The endocrine or hormonal system of the body is an interesting thing. When a hormone is out of balance, it seems to throw the whole body out of whack. When hormones are out of alignment it can affect mood, energy, weight, inflammation, blood sugar balance, body aches, sleep and more.
Female hormones are the most common type of hormonal imbalance. Premenstrual or “peri-menopausal” symptoms can manifest as heavier periods, increased depression and anxiety, and trouble sleeping. Many times estrogen can become more dominant over progesterone. This can create symptoms such as migraines, weight gain, and heavy bleeding that lead to anemia and fatigue.
Androgen hormones such as testosterone and DHEA can be out of balance in men and women. In excess, it can cause anger, irritability, increased hair growth and acne. When these hormones drop too low, it can lead to low sex drive, hair loss, fatigue, a foggy brain, and symptoms of depression. Lack of exercise and diet may be linked to altered androgen hormones as well as increased stress. A simple blood test can help determine hormone values.
The thyroid is also connected to the endocrine system. The thyroid sits on the neck and is responsible for metabolism. When it is too slow, the intestines can tend towards constipation, energy drops and mood can be affected as well as hair loss. Similar symptoms occur when the cortisol hormone is too low, which is part of the stress response system. I think almost everyone has been stressed over the past two years.
Other conditions that can mimic hormones include depression, vitamin deficiencies, anemia, and chronic disease. There are treatments for hormone imbalances, including herbal nutrients, diet and lifestyle recommendations, and using actual hormones to replace what the body needs. Having a thorough checkup from your doctor is important for anything that happens, so that a good quality treatment plan can be established. You might be surprised by what we find!
Dr. Allison Apfelbaum is a Naturopathic Primary Care Physician at Tree of Health Medicine in Woodinville, WA. To learn more, visit www.treeofhealthmedicine.com.