Health & Hormones 101: What Are Hormones and Why Do I Need Them?
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Health and Hormones 101: What Are Hormones and Why Do I Need Them?

Low energy? Overweight? Low immunity? Headaches? Mood swings? PMS? Insomnia? These are all very common symptoms that many people experience these days. They are also just a few of the myriad of negative symptoms related to hormonal imbalances. But what are hormones, anyway?

Hormones are chemical messengers that are produced by either a gland or a cell. They are sent then to another part of the body for utilization. Within the Endocrine System, the Hypothalamus and the Pituitary (in conjunction with the brain) are the “master regulators” upon which all regulatory function of all other elements of metabolism depend. But next in line in terms of regulatory function and maintenance of metabolic efficiency are the Adrenal Glands along with their production and regulation of the Steroidal Hormones — Pregnenolone, Progesterone, Cortisol, DHEA, Testosterone, and the Estrogens.

Functions of Steroidal Hormones:

DHEA is the most abundant hormone in the body and an essential component in many of the body’s physiological and metabolic functions including building the immune system, reversing the effects of stress, regulating hormone balance and helping maintain levels of well-being, including energy, strength and libido.

PREGNENOLONE is made in the brain, functions as a memory enhancer, and is a factor in cellular repair, particularly in the brain and nerve tissue. It protects against neuronal injury and facilitates cerebral function.

MELATONIN is a neurotransmitter hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm (your patterns of sleep). Melatonin has powerful antioxidant effects, which also helps disease prevention.

THYROID HORMONE regulates temperature, metabolism and cerebral function. It contributes to energy levels and the body’s ability to maintain a constant temperature. It increases fat breakdown, improves head hair growth, reduces cholesterol levels and bodyweight.

GROWTH HORMONE contributes to ongoing tissue repair, cell rejuvenation, bone and muscle strength, brain function, enzyme production, integrity of hair, nails and skin and fat breakdown.

TESTOSTERONE is a hormone vital to both sexes. It contributes to muscle mass, strength, endurance, decreased fat, increased exercise tolerance, enhancement of well-being and sex drive.

ESTROGEN protects against heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, memory disorders, vaginal atrophy and urinary incontinence. It also prevents symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, irritability, mood swings and temperature dysregulation. Estrogen is instrumental in orchestrating the menstrual cycle and works in harmony with progesterone, both of which are essential to normal, healthy female function.

PROGESTERONE is often used to treat PMS. It protects against uterine and breast cancers, osteoporosis, fibrocystic disease and ovarian cysts.

How Do Hormones Affect Your Health?

Hormones affect metabolic processes and have many, very powerful effects and will result in change in metabolism, mood, weight, fluid balance, to name just a few.

The adrenals and the Steroidal Hormone Balance are involved in regulating virtually every aspect of body function! The Adrenal Cortex, for example, is responsible for producing over 50 different types of hormones. Simply put: As goes the health and functional efficiency of the adrenals, so goes the health and functional efficiency of every aspect of metabolism in the body.

The HPA axis (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal) is a pivotal endocrine system to monitor in all related hormone and endocrine issues because this system regulates the body’s stress responses. The hypothalamus initiates the stress response by releasing a hormone called CRF. This sets off a cascade of hormones which activate the adrenal glands’ production of cortisol and adrenaline. If the HPA axis becomes uncoordinated due to prolonged stress and continual cortisol production, there are consequences. One example is the impact that the stress response has on thyroid hormone production and synthesis. High levels of cortisol have an inhibitory effect on the conversion of T4 into T3.

Remember: Balancing hormones is a complex and delicate process that should be done under careful supervision. So before trying various supplements or over-the-counter treatments make sure you speak with a qualified physician that can oversee your treatment.

Resources:

Hormones. Holtorf Medical Group.

Wolcott, William. Steroidal Hormone Balance. The Healthexcel System of Metabolic Typing.

McEvoy, Michael. The Complexity of Endocrine Issues: Lifestyle factors & Prolonged Stress.

Medline: Cook, J. Christian. Stress induces CRF release in the paraventricular nucleus, and both CRF and GABA release in the amygdala.

 

Health and Hormones 101: What Are Hormones and Why Do I Need Them? was last modified: January 12th, 2017 by Kent Holtorf, M.D.

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