A Look at Whole Body Wellness
Even in the new millennium, with all the technology and broad dissemination and free flow of information, many busy clinicians are still performing the same diagnostic hormonal workups that have been conducted for decades. Frequently, a few specific data points are targeted, such as follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) or estradiol and progesterone. Yet, primary care practitioners have all been trained to realize that hormonal pathways are dependent upon homeostasis of other pathways to promote and sustain optimal health.1 Thus, it makes sense that examining the bigger hormonal picture, the "lay of the land,'' so to speak, yields facts needed to maximize clinical outcomes. The common practice of examining select and narrow hormonal indices is akin to looking at a few trees within a forest and making ajudgment on the ecology of the entire forest. Until recently, affordable testing that provided a truly comprehensive look at a patient's hormonal profile was not readily available. Yet, by applying mass spectrometry more broadly in the clinical sciences, a few laboratories in the United States are providing comprehensive and affordable hormonal profiles at a fraction of the cost of previously used methods. These tests typically provide at least 20 data points, including measures of estrogen metabolites; progesterone metabolites; and adrenal hormones, testosterone, and each of their respective metabolites. Many labs are also providing saliva and blood tests that are affordable, easy to use, and provide similar data. In addition, newer testing is available to evaluate genetic variations (SNPs) that modulate hormone metabolism including SNPs in the phase 1 and 2 enzymes that metabolize endogenous estrogens along with xenoestrogens. A steroid-hormone metabolism-profile chart illustrates, quite clearly, the clinical relevance of identifying potential highs and lows within the greater unidirectional and bidirectional pathways and the clinical relevance of using more comprehensive hormonal profiling to clarify diagnostic hypotheses. By correlating the biochemical trends of each pathway and the resultant metabolite levels, added clinical insights and understanding are gained that otherwise would require a less well-informed assumption by a treating clinician. With such insights, dietary and nutritional interventions can be prescribed more easily and have greater specificity. There are numerous clinical considerations that come into play when one attempts to promote hormonal wellness. Many of these variables, when properly controlled, can minimize the risk of disease states, including breast cancer relative to hormonal modulation.2
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Are Menopause Symptoms Playing Havoc With Your Health and Relationships? Are you tired of the mood swings, dryness, hair loss and wrinkles that come with the change of life? Do you want to do something about it but are wary of taking the estrogen or antidepressants usually prescribed for menopause symptoms?