Hormonal imbalances are often associated with raging emotions and lackluster libidos. But, the reality is our hormones are significantly more important to our health than we give them credit for. In fact, even slight hormone imbalances can create mayhem on our digestive, reproductive, and nervous systems.
Achieving and maintaining balanced hormones is a predominant health concern for both men and women. And with DUTCH (Dry Urine Testing for Comprehensive Hormones) — an innovative new home testing kit, it’s now convenient and easy to obtain the essential information you need to balance your hormones.
Hormone Testing Can Light The Path
Changing your toxic habits to healthy ones, like adopting a cleaner diet, are essential to correcting hormonal imbalances. However, the process of achieving hormonal imbalances doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark.
Testing your hormones for precise measurements is the first step most practitioners recommend when creating a tailored plan of action for bringing your hormones, and your health, back into balance. This is where the DUTCH testing model outshines all other testing methods. It speeds up and fine-tunes the process of achieving and maintaining hormone balance.
Traditionally, there have been three main methods of testing hormone imbalances: blood (or serum), saliva, and 24-hour urine tests. Yet, each of these methods has significant drawbacks, from being expensive and inconvenient to inaccurate and incomplete.
Mark Nueman, president and founder of Precision Analytical, the inventors of DUTCH, explains, “When you look at the landscape of hormone testing that’s available … they each have pieces of information as it relates to your reproductive or your adrenal hormones that are missing.”
Blood testing is not the most accurate for measuring levels of sex hormones. This is because most blood tests measure the total hormone level and not the amount that is available to be used. Additionally, certain hormones like progesterone, when applied topically, do not have a large impact on blood serum levels. However, they do increase levels in saliva. This may lead to blood serum results that show a lower amount of hormones than are actually available.
Blood test results provide only a snapshot of one moment in time. And, hormone levels can change over the course of the day. Blood testing evaluates all circulating hormones regardless of their availability to our body. It is also the least convenient test, requiring either trips to a laboratory or pricking yourself at home (ouch!).
The problem with saliva testing is that hormones are found in much lower concentrations in saliva than in blood or urine. This makes it much harder for labs to consistently report salivary hormones with as much accuracy. In addition, contamination from bleeding gums or even aggressive tooth brushing can affect a person’s results and make the levels seem artificially high.
Further, other factors such as salivary pH and flow rate can also affect saliva test results. In the past, when split samples from the same person were sent to different salivary testing labs, the results were unfortunately very different. This led some researchers to write off saliva testing altogether.
Fortunately, as technology has improved, many labs have improved their ability to provide accurate and reproducible results. However, the fact remains that because hormone levels are much lower in the saliva, any lab that tests salivary hormones will need high-quality control standards to assure consistent and reliable accuracy.
Twenty-four-hour urine testing is another common method used to test hormone levels. Even though it has many benefits, the 24-hour urinary hormone panel has a few limitations as well. The main problem is that it only measures the hormones the body is excreting in the urine at the time. And while secreted hormones often correlate with tissue and blood levels, this is not always the case. This method is also inconvenient because it requires a person to collect all of their urine over a 24-hour period. This leaves more room for error and false results.
Testing Without Limitations
With these limitations in mind, Neuman invented a revolutionary form of hormone testing called DUTCH (Dry Urine Testing For Comprehensive Hormones). Today, many functional medicine practitioners use this method, finding it’s the most accurate, complete, and convenient method on the market.
“DUTCH testing allows me to treat women with infertility, peri- and menopause as well as younger women with hormonal imbalances, and allows me to get a deeper look into the hormonal pathways,” says Dr. Alexandra Carswell Engle (Dr. ACE), a licensed naturopathic medical doctor who has adopted DUTCH testing in her practice.
It also allows her to treat men with stress-induced low testosterone, high-DHT mediated hair loss, and other complaints from a more data-driven perspective.
“No other testing allows me to get as much information, especially about liver function as it pertains to the liver’s ability to detoxify and clear out hormones,” says Dr. ACE.
DUTCH brings the best of all worlds vis-a-vis testing by using four convenient dry urine collections. The filter paper on the collection device is simply saturated by the patient and then dried. The accuracy is not compromised at all.
The individual samples are measured for free cortisol. The pattern of free cortisol as measured in saliva and urine by the DUTCH method of testing shows the same pattern of free cortisol that rises in the morning and falls throughout the day. This actual pattern of up and down cortisol is a key component of analyzing the HPA axis. The HPA axis is our central stress response system. Twenty-four-hour urine testing does not provide this information.
Do You Suffer From Hormonal Imbalances?
How do you know if you have a hormonal imbalance? Many of the symptoms we associate with normal signs of aging and menopause are actually indications that something is askew in hormone land. Often, it’s an issue that can be addressed with the right tools.
Some common signs of hormonal imbalances are:
- Cramping, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive issues
- Brain fog
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Decreased libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain and/or inability to lose weight
- Painful or irregular menses
- Infertility and other reproductive disorders
- Gynecomastia (swelling of breast tissue in men)
If left unaddressed, hormonal imbalances can deepen their hold on your body’s regulatory systems. This could potentially lead to the development of more severe diseases of the inflammatory, neurological, auto-immune, reproductive, and endocrine systems, as well as the adrenal glands.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a very common condition which is caused by hormone imbalances, as well as leaky gut syndrome. Even breast cancer and certain kinds of tumors can be fed by hormonal imbalances caused by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC). Many studies have shown that EDCs can act directly or indirectly on mammary tissue, increasing sensitivity to chemical carcinogens or enhancing the development of hyperplasia, beaded ducts, or tumors.
The Ins And Outs of Making Hormones
Hormones are an intricate collection of chemical messengers which deliver specific directives to tissues and organs throughout the bloodstream. Produced in various glands as part of the endocrine system, hormones control most of the body’s major systems. It also regulates our heart rate, metabolism – how the body gets energy from the foods we eat, appetite, mood, sexual function, reproduction, growth and development, sleep cycles, and more.
Like the precise ratios in a delicately assembled chocolate soufflé, any changes to the proportion of hormones can determine whether we rise or fall. And, since hormone imbalances are strongly linked to dizziness, this metaphor can be taken quite literally!
According to Dr. Anna Cabeca, an OBGYN and anti-aging expert, “A hormone is a chemical messenger that tells a target organ to get to work doing its job.” The follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), for example, is responsible for telling your ovaries when it’s time to release an egg. And, leptin is the hormone responsible for sending a message that you’re full and it’s time to stop eating.
“It can cause huge problems if our hormones are out of balance — our organs will be sent the wrong signals at the wrong time!” notes Dr. Cabeca.
Why Our Hormones Go Wonky
As a result of our fake-food, plastic-laden, stress-filled modern society, achieving balanced hormones takes a conscious effort. This is because hormone balances are deeply connected to the food we eat, the exercise we get, the toxins we absorb, the weight we carry, and the daily stressors we live with. Hormone-disrupting chemicals are so prevalent in the United States and elsewhere, it is impossible to completely avoid them — unless you are meditating in a Himalayan cave right now, in which case, carry on my friend!
One common source of these chemicals are the more than one billion pounds of pesticides used in the United States each year and approximately 5.6 billion pounds used worldwide. In a recent study, 93 percent of Americans tested had toxic estrogen-mimicking BPA (bisphenol A, which is commonly found in plastics) in their urine and bloodstream.
From vaccines, fluoride in the water, human growth hormones, artificial dyes, pesticides and GMOs in the food, and hormone disrupters in our cosmetics and cleaning products, we are being increasingly bombarded with toxic chemicals which create chaos on our body’s endocrine system.
It’s Time To Love Your Hormones
When you couple the average toxic chemical load from these external factors with the average high-stress lifestyles many of us live, it’s no wonder our poor hormones are in havoc. From working soul-sucking jobs, and cramming our days with too many commitments, we reach for sugary and caffeinated support to keep us “sane” while fretting over the bills, the news, and the guy who cut us off in traffic. It’s a hell of a lot for an endocrine system to keep up with. We should send love to our humble hormones for even trying.
In fact, Dr. Anna Cabeca recommends sending love to every part of your body as a morning ritual for healing your hormones, demonstrating in her youtube video how to direct healing energy through your entire body, working from your crown to your feet.
She also recommends writing in a gratitude journal and setting a daily “cheer word”. This will be a word you repeat throughout the day that makes you smile. She cites studies which show that smiling and laughter can help reduce the levels of stress hormones such as cortisone.
Dr. Marisol Teijeiro, a naturopathic doctor from Canada who is better known on her cheeky platform as The Queen Of Thrones says, “The number one thing we all have to learn is how to reduce our stress, because stress, bottom line, affects how we are digesting, how we are absorbing, and how we are eliminating.” She goes on to explain that even the very best organic diet and supplements are of no use if the body is in a constant state of stress, which inhibits the body’s natural digestive processes.
Castor Oil Packs
She recommends castor oil packs as the best way to incorporate a de-stressing and detoxifying practice into your weekly or even daily routine. The biggest benefit of a castor oil pack is that it calms the nervous system down. When you do a castor oil pack, the warm pack on your abdomen actually switches your body from a stressed to a relaxed state. Then the castor oil is able to better absorb into tissues because the body becomes receptive.
After making the switch to non-toxic household and beauty products, as well as adopting practices to reduce stress (yoga, meditation, love your body routine, castor oil packs, etc.) the next step to reversing hormonal imbalances naturally is through your food.
It’s All About The Gut
Eating clean food (organic, fresh, and non-GMO) rich in minerals and healthy fats is the foundation of a well-balanced system. It is truly remarkable how important proper food is to hormonal balance. Even if you have been diagnosed with a chronic disease such as leaky gut, PCOC (polycystic ovarian condition), or other endocrine and adrenal disorders like Hashimotos and Graves disease, it’s been found that turning to healthier diet has had profound effects on overall health.
“You can’t treat the hormonal system without treating the gut. There is absolutely no way,” says Dr. Marisol. “Everything comes from the gut.”
Marisol says she doesn’t even like classifying health problems as a hormonal condition or immune condition. She recommends we look at our bodies like an entire ecosystem with the gut working as the hub. The environment of the gut is what creates all other health problems.
In the gut you digest, you absorb, and you build all the nutrients you need to build your hormonal system, to build your immune system, to build your nervous system. You get all of the antioxidants, all of the things that fight against cancer, all the things that protect your body.
Experience’s With DUTCH
Dr. Marisol is also a fan of DUTCH. “The DUTCH test has excellent factors,” she says.
It is an awesome test which actually tells you about your antioxidant status in your system … which can monitor and see risks for cancer. If a patient is doing really well and their antioxidant level is super awesome and at healthy low levels according to the DUTCH test, then I know the patient is doing great and their likelihood of having big chronic diseases isn’t likely. But if it gets higher, then [I know] they need to up their antioxidant levels, they need to come in for IVs and start eating better. And to start doing their castor oil packs again, every day.
DUTCH Test has also helped HoneyColony founder Maryam Henein.
As a functional medicine consultant, I don’t like to throw semi-cooked spaghetti on the wall and hope something sticks. I like to do tests and collect data. When I used [DUTCH testing] personally, I was able to learn a lot about why I wasn’t getting REM. For instance, I had very low melatonin levels, have sluggish phase two liver detox capabilities, and wasn’t optimally metabolizing estrogen. I liked that the testing looks at cortisol awakening response and organic acids. DUTCH allows you to see the actual components that create the entire symphony.
How To Incorporate DUTCH Into Your Life
Ideally, the test should be repeated every three months while a patient is in active treatment for specific issues. This is because our hormone levels change every three months. Testing three months from the first testing date will give a clear picture of improvements and what still needs to be worked on. Once a patient is treated and doing well, Dr. Marisol recommends reducing DUTCH testing to once a year.
Your gut is like a garden. You need to have good soil, you need to have good water, good nourishment, good balance of potassium and nitrates in the soil. The DUTCH test is invaluable in terms of gut health because it allows me to see the system as a whole.
How To Order Your DUTCH Testing Kit
Health practitioners love DUTCH for its comprehensive nature. Patients love DUTCH for its ultimate convenience. Not only can the test be done from the comfort of your own home, but the dry urine method is also shelf-stable for weeks. This allows you time to ship back samples from anywhere in the world. HoneyColony is excited to be a provider of DUTCH home testing kits, offering easy online ordering for our hive. Full details on each of the DUTCH testing kit options can be found here.
As your DUTCH Plus provider, we’ll have access to your results once they become available. We can help you interpret your DUTCH testing results. Additionally, we work with you to come up with a holistic hormone re-balancing plan of action. Please book a consultation with HoneyColony founder and Functional Medicine Consultant, Maryam Henein to set up an appointment and discuss your results and what they mean for your health.
Daisy Jean is a freelance writer who lives with her fabulously feral family deep in the woods on a little piece of land we call Serenity. Read about our off-grid extreme homesteading (mis)adventures on her blog.
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