Hormone Hierarchy

Insulin and Adrenal Hormones Are The Top Dogs!

Has your doctor ever tested your levels insulin or cortisol? I’m guessing for most of you, the answer is ‘no’.

Many years ago, I was an emotional wreck, right in the middle of a divorce with two kids, worried about finances, where we were going to live, and re-inventing myself. I was on overwhelm and had a hard time concentrating. My mind was all over the place. I lost 10 lbs when I didn’t need to. My digestive system was not working well (I looked 6 months pregnant most of the time) and at the age of 43, was thrown into menopause.

In short, I was not at my best in anyway shape-or-form, and in a state of flight or fight pretty much all off my waking hours.

I remember going to an integrative OBGYN to get blood work done-thought it was a good place to start sorting out this mess. She did the standard stuff along with a couple thyroid markers, and sex hormones.

The results came back with an elevated glucose level of 112, slightly elevated A1C (marker of average glucose over a 3 month period) and very low estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Thyroid appeared to be okay.

My doctor told me that I was pre-diabetic, needed to improve my diet and to consider hormone replacement. On the surface this all sounded reasonable. But if you looked a little more closely, you might have seen what was really going on.

You see, excess cortisol (which is produced in the adrenal glands during stress) drives glucose up and insulin down, causing elevated blood glucose levels. It also steals the raw materials needed to make progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone to make cortisol, hence the non-existent sex hormones and contribution to early menopause. (my weight loss also contributed)

So it wasn’t my diet that I needed to change or taking hormone replacement. It was learning how to deal with my stress load. Learning how to self-soothe (yoga was a life-saver for me during this time) and taking herbs to both both calm and support my adrenals was really what I needed.

This is the reason we need to come at things from the root cause not treat just the symptoms.

And part of that is having certain essential markers included in routine blood work. One of them is fasting insulin and I like to include cortisol levels too. Insulin levels along with triglyceride levels tell us more about heading towards diabetes than glucose levels. Why? Well, in an effort to try to maintain appropriate blood glucose levels, more insulin will start to be excreted long before we see an elevated glucose number. We want to catch that the higher level of insulin being pumped out to keep the blood glucose normal long before we see that elevated glucose.

Look at the diagram included in this post, (thank you Dr. Jolene Brighten) which establishes the hierarchy of hormones. It’s insulin and cortisol that is first and the most important. They are the foundation and are what holds us up before any of our other hormones.

The position of our sex hormones shows that they have the least amount of importance when it comes to survival. While we may not feel all the great and sexy with low sex hormones, we can and will survive.

Understanding what is really going on for my clients on all levels, including on a personal level, is the window into treating underlying cause, not just the symptoms.

If you’d like help figuring out why you’re not feeling your best, or need a second pair of eyes to look at your lab work or would like to order lab work at a discounted cash pricing, contact me.

The best way to do that, is to schedule a free 15 minute consultation.

In health,

Cindy D

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