HORMONES 101: UNDERSTANDING IMBALANCE
Hormone issues are extremely common these days and often occur along with a number of other health challenges. Understanding hormone imbalance in the body is an extremely confusing science for the average person – and for no fault of their own. It is such a complicated topic that there is a medical specialty dedicated to the glands that secrete hormones in the body called endocrinology. There are many folks who are experiencing Secondary Conditions (a.k.a. symptoms) related to hormone imbalance even though they have not seen a specialist or received a diagnosis related to their endocrine system. Understanding how to begin to correct a hormone-related issue requires some working knowledge.
What do hormones do?
Hormones are produced and secreted to make a chemical change in the body. These changes often are related to demands occurring inside and outside of the body (i.e. menstrual cycle, stress at work, intense exercise). In order for the body to adjust to these changes appropriately, hormones must be secreted in the proper amount and at the proper times.
How does that happen?
There’s a tiny structure in the brain called the hypothalamus that has been likened to the “quarterback of the brain.” Information regarding the demands of the body (both inside and outside) travels up the spinal cord to the hypothalamus deep within the brain. As the “quarterback,” the hypothalamus reads this information and calls the appropriate “play” by relaying this information to the various regions of the brain. If this process happens normally then each part of the body acts in a coordinated effort to “run the play.”
What if the play gets disrupted?
Any “interference” to the quarterback may result in a broken-up play and in this instance, an abnormal production/secretion of hormones. Since the “play” (in this instance hormone demand) was called for a certain situation, anything less than perfect execution results in a decreased performance of the team (in this case the body). How this process manifests in the body is usually through the onset of Secondary Conditions a.k.a. symptoms.
What kinds of symptoms?
Hormone issues in the body appear in many ways:
UP and down levels of energy – some days there is energy through the roof and other days there is a crash in the early afternoon
UP and down levels of thirst and appetite – certain days there is little to no appetite and on other days there isn’t enough food around to satisfy the hunger
UP and down levels of concentration – sometimes there is an abundance of intense focus and at other times there is immense brain fog.
Here’s where addressing these issues becomes complicated. If there are symptoms suggesting that there is an issue related to hormones of the body, understanding what is causing that issue is essential to proper management. Generally speaking, the factors that can be causing or contributing to hormone issues in the body can be included in two main categories.
External Influences - There are certain classes of substances that can disrupt one or more of the complex pathways that factor into adequate hormone regulation. Oral contraceptives, alcohol, and nutritional phytoestrogens are just a few of the many external factors that may contribute to hormone dysregulation. Lack of exercise and increased levels of stress have also been shown to negatively impact the body’s ability to effectively maintain hormone balance.
Internal Influences - In a percentage of cases, a significant family history of hormone issues exists. A genetic predisposition may indicate an increased risk for hormone issues, though in some families that predisposition may not be expressed. For folks with a family history of hormone issues, it is important to work on the environmental factors that may contribute to the expression of their predisposition. Certain pathologies of endocrine tissues are certainly going to affect hormone regulation but are fairly uncommon and typically managed medically. One of the more overlooked areas of influence includes the decreased functional capacity of the nervous system as influenced by spinal structure.
Structural Shifts of significant magnitude in the upper neck region produce a negative impact on tissues that are vitally responsible in the neuro-endocrine cascade. The hypothalamus (a.k.a. quarterback of the brain) relays information to the brain regarding changes inside and outside the body. In the case of Atlas Displacement, a “spill-over” of information from the spinal joints may distort signals coming from the body to be interpreted in the brain. This situation is similar to the quarterback on the field who is unable to read the play from the sidelines due to the loud cheers of the opposing team’s fans. As the play clock winds down the quarterback is unable to organize the other men on the field to execute the play effectively. What results is very rarely the best representation of the offense’s full potential. The same can be said for the expression of health in the body when structural shifts in the spine produce a chronic stress response in the body.
Qualified Doctors of Chiropractic are uniquely positioned to detect these structural problems and develop an individualized program of correction. For folks who are dealing with hormone issues, a multi-faceted approach is recommended. Consulting with a Doctor focused on the Blair Upper Cervical method of NeuroStructural Correction may help to uncover contributing factors that have previously been overlooked.