This article does not address hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as it pertains to individuals whose hormone secreting glands have been damaged, destroyed, and/or removed, nor women who are taking HRT to address “change of life” related symptoms.
Autoimmune conditions happen when the body becomes dangerously low in minerals.
Minerals are responsible for making hormones and enzymes in the body. These chemicals are necessary for good health and for life itself.
Rebuilding depleted mineral stores is an incredibly challenging phase of recovery from autoimmune conditions. While food is the best source of critical nutrients, man-made supplements can augment recovery efforts. However, they are not a substitute for food and whenever possible they should be tapered off and stopped.
If minerals are currency, the adrenals are the bank. If the account gets to low, the bank goes to other banks (other glands) to borrow. If the loan is never repaid, the body breaks down. A downward spiral in health will continue until either the loans are repaid (mineral stores are replenished) or the body dies.
Taking hormonal supplements is like infusing currency into a down economy. It can help stimulate the glands the way the cash could help stimulate an economic recovery. However, just like in economics, this strategy has a down side. Eventually, that infusion has to be withdrawn.
There comes a point where the body has to take over as it was designed to do.
How do you know when it’s time to let the body take over? It depends. Let’s look at some examples.
Melatonin. Studies in the UK found that individuals suffering from EMF Sensitivity are low in melatonin, the sleep hormone. This helped me understand my own sleep challenges which included waking up every 90 minutes and being unable to get back to sleep consistently. I began taking Natrol melatonin .
As a rule with medications and supplements, I take the lowest dose that is effective. For the liquid melatonin, I only needed 3/4 of 1mg.
For the first time in years I was able to sleep through the night. I continued using this hormone supplement until my body no longer needed it.
My body sends me signals when I no longer need a supplement. For melatonin, this included nightmares and waking up after five hours because my body had cleared it from my system.
These days, if I need a bit of help winding down before bed I take 7 drops of liquid magnesium in a glass of water.
If I experience difficulty staying asleep, I know that my magnesium stores are too low.
DHEA. Not technically a hormone, this chemical is nonetheless produced by the adrenal glands. The body converts DHEA into either testosterone or estrogen. When there are toxic levels of heavy metals in the body, this process, like many others, is disrupted.
Heavy metals not only block the absorption of the minerals that make hormones, enzymes, and DHEA, they disrupt the body’s rhythm by depleting its stores of testosterone. The metals take all you have and keep you from making any more.
When I was diagnosed with rheumatic arthritis, medical tests revealed that I had toxic levels of heavy metals in my body. They also revealed that I had the testosterone levels of a 63 year old. I was 27 at the time. My doctor put me on DHEA to bring my testosterone levels back up.
The pharmaceutical grade stuff, even at the very low dose he prescribed came with terrible side effects. I quit taking it and went with a brand from the health food store.** I got much better results (no side effects) and my body recovered.***
As part of my recovery from EMF Sensitivity I began to supplement with low doses of DHEA.
10 mg store brand.
Through the trial and error of my overall efforts I discovered that low DHEA was directly responsible for my rheumatic arthritis symptoms.
After 19 years in remission I had a relapse. Upon taking 20 mg of DHEA all RA symptoms disappeared completely.
I suspect RA is directly related to, if not absolutely caused by, low testosterone.
Which is caused by low DHEA which is caused by low minerals which is caused by heavy metal toxicity. Follow the yellow brick road.
I have tried tapering off but at this point in my recovery I still need DHEA. Any more than 20 mg makes me sick. Any less brings a return of RA symptoms.
VITAMIN D. A hormone produced by the adrenal glands, this isn’t a vitamin at all. Its formation is stimulated by exposure to the sun and it plays an important role in helping the body metabolize minerals. Although there has been a push to supplement with Vitamin D3, there are consequences. Taking Vitamin D when your magnesium levels are out of whack can make things much worse.
Studies suggest areas with less sun have higher rates of autoimmune conditions. I believe there is a cause other than low Vitamin D. Humans have been on this planet for thousands of years. The mushrooming of autoimmune diseases has only happened in the last few decades.
I actually found that as my potassium stores came up I needed to stop taking the Vitamin D. It was interfering with my ability to replenish my magnesium stores.
ENZYMES. Although minerals are also responsible for making the numerous enzymes our body needs, I never took enzyme supplements, nor gave any to my family during their recovery. I simply cut out any foods that caused problems.
There were only two, milk and most grains.
As we have rebuilt our depleted mineral stores we have been able to reintroduce these foods on occasion.
It’s ideal to wait until complete recovery.
Not all dairy and not all grains are a problem. We can all eat pasta, sourdough bread (if it’s the real thing), eggs, and cheese without any difficulty.
Caution. While hormone supplements can certainly shore up the body during recovery, serious caution is warranted. If hormones are given when they are not needed, the body will respond by producing less in order to maintain the critical balance it needs.
Shortly after I moved to the East Bay I became sick. Horrible fatigue and disrupted sleep sent me to the doctor who ran a bunch of tests. Nothing was wrong. Still, he was willing to put me on a low dose of thyroid to see if it helped. A follow up blood test showed my thyroid hormone levels had gone down, proving that I did not need this hormone supplement. I quit taking it but the fatigue only worsened. I now know this was due to the health nightmare caused by drinking water with toxic levels of copper and mercury.
Supplementing with hormones during recovery from autoimmune conditions can be the step that puts you firmly on the road to recovery. However, it is important not to become dependent on them. Just as you have to take training wheels off and let the body power the bike’s balance, eventually you need to reduce and/or eliminate hormone supplements and let the body power its hormone balance.
** The DHEA from a compounding pharmacy had terrible side effects. I bought Country Life 25mg and was just fine. I have also used LIFELINK with great success. I continue to take the lowest dose required.
*** My body recovered until I moved back to the Bay Area.