Tag Archives: cortisol levels

 

Cortisol Levels and Allergies in Minnesota

 

Are you noticing increased fatigue, headaches, itchy eyes, sneezing and congestion? Allergies are one of the most common concerns in Minnesota and United States with hay fever being the 5th leading chronic disease in the country. According to recent statistics, this chronic disease is to blame for almost 4 million missed or lost work days yearly for a total of more than $7 million in lost productivity annually. Frequently thought of as an incurable disease by practitioners and patients alike, successful management of seasonal allergies is attainable and extends beyond antihistamine and decongestant use. One Stop Wellness Clinic in Edina, MN can help provide optimal adrenal function for regulating allergy symptoms this spring. The adrenal glands’ ability to maintain optimal cortisol output significantly influences the severity of allergy symptoms.

Histamine is the mediator governing inflammatory responses in the body from injury and the common cold to insect bites and seasonal allergies. Its actions on the H1 receptor result in hives, itching and allergic rhinitis. Cortisol production from the adrenal glands is a key factor in controlling the body’s histamine levels. Cortisol levels that are suboptimal or deficient, as seen in many patients with adrenal dysfunction, allergy symptoms tend to be more severe. In addition to decreasing mast cell degranulation and activation, cortisol inhibits histidine decarboxylase (the enzyme responsible for the histamine cascade) thus inhibiting production and accumulation of histamine in tissues. Given this, it comes as no surprise that histamine levels tend to be highest around 3 AM – hours after cortisol reaches its lowest diurnal level.

While physiologic dosing of hydrocortisone in individuals with established adrenal gland dysfunction can help alleviate allergy symptoms, adjunctive therapies are necessary to optimize the adrenal glands’ potential endogenous production of cortisol. Considerations include addressing lifestyle factors such as sleep and stress management, supplementing co-factors necessary for cortisol production (vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin E) and the use of adaptogenic herbs. Frequently used adaptogens include: Rhodiola rosea, Ashwaganda, Glycyrrhiza glabar, Panax ginseng, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Cordyceps sinensis and Ocinum sanctum.

In conclusion, it should be no surprise to find a relationship between seasonal allergy symptoms and suboptimal or insufficient diurnal cortisol levels. Accurate assessment of cortisol levels and adrenal dysfunction is easily done with One Stop Wellness Clinic’s salivary cortisol testing in Minneapolis.

 

 

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Chronic Stress in Minnesota and Hormone Health

 

Stress for Minnesotans, whether it’s perceived or not perceived, can be physical, mental, emotional and environmental in nature. There are often events and periods of time in life that can be identified as particularly stressful such as a car accident, death of a loved one or job loss. Stress is not only negative but can be associated with positive circumstances as well, such as a wedding or job promotion. In addition to these major life events, there are many factors that add to an individual’s stress load including: infections, allergies, depression, chronic disease, overworking, guilt, sleep deprivation, toxic exposures, blood sugar fluctuations, medications and more.
Hormones, including cortisol and DHEA from the adrenal glands, are an integral part of the physiological stress response. While the body’s intricate hormonal system is adept at handling isolated stressful events, Minneapolis’s busy world equipped with cell phones, fluorescent lights, traffic and more, presents a taxing environment of consistent stressors. This state of consistent stress increases the body’s demand for adrenal hormones and often results in hormonal dysregulation.

Pregnenolone Steal

Pregnenolone, the primary precursor hormone to all steroid hormones, including cortisol, DHEA, estradiol, progesterone and testosterone, is essential in the body’s guest to maintain adequate cortisol levels during times of chronic and consistent stress. While pregnenolone can be directed toward the production of any of these various hormones, increased demand for cortisol due to constant stress results in the shunting of pregnenolone down the pathway that favors cortisol production thus leaving less of this pro-hormone available to produce the other steroid hormones. The hormonal imbalance that ensues further contributes to the overall stress burden of the body, further compounding the existing picture of chronic stress.

Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen dominance refers to a state where there is a greater influence of estrogen than progesterone on tissues. There are many situations and conditions that can contribute to this imbalance including increases in estrogen production, exposure to exogenous estrogens, and decreased progesterone production. Because the body can convert progesterone to cortisol, increased stress (and a higher demand for cortisol) often results in decreased progesterone production, thereby exacerbating the imbalance between the estrogens and progesterone.

Stress = Adrenal Fatigue

Our endocrine system is designed to handle an acute stressful event and allows us to protect ourselves from danger or flee from it. The constant barrage of micro-stressful events such as traffic, social stresses, infectious agents, chemical exposures etc. often result in a chronically stimulated adrenal response. While most other animals rest and allow their systems to calm after a stressful encounter, we rarely give our bodies the actual break we need. Over time, with continued stimulation, the stress response becomes less sensitive and the signal to produce cortisol lessens, often to the point of very little cortisol output at all; this is called Adrenal fatigue or exhaustion. Adrenal fatigue can happen to some people after a single stressful event, while for others it occurs after an accumulation of smaller stressors. We are all different, and the length of time we can “keep up the pace” is variable, that is why it important to get your hormones tested and balanced at One Stop Wellness Center in Edina, MN.

 

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Why Hormone Saliva Testing is better than Blood and Urine for Minnesotans

 

When deciding how to assess hormone levels it is important to do testing instead of guessing, and it is important to have ongoing testing and monitoring like One Stop Wellness Clinic in Minnesota does. Urine testing cannot measure progesterone directly, instead it just the metabolites of progesterone so it is not a sufficiently accurate tool for direct measurement for assessing deficiencies and subsequent treatment.

In addition, once a patient is started on a prescription of topical hormones the adjusted hormone levels cannot be accurately assessed through urine or blood — only saliva. This is because blood and urine will not show bioavailable hormone levels. Saliva, on the other hand, does reflect changes in hormone levels shown when a patient is on a topical hormone replacement and it is a proven method for adjusting and monitoring therapy. This is why we at, One Stop Wellness Center, tests estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol only in saliva. The only hormone not testing in saliva is a thyroid panel which is tested with a blood sample. Lastly, providers in Minneapolis who decide to use urine or blood testing will often find that it takes a long time to get prescription rates correct and existing symptoms continue while new symptoms may appear.

 

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Hormone Testing for Breast Health in Minnesota Women

 

Hormone balance plays an important role in maintaining healthy breasts for women living in Minnesota. The hormones progesterone and estrogen both impact breast tissue. Estrogen is important for cell growth and breast development. Progesterone is a protective hormone and will help slow tissue growth. When estrogen and progesterone are in balance, breast tissue is likely to be healthy. When the two hormones are out of balance, symptoms often appear in Minneapolis women. Symptoms include: breast pain, cysts or lumps, fibrocystic changes, breast tenderness, change in breast size, or nipple discharge.
Low levels of progesterone can sometimes cause breast tenderness in women. Estrogen Dominance is a common occurrence and manifests when there is too much estrogen in the body in comparison to progesterone. Peri-menopausal is the term for the years leading up to menopause, which can begin as early as age 40. Progesterone levels drop quite sharply during peri-menopause while estrogen levels can often stay high. Estrogen Dominance is more likely to occur in peri-menopausal and post menopausal women. High levels of estrogen, especially Estrone and Estradiol can be detrimental to breast tissue. Long term Estrogen Dominance is a significant risk factor for breast cancer.
Vitamin D, a powerful antioxidant hormone, and the mineral Iodine play key roles in maintaining healthy breast tissue. If these nutrient and hormones are out of balance you may have an increased risk for breast health issues. While exams are a vital part of overall breast care, keeping your breasts healthy involves keeping hormones balanced and tissues healthy. As we age, our production of sex hormones changes naturally. However, with proper monitoring and treatment by One Stop Wellness Clinic, these changes do not have to have a negative effect on your body.
It is important to do breast exams and mammograms to check for abnormal cells. It is equally important to test your hormone levels to identify possible risk factors for breast cancer. As many as 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime so being proactive with breast health is a wise choice. Hormone testing and follow up with our practitioners at One Stop Wellness Center is crucial for determining you optimal treatment program.

 

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How are hormones related to weight gain in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota?

 

Weight loss programs invoke images of salads, hours in the gym, and dessert deprivation. Hormone testing probably doesn’t come to mind. However as we age, estrogen and progesterone levels decline, while androgen levels (testosterone and DHEA) can increase in those living in MN. These changes not only increase the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, but they also shift how and where fat is stored in our bodies.

Attempting to lose weight without addressing the hormonal component is like going to the gym then eating a big piece of chocolate cake. Focusing on whole foods, reducing refined carbohydrates, exercising as prescribed by your doctor and treating any hormone imbalances will help you successfully lose weight and keep it off. Common weight related hormone symptoms include: increased waist size, bloating, decreased stamina, and difficulty maintaining weight loss.

As we age our basal metabolic rate (BMR) slows down, increasing the number of calories that are converted to fat. Estrogen is stored in fat cells, as estrogen levels drop, your body compensates by storing more fat. The body responds to this change in hormone level by accumulating fat around the abdomen creating more of an apple shape. The thyroid gland has an impact on metabolism. Iodine and vitamin D can impact how well the thyroid gland is functioning. Low iodine and vitamin D levels can contribute to underlying factors in the struggle to lose weight. Hormone changes redirect the body to store fat in an attempt to conserve hormone and energy stores. However, these stores are often counter-productive to health and well-being. Balancing your hormones can help facilitate lasting weight loss.

Hormone testing and follow up monitoring is a critical step in a successful weight loss program. Testing may involve reproductive, adrenal, and thyroid hormone testing. Due to the complexity of the endocrine system, issues rarely stem from a single hormone.

 

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Premenopausal and PMS Symptoms for Women in MN

 

The term “estrogen dominance” can be confusing at times because it does not relate solely to the amount of circulating estrogen in the body, but rather to the relationship between estrogen and progesterone. Contrary to popular belief in Minnesota, many of the symptoms experienced during PMS are not due to estrogen deficiency, but rather are due to estrogen dominance.

Although estrogen levels do decline with age (approximately 40 – 60% at menopause), more relevant is the fact that, at menopause, progesterone levels plummet by close to 90% from premenopausal levels in women in Minneapolis, MN. It is the relative loss of progesterone that causes the majority of symptoms termed “estrogen dominance.” This disproportionate loss of progesterone begins in the latter stages of a woman’s reproductive years, when impairments to the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle begin.

The reduction in progesterone production is initiated when the remnant tissue of the follicle post ovulation (called the corpus luteum) begins to lose its functional capacity. Outside of pregnancy, the corpus luteum is the primary source of progesterone in the female body. By the time a woman reaches her mid-thirties, luteal phase defects are common and result in decreased progesterone production by the corpus luteum. Also increasingly common beginning at this time is anovulatory cycles which result in a lack of corpus luteum formation and thus, a virtual lack of progesterone production. It is during this time that a relative progesterone deficiency, or what has become known as estrogen dominance, develops.

Typical symptoms of estrogen dominance in Minnesota women are PMS symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, water retention, headaches, fatigue, breast tenderness/fibrocystic breasts. Prolonged estrogen dominance can result in depression, irregular or heavy periods, increased facial hair, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, uterine fibroids, decreased libido, diffuse aches & pain, sleep disturbance, osteoporosis, memory loss, lack of concentration, dry skin, and thinning of scalp hair.

Patients experiencing these symptoms in Minneapolis and St Paul areas will likely benefit from hormone balancing treatments including natural hormone replacement. The most effective way to assess hormone status is to test saliva for the appropriate hormone levels. Saliva is the best method for testing “functional” or “active” tissue levels of hormones.

 

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Food Cravings and Hormones in Minnesota

 

Hormones play an important role in maintaining blood sugar balance and restorative sleep patterns in minnesotans. The adrenal glands make cortisol, which impacts blood sugar levels, blood pressure, heart rate, and metabolism. The amount and daily pattern of cortisol production can influence how your body uses or stores fat. Cortisol is also important for controlling levels of inflammation throughout the body and immune function. The ideal cortisol pattern is elevated first thing in the morning, decreasing towards night time. Over time, continued stress disrupts the delicate balance of hormones, including how much and when cortisol is made and released.

Cortisol is commonly referred to as the “stress hormone”. Normally cortisol levels are highest 30 minutes after awakening and then taper down throughout the day. Cortisol is “designed” to help the body respond to a stressful event. When the event passes, cortisol levels drop. When your body is under constant stress your nervous system never receives the signal to relax. This causes the cortisol response to become altered, which can lead to other hormones going awry. Long busy days and short nights of sleep send messages to the body that it is in a state of stress. We may be civilized, but our bodies are still ruled by primitive survival drives. The body begins to store fat as a response to stress, so there are stores ready for a future event that threatens survival.

Over a period of time with constant stress, the adrenal glands produce less and less cortisol, yet the stress continues. Without enough cortisol the body needs to find energy from somewhere else. Our bodies crave sugar, caffeine, and other stimulants to counteract low cortisol levels and temporarily raise energy levels. If you crave sweet things regularly- you may want to check your hormones in the clinics located in Minneapolis and St. Paul areas.

Some signs that cortisol and other hormone levels are out of balance include: sugar cravings, difficulty sleeping, tired but wired, afternoon slump, headaches, and constantly stressed.

 

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Managing Menopause in Minnesota with Hormone Balancing

 

Women’s life expectancy is now 83 years of age on average, which means women are likely to live nearly half their lives after menopause. While menopause is a natural process, the rapid aging side effects that can accompany changes in hormone levels can be avoided. There are healthful and safe ways to reclaim the vitality of your youth. Live longer, be attractive, and age gracefully into your 90’s and beyond.

Some symptoms of menopause are hot flashes, sleeplessness, menstrual changes, unwanted hair growth, weight gain, thinning skin, depression, and bone loss. When a woman has not had a period for twelve consecutive months she is considered to be post-menopausal. Hormone levels do not suddenly drop at menopause, gradual changes occur for as long as 12 years prior to menopause. These years are known as peri-menopause and during this time progesterone levels begin to drop significantly. Estrogen levels also change but rarely in balance with the change in progesterone levels. Both estrogen and progesterone need to be in balance for the body to function optimally. That is why it is so important to have your changes in hormone levels and balanced.

Estrogen dominance is common during peri-menopause and leads to mood changes, hot flashes, irritability and memory loss. Persistent estrogen dominance is a risk factor for certain types of cancer. In addition to normal hormone decline with age, the stress of family, career, relationships can affect adrenal function. This may cause imbalanced cortisol levels and further compounding menopausal symptoms.

At your first visit, the saliva test will be explained and how you do it. The hormones that will be tested are estrogen (E1, E2 and E3), progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol levels four times throughout the day. These tests will allow the healthcare professional to find the best way to balance your hormones!

 

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Male Andropause in Minnesota

 

Andropause is a condition in males in which hormones especially testosterone is low. Testosterone plays a critical role in maintaining both physical and mental health. The production of male hormones for the most males in Minnesota taper off steadily from the age of 35 onward. This physiologic decrease can cause changes in sexual function, mood, energy level and body composition. Some of the symptoms associated with decreased testosterone production in the Minnesota men are: decreased erectile function decreased mental ability, insulin resistance, loss of muscle strength, loss of muscle mass, less energy, weight gain, trouble urinating, prostate problems, and bone loss.

Stress management, regular exercise, healthy nutrition, dietary supplements and hormone supplementation have all been shown to raise androgen levels in men and help counter andropausal symptoms. While testosterone is thought of as the male hormone, it is also important to maintain appropriate levels of estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, and cortisol. The imbalance of testosterone in relation to estrogen may contribute to prostate problems. If the adrenal system (cortisol and DHEA) is out of balance, the men in the Minneapolis and St Paul areas may also experience problems with nervous and immune systems and may develop blood sugar irregularities. These irregularities also contribute to cardiovascular health risk. As we age our production of sex hormones changes, the adrenals play a central role in sustaining optimal health and sex hormone function. Maintaining healthy adrenal function is also an essential piece of aging well.

Initial salivary testing and follow up salivary monitoring are crucial for determining the most optimal treatment program. Due to the complexity of the hormone system, issues that arise rarely stem from just one hormone. If there is a disruption in the balance of hormones produced by one gland, it can cause other glandular systems to participate and soon throw off the body’s entire system.

 

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Importance of the Hormone Cortisol and Testing in Minnesota

 

Your adrenal glands make cortisol, which impacts blood sugar levels, blood pressure, heart rate, and metabolism. The amount and daily pattern of cortisol production can influence how your body uses or stores fat. Cortisol is also important for controlling levels of inflammation throughout the body. The ideal cortisol pattern is elevated first thing in the morning, decreasing towards night time. Over time, continued stress disrupts the delicate balance of hormones, included how much and when cortisol is made and released.

Cortisol is commonly referred to as the “Stress Hormone”. It plays an important role in glucose metabolism, blood pressure regulation, insulin release, immune function and inflammatory response. Cortisol is designed to help the body respond to a stressful event. When the event passes, cortisol levels decrease. When your body is under constant stress, your nervous system never receives the signal to relax which can lead to other hormones going awry.

Long busy days and short nights of sleep send messages to the body that it is in a state of stress. We may be civilized, but our bodies are still ruled by primitive survival drives. The body begins to store fat as a response to the stress, so there are stores ready for a future event that threatens survival. Over a period of time with constant stress, the adrenal glands produce less and less cortisol. Without enough cortisol the body needs to find energy from somewhere else so our bodies crave sugar, caffeine, and other stimulants to counteract low cortisol levels and temporarily raise energy levels.

Some signs that cortisol and other hormone levels are out of balance might include: sugar cravings, difficulty sleeping, tired but wired, afternoon slump, headaches, or constantly stressed. However, proper hormone balancing can help the people in Minneapolis and St Paul lose weight, reduce moodiness, feeling more energetic, sleep better, and curb cravings. Come visit our One Stop Wellness Clinic in Edina, Minnesota and get your cortisol and other hormones balanced and tested today!

 

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