So often I hear from women that they are concerned that their "hormones are out of balance", that their :PMS is terrible", and that they know their "hormones are to blame" for a variety of problems from their low energy levels, weight gain, to low mood.
And there can certainly be truth to this. But before we blame the "hormones" themselves, let's take a brief look at what they do:
Estrogen: Estrogen is made by our ovaries, adrenal glands, and other peripheral tissues in our body.
There are 3 main kinds.
1. Estrone (E1): A storage form of estrogen
2. Estradiol (E2): The dominant form of estrogen
3. Estriol (E3): The estrogen made primarily in pregnancy by the placenta
Estrogen interacts with receptors throughout our body which is why subtle changes can have powerful effects. A few of it's roles include:
- Bones: maintaining bone mineral density and mas
- Mood: estrogen is stimulating to mood, and increases serotonin
- Heart: roles in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and blood flow
- Reproductive organs: direct stimulating effect on these tissues - eg for preparation of uterine lining for pregnancy [problematic because over-stimulation can lead to things like breast and uterine cancers]
Progesterone: Also interacts with receptors throughout the body
- Mood: progesterone has been called the "natural valium" because of it's calming effects on mood and the nervous system
- Thyroid & Metabolism: has a stimulating effect [hence the temperature increase after ovulation!]
- Immune: modulates the immune function and can decrease risk of autoimmune diseases
- Reproductive organs: acts on breast and uterine tissues, and can lower cancer risk by counteracting estrogens stimulating effects.
So, if hormones do all of these great things for us, why are we always blaming them for our health issues?
The problem is not the hormones themselves, because they do great things for us, but their imbalances on the other hand can create chaos for our bodies and minds.
Here are a few situations where hormones might be causing or worsening your mood:
1. Low progesterone: As we saw above, progesterone is our "calming" hormone. If we don't have enough of it, we can experience:
As you can see, there is certainly some overlap between symptoms which can make it hard to determine without some clinical expertise.
Luckily, there are 3 big ways you can support healthy hormone balance regardless of what type of imbalance you might have:
1. Gut healing: Elimination of food sensitivities, promoting healthy gut flora through pre & probiotic foods.
2. Decreasing inflammation: Through stress reduction, healthy exercise, and choosing foods which do not promote inflammation [eg: the anti-inflammatory diet].
3. Healthy stress response: Adequate sleep, regular exercise, daily 5 minute meditations can go a long way to promote a healthy stress response, which in turn helps to regulate our hormones!
For more on how to address your unique hormone picture, it's worthwhile seeing a Naturopathic Doctor who may recommend some testing in addition to creating a holistic hormone balancing plan!
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