Author Archive for Susan MacIvor, RPh

Stressed Out? There’s a Hormone for That.

Stress

What does stress look like for you? Is it raising young children? A stressful job? Maybe it’s the passing of a loved one or the feeling like you can barely catch your breath with an overpacked schedule?

These life circumstances are indeed emotional stressors, and when paired with various physical stressors such as exercise or allergies, leave you on the fast track to adrenal fatigue. If you’re not sure if this is entirely you, you’ll know when you start experiencing symptoms such as chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, cravings for salty and high-fat foods, decreased sex drive, a caffeine dependence and more.

Although there are various supplements available that can assist your adrenal glands in regaining proper functionality, you’ll ultimately need to replenish your adrenal hormone levels to correct the problem and get relief from your more severe symptoms. One hormone that is produced by the adrenals and known for its anti-stress qualities is dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Also considered as the “Fountain of Youth,” DHEA can help to reverse the effects of stress on the immune system and assist in balancing other adrenal hormones such as cortisol.

When supplementing with high-quality DHEA (prescription, pharmaceutical grade preparation rather than something found over the counter that is not standardized nor regulated), you can experience a decreased stress load and an increased ability to manage stress and daily tasks.  You may also notice an improvement in the following:

  • Cholesterol levels
  • Metabolism
  • Brain function (memory, moods, anxiety, food cravings)
  • Bone Density
  • Fertility
  • Libido
  • Immunity
  • Skin health

Almost sounds too good to be true, right?! If you find yourself getting stressed easily or you know that the holidays are sure to throw you for a loop, it may be time to talk with your provider about supplementing with DHEA.

5 Common Causes of Anxiety in Women

Young woman is in the fair about her future

Anxiety affects 40 million adults in the U.S.  Women are twice as likely to have an anxiety disorder as men.

Do these sound familiar?
Are you nervous and irritable?
Do you often feel scared for no reason?
Do you feel impending doom?
Do you have feelings of panic?
Are you often ill at ease or worried?

If you have experienced anxiety, you know it can be paralyzing at times.  Things that you never used to worry about can make you feel overcome with fear now. Some women have such extreme anxiety that they don’t want to leave their home. Why does this happen? What has changed to make us feel so anxious? Could it be as simple as a hormonal deficiency? Let’s address five common causes of anxiety in women.

First of all, what is anxiety?
Anxiety is defined as a state of uneasiness and apprehension. People with anxiety can have excessive, persistent worry and fear about things that one wouldn’t usually worry about. Often this extreme anxiety can lead to a panic attack, or sudden surges of overwhelming fear that that comes without warning, accompanied by physical symptoms such as a pounding heart, sweating, and rapid breathing. When anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it becomes disabling.

5 Common Causes of Anxiety in Women

  1. Adrenal Fatigue
    Your adrenal glands are responsible for managing stress. Chronic stress, whether physical or psychological or both, cause the adrenal glands to be overworked and eventually leads to adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands simply cannot produce enough cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, to meet the demands of your body. As a result, you feel stressed out and anxious. Supplementing with bioidentical cortisol helps you to withstand stress and escape one of its most unpleasant effects, anxiety.
  2. Hypothyroidism
    Hypothyroidism results in a slowdown of cellular metabolism, which causes a drop in levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA has a calming effect, which prevents the brain from being overwhelmed by stimulation. Moderately low levels of GABA are linked to anxiety, panic attacks, and mood swings. At the other end of the spectrum, too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) can also bring on anxiety and panic attacks.
  3. Estrogen Dominance
    Chronically elevated levels of estrogen can induce depression and anxiety by causing functional hypothyroidism. Also, a woman with estrogen dominance (progesterone deficiency) may have the adequate levels of total cortisol in her bloodstream, but her free, available cortisol – the only form that can be used by the cells – may be too low. Estrogen impairs adrenal function in another way: it interferes with the release of cortisol from the adrenal cortex. This can be an indication of declining ovarian function and the resulting imbalance of estrogen and progesterone. Balancing the estrogen with bioidentical progesterone can help eliminate estrogen dominance and curb anxiety.
  4. Estrogen Deficiency
    Estrogen deficiency that occurs with menopause can cause anxiety. If anxiety is associated with your hot flashes, then low estrogen could be the culprit. Symptoms can be relieved with bioidentical estrogen. Keep in mind that you can be estrogen dominant and estrogen deficient at the same time. That means that you are low in both estrogen and progesterone.
  5. Low Testosterone
    Depression and anxiety are symptoms of low testosterone in women. Men aren’t the only ones that need testosterone. Women also make it in smaller amounts, and it provides lifelong benefits, including reduced anxiety. Bioidentical testosterone supplementation can help relieve your symptoms.

Natural Solution for Anxiety
The answer to relieving anxiety can often be as simple as balancing your hormones and supplementing with certain vitamins, such as magnesium, 5-HTP, inositol, rhodiola and vitamin B6.  If you’re struggling with anxiety, and you think your hormones need to be adjusted, don’t wait.  Contact your provider today.  As always, if you have questions about any of your hormones, please give one of our pharmacists a call at (281) 828-9088.

*Originally appeared on www.HotzeHWC.com

What’s Allergies Got To Do With It?

woman-outside-blowing-noseWith the unseasonably warm winter we’ve been having down south, it goes without saying that this year is already panning out to be a high allergy year. To help protect you from a season of debilitating allergy symptoms, you need to understand the hormone-allergy connection.

All hormones work together synergistically, including sex hormones (progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone), adrenal hormones (such as cortisol) and thyroid hormones. When one is off balance, it creates a domino effect on how the others work in the body.

What does this have to do with allergies? Well, your thyroid governs the energy production in all the cells in your body. When you have adequate levels of thyroid hormone, you have an active metabolism, higher mental clarity, and more energy. You should also have a body temperature of 98.6, which is the temperature at which your body functions optimally. Conversely, when you have low thyroid, your temperature drops and your immune system takes a hit. A weakened immune system makes you highly susceptible to allergic reactions.

Many women complain that they didn’t have allergies until after having children. This is because a woman’s sex hormone production can often run sluggish after childbirth, which therefore affects all hormones, including thyroid. You see the connection? It is like pieces of a puzzle.

If you want to be allergy symptom-free this season, then be sure to stay in tune with your body. If you are still experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalance or low thyroid, then you should work with your provider to make proper adjustments.

To ensure that you never miss a day of hormones, enroll in our autofill program today. (You’ll save 10%, too!) Give us a call at (281) 828-9088 to sign up.

Best Hormones to Beat Holiday Stress

Stressed young woman in front of christmas treeIf you were alive in the 60’s and 70’s then you remember the buzz around Valium; the pill known for being every mother’s “little helper.” While still used for its anxiety-relieving effects, the results are only temporary. Instead of turning to a pharmaceutical drug, it’s important to address the underlying cause for more lasting results.

At this time of year, it’s tempting to look for a quick fix, so you can “just get through the holidays.” Because after all, the shopping, cooking, school functions, traveling and hosting add up quickly, causing you to become irritable, fatigued and anxious. So aside from incorporating healthy habits, like eating well and getting enough rest, what can you do to keep stress and anxiety at bay this year?

Your answer: take your hormones. Progesterone is an essential female hormone for managing stress. In fact, progesterone works directly with GABA receptors in your brain (just like an anti-anxiety medication would) to produce a calming effect. Without adequate levels of progesterone, you may begin to feel anxious, irritable and not able to sleep through the night. All of which are a nasty combo for such a joyous time of year.

Just as progesterone is ideal for women, testosterone is critical for men. One of testosterone’s most significant – and often unrecognized – benefits is its effect on brain function. Not only does it influence drive and decisiveness, but it helps with mood, anxiety, and stress, too.

For both men and women, adrenal hormones, such as cortisol and DHEA, are going to be your frontline stress-fighters. These hormones’ sole purpose is to help you to adapt to stress, whether minor or severe, and bring you back to a state of equilibrium. Depleted adrenals will leave you feeling too exhausted to enjoy your favorite holiday activities.

Something to also keep in mind this month is your toxic exposure. Toxins in our food and environment can disrupt hormonal balance. Small changes you can make to decrease your toxic load starting today are to:

  1. Use unscented clothing detergent.
  2. Shop organic when possible and on the outer edges of the grocery store.
  3. Try natural household cleaning products such as vinegar with lemon and thieves essential oils.
  4. Store and re-heat food in glass containers to limit BPA exposure.
  5. Drink out of glass or stainless steel water bottles.

It can be tough to avoid stress, especially during the holiday rush, but if you follow these simple tips, you will be able to enjoy the season rather than just survive it.

The Top 4 Things I Love About Cortisol

Woman Looking At Pill Bottle

In our fast-paced society, it seems almost impossible not to feel “stressed out” at least some of the time. While our adrenal glands do their best to pump out enough cortisol, our body’s stress hormone, sometimes they just can’t keep up. Unfortunately, cortisol gets a bad rap. If you’ve ever thought, “cortisol is going to make me fat,” then it might be time to give this adrenal champion a second look.

Here are the top 4 things I love about cortisol:

  1. Helps support thyroid function: Adrenal stress reduces your body’s ability to convert T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) to T3 (active thyroid hormone). By decreasing stress, it is easier for the thyroid conversion to happen, thereby enhancing your thyroid function.
  2. Enables us to react to stress: If our adrenal glands are fatigued, it looks a lot like depression since our thyroid won’t function properly. Consequently, we get anxious and have low moods.
  3. Helps regulate blood sugar: Cortisol is responsible for metabolizing carbs, protein and fat. Your body needs cortisol to get energy from fat stores to tissue that needs it.
  4. Has anti-inflammatory properties: Chronic inflammation can impair your immune system and lead to more serious illness, like heart disease. In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, cortisol helps regulate blood pressure.

If you’re worried about bloating or gaining weight on cortisol, you should know that this only happens when you have chronically elevated levels. It must be balanced with other hormones and dosed to optimal levels, so your provider’s experience with cortisol is important. Fortunately, the Hotze medical team has been recommending cortisol for decades, so you’re in good hands.

If you have questions about cortisol, contact one of your Hotze pharmacists any time, (281) 828-9088.