Provider: The Cole Center for Healing
Written By: Dr. Theodore Cole
“Hormone balancing” and “Anti-aging therapy” are some of the hot topics in preventative medicine today. These approaches test hormones by various methods, such as urine, blood, and/or saliva. Based on these results, hormones are then prescribed in an attempt to “balance” or “optimize” these levels, with the expectation that youth and vigor are restored to the patient. This is a simplistic and “treat the numbers” approach. The reality is that it is not just a matter of “if it’s high, lower it, and if it’s low, add more.”
Unfortunately, the “numbers” approach fails to realize two major issues. First, taking hormones does nothing to correct the underlying problems that caused them to be abnormal in the first place. Hormone imbalances are a symptom. What is causing the hormones to be out of balance in the first place? Treating only with hormones is purely symptomatic care. Most people have heard of insulin resistance. Why is resistance to other hormones ignored or even denied? Hormone levels do not diagnose this problem, and supplementing only with hormones can increase hormone resistance. Other approaches (some listed below) must be taken to resolve this issue.
Second, the hormone system is a lower level process. Hormones are controlled by the neurotransmitter system (the “brain chemistry”). If you want to fix a problem, it’s best to start at the source. It’s kind of like a leak: do you want to keep trying to get rid of the water, or do you want to fix the source of the leak? The neurotransmitter system is the source for hormone control.
In approaching a problem, it is best to prioritize in order to find the most effective solution. Since the neurotransmitter system controls the hormone system, it is best to begin with the neurotransmitters. As the neurotransmitters have a powerful effect on baseline levels of hormones, testing hormone levels before optimizing neurotransmitter function is of no value. The hormone levels will change towards normal once the neurotransmitter system has been corrected.
The goal is to normalize both neurotransmitter metabolism (production) and the levels of the two master agents: Dopamine and Serotonin. Once this has been accomplished, it takes from 8 weeks to 6 months for all of the other agents to normalize. These agents include the minor neurotransmitters and all hormones (melatonin, cortisol, GABA, estrogen, testosterone, etc.). In addition, hormone resistance is typically reversed. When this process is completed, over 70% of all hormonal imbalances are corrected. An even greater percentage of cortisol and melatonin problems will be reversed.
But, the neurotransmitters are not the only agents that can affect hormone levels. Nutritional factors play a major role. For instance, thyroid hormone production and activity are dependent on adequate levels of selenium, zinc, copper, Vitamins A and C, B2, B6, and others. The adrenal glands produce cortisol and many other hormones, and rely on Vitamins C and E, B5, magnesium, and more. Estrogens depend on methionine, B2, B6, B12, folic acid and others. All of the hormones have similar requirements. Normalizing your nutritional status will directly affect your hormone levels, resistance, and function, and result in a more stable system requiring lower doses of supplemental hormones. I therefore suggest that everyone have a nutritional analysis done to then reverse their vitamin and mineral needs before starting hormone supplementation.
The third major factor affecting hormone levels and function is toxins. PCB’s, DDT, dioxins, heavy metals, phthalates and hundreds of others all have direct effects on the hormone system. They can act on many different areas, including the neurotransmitters, receptor sites, and hormone production. They can also damage the endocrine organs directly. Detoxification is therefore critical, and some people will not need hormone supplementation after detox is completed.
Once you have gone through the above process, then testing for hormone levels can give valuable information. Any hormone imbalance that remains can then be addressed with supplementation. Hormone levels and dosing will then remain much more stable. As hormone levels that are either too low or too high can be harmful, this approach greatly minimizes any side effects or complications involved with using hormone therapy alone. Plus, it is treating causes, rather than merely masking symptoms. The result is better overall health, a more stable system, and improved function.
I realize that many people want instant results, and are not patient enough to go through the entire program outlined above. We are able to customize the approach to suit each individual. Whatever approach you decide to take, you at least have all of the information needed to make a decision that is best for you.