Hormone Replacement Therapy Irvine, CA

Hormone Replacement Therapy Irvine, CA

Chronic illness can significantly impact hormone function because chronic inflammation can interfere with hormone production and regulation and lead to imbalances in energy, cognition, and immune function. Chronic physical and mental stress can also lead to cellular and adrenal fatigue. The body’s constant attempts to regulate blood sugar, immunity, and other vital functions can lead to burnout and cause fatigue, depression, and difficulty thinking and reasoning. Our physicians may prescribe a specific hormone therapy, including bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), as part of a comprehensive whole-person care plan.

The most common symptoms of hormone imbalances include:

  1. Exhaustion and fatigue
  2. Anxiety
  3. Brain fog
  4. Cognitive decline and memory issues
  5. Low mood
  6. Poor sleep
  7. Digestive issues
  8. Weight gain or trouble losing weight
  9. Muscle and joint pain
  10. Menstrual problems
  11. Hair loss
  12. Minimal sexual desire and performance

According to recent data, hormone related endocrine and metabolic diseases are among the most common contemporary conditions in the United States and other countries. The most common in the US affect 5% of the population and include diabetes mellitus (6–22%), impaired fasting glucose (7–26%), impaired glucose tolerance (17%), obesity (19–32%), metabolic syndrome (34–39%), osteoporosis (7.2%) and osteopenia (39.6%) in women, osteoporosis (6%) and osteopenia (47%) in men, erectile dysfunction in males (18.5%), hypercholesterolemia (17%), low HDL-cholesterol (37%), hypertriglyceridemia (30%), and thyroiditis (5%).

Different ways hormone imbalances affect health:

  1. Infections or chronic inflammation can increase cortisol levels, which can alter estrogen or testosterone levels.
  2. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) or an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can cause hormone disruptions and lead to symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain or loss, and mood changes.
  3. Chronic illness can cause problems in how the body absorbs nutrients essential for hormone production.

Diagnostic Testing for Hormone Imbalances and Chronic Illness

Many people with chronic illnesses do not realize that their health may be affected by problems with hormone balance. People who experience chronic pain, fatigue, headaches migraines, and weight gain may not realize the cause. Our integrative physicians test estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid, DHEA, and other hormone levels to understand better how an individual’s chronic illness affects the body. The test results may call for specific hormone therapy, including bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) as part of a comprehensive whole-person care plan.

Our physicians also pay close attention to a patient’s hypothalamus and the pituitary and adrenal glands — collectively referred to as the HPA axis:

  • The hypothalamus, deep in the brain, regulates body temperature, sleep, hunger, and thirst.
  • The pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain, regulates the endocrine glands, including the adrenal glands.
  • Adrenal glands, located atop each kidney, produce key hormones, including aldosterone, cortisol, androgenic steroids (DHEA, testosterone), epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine (noradrenaline).

Collectively, these three components regulate energy levels, mood, stress response, motivation, metabolism, and the immune system. As an example, when stressed, the hypothalamus secretes corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) that instructs the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which messages the adrenal glands to secrete glucocorticoids, including cortisol, our stress hormone.

This reaction can go awry when one or more of the three components of the HPA axis is not doing what it should be doing. Such as, if the pituitary gland fails to receive instructions to release ACTH the adrenal gland won’t secrete glucocorticoids. This is called adrenal fatigue, when the system fails to respond in the correct order of events.

The issue is often undiagnosed to misdiagnosed and results in a series of bungled attempts to chase symptoms. A common example is low mood and digestive problems, which often go hand in hand. Patients are often prescribed antacids and antidepressants. The cause of the condition, a hormone imbalance and resulting inflammation, is never addressed, and the medications can create other health problems.

In this case, our physicians at Restoration Healthcare, would first identify the cause of the HPA axis malfunction and then work towards a personalized plan to restore functionality and balance out the hormone levels. Common causes include one or more of the following:

  • Dysfunctional relationships
  • Difficult situation at home
  • Toxic work or school environment
  • Undiagnosed or poorly treated bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
  • Environmental mold and other toxins
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Food sensitivities
  • Gut dysbiosis (an imbalance of microorganisms in the digestive tract)

Why are Hormone Imbalances Difficult to Diagnose?

Hormone imbalances and endocrine disorders are challenging to diagnose due to several factors. Overall, there is a shortage of endocrine specialists. Symptoms are often vague and non-specific, such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can easily be attributed to other conditions, making it difficult for doctors to pinpoint the underlying cause.

There are no widely accepted medical tests specifically designed to diagnose some types of hormone imbalances or dysfunction. This lack of a definitive diagnostic tool further complicates the process. Overall, the combination of non-specific symptoms, the absence of a standardized diagnostic test, and the lack of consensus within the medical community contribute to the challenges in diagnosing these types of conditions.

Restoration Healthcare’s Use of Bio-identical Hormones

One of the reasons Restoration Healthcare, is able to diagnose and treat complex chronic illness and hormone disruptions is because we use a systems-biology-based model of care. To better explain, let’s first look at the system’s biology and then see how it relates to hormone imbalances and chronic disease.

Systems biology is just one component of our approach to medicine at the clinic. While there are hundreds of systems biology definitions, each correct, we will try to capture the essence. It is the opposite of reductionist medicine, which takes the pieces apart and identifies a somewhat linear cause and effect. The nursery rhyme, the thigh bone connects the knee bone, is a good analogy.

Systems biology recognizes that the human body is much more complex. It’s the big picture of how everything in the body connects and interacts biochemically at the cellular level through a complex networking system.

The body’s internal reaction to inflammation, viral damage, or other abnormalities can result in problems elsewhere and set off a chain reaction leading to unwanted symptoms. And, if only the most apparent symptoms are addressed, the underlying effects never get repaired. This is why, at Restoration Healthcare, we treat the whole body using a system approach to medicine.

Biologists, researchers, and physicians use computational systems biology models to understand better how these networks are regulated and interact. This is the premise behind systems medicine. Our physicians use data, diagnostics, and laboratory tests to understand better how the systems in the body are connected and how they interact. When many things go awry, as in a complex chronic illness, broken pathways and networks affect one another because communication and critical interactions malfunction.

Where do hormones fit into this process? Hormones are chemical messengers secreted by glands to regulate and communicate in the body. When channels and pathways break, this creates much biological confusion for hormone regulators and cells. Imagine every time you left your home, all the roads were closed, and there were no easy-to-follow detours.

Physicians who understand the systems behind these biological networks use hormone replacement to restore and normalize the release of hormones into the bloodstream to target the suitable cells to bind to receptors and initiate the correct response. However, we don’t just restore hormone levels and leave it at that. The foundation of our care at Restoration Healthcare is that we treat the entire person and not any single symptom or issue. Hormone therapy is only one part of a care plan for an individual with a complex chronic illness.

As you can imagine, this type of care takes knowledge, experience, and time – three things we have a lot of. We listen to our patients, collect a great deal of information and data, and then work on a plan. We don’t rely on one diagnostic test; we use many tests and a significant amount of data. Our patients return to us regularly for progress reports and our supporting staff is constantly checking in on our patient’s wellbeing.

If you are experiencing chronic health problems and live in Los Angeles or Orange County, please contact our clinic to inquire and request a patient packet.


How Does a Chronic Illness Affect Hormone Balance?

There are many ways an illness can alter hormone levels and regulation. One common problem is infection or chronic inflammation. When the body is fighting a condition or disease, it can trigger a stress response that increases cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone the adrenal glands produce that regulates the body’s response to stress. When cortisol levels are high, it can lead to a decrease in other hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen, which can cause imbalances in the body. Other hormone imbalances can lead to problems with blood sugar regulation, cognition, mood swings, energy loss, and extreme fatigue.

I thought HRT was dangerous for one’s health?

When you hear hormone therapy, most people think of HRT, menopause, and controversy. There is a difference between synthetic HRT and bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). The hormones used for BHRT are extracted from natural plant substances and compounded into personalized dosages, as such they are more readily accepted by the body and have fewer side effects.

Studies show that when women used synthetic HRT for menopause for five years, it raised concerns about a higher risk for breast cancer than those who did not take HRT. Since these studies were released, physicians better understand risk and may recommend HRT for shorter periods. At our clinic, hormone therapy extends beyond menopause and is primarily for treating complex chronic illnesses. Our physicians use individualized hormone therapy as part of a care plan for many complex chronic diseases.

What do I tell my other doctors who may not know about hormone therapy and the different types of care provided at Restoration Healthcare?

Our systems biology plan of care may not be familiar to other physicians. That is OK. We have a proven track record and experience to show how what we do works to treat complex chronic illnesses. It’s common for other physicians to have questions. It means they care. We are happy to confer with your other physicians to explain our care and the outcomes we expect from the treatment plan.

Hear About Autoimmune Disease from Jennifer

She thought she was slowly dying from the inside out, but no one could tell Jennifer why. She could not eat and lost a great deal of weight. After being hospitalized, a functional medicine rheumatologist ran a series of tests and gave her the bad news, Bartonella mycoplasma pneumonia, reactivated Epstein Barr, inconclusive Lyme disease, and an iron deficiency. It was a lot to take in. Luckily a family friend, who had Lyme disease, suggested Restoration Healthcare and Dr. Sunny Raleigh.

Once she started treatment, the clinic’s comprehensive diagnostic testing revealed one more condition to add to the list, Mast Cell Disease. It was more than evident that Jennifer needed a knowledgeable team who understood complex chronic illnesses because she had not just one but multiple severe conditions. “I definitely know that I would not be on the course I am right now if it wasn’t for Restoration Healthcare,”

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