VIDEO: Hormones and Health
In this program, Dr. Stengler explains the critical role hormones play in our overall health. Hormone balance is highly important to having a healthy balance. You cannot live a happy, healthy life if your hormones are out of balance. (Transcript below.)
Welcome back! In this segment I will tell you the important role hormones play in health. Hormone balance is a critical area in having a healthy body. I see patients everyday that have hormonal imbalance. And I’ll go so far as to say you can’t live a happy, healthy life if your hormones are out of balance. It’s just not possible. We are exposed in infancy to what we call endocrine disrupters – these are chemicals in the environment, and our foods, and our water that balance our hormone systems, ok? Now one big category is xenoestrogens – that’s just a fancy word that means ‘foreign estrogens’.
So, all these chemicals have these estrogen-like compounds – they get in our body, and they cause hormonal imbalance – because they act like estrogen in your body. And they’re found in plastic, food preservatives, insecticides, pesticides and personal products. They absorb through the skin and get into the body. For example, exposure to the xenoestrogens BPA, you’ve heard of it, Bisphenol A, is linked to reduced semen quality and sperm count according to the results of a study in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility. How about antibiotics? You know antibiotics, they can have benefit, they can destroy bad bacteria but they also destroy the good bacteria in your body which your body also uses to metabolize estrogen. You have trillions of these good bacteria in your digestive tract; wipe them out and your body can’t maintain a good estrogen balance. Also, you know, drugs get flushed down the toilet, birth control pills, other hormones – they get back into the water supply – back into the human body. It’s a problem. So how do you protect yourself?
The first thing I have patients to, as best as you can, eat organic foods. If you can’t do that, eat fresh, local, non-pesticide foods as much as possible including hormone-free meats. And organic milk – if you drink milk. Otherwise I like patients to drink the plant milks because they are very pure – such as almond milk, hemp seed milk, oat milk. You know they’re much more readily available now.
Please do not drink tap water. You need to drink purified water, whether it be reverse-osmosis, distilled – tap water has what? Well, it has chlorine in it. It can have fluoride in it. The human body was not designed for those chemicals, ok? They can be toxic to the body.
Certainly lifestyle issues can imbalance our hormones. For example, if you’re under chronic stress, and your stress hormone, cortisol, is at high levels for long periods of time, you know what research shows? It imbalances all the rest of the hormones in the body. So you have got to control your stress levels using stress reduction techniques. Some people like prayer, other people like exercise, listening to music, hanging out with friends. You’ve got to control that stress.
Also, consumer more fiber from plant foods. Why? Well in your body, our hormones circulate around, let’s take estrogen for example, circulates around both men and women, and it gets broken down into different metabolites. Those metabolites get flushed out by your body; get broken down by your liver, go through your bile, go through your digestive tract, out through your stool and some goes out through your urine as well. Now, if you don’t have enough fiber, those hormones actually get re-circulated. If they don’t get eliminated – they go back into the body – of course that can contribute to all sorts of problems, right? Breast problems and ovary problems and uterine problems; and in men – prostate problems. The prostate is very sensitive to estrogen. So we’ve got to get more fiber in the diet, more fruits and vegetables, more nuts and seeds, more plant foods. Doesn’t mean you have to be vegetarian – I mean, I’m not, but you’ve got to get more plant foods if you want to have good hormone balance and good health.
Now here are some other conditions that result from hormone imbalance: the first is depression. Now, you always think of depression as an imbalance of the brain chemicals – neurotransmitters. But for a lot of people, that really isn’t the root cause; the root cause is their hormones are imbalanced. Let me give you some examples. While we know for certain that if you have low thyroid function, and millions of Americans do and don’t know it; you cannot produce the brain chemicals as effectively. You are going to be more apt to have depression. Or let’s say you’re a woman and have low progesterone levels, and that can happen anywhere from age 15 all the way up to 60. And low progesterone means, again you can’t produce your brain chemicals effectively. How about men with low testosterone? What’s one of the classic symptoms of low testosterone? Well, depression, fatigue and so forth. So you see, the hormones actually stimulate the production of your brain chemicals: low hormones – imbalance of your brain chemicals.
You go into your doctor’s office and you’re feeling depressed, anxious, whatever – and you get what? You get a drug to artificially increase your brain chemicals. When maybe, your hormones needed to be tested, balanced out and then your brain chemicals normalize out. Doesn’t that make more sense?
That’s what I do with a lot of my patients. See, I see a lot of menopausal women. They come in and they’re anxious, depressed and nothing is really going on in their life to explain it, nothing out of the ordinary. I check their hormones, find out where the imbalance is, correct them – what happens? Their mood normalizes out. And they don’t get on these drugs with all these side effects. Think of this: a review of studies – studies plural – published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that only 2.7% of 4,000 patients reported benefit from taking anti-depressants for 12 months. 2.7%! A lot of them just don’t work as well as you think. And look at the side effects of anti-depressants: loss of libido, fatigue, weight gain, even – in a small percent of cases – suicidal thoughts can be a side effect.
For depression, lifestyle changes are very important. Let me give you an example: they’ve done studies with walking. It’s been shown that walking three times a week for 30 minutes is comparable to taking anti-depressant medications. I mean, how simple is that, right? You don’t have to worry about side effects, except maybe a dog chasing you down the street (laughter), but you know…
Let me tell you about a patient of mine. A 53 year old who had been fighting depression for five years and she was on anti-depressant medication. And while I was talking to her, I found out her depression started during menopause. It wasn’t some big life event – the death of a loved one, or something like that, so what does that tell you? Yes, I tested her hormones, and they were a mess, so I balanced out her thyroid, her estrogen and progesterone and she felt much better. Then I was able to wean her off her medication, over about a two months period of time, and she was a new person.
Now I know a lot of people with depression have very low motivation – can be part of the disease, so to speak. We need to get them feeling better quickly, get their confidence up, get them out socializing, so often I will use supplements. A very common one is St. John’s Wort. Now let me tell you this, forget about what mainstream media has told you – that St. John’s Wort does not work – that’s nonsense. Let me prove it to you, a study in the British Medical Journal reviewed 23 randomized clinical studies involving St. John’s Wort and found it equally effective for mild to moderate depression. You see, when you heard that St. John’s Wort is not effective for depression, they forgot to tell you one thing, the study found that it was not effective for severe depression and neither were the drugs in that study!
And the Omega 3 fatty acids are so critical because they are actually what compose your brain cells. Ok? So to produce neurotransmitters, you need those good old omega 3 fatty acids. That’s why fish oil has been shown in several studies to help fight depression and anxiety. And B vitamins are critical for brain function too and memory. Especially folic acid and B12. You know, if you have deficiencies of these nutrients, which not uncommon in America that can lead to depression. As a matter of fact, 20% of seniors have B12 deficiency; because they lose the ability to absorb it. One in five seniors! Also, folic acid, you need it to make the neurotransmitters in your brain. And up to 20% of the population as well, have a genetic defect where their body cannot convert it to its active form. So they need supplementation. Just by getting these B vitamins in, through food, through supplements, can make a big difference in your mood.
Another one I use with patients quite a bit is called 5HTP. That stands for 5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan. You see the way it works in the body is that you’ve probably heard about the amino acid Tryptophan. Your body takes the Tryptophan from foods you eat, it gets converted into this 5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan and then your brain uses it to make serotonin. You see, unlike drugs, it doesn’t force your brain to make it and then you get all sorts of side effects, it just provides the nutrition, the building blocks for your brain to make the serotonin like it wants to. You know, that feel-good neurotransmitter. Isn’t that a better way to do it? And people will report even in a couple hours, they have a lifting of their mood. I certainly have people take it throughout the day, two or three times a day, just to maintain a good mood. Even people who are genetically, pre-disposed to depression to keep their serotonin levels up and we don’t see side effects with it. Well, there is one, people craves sweets and carbs less when they take 5HTP.
Now as far as diet and your mood, remember this, sweets – while they temporarily make you feel good – they can cause blood sugar swings, right? Also, for some people, artificial sweeteners – they get a reaction by their brain and nervous system and be aware that could cause mood problems too – it’s best to avoid them, in my opinion. Don’t over-consumer alcohol, because it acts as a depressant too. And remember Magnesium, we need Magnesium to make the brain chemicals, especially serotonin. Good sources of Magnesium in foods are legumes, nuts, whole grains and green vegetables. You see, making these few changes will begin to turn your depression around.
As well, fatigue. In modern medicine, what happens when you go to the doctor and tell him you have fatigue? Well they do things they should do; they make sure you’re not anemic, you don’t have cancer, serious things like that. But do they check your hormones? They may check your thyroid. But do they check your testosterone, and your stress hormones and these types of things? Not usually. And again, if you have imbalance in your hormones – that certainly will contribute to fatigue. Now what I see with a lot of patients is their stress hormones from long stress have been burnt out. And also these stress hormones, like cortisol and DHEA, they help your cells to produce energy. So if we don’t get those up to normal levels you just can’t create the energy in your cells like you need to. Also, remember, when you have hormone imbalance, you’re less able to handle stress; you get irritable, you get anxious. Just by balancing out your hormones, often you’ll handle stress much better.
Now another major problem in America, in regards to hormones is thyroid – thyroid imbalance. As a matter of fact, millions of Americans have a thyroid problem but the majority don’t even know it’s an issue. See your thyroid gland is located beneath your Adam’s Apple, right here in your neck and it produces thyroid hormones that are involved in the metabolic activity in your cells, so they help produce energy in your cells. You have to have it. Also they play a factor in your weight control, heart rate, even your body temperature. And undiagnosed thyroid problems, well they increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, depression, anxiety, hair loss, even problems with sexual function, you can get brittle nails, even your cholesterol will go up if you have low thyroid.
Let me tell you about a patient who was diagnosed with low thyroid and put on synthetic hormone replacement for two years. When I saw her, she was having severe insomnia, nauseousness, dizziness, depression; you know her face was puffy, she was gaining weight (of course that’s what bothered her the most). If that wasn’t enough, of course she had low stamina and energy; even her eyebrows were starting to thin out on the outer 1/3, which is a classic symptom of low thyroid. So you can imagine she’s being treated with medicine so she’s very, very frustrated. So I started from scratch. I tested her hormone balance but much more comprehensively and I found it was out of balance. So I put her on a natural, a bio-identical, thyroid hormone prescription and within two weeks her symptoms began to disappear. And ultimately she lost 34 pounds. And she found joy and hope again.
Now, I couldn’t talk about hormone imbalance without talking about Menopause, right? That’s a lot of women in American today, the baby boom generation. You know with menopause, what’s happening is, the ovaries are no longer ovulating, you’re not having a menstrual cycle and the hormone levels, as they should, start to drop; your estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, other hormones can drop as well. But see, for some women, this drop can be too rapid or too extreme and can cause a whole host of different symptoms. You know what they are: hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mood changes, skin changes, arthritis, and the list goes on and on. All related to hormone imbalance.
Let me tell you about one patient illustrating the power of simple natural remedies. She states: “When I first came to Dr. Stengler I was experiencing low energy, night sweats, hot flashes during the day and brain fogginess. After he supplied me with two homeopathic formulas, I immediately stopped having the night sweats and hot flashes. I was able to sleep through the night and now I am much more energetic and focused.” So again, you can get those kinds of results with natural remedies too. For example, herbal extracts, black cohosh has many studies on it showing it helps menopausal symptoms. Also maca root. A study done here in America showed it very effective for alleviating all sorts of menopausal symptoms: hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems, heart palpitations, the list goes on and on. The nice things with maca and these herbal extracts, they balance the hormones already in your body; they don’t give you hormones, they balance what’s in your body – which is the best way to do it if you can. Also rhubarb extract, you know – of all things, rhubarb! That was shown in a recent study to be comparable to synthetic hormone replacement in alleviating hot flashes and menopausal symptoms.
So again, these things are studied, you just have to know about them; they are available.
And diet is important for menopause too. You know, I talk to a lot of women and they will tell you, when they have caffeine, alcohol, too much sugar, it flares up their hot flashes – so you have to be aware of that. Also, you want to increase your plant foods. Why? Well plant foods contain phytosterols. Even simple plant foods like carrots, lettuce, brown rice, almonds, pomegranates; they have phytosterols, these chemicals in plants which naturally balance out the body’s hormones, ok? Of course they are completely safe. Also, you can consume fermented soy foods, like tempeh, natto, miso. So ground flaxseeds, you’ve heard about them – they’re in health food stores. Ground flaxseeds have been shown in studies to reduce hot flashes. Of course it’s also good for your cholesterol, its good for your digestion and they have those Omega 3 fatty acids – something very simple you can take daily.
Also exercise reduces menopausal symptoms. Studies have shown that just walking, again three to five times a week can dramatically reduce hot flashes. It’s natural and safe. Now for some women who have just severe symptoms, I will use natural hormones; also known as bio-identical hormones. You see, the bio-identical hormones are identical in both their structure and in function to what goes on in the human body. The same can’t be said of synthetic hormones. Why are they synthetic? They’re synthetic because the drug companies can’t patent a natural substance. And then you can’t charge ten to twenty times the price, right? So not much interest in the natural. But they’re available; holistic doctors around the country can prescribe them – from pharmacies – they’re a prescription – if you have good insurance, it will cover it; otherwise they’re not that expensive. So you can get natural, bio-identical estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, thyroid and so forth.
Now another symptom of hormone imbalance is low sex drive. A lot of patients tell me they have low sex drive. And they go into their regular doctor and what happens often? Well, they’re told it’s probably due to stress or you’re depressed. Either way, quite often you’re recommended an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication, right? And guess what one of the potential side effects of many anti-depressants are? Low sex drive. So, now you got a double whammy there!
But there’s good news – there’s easy natural approaches that can help. For example, the maca root that I mentioned before, which you get from Peru, available in American health food stores; it’s been used for centuries by those people to help with libido for both men and women. Completely safe. Works very effectively. Modern studies have shown that it actually does have that effect. Or the medicinal mushroom called Cordyceps – that’s been used in Japanese and Chinese medicine for this purpose as well. Again we don’t find side effects with it and it actually helps people with their energy as well. Studies show it increases libido – so it works with your body’s own system. And if a patient’s where they need something stronger, these supplements just aren’t effective, and for many people they will be, I test the hormones DHEA and testosterone – because they’re directly linked to desire. So if they’re low, I’ll prescribe them in their natural form – their bio-identical form. You can get bio-identical DHEA, bio-identical testosterone and usually people within a month will notice a good improvement. Make it a top priority to get your hormone levels tested and get them balanced out naturally.
Coming up, I’ll show you how to lose weight quickly and easily. How to address your memory loss and how to get the boundless energy you’ve been dreaming of.