What is Hormonal Imbalance?
Hormonal is the excess or lack of certain hormones. Hormones are the body’s chemical
messenger. These are produced in endocrine glands and travel around through the blood to
regulate activities of cells and organs. It controls major body processes like metabolism and
reproduction. Small changes in the hormones can have serious effects on the bodily functions.
What are the types of Hormones?
The most common hormones and their functions are the following:
- Thyroid— regulates physical growth and development, weight, energy levels, internal temperature, and many more.
- Estrogen— development of female secondary sexual characteristics including breasts, endometrium, and regulation of the menstrual cycle. In males estrogen helps in maturation of the sperm and maintenance of a healthy libido.
- Progesterone— responsible for the regulation of uterine function during menstruation and plays a role in reproduction and maintaining the early stages of pregnancy.
- Testosterone— responsible for the development of male sexual characteristics, sperm production, sex drive, bone mass, fat distribution, muscle size and strength and many others.
What causes Hormonal Imbalances?
There are many known causes and conditions that impact the endocrine glands. Some are lifestyle habits and environmental factors.
- chronic or extreme stress
- Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia
- hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
- poor diet and nutrition
- obesity or anorexia
- hormonal replacement or birth control medications
- abuse of anabolic steroid medications
- pituitary tumors
- Diseases such as Cushing’s syndrome, Addison’s disease
- benign or malignant tumors and cysts affecting the endocrine glands
- injury to endocrine glands
- severe allergic reactions or infections
- chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- iodine deficiency (goiters)
- exposure to toxins, pollutants, and endocrine disrupting chemicals, including pesticides and herbicides
Common signs and symptoms
The symptoms depend on the glands and hormones affected, however there are a few
common symptoms that are indicative of a hormonal imbalance in general.
- unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- unexplained or excessive sweating
- difficulty sleeping
- changes in sensitivity to cold and heat
- very dry skin or skin rashes
- changes in blood pressure and heart rate
- brittle or weak bones
- changes in blood sugar concentration
- irritability and anxiety
- unexplained and long-term fatigue
- frequent headaches
- changes in appetite
- reduced sex drive
- thinning, brittle hair
Role of Functional Medicine
Functional Medicine seeks to identify and treat the underlying cause, create and support
the balance of hormones to improve one’s health and reduce symptoms. It involves a careful
investigation and interpretation of various tests to detect markers for inflammation, oxidative
stress, metabolism, nutrient levels, genetic testing and chronic infections. Certain modifications in
diet and lifestyle may be advised as well as nutritional supplements and other beneficial therapies
such as Fecal Microbiota Transplantation, Antioxidants and stem cell therapy depending on the
cause of imbalance.