In the wake of mandated lockdowns, stay-at-home orders and a pandemic that seems like it will never end, many of us are experiencing symptoms of stress, fluctuating mood swings, insomnia and all kinds of other mental and physical imbalances. We know this past year has been anything but easy — while at the same time, it’s been increasingly easy for many of us to feel like we are in a state of flux.
Your hormones are your body’s most powerful chemical messengers — and when they’re sending the wrong messages, this can lead to unfavourable results — such as stress, anxiety, mood swings, insomnia, weight gain and more.
Luckily, there are safe and holistic approaches that can help you recalibrate your body’s hormonal system. If you’ve been wondering if your body is out of balance, we’ve listed 4 common signs to look for. Lastly, we’ll review some ways in which naturopathic medicine can help you regulate your body again.
1. You feel extremely stressed and are experiencing mood swings
Mood swings are typically defined as a sudden or unaccountable change of mood. One minute, you might find yourself feeling happy, excited and optimistic about life — while the next, these feelings can be swiftly replaced with anxiety, anger or irritability. Fluctuating mood swings can hinder our ability to cope with daily stressors and tasks, in addition to negatively impacting our personal relationships, decreasing our productivity levels and so much more.
While many factors and situations can affect our mood, it’s not uncommon for fluctuating mood swings, extreme stress levels or an activation of the sympathetic nervous system to be caused by a shift in hormone levels.
Moreover, stress can have a myriad of psychological and physiological effects on the body — such as poor sleep habits, high blood pressure, fatigue and changes in appetite. Increased levels of stress causes cortisol levels to rise, which can further affect the overall quality of our behavioural and mental health.
2. You have trouble sleeping
If your hormones are out of balance, this can also lead to affected sleep quality. According to the National Sleep Foundation, women are much more likely to report experiencing sleep problems as a result of stress, anxiety or other mitigating factors.
Once poor sleep habits are adopted, this can unfortunately lead to a difficult cycle of mental and physical instability. Prolonged periods of sleep loss can easily lead to imbalanced cortisol levels. When cortisol levels are too low in the morning and too high at night, this can result in feelings of daily fatigue and nightly insomnia. Consequently, this can then cause difficulty with stress management, decreased levels of productivity and poor mental and physical health.
3. You have difficulty maintaining your weight
Your hormones control your metabolism, meaning they are inextricably linked to how much fat your body gains or burns. So when your hormones are off-kilter, this can easily result in rapid weight gain or overall difficulty with maintaining a healthy BMI.
Three hormones that are responsible for weight gain include:
Insulin: This hormone is secreted by the pancreas, which regulates glucose (sugar) levels and fat storage. Unhealthy eating habits (such as excess consumption of sugars or white refined flours) can lead to increased insulin secretion, which thereby leads to weight gain.
Glucagon: This is known as your body’s “fat burning” hormone, which often acts in opposition to insulin. When one hormone is up, the other one is usually down — which means that if your insulin levels are high, your glucagon levels are most likely too low and not properly burning excess fat.
Cortisol: As we’ve mentioned above, cortisol is your body’s stress hormone — which typically sees elevated levels during periods of stress. Unfortunately, cortisol usually works in tandem with insulin — meaning that when your insulin levels are high, your cortisol levels most likely are as well.
4. You’re experiencing acne and skin problems
Weight isn’t the only physical attribute that can be affected when your body is out of balance. Studies have shown that there is also a strong relationship between stress hormones and acne. When your body experiences increased levels of stress and anxiety, this can often lead to unwanted breakouts and decreased skin health.
One common culprit is a stress-related hormone called CRH (or corticotropin-releasing hormone). CRH binds to receptors in the skin’s sebaceous glands, which can then result in the production of excess sebum (or oil). Excess oil secretion is a common cause of acne, breakouts and skin inflammation.
How naturopathic medicine can help
Now that we’ve reviewed some of the most common signs that your body may be out of balance, how can a naturopathic approach help you optimize your hormone health?
Firstly, a naturopath will begin with listening to your concerns and holistic goals. Next, they may recommend hormone testing to properly diagnose your specific issues. Some treatment options may include:
Contact Yaletown Integrative Today
Yaletown Integrative is a new naturopathic medical group practice located in downtown Vancouver, BC. As passionate naturopathic physicians with a wealth of clinical experience, we are committed to helping you optimize your health again through naturopathic medicine.
To learn more about how we can help, contact the Yaletown team today. Start this year off by getting on a better path to wellness.