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  • Writer's pictureRedwood Naturopathic Medicine

Hormones 101

Updated: Mar 12, 2022

What are Hormones

Hormones are chemical messengers that regulate the body's communication systems, also known as the endocrine system. Hormones are released through exocrine glands like the adrenals, pancreas, ovaries, testes, and pituitary gland. Even the slightest hormonal imbalance can have significant impacts on your health.

Traditional ways to manage hormone imbalances, birth control, thyroid medication, insulin replacement, etc., often replace or suppress symptoms instead of looking for the root cause of the imbalance. While these methods might work great for some, they can also lead to prescription dependency or the secondary symptoms to worsen while exposing people to the risk factors associated with prescription medications.

Types of Hormones

Metabolism Hormones

  • Leptin

  • Leptin is known as the hunger hormone, as it is released by fat cells signaling when it is time to eat.

  • Getting enough protein and vegetable fiber is crucial to keeping ghrelin levels constant and balanced.

  • Ghrelin

  • Ghrelin is known as the hunger hormone, as it is released by your stomach and intestines when it is time to eat. Ghrelin stimulates appetite, promotes blood sugar regulation, and promotes fat storage. Getting enough protein and vegetable fiber is crucial to keeping ghrelin levels constant and balanced.

  • Cholecystokinin (CCK)

  • CCK is released while eating to signal fullness and stop eating. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to realize you are full, so a critical practice to keep while eating is to slow down. When we eat fast, our body often does not have time to catch up with the hormone signals until we have consumed way too much, and then we end up uncomfortably full. So what does 'slowing down" look like? Aim for chewing each bite between 20-30 times!

  • Insulin

  • Insulin is the hormone that controls your body's blood sugar levels and responds to the carbohydrates consumed. When you begin chewing, your pancreas is signaled to release insulin into the bloodstream. The insulin then meets the glucose (from the food consumed) and helps the glucose enter the body's cells, where it is either utilized for fuel or stored for future use.

  • Thyroid Hormones

  • There are two thyroid hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) & thyroxine (T4). T3 and T4 have an impact on your metabolism, heart rate, digestion, and reproductive health. When thyroid hormone levels are too high, it can look like rapid heart rate, increased anxiety, sweating, and hot flashes. When thyroid levels are too low, it can look like low blood pressure, puffiness, weakness, and fatigue.

Sex Hormones:

  • Estrogen

  • Estrogen is the primary hormone in the body that supports developing and maintaining female characteristics. Estrogen plays a crucial role in the developmental health of a female, but it needs to be in balance. There are a large number of chemicals in our current environments that mimic estrogen and can result in estrogen dominance.

  • Too much estrogen can look like: mood swings, weight gain around hips, heavy water retention, nervousness, sweet cravings, low libido, hair loss, PMS, and hypothyroid symptoms.

  • Too little estrogen can look like: hot flashes, night sweats, decreased libido, recurring UTIs, foggy thinking, sleep disturbances, dry skin, vaginal trophy, irritability, depression, etc.

  • Progesterone

  • Progesterone plays a significant role in pregnancy. Progesterone helps prepare your uterus for a fertilized egg and maintains the health of the uterus for the duration of the pregnancy. Progesterone promotes the growth of blood vessels that supply the womb during pregnancy and strengthens pelvic walls in preparation for labor.

  • Testosterone

  • Testosterone is the primary hormone that supports the development and maintenance of male characteristics. Men produce testosterone in their testes, and women have testosterone in small amounts in their ovaries. Testosterone levels can affect skin/hair health, heart health, bone density, fat storage, and mood swings.

Stress Hormones

  • Cortisol

  • Cortisol is known for its role in the body's stress response, but cortisol not only responds to stress it is also produced when you wake up in the morning and when you exercise. When cortisol is balanced, you have energy when you wake up in the morning and are sleepy when it comes time for bed. But our daily environment has an enormous impact on our current cortisol balance. When we often live in a consistent state of stress, our body is in a constant influx of cortisol. Over time this leads to a damaging effect on your adrenals, which can negatively affect your entire physical health. Read more about cortisol and stress' effect on the body here!

  • Adrenaline

  • Adrenaline is released when you are in a stressful situation, such as getting pulled over, bringing in a fight, or injuring yourself. This prepares the body for fight or flight mode, preparing the body for vigorous movement and/or sudden action. Adrenaline tells the body to increase heart rate, increase airflow to the lungs, increase blood pressure, and redistribute blood to the muscles that need it the most.

  • Norepinephrine:

  • Norepinephrine works closely with adrenaline and produces similar effects: increased heart rate and blood pressure. Norepinephrine also helps break down fat and improve blood sugar supplies to accommodate an increase in energy levels. When the body is in the fight or flight response, norepinephrine helps prepare the brain and body for action.

What does a hormonal imbalance look like?

Hormonal imbalances can take many physical forms, as there are many different types of hormones. It is best to check with your doctor to determine the specific imbalance before moving on to trying to treat the symptoms.

Some common signs of hormone imbalances are:

  • Hot flashes & Night sweats

  • Anxiety

  • Fatigue

  • Irritability

  • Weight gain

  • Digestive Issues

  • Trouble Sleeping/Insomnia

  • Irregular menstrual cycles

  • Low libido

  • Anxiousness/depression

  • Skin Issues

  • Brain Fog

  • Change in appetite

How Dr. Kizzy Can Help?

A naturopathic doctor can help determine if you have a hormonal imbalance and then help you develop the necessary steps toward correcting the imbalance and optimizing your health. Dr. Kizzy may offer hormone testing to get a deeper and more thorough look into your current hormonal state and then assess from there. Common treatments for hormonal imbalances include:

  • Diet and Lifestyle intervention

  • Stress Management Techniques

  • Bio-identical Hormone therapy

  • Herbal Remedies

  • Supplement Recommendations

  • Sleep Recommendations

To book an appointment, go to or email to schedule! We look forward to working with you!

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