It takes three to tango

Hormonal health and how to look at the whole system

More and more practitioners are looking for and spotting low thyroid function. It can often feel like a door has been unlocked when a woman finally gets her thyroid worked up. Suddenly, there’s an explanation for having trouble sleeping, the stubborn extra pounds, dry skin, clumps of hair accumulating in the shower and wonky periods.

Yet, in my view, if only the thyroid is being treated, you’re missing out on two major players that take up pivotal spots on the triangle of hormonal health: adrenals and ovaries.

And also missing out on the feeling of well-being that results from a hormonal system that is naturally in sync.

I’ve heard time and time again of women who felt a radical improvement with the addition of thyroid hormone, but eventually run into a plateau.

This is because it really takes three to tango--the thyroid, adrenals and ovaries must ALL be addressed to properly heal a hormonal imbalance.

Often, symptoms will mimic one another. For example, irregular periods can be a tired adrenal gland, low or high thyroid function, or low or high estrogen/progesterone. And often, it’s never one of those things, but a unique combination of all of them.

It takes some teasing out to figure out what unique combination of hormonal symptoms may be affecting your health. But, all three must be addressed in one form or another.

To get started, my favorite lifestyle suggestions for each gland are:

Thyroid: finish your shower with a 30 second cold water spray. Cold water helps spur the production of T3 (the active thyroid hormone) which in turn is responsible for regulating metabolism, heart function, digestion, brain maintenance and bone development.

Adrenals: Sleep in a TOTALLY dark room and go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday (yes, that includes weekends!)

Ovaries: In cycling women*, seed cycling to promote a normal hormonal rhythm.

From Day 1-14: Eat 2 TBS ground flax seeds or chia seeds daily :: These seeds help support estrogen in the first half of the cycle.

Day 15-28: Eat 2 TBS ground sesame seed, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds daily :: These seeds help support progesterone in the second half of the cycle.

(*In women who are no longer cycling, including nuts and seeds in your diet will be sufficient)

In upcoming posts, I’ll delve into each gland more specifically. First though, I wanted to drive home that it’s best to think of them as a trio maneuvering a complex dance rather than acting independently.

Talk soon!