One of the biggest roadblocks to optimal health is inflammation. Even when you’re following a functional medicine wellness plan, you may become frustrated with slow progress. You seem to be doing everything right… but what about inflammation?
Inflammation is a reaction by the body’s immune system to a threat. White blood cells head to the location in question to help. This reaction leads to the well-known symptoms of redness and swelling. Inflammation is great for a cut, but it causes long-term issues when it becomes chronic. In fact, runaway inflammation can hinder the healing process.
Let’s take a look at hormone therapy, for example.
Hormone therapy has been a widely used medical intervention to address various health concerns related to hormone imbalances. However, inflammation, a natural response of the immune system to harmful stimuli, can significantly impact the regular production and functioning of hormones.
Therefore, it’s extremely important to understand how inflammation interferes with the efficacy of hormone therapy in order to make your wellness plan as effective as it can be.
Understanding Hormone Production and Function
Hormones are essential chemical messengers that regulate various physiological processes within the body. They are produced by specialized glands, such as the thyroid, adrenal glands, and gonads. These hormones travel through the bloodstream, binding to specific receptors on target tissues, and trigger specific responses necessary for maintaining overall health.
Hormone therapy is a medical treatment that involves supplementing the body with synthetic hormones to address hormone deficiencies or imbalances. HRT is commonly prescribed to alleviate symptoms associated with menopause, andropause (male menopause), hypothyroidism, and other endocrine disorders. By restoring hormone levels to their optimal range, HRT aims to improve the quality of life for individuals experiencing hormone-related health issues.
But what happens when we introduce chronic inflammation? How does it impact normal hormone production as well as hormone therapy?
Inflammation’s Impact on Hormonal Balance
Inflammation disrupts the delicate balance of hormone production and function in several ways:
Impaired Hormone Synthesis
Chronic inflammation can damage the glands responsible for hormone production, such as the thyroid and adrenal glands, leading to reduced hormone synthesis.
Altered Hormone Transport
Inflammation affects the proteins that transport hormones in the bloodstream, leading to irregular distribution and reduced availability of hormones at target tissues.
Hormone Receptor Sensitivity
Inflammatory molecules can interfere with hormone receptor sites, reducing their sensitivity to hormones and diminishing the body’s response to hormonal signals.
Inflammation May Be Hindering Your Health Goals. Here’s How
Talking about hormone receptors and thyroid function may be interesting to health practitioners, but it doesn’t mean much to the average person looking for symptom relief. So let’s switch focus. Let’s discuss how inflammation gets in the way of your health goals, especially when it comes to hormone therapy.
Many people receive hormone therapy from Integra Health and Wellness because they want to address the following symptoms. But if you have inflammation, your progress might be slowed.
Brain Fog and Cognitive Function
Inflammation in the brain can lead to cognitive impairments, including brain fog and difficulty concentrating, which hormone therapy aims to improve.
Inflammatory processes can disrupt the intricate hormonal balance required for healthy sexual function, often leading to reduced libido.
Fatigue and Muscle/Joint Pain
Inflammation can cause chronic fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pain, hindering the efficacy of hormone therapy in addressing these symptoms.
Weight Loss Resistance
Inflammatory cytokines can interfere with metabolic processes, making weight loss more challenging, even with hormone therapy.
Mood Swings and Depression
Inflammation has been linked to mood disorders and depression, undermining the efforts of hormone therapy to stabilize mood.
Inflammation’s Impact on Skin Care
Hormone therapy isn’t the only treatment that can be impacted by chronic inflammation. Nearly every area of health will respond poorly if subjected to a chronic immune response.
Inflammation plays a significant role in skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Chronic inflammation triggers the release of enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, leading to premature aging and skin damage. Wash your face and use as many moisturizers as you want, but you won’t make progress in skin health until you address the underlying inflammation.
Inflammation’s Impact on the Gut
Inflammation in the gut can lead to conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Chronic gut inflammation can disrupt nutrient absorption and affect hormone signaling, leading to various health issues.
Find Relief from Functional Medicine
Inflammation can be a formidable obstacle to the success of hormone therapy. It disrupts hormone production, affects hormone receptor sensitivity, and contributes to a range of health issues like brain fog, low libido, fatigue, muscle, and joint pain, weight loss resistance, mood swings, and depression.
To optimize the benefits of hormone therapy and other interventions, addressing and managing inflammation through lifestyle changes, diet, and targeted treatments is crucial for restoring hormonal balance and overall health.