Hormone level testing should be done via 24 hour urine tests not blood tests. Blood tests are not a reliable indication of "bioavailable" hormones. Saliva tests are far more accurate, than blood tests, at measuring actual tissue levels of hormones. The best diagnostic tests are 24 hour urine collection tests.
Perhaps the cheapest and easiest medical test to perform is simply taking your basal temperature. Buy a basal thermometer (it's recommended to get a non-digital, non-mercury thermometer) and in the morning before you get out of bed put the thermometer in your armpit for ten minutes then wake up and check your temperature. Do this for about ten days and calculate an average temperature. If this is low (below 97.6 degrees) then you probably have low thyroid function (and you probably feel like you lack energy and have trouble losing weight). Don't take your basal temperature during ovulation.
Aldosterone - can be used to reverse age related hearing loss (not physical hearing loss caused by listening to loud music)
Cortisol - is produced in response to stress. Cortisol is catabolic (breaks down the body). Cortisol levels must drop (aka you must rest) in order for repair and rebuilding to occur. Cortisol levels peak in the morning (waking you up) and then fall through the day. A primary function of cortisol is the production of glucose from stored glycogen, fat and protein during times of stress (providing you with the energy for "flight or fight").
DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) - the most abundant hormone in the body. DHEA levels begin to fall by 2% per year after age 25. DHEA is converted into various hormones as needed including testosterone and estrogens. General advice seems to be that if you are over 40 just start taking a DHEA supplement and then test in one month using the test results to adjust supplementation amount (most common supplementation for men is 50 mg; women should take less). It would probably be wiser to run saliva tests before you start supplementing. If you have an active hormone sensitive cancer be very careful to not over supplement (conservative advice is to not supplement at all).
- Men - blood serum optimal levels are 400 to 640 ug/dL
- Women - blood serum optimal levels are 250 to 430 ug/dL
DHEA is an important trigger for cellular energy production. DHEA is anabolic (rebuilds the body).
Take DHEA supplements in the morning unless attempting to treat a high night time cortisol level which is disrupting normal sleep. Increasing morning protein consumption may also help. DHEA levels peak upon awakening and then decrease to 11 AM, remain fairly steady in the afternoon and drop to lowest levels at bedtime. [PMID: 17594144]
It's probably best to start with 10 to 15 mg supplements of DHEA and work up.
Men - typical is 50 to 100 mg (sometimes as high as 200 mg) (Dr. Sachdev)
Supplementation of 50 mg DHEA for three months (in older adults) raised IGF-1 levels by 10%. Supplementing with 100 mg DHEA for six months resulted in raising DHEA levels to youthful levels and serum IGF-I levels in men increased 16% +/- 6% and in women increased 31% +/- 12%. [PMID: 9876338]
See Chrysin to prevent the increased testosterone (from DHEA) from being converted to estrogen.
Optimal DHEA levels should help with issues of fatigue and low sex drive. DHEA supplementation should also lower cholesterol. Hormone balance is extremely important for healthy enjoyment of life.
Do not over supplement DHEA! If you take DHEA supplements make sure you monitor using blood or saliva testing!
DHEA and it's metabolites have been shown to improve immune function and protection from viral infections. [PMID: 9307246; PMID: 8578824]
7-keto DHEA - does not convert to testosterone or estrogen; increases fat burning, lowers LDL cholesterol, raises HDL cholesterol and boosts immune function (decrease in suppressor cells and increase in helper cells), can help with thyroid disfunction; used when conversion to testosterone and then to estrogen is not desired. General suggestion is to supplement with both DHEA and 7-keto DHEA thus allowing a lower dose of DHEA.
Estrogen - there are three forms of estrogen: estradiol (the most potent / active), estrone, estriol. Estradiol is sometimes considered the "bad" estrogen and estriol is considered the "good" estrogen.
"A Greek study showed that two cups of coffee a day or just one glass of alcohol a day increased estradiol levels by 60 percent." [Dr. Hertoghe - Breakthrough - page 138] Dr. Hertoghe speculates that this is probably due to coffee and alcohol increasing conversion of testosterone to estradiol.
GH (Growth Hormone) and IGF-1 (Insulin Like Growth Factor 1) - while these hormones work "miracles" to keep you young, it should be kept in mind that disturbing the natural balance can be dangerous. When cells have DNA damage, IGF-1 signaling is reduced, this is probably the natural process to avoid growth (reproduction) of damaged cells, this is probably a natural anti-cancer activity. So if you boost GH or IGF-1 levels, it would be wise to also enhance anti-cancer steps. Consumption of milk is associated with higher IGF-1 levels and thus may be a cancer promoter.
Melatonin - is produced during the night (it is essential to sleep in the dark). Melatonin is a "repair" hormone. Melatonin is an antioxidant and an aromatase inhibitor.
Pregnenolone is a precursor to other hormones (precursor to DHEA). It is synthesized from cholesterol. What is not used by the body is converted into DHEA. By the age of 75 natural production has usually fallen by as much as 60%. An average young adult produces about 14 mg per day. Supplementation should be carefully monitored. Supplementation testing has used amounts from 25 to 300 mg per day (typically more like 75 to 150 mg per day). 50 mg per day has been tested in pilots showing improved performance with no adverse effects (but even this level of supplementation I would recommend be monitored with medical testing).
- Optimal serum level for men is 180 ng/dL
- Optimal serum level for women is 200 ng/dL
Do not over supplement pregnenolone! If you take pregnenolone supplements make sure you monitor using blood or saliva testing!
Pregnenolone directly influences the release of acetylcholine. Pregnenolone enhances new nerve growth, especially in the hippocampus.
Progesterone - if you are estrogen dominant or have high estrogen, rubbing (on the upper body) 10 to 20 mg of progesterone via cream once or twice a day could help. Magnesium plays a vital role in manufacturing progesterone.
- Male target level: 1,500 to 2,500 pg/mL (and a Progesterone to Estrogen ratio of 15:1 to 20:1) [Dr. Miller]
- Female target level: 2,000 to 14,000 pg/mL (under age 50); 2,000 to 8,000 pg/mL (over age 50) (Progesterone to (total) Estrogen ratio 10:1 to 20:1) [Dr. Miller]
Free testosterone levels should be 20 to 24 pg/mL (LabCorp method). Low levels (<17.3 pg/mL) result in a over three times the risk of developing early coronary artery disease.
Testosterone improves "RCT - Reverse Cholesterol Transport". Testosterone increases scavenger receptor B1 which stimulates cholesterol uptake for liver processing and disposal. Testosterone increases the activity of hepatic lipase which removes phospholipids from the surface of HDL. (in other words testosterone helps in the healthy processing that HDL cholesterol does to remove unhealthy cholesterol) Lowering the need for HDL may be why higher testosterone levels reduce HDL levels.
Testosterone Level Impact on Disease and Death Reduction of incidence or mortality Testosterone Level All Cause Mortality Heart Disease Cancer Lowest Base Base Base Low 25% 29% 26% High 38% 41% 23% Highest 41% 48% 29% Prospective Population Study Dec 2007 (also reported in June 2008 Life Extension Magazine)
Do not take oral tablets. "testosterone undecanoate" (a form of testosterone designed to bypass liver processing) is ineffective and potentially dangerous.
Chrysin (a flavonoid) blocks the aromatase enzyme which converts testosterone to estrogen.
Aromatase converts testosterone to estradiol and androstenedione to estrone.
- Chrysin (1,000 to 3,000 mg / day) - chrysin is an antioxidant and also anti inflammatory
- Apigenin (found in chamomile) (roughly equivalent effectiveness to chrysin)
- Xanthohumol (found in hops)
- Isoflavones (genistein and diadzein)
- Green Tea Extract
- Vitamin C
- Triiodothyronine (T3) (thyroid hormone) [PubMed ID 9920372 & 12586841]
Aromatase inhibitors include flavonoids (quercetin, chrysin, naringenin, apigenin and genistein), flavones, flavanones, resveratrol and oleuropein.
Insulin stimulates aromatase and decreases SHBG, thus promoting more estrogen activity.
5 alpha reductase converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone.
5 alpha reductase inhibitors:
- GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid)
- Evening Primrose Oil
- Nettle root (240 mg / day)
- Saw palmetto (160 mg twice daily)
Thyroid - the thyroid gland produces T4 and T3 (the difference is in how many atoms of iodine are in the molecule). T3 is the active form. T4 is converted to T3 but this conversion is dependent upon selenium (and also zinc and magnesium). One of the best (and least expensive) tests for thyroid function is monitoring basal temperature.
Herbs that Influence Hormone Levels
Ashwagandha (root extract) - approximate dosage to boost thyroid function is 100 to 300 mg per day (helps convert T4 to T3); to boost testosterone try 600 mg per day.
Bacopa - 160 to 320 mg per day; good sex hormone balancing herb
Black Cohosh - can help boost low estrogen levels safely
Chasteberry (vitex agnes) - can help boost low estrogen levels safely
Dong quai - can help balance estrogen levels; 150 to 300 mg per day
Ginseng (Korean - "panax ginseng") - a brain booster can help with low testosterone
Rosemary (leaf extract) - approximate dosage is 100 mg per day
Amino Acids,Vitamins, Minerals and other Nutrients
Alpha Lipoic Acid - approx 300 mg per day can help liver function which can help your body rid itself of excess estrogen. Don't take more than 600 mg per day [Pam Smith]
Choline & Inisotol - 250 mg each will help liver function
Digestive Enzymes - for low thyroid function taking digestive enzymes along with each meal may help. Once your thyroid function is normal then you should consider discontinuing the digestive enzymes.
DIM (Diindolylmethane) - (150 mg per day - Dr. Sachdev)
I3C (Indole-3-Carbinol) - 400 mg per day can help convert estrogen from dangerous toxic forms to more friendly forms. (300 mg per day - Dr. Sachdev) 200 to 300 mg per day for normal women, 500 mg per day for women who have had breast cancer - [Pam Smith].
I3C inhibits the enzyme "elastase". Elastase speeds up the cell cycle, resulting in faster growth of cells. Breast cancer cells are high in elastase. This is one mechanism of action by which I3C slows the growth of breast cancer tumors (also prostate cancer).
Artemisnin interferes with the same cellular pathways as I3C (involving the transcription factor SP1 - which boosts the activity of other genes). Migration and adhesion processes are also disrupted. [UC Berkeley professors Gary Firestone and Leonard Bjeldanes]
Iodine - is essential for thyroid function. See elsewhere for details on Iodine as you do not want to take too much!
Methionine - to improve liver function; 100 mg per day
N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) - to improve liver function; 500 mg per day
Soy - too much soy can decrease thyroid function.
Taurine - if you can't obtain an amino acid blood test panel, take 500 to 1,000 mg of Taurine daily to help with either high or low thyroid function.
Tryptophan - if you have excessive (high) thyroid function 500 mg of tryptophan at bedtime may help.
Tyrosine - taking 1,000 mg per day of tyrosine can help balance sex hormones
Wobenzym (proteolytic enzymes / systemic enzymes) - 4 to 9 tablets per day - Wobenzym helps with many health issues. Dosage should be slowly increased, do not just suddenly take a large amount.
Zinc - critical for testosterone; take 25 to 40 mg extra, over and above what is in your normal supplements. Larger amounts may be beneficial but 50mg or more for an extended period of time (more than a few weeks) can induce a copper deficiency.
General note on amino acids: it would be a good idea to run an amino acid blood test panel to determine if you are low or high in any amino acids. This can help guide you on which amino acids to supplement (or what dietary changes to make).
General Warning: be very careful about using any hormone modifying substances if you are pregnant!
Note: March 2007 - primary reference for dosages is "Feeling Fat, Fuzzy or Frazzled?" December 2008 - updating dosages from more reliable (A4M) sources.