Considering nearly 90 percent of women in this country have some form of hormone dysregulation, this topic is a must! In my estimation, 90% of all hormone problems are toxin related, making this topic of paramount importance to understand. The majority of our patients are women between the age of 30 to 60.
Now that I have your attention, the first rule to working with hormones is don’t work with hormones. You must go upstream and work with what is dysregulating them. The obvious answer is toxins, but it does get more complicated than that. Lets start with the hypothalamus and pituitary. This is the control tower for the endocrine system. The hypothalamus regulates the pituitary, which is in the center of the brain and regulates other major endocrine glands, such as your thyroid and adrenal glands. Toxins that cross the blood-brain barrier into the brain make their way into this control tower.
Toxins can alter hormones downstream as well. For example, mercury binds to the selenium receptor on the thyroid, which blocks the hormone T3 from binding. This can cause the body to see this Se-Hg+ bond as something foreign to the body and the immune system will begin to attack itself. This condition is known as Hashimotos Disease. Many people go to their doctor thinking their thyroid is not working, evidenced by weight loss difficulties or being cold all the time, only to find their blood work is normal. When toxins block hormone receptors, this is a common occurrence.
This is so common with the thyroid that it has earned a special name – Type II Hypothyroidism. Sound familiar? Type II Diabetes is caused by a hormone receptor problem, not the lack of a hormone. New studies are showing that toxins are playing a major role with diabetes as well.
There are two more hormones that cause hormone dysregulation downstream when exposed to environmental toxins. The first are plastics. Recently in the news it has been shown that BPA and phthalates, both found in plastic, mimics estrogen, leading to estrogen dominance – a well known cause of cancer. The second is pesticides, which also have been found to mimic estrogen and other hormones, now regarded as a leading cause of cancer.
One of my frustrations with allopathic medicine is that estrogen-dominant cancers are a growing problem, and doctors are still running standard estrogen tests when new science has shown that the ratio of good to bad estrogen is the key to predicting these types of cancers. Cancers like breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and even lupus now have been linked to a inverse ratio of bad to good estrogen. An estrogen metabolism test should be the standard in every practice, especially for any women with a history of these types of cancer or a history of lupus.
In our clinic, we always look at toxins first. Then we look downstream to the others. My favorite is the 24 hour hormone test, which consists of the estrogen metabolism test. This to me gives the most information to the practitioner for understanding where toxins are causing the disruption. I like to surround this test with a look at the function of the other important glands. The thyroid, adrenals, and the pituitary are a must to evaluate the entire system.
Remember, just adding hormones is often times like throwing gasoline on a fire. If we don’t look upstream and address what we find, it will be a never ending battle. Believe me, I know. For years I chased my thyroid, adrenals, and pituitary issues to no avail. It wasn’t until I found my mercury problem and started to address it that I started to really get well.
Estradial (Serum) – Used as a flag for elevated estrogen only. This does not give the ratio of good to bad estrogen. If this test is elevated or patient history of estrogen-dominant health issues, we recommended the estrogen ratio test from Genova Labs. Note: Someone with low estrogen can still have too much bad estrogen, therefore a history must be taken.
Progesterone (Serum) – I prefer women to be on the higher side of progesterone. If patient is on the lower side of the range, supplementation is usually recommended.
Testosterone Free and Total – This test is performed on most of my male patients because testosterone is very important for male cancers and general feeling of well being. I run this test on some females as well depending on their medical history and symptoms. IE: women with acne issues or an irregular menstruation cycle. This can indicate PCOS (Poly cystic ovarian syndrome). Optimal range for total male testosterone 800-1200. Free testosterone should be above 10.
DHEA – Precursor to testosterone.
Standing Aldosterone – This is a great test to assess adrenal function.
Genova Labs Complete Hormones – This is the most comprehensive urinary hormone metabolism evaluation designed to assist in the prevention and treatment of hormone-related symptoms and conditions. This provides clues about menstrual irregularities, infertility, menopause, fatigue, breast cancer, and osteoporosis. Estrogen Ratio Metabolism Test is included in this profile.
The Adrenal Stress Index™ (ASI™) – Was introduced by Diagnos-Techs in 1989 to evaluate stress, a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. It is a simple non-invasive test utilizing four saliva samples collected at specified time periods during the day. Since the human adrenal gland does not secrete its steroid hormones at a constant level throughout the day, the Adrenal Stress Index™ (ASI™) provides the clinician with an comprehensive assessment of adrenal function throughout the daily cycle. The ASI panel consists of ten (10) saliva tests: Cortisol (x4),17-OH Progesterone, DHEA/DHEA-S, Insulin (x2), Gliadin Ab, and Secretory IgA.