Anti-Aging Discussion on Thyroid and Cortisol Hormones
Everything you do including thoughts, feelings, and emotions, physical growth and maintenance, and childbearing is influenced by hormones. Thus proactively educating yourself about them, being familiar with signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance, and finally managing them is as crucial as anything else you do for your health and well being. Proper nutrition and exercise are indeed important, but without the critical hormonal balance will do little to thrive. If you are tired or depressed, have difficulty losing weight, diminished libido and/or zest for life, or if you are a woman who has irregular menstrual cycles, PMS, OR PAINFUL PERIODS, ISSUES WITH YOUR WEIGHT, then you have symptoms suggestive of hormone imbalance.
There are six critical hormones that are affected as you age: estrogen, progesterone, thyroid hormones, cortisol, testosterone, and human growth hormone. Estrogen is responsible for those sexy, fertile, strong, happy, and voluptuous characteristics of being a woman. Progesterone provides those youthful, cheerful, calming, steady, well- balanced, and fertile features. Thyroid hormones are responsible for regulating all metabolic functions and energy production in the body and brain. Cortisol gives you energy, helps you handle stress, and enables you to be quick and active. Testosterone although considered a “male” hormone is important for woman by providing muscle tone, strong bones, a healthy libido, mood, and energy. Human growth hormone is kind of the master switch hormone regulating the growth and maintenance of essentially all tissues in and of the body.
Thyroid Hormone Imbalance
It is estimated that between 30% to as much as 80% of the population has some degree of low thyroid function (Hypothyroid). Even more unfortunate is the fact that this imbalance, which affects so many aspects of health, is frequently either misdiagnosed, misunderstood, or completely overlooked. Hypothyroidism can be due to a genetic inheritance, peri-menopause, exposure to certain viruses, iodine deficiency, autoimmune disease, BUT MOST OFTEN IS AFFECTED BY environmental toxins. Common symptoms of Hypothyroidism include:
- Accelerated aging
- Weight gain
- Cold dry skin
- Joint and muscle pain (even Fibromyalgia)
- Memory loss
- Brain fog
- Hair thinning/loss ESPECIALLY LOSS OF OUTER THIRD OF EYEBROWS
If you have several of these symptoms above you should schedule an appointment with a physician specializing in hormone replacement therapy and optimization to review them and arrange for a comprehensive thyroid evaluation, including a panel of tests.
Your initial lab tests (blood work) should include: thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine (T4), free tri-iodothyronine (T3), and reverse tri-iodothyronine (rT3) levels. TSH is produced by the pituitary gland and stimulates the thyroid gland to produce T4 and T3 the active thyroid hormones. Insufficient production of any one of these can lead to hypothyroidism. On the other hand reverse T3 is an inactive form of T3 and therefore overproduction of this form of thyroid hormone can cause hypothyroidism as well. WE AT WELLNESS PLUS ALSO MEASURE THYROID PEROXIDASE AND THYROID ANTIBODIES TO LOOK FOR UNDERLYING AUTOIMMUNE ISSUES.
Treatment for Hypothyroidism includes: simply replacing bioidentical T4 and usually T3 hormones in pill form. Because women seem to have a more difficult time converting T4 to T3 which is actually the more active form then T3 replacement is usually necessary too. Armour Thyroid is a bioidentical thyroid replacement medication that is commonly prescribed by specialist because it contains both T4 and T3. This treatment is usually very effective and quickly makes you feel better. IODINE IS ESSENTIAL TO PROPER TREATMENT AS WELL.
Cortisol Hormone Imbalance
Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands which sit atop the kidneys. Cortisol is considered the main “stress” hormone a WHICH HELPS US manage both physical and psychological stress. When cortisol levels rise in response to stressors, we get a boost of energy, our memory works better, and we’re more motivated – all positive outcomes. However, when we are bombarded by constant stress our cortisol levels remain high causing negative even toxic effects. Common signs & symptoms of elevated cortisol levels:
- Weight gain
- Memory malfunction
- Anxiety Fatigue
- Stomach ulcers
- High blood pressure
- Elevated cholesterol
- Food & alcohol cravings
- Insulin resistance
- Heart disease
- Frequent illnesses
Because cortisol affects other hormones, in women, it can trigger problems such as infrequent ovulation and difficulty getting pregnant by suppressing estrogen and progesterone activity.
The first step in reducing cortisol levels is through proper nutrition and exercise and adequate sleep. Cut back on simple sugars and white flour products, eat more frequent smaller meals (at least four a day), reduce alcohol intake, and exercise at least three times a week for at least 20-30 minutes depending on intensity. When you can’t escape the stressors or manage them through diet and exercise, the adrenal glands eventually become fatigued and cortisol levels drop below the threshold necessary to handle stress. Common signs & symptoms of low cortisol levels:
- Stress intolerance
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Cold intolerance
- New onset of allergies
- Loss of stamina
- Weight gain (from poor blood sugar regulation)
- Aches and pains including Fibromyalgia
- Prolonged illnesses and common colds
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Heart disease
Again because cortisol affects other hormones, when it is too low it can cause Hypothyroidism because it is necessary for the production and function of thyroid hormones.
Your initial lab tests should include: DOESN’T MAKE SENSE Although blood, urine, and saliva tests exist, blood testing is still the gold standard. Because cortisol levels are highest in the morning about an hour after awakening then drop sharply for about the next 4-5 hours then very slowly drop throughout the rest of the day, it is recommended to TO TAKE SALIVA SAMPLES 4 TIMES IN A 24 HOUR PERIOD, draw blood both first thing in the morning then at 4PM.
Treatment for Low Cortisol (Adrenal Fatigue) includes: again simply and very effectively replacing bioidentical cortisol in pill form. Not only does this replenish the body with the needed hormone but it also relieves the work load on the adrenal glands, giving them time to relax and recover. Exercise and good nutrition should also be maintained to help minimize ongoing stressors in your life. ADDING SALT IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE PATIENT WITH LOW CORTISOL.
COMPLIMENTARY CONSULTATION (FREE SCREENING)
15-20 minute phone or office visit to determine your goals and see if hormone replacement is right for you. This screening also allows us to see if you would be a good fit for our program.
First Office Visit — 1-hour Consultation That Includes The Following:
COMPLETE MEDICAL HISTORY - This comprehensive evaluation reveals your past and present health challenges. A detailed history can give us the direction we need to pursue to obtain your best outcome.
COMPLETE PHYSICAL EXAMINATION – This process looks at the body from a multi -disciplined perspective incorporating an integrated approach drawing from conventional, eastern, and other disciplines.
THIS DETAILED APPROACH can uncover obstacles to your optimal health, some of which may have been hidden for years.
At the end of this visit, a prescription for blood work will be given individualized for you.
This Laboratory Evaluation May Include:
CBC — COMPLETE BLOOD CHEMISTRY. Evaluates one aspect of your immune system, if any type of anemia, B12 deficiency, other
BMP — BASIC METABOLIC PROFILE. Evaluates your blood sugar and kidney
HgB A1c — HEMOGLOBIN A1C. Measures your average blood sugar levels for the past 3 months
LFT — LIVER FUNCTION TEST. A basic evaluation of your liver function
LIPID. Complete cholesterol and triglyceride breakdown as well as evaluates your LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol)
CRP — C REACTIVE PROTEIN. Evaluates inflammation with focus on heart
COMPLETE THYROID PANEL. Often only TSH is measured and consequently thyroid is deemed normal when it is not. We do a much more in depth study of your thyroid.
VITAMIN D. Most people are extremely low in Vitamin D. It is essential to raise this level for optimal health and retest in 3 months.
DHEA SULFATE. Shows statues of your adrenal gland, immune system
FREE AND TOTAL TESTOSTERONE. Both are essential to the whole picture of where your imbalances/deficiencies are. Often only TOTAL is measured and a large portion of treatable information is missed.
SHBG. Sex Hormone Binding Globulin.
ESTRADIOL. Important hormone for both men and women. Men need small amounts of estrogen, but not too much. IN SOME MEN, TESTOSTERONE CONVERTS INTO ESTROGEN, especially men who are overweight. In women, too much estrogen can be an issue with fibroids, endometriosis, PMS, especially when the ratio of progesterone to estrogen is low.
PROGESTERONE. Frequently low progesterone is cause of PMS, insomnia, anxiety, bone loss, especially important is the progesterone to estrogen ratio.
IGF-1 – INSULIN LIKE GROWTH FACTOR. Measurement of your Growth Hormone status.
DHT — DIHYDROTESTOSTERONE. A potent male hormone form formed from testosterone. Balance is the key here. Good for musculature, but too much can lead to prostate issues.
PSA — PROSTATE SPECIFIC ANTIGEN. A marker for prostate issues, inflammation, cancer.
This very extensive evaluation will help us develop YOUR ideal course of treatment.
FOLLOW UP VISIT. Here we take the data obtained in your medical history and physical examination along with the laboratory evaluation and formulate WITH YOU a comprehensive plan including prescription hormones, targeted nutraceuticals, dietary, and lifestyle modifications. You will be shown the administration of hormones, if indicated.
AFTER INITIATING A PLAN OF TREATMENT. We will see you back in the office between month 1 and 3 depending on your plan. F/U lab work will potentially be obtained at these intervals as well.
SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS. Wellness Plus Clinic stays up to date on the latest information on safety with hormone usage. We prescribe hormones based on your optimal level, always staying within a normal range. For women, we utilize a test that looks at your body’s ability to effectively metabolize estrogen. We make sure your body is able to excrete the breakdown products of hormones rather than having them recirculate and potentially cause trouble. These and more are important factors in considering a complete and safe hormone replacement program.