Tagged with 'Balance Hormone'

Inositol: A ‘Sugar’ For Diabetes, PCOS, PMS, and Anxiety

Inositol Sugar
Inositol is essentially a form of ‘sugar’ that can influence the way the body processes insulin. It is often referred to, incorrectly, as “Vitamin B8.” Inositol is not a B-Vitamin, nor is it a vitamin of any kind. Inositol is a compound that is naturally found in fruits and plant-based foods (beans, grains, nuts, and seeds) and is also sold as a supplement. It is also naturally produced by the body from the foods you eat. In supplement form, the term ‘inositol’ is actually a broad signifier. Usually, most supplements will be in the form of “myo-inositol” “IP6 – inositol hexaphosphate” and “D-chiro-inositol.” Inside your body, inositol plays several important roles related to the action of insulin and impacts serotonin and dopamine. Structurally, inositol is most similar to the sugar ‘glucose,’ and is involved in signaling between cells. While the benefits of inositol have been reported in doses of over 10 grams a day, the standard amount consumed through dietary means is a dramatically lower 1 gram. With higher doses, inositol is used to typically address concerns such as insulin resistance, PCOS, depression, anxiety, and PMS. How Inositol Works – and What It Can Be Used For So, how does inositol (or Myo-inositol) work, and does which form of inositol you choose to matter? Ultimately, which form of commercial inositol as a supplement you purchase does not matter – they will generally be in two forms and both have been studied for their protective benefits. As inositol(s) help the transduction of hormones and neurotransmitters, any sort of reduction in the amount of inositol or defective metabolism of inositol can help implicated in things like PCOS, anxiety, depression, and insulin resistance. In studies where women with PCOS were given either myo-inositol or D-chiro-inositol – markers of abnormalities and reproductive symptoms were improved. PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) can cause hormonal imbalances in women from the ovaries producing too many androgens – male sex hormones that women also have, but in much smaller amounts. Small cysts form in the ovaries. PCOS can lead to irregular or painful periods, infertility, and high blood sugar/cholesterol markers. In those with mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, inositol may help with the balance of certain chemical signals and hormone production – including serotonin and dopamine. Additionally, inositol was found to be helpful for metabolic disorders. These markers include things like higher blood pressure, higher blood sugar, and high “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL). In a study involving taking 4 grams of inositol for over a year, women with metabolic disorders saw an improvement in reduced cholesterol and triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar. This was without changing any other sort of behavior or dietary habits.   Inositol is linked closely to the function of insulin in the body, and as such, appears to be highly beneficial for addressing type 2 diabetes. Is Inositol Safe?  Generally, inositol is extremely well-tolerated. It is a supplement that has been used at a fairly high dose for prolonged periods of time (years) without any reported side effects or adverse effects in multiple studies. It is also naturally obtained from food and produced by the body – just in smaller amounts. At dramatic doses of 10 grams or greater a day, some people do report nausea, gas, or upset stomach. As with any sort of health supplement, always do your independent research prior, and ensure you consult with a health care practitioner or naturopath prior to use. Generally, the dosage will depend on what symptoms you are trying to directly address. For PCOS, a dose of 2 grams twice daily for 6 months or greater is recommended, while for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, 2 grams twice daily for up to a year is recommended. In those with mental health conditions, up to 10 grams once daily (as tolerated) is recommended for a shorter duration of time while self-monitoring. 

What is PMS?

Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS), or Pre-menstrual Tension (PMT) as it was formerly known, is a common condition which is said to affect up to 80% of women. It is a chronic problem which gives rise to both physical and psychological symptoms regularly each month, between the time of ovulation to the first few days of menstruation. This part of a woman’s menstrual cycle, known scientifically as the luteal phase, is associated with big changes in the levels of the two main female hormones oestrogen and progesterone. What causes PMS? The precise cause of PMS is still not clear but current scientific thinking strongly suggests that hormonal changes during specific points of the menstrual cycle play a significant role. Evidence in support of this include: Most women suffering PMS experience symptoms at the same point of their monthly cycle PMS is not experienced by women who are not menstruating (eg. during pregnancy) Symptoms tend to be worse when big hormonal changes occur, such as during puberty (before periods start), just before the menopause, or after coming off hormonal treatment such as the oral contraceptive pill. It is not clear why some women experience PMS whilst others don’t. One theory is that it is not so much the fluctuations of hormones which occur naturally with the menstrual cycle that causes PMS, but the relative ‘balance’ of oestrogen and progesterone that is important. What are the symptoms of PMS? Symptoms of PMS may be either physical or emotional. Over 150 have been described although thankfully, it is unlikely that all are experienced at once. Nevertheless, the combination of symptoms affecting these two key aspects of health can make one feel pretty miserable until they lift. Emotional symptoms of PMS affect the way you think, feel and respond and can give rise to a lower ability to cope with stress, irritability, feeling fed-up or even depression Physical symptoms tend to affect a specific body part giving rise to bloating, acne, weight gain, food cravings, period pains and a general feeling of being tired or unwell. Although they vary from one woman to another, what is consistent is that PMS symptoms arise in the week (or sometimes two weeks) before your menstrual period begins. Most women experience the same consistent handful of symptoms each month.   Factors influencing PMS Several factors are known to influence your tendency to develop PMS symptoms. These include: Diet – your diet can affect the degree of PMS symptoms. If you are feeling irritable or anxious, reduce the amount of caffeine you consume. If bloating is a symptom, reduce your intake of salt Genetics – doctors have long observed that a woman is more likely to experience symptoms if a close relative has PMS, but no clear genetic reason has been found to explain this. However, as our genes influence practically every part of our emotional and physical health, it seems unlikely that it does not play a role in PMS Chemical changes - changes in the levels of female hormones can influence the amount of chemicals produced in your brain. These, particularly serotonin, have a significant influence over your mood and sleep and help us understand why these emotional symptoms occur Depression – research suggests that women who experience low mood as part of PMS are more prone to developing some forms of depression, particularly post-natal depression, and vice-versa Stress – feeling under pressure at work or home can make any situation appear worse. This won’t help emotional symptoms of PMS such as irritability, anxiety or mood swings, or the ability to cope with physical symptoms such as period pain or bloating. Diagnosis of PMS Many symptoms described for PMS may also be experienced as part of the menstrual cycle, making it difficult in some cases for doctors to make the diagnosis of PMS. These ‘normal’ premenstrual symptoms are mild and short lived. In general, PMS is not diagnosed until symptoms occur regularly and start to affect normal daily activities and quality of life. There are no blood tests available to help and doctors will use a ‘clinical diagnosis’, relying on the pattern of symptoms and their experience when assessing the problem. Often, keeping a diary such as in the form of the PMS menstrual chart can help clarify matters.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. Infertility is one of the most common PCOS symptoms. Because the symptoms of PCOS are seemingly unrelated to one another, the condition is often overlooked and undiagnosed. Overview Polycystic ovary syndrome causes irregular menstrual cycles, excessive body or facial hair and polycystic ovaries as its main symptoms. Polycystic means "many cysts," and PCOS often causes clusters of small, pearl-sized cysts in the ovaries. The cysts are fluid-filled and contain immature eggs. Women with PCOS produce slightly higher amounts of male hormones known as androgens, which contribute to some of the symptoms of the condition. The cause of PCOS is not known. Some women with PCOS are less sensitive to insulin than other women, a condition known as insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can cause the ovaries to produce too many male hormones. The resulting hormonal imbalance can cause the symptoms of PCOS. The condition appears to run in families, and sisters of those with it are twice as likely to have it. Currently, PCOS has no cure, but a variety of PCOS treatments can help alleviate the symptoms of this disease, including infertility. PCOS Symptoms PCOS is a syndrome disease defined by a collection of signs and symptoms. The symptoms of PCOS that one patient experiences can be very different from the symptoms of another patient. If you have two or more of the following symptoms, you need to have a thorough checkup to determine if you need PCOS treatment: Irregular or missing menstrual periods Infertility Excess or unwanted body or facial hair growth Thinning hair on the scalp Weight problems, often including weight gain around the waist Skin problems, including skin tags, darkening skin and acne Complications of PCOS The common PCOS symptoms are difficult enough for most women, but some will experience further complications, including: Diabetes, elevated insulin levels or insulin resistance Heart and blood vessel problems Uterine cancer Sleep apnea Each of these problems can be life threatening, which is why treatment for PCOS is so important. PCOS Treatments Polycystic ovary syndrome treatment starts with a proper diagnosis. Treatments are then chosen based on a woman's symptoms, age and future pregnancy plans. Treatment for PCOS may include: Birth control pills to regulate menstruation Insulin-sensitizing medications Ovulation induction to treat infertility Androgen-blocking medications Topical anti-hair-growth medications Other excess hair treatments Treatments for hair loss Acne treatments Removal of other skin problems Lifestyle and Prevention One of the best treatments for PCOS is a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet, low in refined carbohydrates, is important, as this can help regulate blood sugar levels. Exercise can also help the body regulate insulin and keep excess weight off. Losing weight is challenging with PCOS, but doing so can help reduce the male hormone levels in the body, and some women will begin to ovulate naturally. With a proper diagnosis, lifestyle changes, and PCOS treatment, women can get relief from this condition and the overwhelming health problems it can cause. Editors: Cristina Meriggiola, MD, PhDUniversity of Bologna Musa Zamah, MD, PhDUniversity of California, San Francisco   Ref: http://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/womens-health/polycystic-ovary-syndrome

Foods That Are Testosterone Antagonists

Foods That Are Testosterone Antagonists by TOMAS LINNAEUS      The endocrine system produces different hormones that circulate throughout the body. Maintaining the proper balance between these substances ensures good health. Excessive levels of the androgen testosterone, for example, can cause unwanted reactions, such as menstrual irregularity, voice deepening and hair growth. Women with polycystic ovary disease and adolescent girls often have these symptoms. Eating certain foods may help lower testosterone, but speak with a doctor for the proper diagnosis and treatment. Spearmint Tea The spearmint plant, Mentha spicata, grows freely in Europe and Asia. Used for a variety of ailments, traditional healers suspected that ingesting this plant reduces libido. Such an anti-androgenic effect suggests that spearmint may block testosterone. An experiment outlined in the February 2010 issue of "Phytotherapy Research" tested this hypothesis in women with polycystic ovary disease. Patients received spearmint tea twice a day for a month. Relative to placebo, this treatment caused a decrease in circulating testosterone. It also decreased unwanted hair growth. The women did not experience serious side effects, but the long-term impact of spearmint remains unknown.   Bael Leaf Leaves from the bael tree, Aegle marmelos, play a significant role in Ayurvedic medicine. Eaten in salads to relieve constipation, bael leaves may help treat diabetes. This finding indicates that the food may affect hormone regulation. A 2007 article presented in "Contraception" evaluated bael's effect on testosterone. Laboratory animals received extracted bael leaves daily for two months. Relative to baseline, bael leaves suppressed testosterone and reduced fertility in male rats. Ending the treatment reversed these effects, and that change eliminated all signs of toxicity within four months. While suggestive, results obtained in animals may not generalize well to humans. Pegaga The pegaga plant, Centella asiatica, also has medicinal properties. People in Malaysia eat this herb raw as a salad green. Preliminary data suggest that pegaga treats symptoms of diabetes and affects the endocrine system. A 2010 paper in "La Clinica Terapeutica" looked at pegaga's impact on male fertility. Rodents were given daily injections of either Centella asiatica or distilled water for three months. The pegaga treatment decreased testosterone production and reduced sperm count relative to the inert treatment. The food did not affect other physiological systems, but patients should wait until scientists collect more safety data for pegaga. Potato Fiber Potatoes and potato products remain some of the most popular foods. Potato fiber is made from the resistant starch contained in the vegetable, and it can prevent colon cancer. This fiber may have other medical applications as well. A study described in the April 2010 edition of "Archives of Animal Nutrition" assessed the effect of potato fiber on laboratory animals. Male and female rodents received a diet supplemented with either fiber or cellulose for six months. Relative to the cellulose-enriched diet, the fiber-enriched diet suppressed testosterone levels and enhanced mineral absorption. Additional tests will reveal the mechanisms underlying these effects. References: http://www.livestrong.com/article/412385-foods-that-are-testosterone-antagonists/

8 Signs You Have a Hormonal Imbalance

This month Dr. Marita Schauch discusses a subject that many women (or rather most women) obsess over: hormonal imbalance. How many of us feel the effects of so much happening in our systems and wish there was a way we could conquer all the emotions, water retention, headaches, cramps and general aches and pains we feel within our cycles? Read on for Dr. Marita’s  fabulous wisdom and great advice: How many women have you spoken to lately who feel fabulous – balanced, rested and ready to conquer the world? I’d guess the answer is somewhere between none and few. In my clinical practice I treat hundreds of women each year and I hear the same series of concerns every day: “I have no energy; I can’t sleep; I’m so stressed; my hormones are raging!”  Believe it or not, hormone balance plays an integral part in all these health concerns as well as countless others! Out-of-control hormones can have a serious impact on your quality of life. For most women the most pronounced hormonal changes come in their 40s and 50s, but the impact can be seen as early as their mid-30s. In fact, more and more women are noticing hormonal imbalances earlier, some even in their teens. This unfortunately has a lot to do with our lifestyle and diet, but also the environment we live in: Xenoestrogens are synthetic chemicals that mimic our natural estrogens in the body, and can also be found in all kinds of household products, beauty products and plastics (among many other sources). Beyond our age and environment, changes in hormones also occur during a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle, as well as before, during and after pregnancy. It’s unfortunate that when the word “hormones” is mentioned, visions of raging menopausal or PMS-laden women come to mind for most! There is actually quite a lot more to hormonal imbalances, and the effects are more serious than “just” a bad mood. Some of the most common symptoms of hormonal imbalance are listed below. If any of them sound familiar, I strongly encourage you to visit your ND or MD to investigate further. There’s a lot we can do to counteract out-of-whack hormones and significantly increase your quality of life! Persistent Weight Gain Yes, you have to make healthy dietary choices and exercise to maintain a healthy weight, but often when the weight game seems out of our control, there’s something going on beneath the surface. Some women may have underlying hormonal imbalances that make it much harder to maintain a healthy weight. Assessing for low thyroid, insulin resistance and adrenal function are some great first steps in the right direction. Belly Fat The adrenal glands are two small glands that sit on top of your kidneys and are the body’s main stress responders. When we are under constant stress for too long, the hormone cortisol is overproduced and causes the body to store fat for future use. This storage typically happens in the belly region and is usually a clue that the adrenals need some help. My favorite adrenal supportives include B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and adaptogenic herbs such as rhodiola, ashwagandha and Siberian ginseng. Fatigue Dragging yourself out of bed every morning? Can’t function without coffee? Experiencing that mid-afternoon crash daily? Fatigue is probably one of the most common concerns I hear every day in clinical practice. Testing for low thyroid, low iron, low B12, adrenal fatigue, and food intolerances can help isolate the right treatment for fatigue. As well, managing healthy blood sugars can stabilize energy levels keeping you vibrant and clear. Anxiety, Depression and Irritability The quality of your moods is typically an indication of how balanced your hormones are. The health of the adrenal glands is an important foundation, as long-term stress and the overproduction of cortisol can have a profound effect on serotonin levels and therefore affect overall mood. Eliminating stimulants such as coffee, black tea, chocolate, and colas can lower anxiety. Keeping blood sugars balanced with adequate lean and healthy proteins throughout the day can also help to maintain healthy moods. Low Libido A very common symptom of hormone imbalance is low libido. This is typically due to levels of the hormone testosterone, which change as we age due to menopause and andropause. Stress can also affect testosterone levels, so make sure your adrenal glands are well supported. Poor Sleep Insomnia can develop into a vicious cycle that usually starts with an underlying hormone imbalance involving the hallmark hormone of stress – you guessed it, cortisol. Using relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing an ...