Hormones are the chemical messengers coordinated and managed by the body’s endocrine system in order to regulate many of our essential functions like growth, embryo development and balancing electrolytes in the body. Hormones also influence behavior, reaction to stimuli (like fear, excitement or stress); as well as how efficiently we produce, use and store energy.
In addition to estrogen and testosterone, some of the other vital hormones our body creates are:
ACTH – produced in the pituitary gland it influences the release of corticosteroid hormones from the adrenal glands
ADH – produced in the pituitary gland to help the kidneys reabsorb water
Adrenaline & Noradrenaline – produced in the adrenal gland to help the body react under stress. They can increase heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar levels and even the rate of blood clotting.
Insulin – secreted by the pancreas to regulate the storage and use of carbohydrates
Thyroid hormone – influences nearly every bodily function, especially growth, development and metabolism
The levels of hormones produced in the body are influenced by stimuli the body receives and are regulated by complex biological feedback systems. Any disruption to this balance can cause an increase or decrease in the amounts of hormones produced, which can lead to decreased health.
We encounter both man made and nature made endocrine disruptors daily in our food, food packaging, personal hygiene items, cosmetics, children’s toys and products, items with chemically produced fragrances, tap water — the list is so extensive that it is easily overwhelming. Some items that may surprise you include cash register receipts, medical tubing, sunscreen, anti-bacterial soaps, microwave popcorn bags, diapers, scented garbage bags, electronics and building materials.
Endocrine disruptors can mimic our hormones or block natural hormones from doing their job, resulting in an equally long list of physical issues. Disruptors have been linked to endometriosis, early puberty, cancers, issues with nervous system and immune functions, metabolic issues, respiratory problems, neurological and learning disabilities, cardiovascular problems and more.
If you suffer from a weakened immune system, infertility, obesity, diabetes, or psychological stress you may want to ask your health care provider to check your hormone levels. At Health Remedies we offer a selection of lab tests easily taken at home. Testing is valuable because the presence of even small amounts of a disruptor can have health effects and some disruptors have a cumulative effect.
In the meantime, there are some simple lifestyle changes recommended by the Natural Resource Defense Council that you can make now to help reduce your exposure to endocrine disruptors.
Washing your hands frequently is the easiest step to take. It rinses a substantial amount of chemical residue off your skin. Just be sure to use a fragrance-free soap and avoid antibacterial soaps.
Dust and vacuum often to reduce exposure to flame-retardant chemicals until you can afford to replace the common household items containing them (electronics, couches, baby products). Remember to dust with a damp cloth and use a HEPA Filtered vacuum.
Switch to Fragrance-Free products! It isn’t necessary for products like skin creams, cleaning products or laundry detergents to work. While you can swap these out with items scented with essential oils, keep in mind that some essential oils are also natural hormone disruptors, so be sure to do your research.
If you don’t have time to make homemade products, clean safer by purchasing items the voluntarily disclose their ingredients and look for the “Safer Choice label.” Companies aren’t required to list ingredients on their labels, making it almost impossible to know what chemicals a cleaning product contains.
And, if you haven’t already, you will want to reduce your use of plastics, increasingly choosing organic produce, avoid canned foods, and filter your tap water!
If you are ready to take a comprehensive look at how well your own endocrine system is functioning, we recommend the NeuroHormone Complete Panel Plus home lab test. It includes Neurotransmitter, Hormone and Adrenal tests; a 15-minute consultation with a nurse practitioner and treatment plan. Some insurance companies cover the cost of this test. Call 800-385-7863 for more information, or visit our product listing.
Resources: Natural Resource Defense Council, Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, Endocrine Society’s HormoneHealth Network