5 Steps To Balance Female Hormones and Stop The Madness with Functional Medicine

Balance of stones for Health Hormones

Are you suffering from hormonal imbalance symptoms?

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Bloating, constipation, and or gas
  • Sleeplessness/Insomnia
  • Low libido
  • Sinus and allergy issues
  • Brain fog and memory loss
  • Infertility
  • Continuous weight gain
  • Life altering fatigue
  • Dry skin, eczema, or psoriasis
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual cycles
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Hot flashes
  • Irrational mood swings
  • Hair loss

Millions of women suffer from these types of symptoms, but why? Because many people mistakenly think they can be healthy simply going to their routine doctor visits, eating less, and moving more. If it was only that simple!

The symptoms of hormonal imbalance are often treated with medications. Unfortunately, these medications don’t get to the root cause of these problems. Without addressing the root cause and merely treating the symptoms, your overall health will continue to decline and can lead to more medications. We specialize in ending this downward spiral by detecting which organs and glands are not functioning properly and “why” the organs and glands are not functioning optimally, leading to your symptoms.

In this article, we have outlined for you some strategies to get your health back on track.

1) Make sure your progesterone and estrogen levels are balanced:

An unhealthy diet high in sugar can result in inflammation and weight gain that may contribute to PMS and hormonal imbalances. Sugar causes an increased production of the hormone insulin. Insulin, when too high, can result in damage to the arteries and vessels of the body and brain. Insulin also unfavorably alters the estrogen and progesterone ratio. The imbalanced ratio of estrogen and progesterone leads to many of the symptoms women experience.

More often than not, after testing, I find women who have a hormone deficiency of progesterone and an excess amount of estrogen. Taking birth control pills or other medications containing estrogen can result in elevated estrogen. Excess estrogen is linked to PMS as well as stroke, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, and an increased risk of breast cancer. Abnormally high levels of estrogen can cause emotional symptoms such as irritability and aggression in addition to many physical symptoms and altered body composition. You will notice in this patient’s report at the bottom of this post, elevated levels of estrogen (box 1).

Those women that experience hair loss, PCOS, and facial hair may have elevated levels of insulin as well as testosterone (box 2).

2) Reduce your stress:

Another contributing factor of imbalanced progesterone/estrogen levels is stress. Stress causes the depletion of the hormone progesterone while increasing the long-term stress hormone cortisol. You can see in the image below, as the body makes more cortisol it leaves less progesterone to be available for use.

Cortisol steal

Stress also depletes your levels of serotonin and dopamine that are two neurotransmitters responsible for mood-enhancement. These neurotransmitters are responsible for alleviating PMS and hormonal symptoms such as breast pain, digestive upset, cravings, depression, insomnia, anxiety, poor concentration and lack of motivation. Stress also raises the hormone aldosterone which contributes to water retention and magnesium loss. Advanced testing that looks at your cortisol and progesterone levels can lead to a clear understanding of what could be causing your problems and what specific treatments would be most effective in helping you.

3) Improve your digestive health:

You’ve probably heard people say, “You are what you eat” but in our office we like to say, “You are what you absorb and don’t eliminate”. Many of our patients have imbalanced gut flora which can lead to malabsorption of foods. What causes imbalanced gut flora? The use of antibiotics, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), parasites, viruses, alcohol, yeast or candida overgrowth, food sensitivities, processed sugar enriched “Franken” foods, and stress. Deficiencies that have been researched resulting in hormonal imbalances are magnesium, vitamin B6, calcium, folic acid and essential fatty acids. An organic acid nutritional test can help you discover which nutrients are deficient and allow us to create a customized protocol based on your unique needs.

4) Improve your liver health:

Every hormone in the body is made from fats and proteins assimilated and released by the liver. When the liver gets bogged down with medications, toxins, debris and other metabolic waste it cannot keep up with the production and elimination of the hormones in the body. This lack of detoxification and formation of hormones results in hormonal imbalances. Enhancing liver health is vital in many cases to correct hormonal imbalances. This is done by improving the levels of nutrients that help with detoxification and the formation of hormones.

The liver uses a process called methylation to eliminate metabolized hormones from the body. Poor methylation can lead to increased levels of estrogen and is a sign of reduced detoxification capacity. Methylation also plays a role in the production of antioxidants, production of neurotransmitters, (depression/anxiety), and melatonin (sleep). You will notice in the patient’s test results below, compromised methylation (box 3)

One study performed by the JNCI of Monographs published, “The tissues of women with breast cancer may have 10 to 50 times the level of plasma concentration of estrogen. This suggests estrogens are not properly detoxified, and therefore, accumulate in the breast tissue. These levels will increase the risk of breast cancer.” There are hundreds of articles that illustrate that cancer can be caused by estrogen, but this study points to the fact that estrogen causes cancer if it is not properly detoxified.

In our office, we actually have the ability to test if you have excess estrogens that are not being properly detoxified that could be leading to your hormonal imbalances. Notice in the picture below how this young woman’s estrogens are high. She suffers from exceptionally heavy periods that last 7-10 days and she has terrible cramping. The 16-OH and 4-OH are especially important because these two types of estrogen have clinical research showing a link to breast cancer, and the 2-OH has research showing it helps prevent cancer.

Unfortunately, this young woman is not in a good situation, because of imbalances in these hormones. But after appropriate diet changes and nutritional support, she has shifted these test results to a more favorable ratio of these hormones and is now having completely normal menstrual cycles.

Hormone Metabolism high estrogen

5) Get your thyroid checked:

Underactive thyroid disease is being missed with standard laboratory testing (evaluation of only the TSH and T4 hormones) and should be considered as a possible cause of PMS symptoms. Progesterone, the same hormone that if deficient causes PMS, is also necessary for healthy thyroid gland function. Many low thyroid symptoms can mimic and cause PMS symptoms.

Where do I begin?

Unfortunately, so many people turn to hormonal treatments (i.e. bio-identical, birth control, HRT), pain, anxiety and depression medications, and even surgical interventions to improve their symptoms. Because these interventions fail to address the true cause of hormonal imbalances, many continue to suffer. Often their conditions worsen which can lead to more serious disease and illness. I recommend you take a more holistic, individualized approach by discovering your unique root causes and applying the 4Life Method to restore your physiology, energy, and hormone balance!

Dr. Crystal Whisler, DC,RN - Functional Medicine For Life

Dr. Crystal Whisler is known for helping patients live their best life possible with purpose and joy.  She is one of a few certified functional medicine practitioners in the country. She listens to patients concerns and uses cutting-edge functional diagnostic testing to help patients uncover the root cause of their health issues.  She uses lifestyle and nutritional medicine as a primary method of healing.

Dr. Whisler has a unique perspective on health, as she suffered from Chronic Fatigue and several debilitating health issues.  She found functional medicine to be the solution for her own health conditions and achieves tremendous results with her patients using these same principles and a personalized health paradigm.