How many times have we heard or said, “Ugh, my cramps are horrible.” “I’m so tired.” “I have a migraine; I must be getting my period” “I am so moody and I can’t stop crying at every Snuggles fabric softener commercial.” We can all say that has been us at some point or another. The question is… Why? Is this what we must endure as women? Must we accept that there is no end for these debilitating hormonal symptoms? Or is there a solution? Before answering these pressing questions lets elaborate on what PMS, Hypothyroid, and Adrenal Fatigue look like.
What falls in the category of horrible PMS?
- Increased Appetite
- Breast Tenderness
- Heavy Bleeding
Other associated conditions with PMS:
- Hair loss
- Dry Skin
- Irregular Periods
- Adrenal Fatigue
- Cortisol Imbalances
What does hypothyroid and adrenal fatigue look like?
- Decreased energy
- Thinning hair or hair loss
- Salt cravings
- Dizziness or light headedness upon rising
- Inability to lose weight
- Cold Extremities
The various organs that comprise the endocrine system are the Hypothalamus, Anterior Pituitary Gland, and better known, the thyroid and adrenal glands. PMS is something that is correlated with an imbalance in sex hormones, typically too much estrogen and not enough progesterone. The adrenal glands being a complex gland, make your sex hormones and your stress hormones. The liver also will assist in producing sex hormones. Before I lose you, lets simplify…Your liver and adrenals make sex hormones and since your thyroid talks to your liver and adrenals it will be negatively affected by hormone imbalances.
There is a big cause and effect relationship happening with these organs that comprise your endocrine system. There are many things in the American lifestyle/diet that will contribute to an overabundance of estrogen in the body.
• Birth control pills, shots, or patches
• Non-Organic Meats
• Non-Organic Produce
• Soy consumption
• Overconsumption of flax
• Overuse of Plastics and heating of plastics
• High Body Fat
You must also consider that the liver assists in the elimination and removal of excess estrogen. Your liver is your primary detoxification/filtration organ and often becomes taxed from a lifestyle containing prescription medications, alcohol, and other toxins. The decreased functionality of the liver will also not allow the body to rid excess estrogen.
Here is the breakdown: Too much estrogen and not enough progesterone increases the release of Cortisol Binding Globulin and Thyroid Binding Globulin. So what does that really mean? Your body produces thyroid hormones to fuel the thyroid and keep you energetic and healthy. The binding globulin binds the thyroid hormones in the blood so that they cannot enter the cells and produce energy. This will create thyroiditis or hypothyroid. The cortisol binding globulin will also bind up cortisol in the blood which will not allow it to enter the cell and activate receptors for energy. Another fact is that progesterone makes cortisol. The decline in cortisol results in adrenal fatigue.
So what if you have gone through or are going through menopause? There still is chance that you can have this imbalance of too much estrogen and not enough progesterone, mainly because we are exposed to so much estrogen from soy in our food supply. Even if you are not consuming soy meats, edamame, and tofu you are still getting soy in your diet. Soy is mixed into the feed of many animals that we consume and it is also the primary oil used in prepackaged foods and for frying because it is cheap. Using plastics can also cause a higher amount of estrogen accumulation. Plastic contain BPA that will mimic estrogen in the human body. Also, our meats not only contain soy from the feed but also they are pumped full of growth hormone which is typically estrogen based.
So what can be done?
The first thing that must be done is evaluate the integrity of the liver since the liver plays a crucial role in the endocrine system. If you are someone who is dealing with high cholesterol, which is made by the liver, than chances are your liver is not in ideal health. This could make you a candidate for a liver cleanse. This does not consist of not eating and drinking salt water, so don’t find a fad liver cleanse online. They are usually not safe and ineffective. Once you are able to heal the liver and remove excess estrogen, you can then focus on balancing the endocrine system.
There are various supplements/herbs that can support the natural production of progesterone by stimulating the ovaries and adrenals. One supplement that could be found in stores would be Ashwaganda which is an adaptagenic herb for the endocrine system. That means it doesn’t matter if you are hyper or hypo it will adapt to your condition. Other supporting supplements are glandulars that support the gland in the human body. You should not use glandulars without the supervision of a functional medicine or nutrition based practitioner. You also want to decrease your intake/use of products that can be increasing estrogen in the body. If you are currently on birth control, consider an IUD with no hormones. The most well-known is the copper IUD Paraguard. Avoid non-organic and GMO foods that are grown with fertilizer from animals that have been given synthetic hormones. Remove soy products from the diet such as soy meats, soy milk, soy cheese, fried foods cooked in soy oil, soy sauce, etc. Limit the amount of flax since flax is also a phytoestrogen. The overconsumption of products in plastic bottles/containers is also a large part of estrogen accumulation in the human body.
Lastly, decreasing body fat will also decrease estrogen since the fat cells will actually produce estrogen. I know this is a double standard, since most people can’t lose weight because there endocrine system is compromised. Contrary to popular belief, weight loss happens in the kitchen. Trying a whole food, high fat, and low to no sugar diet is highly successful. Have a happy medium of plant based and animal based products such as meat, chicken, and fish. The most important component being clean, clean, clean. Unfortunately, in this day and age, it is not easy to find clean foods. You need to find places that are offering higher quality products like butchers, farms, farm markets, and natural food stores. Even upon going to a “Whole Foods” you must look at labels and ask questions because not everything is “healthy” because it is in a natural food store.
You may be thinking: “Are bio-identical hormones safe to boost my progesterone?” Any synthetic hormone will come with side effects. Overall, you want to support your body to stimulate natural production of progesterone and assist your body in the elimination of excess estrogen.
This is one aspect of the decline of thyroid and adrenal health. There are other issues that contribute to disorders such as Hashimoto’s and Graves which are autoimmune disorders.
If you are looking for more information on the function of your endocrine system, the best next step is getting the appropriate testing such as blood analysis, saliva based hormone and adrenal testing.