This article is the first, of what will ultimately become a series of posts about Hormones, that will be published within the Wild As The Wind blog. These posts will focus on all aspects of female hormone health, and will also cover the workings and hormone challenges being faced by men as well.
We all live in the same environment and so men are as equally under siege from synthetic environmental hormones as women are.
Whist women are suffering in much greater numbers, and are tending to be displaying much more extreme forms of Hormonal, or Endocrine, Disruption, the reality is that Hormonal Problems are evident in pandemic proportions, amongst both men and women, whichever way we look at it…
In This Article:
- An Introduction To Hormones
- The Endocrine System
- Exocrine Hormones
- Major Glands Of The Endocrine System
- Hormone Health
- Hormone Imbalance
- Hormone Disruptors
- Environmental Toxins
- Life Choices Affecting Endocrine Health
- Endocrine Disrupting Foods
- Food Additives
- Alcohol & Smoking
- Food Packaging
- Modern Medicine & Hormone Issues
- Modern Technology & Hormone Issues
- Key Hormones
- Functions of the Endocrine System
- How The Body Makes Hormones
- Hormones & Gender
- Male Hormone Basics
- Female Hormone Basics
- Basics Of Hormone Production
- Different Forms Of Oestrogens
- Menopause For Men…?
- Hormone Glands
The Endocrine System
The endocrine system is comprised of all of the parts of the body responsible for producing and utilising hormones.
It is essentially a chemical messenger system consisting of:
the group of glands of an organism that carry those hormones directly into the circulatory system to be carried towards distant target organs, and the feedback loops of homeostasis that the hormones drive.
The endocrine system is, thus, the umbrella term used to describe the various organs and glands, placed throughout the body, which produce and receive hormones to regulate the following:
- the rate of chemical reactions in certain cells
- growth and development
- tissue function / the ability of substances to permeate cell membranes
- sexual function
The endocrine system regulates the activities of the body by secreting hormones into the blood stream. These secretions come from a variety of glands which control various organs of the body.
Each endocrine hormone works with a specific target organ or group of cells, and does not affect the entire body as a whole.
Endocrine hormones are secreted within the tissue, and not via a duct as the exocrine hormones are, and they enter the blood stream via capillaries.
Exocrine hormones are secreted via a duct directly into the bloodstream and typically affect a distant organ or tissue.
Examples of exocrine glands include: salivatory, mammary, ceruminous, lacrimal, sebaceous,sweat, and mucous.
Major Glands Of The Endocrine System
- pineal gland
- pituitary gland
- thyroid gland
- parathyroid gland
- adrenal glands
*These glands will be covered in more detail within the second article in the series.
If our hormones are in trouble, then we are in trouble.
Hormone difficulties during our development in the womb, or as children growing up into adulthood will have a hugely detrimental impact not only in terms of the height of a person, but also how their sexual organs will be formed, how their digestion is controlled… so how well they digest nutrients to build their bones and bodies…
And, hormones even control our ability to achieve restful sleep as well as our moods. As we heal and grow in our sleep, if we do not have restful sleep during our development, then this will have very negative impacts on our growth and development.
But it’s the way in which hormones control our moods that will will determine our emotional well-being throughout our entire lives. And it is this aspect of hormone health that will be very much be brought into sharp focus throughout this series of articles.
Hormone imbalances can be caused by many factors. But the issue of hormone imbalance has become a lot more complex since the 1950’s.
The introduction of the contraceptive pill, which remains unaltered by it’s ingestion, and is therefore exponentially increasing in quantity within our water supply, as well as the release of over 85,000 chemicals, some of which are known endocrine disruptors, is having a disastrous impact on our health.
There’s no denying that we are living in hormonally challenging times for both genders, and whilst some men are really suffering, it is women that are being devastatingly affected in massive numbers.
There’s a whole slew of synthetic environmental toxins that we are trying, and often failing, to contend with…
Our environments are quite literally saturated with environmental toxins pretty much everywhere we turn.
Synthetic Oestrogens, called Xenoestrogens, which are having a massive impact on women, but are not leaving men unscathed either, are EVERYWHERE.
Xenoestrogens are in our water, most plastics, most soft and hard furnishings, even our till receipts…!
Even the chlorine in our water is xenoestrogenic, not to mention the xenoestrogens leeching out of plastic bottles into their contents…
Xenoestrogens & Our Health
These xenoestrogens are all collectively responsible for repeatedly causing devastating health conditions…
Pesticides and Industrial chemicals being released into our environment, via our watercourses and in the air, are also contributing to our endocrine dysfunctional issues.
Add to this the bombardment of chemicals in our personal care products, the main ones having already been covered in the article Skincare Ingredients To Avoid, and we are looking at a pretty ugly chemical soup that is absolutely doing us no good whatsoever…
Life Choices Affecting Endocrine Health
Stress is another factor that is playing a very considerable role in endocrine imbalances in both men and women. But again, rising stress levels, seemingly across the board, are affecting women a lot more adversely, and in much greater numbers, than men… but this is not to underestimate the distress caused to men that are also affected.
Endocrine Disrupting Foods
Phytoestrogens, the oestrogenic compounds found in organic sources, like Soy and Flax etc, are seemingly causing an issue with our hormones, but leading health experts disagree about how tolerated these foods are.
Certainly, some phytoestrogenic foods are seen to exert a positive effect, like Flaxseed, but others, like Soy, are seen as the villain of the piece. But there’s other constituents in Soy that make it a questionable choice under any circumstances. The fact that around 80% of the worlds Soy production is GMO (or genetically modified), with non-GMO sources often contaminated with GMO Soy, this is the key reason why health experts recommend giving it a wide birth.
Coffee, or more precisely Caffeine, which is also present in Chocolate as well as Tea, is yet another modern phenomenon that is doing us no good whatsoever. Caffeine places a massive strain on our adrenals and is prompting us to live our lives much more in a ‘stress response’ than in a relaxed state of being.
Sugar, the worst neuro-toxin known to mankind, is even more ubiquitous than Caffeine. And, if Caffeine is the modern day ‘Crack’ for sophistocrats, then sugar is the ultimately devastating Kiddie-Crack ever created.
These ubiquitous stimulants are reeking havoc with our hormones on an ever-increasingly dramatic scale. And, as our children are still developing, the consequences can be a life-long and debilitating.
Many food additives are profoundly toxic, and can disrupt our hormonal balance in really big ways. MSG, often found in Chinese / Oriental food, in many ways, is ahead of the curve in it’s ability to really mess up our delicate hormonal balance.
What is particularly infuriating, for me at least, is that a lot of the additives that are making us sick are being used as flavour enhancers, or product life extenders, which allows manufacturers to pass off poor quality foods as more desirable, and allows poor quality fat filled foods to sit on shelves a lot longer, thereby increasing profits for food producers, at the expense of consumers.
But product life extending practices are commonplace across the board. A lot of the really toxic ingredients in skincare and personal care products are simply there to extend shelf life and provide manufacturers with optimal profits.
Alcohol & Smoking
Being toxic, it will come as no surprise that alcohol and smoking are also endocrine disruptors.
No surprises there then…!
A lot of food packaging, in other words plastics, or plastic coated cards and tin cans, release their toxic load into our food whilst sitting on supermarket shelves, or in our cupboards. A lot of plastics, such as Bisphenol A, or BPA, are susceptible to moderate heat and will begin to release their toxins at pretty low temperatures.
BPA is really bad news and has received a lot of bad press as a consequence. So much so, in fact, that consumer pressure has exerted enough of an influence to convince manufacturers to remove it from a lot of food packaging products, or from the plastics used in homeware items, like smoothie makers and juicers etc.
However, there are fears that products which have had the BPA removed are even more toxic than before. Because substitute chemicals haven’t been researched, anywhere near as much as BPA, health experts are deeply concerned that they will present a greater health risk than BPA.
These inadequate solutions are often referred to as “regrettable substitution” problems.
One of the BPA substitutes most commonly used is polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, and only time and more research will tell if this chemical is better or worse for us…
Modern Medicine & Hormone Issues
Don’t you just love modern medicine? There’s something quite chillingly comical about a system that resolves one person’s hormone problems by exposing everyone else to an increased risk of hormone imbalance. And yes, this is precisely what is happening!
Placing an individual on ‘the pill’ means we all get to be on the pill, in much the same way that every prescription for antibiotics will also end up in the water supply.
Yes… The contraceptive pill and antibiotics remain intact throughout the human digestive system! This means they are as active when they come out of a body as when they went in!
Modern Technology & Hormone Issues
Whilst will refer to Vitamin D as a vitamin, it is actually an hormone. Vitamin D plays a vital role in our Circadian Rhythms, which are effectively the rhythm at which we are meant to live our lives so that we may maintain optimal health.
The advent of electricity is the first thing to massively disrupt our Circadian Rhythms, because, all of a sudden, it was feasible to stay up after sun down and be productive. Electricity also seriously extended our recreational time, and provided us with devices to keep us entertained.
Electricity meant that hospitals and factories could operate 24/7. Shift work became normal, but so did clubbing until 4.00am at the weekends! These kinds of behaviours are very much at odds with our Natural Circadian Rhythm.
Fast forward to now, and just image what computers and the Internet are doing to us!?!
Hormones & Technological Devices
Not only does our addiction to technology rob a lot of us of the desire to be outside pursuing less technologically advanced pursuits, thereby robbing us of our exposure to the sun, which is critical for us to produce the hormone Vitamin D, but technology, or more precisely, the blue light that our devices emit, is mimicking midday sunlight at all times of the day and night, which inevitably throws our Circadian Rythhm into utter chaos.
This is, of course, massively stressful, and we know how hormone disrupting stress is, but, it also means that our bodies are missing the appropriate light signals to wind down at the end of a day to ensure we obtain restful sleep.
Vitamin D is also essential if we are to sleep properly, but without the proper intensity of red light from the sun, which tells us what time of day it is, we are generally really badly prepared for sleep at the appropriate time.
All our healing takes place when we are asleep! Can you see what a vicious cycle we are in!?!
For a much deeper insight into the dire consequences of too much exposure to technological devices I advise people to listen to the interview with Jack Kruse at the bottom of the Shungite page of this website.
Signs Of Hormonal Disruption
Whilst the following symptoms are most common in woman, it is really important to realise that these symptoms are affecting men also.
- Weight gain :: especially abdominal fat.
- Fatigue :: especially feeling tired but still unable to sleep.
- Still feeling exhausted in the morning after eight hours of sleep.
- Brain fog, or cloudy thinking, which can include struggling to remember the ‘right words’ or forgetting what you’re saying… or just being generally forgetful.
- Raging appetite, including sugar cravings
- Recurring headaches
- Loss of Libido
So! If you have any of the above, read the full series of articles on hormones for a much more in-depth look at hormonal symptoms, as well as ways in which you can heal your endocrine imbalances…
In addition, there are a lot more symptoms of hormone disruption than listed above, which will also be covered…
*Consider subscribing to the Wild As The Wind blog to ensure you have access to the full series of articles.
Hormones are essentially messengers that carry information around the body to ensure that we function correctly. Different glands produce differing hormones.
The main hormones are:
- Vitamin D
Functions of the Endocrine System
The endocrine system secretes chemically complex hormones, from a variety of glands, into the blood stream. These hormones are released in order to control a number of organs as well as our metabolic function.
They also regulate the rate at which chemical reactions occur in our cells, and they influence the ability of substances transporting themselves through cell membranes.
As already mentioned, hormones are secreted from the glands of the endocrine system. This means that they serve a specific function. Each hormone causes a response within a specific target organ or group of cells, rather than on the body as a whole.
Hormones are either amines, which are simple molecules, proteins and peptides, and are made from chains of amino acids, or they are steroids that are derived from cholesterol.
Glands discharge hormones into the bloodstream. Under normal conditions the glands maintain the proper balance of hormones by registering hormone concentrations in the blood.
Once hormones have served their purpose, having delivered the desired messages to the target organs or tissues, they are destroyed by the liver or by the actual tissues of the target organs themselves. The destroyed hormones are then removed by the kidneys.
Unfortunately, with all of the environmental synthetic hormones entering the body, via every imaginable route, and latching onto the hormone receptor sites, the messages of the genuine hormones are unable to be delivered.
What is even more disastrous, is that the synthetic hormones never let go!
This is perhaps the most alarming piece of information I am going to deliver within this article.
Because xenoestrogens latch onto reseptor sites and never let go, this means that our healthy hormones will perpetually be unable to deliver their messages.
Is it any wonder that so many people are on hormone protocols due to inefficient and dysfunctional endocrine glands and organs?
More about this, and the natural alternatives to these conditions, in future articles
* * * A lot of conventional drug therapies are making matters worse rather than better. The tests for hormonal dysfunctions are inadequate in a lot of instances, and so, the drug protocols being dispensed are incorrect, thereby causing more harm to a beleaguered system!
How The Body Makes Hormones
Oestrogens, like other sex hormones, are derived from cholesterol.
Cholesterol is actually the precursor of all the five major classes of steroid hormones, including progestagens, glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, androgens, as well as oestrogens…
Modern medicines negative obsession with destroying cholesterol has been one of the most disastrous decisions within conventional medicine, of which there have been many!
Not only is cholesterol essential for hormone production and many other functions within the body, but our brains are comprised of a good amount of cholesterol, circa. 60%… so cholesterol is pretty vital for the basic functions of the body!
The creation of hormones is a complex process, which is fundamentally achieved by the aromatisation of androgens. More about that a little later…
But, because fat tissue can produce hormones, excess body fat can disrupt healthy hormonal balance.
Hormones & Gender
Women share a lot of the same hormones as men. Testosterone is seen very much as a male hormone, but women have it too, albeit in smaller amounts.
Hormones that are perceived as Male Hormones or Female Hormones, which are generally considered to be opposites, are in fact, all from the same origins and have a lot more in common that most people currently believe.
For example, the early stages of synthesising the female hormone estradiol and testosterone, the hormone commonly perceived as a male hormone, as well as other androgens, are identical!
It is, therefore, strongly advised that, whatever your gender, you read every section of this and future articles.
This is particularly true because the section on female hormones starts thus…
It is quite problematic to attempt to separate male and female hormone production, because they share many of the same precursors and functions. I will continue to mention male anatomy in conjunction with the female counterparts in this section…
Male Hormone Basics
Androgen deficiency means the body has lower levels of male sex hormones, which negatively impacts development and overall health.
Androgens work by binding to androgen receptors. Deficiencies can occur when foreign invaders mimic androgens and bind to the androgen receptors, thereby preventing genuine androgens from binding to the androgen receptors.
Androgens are synthesised in the testes, ovaries, and adrenal glands and are the precursors to oestrogens in both men and women.
*Zinc gluconate supplementation, at 50mg per day, inhibits the aromatase enzyme which converts testosterone into excess oestrogen. Vegetarian men are most susceptible to excess aromatase, usually accompanied by a reduced sex drive. Normal levels of testosterone can be restored in this way.
Not only is progesterone found in males, but men rely on the alleged “female hormone” to preserve their masculinity.
Progesterone is actually a precursor to testosterone, seen as “the male sex hormone”, but is also present in women…
As men age and testosterone begins to decline, their oestrogen levels steadily rise.
*Zinc gluconate supplementation would be advantageous here too.
Whilst testosterone is the major androgen in males, dihydrotestosterone, aka DHT, and androstenedione are of equal importance in male development.
DHT in utero is what differentiates the penis, scrotum and prostate from each other. In an adult man DHT contributes to prostate growth, deepening of voice, growth of the beard, baldness, and sebaceous gland activity.
Although androgens are generally considered to be male sex hormones, women also need androgens, albeit at lower levels, for the normal functioning of the libido and to excite sexual arousal.
Female Hormone Basics
It is quite problematic to attempt to separate male and female hormone production, because they share many of the same precursors and functions. I will continue to mention male anatomy in conjunction with the female counterparts in this section…
Pregnenalone is converted into progesterone and dehydroepiandrosterone, aka DHEA. DHEA converts into testosterone and oestrogens. Progesterone can also convert into oestrogens, cortisol, and aldosterone.
Androstenedione, aka A4, is an androgenic steroid produced by the testes, adrenal cortex, and ovaries. While androstenediones are converted metabolically into testosterone and other androgens, they are also the parent structure of estrone.
In women, androgens are produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands and fat cells.
Healthy women produce about 40% to 50% of the body’s testosterone in the ovaries and adrenal glands. But, ovarian tumours and polycystic ovary syndrome, aka PCOS, can cause too much androgen production, which leads to emasculation.
*Unfortunately, as the female hormone system is more complex than that of males, and because these conditions are not a simple case of reversal, like with the oestrogen excess found in vegetarian and maturing men, there is no simple supplement regime to redress these issues.
Approximately half of the daily production of androgen, in women, comes from the ovaries, either in the form of testosterone or the less active androstenedione. The remainder comes from the adrenal glands,as well as the fat cells, mostly in the form of DHEA or DHEA sulfate, aka DHEA-S, which are then converted into testosterone and androstenedione.
In a woman’s body, one of the main purposes of androgens is for it to be converted into oestrogens.Female production of oestrogen starts in the ovaries with the synthesis of androstenedione from cholesterol.
Follicle-stimulating hormone, aka FSH, stimulates the ovarian production of oestrogens.
Basics Of Hormone Production
And finally, back to the point I made earlier where I explained that the aromatisation of androgens is the basic process behind the creation of hormones…
Aromatase is located within oestrogen producing cells within the adrenal glands, ovaries, placenta, testicles, adipose tissue, aka fat cells, as well as in the brain.
Aromatase is an enzyme involved in the production of oestrogen. It catalyses the conversion of the androgen testosterone into estradiol, which is an oestrogen.
Other androgens include the already separately mentioned dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA and DHEA sulfate, or DHEA-S.
The natural steroid hormones are generally synthesized from cholesterol in the gonads and adrenal glands. These forms of hormones are lipids.
Different Forms Of Oestrogens
There are several types of oestrogen, with some being more helpful than others:
Estrone, or E1, which is the most dominant oestrogen in menopausal women.
Estradiol, or E2, which is produced by the ovaries, and is the strongest oestrogen.
Estriol, or E3, is almost exclusively made during pregnancy. Menstruating women hardly produce any E3.
When people mention Oestrogen, in most cases, what they are actually referring to is Estradiol.
To put everything into proportion, Estrone and Estriol possess approximately one tenth of the potency of Estradiol.
*E2 is formed if the substrate, (an underlying substance or layer), is formed with testosterone, whereas estrone results from the aromatisation, or conversion, of androstenedione.
In pre-menopausal women, the most important manufacturer of oestrogens is the ovaries. In post-menopausal women, whose ovaries have slowly stopped producing Oestrogen over time, there is a much greater reliance on adipose fat to produce their oestrogen for them.
Menopause For Men…?
Conversely, if you remember, the main source of oestrogen in men is from testosterone. The testosterone aromatises to produce oestrogen in men, which can cause hormonal imbalances and subsequent health issues.
The word menopause is derived from the term ‘menses’ meaning periods in women and girls in their child-bearing phase of life. So, there cannot be a menopause for men in the literal sense as men, obviously, do not have a menses phase.
However, men, most certainly, go through significant hormonal changes, some more dramatic than others, during their later years.
All of this will be covered in more depth in later articles in the series.
The information provided is not intended to replace the medical directives of your healthcare provider. This information is not meant for the diagnosis of health issues.
If you are pregnant, have serious or multiple health concerns, consult with your healthcare provider before using supplements, essential oils or associated products.
If you experience any complications or adverse reactions contact your healthcare provider.
Deepen your knowledge by using the Wild As The Wind Recommended Resources.
We owe a particular debt to GreenMedInfo for informing the information presented in this series of articles.
Other resources used in the writing of this series of articles on hormones include: