Years ago, I was convinced I must be pregnant because my belly was expanding at an exponential rate, my period was MIA, and so on and so on. I took 3 pregnancy tests and all were negative – big shocker. I then made an appointment with my OB for yet another pregnancy test, only to come to find out that my Progesterone levels were so far below the acceptable level that it was showing similar signs of a pregnancy. I was so upset that I did not know what was happening to my body. I knew I had to dive into some research on hormones so I could get my body back into shape. Now mind you, I hadn’t changed a single thing – not my eating habits, not my exercise – NOTHING! The symptoms just popped up and all I knew was there was NO WAY I was accepting this as my new normal. SO I started researching hormones and the deeper I dove, the more fascinated I became.
So what are hormones? A hormone is a chemical substance produced by an animal or plant which acts as a “chemical messenger” to help different parts of an organism in a coordinated way. The body contains more than 100 different types of hormones that race through the bloodstream at the rate of thousands of billions of units per day. Since I’m only writing a blog and not a book we will only focus on 6 main hormones, DHEA, Pregnenolone, Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone, and Thyroid Hormones
Hormones control virtually all bodily functions like:
1. Regulate heartbeat and breathing
2. Put you to sleep and wake you up
3. Control blood pressure.
4. Build bone, maintain muscle tone, and lubricate joints.
5. Make the body produce energy and heat.
6. Govern menstrual cycle.
7. Fight stress, prevent fatigue, calm anxiety, and relieve depression.
8. Make and keep memories.
9. Soothe pain.
10. Stimulate the brain and immune system.
11. Make men MEN and women WOMEN
Hormones actually determine how we age by controlling overall physical and mental health. As levels decline, so do we, physically and mentally. Hormones are volatile and fragile so it’s easy for them to breakdown. So how do we know they are breaking down? Here are some telltale signs that hormones are going rogue.
Here are the most common ways a breakdown can manifest:
DHEA: decreased muscle strength, low sex drive (women), cellulite on thighs, anxious, gloomy, insecure and sad, low energy.
PREGNENOLONE: memory problems and poor concentration, may have joint pain, deficiency of other hormones, vulnerable to stress and depression, reduced capacity for physical exertion.
ESTROGEN: loss of “girly” curves, vaginal dryness, lack of sexual desire, breasts shrink and/or sag, dry and irritated eyes, the tendency toward depression.
PROGESTERONE: painful, tender breasts prior to period (YEP – that was me); estrogen dominance, obesity in the lower half of body (YEP – that was ME!!!); poor sleeping habits, headaches and migraines.
TESTOSTERONE: loss of sexual desire; men AND women; feel fatigued day and night; tendency toward depression; dry eyes; wrinkles around mouth and corner of eyes.
THYROID HORMONES: cold hands and feet; puffy eyelids and swollen face; dry, rough, and sparse hair; weight gain or weight loss; feeling tired. People can experience hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Let’s break down each of these hormones.
DHEA: Dehydroepiandrosterone is considered the “pro-hormone” tied to longevity, lean muscle mass, and a strong body. We naturally create DHEA in our bodies – the hormone plays a role in more than 150 different metabolic functions. It’s one of the most abundant hormones in the human body (primarily produced by adrenal glands) but declines after age 30. The function of DHEA is to protect again cancer, improve memory, improve the immune system, lower body fat, increase muscle mass, protect the brain, have an anti-aging effect that protects against bone loss.
ESTROGEN: This hormone increases cell growth rate, regulates healthy metabolism, opposes progesterone and testosterone (so the disparity between the two can be what causes major issues), initiates weight gain, sits in the liver and can get stuck. There is also a whole host of estrogen mimickers, called xenoestrogens. These have a different chemical structure but behave the same as estrogen biologically. As women, we are flooded with these mimickers and need to pay close attention to what we put in and on our bodies. Things like animal products, parabens, phthalates (found in makeup, lotions, shampoos, etc.), insecticides, pesticides or even plastic water bottles and most plasticware can contribute to an overload of xenoestrogens. It’s a really good idea to make sure that you are getting enough fiber because excess estrogen can piggyback on the fiber and be eliminated from your system. GO FIBER!
TESTOSTERONE: This is the dominant male hormone; opposes estrogen; develops male reproductive tissues; promotes increased muscle and bone mass, and the growth of body hair; protects agains cancer (if levels are remaining stable)
PREGNENOLONE: This is a steroid hormone that plays a key role in the production of other steroid hormones, including progesterone, DHEA, and estrogen.
PROGESTERONE: This is a steroid hormone that belongs to a class of hormones called progestogens. It is secreted by a temporary endocrine gland in the ovary called the corpus luteum. This is the dominant female hormone; opposes estrogen; allows for the gestation of a child; protects against cancer (if levels are remaining stable).
THYROID: This is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the base of your neck. Over 20 million Americans are suffering from some type of thyroid disorder. YIKES! 1 in 8 women are affected in the US. The function of the thyroid is to release hormones that control metabolism, which is the way your body uses energy. The thyroid hormones regulate vital body functions, including: breathing, heart rate, central and peripheral nervous systems, body weight, muscle strength, menstrual cycles, body temperature and cholesterol levels. In other words – a WHOLE LOTTA STUFF!!!
So what are the natural options out there to help keep your hormones in balance? I love to use essential oils because they are super intelligent and are able to go through the body doing jobs that need to be done. There are several that are in my nightstand that I rotate through. I apply most all of these topically, although Endoflex is a blend that I sometimes take orally. Progessence Plus is the one that got me out of my deep hole when I thought I surely must be pregnant! This is formulated to balance and enhance the natural effects of progesterone. I prefer this to a bioidentical because it meets the body where it is on any given day. SclarEssence balances the body’s own hormones naturally using essential oil phytoestrogens. This one is a powerful blend that rebalances my body quickly. For the gentlemen, there is Shutran, an empowering blend designed for men to boost masculinity and confidence. Then there is Mister, which helps decongest the prostate and promote greater male hormonal balance. When I need a MAJOR readjustment I turn to my supplements which include PD 80/20 and EndoGize. SIDENOTE: Young Living supplements have an unmatched absorbency rate because they are infused with essential oils. The absorbency rate is 87% in one hour! AWESOME!! EndoGize helps maintain a healthy endocrine system and PD 80/20 contains pregnenolone and DHEA which provides a huge boost to those precursor hormones.