What Causes Hormone Imbalance

What are Hormones?


Hormones are chemicals produced by cells and glands. They give messages to other cells or other glands, and influence the processes of your body—altering the way your body functions and feels. A small amount of hormone can have a big effect on your body.

The hormones directly released into your bloodstream by glands of the endocrine system are of particular interest and covered extensively on this website. These are the reproductive glands (ovaries for women, or testes for men) thyroid gland, and adrenal glands.

Due to the nature of how hormones message each other, other hormones from endocrine and exocrine tissues can have an effect on the thyroid, adrenal, and reproductive glands. These hormones can be produced in the pituitary, pineal, stomach, duodenum, central nervous system (CNS), kidney, adipose tissue, liver, hypothalamus, epididymis, placenta, pancreas, uterus, heart, and skin.

For example, the Thyroid Profile will test four hormones essential to thyroid function, even though one of the hormones is produced in the pituitary gland.

What Causes Hormone Imbalance?

When a hormone is released from a gland, it sends a message to other parts of the body. When the gland isn't producing the correct level of a hormone, it can send the wrong message.

Sometimes too much of a single hormone is produced, and sometimes not enough. When the hormone is received by the other cells it can have unintended effects on the body. Many factors can cause a hormone imbalance. Your diet (e.g., lacking in essential minerals or elements), level of activity and exercise, exposure to harmful chemicals, amount of restful sleep.

Here is an example of how hormone interact with each other, and how we could accidentally treat a secondary symptom in the wrong way.  Responding to ongoing daily stress, the adrenal gland can over-produce cortisol hormone. The result is that you may have difficulty sleeping at night because the body is unable to return to normal. Another symptom, when stress is prolonged, chronically elevated levels of cortisol stay in your body which can cause the accumulation of dense belly fat.

Belly fat is one of those symptoms that could also be caused by other hormone-producing glands, like your thyroid. Hypothyroidism is one of the most common hidden culprits behind stubborn weight loss. Hypothyroidism means that your body doesn’t generate enough of the thyroid hormone. Your thyroid is considered underactive when there are high levels of serum TSH concentrations in your body.

Even the smallest of increases in serum TSH concentrations may be associated with those few extra pounds. Fortunately, the solution to an underactive thyroid could be as easy as getting a little extra iodine. A simple iodine sufficiency test can help you asses the dosage you may need.

Research has found that our modern society is releasing chemical compounds into the environment that have hormone-like effects on people. These chemicals interfere with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, and elimination of natural hormones in the body. (Hormone Disrupting Factors in food air and water). Our natural hormones are responsible for homeostasis, reproduction, development, and behavioral changes, and modern chemicals are disrupting these internal processes.

Sometimes diet and exercise aren’t the sole answers to slimming away those unwanted pounds. The simple truth is that several common hormone imbalances can undermine even the most enthusiastic attempts at losing weight.


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The Canary Club is an educational advisory group with a team of medical advisors headed by Richard Shames, M.D.