Hormone Series – Part VII: Insulin

insulin

Insulin is a powerful hormone which comes from the pancreas gland. Insulin is vital to converting progesterone to testosterone and testosterone to estrogen.

Diabetes is the lack of insulin doing its job of transporting and storing glucose (sugar) inside the cell to be utilized as energy. Instead, the glucose cannot enter the cell because insulin will not transport it.

There is a tragic epidemic being ignored today involving obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol or triglycerides – it is called Syndrome X. It affects the young, the middle aged, and the old. It is a reflection of the processed foods we eat, our lack of dietary restrictions and the fact that these foods contain little or no nutrients.

Without insulin carrying on its function, cholesterol and triglycerides build up in the liver. They in turn create fat, clogging blood vessels, and in turn cause high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia and heart disease. Too much insulin causes inflammation and “AGES” you. Advance Glycation End productS (AGES). Excess sugar creates “AGES” that bind collagen causing wrinkles as well as “free-radicals.” Free-radicals can in turn cause cancer. This is why diabetes and high levels of insulin are associated with a shortened life span if left unchecked.

Maintaining correct insulin balance through proper diet and exercise is a critical component of the Baucom Institute’s longevity and life enhancement program.

 

Hormone Series – Part VI: Cortisol

cortisol

The 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.

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 situation.Cortisol-is-a-hormone-300x210

Eventually the immune system falters and Lupus, Crohn’s, colitis, chronic sinus and infections can 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.

At The Baucom Institute, treatment is based on the stage of fatigue and support is given to the glands until they are healed. We also encourage your lifestyle and diet be altered. Of course, alleviating the stress factors is paramount to getting the most out of your treatment.

What is your stress level? What do you think your level of well-being is right now?

Hormone Series – Part V: DHEA

happymanwomanIn our series on hormones, there is one that most people don’t even realize is a major player in not only their health but their wellbeing, too. That is DHEA or Dehydroepiandrosterone, a natural steroid made from cholesterol primarily by the adrenal glands. Studies show that DHEA may help with systemic lupus, and may decrease cholesterol. In long term studies, it reduced insulin resistance and also helped relieve depression.

DHEA functions to boost the immune system in auto-immune disease. It is contraindicated in patients that have testosterone or estrogen related cancer.

A low DHEA level may be an indication of adrenal fatigue. Symptoms include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Decrease in muscle mass
  • Decrease in bone density
  • Depression
  • Aching joints
  • Loss of libido
  • Lowered immunity

DHEA supplementation must be tested on a regular schedule as it may, in men, convert to estrogen. Although readily available over the counter in health food stores, it is a powerful hormone that should be monitored.

In “DHEA and Adrenal Imbalance,” Dr. Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP, states that “The average adult makes about 25 mg of DHEA per day (some more, some less) with dwindling production as we get older. Men at all ages have more DHEA than women. Natural DHEA production is at its highest in your twenties: by the time we reach seventy we only make about 20% of the DHEA we had when we were young. DHEA is a very powerful precursor to all of your major sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. (Its molecular structure is closely related to testosterone). We call it the “mother hormone” — the source that fuels the body’s metabolic pathway.”

Dr. Pick goes on to say, “Besides DHEA, your adrenals also make the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Adrenal exhaustion from coping with chronic stress — from (among other things) poor nutrition, yo-yo dieting, emotional turmoil, and job-related stress — means your adrenals are bone-tired from pumping out cortisol and they simply can’t manufacture enough DHEA to support a healthy hormonal balance. One thing we do know is that adequate levels of DHEA are needed to ensure your body can produce the hormones it needs when it needs them. In that balanced state your mood is stable and you feel clear-headed, joyful and vigorous. DHEA is the best “feel-good” hormone we know. And it works quickly and effectively when taken with the right combination of support.”

Now, there is evidence to show that healthy levels of DHEA may fight Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, osteoporosis, depression, heart disease and obesity, but there is no clear cut evidence until further studies are done

A DHEA-Depression Study was done and reported by Miranda Hitti in WebMD Health News. “The study was small and brief. It included 23 men and 23 women age 40 to 65 with mild to moderate depression starting in midlife. Two DHEA doses were used. For three weeks, patients took a lower dose — 90 milligrams per day. For the other three weeks, they took 450 milligrams of DHEA daily.

In 23 participants, DHEA cut depression symptoms by 50% or more. A similar reduction was seen in 13 subjects after taking the placebo. Men and women responded similarly. Treatment with the supplement was associated with an increase in testosterone blood levels in both men and women. Taking DHEA for 6 weeks also significantly improved sexual function scores, compared to the scores after taking the placebo or before the study started.”

Do you suffer from symptoms similar to the ones above? If so, which ones and how long?

Hormone Series—Part IV: Progesterone – The Other Female Hormone

Three-Generations-of-Women-sm

Progesterone is a female sex hormone that balances estrogen. “Progesterone is used as a part of hormone replacement therapy in women who have passed menopause (the change of life) and have not had a hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus). Hormone replacement therapy usually includes estrogen, which is used to treat symptoms of menopause and reduce the risk of developing certain diseases. However, estrogen can also cause abnormal thickening of the lining of the uterus and increase the risk of developing uterine cancer. Progesterone helps to prevent this thickening and decreases the risk of developing uterine cancer. Progesterone is also used to bring on menstruation (period) in women of childbearing age who have had normal periods and then stopped menstruating. Progesterone is in a class of medications called progestins (female hormones). It works as part of hormone replacement therapy by decreasing the amount of estrogen in the uterus. It works to bring on menstruation by replacing the natural progesterone that some women are missing.” (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a604017.html)

Natural progesterone is important in many ways including healthy bones and brain processing. Progesterone has anti cancer properties, decreases anxiety and stabilizes mood swings. PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) is indicative of a progesterone deficiency. Women who have had hysterectomies should still have natural bio-available progesterone replacement as it is an important part of maintaining a woman’s hormonal balance, and a contributor to youthful vitality and vigor. There are progesterone receptors in other areas of the body to include: breast, bone and brain, all working to keep the body balanced and healthy.

If you have difficulty with menopause or menopausal symptoms, what treatment are you currently using if any? Would you consider natural hormones?