Establishing Hormonal Balance: A Pathway To Well Being

By Varsha Rathod, MD


This is the third in a series of articles I have written to continue our discussion on the underlying causes and prevention of chronic disease. The digestive system, inflammation, and immunity were covered in the first two articles. This article will focus on maintaining hormonal balance, or in other words, optimizing the endocrine system.


The endocrine system is a complex network of glands that secrete chemicals called hormones. These substances help relay messages from outside, and inside the body, to a central command center known as the hypothalamus. For example; a feeling of stress is communicated via various kinds of adrenal hormones, the need for energy and temperature regulation might recruit the thyroid hormone, day and night signals the release of cortisol and melatonin respectively, etc.


In the case of stress, cortisol and adrenaline are released. Adrenaline puts sugar into the blood stream to prepare you for fight or flight. Once the situation is resolved, the brain and adrenal gland should slowly return to balance. If stress continues, a new balance point is created producing symptoms such as anxiety, palpitations, and unprovoked fear.

The adrenal and thyroid are pivotal glands that connect all other hormones to maintain the body’s metabolic balance. It is crucial to keep these two organs functioning optimally. When they are in a state of imbalance you may experience symptoms such as; fatigue, weight gain, cold extremities, anxiety, abnormal menstrual cycles, inability to lose fat, depression, diabetes, high cholesterol, poor immune function, etc.


A good treatment plan to optimize adrenal and thyroid function should consider clinical observations, lab values, and conversation concerning your feelings and symptoms. If you are fatigued and have low thyroid labs, it is best to start by working with the adrenal gland and then moving slowly to the thyroid to prevent complications. The adrenal glands can be managed by making you aware of your stress and by using tools such as meditation, breathing, and movement to signal the hypothalamus that you are coping. This allows your body to down regulate the chemical cascade associated with stress. Adrenal supplements and herbs such as Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola and Licorice can be helpful in rebalancing adrenal function.


The thyroid can be treated with various types of over the counter or prescription thyroid supplements. Sometimes hormones are not required, the replacement of key minerals such as selenium and iodine may bring the thyroid back into balance. This article very briefly discussed the complexity of rebalancing the interplay of various glands that make up the endocrine system. This process can be both challenging and rewarding. It can make the difference between feeling constantly stressed out and enjoying life on your own terms.

Dr. Varsha Rathod is a board certified Rheumatologist and Internist at Preventive Medicine in the Westport Plaza Area of St. Louis, MO. The practice has focused on a combination of traditional and holistic medicine since 1967. For more articles and information about integrative solutions please visit www.preventivemedicinestl.com or call Preventive Medicine at 314-997-5403.


The information presented in this publication is for general educational purposes only. It is not intended to be used for the diagnoses of any illness.  It should not serve as a substitute for being evaluated by a certified healthcare provider.  If you suffer from any of these conditions you should consult a physician or an appropriate health care provider.