Institute of Functional Medicine Association of Naturopathic Practitioners General Naturopathic Council Hashimoto Institute SIBO Doctor Approved Heart Math Certified Coach Tanya Borowski Home

Functional Hormone Solutions: Menarche- Perimenopause - Menopause

The hormonal orchestra

I’m just so tired all the time; I don’t sleep well anymore; I can’t seem to lose weight no matter how much I diet and exercise; I feel agitated and anxious.

All these symptoms and others are surprisingly common, yet so often simply put down to just getting older or in women, the menopause. What isn’t explored fully is if there is a biochemical explanation and your body has become imbalanced from a hormonal perspective.

The endocrine system comprises of eight different glands: the adrenal glands, pineal, pituitary, thyroid, thymus, pancreas, and the ovaries (female) and testes (male), producing over 50 interconnected hormones.

These various different glands work in an interconnected way, rather like an orchestra. The conductor of the hormonal orchestra is the hypothalamus in the brain, consolidating signals from the external and internal environment (I often describe the hypothalamus to my clients like an old school telephone exchange operator, managing and redirecting all those calls- or in our case cues and signals) . In turn, the hypothalamus delivers precise signals to the pituitary gland (at the base of the brain stem), which then releases hormones that influence most endocrine systems in the body. Specifically, the hypothalamic-pituitary axis directly affects the functions of the thyroid gland, the adrenal gland, and the gonads, as well as influencing growth, milk production, and water balance and the pituitary gland in the brain. This central axis sends signals to different parts of the body. This includes your stress response through the adrenal glands; your blood sugar balance through the pancreas and adrenals; the regulation of your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, metabolism and growth via the thyroid gland; and your sexual behaviour and function through the reproductive organs.

The most common hormonal problems - sending quite literally hundreds of people out of balance - that I see in my clinic are: insulin resistance (from excessive sugar consumption), imbalances in sex hormones (such as high oestrogen and low progesterone), and sub-optimal thyroid function (that has, due to poor current diagnostic testing, often been misdiagnosed as “normal”) and overall hypothalamic-pituitary axis dysfunction. 

We are dynamic creatures! If a hormone becomes excessive or depleted this begins a chain reaction that doesn’t have an end until the cause of the imbalance is put right. Simply taking a pill for high blood sugar levels, for example, may very well not be the complete answer. What we have to ask is why your blood sugar is rising in the first place!

What is hormone dysregulation then? 

Hormones are like little delivery van's of information that travel around our body delivering messages to our organs, glands and other tissues that tell them how to do their job properly. There can be a whole array of diet, lifestyle and environmental factors that disrupt this process, and to use the previous analogy of the hormonal (endocrine) system being likened to an orchestra, if the string section is playing off key, there is an knock on effect to the entire company, and the effects can be far reaching.

Some common signs, symptoms or conditions that are caused from hormonal dysregulation include:

  • Painful or heavy periods
  • Sugar or salt cravings 
  • Pain or cramping mid-cycle
  • Irregular periods
  • Feeling "blue", depression, apathy or teariness around your period
  • Failure to get your period back after stopping the pill
  • Cyclical headaches or migraines
  • Weight gain or fluid retention especially around your stomach, breast, hips and thighs
  • Rage
  • Polycystic Ovaries or PCOS
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibroids
  • Peri-menopause symptoms including night sweats, insomnia, migraines, and heavy periods.

  • Menopause symptoms including a greater risk for osteoporosis, heart disease and dementia if not supported

To keep everything functioning, a few processes must be working properly:

1. The Endocrine gland (thyroid, ovaries, parathyroid etc) must be able to synthesise and  release the proper amount of hormone.
2. The body requires an oxygenated blood supply to transport the hormones around the body.
3. The health of the receptor to which the hormones can attach and carry out their function needs to be in optimal health.
4. The biotransformation (often called detox) systems, the liver, gall bladder and gut microbiome need to be working efficiently. Any genetic SNP's , dysbiosis or sluggish bile flow can result in poor elimination and a recycling of "old" hormones results.

Combining hormones & nutrigenomics 

Hormones are complex, enigmatic, and beautifully interrelated. The body produces more than 50 of them to control and coordinate weight, energy production, reproduction,  immune response, emotions, growth & development, and respond to injury, stress, and environmental factors.

Of great importance to note is that both the production of all these hormones together with the regulation of the HPA axis is entirely dependent upon our genetic makeup, nutritional status and environmental signals. Any genetic variant (termed a SNP) along these pathways, combined with chronic exposure to emotional or physical disruptors if left unattended, will result in more demanding or seemingly unsolvable symptoms that are all too often chalked up to; “that's the menopause for you”! 

I commonly run hormonal nutrigenomic panels with my clients as with the added information of knowing where your personal genetic areas of vulnerabilities lie, can help us to navigate the journey far more effectively and guide a more targeted menopausal hormone therapy plan for your bespoke needs. 

Ultimately, we translate genomic data into practical lifestyle and nutritional recommendations that are rooted in science and medical research, and geared toward helping achieve optimal health and wellness.      

The whole picture

Identifying root causes to achieve your optimal health and wellbeing.

I use the functional medicine model to assess your health. This means seeking to identify interactions between different systems in the body through comprehensive case history taking your presenting signs and symptoms and diagnostics that include blood chemistries, Lifecode Gx Nutrigenomic panels, gut microbiome analysis and others. The goal is to identify and address the triggers and underlying causes of your health problems rather than simply focusing on symptoms.

Details of working with me 1:1  can be found here.

Or as part of a Nutrigenomic hormone package here.