Hormones are natural chemicals produced by your endocrine glands. There are about 50 different hormones in your body which play an important role in regulating many processes including reproductive cycles and sexual function, appetite, metabolism and mood. When we are healthy our hormone levels are balanced correctly and as we age our hormone levels will change. Certain medical conditions for example polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and birth control medications in women and low testosterone.
Because of their essential role even a small hormonal imbalance can result in side effects that are felt physically as well as emotionally. In women symptoms include mood swings, painful periods, acne breakouts, weight gain and insomnia. In men hormonal imbalances can result in low sex drive, erectile dysfunction and low sperm count.
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What Are the Five Key Hormones?
Hormones control the functions of the body, including reproductive functions. Although the human body produces many hormones, there are five main hormones to observe when considering reproductive function:
1.Cortisol is often referred to as the “stress hormone” as it controls the body’s response to external stressors. It also regulates a variety of bodily functions and impacts metabolism, immune function, blood sugar levels, salinity levels, and memory.
2.Estrogen is often thought of as the female hormone, as it is primarily responsible for the development and maintenance of female characteristics and functions; however, men do have a small amount of estrogen as well.
3.Insulin is a hormone created by the pancreas which allows the body to use glucose. People who do not make enough insulin, or who cannot use insulin correctly, may suffer from diabetes and may need to take a man-made insulin replacement.
4. Progesterone is another primarily female reproductive hormone. In women, it impacts menstruation and pregnancy; however it also plays a role in sleep, bone density, and digestion.
5.Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, although women also produce some testosterone. It regulates fertility, muscle and fat distribution, and red blood cells.
Hormonal Imbalance in Women: Estrogen
Estrogen levels change throughout a woman’s life and even throughout each menstrual cycle. However, low or high imbalance of estrogen can negatively impact a woman’s health. Estrogen levels can be altered by diet and other external factors, including some environmental toxins.
Low estrogen can lead to feelings of depression, irritability, mood swings, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and lowered libido. High estrogen levels can lead to thyroid dysfunction, weight gain and obesity, and lowered libido.
Hormonal Imbalance in Men: Estrogen and Progesterone
Men do not need as much estrogen and progesterone as women do. However, they still rely on these hormones for proper function. Men can experience symptoms from having too low or too high levels of both these hormones.
High estrogen causes infertility, fatigue, increased fat tissue, reduced muscle mass, enlarged prostate, enlarged breast tissue (gynecomastia), lowered libido. Low estrogen sometimes does not cause any symptoms in men, but can cause all of the symptoms of high estrogen.
Progesterone helps to regulate estrogen levels in men, and protects men against high levels of estrogen in the body. Low progesterone can lead to depression, increased risk of bone fractures, and any of the symptoms of high estrogen.
High progesterone is linked with high estrogen levels in men, so men experiencing high progesterone may also experience any of the symptoms of high estrogen, as well as depression and heart conditions.
Hormonal Imbalance & Menstrual Symptoms from the Chinese Medicine View
In Chinese Medicine, these negative symptoms often associated with a menstrual period are not to be seen as normal. While a Western doctor might say that mood swings, painful cramps, weight gain, bloating, acne, and headaches are all normal during a period, Chinese practitioners would not dismiss these symptoms as normal.
- Delayed Periods: Early periods are a sign of increased movement of blood caused by an abundance of heat. Delayed periods would conversely be seen as caused by the decreased flow or deficient levels of blood and related to the body being too cold. Qi is unable to govern heart.
- Light Periods: Many women would recognize a heavy flow, but might not notice a lighter-than-normal period. A light period may be shorter than normal, lasting only one or two days. A light period is usually an indication that estrogen levels are too low. Oftentimes, both estrogen and progesterone levels may be low. Light periods may be an indication that a woman is not ovulating during her cycle.
- Irregular or absent periods :From a Chinese Medicine perspective, irregular periods are the result of stress, overwork, trauma, exposure to cold, heat or damp and a variety of lifestyle factors such as exercise and diet. Eating food that is difficult to digest can create Phlegm and Dampness – instead of being digested properly food is transformed into toxic waste that creates unwanted fluid retention and gas, creating Kidney Yang Deficiency which exacerbates the problem further. Emotional factors and also excessive sexual activity may also play a role in irregular or absent periods.
- Heavy periods and difficult flow: Our Spleen Qi regulates the movement of blood inside the vessels. If this Qi is weak, the blood cannot be held in the vessels, and heavy menstrual bleeding can result. A number of factors including Stress and diet can cause Excess Heat to enter the Blood. This Heat can disturb the Chong channel which is known as the Sea of Blood and cause a heavy period or spotting between periods.
- Spotting Between Periods: In Chinese Medicine, spotting is called intermenstrual bleeding, and is seen as an irregularity caused by a deficiency in Kidney Yin. The kidney stores the essence of the body, and a deficiency in Kidney Yin would prevent the kidney from proper function, causing heat to build up and forcing blood to leave the body through the uterus.
- Painful periods:In Chinese Medicine menstrual pain is caused by Qi Stagnation and Blood stasis. These factors can also make it difficult to conceive. The Liver meridian is always involved in this pattern, but other meridians such as the Conception Meridian ( which runs along the front of the body along the centre) Kidney Meridian and Stomach Meridian are also involved. In addition Yin Deficiency, Spleen Qi Deficiency, or Blood Deficiency can contribute to menstrual pain
Natural Ways To Balance Hormones
The traditional treatment for an abundance of estrogen is progesterone treatments. Many women who experience the symptoms of menopause are prescribed progesterone cream to combat the symptoms. While these treatments provide short-term relief, they can lead to a cascade of other hormonal imbalances as the body works to compensate.
In Chinese Medicine, practitioners do not prescribe a treatment to combat the symptoms, they work to regain normal function. There are ways to naturally combat excess estrogen and return the body to normal.
1. Improve Liver Health: Detoxify your liver to improve the overall health and improve the function of the liver. Minimize alcohol consumption, eat a clean diet with leafy greens, drink warm water with lemon in the morning, and take a supplement such as Dandelion.
2.Dietary Changes: Minimize animal proteins. The standard farm-raised animal is loaded with antibiotics and hormones to increase their size for increased profits. These chemicals enter our bodies and contribute to hormone imbalance. Eat more leafy greens and foods high in fiber, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and bok choy.
3.Reach (or Maintain) a Healthy Weight: Estrogen imbalance causes weight gain, and increased fat causes high estrogen levels. This is because fat cells produce estrogen. Reaching a healthy body weight can help return estrogen levels to normal.
4.Exercise: Being overweight, being too sedentary and eating a poor diet can create heaviness and congestion (too much Yin) in the lower part of the body. When blood cannot circulate properly a buildup of fluids occurs causing problems such as back pain, varicose veins, heavy and aching legs and piles. Painful periods may also occur. If your work requires you to sit at a desk it is important to build some exercise into your working week and to make sure that you get up and stretch regularly during the day.
5.Remove Xenoestrogens from Your Life: Avoid environmental pollutants that affect estrogen levels, called xenoestrogens. This includes plastics, non-organic meats, farmed fish, canned food, and many hygiene products and house cleaners that contain chemicals such as parabens, sulfates, and emulsifiers.
6.Make time to Relax: A woman who exercises too much without sufficient rest will end up putting so much stress on her body she will drain her reserves, which are held in the Kidneys. When these reserves run low, symptoms such as tiredness, low libido and poor appetite result as the body produces a lower than normal level of hormones (Yin Deficiency). This can lead to hormonal imbalances which can result in amenorrhea or infertility due to ovulation problems.
It is important that your reserves of energy – Qi – do not become depleted. Worry and overthinking can have an impact on these energy reserves which are also affected by our genetics. When our reserves of Qi are low we may experience frequent bouts of illness, waking frequently in the night, hot flashes but also feelings of cold. Women may find that their period starts early and produces watery menstrual blood.
Natural Ways to Balance Hormones With Chinese Medicine
When you visit a Chinese Medicine practitioner, they will examine your day to day lifestyle, diet as well take your pulse and look at your tongue. This examination will allow them to diagnose the cause of hormonal imbalance and pinpoint the deficiencies that are causing this imbalance.
Natural Treatment are used to get to the root cause of hormonal imbalance. Treatments such as:
Natural Dandelion or Pu Gong Ying by GinSen is a high grade botanical extract which offers natural antibacterial and antiviral properties along with promoting natural detox. These dandelion supplements are powerful antioxidants, containing high diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties that promote digestion and strengthen the immune system.
READ MORE: CHINESE MEDICINE FOR HORMONE IMBALANCE
The goal of TCM is to restore balance in the body. Acupuncture and herbal medicine are safe and effective forms of treatments, which promote a healthy equilibrium throughout all of the body’s systems. Acupuncture regulates the body and helps it to relax and herbs work to gently balance the hormone levels. They both play an important role in regulating the menstrual cycle, balancing emotions and promoting healthy organ function.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We can’t guarantee the treatment result, as the symptoms of conditions are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person. The treatment length and recovery time also varies for individual. Please visit our clinics website: GinSen where a specialists will discuss your care and provide a consultation, and the treatment will be designed to meet your individual needs.