Category Archives: Hormones

What is Melatonin?

Published on November 6, 2016 by

Melatonin is a natural hormone that helps your body to respond to light and dark, making it easier to fall asleep. It also helps to induce a relaxation of your muscles and nerves, helping to provide a better sleep. It also has an anti-oxidant property and possibly helps slow down the aging process.

Melatonin chemical properties written on a chalkboard

Melatonin can also increase Growth Hormone levels and Thyroi.d levels. This action can help you to have more energy in the day, be able to more easily burn fat, and overall feel better. It calms down Cortisol levels which helps reduce the effects of chronic stress.

You can naturally increase your Melatonin levels by sleeping in total darkness and exposing yourself to strong morning light. If you are having trouble let falling or staying asleep you may want to try a Melatonin supplement 30 minutes before bedtime.

Start with 0.1 to 0.3 mg Melatonin sublingual and work up to 1 mg if needed. Higher dosing is not always better. If you take oral pills start with 0.5 to 1 mg and work up to 5 mg if needed. It is best to start with a very low dose and increase as needed.

Remember to avoid electronics an hour or more before bedtime. Avoid stressful events and conversations in the evening. Avoid eating 3 hours before bedtime and minimize liquid intake 2+ hours before bedtime. Set a bedtime routine and stick with it. Keep your bedroom dark and comfortable. Try an epsom salt bath before bed–it is relaxing and provides Magnesium which is calming. By following these tips you will sleep much better! You are worth the effort!


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Lower Your Stress

Published on October 30, 2016 by

Stress is a growing problem in today’s world and it is causing chronic illnesses, along with fatigue, headaches, insomnia, abdominal issues, etc. Stress is nothing to ignore. The connection between stress and illness has been well documented. Stress has been connected with a disruption of our hormones, among other things.

The body is designed to function beautifully. When the body is functioning optimally, there are no symptoms and there is no disease. If symptoms are present, this means that there is a disruption in how your body is functioning. It is important to seek the underlying cause of the symptoms and restore the body to optimal functioning.

Image cloud with stressful images

Stress is defined as anything that can interfere with the function of the body. Stress can come in the form of mental/emotional, physical, or chemical. Chemical stressors are often overlooked, and they can come from the chemicals that you use on a daily basis in your personal care or cleaning products.

It is important to address ways that you can deal with emotional stress–do things like meditation, yoga, exercise, regular down time, unplugging from electronics, counseling, writing things down, floating in epsom salt, letting go of worries/guilt, setting boundaries, etc. Physical stress is self evident and it makes sense to minimize any physical stresses on your body. Get regular massages, stretch regularly, address sources of physical pain, etc. To reduce chemical stress, replace products that you use regularly with safer, less toxic products. This may take some time but it is well worth it. Everything we do adds up, reduce whatever stress you can: mental, physical, and chemical.

The adrenal glands produce a variety of hormones. One major function of the adrenal glands is to produce the stress related hormone, cortisol, and they also produce the sex hormones (Testosterone, Estrogen, Progesterone, and DHEA–this role increases as we age). When we encounter short lived stress, the cortisol is produced in higher amounts and helps us feel good and recover. With chronic stress, the cortisol is produced at an increased rate over a long period of time. Initially, this helps us to be able to work on overdrive and feel OK. But, over time the adrenal glands eventually tire out.

This leads to a decrease in cortisol output as well as a decrease in the sex hormones. The result is fatigue, brain fog, a decrease in vitality, a reduced ability to repair and heal, an increase in aches and pains, sleep issues, depression, anxiety, irritability, weight issues, blood sugar fluctuations, etc.

All symptoms have a cause and it is important to get to the cause in order to have a long term fix. A close look at the adrenal glands and hormone system should be the initial step in anyone having the above issues. Hormonal deficiencies should be fixed before attempting to work on other aspects of malfunction. To fully recover and help your body function optimally it is critical to address: nutrition, rest (you must get adequate rest), exercise (the right type and quantity for you), stressors (must be reduced and/or dealt with more effectively), supplementation, and hormone balancing (utilizing bio-identical hormones).

By addressing all of these areas, you can feel vital and happy. You can greatly reduce your risk for chronic illnesses and cancer.


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What Do Your Food Cravings Mean?

Published on October 23, 2016 by

Junk food spread out on table

Food cravings – we all get them. But did you ever wonder why some people crave salty, crunchy snacks like potato chips, while others want high-carb side dishes such as mashed potatoes or sugary treats like chocolate? What you crave, when you crave it and how often you crave it says something about your health.

Understanding the underlying reason for your cravings can help you get them under control. You can start by figuring out what type of craving you’re feeling. Marc David of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating says there are three categories of cravings–supportive, dispersive and associative.

Supportive cravings are driven by instinct. They’re your body’s response to needing specific foods to help you recover from an illness or nutritional deficiency. You may have noticed a yearning for citrus fruits while recovering from a cold or a hankering for steak if you’re struggling with anemia. Severe anemia also can trigger pica–cravings to chew ice cubes or eat dirt and paper. (If you are experiencing pica, speak to your doctor as soon as possible.)

Eating the same foods every day increases your likelihood of developing supportive cravings. Many people fall into an eating routine because it makes it easy to keep track calories and nutrients. However, narrow eating routines can limit your intake of certain nutrients, which can trigger your body to crave them. For example, if you crave:

  • Salty foods like potato chips, nachos or French fries, it may indicate a high level of cortisol (stress hormone). To help manage your cortisol levels, eat high quality protein such as eggs and lean meat, and complex carbohydrates like brown rice, beans and vegetables. If your doctor approves, adding a couple of yoga classes to your weekly schedule also might help.
  • Sweet foods like candy bars, it can mean your blood sugar is low. Low blood sugar can be the result of dieting or eating too many highly processed foods that cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash. Combine protein with a complex carbohydrate at snacks and meals. Examples include berries with yogurt, peanut butter on whole grain bread and milk with cereal. Cravings for sweet foods brought on by low blood sugar may also be a sign of something more serious. You should talk to your doctor about this craving.
  • Chocolate, it may suggest a possible magnesium deficiency. Getting more seeds (pumpkin, sunflower and sesame), beans (navy and black) and spinach into your diet can help raise your magnesium levels and may help ease chocolate cravings.
  • High-fat dairy foods like butter, ice cream or cheese, it might be related to a calcium deficiency. For a lower calorie approach to getting in your calcium, snack on walnuts and eat several servings of green leafy vegetables and salmon each week.

Dispersive cravings are more or less the opposite of supportive cravings–it’s when you want unhealthy junk food that will drain your energy level. These types of cravings often stem from highly emotional situations that increase your energy or stress levels. To counteract this response, your body will crave comfort foods, which are generally laden with sugar and fat. During stressful circumstances, you may be able to control stress and emotional eating by drinking black tea to lower cortisol levels, listening to calming music, chewing gum or meditating.

Associative cravings are driven by memories and nostalgia. Many people have deep meaningful associations with food, which is why your want old family dishes around the holidays, favorite desserts after an accomplishment or comfort foods when you’re sick.

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University found that smelling foods you associate with memories–like apple pie, spaghetti sauce or cotton candy–can also elicit cravings. They think memory and pleasure-seeking areas of your brain (hippocampus, insula and caudate) are involved.

Studies have linked enjoyable activities with the release of dopamine, a chemical messenger that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Experts believe the same process occurs when you eat foods that are tied to fond memories or feelings of happiness.

If you’re trying to prevent weight gain from family dinners and holiday parties, work on controlling your associated cravings by strengthening your willpower. Social psychologist Dr. Roy Baumeister says willpower can be strengthened like a muscle through exercises. For example, working on a puzzle that is tough to solve, watching a funny movie while resisting the urge to laugh or watching a sad movie while resisting the urge to cry.


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Signs And Symptoms

Published on August 13, 2016 by

testosterone word cloud


Signs and symptoms of low testosterone such as insomnia, infertility, low libido, weight gain, low energy, depression, and trouble concentrating—can be devastating. When Testosterone levels are optimized, it can give both men and women a healthy libido, the ability to improve muscle mass and burn fat, good energy levels, motivation to get things accomplished, increased focus, better sleep, an improved mood, etc.

Certain medications, environmental toxins, obesity, inflammatory conditions, and physical and emotional stress can result in reduced testosterone(along with other hormones). For these reasons, from an integrative medicine perspective, it is important to address diet and lifestyle interventions that address the root cause, in addition to utilizing bio-identical Testosterone replacement to fix the Testosterone deficiency.

Here are interventions that are important in optimizing your hormones:

Stress management: This includes getting good quantity and quality of sleep. According to one study, testosterone increases with increasing sleep duration up to 9.9 hours, after which it decreases, resulting in a U-shaped curve. Getting enough sleep–not too little and not too much– is the key. Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with lower testosterone levels. Get a sleep study if you snore or do not wake up refreshed.
In addition to sleep, overall stress reduction is key to supporting healthy testosterone levels, because excess cortisol (stress hormone) depletes your body of other hormones such as Testosterone. Unplug regularly and improve how you handle stress.

Weight loss: Obviously, not all cases of “low T” are associated with overweight and obesity, but many are, and in those situations, weight loss is a no-brainer.

Exercise: Weightlifting or resistance training of moderate-to-high intensity has been shown to boost testosterone. Short bursts of intense sprinting have also been shown to elevate plasma total testosterone.

Eat those greens: An even simpler intervention is to increase consumption of cruciferous vegetables, with their sulfur compounds facilitating the excretion of excess estrogen. (No one ever became unhealthy or fat from eating too much broccoli and Brussels sprouts!). Cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage) help your body to metabolize your hormones properly. DIM is a supplement that works in a similar fashion.

Sexual activity: An arguably more fun strategy for boosting testosterone is to have sex. According to one study, increased testosterone occurred in men due to sexual activity and this effect was unrelated to men’s age. This method may be beneficial for younger as well as older men. (They did not study women for this effect……)

Minimize toxin exposure: There are numerous chemicals in our environment that can disrupt your hormonal balance and cause a decreased Testosterone level. Be aware of everything that you eat, use in your house, put on your body, etc. Change to safer products when you can. EWG.org is a great resource. When you run out of a product look on their site to find a safer alternative. Every little positive change adds up in your favor.

Living an optimal life involves optimizing your hormones and this is done through lifestyle and diet changes in addition to the use of bio-identical hormones. You can feel and look great!!


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What is normal?

Published on June 6, 2016 by

Isn’t it normal to have my hormones decline with age?

As a physician specializing in bio-identical hormones I have heard this question often and I even wondered it myself. Yes, there are changes that naturally occur as we age. The issue is that we live in an environment that has drastically changed in the past century that accelerates the hormonal decline.

decline-with-age

Think about all of the things that we are exposed to today that were not a concern a century ago. The cows are given hormones to help them mature faster and those hormones get into the meat and dairy products. Our diet is full of processed and packaged foods. We use personal care and household products (cleansers, lotions, shave cream, shampoos, make up, house cleaning products, etc) that are full of chemicals. Plastic is prevalent–in water bottles, toys, food containers, etc. Stress levels seem to be higher than ever as we live in a faster paced world each year. The list goes on.

Our hormones are chemically specific and chemicals can disrupt that balance. Stress and the types of food we eat can also affect the hormone balance. Testosterone, Progesterone, Estrogen, Cortisol, and Thyroid hormones are especially disrupted in today’s world. This results in fatigue, poor sleep, increased aches & pains, a decreased libido, weight gain, brain fog, depression, anxiety, etc. Over time, hormonal disruption can lead to an increased risk of dementia, certain cancers, osteoporosis, etc.

Attaining hormonal balance is critical for optimizing your health. We no longer live in a world in which this is accomplished without some intervention. Replacing your deficient hormones with bio-identical hormones is a way to live optimally in today’s toxic world.


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Optimal Life

Published on May 18, 2016 by

people jumping in the air

It is different for everyone. The first thing to do is to think about what it is that you want. How do you want to feel? What are the things that you want to be doing ?? What does it look and feel like for you to live an optimal life?? What is important to you?

Now, set aside some time this week and write it down. Naturally, when you write this down it will help to motivate you as you make changes that are required for you to live an optimal life. Making changes are not always easy but we either live with the pain of regret or the pain of changing.

I have found that if you desire to feel, look, and be in optimal health; this involves looking at eight aspects. All of these aspects are important. They are: what you eat, what you drink, the quality of your sleep, the exercise you get, the supplements you need, your mindset, your hormone balance, and the toxins you are exposed to. These different aspects of wellness are equally important and they affect each other.

Continue reading

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Increase your Sex Drive

Published on May 13, 2016 by

A decreased sex drive can arise for many reasons and it can affect both women and men. A healthy sexual relationship with someone that you love is important. It is sometimes too easy to ignore this fact and let this part of your life slip away.

Balancing your hormones is one part of having a healthy libido. Without a proper balance of Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone it is difficult to have a healthy sex drive. Our hormones get out of balance for many reasons and utilizing bio-identical hormones helps to fix that problem. Balancing your hormones is like putting gas into your car.

Just like there are many other parts to your car to make it run, there are also other things that affect your libido. Stress can greatly diminish your desire. Being unhappy in your relationship or being unhappy with yourself has a definite impact with sex drive. Medications can also have an affect.

Older couple laying in bed

It is important to take time out to unplug and relax. Yoga is a great way to learn to relax and keep your body limber. Turn off the phone, tv, and computer and breathe deeply and clear your mind. Hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, Reiki, and transformational breathing are all things that can aide you in any relationship issues–with your partner and with yourself.

Having a healthy sex drive can make you feel better about yourself and can enhance your relationship. With an integrative medicine approach and a desire on your part to increase your libido, you should be able to regain your libido.


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What does you Thyroid do?

Published on May 7, 2016 by

Many people have a low functioning thyroid and don’t realize it. “Normal” lab values can miss a sub optimal thyroid. Integrative medicine physicians evaluate hormone levels to ensure that they are in the optimal range.

Top reasons to have an optimally functioning thyroid:

Outline of where thyroid is located
  1. To have a healthy well functioning metabolism depends on optimal thyroid levels. Optimization of your thyroid hormones is not a weight loss miracle, but it is difficult to reduce fat if your thyroid is not functioning properly.
  2. Having a positive happy outlook on life comes from many things–one of them is an optimal thyroid hormone level. Optimal thyroid levels are linked to an increased feeling of well being and increased focus.
  3. It promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails. Without optimal thyroid functions you may have hair loss, dry skin or hair, eczema or other skin disorders, dry brittle nails, etc.
  4. Having the energy to do the things that you want to do requires an optimally functioning thyroid. If your thyroid is low you may feel a lack of energy, especially noticed in the afternoon.
  5. It promotes a healthy digestive system. Constipation can be a sign of a low functioning thyroid.
  6. Optimizing your thyroid is just one part of your overall wellness. It is an important part that everyone should have evaluated to be sure that it is functioning optimally.


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What Is Cortisol?

Published on May 1, 2016 by

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced in your adrenal glands (located at the top of your kidneys). Cortisol is involved in the regulation of your metabolism, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and helps your body respond and cope with stress.

The problem in today’s world is that we have chronic stress and our cortisol system was designed for short term stress. We were designed to have periods of low to little stress in order to recover.

Cortisol chemical diagram

Think about our world today: cell phones offer 24/7 access no matter where you are, the Internet allows continual access to what is going on, financial stresses abound, traffic is prevalent, etc. Basically, our mind is given non stop opportunities to worry and over think. Our cortisol responds to mental stress just as if you were in physical danger.

Daily chronic stress affects your cortisol production and can lead to adrenal fatigue. You can feel tired all the time, irritable, moody; have trouble sleeping, focusing, or remembering things; have headaches or blood pressure problems. When your cortisol level is affected due to chronic stress, your Testosterone, Estrogen, and Progesterone levels will be affected as well and this causes even more symptoms.

We can’t change today’s world but we can change what we do on a daily basis. I advise turning off your cell phone alerts and check your phone when you want to, not when messages come in. Turn off the phone and computer at a set time each day and unplug completely a day a week, or more. Take yoga classes and epsom salt baths. Take a deep breath as often as you can. Do what you can to minimize your stressors. Replacing your deficient hormones with bio-identical hormones is a part of the whole picture to rebalancing your adrenal gland.


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Magic Pill For Feeling Great

Published on April 25, 2016 by

A lot of people search for the magic pill, supplement, diet, etc that will make them feel great. I wish that I could tell you that one exists but it does not. Feeling great doesn’t come from just one thing.

Years of treating patients, going to different conferences, and reading a variety of books has made me realize that achieving optimal health involves addressing multiple things. Everything we eat, drink, watch, say, and use impacts our body. We are complex beings and our bodily functions are complex.

Hand that is holding a pill

It is important to pay attention to everything — to be aware. You must be aware that everything affects you in some way. The good news is that you do not have to be perfect and you can change what you do, consume, use, and think over time. Life is a process and getting to optimal health is a process as well. Be patient with your body.

The following areas need to be addressed : your diet, the liquids you consume, your sleep patterns, exercise, your mind, toxins you are exposed to and your current toxin load, the supplements that you specifically need, and hormone balancing. I have found that replacing your deficient hormones with bio-identical hormones helps you to think, sleep, and overall feel better fairly quickly. But it is not the complete answer.

Once we get your hormones in a better balance, you are better equipped to address the other areas mentioned above. Hormone balancing is not a magic pill–it is simply important to address in today’s world. We live in a world that is filled with things that are toxic to our mind and body; disrupting our hormones, among other things. Utilizing bio-identical hormones is a piece of the answer to living in this toxic world and feeling great.


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