The endocrine system is a network of glands that produce and release hormones that help control many important body functions. The endocrine system influences how your heart beats, how your bones and tissues grow, even your ability to make a baby. It plays a vital role in whether or not you develop diabetes, thyroid disease, growth disorders, sexual dysfunction, and a host of other hormone-related disorders.
The majority of patients seeking naturopathic help have suffered for years from endocrine disturbances, such as prolonged fatigue, weight gain, difficulty losing weight, cold intolerance, abrupt mood changes, depression, and low blood sugar and yet they are told again and again that there is nothing wrong with their body or even worse, it’s all in their head.
This is the area where naturopathic medicine can have a significant impact; we have the tools to assess and treat endocrine disorders even in the absence of an actual pathology as defined by the Merck Manual. We have an increased ability to recognize these subtle changes, these subtle signs and symptoms (that would lead in the end to a recognizable true pathology) and provide accurate diagnoses.
The best way to treat the endocrine disorders form a naturopathic point of view is with tinctures, acupuncture and nutraceuticals, all aimed at restoring endocrine homeostasis
Adrenal Fatigue is a stress-related condition that occurs when your adrenal glands, hypothalamus and pituitary gland (together – the HPA axis) are functioning below their optimal level. Although the adrenal glands are not so well-known to the layperson, they perform several vital roles in maintaining your health. Most importantly, they control your body’s response to stress by releasing hormones like cortisol, DHEA and epinephrine, which are used to regulate your heart rate, immune system, energy storage and more.
The most common symptom of Adrenal Fatigue is fatigue, but this is quite different from the regular fatigue that you might be used to. Adrenal Fatigue sufferers experience difficulty getting out of bed each morning, even after a long sleep.
The patients also report a general lack of enthusiasm, difficulty ‘lifting’ themselves for important occasions, and an inability to cope with stressful situations. When the adrenals become fatigued, they lose their ability to produce stress hormones – the ones that we use for our ‘fight-or-flight’ response. That means that many Adrenal Fatigue sufferers report feeling strangely ‘flat’ when they should be excited. They also struggle to maintain the acute focus and high energy levels that stressful situations often require.
Other symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue include a craving for salty foods, low blood sugar, respiratory complaints, allergies, low sex drive and weight gain. All can be traced back to a sub-optimal level in one of the hormones produced by the adrenal glands.
Lab tests are usually a must to start with.
Diabetes mellitus (or diabetes) is a chronic, lifelong condition that affects your body’s ability to use the energy found in food. There are three major types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes.
All types of diabetes mellitus have something in common. Normally, your body breaks down the sugars and carbohydrates you eat into a special sugar called glucose. Glucose fuels the cells in your body. But the cells need insulin, a hormone, in your bloodstream in order to take in the glucose and use it for energy. With diabetes mellitus, either your body doesn’t make enough insulin, it can’t use the insulin it does produce, or a combination of both.
Since the cells can’t take in the glucose, it builds up in your blood. High levels of blood glucose can damage the tiny blood vessels in your kidneys, heart, eyes, or nervous system. That’s why diabetes — especially if left untreated — can eventually cause heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and nerve damage to nerves in the feet.
First things to look at with diabetes are the patient’s diet and exercise levels.
Women of any age can be affected by hormone issues. Women who still have menstrual cycles may experience infertility, premenstrual syndrome, mood swings, anxiety, painful periods and other symptoms as a result of hormone imbalance.
Some symptoms associated with hormone imbalance in the menstrual cycle include:
- heavy bleeding
- fertility issues
- mood swings
- migraine headaches
- hot flushes
Hypothyroidism is a condition characterized by abnormally low thyroid hormone production T4 and T3. There are many disorders that result in hypothyroidism. These disorders may directly or indirectly involve the thyroid gland. Because thyroid hormone affects growth, development, and many cellular processes, inadequate thyroid hormone has widespread consequences for the body.
Rarely, hypothyroidism can occur secondary to disorders of the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus. This is because normal function of the thyroid gland depends on carefully regulated secretion of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) from the pituitary gland and thyrotopin releasing hormone (TRH) from the hypothalamus. These two glands, located in the brain, act as “master glands” which control the functioning of the thyroid gland.
Plants that will stimulate the release of these hormones will really help you with this condition.
Hyperthyroidism is a disorder in which your thyroid gland makes and releases more thyroid hormone than your body needs. Your doctor may say you have an “overactive thyroid,” or refer to the condition as “overactive thyroid disease.”
Your thyroid gland is located in the front of your neck. Hormones released by the thyroid affect nearly every part of your body from your brain to your skin and muscles. They play a crucial role in controlling how your body uses energy, a process called metabolism. This includes how your heart beats and even how you burn calories.
Women are 5 to 10 times more likely to develop hyperthyroidism than men.
People with diabetes get hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) when their bodies don’t have enough sugar to use as fuel.
It can happen for several reasons, including diet, some medications and conditions, and vigorous exercise.
Early symptoms include:
Confusion ; Dizziness ; Feeling shaky ; Hunger ; Headaches ; Irritability ; Pounding heart ; Racing pulse ; Pale skin ; Sweating ;Trembling ; Weakness ; Anxiety.
Without treatment, you might get more severe symptoms, including:
Poor coordination ; Poor concentration ; Numbness in mouth and tongue ; Passing out ; Nightmares or bad dreams ; Coma.
Drugs that induce Hypoglycemia:
|ACE inhibitor – LISINOPRIL|
|b-blocker – ATENOLOL, PROPANOLOL, CARVEDILOL|
Like most other human traits, the sex drive varies. Most men are in the normal range; some are extraordinarily driven toward addiction-like sexual behavior. At the other end of the scale are men with very low sexual interest.
A woman’s sexual desire naturally fluctuates over the years. Highs and lows commonly coincide with the beginning or end of a relationship or with major life changes, such as pregnancy, menopause or illness. Some antidepressants and anti-seizure medications also can cause low sex drive in women.
Symptoms of low sexual desire include:
- Lack of sexual thoughts
- Lack of sexual desire that cannot be attributed to any other physical or psychiatric condition, nor to any medications
- Distress due to lack of sexual thoughts or desire
- Strain on relationship with partner due to lack of sexual thoughts or desire
Naturopathy can help especially with plants and acupuncture. Exercise also boosts sex hormones.
Menopause is defined as occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period and marks the end of menstrual cycles which is the result of the natural decline in the hormones (estrogen, progesterone and others) produced in the ovaries. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51 in Canada and United States.
Menopause is a natural biological process. Although it also ends fertility, you can stay healthy, vital and sexual. Some women feel relieved because they no longer need to worry about pregnancy.
Even so, the physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, and emotional symptoms of menopause may disrupt your sleep, lower your energy or — for some women — trigger anxiety or feelings of sadness and loss.
A naturopathic doctor can prescribe a tincture of plants that are phyto-estrogenic, diet changes and supplements to help you the symptoms
POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a problem in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance. It can cause problems with your periods and make it difficult to get pregnant. PCOS also may cause unwanted changes in the way you look. If it isn’t treated, over time it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Most women with PCOS grow many small cysts on their ovaries. That is why it is called polycystic ovary syndrome. The cysts are not harmful but lead to hormone imbalances.
The cause of PCOS is not fully understood, but genetics may be a factor. PCOS seems to run in families, so your chance of having it is higher if other women in your family have it or have irregular periods or diabetes. PCOS can be passed down from either your mother’s or father’s side.
Symptoms tend to be mild at first. You may have only a few symptoms or a lot of them. The most common symptoms are:
- Weight gain and trouble losing weight.
- Extra hair on the face and body (often women get thicker and darker facial hair and more hair on the chest, belly, and back).
- Thinning hair on the scalp.
- Irregular period (often women with PCOS have fewer than nine periods a year; some women have no periods; others have very heavy bleeding).
- Fertility problems (many women who have PCOS have trouble getting pregnant (infertility).
The ovaries are two small organs located on either side of the uterus in a woman’s body. They make hormones, including estrogen, which trigger menstruation. Every month, the ovaries release a tiny egg. The egg makes its way down the fallopian tube to potentially be fertilized. This cycle of egg release is called ovulation.Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can form in the ovaries. They are very common. They are particularly common during the childbearing years.There are several different types of ovarian cysts. The most common is a functional cyst. It forms during ovulation. That formation happens when either the egg is not released or the sac – follicle – in which the egg forms does not dissolve after the egg is released.Types of cysts include:
- Polycystic ovaries. In polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the follicles in which the eggs normally mature fail to open and cysts form.
- Endometriosis . In women with endometriosis , tissue from the lining of the uterus grows in other areas of the body. This includes the ovaries. It can be very painful and can affect fertility.
- Cystadenomas. These cysts form out of cells on the surface of the ovary. They are often fluid-filled.
- Dermoid cysts. This type of cyst contains tissue similar to that in other parts of the body. That includes skin, hair, and teeth.
Often, ovarian cysts don’t cause any symptoms. You may not realize you have one until you visit your health care provider for a routine pelvic exam. Ovarian cysts can, however, cause problems if they twist, bleed, or rupture.
Symptoms of ovarian cysts and tumors include:
- Pain or bloating in the abdomen
- Difficulty urinating, or frequent need to urinate
- Dull ache in the lower back
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Painful menstruation and abnormal bleeding
- Weight gain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite, feeling full quickly