Kimberly Kubick, CNM, FNP
"We age because our hormones decline, our hormones don't decline because we age." -Ron Rothberg, MD
A primary goal of preventative/integrative medicine is to balance one's hormones. Achieving hormone balance often leads to a decrease in chronic inflammation in the body, which can, in most cases, be seen as the cause and the effect of aging and chronic disease. Hormone deficiencies take many forms, varying from adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, low testosterone, progesterone or estrogen. Treating mild hormone deficiencies can dramatically improve one's quality of life. Balancing these hormones can slow the effects of premature aging and prevent onset of many chronic illnesses. Exercise, stress reduction, and antioxidant-rich nutrition are foundational parts of the anti-aging process, but bio-identica
Andropause, or low male hormones, especially testosterone, is a deficiency condition. Half of healthy men between the ages of 50-70 years old will have a bio-available testosterone level below the lowest level seen in healthy men between 20-40 years of age. Low testosterone can be a predictor of cardiovascular disease and also can effect insulin regulation, bone density, and cognitive abilities. (Korenman, SG Morley JE, Mooradian AD, et al. 1990). Stabilized testosterone levels improve mood, energy, strength, cognition, and are also associated with Alzheimer's prevention. It improves body composition by encouraging more lean muscle and reducing fat. It improves libido (desire) and erectile dysfunction (performance). Testosterone can assist in reversing insulin resistance, and we see less inflammation, pain, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis when testosterone levels are stabilized.
Every woman has a unique balance of hormones. Bio-identical hormone replacement in women balances estrogens, progesterone and testosterone which can relieve peri-menopausal symptoms, prevent memory loss, provide libido support, promote heart health, induce bone production, and accelerate growth and repair of healthy tissue throughout the body. In the hands of the right healthcare provider, bio-identical hormones are extremely effective tools for providing that balance.
Thyroid optimization is another important concept in the unified theory of wellness. The hormone produced by the thyroid is called T4; the body converts it to its usable form, T3, after which it is accepted by the T3 receptors in the body. Dieting, stress, zinc, selenium deficiency and drugs such as Dilantin and beta-blockers decrease T4 to T3 conversion, thus negatively affecting the thyroid gland. Low thyroid output manifests as stress on the body's many systems; an increased cortisol and adrenal fatigue are the results. The most common symptoms of hypothyroidism include cold intolerance, fatigue, dry skin, constipation, difficulty losing weight, lowered body temperature, fluid retention, depression, memory loss, anxiety, and muscle aches.
Pamela Smith, MD, MPH explains that, "Hormone responses are as unique to each person as their own fingertips and that hormone replacement should not be considered without a thorough understanding of how all of the body's hormones interact with each other." It is crucial to work with health care providers who understand hormone balancing and the importance of using bio-identical therapies to create a long term plan of health and prevention of chronic illness and premature aging. Make sure you are investigating your hormones and take steps to prevent and treat imbalances. Your body will thank you!