What are Hormones?
Hormones are the body’s “chemical messengers” which transport information from the brain to the “target glands” then then the target glands secrete their hormones to then affect their target cells.
Then the cells send their messengers back to the brain to regulate how much message the brain needs to continue or not continue sending. Our bodies contain about 60 trillion cells which must communicate with each other in order to carry out hormonally based functions.
Hormones enter the cells through receptor sites. This can be thought of as akin to a key unlocking a door. Once inside, they flip the switches that control growth, development, and mental and physical functions all throughout life.
Hormones exist in harmony with each other. It’s like a virtual symphony which is either in tune or NOT. When your hormone levels are in the right proportions, your body functions properly.
As we age, the hormones that work to keep us healthy begin to decline. Hormonal balance is lost, causing unwanted symptoms, disorders and even diseases.
The main hormone -producing glands are:
- Hypothalamus: Responsible for body temperature, hunger, moods and the release of hormones from other glands. Controls thirst, sleep and is the “master supervisor” endocrine gland.
- Pituitary: The other “master control gland,” which controls other glands and makes the hormones that trigger growth.
- Thyroid: Produces hormones associated with metabolism.
- Adrenal: Produces the hormones that control sex drive and cortisol, the stress hormone as well as the hormone that controls salt and fluid in the body . DHEA is produced here too.
- Pineal: This gland produces derivatives of melatonin, which affects sleep and lots more as you’ll see.
- Pancreas: This gland produces the insulin that helps control blood sugar levels. Glucagon is secreted here too.
- Parathyroid: This gland controls the amount of calcium in the body.
- Thymus: This gland plays a role in the function of the immune system and the maturity of the thymus, and is the main source for immune “fighter” T-cells early on in life.
- Testes: Produces the male sex hormone, testosterone, and produces sperm….obviously in males.
- Ovaries: They secrete estrogen, testosterone and progesterone, the female sex hormones.
Bioidentical Hormones A-Z
I figure that most of you want to know about the “biggies” which are testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, thyroid hormone and human growth hormone.
But there are those of you who want the whole enchilada.
So,rather than grouping the hormones by sex or function I figured if I did this alphabetically you could read it all to get an overview or just scroll to what you want to know about.
Fair enough? I’ll put the ones I know you want to know most about in higher case titles-there you go.
What the heck is Aldosterone?
Most of you have never heard of this hormone even though it plays an important role in cardiovascular health. Aldosterone is produced in the adrenal glands.
Aldosterone affects the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure. It sends the signal to the kidneys and to increase or decrease the amount of sodium the body sends into the bloodstream or the amount of potassium excreted in the urine. Indirectly, aldosterone also helps maintain the blood’s pH and electrolyte levels.
Aldosterone is closely linked to two other hormones: renin and angiotensin, which is basically how your body uses the kidneys to regulate your blood pressure. When these three hormones are “out of whack” your blood pressure can go up.
- Calcitonin is a hormone that the C-cells in the thyroid gland release.
- It opposes the action of the parathyroid hormone, which yes,you’lll hear about, and both hormones regulate the blood’s calcium and phosphate levels.
You have heard over and over about the fight or flight hormones cortisol and adrenaline,right?
So, cortisol goes up under stress-a good thing for a myriad of reasons.
- Cortisol can also bring on sugar cravings which I have all sorts of tricks to counteract.
- If you are trying to build muscle it does just the opposite, being what is called “catabolic.”
- It not only can decrease muscle mass, it decreases bone mass and can slow down your metabolic rate too.
- This is the ONLY hormone that actually INCREASES as we age which is something I watch when I do “decade management.”
- It is necessary to bring cortisol levels down for people under constant stress and for most individuals over 55 years of age and older.
This is another not-well-known hormone too. And it’s a very good one you shouldn’t let “go” even if you are not my patient.
Just go to my other website and find some. It goes down if you are in adrenal fatigue so that’s one reason to check it if you’re fatigued.
Studies have shown seniors with good DHEA levels have less depression.
Recent studies who it stimulated neural stem cell proliferation which is a wonderful thing in my book.
- It amps up your immune system so I always “run DHEA levels a bit high” on patients.
- If you take it in it’s keto form it increases your metabolic rate.
- And it’s super important for bone thickness and prevention of osteoporosis.
- So for those of you who read about this, aren’t you glad?
- Oh one last thing, if you are a male who has had a “male cancer” or a female who has had either a “female cancer” or PCOS you cannot take DHEA due to metabolites BUT it is perfectly safe to take keto-DHEA.
Since when is Vitamin D a hormone?
Vitamin D is a pro-hormone produced by the kidneys which helps control blood calcium concentration and immune system function.
The amount of Vitamin D made when sunlight hits the skin and then is converted to the active substance called calcitriol by the kidneys is insufficient.
Recent studies have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that many cancers are linked to low vitamin D levels.
A4M guidelines recommend levels of 50-55 ng/ml as ideal. A low vitamin D level is linked to other issues such as heart disease and even depression, yes, depression.
(Side note-I’m in Florida and so are 1/3 of my patients and I have NEVER seen anyone with a normal vitamin D level-everyone needs a supplement….so get yours checked.)
Estrogen-you care when it’s low!
We all know that estrogen is responsible for the development of “female pubertal changes” so that’s enough said on that.
But you’re interested in what this hormone does for you as a grown up,right? Lots. It helps lower your cholesterol.
It is a memory hormone and protects the brain. It helps strengthen bones.
It increases bloodflow to the skin to help stimulate collagen and elastin and keep you looking young.
- It actually lowers the incidence of Alzheiemer’s if you have your own on board or are taking bioidentical hormones .
- NOT SYNTHETICS.
- We’ll get into this in another article.
- NEVER SYNTHETICS.
- Of all of the female hormones,this is probably the most important one.
- If you are going through menopause you REALLY appreciate your estrogen because it keeps you from having hot flushes (flashes are not the medical term) and vaginal dryness.
Glucagon -know this one?
It’s secreted by the pancreas and directly impacts the liver to control blood sugar levels.
Glucagon prevents blood glucose levels from dropping to a dangerously low level.
It does this first by stimulating the conversion of stored glycogen to glucose in the liver.
It also keeps the liver from consuming some glucose.This helps more glucose to enter the bloodstream when needed.Lastly, glucagon works in a process called gluconeogenesis: the production of glucose from amino acids.
HGH (Human Growth Hormone):
For a detailed description of everything this wonder hormone can do please see the link to the article on human growth hormone.
In summary, here’s what it does for you. It helps shape your body by decreasing body fat and increasing muscle mass.
It helps heal injuries-remamber how quickly that sprained ankle healed as a kid? It increases bone density and improves immune system function too!
It gives people a generally better sense of well-being.
- It also has been shown in clinical studies to increase the thickness of the dermis-the layer of skin which contains the building blocks of skin called elastin and collagen.
- It does indeed increase collagen and elastin production so patients DO say they look younger after several months of HGH therapy.
- Insulin is secreted by the pancreas. Type 1 diabetics have insufficient secretion. Type 2’s have inadequate or unresponsive receptors for uptake.
- Speaking of uptake, insulin is responsible for getting blood sugar into all cells. By doing so, it increases muscle mass and fat storage.
- However if insulin levels are too high there is an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and more.
- We use insulin as a biomarker for inflammation which is tied to most if not all disease states AND aging.
This is one of the most under-rated hormones and you need it by the time you’re 30 to have deep,restful and restorative sleep.
It is involved with mood, is an anti-oxidant and another brain health “helper.”
It has many many functions and if you comment that you want more info I’ll do an article just about melatonin!
In women, oxytocin is responsible for signaling contractions of the womb during labor. The hormone stimulates the uterine muscles to contract, so labor begins.
Because of this effect, synthetic oxytocin is sometimes used to induce a woman to start labor if she cannot start naturally.
Once the baby is born, oxytocin promotes lactation by moving the milk into the breast.
When the baby sucks at the mother’s breast, oxytocin secretion causes the milk to release so the baby can feed.
At the same time, oxytocin is released into the brain to stimulate further oxytocin production. Once the baby stops feeding, the production of the hormone stops until the next feeding.
- For men, oxytocin function is less important, but it does appear to affect the production of testosterone in the testes.
- Recent studies have found that it is an important hormone that controls some human behavior and social interaction.
- Oxytocin triggers the bond between a mother and an infant, and it may also play a role in recognition, sexual arousal, trust and anxiety between partners and friends.
- And dogs-yes dogs.
- A recent study showed that you can bond your dog more to you and you to your dog by staring into your dog’s eyes.
- AND there is leftover oxytocin for you to use with your partner!
- Some research shows that oxytocin hormone may affect addiction and stress as well.
- It appears also to be involved in sugar cravings and is one of the “tools in my toolchest” to help those who can’t break their sugar habits!
- In the intestines, parathyroid hormone helps with vitamin D metabolism.
- This allows the body to absorb more of the calcium it digests from food.
- In the kidneys the hormone stops the release of calcium through the urine (stones!), while also increasing vitamin D production.
This is another hormone you likely haven’t heard about but if you’re anxious you’ll certainly want to see if you’re deficient. It helps repair brain and nerve tissue, decreases anxiety, improves sleep quality, improves general well-being and is probably brain-protective too.
First an important note-whether or not you have had a hysterectomy, if you are on bioidentical estrogen you must also be on progesterone too for many reasons,not the least of which is to protect your breast from “unopposed estrogens.”
Progesterone also helps with anxiety and helps with depression as well. It is needed for bone health. It helps with blood sugar and fat metabolism.
It helps the thyroid hormones do their job. Lack of it causes PMDD so replacement helps that.
Peri-menopausal sleep issues are generally caused by a dip in progesterone-the first female homone “to go” so adding oral progesterone helps with sleep initiation and maintenance. I said “oral” because progesterone creams don’t pass the blood-brain barrier.
Here is the most important of all male hormones. We know what happens in puberty so we’ll skip that.
Testosterone is the energy hormone for men and if you want to know lots more see this blog for the specific article.
It increases bone density, and is responsible physically for libido and sexual function.
The right amount is good for cholesterol levels and it definitely improves cardiac health.
It also prevents prostate enlargement and helps prevent prostate cancer. It is neuroprotective and decreases the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
Thyroid (T3) hormone:
- The active form of thyroid hormone (T3) is made from the inactive form (T4) which needs an enzyme which requires quite a lot of minerals so make sure you are on a good multi-vit-multi-mineral supplement.
- T3 increases energy, fat burning and helps control weight.
- It increases appetite and heart rate. Too little causes chilliness, a loss of the outer 1/3 of eyebrows and a decreased AM basal temperature- below 97.3F.
- For WHATEVER reason most doctors get the wrong tests.
- Here’s what to ask for: TSH, FREE T3, FREE T4, reverse T3, TPO antibodies.
Why do Hormones Decline?
Hormonally and physically speaking, your body peaks around the age of 25. Get over it- I can fix all that!
We often assume that things like foggy memory, low libido, menopausal weight gain, hair loss and wrinkles are simply a part of “getting older. ”
But they’re not-they’re symptoms of “running low on hormones.” They can easily be corrected with the use of bioidentical hormones.
In women, the symptoms of aging often first appear during early menopause (perimenopause), when estrogen and progesterone levels begin to wane and continue to decline throughout menopause. The symptoms of these hormone imbalances can begin as early as age 30.
Men usually experience a more gradual loss of hormones, mainly testosterone, and the result is called andropause.
Unlike the sudden loss of estrogen that women face during menopause, the gradual loss of testosterone happens over time and is often misdiagnosed or even dismissed as “male mid-life crisis.”
The symptoms men experience are similar to what menopausal women experience.
As many as 25 million American males between ages 40 and 55 are experiencing some degree of male menopause.
And if you have your primary care doctor check your levels, you will more likely than not be told that a low level (“in the range on the labslip”) is normal. That’s when you need to do your research and find an A4M boarded doc like me.
- There is no reason to look old or feel old or get old. We get older but we needn’t get old. There’s more to it than just hormones-lots more.
- There’s everything you saw on the home page of my website and I fix it all. Why would you NOT want to feel and look your best and NOT get “diseases of aging?”
- It astonishes me how few American take advantage of what they could have health-wise.