Holistic Approach to Balance Hormones

In acknowledgement of International Womens Day 8th March a piece concerning women’s health seemed appropriate. Focusing on the possible causes, symptoms and support for hormonal imbalances. The majority of my female patients have at one time or another experienced the effects of a hormonal imbalance. Whether this is a natural occurrence such as puberty, pregnancy or menopause. Or brought about through a shock, trauma or disease. Hormonal imbalances are not only confined to fluctuating levels of Oestrogen and Progesterone produced by the ovary glands. The endocrine system consists of the pineal, pituitary, hypothalamus, thyroid, para-thyroid, thymus, adrenal, pancreas, ovaries ( female) testes (male) glands. Finely balanced and sharing a close relationship with the various nervous systems of the body, hormones play a vital role in sustaining good health throughout our lives. The hypothalamus regulates the pituitary or master gland, so called because it ‘s hormones control so many of the endocrine glands. The anterior lobe of the pituitary gland ( the master gland that controls the endocrine system) produces the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Adrenocorticotropic Hormone ( ACTH) Somatotrophin or Growth Hormone ( GH) Follicle Stimulating Hormone ( FSH) Luteinising Hormone (LH) and Prolactin (PRL) the posterior lobe produces Vasopressin Antidiuretic Hormone ( ADH) and Oxytocin. During puberty major changes take place in females signalling the start of fertility. For some the start of the menstrual cycle can create symptoms of abdominal bloating and IBS, breast swelling and discomfort, changes in mood and sleep patterns. However, the natural changes in the levels of oestrogen and progesterone responsible for these symptoms are necessary for conception. Oestrogen levels drop and progesterone levels rise and remain the dominant hormone throughout pregnancy, returning to a natural pattern of production following childbirth and the cessation of breast feeding. This is a simple explanation of a highly complex cycle that when disrupted adversely affects fertility. Menopause is when female fertility comes to an end bringing a different range of symptoms for some. Cognitive function impairment, sleeplessness, digestive disorders, joint pain and fatigue, hot flushes and erratic heartbeat are the most common symptoms reported to me. Taking into account how finely tuned the endocrine system needs to be to function an imbalance of any hormone production will have a knock- on effect. This is illustrated when the stress response is triggered and the body is flooded with adrenalin and cortisol from the adrenal glands creating a surge of nervous energy. This in turn will affect thyroxine production from the thyroid gland and insulin produced from the pancreas. This chain re-action whilst useful in times of danger, when continually triggered will over-work and eventually exhaust the body’s response and may well be one of the factors in chronic ill health. My experience as a complementary practitioner that has worked with a significant number of female patients diagnosed with a range of hormonally based health issues over many years, has led me to conclude that hypo/hyper- thyroid, type 2 diabetes, non-medical infertility, irregular menstruation, and menopause can all be helped by making adjustments to diet and lifestyle. Whilst thyroid imbalance is controlled by GP prescribed medications, patient identified symptoms arising from the afore mentioned conditions have shown to be helped using a holistic approach. Treating the individual with guidance on what foods to eat or avoid, for example increasing phyto-oestrogen rich foods and supplementing ( if necessary ) the diet with vitamins, minerals and homeopathic remedies. Or how to identify and eliminate certain foods that have a stimulating effect from the diet. Can all be discussed at a Nutritional Therapy appointment (visit my website “Treatments”). Patients will leave this consultation with an individual eating plan and elimination diet. Making time for yourself to relax using mindfulness or meditation techniques to de-stress and help with sleep will produce a better energy and mental disposition. Whilst Clinical Reflexology is evidenced as being effective in helping with symptoms of PMT, fertility and menopause, my patients have reported improvements in symptoms associated with other endocrine disorders. Besides which it can make your feet feel less stiff or painful, ready to embark on some regular exercise such as walking, especially beneficial now spring has sprung.

Before taking any supplements consult appropriately qualified professionals or your pharmacist especially if taking prescribed medications from your GP.   I am always happy to advise.