Hormones! We all have them! They’re molecules that help with regulating important processes in your body. Hormones are usually made in one part of the body, and they move through the bloodstream and act on receptors in different organs and your brain.The hormones in your body all work together to keep you healthy and happy. There are many complex pathways of hormones interacting with each other, and an imbalance in one hormone can lead to imbalances in others. Some of the more well-known hormones are described here.
Cortisol is the primary stress hormone in your body. Produced by the adrenal glands, cortisol is a potent stimulant and immune system suppressor. Over time, when people are under stress that is beyond their body’s ability to cope, something called adrenal fatigue can occur.
Adrenal fatigue is one of the more common and significant things that naturopathic doctors treat. Like digestive health, your adrenal health is essential for your whole body to be able to function and heal. Most people have felt at least some level of burnout after working too hard: if this becomes the norm, you might have adrenal fatigue. It occurs in stages:
Because cortisol is a precursor to sex hormones, when there isn’t enough of it around, your body can’t make enough sex hormones either. Sex hormones play a bigger role than just sex, and a lack of them can result in depression, weight gain, and infertility. Treating your stress and revitalizing adrenal glands will help with all the other systems.
Testosterone is the main male sex hormone. It’s normal for men to have a decline in testosterone levels with age, but sometimes the levels drop sooner than they should. This seems to be increasingly common. Some of the warning signs of low testosterone levels include depression, weight gain, decreased sex drive, and fatigue. There are many factors that play into men’s health, and many natural approaches to supporting men in being healthy.
Estrogen and progesterone are the two main female sex hormones produced by the ovaries. In a healthy woman, these two hormones balance each other out. Estrogen helps the uterine lining develop and is important for ovulation. Estrogen levels normally peak just before ovulation, and then drop off in the second half of a woman’s cycle.
It is common to see relatively high levels of estrogen and low levels of progesterone. This is called estrogen dominance, and might show up as headaches, anxiety, food cravings, weight gain, and PMS.
With hormone problems, there is often an imbalance of two hormones that would normally balance each other out – like estrogen and progesterone. Acupuncture can be a great adjunct to a hormone regulating protocol, because it works to balance whatever is out of balance in the body.