About Hormones

What in the world are hormones and how do I understand what's happening in my body?

Hormones are chemicals released by cells that have an affect on other cells and multiple systems throughout our bodies. They are basically chemical messengers that transfer signals between cells and they affect everything from our metabolism to mood. Hormones do everything from control, stimulate or inhibit cell growth, help and hinder our immune system, prepare our bodies for various stages of life (puberty, parenting, menopause) and react to environments and situations (fight or flight responses, mating) and more.

Hormones can also regulate the production and release of other hormones and work to keep our bodies in balance both with itself and our environment. Often (especially in an industrialized nation) our hormones get out of balance due to the introduction of manufactured chemicals and materials in our day to day life. In these situations, individuals can choose to take synthetic hormones (such as pills or synthetic creams prescribed by a physician), help to retain more balance by controlling diet and exercise and/or use natural, plant-based hormones via transdermal creams

Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance

Dr. John Lee and Virginia Hopkins have done terrific work in identifying and addressing the symptoms of Hormone Imbalance (Read more in Hormone Balance Made Simple). Use this list to start gaining a better understanding of your own symptoms then consider taking a hormone test or talking to your health care professional for the right treatment plan. Keep in mind two important factors: (1) Estrogen dominance can be cause by both high estrogen and/or low progesterone (the hormone that keeps estrogen in balance.) (2) If you're already using natural hormones but still finding some of these symptoms to exist, make sure you're taking the proper dose at the proper time, keep stress levels in check and maintain good sleep, eating and exercise habits.

  • Aches and Pains – Low Cortisol, Estrogen Dominance and Low Testosterone
  • Acne, Oily Skin – High Testosterone (see ovarian cysts)
  • Allergies – Estrogen Dominance, Low Cortisol, Deficiency of Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids (eat more fresh fruits and veggies)
  • Anxiety – Estrogen Dominance, Too Much Caffeine, Diet Pills, Deficiency of B Vitamins, Chronic Stress, Too Much TV
  • Breast Tenderness – Estrogen Dominance, Too Much Caffeine
  • Cold Hands and Feet – Estrogen Dominance Interfering with Thyroid Function, Low Thyroid, Poor Circulation (caused by excess sugar in diet), Insulin Resistance
  • Decreased Sex Drive – Low Testosterone, Estrogen Dominance and Stress
  • Depression – Both High and Low Estrogen Can Contribute, Low Progesterone
  • Dry Eyes – Estrogen Dominance and Low Testosterone
  • Dry Skin – Estrogen Deficiency, Estrogen Dominance (creating low thyroid function)
  • Dry, Brittle Hair – Estrogen Dominance (creating low thyroid function) and Low Progesterone
  • Endometriosis – Probably caused by exposure to xenoestrogens (such as those found in plastics and pesticides) aggravated by estrogen dominance
  • Fat Gain – Around the Hips, Buttocks & Thighs (a classic symptom of estrogen dominance), Around the middle (a sign of too much sugars and refined carbs and/or too little exercise) or a Poochy Tummy (often caused from excess cortisol/stress, estrogen deficiency and/or constipation)
  • Fatigue – Low Cortisol, Estrogen Dominance, Stress, Lack of Sleep, Chronic Infection and/or Poor Diet
  • Fibrocystic [Lumpy] Breasts – Estrogen Dominance (progesterone cream applied directly to breasts almost always clears this up)
  • Foggy Thinking – Low Estrogen, Low Testosterone, Estrogen Dominance and Hypoglycemia/Low Blood Sugar
  • Gallbladder Pain – Excess Estrogen, Estrogen Dominance and/or Too Much Fat/Fried Foods in Diet
  • Hair Loss – Excess Testosterone (usually caused by excess sugar and refined carbs in diet), Excess Estrogen, Estrogen Dominance and Thyroid Deficiency
  • Headaches – Estrogen Dominance
  • Heart Palpitations – Low Cortisol, Low Testosterone, Low Blood Pressure, Food Allergy and Stress
  • Hot Flashes – Low Estrogen, Low Progesterone and Fluctuating Hormones (brought on by menopause)
  • Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) – Estrogen Dominance and Low Cortisol
  • Incontinence (e.g., I wet my pants when I laugh, cough or sneeze) – Overall low hormones (esp common among women after hysterectomy) and Obesity
  • Insomnia – It's not at all unusual for women going through menopause to experience sleep disturbances with or without supplemental hormones. For most it passes in a year. Progesterone is a calming hormone, and applying some at night before bed can help quite a bit.
    Estrogen Dominance, Excess Estrogen, Too Much Caffeine, and Excess cortisol/Stress or Worries
  • Irritability – Low Estrogen, Estrogen Dominance, High Testosterone and Excess Cortisol/Stress
  • Memory Loss – Stress (high cortisol can cause short-term memory loss), Low Estrogen and Estrogen Dominance
  • Migraines (especially premenstrual) – Estrogen Dominance
  • Muscle Weakness – Low Cortisol, Low Testosterone and Low Progesterone
  • Night Sweats – Low Estrogen, Estrogen Dominance, Low Progesterone, Fluctuating Estrogens (caused by menopausal transition)
  • Ovarian Cysts – Often caused by too much sugar and refined carbs – one of the simplest (if not easiest) hormone imbalances to fix with good food and plenty of exercise
  • Oversensitivity – Excess Estrogen
  • Painful Intercourse – Low Estrogen or Low Testosterone
  • PMS – Estrogen Dominance
  • Sleepiness – Excess Progesterone (often seen with oral progesterone at gross overdose levels) and Lack of Sleep (may seem obvious but most Americans do not get enough)
  • Sluggish Digestion – Excess Progesterone (often from a gross overdose of oral progesterone) or Thyroid Deficiency
  • Talking Excessively – Excess Estrogen or Excess Cortisol/Stress
  • Thinning Skin – Very High or Very Low Cortisol, Low Testosterone and Low Estrogen
  • Urinary Tract Infection and/or Irritation – Low Estrogen, Bacterial Infection, Loss of "Good" Bacteria (caused by antibiotic use)
  • Uterine Fibroids – Unknown Cause (but made worse by estrogen dominance. When they get larger, exposure to excess estrogen or progesterone can cause them to grow)
  • Vaginal Dryness – Low Estrogen and Low Testosterone
  • Water Retention, Bloating, Puffiness – Estrogen Dominance and Excess Estrogen
  • Weepiness – Estrogen Dominance, Stress and Depression
  • Weight Gain – Estrogen Dominance, Too Much Sugar and Refined Carbs, Lack of Exercise and Low Thyroid