If you are baffled by a health condition that either defies a diagnosis or that does not respond to routine treatment, the problem may be due to hormonal imbalance. Some of these conditions are:
  • Resistance to weight loss or weight gain
  • Irregular menstrual cycles and related problems
  • Insomnia
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Depression…and many more
In order to understand hormonal imbalance, you need to know what hormones are and why they are so important to your health and survival. Hormones are powerful chemical messengers that circulate through your bloodstream triggering a wide range of biological responses that govern your physical and emotional health. Every time you get angry, become tired, laugh, cry, have sex, wake up, feel hungry or fall asleep, your body is responding to hormones. Each hormone plays a unique role in the body.

SEX HORMONES

Testosterone is critical for maintaining a healthy sex drive – in both men and women. Testosterone also promotes muscle development. Low levels can cause fatigue and depression. High levels may trigger aggression and anger. Therefore, balance is the key.
Estradiol (a type of Estrogen), affects both the menstrual cycle and menopause. Imbalances are directly linked to symptoms such as weight gain, headaches, PMS, mood swings and abdominal cramps. Estrogen deficiency can double your risk of poor bone health and cardiovascular system dysfunction. Progesterone imbalances are associated
with a variety of “female” problems such as endometriosis, amenorrhea, and infertility.

STRESS HORMONES

Cortisol is a powerful steroid released in times of stress. You need cortisol to meet the daily challenges of life. Without it, you’d have no motivation to even get out of bed in the morning! But too much cortisol can disrupt your blood sugar metabolism, trigger emotional problems and make you feel tired and weak. Cortisol imbalances can lead to weight gain, muscle and joint pain, insomnia and premature aging. DHEA, the most abundant hormone in your bloodstream, seems to balance the effects of cortisol by improving the body’s ability to cope with stress. It also provides the building blocks for the production of important sex hormones. DHEA can boost energy levels, strengthen immune function, improve memory and reduce body fat. Research suggests that DHEA acts as a “mood elevator,” preventing depression and senile dementia by protecting important neurons in the brain.
There are many other hormones (such as pregnenolone and leptin), that are too numerous to discuss here.

WHY DO HORMONE LEVELS CHANGE?

As you grow older, hormone levels can drop by as much as 80%-90% from their youthful peaks. This decrease plays an important role in the aging process – ultimately impairing muscle development, sexual function, sleep patterns and various brain functions (including memory).While hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone fall rapidly during and after menopause in women, cortisol levels have a tendency to rise with age in both men and women, often causing a decrease in resistance to stress.

CAN HORMONES BE RESTORED TO OPTIMUM LEVELS?

It is possible (and desirable) to safely restore your hormones to youthful levels without the use of drugs. A hormone test, the right combination of foods, a custom-designed exercise programme, and a few nutritional supplements will usually do the trick. This must be done under the care of a professional knowledgeable in natural methods of hormonal balancing. The results will be well worth the effort.

Dr Suresh Shottam

The author Dr. Suresh Shottam, is a practicing naturopath, researcher, author and lecturer who was based in New York for 30 years and currently practices in India. He coaches senior executives in Peak Performance and Ultra-Wellness. His "Uncommon Sense Wellness" workshop has been well-received by professionals and the general public both at home and abroad.