Curebiome Naturopathic

Hormone Health

Adrenals

Function

The function of the adrenal glands is support, but it’s very important support. It’s the ability to tolerate and respond to stress, whether big or small. The adrenals help us increase awareness, wake up in the morning, feel energetic and also support many of the other hormones directly and indirectly like by producing some reproductive hormones. The adrenals also have an effect on how well we sleep, our immune function, weight and much more.

Cortisol and Energy

Cortisol is the most common adrenal hormone we talk about because it’s the one that really lets us know what’s going on with the adrenals. If cortisol levels are too low, there are serious issues like Addison’s disease, or if they are in normal low levels (much more common) then you feel low energy, exhausted and run down and are dragging to get going and keep going through the day. If cortisol levels are high, you feel like you’re in the middle of a crisis (you might be), where things are go, go, go and you have to stay on top of everything just to survive. High cortisol levels are more and more common with our high stress always on lifestyle. If cortisol levels stay too high for too long then eventually the adrenals burn out and cortisol levels drop to lower levels until you take some time to support and recover.  

 

On top of energy cortisol also impacts our blood sugar, and constant high cortisol levels tend to increase our blood sugar, which in turn causes weight gain which is most typically (but not always) in the belly. If adrenals are not functioning normally it becomes very hard to control blood sugars and lose weight, as a common side effect of adrenal dysfunction is a need for minerals and a need to keep blood sugar up which can lead to food cravings for sweet and salty things, like many processed foods and candies.

Stress Management

One of the biggest things we can do is to recognize for our self that our stress is out of control, and then to take some action to do something about it. Whether that’s taking a vacation, or giving yourself mini-vacations from work where you can walk outside, get in a little bit of nature and do some breathing, meditation or journaling to check in with yourself. All too often our stress switch gets flipped to the on position but we never take a moment to ourselves to flip it back to off so we can be back in a more natural relaxed state. This is a skill that will change your life if you’re struggling with it.

 

Support

The good news is that there is also quite a bit of very helpful support that helps the adrenals recover from stress an cortisol to return to normal levels. This can help with mental wellness, sleep, food cravings, weight management and much more. There are specific nutrients the adrenals need as well as some specific herbs that help support and replenish adrenal function, called adaptogens, which work by balancing cortisol levels whether they are too high or too low.

 

Thyroid

Function

The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormone which tells the cells in the body to make energy and burn fat. If thyroid hormone is too low then the cells are not quite functioning fully, circulation is down, weight gain is common and more. Much like the adrenals, the thyroid is an important little gland that can effect how we physically feel, including our mood (depression is more common with low thyroid, aka hypothyroidism).

Adrenal connection

The adrenals tend to impact the thyroid, among many things, when they are out of balance. This is because the cortisol response tends to inhibit many restorative and general processes in the body in lieu of addressing the “major” stress at hand which drove the cortisol up in the first place. For this reason it’s best to address thyroid after laying a good foundation of providing the nutrients and environment we need for health and eliminating as many toxins as possible.

Thyroid inhibitors

There are quite a few known and likely many more unknown thyroid inhibitors. Many people have heard of “goitrogenic” foods, and a few plants that can reduce iodine content and potentially inhibit thyroid function, but these are rarely an issue. What is more likely a problem are the numerous xenobiotic (chemical) agents which, on a molecular level, either look like thyroid hormone, or are close enough that they can act upon the thyroid gland and or thyroid receptors to cause problems. These problems range from tricking the thyroid to thinking there is too much thyroid hormone – which can lead to hypothyroidism, to just blocking thyroid hormone from reaching cellular receptors to do it’s job. The vast array of endocrine disruptors and thyroid inhibitors are reason enough to perform basic detoxification and avoidance.

Note: some of these chemical inhibitors of thyroid come from food additives, like preservatives or artificial coloring agents – another fantastic reason to eliminate processed foods and eat real, organic foods as much as possible.

Reproductive Hormones

Function

Whether man or woman, we all have some levels of testosterone, estrogen and progesterone which effects our health. The balance of these hormones impact obvious things like libido, menstrual cycle and fertility but also can effect our weight, mood, concentration and ability to maintain health. Each is necessary in the right balance and again here the adrenals must be in a healthy state to support the production and function of all reproductive hormones. Most people don’t know that the adrenals also produce some testosterone, estrogen and progesterone, also.

Common imbalances and imbalancers

The most common imbalances are low testosterone for men, which tends to come from the overall lifestyle of everything we’ve discussed up until now. There are other causes, which is why it’s smart to have actual testing done and consult with a qualified healthcare provider to determine the cause and the best way to address. For women there are many more patterns of imbalance from PCOS, where testosterone tends to be high and estrogens may be low to PMS symptoms from an imbalance of progesterone and estrogen to infertility from these same imbalances. Each of these can be addressed and improved in most situations, and the starting point for each is providing the nutrients needed while removing any hormone and health disrupting chemicals. Once that has been done there are some fantastic ways to naturally support a healthy balance of hormones. The one caveat with correcting hormones is that it can sometimes take 3-4 months or longer for females to get their hormone cycle into a healthy rhythm – where after that it will usually maintain itself with continued healthy diet and lifestyle.