Category Archives: Meet Your Hormones

Steroid Hormones Part 2: Cortisol and Stress

Steroid Hormones Part 2: Cortisol and Stress

Cortisol

Cortisol is made in the adrenal cortex. It is primarily known for its role in our stress response by engaging the sympathetic nervous system (better known as “fight or flight”). Here’s the basic mechanism: We see a tiger. We need to run. In order to run we need energy. To have energy we need blood sugar. This is one of the functions of cortisol. It gets sugar into the blood stream so we can run from the tiger. The problem is when there really is not a tiger and no running is happening.

If we are constantly under stress, we keep getting the “run signal.” This pumps sugar into the blood stream. On the other side of the equation is insulin. Insulin’s job is to move sugar out of the blood and into cells, primarily to be used to produce energy. However, when there is not the need for energy the sugar needs to go into “storage.” We know that as fat. So, at the end of the day, and particularly when in excess both cortisol and insulin are fat storing hormones. They follow a simple rule. When cortisol goes up in your body, insulin will rise. When insulin rises, cortisol will go up with it. The same concept works the other way.

This is why stress management is so critical and why constant stress will lead to weight gain. It is also important to know that constant increases in cortisol will also cause decreases in thyroid hormone production and increases in estrogen production (more on that later).

To summarize the main activities of cortisol:

For the nervous system it manages our sympathetic response and plays a role in healthy mood and emotions.

For blood sugar management it recognizes when we need energy. When blood sugar levels become low through our normal activities it is role of cortisol to take action. It happens all day long. The problem becomes when we remain in a stress response. This ongoing excess can ultimately contribute to insulin resistance.

For the immune system in a normal mode it supports a healthy anti-inflammatory response. However, at high levels it can be immunosuppressive while at low levels the immune system may be unable to engage effectively.

It is interesting that as a steroid hormone cortisol has catabolic (state of breakdown); anabolic (rebuilding); and anti-inflammatory functions.

It is clear from the above discussion there are many adverse effects of high and prolonged stress. We will discuss some of these later in more detail, but for a quick short list consider the following implications of increased cortisol:

• Reduces fertility by lowering luteinizing hormone which impacts ovulation in females and testosterone production in males.

• Reduces the active thyroid hormone T3 as increased cortisol increases rT3 which suppresses T3.

• Creates estrogen dominance (to be discussed in more detail later in females and males.

• Decreases DHEA.

• Suppresses the immune system.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Mequon, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.

Steroid Hormones Part 1: Introduction, Cholesterol, Pregnenolone, and DHEA

Steroid Hormones Part 1: Introduction, Cholesterol, Pregnenolone, and DHEA


We now turn our attention to the steroid hormones, and particularly the sex hormones (a subset of the steroids). These hormones are made in a variety of organs and their production is linked with sex and life cycle. We will briefly discuss Pregnenolone, DHEA, and Cortisol, while our main emphasis will be on Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone (the sex hormones). We will learn how these hormones are impacted through both the male and female life cycle. And we will better understand the involvement of the ovaries, testicles, and adrenal glands in producing these hormones.

These hormones will work together and in opposition. One hormone may turn something “on” while another may turn that same function “off.” Some hormones may have what appear to us as similar functions, yet at the end of the day there is some interaction or synergistic effect that we experience, but not completely understand. (Perhaps this is where we get into trouble – when we think we know a little bit more about what is going on than we really do!)

The steroid hormones have a variety of roles. While we will get into more specific details later, at a high level this includes stress handling (which includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual stress); reproduction (both cellular and sexual); the production of energy; body repair and regeneration; healthy brain function (including mood, cognition, and memory); regulating blood sugar levels (which relates to energy production); supporting the immune system; and managing inflammation.

When discussing the steroid hormones we must return to this very important chart and remember it all starts with cholesterol. Yes, the substance that so many supposed experts are telling us is deadly. We do not have the time or space to have that discussion here, so you will have to take my word for it – we need cholesterol!

Pregnenolone

Pregnenolone is made from cholesterol mainly in the adrenal glands, but also in the liver, skin, brain, testicles, ovaries, and retina of the eyes. It is the precursor hormone for the entire steroid family. Pregnenolone has many functions of its own, but for our present discussion we need to be aware that it is converted to DHEA or progesterone for downstream functionality. Since we will be focusing mostly on the downstream sex hormones we will limit our discussion of pregnenolone.

How does the body decide between DHEA and progesterone? This is the native intelligence of the body and the entire endocrine system at work. The glands and the brain are communicating and setting priorities. However, the key factor to remember is that blood sugar and stress handling get top prioritization. If the body is under stress this favors conversion to progesterone which will be converted to cortisol.

What is the implication of this? It is common for a test result to show low DHEA. One accepted approach is to then supplement with DHEA. Guess what happens often times on the next test? Yes – the person is still low on DHEA. This is likely because the person is not suffering from a DHEA shortage! They are more likely under constant stress and the body is prioritizing cortisol.

DHEA

DHEA is made primarily in adrenal glands. Its main functions are to support blood sugar regulation; reduce fat; increase muscle mass; stimulate the immune system; enhance bone deposition and remodeling; reduce breast proliferation; improve libido; and decrease PMS. You will soon see that it is not alone in any of these functions.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Mequon, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.

The Adrenal Glands

There is an old saying that how well you live depends to a large extent upon how well your adrenal glands function. We have two adrenal glands, each about the size of a walnut, that sit on top of each kidney. The adrenals are best known as our stress handling glands, mobilizing us for survival via our “fight or flight” reaction, but have other important functions as well.

The adrenal glands produce a variety of steroid hormones that are responsible for stress handling; reproduction; sex hormones; energy production; body repair and regeneration; healthy brain function, mood, cognition, and memory; controlling fluid balance; and stabilizing blood sugar.

Let’s start with stress. The ability to handle stress is critical to our survival. Our body was designed to deal with stress and the adrenal glands have that primary responsibility. This is better known as our “fight or flight” response. Or as I like to explain it – see the tiger and we need to run. It is important to recognize that this response is to all types of stress – be they physical, mental, or emotional.

Stress comes from a variety of sources. There are the ones that we plainly see such as our work and our personal relationships. Other stressors that affect us but are not as obvious include the general environment; the chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis in our food and personal care products; air and water pollution; electromagnetic pollution; and this list goes on.

While our body was designed to handle stress, it was not designed to handle the constant stress that many people experience. Often people do not recognize their own stress level as they erroneously believe they are handling the stress, or it is how they always feel and do not notice a difference. Yet, their body is under constant stress from both conscious and unintended lifestyle and diet choices.

The key hormone you hear about in regards to stress is cortisol. When we are stressed it causes an increase in cortisol. Cortisol is made in the adrenal glands. If our body is constantly calling for cortisol production this puts an extra burden on the adrenal glands. In the long run this can lead to adrenal fatigue.

The key action of the stress response (the cortisol surge) is to run from the tiger. In order to run we need energy and to get energy we need an increase in our blood sugar levels. Cortisol causes blood sugar levels to rise. But, if there is no tiger, we are not running, and we now have excess blood sugar. The body does not like extra sugar in the blood. This causes the body to release the hormone insulin to move the sugar back out of the blood.

We are familiar with insulin from our previous carbohydrate discussions (http://brwellness.blogspot.com/2012/11/cut-carbs.html). As you remember excess insulin promotes fat storage. Insulin and cortisol move together. If one increases, the other does so as well. This puts the body in a fat storing mode. At the same time the adrenals are under stress to keep up the cortisol production. Again the body responds to protect the adrenals from overwork through lowering metabolism. Lowered metabolism also puts the body in a fat storing mode. I think you get the picture and can see the dynamic relationship between all the hormones as was previously outlined in Harrower’s Chart in the introductory article about hormones.

Following is a simple quiz to help you self-assess the state of your adrenals. Please note these are only some of the symptoms of low adrenal function. You will also note that many of them overlap with the symptoms we saw for low thyroid function. If you answer yes to a significant number of these questions, you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue.

· Do you have difficulty getting up in the morning?

· Do you have continuing fatigue, not relieved by sleep or rest?

· Do you feel lethargic and not have the energy to do daily activities?

· Do you have sugar cravings?

· Do you have salt cravings?

· Do you have allergies?

· Do you have digestion problems?

· Do you have a decreased interest in sex?

· Do you have a decreased ability to handle stress?

· Does it take you longer to recover from illness, injury, or trauma?

· Do you get light headed or dizzy when you stand up quickly?

· Do you have a low mood?

· Do you have less enjoyment or happiness in life?

· For women, is your PMS worse?

· Are your thoughts less focused? Do you have brain fog?

· Is your memory poorer?

· Do you not really wake up until after 10:00 AM?

· Do you have an afternoon low between 3:00 and 4:00 PM?

· Do you feel better after dinner?

· Do you get a “second wind” in the evening and stay up late?

· Are you less productive?

· Do you feel overwhelmed by all that has to be done?

· Does it take all your energy to do what you have to do and then have none left over for anything else?

Like the thyroid there is a self test you can do at home which can indicate weakened adrenal glands. It is the inguinal ligament test. The inguinal ligament attaches to the sartorious (which functions to hold the pelvis downward and forward). If the muscle goes weak the pelvis will tilt backwards pulling on the inguinal ligament on that side causing tenderness. If the muscle is tense or tender it indicates weak adrenals. The way to determine this is to palpate the muscle in its upper and lower sections for tenderness. The inguinal ligament goes from the point of the hip bone (ASIS) to the pubic bone along what I call the “crease” where the leg meets the torso. Be willing to use some force when palpating. There will be a difference to feel if push hard enough.

The next logical question is what can I do to improve the health of my adrenal glands? The simple answer is to look at your diet and lifestyle and make the necessary changes.

· Are you getting enough sleep?

· Are you getting enough exercise? Are you getting too much exercise? (Believe it or not there are quite a few people out there who over-exercise or engage in exercises that are increasing their stress response.)

· Do you know stress management techniques you can use to relax yourself and provide relief from the stress response?

· How is my diet influencing my blood sugar and insulin levels? (Remember insulin and cortisol move together, so too much sugar puts additional stress on the adrenal glands.)

In addition to dietary modifications and implementing stress reduction techniques natural solutions to adrenal fatigue are similar to that of the thyroid (and in fact a similar methodology is used for all endocrine issues). Natural solutions for low adrenal function include animal glandular extracts without hormones, specific nutrients, and herbal remedies. The nutrients will be targeted at the specific underlying cause. For example, where Vitamin C or copper is deficient it will be supplemented.

The purpose of the natural solution is to provide the nutrition the adrenal gland needs to resume and support proper function. Just providing hormones does not address the underlying deficiencies and ultimately the health of the gland. In the long run it may make things worse. The negative feedback loop employed by the body tells it there is sufficient hormone in the blood stream so the adrenal glands do not receive any signals to make hormones.

It is important to remember that the adrenal gland is producing a wide variety of hormones, so supplementing with specific hormones may throw the entire system even more out of balance, by creating additional communications challenges for the endocrine system. Therefore, except for extreme cases, it may be best to start with glandular and nutrient support and allow the body to bring itself back into balance naturally.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Mequon, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.

The Thyroid Gland

Perhaps of all the endocrine glands in the body, the thyroid gets the most attention. And it well should. Many of us know someone who has been told they are “hypothyroid” or are on medications for low thyroid. Why is the thyroid so important? Its main function is to control metabolism. Since all cells need this information, all cells in the body have receptor sites for thyroid hormones, thus it affects the operation of all body processes and internal organs.

The thyroid gland helps control body temperature. People who are experiencing cold hands and feet may have low thyroid function. In children it helps control of the body’s rate of growth. It also greatly influences mood and emotion through its action on brain chemistry. One of its lesser known functions is to work in conjunction with the parathyroid gland to balance blood calcium levels and regulate the breakdown of bone tissue.

The thyroid receives the most extensive blood supply of all the endocrine glands. In fact, all your blood goes through the thyroid every 17 minutes!

The main hormones produced by the thyroid gland are thyroxine (better known as T4) and triiodothyroxine (T3). These hormones are based on iodine. T3 is the active form, yet the body produces more T4. Therefore, T4 needs to be converted into T3. Seventy five percent of this conversion is done in the liver and kidneys. Selenium, Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin E are required for this process. So, from a nutritional perspective the thyroid is dependent upon the trace minerals iodine, zinc, and selenium; Vitamins C, B12, and E; and having healthy livers and kidneys.

Many of us know people who have been told they have low thyroid function. Following is a simple quiz to help you self-assess the state of your thyroid. Please note these are only some of the symptoms of low thyroid function (hypothyroidism). If you have answered yes to 3 or more of these questions, consider having your thyroid function tested. This is often done with a blood test.

· Do you have severe fatigue and find it hard to get up in the mornings?

· Do you have generalized low energy?

· Do you need caffeine and/or other stimulants to get you going?

· Do you have family history of thyroid disease?

· Is it easy for you to gain weight?

· Do you have difficulty losing weight?

· Do you have dry skin?

· Do you have constipation?

· For women, are your menstrual cycles irregular?

· Do you suffer from mood swings?

· Is your hair thinning?

· Is the outer third of your eyebrows missing or thinning?

· Is your hair dry/brittle?

· Do you have low sex drive?

· Do you note any forgetfulness?

· Do you have high cholesterol?

· Do you have low blood pressure?

· Do you suffer from depression?

· Is your skin yellow?

Of course the big question is what may be the underlying cause of the above conditions. There are four common types of hypothyroid problems. One or more of these may apply.

The first is functional hypothyroidism from weakened adrenal glands due to prolonged stress. Our adrenal glands are very important and the stress response is critical to our survival. When the body is under constant stress the adrenal glands are over working. In order to protect the adrenal glands (and our survival) the pituitary gland directs the thyroid to slow down all processes. In this case it is actually the adrenal glands that need support rather than the thyroid.

Second is functional hypothyroidism caused by Estrogen Dominance – an imbalance of levels of estrogen and progesterone. We will go into this in more detail when we discuss these hormones. For purposes here it is suffice to say that estrogen and progesterone work together and are most effective when within a specific ratio to each other. When this ratio is out of balance (which can occur in a variety of ways) in favor of estrogen this is estrogen dominance. This is a common condition today and it is just not women, it occurs in men too. The high levels of estrogen cause a reaction in the body where thyroid hormones are reduced. So, as with the adrenal glands above, the solution here is to figure out why estrogen and progesterone are out of balance.

Third is a deficiency of nutrients required for normal thyroid hormone synthesis, release, and function. This is generally an iodine deficiency, but can be other nutrients as well. Without sufficient iodine the thyroid will not function optimally. This too is a common condition in today’s world given prevailing diets.

Fourth is thyroid disease (primary hypothyroidism). There are several different thyroid diseases, such as goiter, nodules, Grave’s Disease or Hashimoto’s Disease (an autoimmune disease). In many cases thyroid disease is an outcome of not resolving the first three underlying causes discussed above.

While thyroid function is often tested via the blood there are two self-tests that can be performed. When thyroid malfunction is suspected these tests can assist in early identification. Often it takes longer for signs to show in the blood. These tests show a gland under stress. A blood test shows when it has impacted the hormones.

The first is the Barnes Thyroid Test which measures body temperature. You need a basal thermometer (goes from 96 to 100 degrees) to perform the test. The basal thermometer is also called an ovulation thermometer. To perform the test you take your temperature every morning before getting out of bed. Keep the thermometer by your bed. When you wake up put the thermometer under your armpit for 10 minutes (skin to skin). This should be done for five days. Take the average of the five days. Normal is between 97.8 and 98.2 degrees. Hyperthyroid is greater than 98.2 degrees. Hypothyroid is less than 97.8 degrees. For women it is best to do this test early in their menstrual cycle and not near ovulation as temperature is naturally higher.

The second test is the Iodine Patch Test. This is based on the fact that the thyroid needs iodine to function correctly. To do this test you will need colored iodine tincture which is available in any drugstore. You will paint 3” x 3” spot on your inner thigh, inner arm, or stomach. It is best to paint during the evening and go to sleep. When you wake up record any color changes. With normal thyroid function you should see no color change. A deficient thyroid gland body will absorb the iodine and you will no color left on the spot you painted. If the spot fades completely within 12 hours that is indicative of low thyroid function. Ideally the spot will remain for at least 24 hours. The quicker the spot fades, the more thyroid support is likely needed.

Many people are treated with the medication Synthroid or Levothyroxine for hypothyroidism. It is important to know that this and many similar medications are only T4. Therefore, they still need to be converted into T3 for your body to use them. If long standing nutritional deficiencies are at the root of the low functioning thyroid this may continue to contribute to the body not being able to make this important conversion. Some practitioners will prescribe Armour Thyroid, a product containing both T4 and T3 which has been found to be more effective for some people.

Natural solutions for low thyroid function include dietary changes, animal glandular extracts without hormones, specific nutrients, and herbal remedies. The nutrients will be targeted at the specific underlying cause. For example, where iodine is deficient it will be supplemented.

The purpose of the natural solution is to provide the nutrition the thyroid gland needs to resume and support proper function. Just providing hormones does not address the underlying deficiencies and ultimately the health of the gland. In the long run it may make things worse. The negative feedback loop employed by the body tells it there is sufficient hormone in the blood stream so the thyroid does not receive any signals to make hormone. As the thyroid is not utilized further deterioration may occur and the person becomes completely dependent on external sources of the hormone. This deterioration may also lead to autoimmune diseases of the thyroid.

It is important to know that some people also suffer from an over-active thyroid or hyperthyroidism. Often times this precedes hypothyroidism. Typical symptoms include: insomnia, nervousness, cannot gain weight, intolerance to heat, highly emotional, flush easily, night sweats, heart palpitations, increased appetite without weight gain, pulse fast at rest, eyelids and face twitch, irritable and restless, or cannot work under pressure.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Mequon, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.

Meet Your Hormones – The Endocrine System – Part 2

In Part 1 of this article I introduced the endocrine system. The overview continues here. Following is a brief overview of the glands, the hormone(s) they produce, and the function of those hormones.

Future articles will provide more details.

Pineal gland

Melatonin – sleep regulation, internal clock.

Hypothalamus

Produces several releasing hormones and inhibiting hormones. The releasing hormones stimulate the anterior pituitary to release hormones. The inhibiting hormones stop the anterior pituitary from secreting hormones. The major releasing hormones are:

Thyroid releasing hormone (TRH) – stimulates pituitary to release TSH.

Corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) – stimulates pituitary to release ACTH.

Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) – stimulates pituitary to release FSH and LH.

Pituitary

The pituitary gland produces different hormones from its anterior and posterior parts.

The anterior pituitary secretes hormones to stimulate additional hormones. It receives its instructions from the hypothalamus.

Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) – stimulates secretion of thyroid hormones.

Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) – stimulates secretion of adrenal cortex hormones.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) – In females stimulates development of ovarian follicles and secretion of estrogen; in males stimulates testes to grow and produce sperm.

Luteinizing hormone (LH) – In females stimulates maturation of ovarian follicle and ovum; stimulates secretion of estrogen; triggers ovulation; and stimulates development of corpus luteum. In males stimulates interstitial cells of the testes to secrete testosterone.

Growth hormone (GH) – Stimulates growth in all organs; mobilizes food molecules, causing an increase in blood glucose concentration.

Prolactin (lactogenic hormone) – Stimulates breast development during pregnancy and milk secretion after pregnancy.

The posterior pituitary secretes ADH and oxytocin.

Antidiuretic hormone (ADH) – Stimulates retention of water by the kidneys.

Oxytocin – Stimulates uterine contractions at the end of pregnancy; stimulates the release of milk into the breast ducts; and plays a role in sexual arousal in males and non-nursing females (sometimes called the “cuddling hormone”).


Thyroid

Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3) – Stimulate the energy metabolism of all cells.

Calcitonin – Inhibits the breakdown of bone; causes a decrease in blood calcium concentration.

Parathyroid

Parathyroid hormone (PTH) – Stimulates the breakdown of bone; causes an increase in blood calcium concentration.

Thymus

Thymosin – Promotes development of immune system cells.

Pancreas

Glucagon – Stimulates liver glycogenolysis, causing an increase in blood glucose concentration.

Insulin – Promotes glucose entry into all cells, causing a decrease in blood glucose concentration.


Adrenal

Mineralocorticoids: aldosterone – Regulates electrolyte and fluid homeostasis.

Glucocorticoids: cortisol (hydrocortisone) – Stimulates gluconeogenesis, causing an increase in blood glucose concentration; also have anti-inflammatory and anti-immunity, anti-allergy effects.

Sex hormones – the adrenals produce “female” hormones in males (estrogen, progesterone) and “male” hormones in females (testosterone).

Epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine – Prolong and intensify the sympathetic nervous response during stress.


Ovary (Female)

Estrogen – Promotes development and maintenance of female sexual characteristics.

Progesterone – Promotes conditions required for pregnancy.


Testes (Male)

Testosterone – Promotes development and maintenance of male sexual characteristics.

Fat Storing Cells

Leptin – Controls how hungry or full we feel.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Mequon, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.

Meet Your Hormones – The Endocrine System – Part 1

Many experts agree that your body’s most important functional system is the endocrine system. It is composed of glands (the endocrine glands) that produce hormones that control everything happening in the body. So, it’s time to meet your hormones. Or, as one of my favorite clients called them: her “horror-mones!”

Hormones are very powerful biological chemicals produced in very small amounts by the endocrine glands. Hormone levels are precisely and carefully monitored and controlled by the body. They are released into the blood stream and carried to specific cells to initiate specific activities; regulating, controlling, and coordinating all body functions. Many hormones are made at additional tissue sites as well as their “parent” gland. You can think of this as your body’s own inherent back-up system.

Hormones from the different endocrine glands interact with each other in complex ways. One of the best illustrations of this I have seen is from endocrinologist Dr. Henry Harrower. You can see this below or follow this link: http://naturalhealthtechniques.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Harrowers_chart_Endocrine_Imbalance.gif

Proper nutrition is critical for the endocrine glands. Each gland relies on a specific trace mineral to support its normal physiology and biochemistry. We consume these trace minerals when we eat real foods from both plant and animal sources. Without sufficient amounts of these minerals the glands will not function properly ultimately leading to a variety of symptoms in the body. We will discuss these symptoms in more detail later when we explore each gland.

The endocrine gland and its associated trace mineral are as follows: pituitary (manganese); thyroid (iodine); adrenal (copper); pancreas (chromium); prostate/uterus (zinc); and testes/ovaries (selenium). The other major endocrine glands are the hypothalamus, pineal, parathyroid, thymus, and believe it or not – your fat cells.

Here are a few more basics about hormones to provide you with additional background. Each human cell has receptor sites. You can think of these as ‘gates” located on the cell membrane that control the entry of hormones and other bio-chemicals into the cells. These receptors determine if and how effectively a hormone message is received.

There are a variety of scenarios in which these sites are not functioning optimally. They can become “resistant” to the hormone meaning more of the hormone is required to deliver the message. You may have heard of “insulin resistance” a condition that often precedes diabetes. In other cases an excess of one hormone may block the gate of another, or another substance may mimic a hormone and block a receptor site (this is called a xenohormone).

Hormones exist two ways in the blood stream. Protein-bound hormones are considered inactive (as they are bound to a protein). “Free” hormones are the active form that is able to bind to cell receptors and initiate the cellular response.

Hormones have a lag time from secretion to activation that ranges from seconds to hours. They are either amino acid based or steroid based (gonadal, adrenal). The liver and the kidney flush excess hormones out of the body.

The main control of the endocrine system rests in the hypothalamus-pituitary axis (or H-P axis). The hypothalamus is part of the limbic system so it is in the brain and receives information which it relays to the pituitary. The pituitary is also known as “the master gland” because it sends information to other endocrine glands based on what it has learned from the hypothalamus.

In Part 2 of this article we will take a brief look at each gland, the hormone(s) it produces, and the basic function of those hormones.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Mequon, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.

November 2013 Newsletter – Meet Your “Horror-mones”

Meet Your Hormones – Learn About the Endocrine System

This month I begin my series of articles about hormones, or as one of my favorite clients refers to them as her “horror-mones.” The basic biology is the endocrine system is composed of glands that produce hormones. These biological agents pretty much control everything about us! I’ll leave it at that for now and encourage you to read the articles as I roll them out over the next few months!

On a local note I’d like to thank everyone who attended our introductory meeting for our local chapter of the Weston Price Foundation. The room at Slow Pokes was packed and unfortunately we were not able to accommodate everyone who expressed interest! Therefore, we have decided to have another introductory meeting later this month. I will send out an e-mail to announce that meeting.

Also on a local note my two part series called “From Head to Toe: What Your Body is Telling You” starts this Wednesday at the Mequon Rec Center. It is one of my favorite talks to give. There is still room to sign up and the event is free. For more information click here:
http://brwellness.blogspot.com/2013/03/rosen-wellness-2013-events.html

Meet Your Hormones – The Endocrine System – Part 1

Many experts would argue that among your body’s functional systems the most important is the endocrine system. It is composed of glands (the endocrine glands) that produce hormones that control everything that is happening in our body. So, it’s time to meet your hormones. Or, as one of my favorite clients called them: her “horror-mones!”

Hormones are very powerful biological chemicals that are produced in very small amounts by our endocrine glands. They are released into the blood stream and carried to specific cells where they initiate specific activities. They regulate, control, and coordinate all body functions. Many hormones are made at additional tissue sites as well as their “parent” gland. You can think of this as your body’s own inherent back-up system. They are powerful in very tiny amounts so their levels are precisely and carefully monitored and controlled by the body.

For the rest of the story click here: http://brwellness.blogspot.com/2013/11/meet-your-hormones-endocrine-system.html

Nutrition Turkeys

With Thanksgiving approaching, perhaps I can be among the first to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. If you’ve been reading the last few newsletters I’ve been talking about Weston Price and other early nutrition pioneers and linking to articles about them. I also have an article on two of the early “turkeys” of nutrition – yes the inventors of the Graham Cracker and Kellogg’s Cereal.

To read about these two nutrition “turkeys” click here: http://brwellness.blogspot.com/2010/02/nutrition-bad-guys-graham-and-kellogg.html

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Mequon, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.

Meet Your Hormones: The Endocrine System – Part 1

Many experts would argue that among your body’s functional systems the most important is the endocrine system. It is composed of glands (the endocrine glands) that produce hormones that control everything that is happening in our body. So, it’s time to meet your hormones. Or, as one of my favorite clients called them: her “horror-mones!”

Hormones are very powerful biological chemicals that are produced in very small amounts by our endocrine glands. They are released into the blood stream and carried to specific cells where they initiate specific activities. They regulate, control, and coordinate all body functions. Many hormones are made at additional tissue sites as well as their “parent” gland. You can think of this as your body’s own inherent back-up system. They are powerful in very tiny amounts so their levels are precisely and carefully monitored and controlled by the body.

Hormones from the different endocrine glands interact with each other in complex ways to coordinate the body’s systems. One of the best illustrations of this I have seen is from endocrinologist Dr. Henry Harrower. You can see this below or follow this link:

http://naturalhealthtechniques.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Harrowers_chart_Endocrine_Imbalance.gif

Proper nutrition is critical for the endocrine glands. Each of the major glands relies on a specific trace mineral to support its normal physiology and biochemistry. We consume these trace minerals when we eat real foods from both plant and animal sources. If we do not consume sufficient amounts of these minerals the glands will not function properly which will ultimately lead to a variety of symptoms in the body. More on this later when we look at each gland.

The endocrine gland and its associated trace mineral are as follows: pituitary (manganese); thyroid (iodine); adrenal (copper); pancreas (chromium); prostate/uterus (zinc); and testes/ovaries (selenium). The other major endocrine glands are the hypothalamus, pineal, parathyroid, thymus, and believe it or not – your fat cells.

A few more basics about hormones to provide you with additional background. On each human cell are receptor sites. You can think of these as ‘gates” located on the cell membrane that control the entry of hormones and other bio-chemicals into the cells. These receptors determine if and how effectively a hormone message is received.

There are a variety of scenarios in which these sites are not functioning optimally. They can become “resistant” to the hormone meaning more of the hormone is required to deliver the message. You may have heard of the term “insulin resistance” a condition that often precedes diabetes. In other cases an excess of one hormone may block the gate of another, or another substance may mimic a hormone and block a receptor site (this is called a xenohormone).

Hormones exist in two formats in the blood stream. Protein-bound hormones are considered inactive (as they are bound to a protein). “Free” hormones are the active form that is able to bind to cell receptors and initiate the cellular response.

The main control of the endocrine system rests in the hypothalamus-pituitary axis (or H-P axis). The hypothalamus is part of the limbic system so it is in the brain and receives information which it relays to the pituitary. The pituitary is also known as “the master gland” because it sends information to all the endocrine glands based on what it has learned from the hypothalamus.

In Part 2 of this article we will take a brief look at each gland, the hormone(s) it produces, and the basic function of those hormones.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Mequon, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.