weight loss hormones

How Hormones Affect Your Weight. Everything You Need To Know.

Ever wonder how hormones affect weight loss?

At Higher Health, we work with clients who eat well, exercise and are doing what seems to be all the right things to lose weight.

But the weight still won’t come off, or a plateau has been hit and the few final pounds refuse to go!!!

If this sounds familiar, odds are, your hormones may be out of balance.

 Keep reading to find out where we see the most common hormonal imbalances playing a role in preventing you from achieving your weight loss goals.

Hormones, Blood Sugar and Insulin:

Our body secretes insulin in response to higher levels of blood glucose to bring blood glucose levels down, and allow glucose (sugar) entry into our cells. When your blood sugar is fluctuating frequently, this influences the production of insulin, and promotes fat production. In addition, blood sugar fluctuations provoke sugar cravings, further exacerbating the blood sugar insulin roller coaster.

When our body has a blood sugar issue like insulin resistance, it demands more sugar which can cause you to crave those sweet, calorically dense, nutrient void foods. The more frequently your blood sugar level spikes, the more your body produces insulin, and this can increase the risk of insulin resistance leading to further problems including inflammation and hormonal chaos. Assessing for insulin resistance, and keeping a stable blood sugar level is key for weight loss.

Cortisol and Adrenal Stress Hormones

Oh cortisol, our master stress hormone. “I’m not that stressed”, says the full time working mom running around on fumes all day. Often, we are expected to do it all; work life, cooking, cleaning, parenting, errands and a social life in between. We somehow accept that feeling tired, overworked, and burnt out is normal.

Some symptoms that may indicate your stress levels may be higher than you think, and on the verge of burnout include:

  • Feeling tired, either all day or that  slump in the afternoon
  • You feel you never have enough time in the day to complete the things you need to get done
  • You feel overwhelmed
  • You find you’re snapping at things or people you wouldn’t otherwise have
  • And you feel you are constantly on overdrive.

This is your sympathetic nervous system working overtime, that fight or flight mode that is only supposed to be used in emergencies to help keep us alive.

Our adrenal glands which sit on top of our kidneys, secrete a hormone called cortisol which responds to these periods of stress. In short bursts or acute situations, our body’s response to cortisol is necessary and warranted. However, over prolonged periods of sympathetic activation, stress, and cortisol secretion we see blood glucose spikes, insulin resistance, weight gain around the abdomen, brain fog, decreased mental and physical performance, amongst other things.

What does this look like? 

You may get hit with some serious cravings for foods you know aren’t nutritious for you, but the cravings are so powerful you can’t control them. Next your body is going to send signals to eat more high sugary foods, because it think it’s in danger or there is a threat, so it thinks it needs more glucose (energy) fast. In addition, under chronic stress our body decreases muscle mass.

Decreased muscle mass also means less mitochondria (energy powerhouses of the cell), which further slows down our metabolism, meaning we burn less calories.

In addition, elevated levels of cortisol start affecting other hormones like insulin, thyroid hormones, and our reproductive hormones which only leads to further problems. Dealing with cortisol is often one of the very first steps when addressing weight loss. Nutrient repletion, adrenal support, and a holistic assessment can help give your adrenals the T.L.C. they most likely need and help you on your way towards your health goals.

Thyroid and Hormones:

Our thyroid is one of the master glands which controls our metabolism. It controls the way our body uses energy for a variety of functions throughout the body. For those that have been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, either “hyper” or “hypo”, this indicates that your thyroid is demonstrating signs of dysfunction.

In a “hypo” state, the thyroid gland is under functioning. It is not producing enough thyroid hormone to drive our metabolism and use energy efficiently. This may include signs of weight gain, slowed heart rate, hair loss, brittle nails, dry skin, fatigue, constipation, and brain fog to name a few.

In a “hyper” state, we typically see the opposite.

When the thyroid gland is over producing, it causes the body’s metabolism to run in overdrive with additional energy expenditure.

This may look like:

  • Increased sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling wired but tired
  • Unintentional weight loss

In terms of weight loss, one of the major complaints we hear is weight gain despite doing all the things “right” or the frustration associated with the inability to lose weight.

This can be maddening for individuals because despite every diet or exercise routine, the reading on the scale just won’t budge. Could it be your thyroid? Your doctor told you your TSH level was fine, so therefore your thyroid was fine.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. Our Naturopathic Doctors at Higher Health are trained to look at a more comprehensive approach when assessing thyroid health and function. This includes a full thyroid panel, nutrients needed to optimize thyroid function, assessing any food intolerances and gut disturbances,  and of course stress levels.

We know that chronic stress takes a toll on the thyroid, and hits it hard. Stress also depletes magnesium and selenium, essential nutrients needed for optimal thyroid function. The core foundations of thyroid health include optimizing digestion, sleep, stress, diet, exercise, and correcting deficiencies.

Leptin Hormone:

Leptin is a wonderful hormone secreted by our fat cells to communicate to the brain that you are full and should stop eating.  It says to our brains that okay, we have enough fat stored, we don’t need to continue to eat, and we can burn calories at a stable rate. Leptin sounds great right? The issue is that when we gain weight we have higher circulating levels of leptin.

Higher levels of circulating leptin can lead to something we call leptin resistance, which basically means your brain doesn’t respond to the signals leptin is trying to send. When your brain doesn’t receive or can’t respond to leptin’s signal, it thinks your body is starving. As a response, your brain thinks that you must eat more in order to prevent starvation, and in an effort to conserve energy it reduces energy expenditure and slows down your metabolism.

A variety of potential mechanisms have been proposed with leptin resistance including inflammation, having elevated free fatty acids in the blood stream, and as mentioned having high circulating levels of leptin. A lot of times the reason yo-yo diets fail is due to fluctuating levels of leptin and its consequences on hunger and metabolism.

Estrogen:

Estrogen levels that are either too high or too low can both cause weight gain. Low levels of estrogen can be the driving factors behind very stubborn weight gain, often around the abdomen, and especially for women during perimenopause/ menopausal years. As ovarian estrogen levels decline, it turns to other cells to produce estrogen including our adipose tissue.

In an attempt to balance this demand, our body starts converting extra energy sources into fat, which can lead to weight gain especially around midline. On the other hand, estrogen levels that are too high can irritate the cells in our body that produce insulin, our beta cells located in the pancreas.

This can lead to insulin resistance, causing blood sugar levels to rise and subsequent weight gain. In addition, higher levels of estrogen can impact thyroid function, which we know is one of the master glands regulating metabolism. Symptoms of estrogen dominance may include PMS, painful periods, breast tenderness, brain fog, lowered libido and weight gain. Luckily, our Naturopathic Doctors have training and advanced testing to assess estrogen levels!

When your hormones are in check you should feel like you have infinite energy, balanced moods, your cravings will disappear, and you can start hitting those weight loss goals.  Speak to a member of our Higher Health Team today to help you determine if hormonal imbalances may be the root issue preventing you from losing that stubborn weight!

Book here for your Free no obligation consultation and join the over 2000 clients we have helped since 2011. Click here

 

References:

 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34262799/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34224398/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34267323/

https://www.healthline.com/health/leptin-diet

https://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/menopause-weight-gain-and-exercise-tips

leaky gut syndrome

Leaky Gut. Everything You Need To Know.

Leaky Gut, Leaky What?!

If you’re reading this article, odds are you’ve been experiencing some digestive issues and may be wondering if it’s due to leaky gut syndrome. Well, you’ve come to the right place!

Leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability refers to when the gaps (tight junctions) between neighboring cells in the gut lining are disturbed. Bigger openings allow the passage of foreign substances that normally would not be allowed to pass through, this is known as the gut becoming “leaky”.

This can allow bigger molecules of undigested food, toxins, and pathogens to make their way into the bloodstream and into the body. Your body recognizes that these molecules should not be there, and this triggers an immune response and subsequent inflammation, which is linked to many inflammatory and auto-immune diseases.

Before we get to what can cause leaky gut, let’s start off with a quick recap about the function of how your gut lining works.

Our intestines, referred to as our gut, contain specialized cells called enterocytes that line the gut wall.

The small intestine lining is a single celled mucosal layer, responsible for the absorption of water, glucose, peptides, amino acids, lipids, vitamins, and more! This lining is covered with enzymes that promote digestion, and covered in mucus that helps food and waste products make its way through the intestines.

In a healthy state, your gut is extremely selective for what it is permitted to pass through and get absorbed into the bloodstream and into systemic circulation. These gatekeepers called “tight junctions” keep the cells just that, very “tight” together. Think of them as the bodyguards of your gut, only allowing entry to those that are on the guest list.

What causes Leaky Gut?

The causes of leaky gut can vary, and are often due to a variety of factors. This could include small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), bacterial dysbiosis, food allergies or intolerances, NSAID use, stress, high intake of sugar, alcohol, or highly processed foods, or low stomach acid.

It’s important to note that leaky gut is a syndrome, and often there are a variety of contributing factors.

What are some of the symptoms of Leaky Gut?

  • Gas
  • Bloating 
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Food sensitivities
  • Fatigue
  • Joint/ structural pain
  • Immune issues/ dysfunction

It’s worth highlighting that you can have a leaky gut, even if no gastrointestinal symptoms are present; an individualized assessment by your Toronto Naturopathic Doctor is critical.

A leaky gut has also been found to be associated and play a role in many different diseases. Such as:

  • Cardiovascular diseases and conditions
  • Central nervous system conditions: migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, fatigue, anxiety, depression, mood disorders
  • Digestive conditions and diseases : irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, food sensitivities
  • Immune system conditions: autoimmune disorders, recurrent or chronic infections
  • Skin conditions: eczema, psoriasis, severe acne, hives
  • Musculoskeletal system: rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain, muscle pain
  • Respiratory system: allergies, asthma, chronic congestion, COPD
  • Endocrine diseases: PCOS, type 2 diabetes

How can Naturopathic Medicine help?

It’s important to discuss diagnostic options to determine whether a leaky gut could be an underlying factor for your symptoms. Your Toronto Naturopathic Doctor can discuss what may be the best option for you to test and assess.

 

In terms of gut health, Naturopathic Doctors will often talks about the 4 R’s.

Let me introduce them to you 😀:

Remove, Replace, Repair, Re-inoculate!

This targets the identification and removal of provocative agents that may be worsening the intestinal permeability, helps to get to root cause of its development, and also supports the healing and regeneration of the intestinal wall!

Remove:

  • Eliminate potential toxic and offending foods from your diet. For example, gluten and dairy, and alcohol can damage the tight junctions in the gut.
  • Avoid additives often found in pre-packaged food that can damage the gut lining (i.e. emulsifiers and stabilizers like carrageenan, polysorbate 80, and carboxymethylcellulose).
  • Avoid processed and inflammatory foods such as deep fried foods and foods high in refined oils (canola, vegetable, sunflower oils), and foods high in trans fat. When possible, stick to real, whole foods.
  • Identify factors contributing to stress, and discuss possible treatment strategies to manage stressors.
  • IgG Food sensitivity testing may be relevant to identify any triggering foods unique to you, and to remove while allowing the gut to heal.

Replace:

  • Replace gut irritating foods with foods that promote the health of your gut; bone broth is great here!
  • High, easy to digest fiber rich foods that promote a healthy bacteria balance, and help to promote regularity of bowel movements (important in eliminating toxins).
  • Replace processed, high-sugar, inflammatory foods with things such as fruits, vegetables, fish, and avocado/olive oil that are anti-inflammatory in nature. These foods can also help to decrease pathogenic bacteria and promote the proliferation of beneficial bacteria.

Repair:

  • Supplementation: L-glutamine and zinc can help to repair the intestinal lining. Anti-inflammatories like curcumin, Boswellia and omega-3s can help reduce inflammation.
  • Botanicals: Herbs like slippery elm, licorice, and marshmallow root can help protect the lining of the digestive tract.
  • Continue to avoid triggering foods.

Re-inoculate:

  • Supplementation with probiotics specific to you and your gut health goals to ensure a well-balanced microbiome
  • Continue eating a fibre-rich diet, which act as prebiotics (food for the healthy bacteria to proliferate)
  • Consider adding in fermented foods that are rich in probiotics (like kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh)

 

As every individual is unique, your treatment plan will also be unique to you; there is no one size fits all approach. Your Toronto Naturopathic Doctor will work with you to help determine whether leaky gut may be a contributing factor to your symptoms, and tailor a treatment plan accordingly to help you feel your best self!

Book here for your Free no obligation consultation and join the over 2000 clients we have helped since 2011. Click here

 

References:

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2015/628157

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440529

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4637104

estrogen

Estrogen Hormone. What You Need To Know.

The Estrogen hormone gets a really bad wrap, but is that rightfully so? We always hear the term estrogen dominance, but what does that really mean? Can estrogen be good for us too? Let’s explore some of these questions together with a Toronto Naturopathic Doctor.

What is Estrogen?

Estrogen is a female sex hormone made primarily in the ovaries of cycling women. Estrogen hormone can also be made through a process called aromatization from testosterone. The latter process increases as women go through menopause, and is also the process for which men produce estrogen.  The main star of show is called Estradiol (E2), and is considered the most potent form of estrogen. Estradiol is made primarily in the ovaries, but is also produced by adipose tissue, liver, and adrenal glands. Estrone, also known as E1, is also made in the ovaries and to a lesser extent adipose tissue. Estrone is less potent than Estradiol, but becomes the predominant form of estrogen a women’s body makes after menopause. A third type of estrogen exists as well, Estriol (E3) and is the main estrogen during pregnancy.

The Benefits of Estrogen

One of the most widely known functions of the estrogen hormone is its role in regulating the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and for setting off puberty in young females. It also very well known for the array of symptoms women experience as they begin to experience both perimenopause and menopause as estrogen levels begin to fall (is it hot in here, or is it just my menopause?). Although sometimes demonized, estrogen has a wide array of benefits and is required (in appropriate amounts) for optimal functioning.

Brain Health: Estrogen hormones helps to maintain body temperature, aids in cognitive health and prevents memory loss, and helps to regulate parts of the brain responsible for sexual and reproductive development.

Cardiovascular Health: Estrogen helps to regulate the liver’s production of cholesterol, and plays a role in decreasing plaque build-up within the artery walls.

Bone Health: Estrogen plays a role in both the growth and maturation of bone. In adults, it is involved  in the regulation of bone turnover as it promotes the activity of osteoblasts, cells which produce bone.

Reproductive Health: The Estrogen hormone has many benefits and roles within reproductive health. It stimulates the maturation of the uterus, and aids in preparing the uterus to nourish and support a growing fetus. It stimulates the maturation of the vagina, and maintains a thick vaginal wall and lubrication. In addition, it also stimulates the maturation of the ovaries, and the onset of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Furthermore, estrogen also stimulates the development of the breast tissue at puberty, and prepares the breast glands for future milk production.

Symptoms of Low Estrogen:

A low estrogen hormone predominantly occurs as women transition through perimenopause and menopause. Other causes of low estrogen may be due to premature ovarian failure, surgical removal of the ovaries, excessive exercise, eating disorders and other hormonal issues. In women of child bearing years, or those wishing to conceive low estrogen can be a serious cause for concern and must be investigated thoroughly by your Naturopathic Doctor.

Symptoms may include:

  • Menstrual periods that become less frequent, or stop altogether
  • Hot Flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dryness or thinning of the vagina
  • Lowered libido
  • Mood swings
  • Breast tenderness
  • Brain Fog and impaired brain functioning (notably memory)
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased bone mineral density and increased risk of fractures
  • Abnormal lipid profiles

Symptoms of High Estrogen:

The term estrogen dominance speaks to higher levels of estrogen, relative to progesterone. A hyper-estrogenic state occurs when levels of estrogen are high, regardless of progesterone levels. This could be because your body is producing too much estrogen, you are not detoxifying and eliminating it properly, or a combination of both. High estrogen levels may also occur during perimenopause, in which estrogen can spike up to three time higher than what it was in your younger self, sometimes referred to the ovaries’ “last hoorah”.  It should be noted that these estrogen spikes during perimenopause can be intertwined with symptoms of low estrogen which can feel like hormonal chaos to women (think a combination of heavy periods, breast pain, irritable mood, and night sweats).

Symptoms may include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Worsening PMS symptoms (breast tenderness, headaches, mood changes, acne-flare ups)
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Weight gain, especially around the hips, thighs and mid-section
  • Bloating
  • Insomnia
  • Depression/ Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Lowered libido

How to assess Estrogen Levels:

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms for either low or high estrogen hormones, it is critical that you investigate further. Prolonged elevation, or depression of hormones can lead to various health conditions, some potentially being life threatening. Your Toronto Naturopathic Doctor can investigate the cause of your estrogen imbalance, and determine a proper course of action and next steps. These are some of the tests they may discuss with you. They also may look at a more complete picture of your hormones, as often times hormonal imbalances influence each other.

Blood Test: Estrogen levels can be assessed through serum with a blood test; this is the most validated test for diagnosing disease and conditions.

DUTCH Test:

The DUTCH test stands for the Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones. It measures several different hormones, their metabolites, and certain neurotransmitters. Specifically for estrogen, it looks at the different estrogens and how your body is metabolizing it. Our livers are our master detoxification system, and during phase one detoxification estrone (E1) and estradiol (E2) are converted into three different metabolites; 2-OH-E1, 4-OH-E1 and 16-OH-E1. The second phase of detoxification prepares these metabolites to be secreted out of the body and involves methylation. Basically, this phase 2 is responsible for neutralizing the phase 1 metabolites, and preparing for elimination.

If an individual’s phase 2 methylation detoxification is not functioning optimally, this can increase the amount of circulating estrogen metabolites, instead of being able to properly excrete them. This can become an issue because the estrogen metabolites can exhibit estrogen like effects causing estrogen dominant symptoms, increasing cell proliferation, and may increase the risk of certain cancers. It should be noted that the 4-OH-E1 metabolite is considered the safer, and more desired metabolite in this pathway, and that increased volumes of the other metabolites may indicate that your estrogen detoxification pathways require support. Your Naturopathic Doctor is trained to be able to look and interpret the results of your DUTCH Test to determine if your liver, and detoxication pathways require support to optimize both estrogen levels, and its detoxification.

How Naturopathic Medicine can help:

A Toronto Naturopath can help support you in many ways when its come to estrogen. You will want to look at Xenoestrogens: Xenoestrogens are exogenous molecules that imitate the actions of estrogen in the body. They can either be “natural” or “synthetic”. Natural xenoestrogens include phytoestrogens (soy, flax seed) and synthetic xenoestrogens include environmental toxins and synthetic hormones (oral contraceptives etc.). It is important to note that xenoestrogen is an umbrella term, and that there is a difference between natural and synthetic xenoestrogens.

Synthetic xenoestrogens include things like BPA found in plastics and on receipts, phthalates commonly found in personal care products and cosmetics, and dioxin and DDT found in pesticides and herbicides. Synthetic xenoestrogens have the ability to strongly bind to estrogen receptors and can negatively alter its activity.

Natural xenoestrogens, also known as phytoestrogens, are things like flax-seed and soy that can weakly bind to estrogen receptors to help modulate and balance estrogen levels without overstimulating the production of estrogen.

Your Toronto Naturopath will want you to look at how you can reduce and when possible eliminate these from your life.

The EWG has an interesting article speaking about the Dirty Dozen Hormone Disruptors in further detail, and identifying ways to reduce our exposure to synthetic xenoestrogens and endocrine disruptors. Your Naturopathic Doctor will also assess the impact synthetic xenoestrogens may be having, and discuss strategies to reduce or minimize your exposure.

Liver and Detoxification support: As was discussed, the liver is the primary organ responsible for the detoxification of estrogen. Working alongside the liver, our digestion system is responsible for the excretion of estrogen. Both systems need be functioning optimally in order to help estrogen levels balance. Your Naturopathic Doctor will ask you specific questions to determine whether any support is needed for both your liver and gut. In addition, the results of your DUTCH test may provide objective evidence to help support these pathways.

Replenishing micronutrients: Our minerals are like spark plugs that kick off essential reactions in the body to get things going. The cells in our body require minerals to make energy and hormones. In order to assess hormonal health, your Naturopathic Doctor will first look at your mineral status and assess for any micronutrient deficiencies. This is the foundation before tackling your hormones.

Bio-identical hormone therapy: Bioidentical hormones have a molecular structure that  are identical to that of our human hormones, but are made from plant based extracts. Bio-identical hormone therapy may be a helpful adjunct to your treatment plan to help support your hormonal health and changes, and alleviate perimenopause and menopausal symptoms.

Supplementation: Certain botanicals have been research and studied to help support the levels of estrogen and certain hormones in the body. Herbal discussions may include Tribulus, Black Cohosh, and Rhodiola for examples. At Higher Health, we take an individualistic approach to your health care and will develop a supplementation protocol that is unique for your needs. No two individuals or their hormone support will be the same. When you want to talk more about health with a Toronto Naturopath, you can book a free intro call by clicking here.

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6104637/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5050441/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4226184/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5763482/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6726893/

https://dutchtest.com/video/estrogen-tutorial/

https://www.ewg.org/consumer-guides/dirty-dozen-endocrine-disruptors

Symptoms of Perimenopause

Natural Help For Symptoms of Perimenopause

Natural Help For Symptoms of Perimenopause

You started noticing changes to your menstrual cycle, you’re experiencing sleep disturbances and hot flashes, and your mood is all over the place; you’re thinking, could this be perimenopause?

What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is defined as the transitional period from your reproductive years (pre-menopause) to menopause as progesterone and estrogen levels begin to fall. Women typically start to notice some of these changes beginning in their 40’s and up to their 50’s, some women even starting as early as in their late 30’s. The duration of perimenopause can vary, but the average length is normally around four years. In early perimenopause estrogen is typically higher, and progesterone begins to lower due to less consistent ovulatory cycles.

In later perimenopause, hormone levels start to resemble closer to what we see in menopause, as ovulation and menstrual cycles becomes even less frequent,  with both estrogen and progesterone levels decreasing. Menopause is defined as 12 consecutive months without menstrual bleeding, in the absence of any surgery or medical condition that may have caused your body to artificially stop bleeding.

Clinically, we often see that some women are caught by surprise when they start experiencing these symptoms, and may assume that they are too young to start experiencing these hormonal changes. This may result in a delay seeking care to help support and manage the symptoms they are experiencing, and a reduction in quality of life. Perimenopause is a natural part of aging, and it doesn’t have to get in the way of living life to your fullest; a Naturopathic Doctor can help address your concerns and support your body through these changes by supporting the whole person.

What are some of the signs and symptoms of perimenopause?

Perimenopause can be highly symptomatic for about 20% of women but almost all women will experience some symptoms to a certain magnitude. One of the most common complaints we hear in office is that women state they just don’t feel like themselves anymore, and often do not realize that the symptoms they start describing are due to the hormonal changes occurring in their body.

 

Signs and symptoms of perimenopause may include:

  • Changes to the menstrual cycle including periods that may be heavier, more erratic, cramping, and bleeding
  • Mood swings including anxiety, depression and irritability
  • Loss of libido and sexual desire
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Insomnia and difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches and/or migraines
  • Dry and thinning hair
  • Weight gain, especially around the abdomen in spite of proper diet and exercise
  • Breast pain and tenderness

 

What tests are available for perimenopause?

Blood tests: If you’ve noticed your menstrual cycle has started to become irregular, day-3 FSH, LH and estradiol may provide important data on menopausal status. In addition, AMH may be useful to help determine ovarian reserve.  A thyroid panel may be ordered to rule out any thyroid problems that can mimic perimenopausal symptoms. Furthermore, a fasting panel for lipids, insulin and HbA1c may be ordered to assess risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic disease that may be increased for women through this transition and at menopause.

Saliva testing:  We may use salivary testing to help assess cortisol rhythm. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in periods of stress. What some people don’t realize; however, is that the adrenal glands also produce estrogen and progesterone, with this role becoming more significant as the ovaries slow down production of these hormones. This important role of the adrenal glands helps to promote a smoother transition through perimenopause and to menopause. If the adrenals become overworked or tired due to prolonged stress, this can affect their ability to provide support through this transitional period.

Testing is not always necessary, your Naturopathic Doctor will take an individualized approach to help determine whether any of the above tests will be helpful for you based on your signs and symptoms.

How can Naturopathic Medicine help?

Toronto Naturopathic medicine focuses on a whole body approach when assessing natural help for symptoms of perimenopause and menopausal symptoms. This includes physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health to assess the totality of symptoms.  Many women are seeking alternatives to standard hormone replacement therapy, SSRI’s, or other conventional treatments to support this period of hormonal changes. There are several safe and effective therapies Naturopathic Doctors can use to support individuals in this phase of life, that will help achieve optimal health and improve quality of life to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Natural Help For Symptoms of Perimenopause may include:

Diet:

Eating a diet focused on whole foods can help promote balanced blood sugar and hormones during this transition. Focusing on high quality proteins, healthy fats including olive oil, avocado oil, nuts and seeds, as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables can help provide your body with the nutrients it needs during this phase of life.

Stress Management:

We have all stress in our lives from many aspects of our lives; however, when we are continually exposed to this stress it may start to have impacts on our physical, mental and emotional health. Learning ways to help manage this stress can have profound effects on our mind and body. This may include targeted supplementation, mindfulness based strategies, and self-care practises to help our bodies manage this chronic stress.

Examples can include taking an Epsom salt bath, meditating for 10 minutes a day, or even taking some time to do some deep breathing exercises.  Your Naturopathic Doctor will discuss how stress may be playing a role in your symptoms, and appropriate strategies to help balance and manage it.

Acupuncture:

More clinical trials have been conducted that have shown acupuncture can be effective in reducing some of the signs and symptoms (notable hot flashes), as well as quality of life in women with perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms.

Botanicals:

Many botanicals have been shown to help support women suffering from hormonal symptoms. Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor to discuss if any of these may be helpful for your individual symptoms.

Vitex: A hormone balancing herb that can help improve irritability, sadness, breast tenderness, mood and sleep during perimenopause and menopause.

Rhodiola: A wonderful female adaptogen that can supports fatigue, focus and symptoms of burnout; perfect for women that may be experiencing difficulty managing stress levels or adrenal fatigue along with perimenopausal symptoms.

Ashwagandha: A calming herb that can help to relax the nervous system, and improve stress and cortisol levels. In addition, it has also been shown to improve sexual function and memory in perimenopausal women.

Black-cohosh:  A herb with estrogenic effects,  may help to reduce both the frequency and intensity of hot flashes, and thus sleep disturbances.

Bio-identical Hormone Therapy:  Bioidentical hormones have a molecular structure that  are identical to that of our human hormones, but are made from plant based extracts. Bio-identical hormone therapy may be a helpful adjunct to your treatment plan to help support your hormonal health and changes, and alleviate perimenopause and menopausal symptoms.

The Take Home Message

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, please reach out to any of our qualified Toronto Naturopathic Doctors to support your health during this time and enjoy a smoother transition; you do not need to suffer during perimenopause. It’s important to work with a qualified health care practitioner that has experience in hormonal health, and with these modalities to ensure a safe and effective treatment plan is developed just for you.

There are many natural options for help with symptoms of perimenopause that your Toronto Naturopathic Doctor can implement swiftly to help manage your perimenopausal symptoms and improve your quality of life!

References:

https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/menopause-101-a-primer-for-the-perimenopausal

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15224-menopause-perimenopause-and-postmenopause

https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/difference-perimenopause

https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/perimenopause-rocky-road-to-menopause

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26653408/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25621768/

14 Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance in Women

Hormones play a critical role in physical and mental health. Biological changes can alter the amounts of hormones within the body, leading to symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women, which can have a significant impact on wellbeing and quality of life. No two women are alike, so signs of hormonal imbalance can vary significantly from one individual to another. What’s more, as you age, you may notice that you experience more or different symptoms than you did in your younger years.

Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance in Women

Hormonal imbalances may occur cyclically, but the imbalances may also become more persistent. Natural biological changes can lead to hormonal imbalances, but high stress levels can also contribute to or exacerbate them. Here are 14 symptoms that indicate you may have a hormonal imbalance.

1. Irregular Periods

For most women, their menstruation cycle is between 21 and 35 days, and the flow can last anywhere from two to seven days. If you experience some variation in duration or time between periods, that isn’t unusual. However, if you’ve always been regular but your cycle or flow alters significantly, it’s one of the common symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women.

2. Sleep Problems and Fatigue

Approximately 47% of women have difficulty getting a full night’s sleep, and the percentage of postmenopausal women who experience regular insomnia is between 61% and 83%. Low levels of progesterone can lead to sleep issues. Fluctuations in melatonin and cortisol can also be a factor. When you don’t get enough sleep or sleep quality is poor, you may experience a persistent sense of general fatigue throughout the day.

3. Mood Swings

If you find that your mood changes course abruptly, and sometimes for no apparent reason, it could be because you have a hormone imbalance. Many women feel more agitated or cry easily before the start of their periods. During perimenopause, these mood swings can happen more frequently. Sometimes, mood swings become more chronic, which can significantly impact physical and mental health.

4. Brain Fog

Do you have difficulty concentrating or struggle with memory recall? These are symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women. Low estrogen, specifically, may be to blame. Women with a hormonal imbalance frequently experience what many refer to as brain fog. If you have it, you understand why it is an apt description, though you won’t find it on a list of medical terms.

5. Gastrointestinal Issues

Your digestive health is key to overall health, and gut function is linked to your hormones. A hormone imbalance can lead to constipation, bloating, cramps, diarrhea and nausea due to imbalances in estrogen and progesterone levels in the gastrointestinal tract.

6. Weight Gain

One of the sneaky symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women is weight gain. You may find that before your period, you feel ravenous and want to eat everything in sight, particularly if it is fatty, salty or sweet. A healthy diet, personalized for your body’s dietary needs, can help you to combat this symptom.

7. Headaches

People get headaches for numerous reasons, including stress and tension. However, declining estrogen can also cause headaches. Some women experience this symptom before the onset of their period every month, but consistently low estrogen levels can result in more frequent headaches.

8. Hot Flashes

One of the more disturbing symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women is hot flashes. You may have witnessed someone having one, but you won’t be prepared for the sudden and intense heat that arises in the upper body and face until you experience your first one. This intense heat can be accompanied by dizziness, nausea, headache, weakness and rapid heart rate. It may last only a few seconds, but it can go on for up to an hour.

9. Night Sweats

The hot flash’s sibling is night sweats. Both are caused by depleted estrogen, resulting in a miscommunication with the hypothalamus, which regulates body temperature. When a severe hot flash occurs at night, you wake up drenched in sweat, though the room temperature is perfectly normal. Some women experience both hot flashes and night sweats, while others experience only one or the other.

10. Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal dryness is one of the symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women. It is common in those who are in perimenopause and postmenopausal women. Falling estrogen levels result in dry and thinning vaginal walls, which can make intercourse painful.

11. Low Sex Drive

In addition to painful intercourse, declining testosterone levels may be to blame when women experience a low sex drive. Though you may think of testosterone as a male sex hormone, women have it as well. Low levels of progesterone and estrogen may also contribute to a low sex drive.

12. Breast Changes

Have you noticed that your breasts have changed? Perhaps they’ve become denser and lumpier. If so, you may actually have high estrogen levels. If your breasts have altered in the other direction, losing density, then your estrogen levels may be falling. Increased estrogen and progesterone can also cause your breasts to feel tender and sore.

13. Acne

Many women discover the fallacy behind the belief that acne is just for teenagers. In fact, it’s one of the common symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women that shows up again as women’s hormones start to fluctuate during perimenopause. Chronic acne is a sign that your androgen levels may be too high. Androgen is another hormone that is considered a male sex hormone, but women have it, too, and sometimes the body produces too much of it.

14. Hair Loss

Falling progesterone and estrogen levels lead to slower hair growth rates. However, sometimes women actually experience hair loss. If it seems like your hair has gotten thinner, it may be one of the symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women that you can blame on too much androgen. This hormone causes the hair follicles to shrink, resulting in thinning hair.

Find Support for Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance in Women

If you are experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women, the professionals at Higher Health are here to help. We offer support throughout your journey to improved health, from hormone testing to a personalized treatment plan. To get started, book your Free consultation call today.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5760052

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2800285

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6843314

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7432488

Meditation to help balance homones

Natural Ways To Balance Women’s Hormone Health

The Path of Naturopathic Wellness for Women’s Hormone Health

Naturopathic treatment uses a variety of natural remedies and therapies to help the body restore proper balance. Naturopathic doctors Toronto are primary health care providers that assist patients in identifying health issues and choosing courses of healing for the whole body.

Nutrition

Eating a nutrient-rich diet is a vital part of women’s hormone health. Many foods we consume today are filled with toxins or are chemically engineered, which depletes the nutritional value.

A naturopath introduces you to a health-giving eating regimen:

  • You learn about food sensitivities that cause health problems and discomfort.
  • You see how to balance various types of foods and include more micronutrients.
  • You gain insights into alkaline diets and plant-based foods.
  • You discover what whole-body nourishment entails.
  • You learn how to implement healthier eating strategies, even with the ongoing bustle of life.

NDs educate people on how to treat their bodies with care and work toward a permanent state of well-being.

Lifestyle Management

Stress is a major determinant of women’s hormone health. The more hectic and chaotic life becomes, stress hormones flood the body and interrupt the natural flow of body systems.

Lifestyle counselling helps people manage how they react to situations. How individuals think and feel are important factors of wellness. Greater awareness of how to approach life can profoundly affect the mind and body connection that leads to a healthier you.

Natural Pharmacology

Botanical medicine, natural pharmacology and IV vitamin therapy are parts of naturopathic healing methods and modalities. Treatment choices are based on personal needs and health goals.

IV vitamin therapy promotes optimal health through improved bioavailability. During this process, nutrients circulate directly through the body, stimulating cellular strength that promotes healing outcomes. Additionally, IV therapy hydrates the body, which is an essential aspect of women’s health.

Acupuncture for Women’s Hormone Health

Naturopathic medicine uses an integrated approach to healing for women’s hormone health. Traditional Chinese medicine is part of the naturopathic wellness journey and gives people natural tools to deal with illness and pain.

Acupuncture is a TCM practice that uses needles to balance energy throughout the body. It is used for many conditions to provide therapeutic benefits.

Reach for Your Healthiest Self

At Higher Health Centre, our comprehensive four-step treatment approach helps people move toward wellness. Through in-depth discussions with you, we look for barriers and lifestyle factors that could impede your healthcare objectives.

We use testing to develop your wellness profile and provide a range of options to address your women’s hormone health goals. Contact us today to book your free consultation!

 

Sources:

https://aanmc.org/naturopathic-medicine/

https://ndnr.com/womens-health/the-functional-approach-to-hormonal-imbalance/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2883816/

https://naturemed.org/the-naturopathic-approach/