In this part 4 in my "Fatigue & Fibromyalgia Are Optional" series, I'm providing my Brain Fog Friendly (BFF) Summary of the role hormones play in regulating functions in your body, and how hormonal problems can contribute to fatigue. (From my newest edition of From Fatigued to Fantastic!)
- Hormones are a critical part of our body's communication system. It is best to use bioidentical hormones. The reason synthetic hormones are routinely used is because they are patentable and therefore profitable. So, physicians are trained to recommend these. The science, however, suggests that bioidentical hormones are much safer and more effective.
- Blood testing is unreliable. All it means when the blood test is abnormal is that you are not in the highest or lowest 2 percent of the population. Most doctors don’t realize this, and they think "normal" means okay. But this would be like saying that any shoe between size 5 and 13 (the normal range) should fit everybody.
- The thyroid is our body's gas pedal, determining how much energy we make. If you have any two of the following symptoms, you may warrant a trial of thyroid hormone to see if it helps: tired, achy, weight gain, cold intolerance, constipation, or unexplained infertility. For most people, I begin with a trial of desiccated thyroid (Armour Thyroid), as I find this often works much better than levothyroxine (Synthroid). Supplementing with 6.25 milligrams of Tri-Iodine™ for three months can also help.
- The adrenal glands help us handle stress. Because of the stress of modern life, about a quarter of the population has adrenal fatigue. Most doctors don't recognize that this exists and will only treat when the adrenals have failed to the point of being life-threatening. If you get irritability when hungry (a.k.a. "hangry"), especially if you tend toward low blood pressure, consider adrenal support by cutting back sugar, increasing salt, eliminating unnecessary stress (like watching the news), and taking Adrenaplex®.
- The ovaries are important for much more than just reproduction. For example, progesterone is our natural diazepam (Valium), helping us sleep and stay calm. Because of this, progesterone is critical even if somebody has had a hysterectomy. If your symptoms of fatigue, brain fog, insomnia or headache are worse around your menses, this suggests that you may benefit from bioidentical (not synthetic) hormone replacement. This can be prescribed by a holistic physician. If you simply have PMS (irritability around your menses), then the bioidentical prescription progesterone (Prometrium) taken around your menses can help. Estrogen and progesterone deficiency begin five to twelve years before blood tests become abnormal and one’s menses stop. So, I treat based on symptoms much more than the blood testing.
- Testosterone deficiency is very important in men. It is suggested by low libido, decreased erectile function, depression, low motivation, increasing waist size, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and/or diabetes. Again, the normal range for the blood test is not helpful. If several of the above are present, and the testosterone level in an adult male is under 540 ng/dL, I consider addressing this. Testosterone deficiency is also important in women who need estrogen and progesterone replacement. Research shows that these help decrease fibromyalgia pain.
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.