At some time in our lives we can all suffer from hormonal imbalance.  The healthy body works within very tight parameters.  Think about temperature -36.1C (97F) to 37.2C (99F).  Variations out of this range can indicate a health issue.  Similarly, very small variations in hormones can have big impacts in the body.

Thyroid, sex hormones and cortisol

We commonly think about hormones as sex hormones such as testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone, but there are many others in the body.  Most relevant to this discussion are thyroid hormones, sex hormones and cortisol.

Hormones don’t act in isolation.  An excess in one can have an effect on another and similarly a deficiency in one can impact another.

Excess cortisol is a big offender!  We need  cortisol – it’s essential for our survival as it helps with the fight or flight state.  It supports us in times of stress, making us more alert and ready for action.  Once the stress has passed, cortisol reduces and we enter a more relaxed state.

What if cortisol stays high?

But what if it doesn’t reduce, or can’t – for example where stress is very prolonged? Then cortisol initially remains high.  Think about it! If you are being chased by a bear (as in the fight or flight state), you won’t need to reproduce at that point in time – you need to escape; you won’t need to sit down and have a meal – it’s the last thing on your mind; and you’re not too bothered about catching a cold – you may not survive to get it, so your immunity goes down.

How does it affect hormones?

How does this affect hormones?  Well, if the body is busy making cortisol and doesn’t need functions such as reproduction, metabolism or immunity, it reduces activity.  And so instead of producing thyroid hormones – responsible for all metabolism in the body, it will divert resources to cortisol.   The result? – your metabolism goes down, you’re tired, you put on weight, despite cutting back on calories; or your sex hormones go down, resulting in reduced libido, menstrual and erectile problems; or your immunity goes down, leading to colds and flus, but also increased inflammation.  Inflammation has been linked to heart disease, higher cholesterol, auto-immune conditions and many more diseases.

I will talk more in future blogs about these hormones, but in the meantime, it is important to manage cortisol.  Exercise, get enough sleep, eat well and consume adequate protein.

Herbs can help – please act now!

There are many herbs which can help with stress, anxiety and the adrenal glands, including Ashwaganda, Wood betony, Gotu Kola, Passionflower, Californian poppy and Chamomile.  They need to be matched to your issue and to you as an individual.  If this is done, they are very effective.  I have helped many patients with herbal formulas suited to their needs.

I look round and see so many people stressed, either doing nothing about it, or self-medicating.  Please make an appointment – there are so many things you can do and take to support yourself, but you have to take the first step.  Please do!  E:

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