Saturday, 4 July 2015

Balancing hormones

Thanks to reader Yuka for pointing out the wide range of products that are advertised to 'balance the hormones', particularly targeted at women consumers.

There are some parallels here with attempts to 'boost the immune system' (see page 301 in the book). We aren't talking about a simple system or individual entity that can somehow be put back in balance by taking a supplement.

Hormones comprise a vast range of signalling chemicals produced by various glands in the body to control different functions from digestion to sleep and the reproductive system. Various illnesses result in unusual hormone levels, and require proper medical treatment. But the idea that you can 'balance your hormones' by eating something seems more oriented to the ancient and baseless idea of your body having four humours that need to be kept in balance. There is no good scientific evidence for taking supplements to balance your hormones, nor any clear mechanism by which many recommended supplements could even have an influence on hormone levels.

There are many hormones and many products said to 'balance' them, but this article gives an example of some specific products claiming to be 'bioidentical hormones', recommended by their vendors as alternatives to hormone replacement therapy, and also said to improve quality of life. As the article makes clear (with proper testing to back it up) these products have serious potential problems.

Overall, then, if you suspect you have a hormonal problem, the last thing you want to do is self medicate. See your GP.

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