Dancing Holiday Hormones

© 2014 Dr. Sharon Norling

Are you excited about the holidays? Perhaps you have some “mixed” feelings as you look forward to family, friends and all the celebrations. You love the season and the festivities but may be thinking, “I wish I felt better.”  If only you had more energy, more focus, were sleeping better, had less pain, and were experiencing less anxiety and depression. While the foods are a big part of the celebrations, you wish you had fewer cravings and that your stomach felt better.

You are not alone. The good news is these symptoms have solutions.

Balancing your body’s various systems is a delicate dance and one that requires experience and information. Finding the answers to your health is a process of putting together the pieces of the puzzle.

The key is finding the cause of the symptoms. It is a matter of testing, not guessing.

If your symptoms are due to a:

  •  Hormonal imbalance
  •  Neurotransmitter (NT) changes
  • Thyroid condition
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Toxins

You really can’t fix a problem unless you know the cause.

When the hormones and neurotransmitters are balanced, nutrient deficiencies resolved, and toxins eliminated you will be on the road to optimal health.

Hormonal Balance

Let’s start with celebrating the sex hormones. The imbalances in the sex hormones cause symptoms and health risks. As a woman are you experiencing anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, pain, fatigue, brain fog, carbohydrate cravings, lack of motivation, muscle weakness, difficulty losing weight, hot flashes AND low libido? Or, as a man, are you experiencing irritability, loss of energy, muscle-wasting, increased body fat, osteoporosis, low libido, loss of an erection and depression?  Recent research also shows that low testosterone also increases the risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), insulin resistance, and increased mortality from CVD and cancer.

These symptoms are not a sign of growing older or created in your head. They are the result of hormonal imbalance and can occur at any age. They often are due to estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone deficiency—and, yes, that includes men and women. They may also be due to low thyroid, an adrenal imbalance, or a neurotransmitter change—neurotransmitters are the chemicals found mostly in the brain that affects all our moods, actions, and mental clarity.

To get the best results and achieve optimum health these systems must be tested and treated appropriately, using specific targeted natural amino acids, nutrients, and Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT). BHRT is a natural effective hormone replacement without the side effects of typically prescribed pharmaceutical drugs.

We know that hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) in women decreases osteoporosis, colon cancer, menopausal symptoms, and supports mental function. Recent studies also show a decrease in diabetes.

But what about sex? Sexual activity at baseline in the Women’s Health Initiative study (WHI) was 60.7 percent in ages 50-59, 44.9 percent in ages 60-69, and 28.2 percent in ages 70-79. Most of the participants were satisfied with their current sexual activity (63.2 percent). Of those dissatisfied, 57 percent of the women preferred more sexual activity. HRT was associated with a higher percentage of participants reporting sexual activity.

Since neurotransmitters affect hormones and hormones affect neurotransmitters, their imbalances can lead to increased symptoms and chronic illnesses.

Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters include the inhibitory serotonin and GABA, and excitatory nor-epinephrine NE), epinephrine (EPI), glutamate, and dopamine. Neurotransmitter imbalances can cause a wide range of mental, physical, and emotional symptoms. For example, low levels of serotonin can cause anxiety, depression, pain, lack of motivation, insomnia, and carbohydrate cravings. In December you really need normal levels of serotonin!

If your neurotransmitters are not in balance, brain fog will occur. Low levels of dopamine, nor-epinephrine, epinephrine, or glutamate create lack of focus and low brain function. Once tested, the individual can be treated with specific amino acids to correct the imbalance for better brain function.

Thyroid

Maybe you have had your thyroid tested and it is “normal.”  Do you have fatigue, weight gain, constipation, depression, pain, fuzzy thinking, low blood pressure, memory loss, loss of the outer most eyebrows, or decreased libido? The cause can be low thyroid.

Many times hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) is misdiagnosed.

Thyroid hormones have direct effects on most organs, including the heart which beats faster and harder under the influence of thyroid hormones. Optimal thyroid function affects every cell in our body. On a cellular level, there can be no optimal nutrition absorption, detoxification of wastes or stimulation of oxygen consumption without adequate thyroid balance.

Don’t just settle for a TSH test. That is not enough to give you the answers you need to evaluate your thyroid. Have a comprehensive test that includes free T3, free T4, reverse T3, TSH, and thyroid antibodies.

Cortisol & your adrenals

High levels of cortisol and inflammatory markers have been associated with decreased thyroid function. High levels of cortisol (which can also be caused by high stress levels, low testosterone, etc.) can directly lead to suppression of pituitary TSH secretion, and can impair both thyroid and serotonin function.

Do you find yourself saying things like, “Help, I want to feel better for the holidays”?

Do you feel tired, suffer from lack of sleep, and have joint pain or muscle stiffness, frequently catch the flu or colds, feel anxious and depressed, and have headaches or gastrointestinal disturbances, difficulty concentrating or remembering, or experiencing various allergy symptoms? Do you have difficulty getting up in the morning, more fatigue from 3:00-5:00 PM, and get a second wind in the evening? Are you craving salt? Do you feel lightheaded? Are you sensitive to loud noises? Do you or others see you as “not your old self”? You may have low cortisol and adrenal fatigue. Cortisol can be tested using specialty labs and easily treated.

You deserve to feel better celebrating the holidays and 2013 !

Good Nutrition

Nutrient deficiencies can cause or exacerbate all the symptoms. For example, low levels of Vitamin D can cause depression and a wide range of disorders. Nutrition is the most important tool for staying mentally and physically fit, and is by far the most underutilized tool. When you think about it, the only way we live and heal is by the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.

Toxins

Toxins can create mood disorders and compromise every system in the body. Choose your personal skin care, food, and cleaning products carefully buying only the least toxic. www.EWG.org is good resource.

See a biological dentist to remove any amalgams (silver fillings) and avoid having more toxins put in your mouth. Be tested to determine if you have toxins and then have them safely removed through specific medically approved supplements and intravenous IV therapies.

I know this might sound complicated, but sometimes dances are.  However, a physician who is trained in proper testing, diagnoses, and treatment of multiple bodily systems can guide you and show you the steps.

Functional Medicine is a field of specialty that has a systems approach – finding the cause for the symptoms and treating the whole person. Managing the transitions, prolonging life and preserving a healthy, active lifestyle are the basis of Functional Medicine. The approach to achieving these important goals is to normalize as many hormones as possible by using natural approaches primarily and conventional pharmacology only when indicated.

Remember, hormone balance not only includes the hormones of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, but also thyroid, adrenal and neurotransmitter hormones. All these systems and hormones interact and support each other. They are the dancing hormones and you don’t want them to miss a step.

Written by: Dr. Sharon Norling, MBA