Symptoms of low cortisol:
Slow to start in morning
Waking in middle of night
Sugar & salt cravings
Hypoglycaemia
Chemical sensitivities
Allergies
Feel down
Chronic inflammation

Find out your levels: Salivary adrenal profile – tracks your levels cortisol & DHEA over the day. Can add melatonin, if needed, if sleep is a real issue. CLICK HERE to book in for salivary testing.

6. DHEA
Your other main adrenal hormone and precursor of testosterone, oestrogens and progesterone. When cortisol is high DHEA is often low, but not always.

Symptoms of low DHEA:
Fatigue
Depression
Low libido
Poor immune system
Poor memory
Less adaptable to stress

Find out your levels: Salivary adrenal hormone profile. CLICK HERE to book in for salivary testing.

7. Insulin
Helps blood sugar go into your cells for use. Here it’s defined in terms of resistance rather than a hormonal deficiency. Insulin’s being produced, but not working properly, hence your sugars are being stored rather than used. This can happen to varying degrees for many years before diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes, such as in Metabolic Syndrome.

Symptoms of insulin resistance:
Weight gain, especially around waist
Craving sugar
Increased thirst
Hungry often
Low energy, crave caffeine
Lightheaded or shaky if meals missed
Easily upset, irritated
Frequent urination

Find out your levels: Serum fasting blood glucose or HbA1c (average blood sugar reading over last few months).

Wrapping it up: Your body is highly interconnected by feedback loops and much more, so when you have one hormonal problem, there can be many other subtle ones down the line. That’s why it’s important to work with a health care provider that is thorough and cares to give you lasting results.