By Patricia Wersinger
In the book Growing Younger Every Day: The Three Essential Steps for Creating Youthful Hormone Balance at Any Age, Dr. Laurie Steelsmith, a naturopathic medical advisor to Daily Wellness Company, tackles the topic of hormones to teach women the key role they play in their health and well-being. Do you often feel fatigued, faded, de-energized, moody, or out-of-balance, or have unexplained physical and emotional symptoms that won’t subside? It is not you, she says, it is your hormones! Most women ignore the effects of their hormones on their bodies. They don’t even clearly understand what they are and what role they play in their life.
So, what are hormones? Released by glands such as your adrenal and thyroid glands, hormones send chemical messages to your whole body. The most important one is estrogen. Known for its ability to promote femininity, it enhances your feelings of intimacy, supports your libido and contributes — in connection with serotonin — to your sense of well-being. The reason you feel depressed before your period is because your estrogen level is lowest. Estrogen also works as a natural lubricant throughout your body keeping your skin moist, too. A healthy level of estrogen is key to keeping your skin youthful and maintaining positive thoughts.
Progesterone is just as important as estrogen, as it supports you in keeping a rejuvenating hormonal equilibrium. Many women have decreasing progesterone levels from their thirties onward. If you suffer from insomnia and anxiety in the second part of your cycle, they can both be a consequence of low progesterone. Women often attribute their feelings of exhaustion to aging, when in fact, by merely modulating your hormonal levels of progesterone and estrogen with herbal support, you can revive your energy level, says Dr. Steelsmith.
She also destroys the myth that testosterone is the male hormone, exclusive to them. In fact, it is also produced by ovaries and adrenal glands. All women need good testosterone levels for their health and for enjoying life. It nourishes your self-confidence, assertiveness, and dynamism. Low levels of testosterone can result in fatigue, apathy, low motivation and a blasé attitude toward sex.
Another important hormone is DHEA. It supports your entire hormonal system, particularly your adrenal glands. It’s the one that enhances your libido. Depression may often simply be due to low levels of DHEA. Cortisol, the stress hormone is produced by your adrenal glands and plays a major role in your daily energy levels. Watch out for excessive cortisol levels, as they can cause feelings of anxiety and fragility, lead to weight gain around your waist line, and throw all the other hormones out of balance.
Finally, your thyroid hormone is your dynamic hormone, since it helps fuel your drive to meet new challenges and maintain your ideal body weight. Low thyroid can reduce the rate of your entire metabolism and set off a broad range of symptoms that include weight gain, fatigue, depression-exacerbated PMS, hair loss, and dry skin.
You have to read this fascinating book to learn about all the easy herbal over-the-counter remedies that exist to help you navigate your hormonal boat. They include siberian ginseng, phosphatidylserine, pantothenic acid, rhodiola rosea, selenium, iodine, and tyrosine.
credit: Catherine McMahon
To keep your hormones in balance when you’re approaching your peri-menopausal years, a period of your life that can be fraught with hormonal ups and downs akin to being on a bucking horse, Dr. Steelsmith recommends giving your adrenal glands all the support they can use. “The reason these small glands play such a huge role in supporting a woman through her hormonal transition is that they not only help her respond to stress, they actually make the hormones that her ovaries are no longer producing. I tell my patients that when your ovaries go through their “career change,” it’s their adrenal glands that have to pick up where the ovaries left off. There are many approaches to supporting a woman’s adrenal glands. Chief among them are to eat a stable, nutritionally dense diet, exercise every day, and manage stress with adequate sleep and fun time. In addition, supplements like vitamin B5 which supports adrenal function, and using herbs that support hormonal balance like chaste tree berry (a progesterone supportive herb) and ginseng (an adrenal supportive herb) are also of benefit.”
Asked if there was a higher cancer risk when your hormones are out of whack, Dr. Steelsmith said that although cancer is multifactorial, excessive estrogen has been linked to some breast and uterine cancers. “Excessive amounts of estrogen can cause estrogen-stimulated cells to proliferate, and this means cells in the breast and uterus, so having just the right amount of estrogen is ideal in preventing cancer. The good news is that there are supplements and herbs to help the liver break down estrogen, and chaste tree can create better hormonal balance by promoting progesterone.”
Every woman should pick up this book to learn the truth about hormones, better understand their functions, and wrest control of their health. All of the herbal and nutritional products mentioned in the book are easily found in health and nutritional supplement stores and online. For more information on Dr. Steelsmith and her practice, visit http://www.DrSteelsmith.com