Hormones in Harmony

Living abundant joy through bio-psycho-spiritual balancing

Location: Ojai, California, United States

Welcome to Hormones in Harmony where I shall share pearls of wisdom gathered over two decades of consulting with the hormonally challenged. As a holistic nurse practitioner specializing in neuro-immune-endocrinology, I have merged my western education with eastern philosophies, but the key to being a successful healer is to embody physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. At 54, married for 32 years with two grown children, I strive to keep my Hormones in Harmony with a positive attitude, a loving environment, and faithful consumption of Genesis Gold.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


The adrenal glands are one of the hardest working organs in the body.
They control blood pressure, orchestrate protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism, influence the immune system and run the stress response.

The catabolic adrenal hormone--cortisol--breaks down tissues. Skin, hair, nails, muscles, and organs. Bones break down leading to osteoporosis. Even the gut lining is affected by high levels of cortisol leading to leaky gut syndrome, food allergies and malabsorption.

Remember the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis? Stress induces an adrenaline response which alerts the hypothalamus which in turn stimulates the pituitary to tell the adrenals to produce cortisol to fuel the fight or flight response.

The hypothalamus is the maestro of the entire system. And it does not know the difference between a tiger chasing you and you being late for work. The adrenal response is the same--adrenaline-- cortisol-- DHEA-- cortisone. Over and over and over again, day after day, week after week, for months, maybe years on end, the stress of modern day life puts a toll on the adrenals. Eventually they become fatigued, producing less and less cortisol and DHEA until you can hardly function.

What are the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue?

Profound fatigue. You struggle to wake up in the morning. You need caffeine and sugar to start your day. Your energy crashes in the afternoon. Sometimes you get a second wind at night and cannot sleep. A days circadian rhythm is usually early in the course of adrenal dysfunction.

Hair loss. Your nails are brittle and slow growing. Your skin is dry and aging fast, although early in the stress response the high cortisol levels will induce oily, acne prone skin. Wounds heal very slowly. This is partially because of the catabolic nature of cortisol and mostly because of the lower production of DHEA that helps you metabolize protein and fat to grow new you (hair, skin, nails and other more important tissues) if your hair, skin and nails are unhealthy, you can bet that your internal organs do not look so good.

 Sick alot. You cannot seem to recover from illnesses. You keep catching one cold after another. All your old viruses come back to haunt you. You break out in old sores, genital warts, relapse with chronic infections like Epstein Barr and hepatitis. Your immune system does not seem to be working properly.

Cravings. You crave sugar after you eat. When you eat,  cortisol is produced which releases stored sugar so that you have immediate fuel until your food is digested. Tired adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol and you crave sugar after you eat. 

And then you crave salt. Why? Because your adrenals also make another hormone called aldosterone that regulates salt water balance. Fatigued adrenals do not produce enough aldosterone, so your blood pressure is low. You get up too fast and you feel dizzy. Healthy adrenals produce enough aldosterone to raise your blood pressure twenty points when you rise from a lying to a standing position. Otherwise if you were napping under a tree, how would you be able to get away from that tiger?

Slow metabolism. Eventually your thyroid is affected. That's because thyroid function is controlled by the same hypothalamic hormone as the adrenal glands.

Sex hormones begin to decline. That's because reproduction is not a necessary function whe your body is under profound stress. Most brides experience this stress repsonse when their period shows up on their wedding day. Your adrenals use progesterone to make cortisol. Progesterone stabilizes the lining of the uterus. High stress equals high cortisol production and there is not enough progesterone to regulate the menstrual cycle. Eventually inadeaquately opposed estrogen leads to heavy, painful periods and fibroids. (more info on female hormones here)

Conventional medicine does not recognize adrenal fatigue. Why? Because while adrenal fatigue is not optimal functioning, it is not a disease. Allopathic practitioners treat diseases. Complete adrenal failure is called Addison's disease. Your adrenal glands no longer produce cortisol. You need cortisol to survive, so you are given synthetic cortisone for the rest of your life.

Why wait until you have full blown Addison's disease? Why not stop before you fall off the cliff?

Integrative medicine recognizes less than optimal functioning as something that can be improved through better lifestyle choices, detoxification, and supplementation.

Adrenal fatigue is recognized by integrative medicine as a treatable condition.

Adaptogenic herbs, B vitamins, essential fatty acids  can help adrenal glands recover. Glandular products are also useful initially to support adrenal function. Sometimes bio identical cortisol and DHEA is prescribed to supplement adrenal function.

I believe the body will heal itself given the proper nutrients. So first I recommend a foundational support to heal the adrenals as well as all the organ systems affected by stress. Getting the adrenals functioning properly will stop the hair loss, weight gain, and aging, but the body needs extra nutrients to grow hair and healthy skin,  improve body composition to increase lean body mass and decrease body fat, and optimize health.

Then I recommend hypothalamic support to improve the communication system between the adrenals and the brain. Supporting the hypothalamus allows it to orchestrate the rest of the endocrine system as well as the neurological and immune system to harmonize the symphony of hormones, neurotransmitters and cytokines so your DNA dances optimal health and well being.

Yes, I recommend adrenal glandulars and adaptogenic herbs to boost adrenal activity, but revving the engine without providing gas and oil will burn out the vehicle.

Genesis Gold is the fuel the body needs to detoxify, rebuild and heal itself. Sacred Seven amino acids provides the hypothalamic support to optimize genetic function.

Start your healing journey. Order GenesisGold and Sacred Seven here.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Your Adrenals—How Stress Makes You Fat

Stress—a fact of modern day living and the cause of so many diseases. Stress has been linked to heart disease, cancer, allergies, autoimmune disease, thyroid dysfunction, mood disorders and obesity.

While stress affects many parts of the body, the adrenals are responsible for creating the stress response.

What are the Adrenals?

The adrenals are small glands that lie on top (ad) of the kidneys (renals). These amazing glands have multiple functions. While the adrenals are endocrine glands producing hormones in response to pituitary stimulus that control carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, the adrenals also respond to neurological stimuli to initiate the fight or flight response, as well as electrolytes circulating in the blood to control blood pressure, and produce cytokines that influence immune function.

That's a lot of responsibility for one pair of glands.

So what happens when you are under stress?

First, the adrenals are stimulated by the nervous system and produce adrenaline. Adrenaline increases heart rate and blood pressure to initiate the fight or fight response.

Then the adrenals produce cortisol to fuel the fight or flight response. Cortisol is a catabolic steroid hormone. Catabolic = breaks down. Steroid = made from cholesterol. Hormone = chemical messenger.

Like most endocrine glands, the adrenals are stimulated by the hypothalamic-pituitary axis in a negative feedback system. Think of a seesaw. Cortisol is on one side and Adrenal Cortico Trophic Hormone (ACTH) is on the other. If cortisol is high, ACTH is low. If cortisol is low, ACTH is high.

Let's say a tiger is chasing you. Your autonomic nervous system stimulates the adrenals to produce adrenaline. Your heart beats faster raising your blood pressure so you can get away. The adrenaline surge stimulates the hypothalamus which checks to see if you have enough cortisol to fuel the stress response. If not, the hypothalamus tells the pituitary gland to produce ACTH which travels via the blood stream to the adrenal cortex and stimulates the production of cortisol.

Cortisol then tells the pancreas to produce glucagon which is the hormone that releases glycogen (stored sugar) from the muscles and the liver. Now your muscles and heart have the energy to get away from that tiger!

Whew! Following the surge of cortisol, the adrenals produce dehydroepiandrostione also known as DHEA. DHEA controls protein and fat metabolism to help repair the damage from the flight or fight. The leftover cortisol is converted to cortisone, a natural anti-inflammatory, to soothe your aches after getting away from the tiger.

At first the high stress response causes a catabolic reaction as tissues breakdown. You might lose weight initially but over the long haul, the high levels of cortisol can cause you to store body fat. Remember cortisol stimulates the release of stored sugar. How can the glucose get into the cells without insulin? So the pancreas also produces more insulin in response to the stress. If you are really running away from the tiger, then of course, you will use the glucose. If not, well then, you develop insulin resistance.

What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance is your body's way of protecting itself from all that circulating sugar. You see, insulin escorts glucose into the cells. Cells use glucose to produce energy. If the tiger is not really chasing you and you are not expending the energy, then your cells become resistant to insulin. All cells that cannot store sugar become insulin resistant. Your liver and muscles can store about 400 calories worth of glucose. Your heart, on the other hand, cannot store even one gram of sugar. Your heart can only use glucose to beat faster or grow bigger. A bigger heart is not an efficient pump, so your heart becomes insulin resistant.

What does your body do with the extra sugar? It stores it as fat. Thankfully, your adipose cells never become insulin resistant. No, they will store that extra sugar in the form of triglycerides (triple sugar molecules) to protect the rest of your body.

Insulin resistance is why you end up gaining weight after prolonged stress.

My recommendations for stress induced insulin resistance:

  • RELAX - first of all, take time to chill out. Yes, meditation, relaxation exercises, soothing music, long walks, just being in nature can help calm the stress response. A regular meditation practice has been shown to reduce the stress response.

  • EXERCISE - Yes, exercise is important, but it matters when you do it.  Exercise early in the morning to follow the natural cortisol circadian rhythm. Exercising late in the day and especially after dark creates a stress reaction. Exercise induces cortisol production and cortisol opposes melatonin so you will not sleep deeply.

  • WORK - Take vacations. Work to live, don't live to work. If you do what you love, look forward to work, then work becomes as therapeutic as play.

  • SUPPLEMENTS - the key to supplementation is to balance the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal response. One of the biggest reasons I created Genesis Gold is to help balance the stress response.  Adrenal function improves, insulin resistance reverses, and metabolism increases when the hypothalamus is supported. Plus the adaptogenic herbs help provide natural adrenal and hormonal balance.

Most people describe a more Zen approach to life when taking Genesis Gold. One middle aged male patient described a new found ability to take a higher perspective when dealing with stressful family situations since taking Genesis GoldÒ.

Years ago, my husband was asked what Genesis Gold did for him. He said he felt more mellow. We all noticed the change, even the dogs. When he would pay bills he would get so uptight that the dogs would hide. Now they lie happily at my husband's feet as he navigates the monthly bills!

Physically, his triglycerides dropped, his waistline slimmed, and he looks younger-- the benefits of a healthier metabolism and less stressed attitude. Of course, I was happy he was taking better care of himself, especially since he worked for 30 years as a police officer—such a high stress job that within a few years of retirement many cops suffer heart attacks and die. He's been consistent with taking Genesis Gold since 2008 and it shows— at 51, his lab tests are that of a healthy thirty-year-old.

So take good care your adrenals and you'll stay trim and healthy.

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