Hormone health is big business. It is estimated that about 95% of women suffer with some form of hormonal imbalance. In contrast, only about 20% of men suffer with hormone problems. Certainly I can concur with that according to those who come to see me.
It really isn’t difficult to see why. Women bear the brunt of reproduction. However, it wasn’t always the case that women would suffer as a result of this. In fact, in living memory, no one had the same level of hormonal problems. So what changed?
The Endocrine System
The endocrine system is a collection of glands which secrete hormones directly into the blood. This natural, very delicate, hormonal balance is vital to good health. All organs are affected, either directly or indirectly. The hormones regulate metabolism, growth, tissue and cell function, sexual and reproduction function, growth, sleep, mood and many other aspects of a normal, healthy being.
It is a delicate system and is easily overwhelmed and disrupted. This disruption leads to many problems which are often not given their due causative factor. Instead, the effects, the outcome of this disruption is often targeted. This means no true healing occurs as the cause is simply glossed over, or worse, suppressed.
The effects of endocrine disruptors can have life long effects, even long after the exposure has stopped. These problems can be passed on to the next generation.
Causes of the Imbalance of Hormones, The Endocrine Disruptors
In living memory, the invention of synthetic hormones occurred. The oral contraception pill, depo provera, the morning-after or abortion pill have all become widely used by women to allow them the freedom to plan their families. Oxytocin, widely used to bring on labour, is another synthetic hormone. As is hormone replacement therapy, commonly used by menopausal women.
But these have come at a cost. All synthetic substances are foreign to the body. It is even well recognised in medical circles, that these synthetic hormones can cause breast cancer, and maybe other cancers too. In holistic circles, many complaints can be sourced back to the use of synthetic hormones.
Synthetic hormones are one of the xenobiotics. Xenobiotics are defined as any foreign substance, or exogenous chemical, that the body does not recognise and that are not found in nature. When something is not found in nature, the body has no knowledge of how to deal with it. So it can become disruptive.
These aren’t the only synthetic hormones that we are exposed to. The wide use of corticosteroids, hydrocortisone creams, steroid inhalers and synthetic thyroid hormones also have an adverse effect on the very delicate natural hormones of the body. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, chemotherapy and even antibiotics are also considered to be common endocrine disruptors.
It isn’t just the medical drugs that are responsible for endocrine disruption. So too are the chemicals used in plastics, such as bisphenol A, which are converted by the body into oestrogen. The chemicals leach into the food or liquid stored in the plastic, especially when it is warm. Bottled water manufacturers often make their own bottles on the premises, and they can be warm when the water is poured in. Cooking food in plastic in the microwave has the same effect.
Flame retardants, often found in furnishings, many personal care products including sunscreens, plastic toys, additives or contaminants in food and pesticides come under the same heading. The key disruptive chemicals are BPA, PCBs, non stick cookware, phthalates, parabens, diethylstilbestrol, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, dioxins, DDT. Others will undoubtedly be added to the list as more information becomes available. Even those chemicals that have now been banned, still linger in the environment and cause havoc.
Common Symptoms of Endocrine Disruptors are Hormonal
These include any menstrual disorder, acne, constipation, weight problems, headaches or migraines, mood disorders, bladder infections, vaginal discharge or dryness, decreased libido, infertility, problems during pregnancy and childbirth, loss of femininity, hirsutism in women, fibrocystic breasts, breast cancer, relationship problems because of a diminished feeling of love, hot flushes/flashes and so on.
These are all really common problems that start at puberty and may never end. Problems during the menopause, which may begin well before the periods stop, never end for some women. The hot flushes/flashes may diminish over time, but may never disappear altogether.
These are the obvious signs of poor hormonal health. But it doesn’t end there. The immune system is affected, which means you are open to any and every passing pathogen. Neurological problems can develop. Depression is common. Energy is affected with fatigue common.
How to Avoid The Hidden Endocrine Disrupters
So many of the endocrine disruptors are hidden. If you don’t make it your business to appreciate where they are found, you are likely to be exposed to more than your body can cope with, and problems arise.
Apart from the above, synthetic hormones are also widely used in farm animals, to increase yields. Pesticides are common in agricultural use and in garden use.
All dairy is hormone laden. Milk, butter, yoghurt, cheese, cream. Lactation in any mother means the production of natural hormones is high. These natural hormones are needed by the growing baby. The cow is also pregnant again, to ensure a continual supply of milk for the farmer. This means additional natural hormones, as these are needed by the growing foetus. So in all dairy products, you are consuming a double dose of hormones that are natural but are not similar to your own, as they come from a different species.
In addition, dairy farmers tend to increase their yield by feeding synthetic hormones to the cows, goats or whoever.
So the milk contains an overload of hormones, some natural, some synthetic. But all foreign to your body and overwhelming to an already maxed out system.
Farm animals raised for meat are usually fed synthetic hormones, as this promotes rapid growth. This is good news for the farmer’s profit, but as the hormones remain in the meat, the end consumer does not have the same advantage.
How to Undo the Damage To The Endocrine System
Please do appreciate that this is a serious and chronic condition that needs a double approach; that is you taking charge of your exposure as well as professional help from someone who understands this problem.
The best way to start on this journey is to stop all dairy, even if it is organic. There are some great alternatives coming on the market that are just as delicious, even if it does take a day or two to adjust your taste buds. Oat, rice, soy and almond milks can easily substitute the dairy milk. Coconut yoghurt is delicious and doesn’t even smell of coconut, for those who dislike that. Cashew nut cream is a wonderful substitute for dairy cream. Coconut oil is a great substitute for butter, as well as being more stable for cooking.
It will benefit you, on many more levels, to cut out, or at least cut back your consumption of animal protein. By eating a balanced and whole food plant based diet, you won’t be deficient in any of the food groups.
These steps are simple to implement. Try them for a month and see how you feel. There is nothing like experiencing the benefits, to convince yourself you are on the right path.
However, this may not be enough to rid you of your problems completely. If you are taking, or have taken, any of the medical drugs already mentioned, you will be exacerbating this problem. If you are a second, or even third, generation of those who took synthetic hormones, the influence will run deep.
I have been helping women with endrocrine problems since the year 2000. It is truly exhilarating to see the problems melt away, to see the need for the medications drop away, to see harmony restored in the previously rather fraught family unit.
The mother is at the hub of the family. When she is healthy, everyone benefits. When she is unhealthy, everyone suffers. Yet she often puts herself last in the order of importance for treatment. She really needs to put herself first as her influence is so wide reaching.