As a functional nutritionist, I help women to identify and address the root causes of their hormone and digestive symptoms. Say goodbye to fad diets, my mission is to empower you in your health and create change that sustains.
4 Commonly Missed Symptoms Linked to Hormone Imbalances
December 12, 2023
Unfortunately in the conventional medicine space, it is usual to refer to chronic symptoms as expected or the result of aging. Because of this, many uncomfortable symptoms become normalized as they are increasingly common. It is typical for health practitioners to offer band-aid solutions that don’t necessarily alleviate the root cause. A good example of this is Spironolactone for acne or stand alone supporting hypothyroidism with synthetic thyroid medications.
Although these solutions may be helpful for some, at Liv Nourished, we believe that any symptom/condition can be best supported and addressed once nourishing foundations are established and we get a clear picture of the ROOT CAUSE imbalances driving that condition. Every symptom is a message from your body that something in your environment is not right. I believe our bodies are wise, and once we create safety in the body with a strong foundation, we can achieve inner balance.
Another area important to recognize, is that just because a symptom or condition is common, it does not mean its normal. A nourished woman has clear skin, strong hair, positive moods, and plenty of energy. If you happen to be experiencing anything less, there might be a sign that something is off. There are many foundational steps to take to resolve each of the symptoms below! The body knows what to do once we give it what it needs.
Symptom #1: Acne
Acne is an extremely common symptom that women experience. There are many presentations of acne (bacterial/infection driven, inflammation driven, topical irritation driven, stress driven, hormonal driven, combination driven), but typically acne located around the jawline, chin, and lower half of the face is hormonal in nature. Many women attempt to address acne with topicals or Spironolactone, however, chronic stress, nutritional deficiencies, and inflammation are often deeper root causes of this imbalanced picture. Our work here is to identify what in the body needs further support to creating healing here.
So let’s look at the hormonal presentation more closely. When we are experiencing high stress, cortisol and adrenaline rise. In response to these hormones, the body increases production of another protective hormone DHEA, which opposes the harsh impact of stress. This is a helpful mechanism that gives our body resilience, however, can lead to imbalances when chronic. DHEA readily converts to testosterone, and the overall elevation of androgens (sometimes referred to as male hormones) is one of the presentations that can lead to acne.
In order to resolve acne, you need to have hormone foundations set. Tools to reduce emotional stress and balancing blood sugarare extremely helpful for bringing cortisol and elevated DHEA levels down.
Symptom #2: Hair Loss
Hair loss is typically an energy, nutritional deficiency, gut imbalance, and thyroid issue. This means that when we are not meeting our energetic needs in the form of macro and micronutrients, the body will slow down our metabolism. Excessive hair loss, when not postpartum, is an indication that the body cannot produce enough energy for normal cellular function, metabolism is suppressed, and thyroid hormones have decreased. The body always prioritizes providing nutrients to essential, internal organs before extremities like hair and nails.
Minoxidil and spironolactone are used to treat hair loss, but unfortunately they do not address the deeper malnourishment leading to a suppressed thyroid. In fact,
undereating is one of the biggest offenders I see against healthy thyroid hormone and energy production. Ensuring that the body is receiving enough carbohydrates and absorbing essential vitamins and minerals is one of the first steps to addressing hair loss. If you haven’t yet grabbed our 7 Day Nourishing Hormone Meal Inspiration Guide, be sure to check it out to get a picture of what deep nourishment for hormones looks like!
Symptom #3: Anxiety/Mood Swings
Some women experience anxiety and mood swings around their luteal phase (before menstruation), while others experience them more chronically. I believe that the body and the brain are deeply connected–usually when something is happening in our minds, it is also happening in the body. Hormones like estrogen and progesterone have different effects on the brain. For example, progesterone is a soothing hormone that increases the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. GABA reduces anxiety and promotes restful sleep. On the other hand, estrogen is an excitatory hormone that increases the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine increases nerve synapses, alertness, and wakefulness. Elevated levels of acetylcholine have been linked to disturbances in sleep patterns, depression, anger, and anxiety. Since estrogen amplifies synaptic activity, it keeps the body in a state of sympathetic arousal. Research suggests that increased and cyclical levels of estrogen may make women more susceptible to developing mental health disorders.
Many women today are experiencing an elevated estrogen picture or relative estrogen elevations (sometimes called estrogen dominance) that correlate with lower levels of progesterone. This could be a result of endocrine disrupters, birth control, exposure to industrial chemicals, mineral imbalances (copper), high stress, GI imbalances etc. Anxiety and depression especially around your period could be a sign of estrogen/progesterone balance. Supporting the liver, gut, and healthy bowels are the first steps to clearing estrogen and resolving anxiety and depression. Women’s health foundations and mineral balance are often the first steps on this journey to creating more emotional peace and calm.
Symptom #4: Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is becoming extremely common. Many women notice weight gain, cold hands & feet, constipation, restless sleep, hair loss, missing periods, and infertility as a result of decreased thyroid hormones. Doctors usually prescribe synthetic thyroid hormones such as Synthroid or levothyroxine to correct lab values, rather than symptoms. This unfortunately still is not addressing why your thyroid is under-functioning. It is important to look at the BIG picture and the factors influencing thyroid function:
Adequate intake/absorption of carbohydrates, protein, & fat
Adequate intake/absorption of vitamins & minerals
Gut health, chronic infections
Eating enough food
Stress & sleep
Women on medication often continue to to have a certain level of symptoms –even if on paper your lab values look “normal.” This is because of the underlying imbalances that drove the thyroid suppression have not yet been addressed. For example, Hashimotos, an autoimmune condition that causes the body to attack thyroid, cannot be at the root cause resolved by taking hormones. Using a holistic approach to diet and lifestyle is necessary to understand what is causing the imbalance.