ARE HORMONES RELATED TO YOUR ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, MIGRAINES OR OTHER HEALTH CONCERNS?

Could Hormones Be Related to your Depression, Anxiety, Fatigue or Migraines?

                                     Could Hormones Be Related to your Depression, Anxiety, Fatigue or Migraines?

 HORMONE HEALTH

By Dr. Joël Lee Villeneuve, ND

Samantha, is a young woman who was experiencing PMS symptoms including irregular periods, weight gain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, bloating, migraine headaches and infertility that were very clearly related to her monthly cycle when she came to our office. She had been prescribed the birth control pill (BCP) which regulated her period but then she began having swings of severe depression, more weight gain and continued migraines until she was diagnosed with estrogen dominance with saliva hormone lab work (post discontinuing the BCP) and prescribed bio-identical progesterone which resolved all of her symptoms completely within 12 weeks. (1)

Mary, was in peri-menopause and close to menopause when she sat in front of me with her magazine fanning her face as she explained that the hot flashes, inability to sleep well, fatigue, lack of mental clarity and mood changes where interfering so much with her quality of life that she thought she was often “loosing it” and was considering quitting her job that she had excelled in for over 30 years. Once properly diagnosed and prescribed bio-identical estrogen Mary became herself again!

Tim was experiencing fatigue, lack of motivation, weight gain and depression when I first met him until he was diagnosed with low testosterone, high estrogen and treated with bio-identical testosterone and DIM (3,3′-diindolylmethane).

Samantha, Mary and Tim all had been to various practitioners to pinpoint the source of their health concerns and did acknowledge what they had been told, that they were just stressed, getting older and had to learn to live with it, but intuitively they also had the feeling that something else was not right in their bodies, and that this something had to do with their hormones….. They were all correct.

These are the faces of just a few of the millions of women and men who suffer from a hormone imbalance as their primary condition. Often their concerns are misdiagnosed leading to medications that are not ideally targeted to help their health and are limiting them from living their best lives. It is vital that patients like Samantha, Mary and Tim are properly assessed otherwise they may all possibly be suffering as concerns such as insomnia, anxiety, and migraine are just a few of the conditions linked to an imbalance of progesterone and estrogen.1-4 

Hormones play a symphony of music in the body with some including estrogen lift your mood energizing you while others like progesterone have more of a calming nature. Thus, wellness is a fine balance of all hormones. Other aspects of hormones on health include:

Mood & Sleep

Relatively high estrogen with low progesterone levels in the body also known as estrogen dominance is linked to feeling anxious and sleeping restlessly. The brain is very sensitive to progesterone which is found in brain cells at levels twenty times higher than in the blood serum.5 Progesterone has a relaxing effect which counterbalances estrogens excitatory effect on the brain.6

Your mood is also linked to a balance of neurotransmitters- especially serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine- in the brain which are influenced by your hormones. For example, estrogen, inhibits an enzyme called monoamine oxidase (MAO) which inactivates the mood-elevating neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Thus, low levels of estrogen can result in depression. On the other hand, excess estrogen, in estrogen dominance is also not ideal as it can lead to functional hypothyroidism which causes a slowdown of cellular metabolism, creating a drop in the calming and sleep promoting neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutric acid) increasing depression, mood swings, panic attacks, and in severe cases epileptic seizures. Progesterone and thyroid therapy also impact GABA levels in the brain having an anti-anxiety effect.7-9

This phenomenon also occurs in postpartum depression. During pregnancy, the placenta produces ten to twenty times the normal amount of progesterone while the ovaries’ production drops to virtually zero. Post-birth progesterone drops quickly, which may lead to postpartum depression due to the functional hypothyroidism and estrogen dominance that occurs. Post-partum depression where indicated responds well to armour thyroid and bio-identical progesterone therapy. Many perimenopausal, postmenopausal or post-partum depression women with clinical signs of hypothyroidism, such as fatigue, lack of energy, intolerance to cold, are actually suffering from unrecognized estrogen dominance and may benefit from supplementation with natural progesterone.

Migraines

Research shows that higher estradiol/progesterone ratios are correlated with increased headache activity.10 Bio-identical progesterone therapy can help relieve and in many cases, eliminate migraine headaches.11,12 Migraine syndromes, particularly in women, are also associated with lower levels of brain and serum ionized magnesium.13  It is believed that magnesium’s ability to relieve PMS distress may be related to the mineral™s ability to relax vascular smooth muscle. Studies have found that as estrogen increases, ionized magnesium decreases which can be treated with supplemental progesterone which elevates ionized magnesium thereby helping to improve migraine headaches.14,15

Osteoporosis

Bones are continually being dissolved (osteoclasts) and rebuilt (osteoblasts). Hormone balance is key to supporting the prevention of osteoporosis. Peak bone density is approximately at 30 years of age for women with a rate of bone loss at about 1-1.5 % per year thereafter.6 As women move into peri-menopause, luteal (the second half of the menses cycle) levels of progesterone decline, whereas levels of estrogen, lutenizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and other hormones stay the same. Estrogen helps to slow bone loss by curbing osteoclasts16,17 while progesterone and testosterone facilitate building new bone.18 Progesterone is also thought to increase insulin-like growth factor 1, which promotes bone formation. 19

Cancer

The goal of any hormone therapy is to restore the balance of hormones which can improve overall health and reduce the risk of disease including cancer. It is important to differentiate synthetic (HRT) from bio-identical (BHRT) hormone therapy, however. The majority, of controlled studies and observational studies in the past five years suggest that the addition of synthetic progestins to synthetic estrogen in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk of breast cancer compared to synthetic estrogen alone.20 Additional research has demonstrated that the addition of natural progesterone through BHRT does not affect breast cancer risk 20,21 and a large base of evidence suggests that the use of natural progesterone may act protectively and be considered as a part of combined care for the treatment of breast and endometrial cancers.22-32 A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 1981 found that women with infertility and progesterone deficiency had a 1000 percent greater chance of death from all types of cancer.22 Other estrogen dominant related hormone imbalances including uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, fibrocystic breast disease, endometriosis, heavy menses and cervical erosions may benefit from hormone balancing.33

Men

For men, the key sex hormone is testosterone and less emphasis is placed on other sex hormones including estrogen and progesterone. Progesterone is formed by the adrenal glands and testes in men. As with women excess estrogen/estrogen dominance may lead to many health symptoms in men including gynecomastia (breast enlargement in men), reduced libido and sexual function, weight gain and prostate enlargement.34-36 In addition to counterbalancing the negative aspects of estrogen, progesterone may also inhibit 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is linked to higher prostate gland health risks.37

Some key symptoms related to estrogen and progesterone deficiencies:

Estrogen Deficiency Symptoms -Reduced (ortho) Sympathetic Nervous System >>> Low Energy & Mood38

  • Hot flashes/Night Sweats38
  • Poor Sleep38
  • Stress38
  • Weight Gain38
  • Fatigue (especially during menses) 38
  • Low Mood (especially during menses) 38
  • Memory Lapses38
  • Headaches (during menses) 38
  • Hair Loss38
  • Lack of Libido38
  • Loss of Water > Deflated & Dry38 

Progesterone Deficiency Symptoms- Reduced Parasympathetic Nervous System >>> Nervous38

  • Hot flashes/Night Sweats38
  • Poor Sleep38
  • Stress38
  • Weight Gain38
  • Nervous or Anxiety38
  • Irritable (especially PMS) 38
  • Headaches (before menses) 38
  • Excessive Nervous Libido38
  • Water Retention > Swollen 38

Progesterone supplementation provides multiple health benefits including improved: blood sugar, sleep, stimulation of new bone growth and reduced anxiety.20,21

Conclusion

As people live longer the average life expectancy in the early 1900s of 49 years is being dramatically surpassed. Â

Considering the top ten concerns that leads people to seek Naturopathic care include: fatigue, sleep disorders, weight, stress & mood disorders, PMS & fertility, perimenopause and menopause, digestion, longevity, cardiovascular disease, brain health and autoimmune disorders which all may be related to hormone balance including estrogen and progesterone as well other therapies that are in our present scope it is imperative that hormone assessment is included in all patient visits. The integration of lifestyle medicine, nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine and botanicals including scientifically studied herbs such as Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) and licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) root can further promote healthy hormone balance as well as complement BHRT.

All Naturopathic therapies including bio-identical hormone therapy is vital to extending the length and quality of lives naturally.

By Dr. Joël Lee Villeneuve, ND, Inspiring Health, Naturally

www.revivelife.ca

References

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  3. Gulinello M, Smith SS. Anxiogenic effects of neurosteroid exposure: sex differences and altered GABAA receptor pharmacology in adult rats. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2003 May;305(2):541-8.
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  9. Rupprecht R. Neuroactive steroids: mechanisms of action and neuropsychopharmacological properties. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2003 Feb;28(2):139-68.
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