As a Naturopathic Doctor, when I treat a patient, I am always looking for the underlying cause of the illness, the abnormal mechanism that may be going on than just the symptoms.
Many times the following symptoms for example are because of an issue with the hormonal balance.
- Adrenal fatigue
- Thyroid issues
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings and irritability
- Low libido
- Andropause issues (men’s version of menopause).
- Mood changes
- Weight gain.
Most often these days, women are on HRT (hormone replacement therapy). The goal is to relieve the symptoms associated with the hormonal changes. However, the root cause of the symptom is never addressed.
In Naturopathic Medicine, when diagnosing Hormonal imbalance, we look broadly at as many systems as possible and as far back as possibly can through a detailed comprehensive history. The more information we can get and the more specific it is, the easier it will be to get an idea of what is actually happening and how to treat the most basic causes.
Predisposing Factors that can underlie Hormonal Imbalances
With hormonal disturbances, I look for pre-disposing factors and possible triggers that could have affected the optimal hormonal function. These may not be the presenting signs and symptoms, but elements in the medical history that have led the patient to the situation they present with.
Most common causes of Hormonal dysregulation are:
- Chronic stress: Chronic stress can lead to “Pregnenolone Steal” or “Cortisol Escape.” When the body is in a “chronic stress response,” pregnenolone, the precursor to the rest of the steroidal hormones, is diverted to cortisol. This is at the detriment of all the other steroidal hormones; i.e. progesterone, aldosterone, DHEA and its metabolites: the sex hormones, estrogens and testosterone. As pregnenolone is diverted to cortisol- DHEA depletion begins. The result is a depressed cortisol-to-DHEA ratio and an imbalanced hormonal system. This is measurable with a Functional Adrenal Stress Profile.
- Toxicity/xenoestrogens: Many of the toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis have hormone-like activity and are known as xenoestrogens. They have the ability to either mimic estrogen or act as endocrine disruptors sitting on estrogen receptors, kicking off the real hormone and creating a myriad of problems in the body.
- Nutritional deficiencies: Certain nutrients act to detoxify hormones and act as essential cofactors in not only the synthesis of hormones but the biotransformation of hormones in peripheral tissues.
- History of synthetic hormone use : This would include oral contraceptives and infertility treatment.
Once we have a sense of the possible triggers and predisposing factors, I would then look at their impact on hormonal function to see,
– if there is a problem with synthesis
-or a disruption at the cellular levels that the message is not received at the target tissue
-Or if there is a problem with detoxification or excretion of hormones etc..
Once the underlying causes have been identified and looked at from this broad perspective, treatment can be advised with greater confidence. Naturopathic Medicine treatments that include; stress reduction, botanical/herbal medicine, nutritional supplements, diet and lifestyle changes, and other treatments such as castor-oil packs and hydrotherapy are used. If there be a need for a hormonal treatment, we have a good referral network of doctors outside the clinic that we refer.