Hormonal Health

Paul L. Reller L.Ac. / Last Updated: August 03, 2017

The key to hormonal health may be found in the fast development of the science of natural bio-identical hormones. Synthetic hormone replacement in menopausal health and use of synthetic hormones in control of inflammatory processes and asthma, auto-immune disorders, and other problems has garnered much bad press because of the proven risk, harm and side effects involved. Only now, after decades of use has some of the long range consequences become apparent. The use of plant-based bioidentical human hormones within a more holistic medical context in therapy allows the patient to regain hormonal health, not replace it. The beauty of this approach is that a very small dose of these lipid-based steroid hormones in topical creams can be adjusted and utilized for a relatively short time period, not creating a dependency on a drug or medicine. Complementary and Integrative Medicine, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (CIM/TCM) can utilize these bioidentical hormonal therapies to relieve symptoms, restore neurohormonal function, and prevent disease, with almost zero risk of any adverse health effects. This fact only needs to be supported and encouraged to accomplish great ends.

Two large studies by the Women's Health Initiative in the 1990s led to an NIH (National Institutes of Health) conclusion that synthetic hormone replacement dramatically increases risk of breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, deep vein thromboses and other serious threats to your health. Natural plant-based phytohormones, often bioidentical to human hormones, present a safe but direct hormonal therapy that avoids the serious adverse effects of synthetic hormones, and are inexpensive. In Complementary and Integrative Medicine, the goal is to utilize these bioidentical hormones in very low doses to stimulate natural hormone production and balance, resulting in the body restored to natural hormonal function, and little or no dependency on medicines. This simple and safe therapy, utilizing lipid-based hormonal creams, as well as pill extracts, is combined in an individualized protocol with other researched herbal and nutrient medicines. Trying this safer hormonal protocol before resorting to synthetic hormone replacement is sensible. The only reason this approach is not widely used in standard medicine is that these natural medicines are not able to be patented, and thus the profit is low. Today, abundant research confirms that efficacy of natural hormone therapies, and the competent Complementary Medicine physician relies on this research to guide therapy.

In 2010, standard medicine once again attempted to bring back some semblance of respect for their long history of prescribing dangerous and problematic synthetic hormones despite much evidence of potential harm, especially with risk of cancers and cardiovascular disease, and dramatic signs and symptom complaints from patients, by stating that evidence does show that unopposed estrogen does appear to reduce the risk of breast cancer to some degree. Once again, confusing public statements about a subject too complicated for most patients to fully understand, were widely printed in the hope of restoring some public trust to medical doctors that recklessly overprescribed synthetic hormones for decades, with evidence that this medical practice was directly linked to a large increase in the incidence of breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and cardiovascular disease. Unopposed synthetic estrogen, or estradiol sulfate, was originally prescribed in these hormone therapies, quickly creating alarming incidence of serious health problems as adverse side effects of chronic use. With these findings, standard medicine started to always couple synthetic estradiol sulfate with synthetic progesterone, or progestins actually, to reduce risks and harm of unopposed estradiol sulfate. This 2010 study showed that for postmenopausal women, use of the natural bioidentical estrogen called estrone, derived from the urine of a pregnant horse (sometimes in unethical ways), showed a better safety profile and actual slight reduction in breast cancer risk when used unopposed. Today, though, we now see that balancing hormones to a physiologicall normal state, with simple testing and use of bioidentical plant hormones in topical creams, combined with herbal and nutrient medicine, and acupuncture, will achieve this reduction of risk of breast cancer without harm, and with very little risk of side effects. There is no reason to avoid use of plant-based bioidentical hormone therapy when a knowledgeable Complementary Medicine physician prescribes and guides this treatment.

The use of bioidentical estriol creams to stimulate increased estrogen production, balanced with progesterone stimulating bioidentical creams, with testing to analyze the actual restoration of hormonal levels to a physiological normal level that is individualized and adjusted for menstruating, premenopausal, perimenopausal, menopausal, and post-menopausal states, is a very effective approach, especially when combined with a protocol that features selenium supplementation, restoration of iodine levels in tissues, correction of subclinical hypothyroid states, periodic supplementation with DIM and potent lignans, and herbs that are proven in clinical trials to reduce risk of breast cancers. We now know that mitochondria are integral to both the production of the steroid hormones, and to many types of regulation in the hormonal feedback system. Aids to mitochondrial health may be important parts of an individualized hormonal protocol as well, utilizing Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinol) in the form of CoQ10-H2, as well as a Vitamin B2/B3 combination. This individualized and comprehensive type of therapy is available to patients that take advantage of a knowledgeable Complementary Medicine physician, such as a Licensed Acupuncturist and herbalist, as well as active hormone metabolite testing and analysis with simple saliva and veinous blood stick samples. The public is beginning to understand that the dire warnings against biodidential phytohormonal therapies that we were given by standard medicine, without sound scientific evidence of harm, was merely a ploy to protect the profits generated from the overprescription of synthetic hormones.

The endocrine system (endogenous hormone secretion) is the most important regulating system in the human body, literally extending to every cell and tissue, and even the mitochondria in the cells. The Adrenal-Hypothalamic Axis is the center of this system, but not the complete hormonal system. Here the brain creates neurohormonal regulation that sends both nerve signals and pituitary hormones throughout the body. Some of these Pituitary hormones just stimulate production of other hormones, especially in the adrenal glands of the kidneys and the thyroid and parathyroid glands on the neck. To restore this complex system one needs to take a more thorough and holistic approach. Utilizing Complementary Medicine allows you to do much to restore hormonal health and can be integrated intelligently with standard medicine. With a complex system, though, one must utilized a knowledgeable physician in Complementary Medicine to achieve the desired results, and to individualize the treatment protocol in a step-by-step manner. The Licensed Acupuncturist and herbalist is able to combine a number of treatment protocols in a single session to achieve a more comprehensive and synergistic treatment effect.

In the early twentieth century, medical doctors treating hormonal pathologies utilized herbal extracts, mineral and nutrient medicines, and even plant-based bioidentical hormones. With the creation of patented synthetic hormonal medicines, standard medicine started to discourage this common practice of naturopathic medicines. Finally, in the 1980s, the pioneering medical doctor Dr. John R. Lee, working with David Zava, a renowned research pioneer, brought back into practice the use of bioidentical hormones and nutrient and herbal medicines to achieve a safer and more practical hormonal therapy. Of course, they were attacked for this sin of promoting non-patentable and inexpensive hormonal therapies that worked. Times are changing, though. In fact, today, modern medicine, or standard medicine, is finally embracing these herbal extracts to provide a bio-identical hormone therapy as well, and combining this with a holistic approach with other supporting herbs and nutrient supplements. The public is applauding these progressive MDs that have acknowledged and embraced this modern integrative approach, combining safe and effective evidence-based Complementary Medicine with standard pharmaceutical practice. A combination of bio-identical hormones, herbal formulas, nutrient supplements and acupuncture utilizes the latest research with the proven effects of centuries of Traditional Chinese Medicine. An integrative approach may utilize both the progressive M.D. and the TCM physician, or Licensed Acupuncturist, and careful monitoring of your active hormone levels with laboratory analysis may be accomplished at either office. Considering the lack of medical school training in these herbal and nutrient therapies for medical doctors, and their long history of stubborn persistence of overprescription of synthetic hormones, though, many intelligent patients are insisting on integrating a real Complementary Medicine physician, or Licensed Acupuncturist or Naturopathic Doctor into their treatment team.

Research into natural hormonal therapies has expanded exponentially in the last decade. We now realized that there are many hormonal chemicals in the body besides estrogens, progesterone and androgens. In recent years, much research has also linked deficiency of the hormone called Vitamin D to a wide variety of health problems as well. Vitamin D was among the first chemicals in the body that was called a vitamin, or a naturally produced or essential dietary chemical that was important to maintain vitality. We have long ago learned, though, that Vitamin D is not really a vitamin, but a hormone, and that the daily metabolism of a sequence of chemicals is what is vital to our health. While some metabolites of these hormones may act as vitamins in the body, the actual chemicals of importance are tightly regulated, stored, and converted to provide a necessary hormonal regulation that is now recognized as important for almost all cells in the body. The sequence of lipid-based hormonal chemicals in D3 production are cholesterol, cholecalciferol, calcidiol, and calcitriol, and a healthy visceral function of the liver and kidney/adrenal organs is also vital to this hormone metabolism. The time to quit calling these chemicals vitamins is now, and attention to this important hormonal, or endocrine, balance in the body should be recognized by the public, especially the aging public. By continuing to call these chemicals vitamins, the public is encouraged to purchase and consume so-called vitamin D without adhering to the actual body's needs, creating a new potential for adverse effects that may be as bad as deficiency of the production of the chemicals. Professional guidance and testing to restore this essential hormonal metabolism has very much potential for increased health, quality of life, and reduced risk of the most serious consequences of aging and disease. Once again, the Complementary Medicine physician, such as the knowledgeable Licensed Acupuncturist and herbalist, or the Naturopathic Doctor, can help achieve this hormonal restoration in the best possible manner.

To learn more about these subjects, a number of informative articles are also available on this website, fully exploring the true story of so-called Vitamin D, clinical and subclinical Hypothyroidism and Hyperparathyroidism, hormone replacement and contraception, hormonal pathologies, calcium supplementation and its risks and potential harm, autoimmune disorders, and diabetes/metabolic syndrome. The informed and pro-active patient takes seriously their role in the modern integrated team of physicians and guides the therapies. A physician is defined in Stedman's medical dictionary with various meanings, including "a person who has been educated, trained, and licensed to practice the art and science of medicine", such as a Licensed Acupuncturist, and "a practitioner of medicine, as contrasted to a surgeon". The most important "physician" in the team is potentially the patient. A patient-centered approach to medicine works best when the patient becomes educated to their health problems and assumes a role in treatment guidance. The only person that is able to treat 24/7 is the patient.

Patient Knowledge is the Key to a Pro-Active Approach

The hormonal system, or endocrine system, is a complex feedback mechanism responsible for regulation and coordination in the body. The proper function of this system is extremely important for the health of both the man and the woman. The axis of hormonal control is the adrenal-hypothalamus-pituitary system, revealing that our hormonal health is actually a neurohormonal health. Pioneering research in the last 3 to 4 decades, initiated by the renowned Dr. Jonas Salk, showed how 3 systems in the body interact to form a single axis of physiological control, the hormonal, neurological and immune systems all utilize chemical mediators that act on the same cell receptors and coordinate as a quantum field of regulation. The pioneering field of psychoneuroimmunology has been derided in standard medical circles as too 'holistic', but is finally emerging as perhaps the most important field in biological science in the future.

The endocrine system is composed of the adrenals, thyroids, parathyroids, pancreas, gonads/ovaries, thymus, hypothalamus, pituitary, pineal, and other tissues of the nervous system, muscles, vessels, bone and fat. Key hormones regulate the menstrual cycle, fertility, blood sugar, mineral circulation, bone density, sexual function, inflammatory processes, mood, blood pressure, and much of our chemical metabolism and excretion. When hormone production becomes deficient or excessive, and circulating levels are abnormal, many systems in the body may become dysfunctional because of the feedback mechanisms of the endocrine system. Not only menopausal symptoms, but diabetes, prostrate problems, autoimmune disorders, thyroid problems, breast cancer, osteoporosis, and other common health problems result. Infertility, a growing problem in industrialized societies, is also now recognized a having an underlying cause related to hormonal imbalance in a large percentage of cases. Endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and uterine fibrods also are related to hormonal imbalance, and even neurological disorders, especially neurodegenerative disorders, are now known to have hormonal imbalance as a key aspect of the complex underlying pathophysiology. Cardiovascular risk is increased dramatically by hormonal imbalance as well, and strokes, heart attacks and veinous thromboses are the most prevalent cause of death in the aging population. Even arthritic joint degeneration is now linked to hormonal imbalance, as the normal repair and growth of cartilage is dependant on a hormone Vitamin D3 isomer. By maintaining a healthy endocrine system the risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer are dramatically decreased and overall quality of life is greatly improved.

Hormones act by stimulating target cells and the hormonal effects are determined almost entirely by the target cells, not the hormones themselves. For this reason, many hormones are very similar, and in fact, many hormones easily become other hormones when the body needs them. We now know that hormonal receptors are numerous on cells, with some targeted cells having more than 300 hormonal recptors on a single cell, and that often these receptors are also triggered by neurotransmitters and immune cytokines. In fact, many chemical in the body act as both neurotransmitters and hormones, depending on the type of cell receptors, and the surrounding mix of chemistry in local tissues. Adrenaline, or norepinephrine, is the prime example of this type of simple chemical that plays complex roles in the body, and adrenal health is now recognized as a very important part of our overall healthy hormonal and endocrine function. The endocrine system, or excretion of hormones from glands, is in fact guided by neurological stimulation in the adrenal-pituitary axis, with the intimate pituitary sister organ, the hypothalamus, provides this neurological control of the axis. Complete hormonal balance is thus necessary to achieve optimum hormonal health, as well as healthy neurological, immune, and cardiovascular health.

Why are natural bioidentical hormones, mostly produced from plant sources, better in many ways than synthetic hormone pharmaceuticals? Synthetic hormones that are similar to your natural hormones trigger key hormonal responses the same as natural hormones, but confuse the body in regards to overall response. They do not easily transform into other hormones when needed, and they do produce a false feedback response that signals the endocrine system to act as if certain hormonal levels are high, when actual production of natural hormone is low, thus triggering a cessation of natural hormone production in the body. While synthetic hormonal medicines do produce dramatic results, and have their important role in hormonal therapy when needed, their use in general has many drawbacks that are not seen with bioidentical hormone therapy, which is now proven to produce effective and immediate results itself. Coupled with less direct hormonal therapies, such as acupuncture, which stimulates normal physiological processes in the brain, as well as the hormonal organs, and herbal nutrient medicine in general, which research has shown also may play key roles in maintaing hormonal health in less direct, but no less effective ways, the holistic package of care provides the patient and team of integrated physicians with tools to restore physiological hormonal levels and functions. On the other hand, chronic dependance on synthetic hormones discourages normal hormonal production, which is guided by a complex feedback mechanism in the body.

Bioavailability of hormones in the body depends on the health of the whole system. There are two types of hormones, lipid based and amino acid based. Healthy cholesterols are the backbone of the lipid based, or steroid hormones, such as the estrogens. Insuring that the cholesterol metabolism, based in the liver function, is optimal, is one key to hormonal health. Steroid hormones are relatively simple signaling molecules, converting one into another as needed in a chain of steroids, which starts with the cholesterol hormone and proceeds to pregnenelone, progesteron, androgens and estrogens. The initial creation of this chain of steroid lipid-based hormones occurs in the mitochondria of liver cells, converting cholesterol to pregnenelone, and regulated through the P450 enzyme system. Mitochondria in the cells also play a big part in regulation of testosterone production by controlling the electron transport chain in the Leydig cells of the testicles and ovaries. Protein hormones, such as the thyroid hormones, are built on amino acids. Amino acid metabolism is also a function of the liver, which is a second reason that optimal health of the liver is important in hormonal health. Intelligent use of herbal formulas, acupuncture, and amino acid supplements with key vitamins may be very important to optimum liver function and lipid balance and targeted hormonal therapy. Natural restorers of lipid metabolism and balance, such as Red Rice Yeast extracts, bitter melon extract, Syntriol palm and citrus extracts, pomegranate extract, niacin metabolites (B3 as inositol hexacotinate), Gugulipid, Gamma Oryzanol, and Beta Sitosterol, are very effective, as well as Chinese formulas, to include in the treatment protocol. While taking a variety of medicines is not desirable to the patient, the consideration of these therapies should include the fact that, unlike pharmaceuticals, these herbal and nutrient medicines do not need to be taken forever, and actually achieve restoration of the natural physiological processes in the body.

"The person that works to achieve hormonal health holistically now, rather than waits until serious problems develop, is able to live a much healthier and productive life and decrease the fear of cancer, stroke, Alzheimers, arthritis, and other serious health problems."

Males and females both produce the same hormones, although menstruating females produce many hormones with a great degree of variance due to the feedback demands of the menstrual cycle. Because of the huge spikes in estrogen and progesterone associated with the monthly menstrual cycle and pregnancy, the female physiology becomes much less reliant on the production of these hormones in the adrenals, kidneys, liver, and other localized cells of the brain, blood vessels and fat cells, until ovulation ceases at menopause, with a hysterectomy, or with anovulatory disorders. When these events occur, the body often needs to be stimulated to achieve proper production of hormones from these other tissue sources. Synthetic hormones used in hormone replacement therapy are not identical to the natural hormones in your body. Synthetic hormones may alleviate some symptoms, but actually work to decrease the ability of the body to naturally produce hormones by replacing rather than stimulating. This is counter to a healthy life.

Plants have a physiology that is similar to animals, and so they too produce hormones in a system for regulation and coordination of physiological function. These plant hormones are often surprisingly similar to the human hormones. Many herbs and a few animal medicinals contain hormones useful to the treatment of the human. The wild yam of Mexico was one of the first plants to be highly publicized as a source of hormone replacement. Simply ingesting the herb had little effect, but use of the extract as a topical cream had dramatic effects, leading doctors to believe that this herb contained estrogen. Since then we know that it actually has an effect on the progesterone levels, primarily. It is often referred to as a progesterone cream.

The truth is that wild yam does not contain human progesterone or estrogen. The plant hormones it does contain stimulate increased progesterone production in the adrenals in a manner that is believed to be associated with affecting hormone receptors. The use of this herbal cream does not directly affect the progesterone level, only the production of progesterone within a feedback system. When it is used in an intelligent manner there are absolutely no ill effects. When used in the wrong dose or at the wrong time of the cycle, it can cause abnormal menstrual bleeding. This has frightened many women and practitioners. When used properly, especially when coordinated with other herbal formulas and acupuncture, and when hormonal levels are monitored with active hormone tests, it becomes a very safe and effective stimulation of proper hormone production. Increased estrogen production will result from increased progesterone production eventually, as will increased testosterone production, until proper levels are achieved, in a feedback system.

To facilitate a faster and smoother return to normal hormone production we also may make use of a topical cream with plant estriol. Estriol is in the estrogen family and use will stimulate increased production of the other, more active estrogens, estradiol and estrone. Estriol is proven to not stimulate significant tissue growth in the breast and uterus, and thus does not promote cancerous growth directly. Estrogen triggered cancerous tumors are believed to be a result of imbalance of the key estrogens, coupled with genetic triggers, and thus use of synthetic estradiols in birth control and hormone replacement therapy are believed to be significant causes of many breast and uterine cancers. Estriol is now compounded with a plant estrone for more specific effects. These topical bio-identical hormones are used in very low dosage and always combined with topical progesterone cream to insure a safe balance as your hormonal levels change.

Prior to the availability of these topical creams, the herbalist was limited to only a few estrogenic herbs, and a few androgenic herbs that indirectly stimulated progesterone production over a longer period of time. Now we are accumulating a number of options for effective treatment. Of course, treatment of hormonal levels may involve some fluctuation in hormones, and thus some temporary changes in symptoms during the course of the therapy. Any woman that experiences PMS understands that hormonal fluctuation can have dramatic results. These symptomatic changes are temporary and benign, and the end result is optimal hormonal health. Goal orientation is the key, as well as adherence to a consistent course of therapy.

As research progresses in recent years, a number of promising phytohormonal herbal and nutrient medicines are available that are perhaps not as effective as bioidentical hormone creams, but do have great potential. Included in this realm are supplements with resveratrol, DIM, coumarins, lignans, and adrenal cortex.

What is the safety level of these herbs and cures?

To date, there has been no claims of health injury of consequence from the proper prescription of these natural cures, and acupuncture stimulation remains the safest treatment in human history, with virtually no complaints of injury in the United States other than a few cases of minor bruising or skin reaction. The malpractice cost to a practitioner of TCM is approximately one thousand dollars a year, reflecting the fact that there are no lawsuits. The TCM physician completes a graduate degree from a specialized medical school that requires much knowledge of medicine, modern and traditional, and usually includes extensive study in herbal medicine.

As progress is made in the research and clinical use of herbal medicines and acupuncture to regulate the body, many more specific uses of herbs will be uncovered. The body of knowledge grows every day. What is important is that you take products with reliable quality and the proper dose. This is accomplished by choosing a TCM physician with the knowledge and clinical experience to utilize quality herbal products and supplements and perform and coordinate care in a professional manner. The quality of products varies considerably and dosage claims are often false in a business that has no government regulation. It pays to utilize a professional to guide your care rather than to rely on self medication.

In my practice I have helped many women with menopausal problems, infertility, premenstrual symptoms and infrequent menstruation. The benefits from this treatment extend far beyond the immediate cure because improvement in the hormonal health is the foundation for improvement in many areas. Increased vitality, mental ability, less pain, lowered cholesterol and blood sugar, reduced blood pressure, prevention of cancer, osteoporosis and stroke, a healthier sex life, improved skin health, and many other benefits are part of the package in holistic care. Instead of harmful side effects we give you healthy side effects. If you need more information, call and schedule a free short consultation. You won't regret it.

Environmental hormone modulators and the disruption of the endocrine system

A large array of hormone modulators have been introduced into the environment of the modern industrialized society. This list has grown so large that it is now hard to focus on any one threat to public health, and hard for the public to understand what can now be done to protect them and their children from hormonal disruption from environmental causes that could be reduced or eliminated. Some of the most important hormone modulators and causes of endocrine disease are ionizing radiation, halogens (bromines, chlorines and fluorines), bisphenol A in soft plastics, heavy metal toxins, PCBs, phthalates and an array of other xenohormones used in industrial cleaners, solvents, flame retardants (PBDEs), etc. While the evidence that allowable levels of these endocrine disrupting and affecting chemicals and radiations directly affect public hormonal health is debated and oblique in complexity, there is an increasing alarm by the scientific community and the public that when considering not just the isolated effects of the hormonal modulators, but the cumulative effects, we are clearly seeing the relationship to harm of public health. The governments of most countries are well known to protect the economic interests over public health, but the balance of these mandates is now being strongly questioned, even by the most conservative voices.

Since the late 1960s the effects of a group of chemicals called halogens that compete with an essential mineral our bodies use to regulate hormonal health via the thyroid hormone pathway, iodine, has become apparent. Iodine and calcium are elements that are found in salt water and useful in the animal organism, easily attaching to organic, or carbon-based, compounds and carrying and electrical charge, or ion, that is easy for the human organism to utilize. Both calcium and iodine are large molecules, and require careful regulation in the body. Iodine is the backbone for the thyroid hormone as well an important antioxidant in the body, especially in the tissues of the thyroid gland and breasts. Deficiency of iodine in the human body has long been recognized as an important threat to public health, and most countries in the world mandate supplementation with iodine in table salt and other common products to help avoid iodine deficiency. Unfortunately, the bioavailability of iodine in modern refined salt, in the form of potassium iodide, is insufficient to maintain healthy thyroid hormone function, and modern farming methods have slowly depleted iodine from the soils and food grown in these soils. An iodide is a compound with iodine that is in an electrically charged, or ionic, state and may easily react with oxygen (oxidative state) to supply iodine. Unfortunately, potassium iodide in commercial refined salt does not supply the human body with sufficient iodine, and studies in the last decade in the United States have found that an alarming 93 percent of women over the age of 40 in parts of California, and other areas in the United States, have an iodine deficiency. The subject of iodine deficiency was so well documented in the early twentieth century that the government urged the food industry to use iodine and iodide in many common foods, such as breads and pastries, as well as promoting iodine and iodide in pesticides and fertilizers. The most important iodide, thyroxine, is an essential human hormone commonly called T4, that is composed mainly of iodine, has a backbone of the amino acid tyrosine, and acts to regulate almost every cell in the human body, mainly be converting to a more active form called triiodothyronine, or T3. When the bioavailability of iodine in the human body is insufficient, this important and essential human hormone, an iodide, fails to properly regulate so many functions in the body that this deficiency becomes alarming, and not only the depletion of natural iodine in our food and water, but competition in the body by other halogens, namely bromide, fluoride and chloride, are part of the complex equation of the hypothyroid state and increased susceptibility to breast cancer and autoimmune diseases.

The iodide thyroxine, or T4 thyroid hormone, and the more active forms T3 and T2, regulates metabolic rates and metabolism, the rate of lung and heart functions that supply oxygen and nutrients to the body and rid carbon dioxide, and potentiate the effects of catecholamines such as adrenaline, dopamine and norepinephrine, as well as maintenance and development of brain tissue. Thyroxine and catecholamines are all built on the amino acid L-tyrosine, and are essential to the function of the sympathetic nervous system. Since iodine comprises the bulk of the thyroid hormone, and this hormone effects so much of our health, deficiency of iodine is of great concern. Iodine is in a class of non-metallic elements called salt formers, or halogens, which includes bromine, fluorine and chlorine, and which may compete in the human body, altering useful levels. The ionic, or charged forms, of these halogens, bromide, fluoride and chloride have been found to be very useful in industrial application, as they affect all life and chemistry on the planet, both plant, insect and animal, as well as microbial life. Halogen light bulbs, or the quartz iodine lamp, are useful as well, using either iodine or bromine to redeposit tungsten in the lamp filament as it evaporates to create increased efficiency. Iodine was thus a very useful element in many industrial and food chemistry applications, and the halogens also proved useful in the body to maintain health, thus the addition of fluorine, or fluoride to the drinking water to protect teeth and bone. Unfortunately, the widespread use of iodine commercially was replaced with bromine, which was apparently deemed more profitable in many small ways, and the balance of halogens in our environment started to be upset in the early 1970s with this practice. Since the halogens compete in the human body, the increase in bromines, fluorines and chlorines added to the deficiency of iodine. Bromine and fluorine compete with iodine both in absorption and binding in the body, and altering the balance of halogens has an obvious detrimental effect, but this was done, nevertheless, in a widespread way, even though our science already knew of the potential harm of iodine deficiency for decades. It was about this time that the incidence of subclinical hypothyroidism, diseases associated with catecholamine imbalance, and autoimmune diseases increased greatly. Today there is much concern in the scientific community that these problems are related to decreased iodine and increased bromine, chlorine and fluorine, and hence we have recent regulation limiting chlorine and fluorine in drinking water and now bromines in industrial applications.

In 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a program entitled the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program, but testing and prioritization of this program has been delayed for more than a decade as protests mount concerning testing of potential endocrine disruptors on either animals or humans. In 2007, after nearly a decade of legal delays, the EPA announced that testing would finally begin, but again, a host of objections to this testing arose, much of it insisting that the chemical industry had now compromised the testing process. While such a process has been delayed for decades, and will continue to be delayed and prolonged, the evidence of endocrine disruptors in the environment is strong, and avoidance of many of these deleterious hormone modulating chemicals and radiation is possible. The intelligent patient that takes a proactive approach to their health will find more and more ways to avoid this health threat.

Information Resources

  • Research in 2011 at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, stated that decades of research make clear that ionizing radiation is a potential cause of both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, as well as thyroid nodules: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22011852
  • A 2011 report issued by the National Cancer Institute, NIH, of the U.S. Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, states that the threat of excess accumulative radiation from CT scans, which accounted for 47 percent of collective effective radiation from diagnostic procedures in 2008, and is growing yearly, is directly associated with rising rates of thyroid cancer incidence. This finding directly reflects on the potential of excess radiation from multiple CT scans in the lifetime to cause hyperthyroidism: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21296564
  • A 2013 report published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives and authored by Julia R. Barrett MS ELS, shows that while evidence of clear harm from methyl bromide pesticides and fumigants is difficult to produce, recent studies have shown a significant decrease in average birth weight and size of babies born within proximity to higher concentrations of methyl bromide: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/121-a198/
  • A 2013 study by the University of California, Berkeley, California, U.S.A. found that methyl bromide fungicide and pesticide, widely substituted in California agribusiness after the year 2000 for more benign iodide pesticides, which were restricted due to the report of deleterious potential health effects, is proven to alter the hormonal metabolism of pregnant women and their fetuses: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23603811
  • A 2012 report by UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme) outlining the evidence of endocrine disruptors and links to many diseases is provided in this pdf document: http://www.unep.org/hazardoussubstances/Portals/9/EDC/SOS%202012/EDC%20report%20Ch2-2.7.pdf
  • A 2009 report by the Institute of Occupational Medicine at the Catholic University of Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy, found that, although there has been an inexplicable lack of studies performed, there is ample evidence that a number of common industrial heavy metal toxins, such as organic mercury, lead, cadmium, manganese and arsenic are endocrine-disrupting and act in synergy with an array of other xenobiotics that disrupt the endocrine homeostasis in humans and cause disease: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19466673
  • A 2010 report by Michigan State University Department of Epidemiology found that heavy metal toxins such as organic lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic, accumulating in the environment, mainly from unregulated coal-fired power plants and smelters, have affected the endocrine system of the male population in industrial countries, decreasing fertility by affecting semen quality and reproductive hormone levels: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20377313
  • A 2006 report on the progress of the Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Research Program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1552001/