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YOUR HEALTH: Hormonal balance – and imbalance – in women
By Erika Kneeland
Hormones – we all have them. When they’re functioning well, you don’t even notice them; but when an imbalance occurs, it can affect everything from your appetite and emotions to your sleep habits and sex drive.
Regulatory chemicals produced by our cells, hormones work to stimulate or inhibit other bodily chemicals and functions. Hormonal imbalance is very common, particularly among women over 30, and occurs for numerous reasons, such as age, medication, lifestyle or pregnancy.
Progesterone, estrogen, DHEA and testosterone are the four main hormones in women.
Progesterone is like nature’s Valium; it keeps you from feeling anxious and also decreases inflammation. It begins to decline after age 30 or gets turned into cortisol, another hormone, when you’re under stress.
Estrogen is like Prozac; it improves your mood and protects the neurons in your brain, affecting memory and other cognitive function.
Any change in levels of the “big four” – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA – can create a domino effect among the other hormones, potentially causing conditions such as moodiness, anxiety, sleeping difficulties, brain fog, low sex drive and hot flashes.
While symptoms are rarely life-threatening, they are quality of life issues that shouldn’t be ignored.
Fortunately, options are available to those suffering from hormonal imbalance. Fortunately, treatment of hormonal imbalance is no longer limited to birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy and hysterectomies. There are numerous naturopathic alternatives that can help women regain control of their hormones and their bodies. Modern naturopathic treatments are evidence-based and include nutritional and lifestyle suggestions.