The endocrine system is a network of eight major glands that operate as a chemical messenger system, producing and releasing hormones that help control your body’s metabolism. Hormones influence almost every function in your body, including cell growth, digestion, reproduction, and mood.
Endocrine disorders may result when one of the glands in this network produces too much or too little hormone, causing a hormonal imbalance. Endocrine disorders or endocrine disease can also occur when the body’s endocrine feedback system fails to adequately regulate hormone levels in the bloodstream, sending faulty signals to other glands in the system. Other possible causes for endocrine disorders are infection, genetic disorders, physical injury to a gland, or a tumor of the gland.
Hormone levels fluctuate as we age, but a hormone imbalance or disorder can indicate a more serious issue with your endocrine system. Possible causes include stress, eating problems, injury, or a tumor. Certain medications and treatments, such as chemotherapy, can also lead to hormonal disruption.
Symptoms of a hormone imbalance
Hormones play a vital role in so many of our bodily functions, and the symptoms of a hormonal imbalance can range from weight gain to depression. Some of the more common symptoms that would prompt further investigation include:
- Unexplained or sudden weight loss
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Constipation or Diarrhoea
- Dry skin
These symptoms are not necessarily connected to a hormone issue—that’s why I offer my patients a Caregiver Clarity Call, so together, we can find the root cause of their health problems.
Types of Endocrine & Hormonal Disorders
Endocrine diseases affect a significant number of Americans. Diabetes is the most common condition, with an estimated 24% of the U.S population either diabetic or prediabetic. Other common endocrine and hormonal diseases include endometriosis, Cushing syndrome, and fibromyalgia.
One of the most common endocrine diseases that we see in our practice is diabetes, particularly Type 2 diabetes, where the body does not make or use insulin very well. If you have been diagnosed as prediabetic, I can help you with a complete diet, exercise, and weight control program that will let you live better and avoid developing diabetes.
Endometriosis is a hormone disorder where rogue uterine cells grow outside of the uterus, causing irritation and inflammation to the affected locations. The main symptoms are excessive menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, and painful intercourse. Like many hormone disorders, genetics plays a part; however, there is growing evidence that poor diet and lack of exercise may play a role.
Conventional treatment often involves synthetic hormone therapy, but I recommend my patients fully explore a nutrition-based therapy first, together with supplements that support your vital organs and keep estrogen levels in check.
Patients with Cushing syndrome have too much cortisol in their system, causing symptoms such as fatty tissue deposits, fragile skin, fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Cushing Syndrome can be brought on by extended or excessive use of oral corticosteroids such as prednisone. Other causes include a possible tumor in the pituitary gland, which in turn triggers the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol. Natural treatments for Cushing syndrome revolve around improving the diet and undergoing weight-based exercise to keep your bones and muscles healthy.
It’s unclear whether fibromyalgia is a nervous disorder or a rheumatic disorder. Research has demonstrated that people with the condition have low levels of essential hormones such as serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine. The main symptom is widespread pain and extreme environmental sensitivity, including touch, bright lights, certain foods, etc. Other associated symptoms may include headaches, IBS, dizziness, and depression. Traditional treatments for fibromyalgia include a wide range of medications—but in functional medicine, we also explore ways that your body can heal itself through exercise, diet, and relaxation techniques.
An underactive thyroid is known as hypothyroidism. Your body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones, creating a range of symptoms such as low energy levels, reduced muscle strength, and weight gain. The traditional treatment for hypothyroidism is a thyroid hormone replacement medication, but as with any medication, there can be side effects. A functional medicine approach includes natural solutions such as mineral supplements, diet modification, and probiotics that offer an alternative wellness path.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is caused by elevated levels of certain hormones, resulting in the development of cysts in the ovaries. PCOS affects about five million women in the U.S., and symptoms include weight gain, irregular periods, and even infertility in severe cases. An essential approach in any treatment program is nutrition—adopting a healthier, whole food diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods will help reduce the symptoms of PCOS.
Low testosterone is also known as hypogonadism. Testosterone, which helps maintain muscle mass, bone density, and sex drive, tends to lower naturally with age, but this drop falls outside of the normal range for some men. Besides traditional hormone treatments for low T, my patients also receive a comprehensive set of lifestyle and nutritional strategies to help them re-energize their body and spirit.
Osteoporosis is a disease where your bones’ quality and density are reduced, making them weak and more likely to break. The condition affects both sexes, but women have a higher risk than men. We can assist with a bone density test to determine if you already have osteoporosis or have a higher risk of the disease. While some risk factors, such as age, ethnicity, and body size, cannot be managed, there are many lifestyle and diet choices that, together with appropriate medications, can significantly improve outcomes for patients.
Growth Hormone Deficiency
Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is a condition that occurs when the pituitary gland doesn’t produce enough growth hormone. It’s more common in children than adults and occurs in 1 in 7000 births. The condition can be treated successfully with synthetic growth hormones, especially when diagnosed early. Head injuries, infections, and radiation treatments can cause Acquired Growth Hormone Deficiency (AGHD).
The symptoms of growth hormone deficiency for children are:
- Shorter than their peers
- Rounder, chubbier faces
- Not meeting weight growth standards
Teens or adults with acquired growth hormone deficiency (AGHD) typically have the following symptoms:
- Higher levels of body fat
- Less muscle mass and less strength
- Anxiety & Depression
- Reduced bone density
As a functional medicine practitioner, my goal is to restore your body’s natural balance with a holistic approach that integrates traditional medicine and complementary therapies such as detoxification, nutrition, and meditation. For many endocrine disorders, there is no absolute cure. However, by combining the best of traditional and functional medicine, I can help my patients achieve better health outcomes, allowing them to manage their condition and live a fulfilling life.
Take the first step to becoming your own healer with a Caregiver Clarity Call. Together, we can address the underlying issues that lead to conditions such as cardiovascular and metabolic disease.