Our bodies produce dozens of hormones that control most aspects of our physical and mental health. When hormones are out of balance, they cause numerous mental and physical health issues. Proper exercise and diet, stress management, a high-quality, whole-food based vitamin and mineral supplement, along with select herbal supplements can help reduce or eliminate many hormone related problems. Finding a doctor who will take hormonal imbalances seriously and help you determine your particular needs is important. Here are some examples.
Anxiety and Memory Loss: When a bad job or family situation causes you stress, your adrenal gland produces hormones such as cortisol. Cortisol feels good for about 20 minutes, but then becomes your enemy. If the stress continues unabated week upon week, high cortisol levels will increase anxiety and memory loss. Reducing it is crucial. Certain exercises, spiritual activities such as prayer, adequate sleep, and regular periods of deep, slow breathing can help tremendously. Supplements such as fish oil and rhodiola can also lower cortisol. Alcohol increases it.
Insomnia: A decrease in the hormone progesterone can affect your ability to fall asleep; phosphotidylserine, bio-identical progesterone cream, licorice and black cohosh have also been shown to raise progesterone levels. Avoiding caffeine after lunch, sipping a glass of warm milk, drinking an herbal tea containing relaxants such as chamomile, valerian, passion flower, or even snacking on a few slices of turkey or a handful of nuts may help. Turkey and nuts are rich in tryptophan, a building block for the brain chemical serotonin, which also helps control sleep.
Digestive Problems: Speaking of serotonin, 95 percent of this mood-regulating hormone starts out in the gut and plays a role in digestion. While hormonal imbalance will cause headaches, neck pain, or moodiness in some, it causes digestive disorders in others. In many ways, your gut is like a “second brain.” Cortisol and serotonin imbalance can lead to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, and a host of other stomach ailments. Prescription drugs may help some people, but lifestyle approaches, such as exercise, relaxation, increased fiber, and herbal supplementation should be tried first.
Weight Gain: Hormonal imbalance can lead to overeating and weight gain. The hormone ghrelin is an appetite stimulate, while leptin and oxyntomodulin are appetite suppressants. Sleep deprivation can raise your level of ghrelin and lower your level of leptin. This may explain why people getting less than seven hours sleep per night tend to be more overweight than those getting seven to nine hours. Several months of contemplative prayer and meditation have also been shown to reduce belly fat.
Persistent Fatigue: If you feel drained most of the time, you may be lacking hormones produced by your thyroid gland. When these hormones are decreased, metabolic rate, mental functioning, and digestion are affected. Women are 10 times more at risk than men, and up to two-thirds of cases go undiagnosed for several years. Ask your doctor to check your thyroid and then be proactive about treating any imbalance.