Achieve Hormone Balance
Dr Laura Neville, ND, from Labrix, discusses how to treat hormone imbalance without the use of hormone replacement therapy
Saliva testing is an easy and noninvasive way of assessing your patient’s hormone levels and is proving to be the most reliable medium for measuring active hormone levels. Unlike serum, which measures total hormone levels, saliva measures only biologically active hormones. Clinically, it is more relevant to measure bioavailable hormones, as they provide an accurate reflection of what is available to hormone receptors. Labrix’ Comprehensive Hormone Panel is a simple, non-invasive, reliable and accurate method to assess bioavailable hormone levels including Estrone, Estradiol, Estriol, Progesterone, Testosterone, DHEA and Cortisol.
Much treatment in the medical word is focused on the use of HRT (hormone replacement therapy) to treat hormone imbalance, whether standard or bio-identical. However, for practitioners without access to hormonal treatments, there are still many effective therapies which can be employed. In fact, non-HRT treatment approaches should be the foundation to any treatment approach as HRT alone can lead to a short-sighted clinical practice.
Female patients with hormone imbalance can be divided into two groups for treatment considerations: premenopausal and perimenopausal/postmenopausal. Generally, these groups will have different therapeutic requirements, with some overlap.
In the premenopausal years irregular menstrual cycles, PMS, acne and fertility issues are common. Nutraceuticals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids can be used to tonify hormone levels and often act as steroid hormone precursors. Additionally, there are many botanical therapies which have been studied to target the hormonal system.
With the prolongation of life expectancy, the peri-menopausal and post-menopausal periods are becoming a significant portion of a woman’s life. Today a woman can expect to live at least one third of her life in the postmenopausal stage. Increasingly anovulatory cycles lead to declining hormone levels. This is especially true for progesterone, as the majority of progesterone is created by the corpus luteum upon ovulation. Night sweats, hot flashes, mood issues, vaginal dryness and weight gain are common in the peri and post-menopausal years.
A unique approach
Interestingly, menopausal complaints are not universal and vary among cultures. In 1970, anthropologist Marcha Flint studied menopausal experiences of women in non-Western cultures. She studied 483 women in India and found that most complained of no symptoms during menopause other than menstrual changes. A decade later, Margaret Lock found that the symptom most likely to be reported by Japanese women during menopause was shoulder stiffness, and that hot flashes were actually very rare. This is good news for those not utilizing HRT to manage menopausal symptoms. These studies support diet and lifestyle differences as potential treatments for postmenopausal complaints.
In women, elevations in androgens signify insulin resistance, whereas in men, the opposite is true. Testosterone levels in men can be supported with herbs such as Tribulus terrestris, Epimedium grandiflorum, Serenoa repens and Urtica dioica, as well as dietary and lifestyle means to improve insulin resistance.
Outside of hormone replacement therapy, there is a vast array of treatment options available for those interested in treating from a root-cause approach. Nutraceuticals, botanicals, dietary changes, exercise and stress management techniques should not be overlooked and are potent agents for hormonal balance.
To watch the replay of our the Achieve Hormone Balance webinar, as recorded on March 21st 2018, please click here.
Laura Neville graduated from the National University of Naturopathic Medicine and maintains a private practice with a focus on endocrine health at Whole Family Wellness Center in Portland, OR. Dr. Neville has a wide-ranging background, experience in massage therapy, craniosacral bodywork and completed her undergraduate studies in Exercise Science from the University of California, Davis. Dr. Neville combines her extensive knowledge on type 1 diabetes and thyroid disorders with great professionalism to her patient care.
Dr. Neville is also a staff physician at Labrix, a diagnostic laboratory, where she reviews hundreds of hormone and neurotransmitter results and consults with physicians throughout the country on complex cases.