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Improve And Balance Your Cortisol, Testosterone, Estrogen And Thyroid Hormones

Your hormones coordinate a carefully orchestrated interplay of the body’s organs. Correctly balanced, these chemical messengers improve your health and boost your mood. Luckily, there is a wealth of natural ways to keep your hormonal systems in sync and at optimal function.

In my previous article I discussed dietary nutrition for hormone health. In this column, I’ll discuss some important ways to improve the production and function of cortisol, testosterone, estrogen, and thyroid hormones that don’t require a prescription. It’s best if you can have lab testing to guide you in these methods.

Cortisol

In addition to stress reduction methods and learning to be peaceful, confident and calm amidst life’s stressful circumstances, there are particular nutrients that are also important for the adrenal hormones. We know that in the state of adrenal fatigue, these nutrients have been shown to help reverse hormone deficiencies.

  • Vitamin C
  • B vitamins
  • Calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, sodium, manganese
  • Phosphatidylserine (300 mg daily)
  • EPA / DHA (omega-3 oils)

 
When you are stressed too often, you can help your adrenal gland from over-secreting cortisol by using:

      • Theanine: 200-400 mg twice daily
      • Ginseng
      • Chamomile
      • Lemon balm
      • Licorice: twice daily

 
When herbs are not enough and you need extra adrenal support, you may need to go on glandular extracts or even prescription cortisol at low physiological replacement doses (e.g. 5 mg 2 times daily).

Testosterone

Amino acid supplements are known to increase testosterone secretion in the testes and adrenal glands. This goes along with a diet high in protein. Yet there are other factors influencing testosterone production in your body. The amount of free, active testosterone decreases when the binding protein called SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) is increased. In fact, most testosterone is bound, so small changes in the SHBG dramatically affect the amount of free testosterone. Here are items that increase SHBG and lower testosterone:

      • Oral estrogen increases SHBG by 50 percent, while transdermal estrogens only increase it by up to 20 percent.
      • Hyperthyroid state (thyroid hormone therapy).
      • Smoking.
      • Caffeine drinks.
      • Vegan dieting.

 
I think this underscores the need to find out your SHBG level. Other tests that would also be important along with your total/free testosterone levels are:

      • PSA (prostate specific antigen)
      • FSH (follicle stimulating hormone)
      • LH (leutinizing hormone)
      • Estradiol, DHT (dihydrotestosterone)
      • CBC (complete blood count)
      • Prolactin, lipids,
      • Liver function tests
      • Thyroid panel
      • Fasting insulin
      • Hemoglobin A1C
      • HS-CRP (high sensitivity C-reactive protein along with other cardiac markers if at risk for heart disease)

 
Also, the factors that help block testosterone from converting to DHT include:

    • Zinc [1] and selenium
    • Saw palmetto
    • Pygeum
    • Stinging nettle
    • Epilobium [2]
    • L-lysine
    • Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols)
    • Green tea extract (epigallocatechin gallate)
    • Linolenic acid [3]
    • Flaxseed
    • Soy isoflavones
    • Quercetin

 
Furthermore, supplements known to slow testosterone from converting to estrogen:

    • Flaxseed
    • Grape seed and red wine (procyanidins)
    • Green tea extracts (EGCG)
    • Vitamin C
    • Anastrazole (brand name Arimidex)
    • Chrysin (isoflavone extracted from blue passion flower)
    • Stinging nettle, hesperidin (flavonoids)
    • Epilobium [4] plant

 
Estrogen

We know estrogen gets converted to estrone metabolite forms that can increase breast cancer risk or to forms that can help protect you from breast cancer. We know that estradiol improves bone density. Ways to increase the estrone metabolites that protect from breast cancer include:

  • Eat cruciferous vegetables (3 servings daily of broccoli, kale, bok choy, cauliflower, cabbage, or baby cabbage) which have approximately 400 mg indole-3-carbanol which also gets converted into DIM (diindolylmethane) in stomach acid.
  • SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine).
  • Omega 3 fats.
  • B vitamins, vitamin D.
  • Rosemary, turmeric.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Exercise.

 
Thyroid

Did you know that 95 percent of people with fibromyalgia syndrome have thyroid deficiency? Did you also know that synthetic T4 replacement has never been proven in any study to resolve the symptoms of thyroid deficiency? It is important to recognize that thyroid function can be limited in many ways and enhanced in others:

  • Soy can block thyroid function. In a study of 37 adults who ate a diet high in soy for 3 months, nearly half of them developed symptoms of low thyroid which resolved after going off soy. [5]
  • Iron levels must be optimal for thyroid function to be normal.
  • Calcium carbonate as well as aluminum hydroxide (in supplements) increases the excretion of thyroid hormone (thus lowering thyroid hormone).
  • Some prescription medications are known to interfere with thyroid function: Birth control pills, metoclopramide, cimetidine, clomiphene, Dilantin, tegretol, phenobarbital, tamoxifen (if used longer than one year), rifampin, Ritonavir, sertraline, haloperidol, lithium, amiodarone, sucralfate, and bile acid sequestrants (e.g. cholestyramine).
  • The micronutrients selenium, zinc, copper, potassium, iodide, vitamin A, vitamin E and riboflavin promote the conversion of T4 to the much more active T3. Deficiencies of vitamins B2, B3, B6 and C can decrease the production of T4.
  • The amino acids tyrosine, cysteine and methionine enhance thyroid activity and increase conversion of T4 to the more active T3.

 
This is a lot to remember, I realize. However, if you think you may be experiencing an imbalance of any of these hormones, you can refer to these lists and hopefully take this information to your doctor who can assist you with tests or prescriptions when needed.

To your health and feeling good all your life,
Michael Cutler, M.D.
Easy Health Options

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[1] Om AS, Chung KW. Dietary zinc deficiency alters 5 alpha-reduction and aromatization of testosterone and androgen and estrogen receptors in rat liver. J Nutr. 1996 Apr;126(4):842-8.

[2] Ducrey B, Marston A, Gohring S, Hartmann RW, Hostettmann K. Inhibition of 5 alpha-reductase and aromatase by the ellagitannins oenothein A and oenothein B from Epilobium species. Planta Med. 1997 Apr;63(2):111-4.

[3] Rushton DH. Nutritional factors and hair loss. Clinical Exp Dermatol. 2002 Jul;27(5):396-404.

[4] Ducrey B, Marston A, Gohring S, Hartmann RW, Hostettmann K. Inhibition of 5 alpha-reductase and aromatase by the ellagitannins oenothein A and oenothein B from Epilobium species. Planta Med. 1997 Apr;63(2):111-4.

[5] Divi R, et al. Anti-thyroid isoflavones from soybean: isolation, characterization, and mechanism of action. Biochem Pharmacol 1997;54(10):1087-96

Dr. Michael Cutler

is a graduate of Brigham Young University, Tulane Medical School and Natividad Medical Center Family Practice Residency in Salinas, Calif. Dr. Cutler is a board-certified family physician with more than 20 years of experience. He serves as a medical liaison to alternative and traditional practicing physicians. His practice focuses on an integrative solution to health problems. Dr. Cutler is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on experiencing optimum health through natural medicines and founder and editor of Easy Health Options™ newsletter — a leading health advisory service on natural healing therapies and nutrients.

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