Hormones Part III–Estrogen

stress BW

Female healthcare in America is way behind that of our European counterparts. Unfortunately, menopause, its transition, or the lack of female hormones has been the brunt of many comedians’ jokes. Unfortunately, in our society we’ve almost considered it just matter of fact that women will enter a transition when they will become cranky, irritable, bloated, fat, obtain jowls, and have everything fall down. The Baucom Institute for Longevity and Life Enhancement more than understands this dilemma and wants to stop the cascade of ignorance that has occurred by bringing the standard of female hormone management to a standard of care that is secondary to none.

Estrogen is primarily a female sex hormone. There are three types of estrogen: estradiol, estriol, and estrone, which is not used because it predisposes women to cancer. When estrogen starts to wane in the menopausal years there are numerous signs: hot flashes, loss of sexual interest, mood swings and insomnia. Supplementing the body with bio available Estradiol, the main human estrogen, can help provide protection against diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, various types of cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease, as well as help improve skin and hair and increase libido.

There are risks associated with estrogen replacement therapy, but with proper dosage, periodic monitoring of test results and proper medical management, the benefits outweigh the risk.

According to Edward Lichten, M.D.,PC, Birmingham, Michigan, “In the last 35 years, more than 40 epidemiological studies have been performed to gather information about the risks of taking estrogen and developing breast cancer. Most studies show either no increased risk or slight increase with prolonged estrogen use. And to the physician, this information is both comforting and reassuring that prescribing estrogen is in the best interest of our female patients.

THE ALTERNATIVE FORMS OF ESTROGEN

  1. Women who are fearful of estrogen causing breast cancer, find that the use of VAGINAL ESTROGEN CREAM is less objectionable. By using 1/2 to 2 grams daily, the vaginal and bladder symptoms are relieved with small amounts being absorbed.
  2. Women who want to take a bio-identical estrogen preparations may start with natural ESTRADIOl (E2) in the transdermal patch, or may elect to use a natural estrogen cream.
  3. Natural Estrogen Pellets. An old technique for the 1950′s and 1960′s is returning into use. This technique places compressed pellets of natural estrogen under the skin of the hip with a minor, office surgical procedure. In exchange for the 5 minutes it takes the physician to place these pellets, most women can remain hormonally stable for 3 to 6 months!”

http://www.usdoctor.com/estrogen.htm

 

 

The “Delicate Butterfly” Thyroid

img_pod_butterfly-little-girl-2603-RTXXX1TContinuing our series on hormones, we next look at the thyroid and the delicate balance it creates to regulate our body. Endocrineweb.com says your thyroid gland is a small gland, normally weighing less than one ounce, located in the front of the neck. It is made up of two halves, called lobes that lie along the windpipe (trachea) and are joined together by a narrow band of thyroid tissue, known as the isthmus. The thyroid is situated just below your “Adams apple” or larynx.

The function of the thyroid gthyroid butterflyland is to take iodine, found in many foods, and convert it into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).Thyroid cells are the only cells in the body which can absorb iodine. These cells combine iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to make T3 and T4. T3 and T4 are then released into the blood stream and are transported throughout the body where they control metabolism (conversion of oxygen and calories to energy).Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism. The normal thyroid gland produces about 80% T4 and about 20% T3, however, T3 possesses about four times the hormone “strength” as T4.

thyroidThe thyroid gland is under the control of the pituitary gland, a small gland the size of a peanut at the base of the brain (shown here in orange). When the level of thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) drops too low, the pituitary gland produces Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) which stimulates the thyroid gland to produce more hormones. Under the influence of TSH, the thyroid will manufacture and secrete T3 and T4 thereby raising their blood levels. The pituitary senses this and responds by decreasing its TSH production. One can imagine the thyroid gland as a furnace and the pituitary gland as the thermostat. Thyroid hormones are like heat. When the heat gets back to the thermostat, it turns the thermostat off. As the room cools (the thyroid hormone levels drop), the thermostat turns back on (TSH increases) and the furnace produces more heat (thyroid hormones).

The pituitary gland itself is regulated by another gland, known as the hypothalamus (shown in our picture in light blue). The hypothalamus is part of the brain and produces TSH Releasing Hormone (TRH) which tells the pituitary gland to stimulate the thyroid gland (release TSH). One might imagine the hypothalamus as the person who regulates the thermostat since it tells the pituitary gland at what level the thyroid should be set. (http://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/thyroid/how-your-thyroid-works)

The thyroid is probably the most common of the glands to become diseased as low thyroid or high thyroid. A properly balanced thyroid gland efficiently burns fat, improves the feeling of wellbeing and helps with brain function. If this doesn’t happen, hormone replacement is prescribed. Indications of a low thyroid might be fatigue, weight issues, cold intolerance, dry skin, thinning or brittle hair and depression. As we age, the thyroid may produce fewer hormones. Testing for a thyroid issue is done using different processes. The most common is a blood test that checks the levels of the hormones of the thyroid (T3, T4 and TSH). These tests will give an accurate account of your thyroid hormone balance.

Because of the wide range of what is considered to be acceptable, many people remain undiagnosed for a thyroid disorder or diagnosed incorrectly. The replacement of thyroid hormones is a unique balancing process. T4 has to be converted to T3. With the appropriate tests, we can combine natural hormones that are tailored to the patient’s individual needs and restore their thyroid hormonal balance as part of their personalized age management plan. As with all hormone replacement treatment plans, proper dosage and scheduled monitoring is essential.

Do you have symptoms you believe are related to the thyroid being out of balance or not functioning properly? Comment below—we can help!

The Universe of Hormones

endocrineThere are so many hormones we still do not know them all! They come from glands that are located in our head, our neck, our abdomen, and even between our legs. Many of these (glands) are major contributors to our health and our longevity. They enhance our way of being. They secrete chemical messengers called hormones. To understand hormones we must understand the glands that secrete them. At the Baucom Institute, we want you to be informed and knowledgeable. So, let’s begin.

First on the list is the endocrine system which consists of an area of our brain called the hypothalamus which will secrete or stimulate the release of hormones from the pituitary gland as well as the suppression of other hormones. The pituitary gland is the master gland that stimulates the thyroid, the adrenals, as well as the ovaries and testes to secrete their hormones.

As the pituitary gland stimulates the secretion of messengers or other hormones to stimulate these glands, you begin to understand it is a highway of information that must go from the head, all the way through the body. For instance, “a group of non-sex hormones that many people have heard of is the endorphins, which belong to the category of chemicals known as opiates and serve to deaden our pain receptors. Endorphins, which are chemically related to morphine, are produced in response to pain. The natural response to rub an injured area, such as a pinched finger, helps to release endorphins in that area. People who exercise a lot and push their bodies “until it hurts” thereby stimulate the production of endorphins. It is thought that some people who constantly over-exercise and push themselves too much may actually be addicted to their own endorphins.” (from  University of Cincinatti Clermont College )

These glands must carry out their functions expertly if we are to have good health. Do you think there are some physical issues you are having which might be an indication that your endocrine system is not working properly?

 

Cortisol “The Stress Hormone”

2010-10-22-TheVisualMD_Wellness1Tip_StressThe adrenals are two triangular shaped glands located on top of each kidney. Cortisol is one of several hormones released by these powerful glands. It is released as a “stress hormone.”

Cortisol controls:
1. Blood sugar
2. Fat and Protein mobilization
3. Prevents inflammation
4. Will make the liver make sugar from fat

The pituitary gland activates the adrenal gland by secreting ACTH. ACTH is adrenocorticotropic hormone. It stimulates the “cortical” layer of the gland to make cortisol.
Cortisol has distinct bio-rhythms. It is high in the morning and by the evening is down. Stress alters the rhythm and may eventually cause the gland to become “exhausted.” “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome” by James Wilson, ND, PhD, is an excellent book to explain why and how cortisol depletion can result in severe exhaustion.

Unfortunately this hormone is not understood by most physicians. It is a test rarely ordered and a syndrome basically ignored.
Stress factors:
1. Anger
2. Fear
3. Death of family member
4. Divorce
5. Marriage
6. Financial Worries
7. Job
8. Relationships
9. Personal Illness
10. In-laws
Just to name a few, are viewed as stress. These issues if chronic and severe can totally deplete this vital hormone. Thyroid and severe adrenal stress go hand in hand. Low blood pressure as well as low blood sugar may be the only symptoms.

Recovery from adrenal stress can take up to a year with treatment to resolve.
Cortisol is vital to the feeling of well-being. Longevity and quality of life are severely compromised when this powerful and needed hormone is barely available. Patients will rely on sugar and caffeine to “boost” their drive because they are unaware as to the real reason for their chronic fatigue.ponokefalos andras

Since the adrenal gland is needed for survival when compromised, all the other glands suffer as well. The thyroid gland in trying to pick up the slack will, in time, become hypo active itself, further compounding the clinical situation.

Eventually the immune system falters. Lupus, Crohn’s, colitis, chronic sinus and infections plague the individual. Abdominal obesity (cortisol paunch) along with decreased HDL cholesterol, increased triglycerides and increased blood pressure herald the demise of this vital hormone. There is acute adrenal fatigue, and mild and high adrenal fatigue. Saliva testing of the morning, noon, evening and night cortisol levels is the best way to determine the level of fatigue.

Treatment is based on the stage of fatigue. Support is given to the glands until they are healed. Lifestyle and diet must be altered. Of course, alleviating the stress factors is paramount to treatment.

What difficulties do you have that you might relate with stress?

Stressed Out and No Place To Go – Part II, Coping

boy-sleeping-on-bullLast week in our blog, we talked about if you are alive and breathing at this moment then you have probably had stress in the last 72 hours in some form. We gave some statistics that The American Psychological Association, American Institute of Stress, New York, has come out with when they completed a survey in April of 2012 of the U.S. population and reported the statistics about stress. In it they revealed that 77% of the population of the US regularly experience stress on an everyday basis and that it costs this country $300 billion in health care annually on issues related to stress.

So what can be done about stress? Isn’t it inevitable?

In “Coping with Stress” by Susan Balla MA from www.learningdynamicsinc.org, November 2012, Susan says that we all experience stress—it’s our natural body response to the demand we might encounter. When it becomes a problem is when we perceive that we don’t have the resources to deal with the demanding situation. That’s when we need to find ways to cope to create balance back in to our life. She says we can find ways to keep stress at “healthy levels” that give us that edge to be better yet keep us functioning. She goes on to list the three areas where stress can show up:

  • Physical: fatigue, headaches, nausea, chest pain, muscle spasms and numbing
  • Mental: forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, inattention, poor problem solving
  • Emotional: anxiety, depression, hopelessness, worry, anger
  • Behavioral: isolation, diminished sexual drive, sleeping/eating less or more

She says there are ways to cope:

 Tip: Consider turning your cell phone off (or at least put it on silent) when completing any of these activities. It pays to disconnect from the outside world for a while. And remember, anything they are calling you about can wait and if not, others can deal with it. We are not superheros, nor do we need to be.

  • Take a time out and take a moment to address the situation. Try leaving the room if you are in an argument or taking a minute at your desk to stop. At this point, focus on your breathing.
  • Focus on breathing. Is it slow, calm, and deep or fast and agitated? Taking a moment to slow your breathing down can clear your mind and decrease your stress reaction. Sit in a comfortable position with your feet flat on the ground (or lay down). Close your eyes. Take one slow, deep breath in through your nose. Hold it briefly. Exhale your breath slowly out from your mouth. Repeat this process several times, focusing only on your slow, steady breaths. On your exhales, visualize your muscles relaxing and the tension leaving your body.
  • Relax in a quiet and comfortable space to practice visualizations. Close your eyes, sleep waterrelax your breathing, and begin to picture your own personal oasis. Place yourself in this oasis. Develop your surroundings using all five senses. If you are on a beach, focus on how the sand feels under your feet. Is it warm, wet, and soft? Can you hear the waves lapping up against the shore or feel the cool wind? Can you smell the salt water or the fresh air after a rainstorm? The more you practice your visualization, the easier it will be to summon it when you need it most.
  • Practice progressive muscle relaxation. Begin in a comfortable position, either lying down or with your feet flat on the ground. Starting at your feet, begin to slowly tense your toes and then slowly relax them. Repeat this process of tensing and relaxing your toes three times. Move to your whole foot next and repeat the tensing and relaxing pattern again for three times. Slowly move up your body, stopping at each location that you are able to tense.
  • Consider keeping a stress journal to help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed keep track of it in your journal. As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Make sure to track what caused the stress, how you felt physically and emotionally, how you responded, what you did to make yourself feel better.
  • Go to sleep. Your body rejuvenates during sleeping hours making you healthier and more equipped to start a new day. Consider keeping your bed and bedroom an intimacy and sleep sanctuary. If you have trouble sleeping, try eliminating everything you do in your bed other than sleep and sex. Things like watching television or reading can impede upon your sleep cycle. Teach your body that when you enter your bed, it is time to sleep.
  • Exercise! When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins that create a natural high. Exercise helps regulate sleep, decrease tension, decrease depression, and increase your immune system. If you don’t feel like hitting the gym, try yoga to help stretch your muscles and improve your breathing. Simple stretches can also benefit your body since many people experience stress in their bodies. Try taking a few moments during the day to roll your head, stretch your neck muscles, roll your shoulders, and stretch your body.
  • More than just walking the dog, animals have therapeutic influences on their human companions. Petting an animal can decrease your blood pressure and help you live a longer life. Take a moment to care for and love a creature that will love you back unconditionally.
  • Laughter is truly one of the best medicines. Watch a comedy or spend time with your favorite funny friend.
  • Depending on your religious preferences, prayer can help you reflect, gain perspective, relieve pressure, and find hope and support.
  • Sometimes, spending time with friends is all we need to alleviate some tension. Having a conversation can add different perspectives, allow our frustration to vent, and give us a feeling of community instead of isolation. When faced with a stressful situation, it is important to remember that you are not alone, many others face similar hardships, and there are several resources you can pull from to be successful.
  • stress free zoneTry meditation. Start in a relaxing position and begin to empty your mind of anxiety provoking thoughts. Try repeating a word that has no emotional connection, to aid in clearing your mind. The more you practice, the easier this exercise will become.
  • If reading relaxes you, schedule time during the week for a quiet hour in the most comfortable part of your home. Curl up on the couch, in the bath, or in your favorite nook and transport yourself with a good book. Make sure to pick a time when the house is quiet or you know that someone else in the house can handle anything that arises.
  • Everyone needs a little indulgence once in a while. Take the time to slow down and pamper yourself. Try taking a warm bath with scented candles or going to the spa, these are wonderful ways to ease muscle tension and leave your stressors at the door.
  • Activities such as cooking, listening to music, cleaning, going for a car ride, gardening, dancing, or sitting at the local park are all wonderful coping strategies if they work well for you.

Remember: Taking care of yourself is not a selfish act. If we are well, than it is easier to give freely to others around us. If we are depleted from worry, depression, or fatigue, we are less equipped to deal with everyday stressors for both our families and ourselves. Giving back to yourself will not only replenish your resources it also reminds us that we are worth it.

Do any of these ways of coping resonate with you? How do you cope with stress?