Clinical Pearls in Functional Endocrinology

Many of us are likely aware that hormone imbalances can contribute to many health complications. The logical next step is to have hormone levels checked and get them balanced. Sounds easy, but is it? Many people have gone to doctors and naturopaths who have attempted to normalize their hormone levels, only to find it is a game of whack-a-mole at best.

For those who have tried balancing their hormones and found it to be an impossible task, the chances are that something significant is being overlooked. From hormone delivery methods to testing procedures and supplemental nutritional support, all aspects of hormone adjustments can be tweaked for maximum success.

Here are six pearls of clinical wisdom to help guide us down the challenging path towards optimal hormonal balance.

Pearl No. 1 – Hormone Delivery

Typically, effective hormone supplementation, especially progesterone and testosterone, are delivered either topically (creams) or sublingually (oil or alcohol based liquid solutions placed under the tongue). One potential drawback of creams—particularly for menopausal women—is that chronic use of hormone creams can lead to tissue saturation, thereby rendering them ineffective.

Pearl No. 2 – Repeat Testing

It is all too common to hear of doctors prescribing hormone creams or capsules and failing to run repeat tests soon enough, if ever, to monitor the effectiveness of a particular course of treatment. Regular follow-ups are essential because testing will show whether the regimen is balancing hormones in the right direction. Clinical success depends on monitoring the results and taking action every 8 to 12 weeks in the beginning.

Pearl No. 3 – Testing Methods

Many doctors will run blood tests to measure reproductive hormone levels; however, this is not necessarily the best approach. A better approach is salivary hormone testing that measures the free fractionated forms of each hormone so that it is possible to tell what amount of hormones is not just in the bloodstream, but actually available to cells and used.

Pearl No. 4 – Root Cause Investigation

What is “functional endocrinology”? While everyone agrees it is important to achieve hormonal balance in order to feel well, only a functional endocrinologist will inquire about the root cause of any imbalances present.

Supplementing hormones is by trial and through follow-up, with a comprehensive look at everything going on. There is a reason why a hormone imbalance is present in the first place, and we want to understand what it is.

Culprits include compromised adrenal function, blood sugar regulation, hormone receptor saturation, inflammation and brain-body communication. Administering hormones without addressing these root cause issues won’t work.

Pearl No. 5 – Supplement Overload

There are articles and advertisements all over the media touting the health benefits of new supplements and the latest products. However, consumers are mostly in the dark regarding what supplementation their body needs. Add to this a problem with product authenticity, harmful fillers, and potency. It is imperative to have a doctor prescribe high-quality, all-natural, pre-screened products on a regimen tailored to an individual’s needs.

Pearl No. 6 – Hormone Clearance

An often overlooked but potent aspect to hormone balance is bile synthesis and clearance of excess saturation from the body. The liver must be supported to aid the body in pushing out excess hormones. Sometimes it is not only adding in hormones, but often pushing excess hormones out can be key.