Do you know exactly how your hormones affect your body on a daily basis?
Hormones are important chemical messengers in the human body, working together to ensure that vital functions work in synchrony. Hormones affect your reproductive cycles, sexual function, and your development and growth. They control your current mood and sleep; are in charge of how you cope with stress; and how your body breaks down food. In short, hormones are in charge of nearly every major system in our body.
How Do You Know When Your Hormones Are Imbalanced?
Have you started experiencing night sweats, mood swings, hair loss, vaginal dryness, poor sleep, weight gain that’s been hard to lose, irregular menstrual cycles, acne, poor memory or low energy?
If you’ve been experiencing any of the above, your hormone levels may be unbalanced. Hormonal imbalances arise when there is too much or too little of a hormone in the bloodstream. Seeing that hormones play an essential role in regulating bodily functions, even small hormonal imbalances can produce side effects throughout the body.
There is a broad range of symptoms that can cause and indicate female hormone imbalance. Since symptoms may vary depending on the glands affected, here are the most common symptoms that may occur with a hormonal imbalance:
-Blood pressure changes
-Changes in sensitivity to cold
-Changes in heart rate
-Dry skin and rashes
-Anxiety and depression
-Thirsty quite often
-Weight gain and weight loss that’s hard to explain
-Low sex drive
-Changes in blood sugar concentration
What is Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
At Toronto Functional Medicine Centre, we may recommend bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) – also known as bio-identical hormone optimization – to help balance hormone levels.
Unlike synthetic hormone treatments, which may create harmful metabolites, bio-identical hormones are derived from plant products. Bio-identical hormones are considered more natural compared to standard synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) because the hormones are chemically identical to those made by the human body.
BHRT has many benefits, especially for women experiencing menopause:
- May help improve mental clarity and memory
- May improve sex drive
- May help reduce hot flashes/night sweats
- May improve sleep
- May reduce wrinkles by boosting your amount of collagen and elastin
- May reduce the risk of osteoporosis by improving bone density and bone mass
- May help increase your energy levels
The outcomes from BHRT may vary depending on each individual’s lifestyle and genetic makeup. Some patients’ results are visible within a short amount of time, others may take longer. Treatments for hormonal imbalances will vary depending on the cause. (Note: although BHRT can bring great results, they may cause side effects such as acne, bloating, weight gain, fatigue, mood swings and increased facial hair.)
Other Ways to Balance Hormones Naturally
Bio-identical hormone optimization – combined with nutritional and lifestyle changes – may be ideal for bringing your life back into balance. Here are some other hormone-balancing solutions:
Natural herbs: Herbs have been safely used by naturopathic doctors for years. Evidence supports the use of herbs, such as black cohosh and don quai, for helping to manage symptoms of menopause or aging. These herbs mimic some of the effects of estrogens, but are not true phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens – which are the natural estrogen-like compounds found in plants – tend to pose less risks for side effects compared to prescriptions. Legumes, flax seeds, soybeans and hops are examples of foods that contain phytoestrogens.
Dietary changes: Cut down inflammatory foods such as processed meats, sugar and simple carbohydrates. Eat a whole-foods diet with large amounts of ‘good’ fats, vegetables and fruit, plus whole grains, which may help scale down menopause symptoms. Phytoestrogens and healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids from fish, may also be helpful.
Stress management: Did you know that stress can lower your immunity and disrupt your hormonal balance? With that, explore stress-relieving activities, such as meditation, exercising or boosting your time outdoors.
Acupuncture: Is known to be useful for lowering anxiety and/or stress, while balancing your hormones. Acupuncture may also decrease pain and inflammation. (Learn more about acupuncture here.)
Exercise: Working out is an effective de-stressor and reduces hot flashes and inflammation; also helps to improve sleep and may optimize your overall well-being.
Your Next Steps: Consult a Naturopathic Doctor
Your best bet for naturally balancing hormone levels is to consult a naturopathic doctor in Toronto. For female patients seeking BHRT, Toronto Functional Medicine Centre conducts the following for each female:
- An assessment to review her health status, the severity of her symptoms, and any risk factors for osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
- After a thorough discussion about lifestyle and diet specifics, we provide patients with further details regarding the most appropriate treatment options.
Bioidentical hormones are considered more natural compared to standard HRT because the hormones are chemically identical to those of the human body. We strongly recommend a natural approach to balancing your hormones prior to exploring conventional HRT methods. This may include improving your diet, exercising, using natural herbs and/or correcting nutritional deficiencies. Let us help guide you in the right direction in treating your hormone imbalances. Book an appointment with our naturopathic doctor in Toronto by clicking here.
Recommended Reading: Benefits Of Working With A Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner – What Are They?