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Ideally, each of our clients will take the BH205A lab test to measure the seven stress hormones so we can collect more data to use in our clinical correlation and identify hidden clues to imbalances as well as contributors to METABOLIC CHAOS.  With the saliva hormone test, we can identify patterns and other main functional lab results used in our FDN Practitioner program to help guide a client back to homeostasis.  We are helping put the pieces of the puzzle together and solve the METABOLIC CHAOS puzzle.  In the Biohealth 205A stress profile, we measure cortisol at four points during the day to get a real-life snapshot of a client’s circadian rhythm, hormone balance and HPA Axis function.  Saliva is easy to collect and inexpensive to process while providing insight into a client’s steroid hormone pathways and clinical correlations – especially as we re-test and use to help with course correction.

Cortisol and DHEA-S ratio provides clues to unraveling a client’s METABOLIC CHAOS.  Cortisol is a vital hormone to help us with multiple main body functions including our blood sugar regulation and electrolyte balance.  If we have elevated levels of cortisol, we will create an imbalance with the hormone’s cortisol to DHEA-S ratio leading to cortisol dominance and catabolic breakdown in the body.  Cortisol follows a “diurnal” pattern for circadian regulation (opposite of Melatonin’s rhythm).  We measure cortisol four points during the day to evaluation cortisol levels as it should be elevated in the morning and lowest measurement should be at night.  The four-point measurement of cortisol helps us evaluate the client’s daily response to stress at four points during the day. 

Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands in the adrenal cortex and plays a role in our physical, emotional and mental stress.  Cortisol is made in the Zona Fasciculata in the Adrenal Cortex- made from cholesterol-into pregnenolone-into cortisol.  The main job of cortisol is the raise blood sugar levels for energy (quick response to run from a lion/threat/emergency) and will even breakdown muscle/protein to create sugar (muscle-protein into glucose via gluconeogenesis). 

Cortisol is a natural anti-inflammatory and pain killer.  Lower levels of cortisol (less than optimal ranges), impact our immune system and contributes to lower defense – leading towards increased susceptibility of infections and additional sources of internal stressors.  Cortisol suppresses the immune system by “muting” while blood cells and lowers SIgA which down regulates inflammation.   Cortisol (95%) will be transported to any tissues that need help lower inflammation (anti-inflammation) via the cortisol-binding-globulin in the serum. 

Cortisol dysregulation can contribute to sugar cravings, stress, PMS, hormonal issues, fatigue, menstrual issues, sleep disruption, and mood swings can be all symptoms of hormone imbalances. Elevated cortisol suppresses gastric emptying and slows digestion which may lead to digestive issues if stress becomes chronic.   

The hormone DHEA is a major androgen in women and men- and the most abundant circulating hormone in humans.  DHEA is made in the adrenal cortex in the Zona Reticularis.  Cholesterol makes pregnenolone and gets converted into DHEA by the necessary enzymes and genes. 

Catabolic and anabolic ratio – balance is key and depends on our response to stress as well as how frequent or excessive stress we experience.  Is our stress an acute dose or non-stop chronic ongoing dose of stress?  DHEA may be reduced not only from chronic stress and excess cortisol secretion but also facilitated from feedback inhibitions, receptor signaling and genomic regulation of enzymes.  Genes that impact our conversion of DHEA include CYP11A1 and CYP017.  

DHEA and DHEAs function as anabolic -as a counter-regulatory agent to cortisol and managed by the HPA Axis and response to stress.  DHEA helps negate the harmful effects of excess cortisol (impacts from chronic stress).  DHEA is the parent of androstane, androstenedione, testosterone and estrogens.

DHEA promotes growth and repair of our protein tissue (muscle tissue) and acts in opposite of Cortisol (anabolic vs. catabolic hormones).  DHEA is the precursor to the sex hormones as testosterone and estrogens- becoming active at puberty and begins to decline as we age especially when cortisol is constantly elevated.  Lowered levels of DHEA often provides signs and symptoms towards progression of HPA axis dysregulation.  DHEA also plays a main role in our immune status, mental function and optimal energy levels.    Aging is a large contribute to lowering levels of DHEA as well as excessive release of cortisol. 

We are looking at the big picture and not treating the symptoms as low hormone levels as the imbalances are NOT the problem but the result of the problem.  We may see low levels of DHEA and, but we don’t immediately give a DHEA supplement to “fix” the problem.  Instead we run a variety of labs to find out where the hidden stressors and contributors may be coming from to contribute to METABOLIC CHAOS.   Where are looking for the WHY…why is the hormone low or high… is it a metabolic efficiency or something else?  We continue with our investigation of the WHOLE individual and put the pieces of the puzzle together.   

The body makes three estrogen hormones naturally- estradiol, estrone, and estriol. These are steroid hormones and are the main sex hormones for women.  

Estradiol is the more potent strong estrogen we make.   Estriol is one of the three principle estrogen produced by the body.  If we see estrogen levels are elevated– excess estrogen levels will contribute to mood swings, tender breasts, water retention, nervousness, irritability, anxiousness, fibroids, weight gain around the hips and changes in bleeding. 

Or if we see estrogens levels decreased – deficiencies in estrogen can contribute to hot flashes, night sweats, foggy thinking, memory lapses, incontinence, depression and sleep disturbances. 

Progesterone plays a major role in women’s health as well as men’s prostate health.  Symptoms of excess progesterone include sleepiness, breast tenderness, mild depression and candida infections.  On the other extreme, progesterone deficiencies can contribute to hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, memory lapses, bone loss, depression, sleep disturbances and heart palpitations.

Low progesterone to estrogen ratio should be 30:1 or greater for post-menopausal women.  We want to avoid estrogen dominance.  If the ratio is off, we can see mood swings, tender breasts, nervousness, irritability, anxiousness, weight gain in hips, low libido and more. 

Testosteronehormone is an anabolic steroid hormone made from CHOLESTEROL in the testes for men and the ovaries for women as well as the adrenals in both genders.  Testosterone affects any tissue that has testosterone receptors and is an androgen which will contribute to male characteristics as voice changes, bone and hair.  Testosterone helps maintain bone density in men and women but also helps maintain the elasticity of our skin, cardiovascular health, libido and lean body mass.  Low testosterone levels in both men and women contribute to low libido.  Elevated testosterone can lead to excessive facial and body hair in women and voice changes.  Chronic stress can lead to low testosterone.

The hypothalamus and pituitary work together to produce sex hormones in both men and women. The pituitary produces enzymes to help convert cholesterol into pregnenolone (master hormone) then converts into progesterone to make cortisol or DHEA to make testosterone and estradiol.  Sex hormones binding globulin (SHBG) prevents the free hormone from being used up- bound hormones are delivered to the body to distant cells and converted appropriately- various locations to be used as needed.  The cells can use the hormone and get the desired effect – but we need to correct enzymes to make this conversion of hormones back into the usable form or into other hormones to be used by the cells.  The correct enzymes, as well as the adequate amount, is needed for proper hormone conversions.  Excess hormones can be cleared (and should) be cleared by the liver – which is why we need to test for liver function to make sure proper detoxication processes are working at optimal levels to eliminate excess and used hormones. 

The chain of events that starts with the Hypothalamus – but the entire process can become dysfunctional from inhibition or stimulation as well as poor feedback signals.   When hormones are converted, they are then used by the cells to get the desired effect of the hormone but if they are not binding to the hormone cell receptor sites then have an impact on hormone functions.  Another common contributor to hormone dysfunction is lack of clearance of hormones in the liver then they can build up in the body and cause hormonal disruptions.  Signs and symptoms of low testosterone can be a result of so many hormone dysfunctions in the body systems.

Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland but also in our gut.  Melatonin has an opposing relationship with the hormone cortisol as melatonin should be higher at night while cortisol should be lower, and in the morning- cortisol levels should be at their highest and melatonin lower.  Melatonin secretion is stimulated by light and should be higher at nighttime to help us sleep.  Melatonin provides a glance into the client’s gut function as well as their circadian rhythm. 

Melatonin is made in the GI tract by the enteroendocrine cells that line the digestive tract which is why testing melatonin levels will provide so much valuable information on gut function or rather dysfunction.  Melatonin actually aids in the digestion and our elimination processes, helps protect upper GI mucosal tissues in acid reflux, while it relaxes the smooth muscle in the GI wall.  The pineal gland contributes to our melatonin levels at nighttime, but our gut maintains the baseline levels over a 24-hour cycle.  Low melatonin levels may then be a result of gut dysfunction, pineal gland tissues or prolonged exposure to blue light (computer electronic devices).  We may also see client’s with elevated melatonin levels as a result of following a high muscle and organ meat diet, excessive exposure to darkness, chronic stress, blood sugar handling issues, pesticides, herbicides and other chemical exposures.   

Hormone imbalances can be a result of a dysfunction in the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands so we need to be reminded that signs and symptoms of hormone imbalances can be far removed from the underlying cause.  Our goal is to use the Biohealth 205A saliva panel test to identify the function of seven steroid hormones then use the FDN investigation process to restore the body back to normal function – working on improving the function of the HIDDEN Stressors (hormone, immune, digestion, detoxification, elimination and neurotransmitters)  by running the appropriate labs and incorporating the individualized DRESS for Health Success program for the client.

We can predict WHY any hormone can be out of balance, but we do know that chronic stress of any kind contributes to a loss of homeostasis, internal dysfunction, and contributing to “METABOLIC CHAOS”.  If we leave these imbalances alone, we will gradually diminish the vital or adaptive reserve of the client and lead the WHOLE body to more dysfunctions downstream in time. 

As an FDN Practitioner, we continue our investigation, starting north and work our way south, using labs to identify the areas of opportunity that would benefit from restored function and balance.  We continue our METABOLIC CHAOS investigation to identify healing opportunities- but starting with the steroidal hormones is one of the main areas we can collect many clues and discover contributors to HPA dysfunction.

We don’t want to diminish our metabolic reserve – instead we are focusing on COACHING UP the contributors to METABOLIC CHAOS to help the client improve their vitality and provide them with the tools to thrive each day.

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