Hormone Imbalance – Check Your Liver
By: Dr. Loretta Lanphier, ND, CN, HHP, CH
The liver is one of the most hard-working organs of the body and a healthy liver is critical to many aspects of overall wellness. Most people are aware that the liver is the main filter of the body. It is true that it plays an important role in processing nutrients and eliminating waste from the body, but did you know that this amazing organ also is a key player in the process of hormone regulation throughout the body?
Hormones are substances that are normally associated with the endocrine system, and these chemical compounds are involved in literally every metabolic process in the body both on the cellular and body tissue levels. In fact, life itself could not be possible without the presence of hormones.
How Does the Liver Affect Hormones?
While the liver does not actually make the majority of hormones – as this is mainly the job of various glands of the endocrine system – the liver is the place where many hormones are synthesized. What this means is that the liver is like a laboratory where hormones are thrown together with other compounds and the body is able to gain nutrients and other critical substances that are necessary for us to thrive. In a sense, hormones are agents that make life-giving chemical reactions possible, and much of this activity occurs in the liver.
The liver secretes hormones or dispenses them into the bloodstream whenever various parts of the body call for them. Thus, the liver is somewhat like a hormone holding tank that is on call to supply necessary hormones at proper levels whenever needed. Some of the crucial metabolic activities that are made possible by these timely secretions are blood glucose levels, amino acid levels, circulatory functions, the strength of the immune system, blood clotting, and bone marrow formation, amongst many others.
Hormone elimination is another major responsibility of the liver. Just as this organ filters and removes many toxins and impurities from the body, it also sees that unneeded hormones are expelled from the body, mostly via the urine or bile. These secretion and elimination duties together compromise the hormonal regulatory function of the liver.
This liver regulatory function is extremely important for both women and men regarding the maintenance of proper hormone levels in the body. Here are some specific types of hormones that are regulated by the liver:
Estrogen. One of the key female hormones, balanced estrogen levels are critical for many sexual and reproductive functions. In women, if the liver is not able to eliminate excess estrogen it can lead to dysfunction such as abnormally heavy menstrual flow, cysts and pain in the breasts, and unwanted weight gain in the midsection (hips, thighs, and buttocks). This weight gain can produce a “pear-shaped” or “gynaeoid” type body, as it is officially called. Too much estrogen is a very unhealthy situation that can increase risk for heart disease, reproductive cancers, and other serious health conditions.
Testosterone. This is another major sex hormone (even for women) and it is also kept at proper levels by an efficiently working liver. Women who have testosterone levels that are too high may develop unwanted facial hair, have concerns such as greasy skin or acne, or ovarian disorders such as PCOS. They may also experience weight gain in the upper body, developing an “apple-shaped” or “android” type body.
Insulin. Produced by the pancreas, insulin is a hormone chiefly involved with regulating blood sugar and overall metabolism. It also helps to control fat and carbohydrate levels in the body. Once again, the liver is responsible for regulating insulin levels. If this is not done properly (usually due to a toxic liver), it can lead to an excess of insulin. This may result in a greater risk for diabetes and other debilitating conditions.
How to Prevent Liver-Related Hormonal Imbalance
Obviously, if the liver is not able to regulate the hormones correctly, it can lead to numerous health concerns. The best solution is to keep your liver functioning at optimum levels so it can do its job effectively. Some suggestions for maintaining liver health include:
Be informed about the medications you use. Those that are particularly hard on the liver include NSAID pain drugs, aspirin, statin drugs (for lowering cholesterol), certain blood pressure medications, and some antidepressants.
Cleanse and support your liver. I recommend a liver cleanse at least two-three times yearly. Support and maintain liver health with organic/wild-crafted herbs. I use and highly recommend LivaPure ™.
Breathe as much fresh, clean air every day that you can. Avoid pollutants and toxins as much as possible. Drink lots of purified water in order to help with toxin removal.
Drink little or no alcohol and avoid caffeine.
Eat a very healthy diet that is heavy on fresh, organic fruits and vegetables and low in animal fat, sugar, white flour and toxic chemicals. Research natural herbal therapy for estrogen dominance .
Keep a healthy weight and insulin levels.
Saliva test your hormones and work on creating hormonal balance. Contrary to what conventional medicine says saliva testing is the best way to find out the amount of useable hormones available. Serum testing almost never matches hormone imbalance symptoms and often women are told there is nothing wrong and then sent home with a prescription for Prozac. As indicated previously, often estrogen dominance is indicative of a sluggish or toxic liver. If estrogen dominance is a concern, research and consider using bioidentical progesterone cream as well as eliminating estrogen mimicking chemicals (found in pre-packaged foods, water, personal care products, cleaning products and gardening products) from your personal use.