Hormones are substances secreted by a group of glands known as the endocrine system. The endocrine system is made up of the kidneys, pancreas, adrenals, pituitary, thymus, thyroid, parathyroid, pineal and hypothalamus glands and in women, includes the ovaries and uterus and in men, includes the testes. The various hormones produced by each of these glands are responsible for proper functioning of many organs and bodily functions that control our body's growth and development as well as countless mental and physical functions that are vital for life. When the secretion of hormones becomes unbalanced our bodies experience various symptoms or changes that must be corrected in order for our bodies to function properly. Some hormone deficiencies or imbalances may even cause death if left untreated.
Some of the more common symptoms of hormone deficiency include:
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Mood swings
- Loss of libido (sex drive) or erectile dysfunction
- Hot flashes or feelings of constant coldness
- Breast tenderness or male breast enlargement
- Memory loss
- Sleep disturbances
- Thinning hair
- Muscle weakness
The balance and function of hormones is influenced by many factors, including an individual's age, dietary habits, health history, activity level, daily physical and mental stress and other lifestyle choices. In addition, hormonal function is influenced by the levels of other hormones, in that a deficiency in one hormone may cause an overabundance of another, causing serious symptoms and dysfunction of various organ systems.
Because of this dependency relationship, it is necessary that a practitioner perform a very detailed, comprehensive review of an individual's overall health status in order to properly diagnose and plan a treatment that will help an individual with their specific symptoms and complaints.