We humans have around 50 hormones in the body and 10 different glands from which they are secreted. The whole of the system is called the endocrine system. For the most part, we are unaware on a daily basis what they do in our bodies. But have a shortage of one or another and we become uncomfortably aware of their function. The intricate link between hormones is like a spider web, when one area of the system is touched the whole system shakes, they are very inter-related.
Take for example the thyroid gland and the hormones T3 and T4 that it secretes. This is a gland that is located at the base of the throat and is shaped like a delicate butterfly. It is responsible for a large part of our metabolism. When it is under-functioning it is known as hypothyroid. In short, the thyroid is not putting out enough hormones. Triiodothyronine or T3 hormone is a bioavailable form and is used to initiate many metabolic functions in the cell. Thyroxin or T4 must be first converted to T3 before it can be used. They are released from the thyroid gland in a 20%(T3)/80%(T4) mix. Occasionally a person is not a true hypothyroid picture but really a conversion issue and naturopathic medicine can and does treat with this in mind.
In relation, the adrenals are located just above the kidneys. They are small in comparison to the job for which they are responsible. Adrenal fatigue is a common condition not yet fully recognized in allopathic or osteopathic medicine but is treated in naturopathic medicine. Adrenal fatigue is a condition caused by a number of health situations but most notably from stress. Stress demands that our bodies operate at a level that is unsustainable over long periods. If the stress level does not subside or the body is not supplied with the proper nutrients and minerals it needs then adrenal fatigue is the result.
Adrenal fatigue patients are typically patients that come to naturopathic medicine with the concern that all of their labs are within normal limits yet they are fatigued and feel like something is wrong. This condition can affect several other hormones if not treated such as the thyroid and sex hormones, not just the adrenal hormones.
The stress hormone, cortisol, secreted from the adrenals when high can alter the functions of other hormones. All of these imbalances can manifest symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, memory or cognitive decline, weight gain and joint pain, among many others. If adrenal fatigue is present at menopause, symptoms can and will be unbearable for some women.
Menopause is the marking of an exhaustion of female eggs in the human body. It is the body’s signal that reproduction is no longer an option and as a result the female hormones change. In times of stress often the sex hormones suffer since many of the precursors for cortisol are “stolen” from the pathways of the sex hormones in order to make cortisol so the body can cope with the stress. Relief comes only when these imbalances are addressed as a big picture.
In some of these conditions hormone replacement is necessary. Hormone replacement is not the goal in balancing hormones in naturopathic medicine, but the last resort, however it can be done safely and effectively if needed. This therapy is meant to give relief of symptoms only, not to change the body physiologically to a premenopausal state. When used responsibly this therapy is safe and can greatly improve quality of life for many.
Dr. Michelle McConnell
Our contributing provider to this article on Hormones is Dr. Michelle McConnell. Dr. McConnell received her Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology in 2000 from Arizona State University and Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2014. Dr. McConnnell approaches patient care with value placed on education and treatment through proactive tools that avoid or lessen health risks immediately and in the future. Dr. McConnell joined Warner Family Practice in 2016.
Our contributing provider to this article on Hormones is Dr. Michelle McConnell. Dr. McConnell received her Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology in 2000 from Arizona State University and Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2014. Dr. McConnnell approaches patient care with value placed on education and treatment through proactive tools that avoid or lessen health risks immediately and in the future.
Dr. McConnell joined Warner Family Practice in 2016.
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