*see below for your discount on Dr. Crawford’s in-home hormone test kit
The Impact of Hormones on the Gut
You are working so hard on diet to help your GI health, but you still feel like something else is going on. You have felt an improvement but are still having symptoms even though you are doing everything right. This is because there are other facets of your health that could be stopping you from being able to recover fully. Did you know that hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are directly connected to many gut functions?
Estrogen and GI Symptoms
Research shows changes in estrogen for example, changes the pH balance in the GI tract and other areas of the body. A change in pH, the acidity, can cause dramatic shifts in the type of microflora that grow. One of the good gut bacteria that needs to flourish is acidophilus spp. The word acidophilus means acid-loving and is dependent on a healthy, acidic gut environment in order to thrive. When estrogen levels decrease, the pH decreases. Once pH decreases in the gut it kicks off a domino effect that can lead to a dysbiosis, or imbalance of the gut microflora (the microbiome) leading to inflammation and eventually can result in Leaky Gut Syndrome.
In addition to this, low estrogen can lead to low serotonin, 90% of which is made in the gut. Altered serotonin levels can lead to symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). There are also direct receptors for the sex hormones throughout the intestines. One animal study showed the speed at which the intestines were emptied was dependent on the dose of hormones they were receiving. The higher the dose they received, the faster the transit time, meaning low hormones most likely will cause constipation.
Progesterone and IBS
Lastly, since my specialty is how stress affects hormones, I would be remiss to not include the root cause of hormone imbalances; a poorly regulated stress response system. Our stress response leads to a hormone imbalance that begins with low progesterone. Progesterone helps relax smooth muscles, including those of the GI tract. Progesterone is also related to the neurotransmitter GABA. Research has been done showing that GABA receptor agonist medications that increase GABA help GI conditions such as gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) and IBS. Therefore, low GABA due to low progesterone is associated with these conditions and they may not resolve unless you address the problem with chronic low progesterone.
Take Home Message
GI health is complex and we are still learning about how other systems of the body affect it. Working with a gut health expert who understands that whole body health, including hormone health and maintaining a healthy stress response system, is important to resolve any lingering symptoms. If you think there may be something else going on and are wondering if it could be your hormones, you can take our free hormone assessment.
As a patient of Dr. Bowen’s, you are also eligible for a $300 discount on the adrenal and hormone test kit and lab review bundle. Contact Dr. Bowen for further details or click on this link from Naturkur Wellness and enter your code: drbowen.