Balancing Hormones for a Healthier Life

Empowher

May 3, 2009

By Her Writer Tina Marcantel

One thing that could be causing problems for you is an imbalance of chemicals. Often doctors try to restore that chemical balance by prescribing antidepressants or anti anxiety medications that mask the symptoms for a time but that can have side effects over the long run. While there is a place for prescription medications for temporary relief from serious symptoms, it’s essential to get to the root of the problem. I like to explain it to my patients this way: You weren’t born with those synthetic drugs in your system–what you were born with are hormones that need to be brought into a proper balance before your body can heal itself.

Female or male, young or old, it is hormones that keep our bodies functioning properly and keep us feeling healthy and happy. Hormones are chemical substances that are released by various glands in the body to target organ systems and specific cells to help them function normally. They are essential for every activity of daily living, including the processes of digestion, metabolism, growth, reproduction, and mood control.

Hormones produced by the thyroid gland, for example, are essential to the proper function of every cell in the body. Insulin, produced by the pancreas gland, helps us to process sugars and convert them into energy. Sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone affect our libido (sex drive), but are important in many other bodily functions, as well. Stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) help us to cope with the many stressors (both physical and emotional) that we face as we go through the day.

Proper amounts of these hormones can keep our bodies running healthy and help us feel good, but when we get imbalances of these chemicals in our systems it can have a negative impact on our health.

Causes and Symptoms

Some causes of hormonal imbalances for men and women are:
*consistent, long-term stress
*aging
*changes in life cycles (e.g., from adolescence to adulthood)
*genetic predisposition
*exposure to environmental or food toxins
*xenoestrogens found in some foods

For women in particular some causes may be:
*Use of birth control pills (past or present)
*Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
*Postpartum changes (childbirth)
*Perimenopause and menopause
*Estrogen dominance

Symptoms of hormonal imbalances can include:
*Mood swings
*Weight gain or prevention of weight loss
*Fatigue
*Insomnia
*Low libido
*Irregular menses
*Hair loss or unusual hair growth

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.