Functional Hormone Solutions
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 eight different glands: the adrenal glands, pineal, pituitary, thyroid, thymus, pancreas, and the ovaries (female) and testes (male).
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 distant parts of the body to control everything in 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 imbalance 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 imbalances include:
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.
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 and blockages between different systems in the body through comprehensive case history taking, mapping presenting signs and symptoms and on occasion requesting functional laboratory testing. The goal is to identify and address the triggers and underlying causes of your health concerns rather than simply focusing on symptoms. Over the time of working together, I piece together the subjective and objective data to create a personalised Health Roadmap that we navigate together. It is a journey, and why I use the phase Roadmap, that takes time and commitment to unravel as there are often many moving and dynamic pieces to consider. Each of your body systems relies on the others to work well, working together, these systems maintain stability, balance and reward us with....optimal health!