Balancing hormones promises? True or False

13 December 2021

Balancing hormones promises? True or False

As we approach the Christmas period, we are encouraged to eat, drink & be merry - and I’m all for a bit of sparkle & shine! Yet as night follows day post-Christmas, our social media feed become bombarded with programmes to “detox”, filled with promises to balance or sync hormones, thereby promoting a healthier body & to shed pounds.

Broad brush statements and promises  to “balance hormones” are unrealistic & unfair marketing speak. Please don't fall for it my friends - work with a practitioner that wants to understand the mechanisms at play that are dysregulating your hormones. 

The endocrine system, made up of different glands producing different hormones works in an interconnected way, rather like an orchestra. Your hormones are important for regulating many different processes in the body including appetite and metabolism, sleep cycles, reproductive cycles and sexual function, body temperature and mood. Levels of hormones naturally fluctuate at various life stages, most noticeably during puberty and in women during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and the menopause. They can also be affected by lifestyle and certain conditions.

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 a knock on effect to the entire company, and the effects can be far reaching.

Let's use the condition of Endometriosis as an example….. Endometriosis, an inflammatory condition characterised by growth of endometrial tissue outside of the uterine cavity. It is not a condition of “oestrogen dominance” or  hormonal imbalance.

It is indeed affected by oestrogen (O), which to remind ourselves is a proliferative hormone . The natural surge of oestrogen that occurs with the menstrual cycle exerts its natural proliferative effects on the endometrium and other endometrial tissue and will drive further growth of established endometriosis lesions, but is not caused by oestrogen or “oestrogen dominance.”

Rather the mechanisms are: An overstimulated inflammatory response which can include inflammation originating from an over presentation of gram negative bacteria  in the GI tract, overstimulation mast cells and an inflammatory genetic predisposition. 

Let’s “map” Endometriosis. What is going on?

Endometriosis is a whole body underlying inflammatory immune system condition, and requires a multi system approach…. It is indeed affected by oestrogen, which to remind ourselves is a proliferative hormone (keep this in mind).

➡️ During a menstrual cycle the lining of the uterus (endometrium) is shed. Some of cells and debris backwashes through the fallopian tubes, termed Retrograde menstruation (universal in all women)
➡️ This tissue debris, infiltrated with white blood cells enters the peritoneal cavity
➡️ First line responding Immune cells like mast cells in the pelvis RESPOND to the presence of this dead tissue, releasing histamines and call in other immune troops like chemokines, macrophages and  create  a huge  inflammatory  reaction in the pelvic region
➡️ This Inflammatory storm triggers the production of Oestrogen (via the aromatase enzyme) locally in in the pelvis. Remember, Oestrogen, is proliferative & healing: and here induces endometrial angiogenesis - the development of new blood vessels., via the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) driving further growth of established endometriosis lesions  but is not caused by oestrogen or “oestrogen dominance.”

Rather the mechanisms are multifactorial, all require exploring:
> A dysregulated immune response that includes an; over expression of mast cells = histamine, high levels of cytokines from dysfunctional macrophages, an aberrant adaptive immune system
> Dysbiotic gut > housing gram negative bacteria > inflammatory burden and barrier permeability
> Genetic variants predisposing an individual to poor oestrogen clearance + low Progesterone/ endocannabinoid receptors

I appreciate this is quite technical information, albeit I’ve tried to step you through the processes, which is why it’s so important for you to work with a trusted practitioner who knows and understands how to map your health.

If you are a health practitioner and this has sparked your interest, there will be lots more of this mapping on my Affiliate Mentoring Hub next year.

And most importantly, don’t pigeonhole yourself as being hormonal - let's find a mechanism of action!