Hormonal health relates to the delicate functioning of our endocrine system. Hormones themselves are extremely tiny molecules yet with big impact on our health. They control and coordinate our internal metabolism, energy levels, reproduction, growth and development and mediate our response to stress, injury and environmental factors.
The endocrine system is inextricably linked with many feedback systems of cross talk between the various glands. For example when the thyroid is not producing enough of its metabolically active hormones, it signals back to the pituitary gland to produce more thyroid stimulating hormone. Equally the adrenals are the starting point of some reproductive hormones and if the adrenals are under pressure from the stressors of life, endocrine function can be impacted.
We then have considerations of the processing of these hormones. This is where nutrient cofactors are of vital consideration. For example, we need specific nutrients and essential fats to first form the building blocks for these hormones but then we need to have available the correct nutrients for them to go down supportive pathways for health. In the case of the thyroid, we need T4 to convert to the more metabolically active T3 which requires specific nutrients such as B vitamins, zinc and selenium. If these cofactors are not present then T4 can convert to the inactive form of reverse T3. In the case of female hormones, oestrogen can too go down a variety of pathways depending on nutrient status, liver and digestive health, methylation activity and lifestyle factors. Some of these pathways are positive for health whereas some can have the potential for a negative impact on our health.
Women have a varied picture of hormones throughout their cycles and at various life stages such as during pregnancy and post menopause. Although there are less variations of hormonal life stages for men, nutrient considerations are equally important for health yet can be very different in terms of priority. However, for both men and women, the foundations of good nutrition to support both digestive health and liver health are critical for hormone balance as are lifestyle factors such as stress management.
Some of the hormonal conditions we frequently work with are:
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Hormonal skin issues
Hormone related cancers
Autoimmune Thyroid Conditions
During a Nutritional Therapy consultation, we work using a Functional Medicine Framework to look at the root cause of any hormonal imbalances and what impact that these are having on health. We work to rebalance and restore the delicate homeostasis of the body by working on foundational health whilst addressing the specific nutrient needs of the individual.
We may also look at Functional testing here and although this is not a first line approach, we quite often use the DUTCH complete hormone profile which give a comprehensive insight into hormonal health. We also use cycle mapping especially when it comes to fertility. We may also assess various other analytes such as beta glucoronidase in the case of a digestive analysis which can provide information on the impact of the microbiome on hormonal balance. And of course in the case of thyroid health and adrenal health, we may sometimes use more focused tests such as the Complete Thyroid Profile or the Adrenal Stress Index, respectively.
There is no one size fits all approach and we help to educate and create a workable plan with the simplest of interventions to make the most positive impact on your health.