Hormones are chemical messengers secreted by the glands of the endocrine system. These messengers travel through the blood to tissues and organs where they are responsible for the complex coordination of the various systems of the body. In essence hormones tell organs what to do and when to do it. The endocrine system which includes the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, thyroid gland, adrenals and gonads, regulates hormone levels to keep the body in a biological equilibrium called homeostasis. Maintaining this equilibrium is a concern of naturopathic medicine and is crucial for optimum health.
A hormonal imbalance occurs when there is too much or too little of a hormone. This imbalance causes the body to deviate from its natural homeostasis and many undesirable symptoms can occur. Mood, metabolism, energy levels and sleep cycles are all regulated by hormone levels. When a hormone imbalance does occur the body’s innate ability to restore homeostasis is often enough. However sometimes, due to factors such as chronic stress, exposure to toxins (hormone disruptors) and improper diet, this innate ability is impaired. Naturopathic medicine can work with your body to rebalance hormone levels, to help regain homeostasis and to improve overall health.
A woman’s health influenced by the unique balance of hormones in her body. Some of the most important of these hormones are estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and cortisol. Women experience different hormonal imbalances than men because they have different endocrine organs and hormonal cycles. Here are some of the common symptoms associated with female hormonal imbalance.
Most women are told these symptoms are “normal” or that “this is just part of PMS, menopause, etc”, or worse that radical surgeries, removal the ovaries and uterus is the only option. This is, in most cases, very far from the truth.
Naturopathic Medicine regards the regulation of hormone levels by the endocrine system as a complex and multifaceted process. The factors that can influence hormone imbalances include lifestyle habits, environmental factors and genetics. Hormonal imbalances can also occur when endocrine glands are not functioning properly. Below is a list of common influences of hormone levels:
Dr. Lovink’s approach to hormone balancing includes identification of your unique hormonal imbalance, removal of hormonal disruptors, dietary modification, targeted supplements and botanicals, stress management, sleep hygiene, and in certain cases, the use of bio-identical hormone restoration.
Identifying your unique landscape of hormones is a critical step in getting your hormones back on track. As a naturopath, Dr. Lovink utilizes both salivary and urinary hormone testing to achieve this end. Secondarily, identifying any factors that may be contributing to your hormone imbalance is important.
Testing is an important component of the treatment process. Proper tests will allow a naturopath to identify specific hormone imbalances and to determine possible causes. Some of the tests used include: