Category Archives: Meet Your Hormones

June 2017 Newsletter: Some Thoughts on Graceful Aging, Intermittent Fasting, and MSG

Thanks for all the enthusiasm for last month’s Open House! It was awesome! Once again we managed to get over 30 people accommodated comfortably in the office. And once again special thanks to my wife, Susana, for preparing lots of yummy and healthy food for the event!
We had great discussion about graceful aging and anti-inflammatory diets. The two main takeaways:

1. Graceful aging depends on a multitude of factors chief among them are the health of the endocrine system/hormonal balance and diet. We learned about the main endocrine glands and hormones and natural ways to support them. (See below for more information and links to articles I’ve written on the subject.)

2. There are many different “anti-inflammatory” diets out there. They have certain commonalities as most are gluten and dairy free, limit other grains, sugar, and processed food. Then you get more specifics – Paleo, Westin Price, histamines, FODMAPS, GAPS, SCD, salicylates, phenols, oxalates, glutamates, etc. In some of these diets we see that foods that are generally considered to be healthy (such as fruits and vegetables) contain certain chemicals that disturb select people. This leads to the possible conclusion that it is less about the food and more about the health of the digestive system.

Because of this….

I am pleased to announce the next Open House which will be Thursday, July 20 at 7:00 PM at my office. The featured topic will be Digestion. After May’s Open House I had multiple requests for this subject. While it is important to eat a healthy diet it is also critical to digest it properly!

One of the main points I made about the variety of anti-inflammatory diets is that many people have something disturbing their digestion, which is the reason they are inflamed by so many foods. We’ll explore signs of dysbiosis (poor digestion), how digestion is supposed to work, what can go wrong, and what to do about it! I hope you can join us. Watch for the official announcement and registration in early July.

The office will be closed on Wednesday May 31 and Thursday June 1 in observance of Shavuot. The office will also be closed on Tuesday June 13, Wednesday June 14, and the morning of Thursday June 15 as I will be moving my residence. Please keep those dates in mind.

The Key to Graceful Again – Meet Your Hormones
One of the major determinants of how graceful we age for both women and men is the health of our endocrine system and the hormones it produces. 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.

For the rest of this article click here: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=68

Here are links for the series of articles on hormones:

The second part of this article: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=67

The Thyroid Gland: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=65

The Adrenal Glands: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=64

Steroid Hormones Part 1: Introduction, Cholesterol, Pregnenolone, and DHEA: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=63

Steroid Hormones Part 2: Cortisol and Stress: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=62

Steroid Hormones Part 3: Introduction to Testosterone, Estrogen, and Progesterone: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=61

Steroid Hormones Part 4: Female and Male Life Cycles: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=60

Steroid Hormones Part 5: Hormonal Imbalances: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=59

What’s the Best Way to Lose Weight?
This is one of the great questions of our times and one I am asked quite frequently. Many of my clients (and myself) will use the “cleanse” (the Standard Process 21-Day Purification Program) or another version of that program. Another technique which seems to get more and more press all the time is intermittent fasting. Dr. Mercola is a big believer. Sometimes I’m skeptical about some of the things he pushes, but in the Spring 2017 Wise Traditions from the Weston Price Foundation there was an article about it.

Here’s the link: https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/couch-potatoes-marathon-runners/. Here’s a link to the Mercola website for more details on how to do it: http://www.mercola.com/infographics/intermittent-fasting.htm

I’ve never tried it myself. I am strongly considering it so I can have some actual experience with it, and perhaps lose a few extra pounds myself! Have any of you ever tried this or are doing it? If so, I’d love to hear about your experiences! Please send an email and I can share them in next month’s newsletter.

Added Bonus Article – The Dangers of MSG
This article was also in the Spring 2017 Wise Traditions. I always knew MSG was dangerous. I have an allergy to it and remember many migraines from Chinese food until I figured it out. This article links MSG to weight gain and obesity. I believe you’ll find it interesting and informative.
Here’s the link: https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/msg-three-little-letters-spell-big-fat-trouble/

April 2017 Newsletter: Four Hot Topics of Natural Health

Thanks for all the enthusiasm for last month’s Open House! It was awesome! Somehow we got all 30 people comfortable in the office. Also special thanks to my wife, Susana, for suggesting the idea and then preparing all the yummy and healthy food for the event!

We had great discussion and learning related to four topics:

First, we talked about the importance of the lymphatic system for proper drainage of waste and toxins from the body. While I was tongue-in-cheek with my yoga pants remarks, it is a valid point. Tight yoga pants (as well as other tight clothes) restrict the flow of lymph. Over time this can cause a wide variety of health issues from increased toxicity. We demonstrated some simple muscle testing techniques to see if additional lymph drainage support was required. If you want more information on this check out the March 2017 newsletter.

Second, we learned about auto-immune disease. We learned what causes it and what can be done from a natural perspective to prevent and reverse these diseases. Look for a feature article on this topic in next month’s newsletter. If this is relevant to you now and you would like to learn more now about a natural solution please call the office and schedule an appointment.

Third, we talked about the importance of the brain and the nervous system to overall health. Without proper balance in these systems it is difficult for complete healing to occur. We demonstrated some simple muscle testing techniques to see if the brain and nervous system are balanced. And, we saw which supplements can help bring the body back to balance.

Fourth, we learned about the nutritional deficiencies caused by hormone based birth control methods and how these specific deficiencies are strongly associated with depression, low energy, and thyroid issues which seem to affect significant numbers of women. Please see the article below for more detail on this topic.

I am pleased to announce the next Open House which will be Thursday, May 4 at 7:00 PM at my office. I’m planning to discuss two topics which emerged from feedback from the Open House. They will be Graceful Aging for Women and Men and The Anti-Inflammatory Diet.

Nutritional Deficiencies Caused by Hormone Based Birth Control
What you will read below is how the nutrients depleted by hormone based birth control pills play a major role in overall health and may be directly responsible for some of the issues experienced by the women using them including: depression, low energy, and thyroid issues.

Birth control is big business! It is marketed for a variety of purposes to women aged 10-60! They are claimed to make periods “regular”, “lighter”, or “less painful”; to relieve menstrual headaches; to control endometriosis; to clear acne; to help with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome; to help with peri-menopausal changes; and “may lower” ovarian and endometrial cancer risk. Whether or not they live up to these claims is highly debatable.

These oral contraceptives are marketed as “hormones”, but they are not natural – they are synthetic estrogens and progesterone. As such, they do not act the same of natural hormones. In fact they are suppressing the normal cycle, not “regulating” it. They create a false period. One of the ways the female body clears toxins is through the monthly shedding of the uterine lining. This “false period” creates the condition where there is less cleansing of toxins.

For the rest of the article click here: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=737

Improving Health One Client at a Time

I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn from the best and do my part to pass it along to my clients. It is a joy to see my clients improve their health.

“Thank you so much!! Your care is tremendous and I’m so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with you!! Thanks again!!”

Nutrient Deficiencies Caused by Hormone-based Birth Control

Note: This article is not intended as a debate about birth control. It is intended to offer education regarding nutritional deficiencies that are known to be caused by the use of hormone based birth control. Most medications have known associated nutrient depletions. There are multiple books available on this subject. While the books are helpful in listing the depletions, they do not discuss the ramifications of these deficiencies. The purpose of this article is to take that next step and help individuals make better informed decisions. If you use or intend to use this form of birth control, you may want to consider nutritional supplementation.

What you will read below is how the nutrients depleted by hormone based birth control pills play a major role in overall health and may be directly responsible for some of the issues experienced by the women using them including: depression, low energy, and thyroid issues.

Birth control is big business! It is marketed for a variety of purposes to women aged 10-60! They are claimed to make periods “regular”, “lighter”, or “less painful”; to relieve menstrual headaches; to control endometriosis; to clear acne; to help with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome; to help with peri-menopausal changes; and “may lower” ovarian and endometrial cancer risk. Whether or not they live up to these claims is highly debatable.

These oral contraceptives are marketed as “hormones”, but they are not natural – they are synthetic estrogens and progesterone. As such, they do not act the same of natural hormones. In fact they are suppressing the normal cycle, not “regulating” it. They create a false period. One of the ways the female body clears toxins is through the monthly shedding of the uterine lining. This “false period” creates the condition where there is less cleansing of toxins.

There are numerous known side effects including headaches, vomiting, unclear speech, dizziness, weakness or numbness in arms or legs, chest pain, coughing blood, shortness of breath, rash, heavy bleeding, blood clots, stroke, leg pain, altered vision, stomach pain, loss of appetite, tired, weak, fever, swelling, and depression. In fact, many women quickly discontinue usage due to these side effects.

It is likely that many of these side effects are associated with the nutrient depletions. Following is a very brief description of the key impacts of some of these nutrients:

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) and Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): These have many functions, but a major one is the tryptophan pathway. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and a precursor to melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin is a key anti-oxidant and important for sleep; serotonin is important for mood. Depression is associated with lack of serotonin.

Vitamin B2 is also an integral part of enzymes involved in oxidation reduction reactions that drive cell respiration. What does that mean? It is critical in our cell making energy for our body. It also supports the function of antioxidant enzymes and interacts with the other B vitamins. It promotes a healthy immune system and regulates the activity of 50 of our enzymes.

Vitamin B6 plays an important role in our metabolic reactions, specifically amino acid metabolism (making proteins for your body to use in building itself) and glycogen utilization (blood sugar control). B6 also acts as a co-enzyme for 100 other enzymes that play key roles in many biological processes. It is also involved in supporting the production of hormones and neurotransmitters – the chemicals that are directing all your body’s activities.

Vitamin B9 (Folate): Folate is key to the process of methylation which covers just about everything our body does – from clearing of toxins to energy production to neurotransmitter regulation to DNA replication. Folate is critical to the metabolism of nucleic acids and amino acids. Because of this, it supports overall growth and development and blood cell formation and supports normal growth of the fetus.

Vitamin B12: Shortages of B12 can cause anemia. B12 is a cofactor for two, yet very important enzymes. One is used for methionine metabolism. Methionine is an essential amino acid. The other enzyme aids in producing energy from proteins and fats. Overall B12 supports the nervous system, promotes the maturation of red blood cells (hence the tie to anemia when deficient in B12) and other cells, and supports bone and joint health.

Vitamin C: Many functions, chief among them immune system support. Vitamin C is also involved in forming collagen which is in our connective tissue. It also facilitates iron absorption and assists in cholesterol metabolism. So it is helping the blood, cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems.

Zinc: Many functions, main co-factor in many biological processes plus immune system support. Zinc supports the formation of many enzymes and insulin. The same insulin we need for blood sugar control. It also assists with wound healing, reproductive organ growth and development, and metabolism of phosphorus, carbohydrates, and proteins. Putting it simply – zinc helps many body processes work.

Magnesium: Many functions and most people are deficient even without being on hormonal birth control. Magnesium aids in enzyme activation; helps metabolize blood sugar; supports healthy nerve and muscle function; assists in forming bones and teeth; and plays a role in nucleic acid, protein, carbohydrate, and fat synthesis.

Tyrosine: A building block of thyroid hormone. Shortage of tyrosine can then lead to low thyroid symptoms.

Selenium: Many functions, among them converting thyroid hormones from storage form (T4) to available form (T3) and for breast health. Selenium supports a healthy immune system response, prostaglandin production (hormone precursors), and healthy reproductive, pancreatic, and thyroid functions.

CoQ10: A key nutrient for energy production in the mitochondria.

It is evident that the nutrients depleted by hormone based birth control pills play a major role in overall health. When we look at three main health concerns of women today (depression, low energy, and thyroid issues) there is a very strong association between these symptoms and the nutrient being depleted by birth control pills.

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.

March 2016 Newsletter – March on Minerals!

March on Minerals!
Hard to believe it is March 1, especially as I look out my window and see some snow coming down! Fortunately it does not look like the 4-8 inches that they were predicting last night!

In a couple of weeks the NCAA’s March Madness begins – several crazy weeks of college basketball coming up! On the theme of madness and crazy this month’s newsletter looks at minerals. Why? Certain minerals are calming to the nervous system. They’ll help us cope with the pressure of how our bracket is doing in the office pool!

But in all seriousness, minerals are essential to our life. While minerals in general are involved in all our functions there are specific minerals that are utilized by specific endocrine glands. See below for the minerals and glands pairings.

The only way to get minerals is to eat them! Our bodies do not make them. Please enjoy the articles below on the importance of minerals.


Magnesium and Calcium: Are You Deficient?

We hear a lot about the importance of calcium and magnesium to our health. I’ve attended several seminars recently where this was emphasized. One presenter said he checks for calcium, magnesium, and other minerals on all his clients. Why are minerals so important to us? They assist the body in energy production – minerals contain no calories or energy. They work with vitamins and enzymes to fuel all our metabolic processes. Our health cannot be optimized if these processes are impaired.

For the rest of the article click here: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=675

Links to Additional Articles on Minerals

Here’s some additional articles on minerals:
The Three Minerals You Need to Balance Your Nervous System: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=33

Know Your Nutrients – A Few More Important Minerals: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=154

Minerals for A Strong Immune System: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=161

Minerals for Healthy Bones: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=168

Minerals and Glands
As mentioned above specific minerals are essential to the proper functioning of specific glands in the body. Here is a list:
Pituitary Gland – Manganese
Thyroid Gland – Iodine
Pancreas – Chromium
Adrenal Gland – Copper
Prostate Gland and Uterus – Zinc
Testicles and Ovaries – Selenium

For more information on the endocrine glands here’s the link to the page that links to all my previous articles: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?cat=11

For more information on the prostate gland here’s two articles:
Healthy Prostate Part 1: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=265

Healthy Prostate Part 2: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=264

April 2015 Newsletter: No April Fool’s Here: Serious Stuff for Your Health

I hope you are enjoying the series of articles based on the book Body by Science. This month’s newsletter features the third installment discussing the all important area of the hormonal impact of exercise. Unfortunately this is one of the most misunderstood aspects of exercise. While exercise has many benefits, improper exercise can create hormone imbalances. Hormones determine and drive most of our body’s functions, thus hormone imbalances can be at the root of many disturbing symptoms. For a refresher on hormones click here: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?cat=11

One of the best newsletters I receive is from Dr. Bruce West. Each month is packed with valuable information. His February issue was one of the best ever and I wanted to share a few of his nutritional nuggets from that issue. This article follows below.


New stuff in the office: Supplements for pets and water tests.

Did you know that almost 70% of pets in U.S. households are on medications? I was shocked, but I guess not surprised when I read that in an article about Pfizer’s pet drug division. Many of my clients have pets at home and they are just concerned about their pet’s health as their own. Standard Process has an excellent line of pet products, particularly for cats, dogs, and horses. I have several clients who are aware of this and I am able to supply them with product. If you are interested let me know.

Ever wonder if your water supply is safe. I’ve come across some easy do it yourself home water tests from Silver Lake Research. I have in stock the well water test kit ($25) and the city water test kit ($20). For more information on the test kits you can click here: https://www.discovertesting.com/products/display_products_overviews.sd?iid=1&headtitle=Drinking%20Water%20Test%20Kits
If you are interested give me a call or send an email.


Exercise and Hormones: Fat Burning (Yes) and Fat Storing (oh no!)

I have recently introduced you to the book Body by Science by Doug McDuff, MD and John Little. This book offers a clear explanation of the actual science of exercise, how activity relates to hormones, and how this determines what happens in your body. In short, it answers the question I am frequently asked. “Why am I gaining weight when I am working out every day?”

In the introductory article I summarized his key points. In this article I will address one of those key points. The effectiveness of exercise is all about hormones, fat metabolism and blood glucose levels. Hormones signal the body to burn fat and to store fat. High intensity training works the major muscle groups to exhaustion, uses up glucose, and encourages the body to burn fat and build muscle.

For the rest of the article click here: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=21


Nutritional Nuggets from Dr. Bruce West

One of my favorite nutrition publications I get is Health Alert by Dr. Bruce West. Each month I look forward to the latest edition. The official title is Health Alert: When All Other Treatments Fail. I think you get the picture. Dr. West is a Chiropractor and a big fan of Standard Process products. He is also a big fan of the truth. February’s issue was full of juicy nuggets that I’d like to share.

Nugget #1: Almost all treatment for heart disease is unnecessary!

Nugget #2: Artificial sweeteners cause diabetes!

Nugget #3: Heart attacks are not caused by clogged arteries!

Nugget #4: Multiple sclerosis is directly linked to poor gut flora!

To read the complete post click here: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=19

The Cardio Myth

I have recently introduced you to the book Body by Science by Doug McDuff, MD and John Little. This book offers a clear explanation of the actual science of exercise, how activity relates to hormones, and how this determines what happens in your body. In short, it answers the question I am frequently asked. “Why am I gaining weight when I am working out every day?”

In the introductory article I summarized his key points. In this article I will address one of those key points. His recommended method of exercise is what he terms high intensity training (or HIT). It benefits both the aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways. Most “cardio” only works the aerobic pathway.

High intensity training is in many ways the complete opposite of what is now known as “cardio.” HIT is designed to be short and sweet. The techniques work the major muscle groups to exhaustion and then you must stop, rest, and then begin the next exercise. Cardio is designed to be lower intensity so that you can perform the exercise without stopping, usually anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.

The roots of modern cardio trace back to the mid-1960’s when Kenneth Cooper was searching for an exercise that he thought would optimize cardiovascular fitness. This was the time when we first began to see a dramatic increase in heart disease related deaths and the thinking was by exercising our hearts they would not attack us!

Unfortunately he began with a false premise. He believed that “aerobic” was the same as “cardiovascular” and wanted to develop an exercise that would isolate the aerobic metabolic system. He created the term “aerobics” to refer to his exercise technique. This low intensity and steady in state method he developed is now referred to as “cardio.”

But this is where we have to understand how the body works! The body has two pathways for metabolism – aerobic and anaerobic. These processes are conducted in each and every cell in our body. Both are essential for the total health of the cell and thus the entire organism. Aerobic means “with oxygen” and anaerobic means “without oxygen.”

Cooper believed that the aerobic was the most important pathway therefore it should be isolated and trained. There was no actual evidence that one pathway was more important, it was just his belief, and unfortunately for many he was wrong. For many it proved to be dead wrong.

His main error was that the pathways cannot be separated in a live human (remember our body is not a test tube – what happens in the body is different than isolating something in a test tube!). The aerobic pathway is fueled by a substance called pyruvate which is produced by the anaerobic pathway.

As we’ve discussed before energy comes from glucose going from the blood stream into the cell. It takes a series of twenty chemical reactions to produce pyruvate from glucose. This is an anaerobic process. Pyruvate then goes to the mitochondria of the cell. If you remember your basic biology the mitochondria produces energy via the Krebs cycle in an aerobic process.

So, as you can see, we need an exercise method that will strengthen both systems of metabolism. Modern day “cardio” does not fit the bill as it isolates the aerobic and the science share in the book shows it does not benefit the anaerobic. It is high intensity training that will benefit the complete system.

The effectiveness of any exercise is all about hormones, fat metabolism, and blood glucose levels. High intensity training works the major muscle groups to exhaustion, uses up glucose, and encourages the body to burn fat and build muscle. This is explored further in the article Hormonal Implications of Exercise.

Another irony concerning aerobic specific training is that it produces additional oxidative stress on the body which creates inflammation and excess free radicals in the body. This factor puts one at increased risk of heart disease – exactly what the “cardio” exercise is supposed to help prevent!

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.

Why and How You Can Work Out Every Day and Gain Weight

“I don’t understand. I work out every day and I’m still gaining weight.” Believe it or not I hear this question quite frequently. On the surface it seems to be quite the paradox. All the conventional wisdom tells us to lose weight all we need to do is watch what we eat (meaning to eat less) and exercise more. Follow this simple formula: use more calories than you take in.

In the past I’ve explained part of this myth – how all calories are not created equal. Based on what the calorie is from (protein, fat, or carbohydrate) it will have a different effect in your body. If you need a refresher you can find that article on my blog at http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=135.

Now let’s explore the other half of the equation: exercise more. This of course leads to a series of questions. What type of exercise is best? How many times a week should I exercise? How long should I exercise?

Some people say “aerobic” is best. Some say weight lifting. Others say yoga, or interval training, and still others say high intensity training. Some tell you to do a different type of exercise every day for an hour. On the other spectrum some will tell you once to twice a week for fifteen to twenty minutes is all you need. You can see there is quite a variance in the answers.

To best understand any issue relating to health and nutrition I always ask one simple question. How is the body designed? When I discuss with clients what they should eat and what they should avoid I just don’t say “eat this and not that.” I explain to them how their body works and what the different foods will actually do in their body. When we understand how our body is designed to work it makes it much easier to determine what it needs and to separate myth from fact. Unfortunately in the world of health and nutrition there is a lot of myth and hype which is quite different than the facts.

Of course I am limited by the space of this article. Whole books have been written to address these questions and I’ve read quite a few of them! Recently I read one that I believe explains it the best – Body by Science by Doug McGuff, M.D. and John Little. With his medical background, Dr. McGuff understands how the body is designed and he uses this to explain the science of exercise.

My plan is to have several articles based on the book. I will use the remainder of this article to summarize the major points of the book. Future articles as noted below will be more in depth on specific topics. But in the mean time, if you are interested I’d encourage you to read the book sooner rather than later. It will likely change the way you think about exercise! Here is a quick summary of his major points:

1. Who can you trust? Most exercise testimonials and a fair amount of “research” is shall we say – slightly misleading and biased and does not address the true science of exercise.

2. Genetic expression plays a major role in our physical appearance. People can do similar types of exercise but in the end their genes determine how their physical activity is expressed in their body. I will have a separate article on this subject.

3. Being “fit” does not mean you are healthy.

4. High intensity training is his preferred method. It benefits both the aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways. Most “cardio” only works the aerobic pathway. The effectiveness of the exercise is all about hormones and blood glucose levels. High intensity training works the major muscle groups to exhaustion, uses up glucose, and encourages the body to burn fat and build muscle. I will have a future article about the “cardio myth.”

5. Fat metabolism and fat loss is also determined by hormone activity which is affected by the type of exercise. Hormones signal the body to burn fat and to store fat. Some exercise will produce the “burn” signal, others the “store” signal. I will have a future article about fat metabolism.

6. Exercising once to twice per week for 15 to 20 minutes when done according to his methodology is all you need to properly engage your body and manage the body building and fat burning hormones.

As you know from past articles I am also a big believer in “walking the talk.” I have found a local trainer who follows the basic principles as outlined in the book and began training several weeks ago. In one month I have already noticed several significant changes. I will keep you posted on that as well.

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 5: Hormonal Imbalances

Steroid Hormones Part 5: Hormonal Imbalances

At the core of many symptoms suffered by both men and women are hormonal imbalances. Imbalances occur several ways. There are deficiencies, there are excess, and there are relational imbalances. We have previously mentioned “estrogen dominance” which is an example of a relational imbalance. Relational imbalances are challenging as they can be a combination of deficiencies and excesses.

To begin our understanding let’s start with some basic lists. Estrogen imbalances include estrogen deficiency and estrogen excess.

Symptoms of Estrogen Deficiency

· Hot flashes

· Night sweats

· Insomnia

· Mood swings

· Mental fogginess, poor memory

· Dry eyes, nose, sinuses

· Vaginal dryness, dry skin

· Vaginal wall thinness, vaginal dysplasia

· Vaginal and/or bladder infections

· Incontinence, urethral irritations, urinary frequency

· Headaches, migraines

· Decreased sexual response

· Loss of ambition or drive

· Depression

· Lack of stamina

· Decreased breast size

· Wrinkling of skin

· Osteoporosis

· Loss of subcutaneous fat

· Increased risk of cardiovascular disease

Symptoms of Estrogen Excess

· Heavy bleeding

· Clotting, cramping

· Water retention, bloating

· Breast tenderness, lumpiness, cystic breasts, enlarged breasts, fibrocystic breasts

· Weight gain

· Headaches, migraines

· Emotional hypersensitivity

· Depression, irritability, anxiety, anger, agitation

· Decreased sexual response

· Thyroid dysfunction (resembling hypothyroidism)

· Cold hands and feet

· Blood sugar instability, sweet cravings

· Insomnia

· Gall bladder dysfunction (coagulated bile)

· Acne

Progesterone imbalances include progesterone deficiency and progesterone excess.


Symptoms of Progesterone Deficiency

· PMS

· Heavy bleeding

· Clotting, cramping

· Inability to concentrate

· Short term memory impairment

· Muscle tension, spasm, Fibromyalgia

· Water retention, bloating

· Insomnia

· Breast tenderness, lumpiness, cystic breasts

· Weight gain

· Thyroid dysfunction (resembling hypothyroidism)

· Acne

· Headaches, migraines

· Anxiety, irritability, nervousness, moodiness

· Hot flashes

· Depression

· Decreased sexual response

· Osteoporosis

· Amenorrhea (no periods at all)

· Oligomenorrhea (infrequent periods)

· Spotting

· Endometriosis, adenomyosis (uterine endometriosis)

· Fibroids


Symptoms of Progesterone Excess (usually from overdose resulting from progesterone replacement therapy)

· Sleepiness

· Bloating or constipation (excess progesterone slows the digestive tract)

· Candida (excess progesterone can inhibit anti-candida immune system response)

· Depression

· Ligament laxity which can cause: persistent back pain; other joint pains and problems; incontinence; or mitral valve prolapse.

· Progressive progesterone deficiency symptoms (Progesterone overdose, especially with creams and gels down-regulates and eventually shuts down progesterone receptors.)

· High levels of free (unbound) cortisol which can lead to: high blood sugar; insulin resistance; weight gain; low thyroid function; sleep problems; osteoporosis; immune system dysfunction; and GI system problems. (Progesterone and cortisol compete for the same binding protein. When free progesterone floods the system long enough, it can compete with cortisol for the binding protein and release excessive amounts of cortisol into the system.)

· Loss of hormonal feedback loop coordination which disrupts multiple other hormones balances.

Testosterone imbalances can occur in both men and women.

Symptoms of Testosterone Deficiency

· Decreased stamina and energy.

· Low or absent libido.

· Poor muscle tone.

· Weakened, osteoporotic bones.

· Trouble with balance and coordination.

· Decreased sense of well-being.

· Decreased armpit and body hair.

Symptoms of Testosterone Excess

· Acne, oily skin.

· Loss of head hair (male patterned baldness).

· Excess facial hair, excess body hair.

· Mood disturbance, excessive aggressiveness, irritability.

· Deepened voice.

Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen dominance is a condition in which a woman or man can have deficient, normal, or excessive levels of estrogen, but has too little progesterone to balance the estrogen level. Estrogen Dominance has become common in both cycling and menopausal women, and men. So, why is this?

Estrogen dominance has become so predominant due to many of our modern lifestyle choices. One of the main causes is stress which sets off a whole range of hormonal chain reactions. The increased need for cortisol to handle the stress response causes more progesterone to be converted to cortisol. This may cause a shortage of progesterone to balance estrogen.

As cortisol rises insulin rises increasing fat storage. As cortisol rises thyroid hormones decrease, thus slowing metabolism and leading to fat storage. Fat cells make estrogen, exacerbating the imbalance.

Weakened glands are another reason. The adrenals may be fatigued from cortisol production and slow down progesterone production. The ovaries may not produce sufficient progesterone during the luteal phase of the cycle. Or there may be anovulatory cycles (cycles where menstruation occurs, but no ovulation) resulting in no ovarian progesterone being produced. Low thyroid function may slow down the adrenals and the ovaries as well. All these activities can create a shortage of progesterone to balance estrogen.

The use of oral or injected contraceptives by its very nature is disruptive to the production of progesterone. Remember contraceptives to not “regulate” the cycle, they “suppress” it. Their usage can have both short term and longer term impacts on progesterone production.

For menopausal women conventional hormone replacement therapy has been to provide estrogen. As we have seen, progesterone is also needed in menopause. Therefore an unbalanced replacement approach may lead to estrogen dominance.

There are also dietary and nutritional deficiency concerns. The typical American diet: usually high in carbohydrates, low in good fats, high in trans-fats, and low in vegetables and healthy sources of protein leads to nutritional deficiencies and obesity. Deficiencies in magnesium, zinc, copper, iodine, and B complex vitamins play a major role in the health of the endocrine glands and their production of hormones. Obesity is a concern as estrogen is made in fat cells and excess fat cells make excess estrogen.

Last, but certainly not least is exposure to external hormones. This includes xenohormone exposure and plant and animal hormones. The animal hormones are found in our food supply while other hormones are typically found in health and beauty products (a small amount does not have to be labeled!). Xenohormones are chemicals that disrupt our hormonal balance. These are found in health and beauty products, cleaning products, plastics, and many other unsuspecting places as well as pesticides, fungicides, and medications.


Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance

· Anxiety, irritability, anger, agitation

· Cramps, heavy or prolonged bleeding, clots

· Water retention/weight gain, bloating

· Breast tenderness, lumpiness, enlargement, fibrocystic breasts

· Mood swings, depression

· Headaches/migraines

· Carbohydrate cravings, sweet cravings, chocolate cravings

· Muscle pains, joint pains, back pain

· Acne

· Foggy thinking, memory difficulties

· Fat gain, especially in abdomen, hips and thighs

· Cold hands and feet (low thyroid function because estrogen blocks thyroid hormones)

· Blood sugar instability, Insulin Resistance

· Irregular periods

· Decreased sex drive

· Gall bladder problems (bile becomes thick and sluggish)

· Infertility

· Insomnia

· Osteoporosis

· Endometriosis, Adenomyosis

· Functional ovarian cysts; Polycystic ovaries

· Uterine fibroids

· Cervical dysplasia

· Allergic tendencies

· Autoimmune disorder

· Breast, uterine, cervical, or ovarian cancer

Natural solutions for estrogen dominance include dietary modifications, stress reduction techniques, animal glandular extracts without hormones, specific nutrients, and herbal remedies. As you can see, estrogen dominance is even more complex than the previous hormonal imbalance issues we have discussed. It is multi-faceted as it includes multiple organs and hormones. We can use the symptom lists as guides to identify which hormones are in excess or deficient, yet for long term health and healing we want to support all the affected glands.

There are times when a form of hormone replacement therapy is needed. At those times the more natural solution is “bioidentical” hormones. Here too, just providing hormones does not address the underlying deficiencies and ultimately the health of the glands. We are dealing with multiple glands and 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.

Steroid Hormones Part 4: Female and Male Life Cycles

Steroid Hormones Part 4: Female and Male Life Cycles

Before we look at hormonal imbalances, let’s get a quick understanding of the hormonal stages of the typical female and male life cycles.

Female Life Cycle

Once the female reaches puberty she has entered her reproductive years. To reach full reproductive maturity can take up to four years. It is also common for the initial menstrual cycles to be irregular for several months or years. The reproductive years last for approximately 30 plus years.

The next stage is called perimenopause. It marks beginning of the transition to menopause. This can be one of the more difficult stages for the modern female as things begin to change. Cycles and hormones now fluctuate creating more mood swings and fatigue. In addition there are more cycles without ovulation. Perimenopause officially ends with menopause which is considered to be 12 consecutive months with no cycle.

The biological wiring of the human female is for this process to take 2-3 years. However, it has become common for this transition to take 8-12 years in the modern female.

Menopause is the permanent cessation of menstruation due to loss of most ovarian function. There is another common misperception here. While it is true that ovarian estrogen and progesterone production have stopped, there can still be testosterone production. Therefore, the ovaries still do serve a purpose after menopause. The average age for menopause is 51. Smoking has been shown to accelerate the process by two years.

Menopause is known for some unpleasant symptoms, some of which are also experienced during perimenopause. Most of these originate with hormonal imbalances which we will discuss later. Menopause symptoms affect both the physical, mental and emotional bodies.

General physical symptoms include: hot flashes; night sweats; insomnia; dry skin, eyes, and sinuses; headaches; migraines; water retention and bloating; weight gain; liver and gall bladder congestion (leading to constipation); cold hands and feet; increased sugar cravings; muscle tension; increased risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease; and loss of subcutaneous fat and increased wrinkling.

Symptoms affecting the reproductive system include: cystic or lumpy breasts; vaginal dryness, vaginal dysplasia and atrophy; more frequent urinary tract infections; and incontinence.

General mental and emotional symptoms include: poor memory and foggy thinking; mood swings; depression; decreased ambition; irritability; anxiety; anger; and decreased libido.

A variety of factors have been identified that affect these symptoms. Positive factors which reduce the symptoms include being in general good health and having a low stress lifestyle as the transition begins. These women typically have strong adrenals, a healthy thyroid, have a good balance of minerals, and normal cholesterol levels (220-240).

Factors associated with a greater likelihood of experiencing these symptoms include: obesity; chronic stress; adrenal fatigue; estrogen dominance; liver congestion; thyroid imbalance; and insulin resistance.


Male Life Cycle

Yes, there is such a thing as the “grumpy old man.” This is called andropause. While it does not receive all the attention of its female counterpart menopause, it is just as real and disruptive to the person experiencing it. The “official” definition of andropause is the loss of androgen dominance in men.

Andropause is different than menopause in that its onset is often gradual. The symptoms are often missed or treated as separate issues without recognizing the underlying change in male hormone status. The key hormone is testosterone. Once men reach around 40 years old their free testosterone levels (the active form) begin to decline 1-2% each year. You can see that it starts out slow, but 10-15 years or more down the road it is a significant drop from where the man was at age 20, 25, or 30!

Andropause impacts men on physical, mental, and emotional levels. Typical physical signs and symptoms include: loss of energy, strength, and stamina; gradually increasing fatigue; loss of libido, fewer spontaneous morning erections, and erectile dysfunction (ED); muscle soreness, weakness, and decreased muscle mass; thinning and dry skin; sleep problems; blood sugar problems, insulin resistance, and increased risk for diabetes; weight gain; increased fat in hips and breasts; increased risk for cardiovascular disease (increased cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure); increased risk for osteoporosis; and increased prostate and urinary tract problems.

Typical mental and emotional symptoms include: low mood; irritability; depression; discouragement; pessimism; withdrawal from activities and relationships; concentration and memory difficulties; less productive, decreased initiative, motivation, and drive; and loss of libido.

Positive and negative factors affecting a man’s experience during andropause are similar to those described above impacting menopause.

It is important to note from our earlier discussion testosterone is made from cholesterol and plays an important role in maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Statin medications have been shown to lower testosterone levels.


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 3: Introduction to Testosterone, Estrogen, and Progesterone

Steroid Hormones Part 3: Introduction to Testosterone, Estrogen, and Progesterone

Testosterone

Testosterone is the main male and androgen hormone. It is produced in the testes (males) and in the ovaries and adrenal glands (females). It is also produced by the conversion of androstenedione and at times DHEA. It is a steroid, anabolic, body building hormone.

In both sexes testosterone on a physical level is known to: enhance libido and improve sexual response; protect against heart disease and stroke; increase and enhance energy and stamina; build strong bones; build strong muscles and maintain muscle tone; assist in balance and coordination; normalize weight; improve insulin sensitivity; and help maintain a healthy cholesterol balance. On a mental level it protects against depression, age-related mental decline, and helps to improve memory.

In men testosterone is also needed to achieve and sustain erections and may protect against prostate problems and cancer.

In women testosterone helps to reduce breast tenderness; reverses estrogen-induced breast proliferation; and decreases hot flashes and night sweats.

Estrogen

Did you know that there is more than one “estrogen?” While we use the generic term “estrogen” in fact there are several types of estrogen. It is made by the ovaries in women, and to a lesser degree, the testes in men. Estrogen is also made in fat cells (which is the primary site of production for both menopausal women and men.) Estrogens are steroids.

The three major estrogens are estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3). Estrone is typically 5-10% of total estrogen. It is considered a “strong” estrogen because of its ability to cause cell proliferation. Estradiol is also typically 5-10% of total estrogen. It is considered the “strongest” estrogen because of its ability to cause cell proliferation.

Estriol is typically 80-90% of total estrogen. It is considered the “weak” estrogen because it does not cause cell proliferation. It appears to balance the cell proliferating effects of estrone and estradiol, thus protecting against their cancer-causing ability.

Following are some of the main functions of estrogen. This is by no means a complete list and there are many still unknown functions of estrogen as well.

Estrogen is known for promoting the female secondary sex characteristics. (Thus, you can now understand how overweight men will develop breasts. Their fat cells are producing excess estrogen!) Estrogen plays a key role in reproduction. It promotes cell proliferation, especially of the uterine lining and breast tissue and is part of the hormone signaling sequence that induces ovulation. It also maintains vaginal lubrication.

It also plays a key role in how we feel as it interacts with the nervous system. It stimulates brain function thereby impacting cognition, memory, emotions, mood, stamina, ambition, pain perception, and sleep.

Estrogen’s emergence at puberty stops the growth of long bones in both females and males and slows bone loss. It can increase body fat, especially in the breasts, hips, abdomen and thighs.

Estrogen helps keep our skin healthy and smooth. It increases production of type III collagen which helps skin heal faster and remain soft and pliable. It promotes the hydration of body tissues.

From a heart health perspective estrogen increases HDLs, lowers LDLs and total cholesterol. It also helps maintain the endothelial lining of the blood vessels.

Progesterone

Progesterone is a steroid hormone produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands during the follicular phase of the cycle and in the corpus luteum during the luteal phase of the cycle in women and in the adrenal glands in men. One of its primary roles is to work with and balance estrogen. It is also produced by the brain and peripheral nerves, and possibly other locations.

Many of progesterone’s functions are highlighted below. However, similar to estrogen, there are still many unknown functions.

Progesterone functions as a precursor for other steroid hormones, most importantly cortisol. It is important to understand that stress and blood sugar handling take priority in the body. Therefore, it is common to see progesterone deficiencies created as it is converted to cortisol to handle the stress response.

It is also critical to understand that progesterone is still needed in healthy amounts in menopausal women. Although ovarian progesterone is no longer produced, the adrenals of menopausal women must continue to make sufficient progesterone to balance the effects of menopausal estrogen levels. This is where the medical world got in trouble with estrogen only hormone replacement therapy by supplying unopposed estrogen and not its balancing partner progesterone.

Progesterone plays an important role in reproduction. While estrogen causes cells in the endometrium to multiply, progesterone balances this effect by stopping cell division and signaling the process of cell maturation, differentiation, and apoptosis (cell death). Thus, it prevents excessive production of the uterine lining. The production of progesterone in the second half of the cycle after ovulation helps signal other developing follicles to stop developing (and thus stop producing estrogen). By maintaining the secretory endometrium it “ripens” the uterine lining for possible pregnancy. If there is pregnancy progesterone maintains and protects the developing fetus; prepares the breasts; and promotes the development of the brain and nervous system.

Progesterone interacts with the nervous system and regulates how we feel. It helps calm the mind, focus the brain, increases libido, and is a natural antidepressant (when in balance with estrogen).

It not only interacts with estrogen, but other hormones as well. It facilitates thyroid hormone function and helps normalize androgen levels (keeps testosterone from getting too high). It has been found to be preventative against breast, uterine, prostate, and other forms of estrogen related cancers.

Some of the other functions of progesterone include: stimulates new bone growth; helps burn fat for energy; a diuretic; and a muscle relaxant.


ONE FINAL IMPORTANT POINT:
It is critical to understand that progesterone only functions correctly when it is in the right proportion with estrogen. These two hormones are designed to work together. In a cycling woman these proportions change throughout the cycle. In menopausal women the proportion of progesterone to estrogen will remain relatively constant. When these are out of balance a condition known as “estrogen dominance” is present. More on that later.

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.