Hormones and the Brain
This year, Brain Awareness Week runs from March 16-22 and marks its 25th anniversary. This global event, observed every year in mid-March, celebrates the brain and recognizes medical research and advancements relating to our most complex organ. Brain Awareness Week is organized by the Dana Foundation, “a private philanthropic organization dedicated to advancing understanding about the brain in health and disease through research grants and public outreach.”
Brain Awareness Week seeks to underscore the importance of research in treating and curing brain disease. People who want to participate can attend local, brain health-related events hosted by the event’s partners. These include lectures, open houses at scientific laboratories, exhibits, workshops, and more.
Hormones Affect Brain Health
One of the leading areas of brain research is how different hormones affect brain health, such as brain cognition. Scientists have been conducting studies in this area, since it is already known that different hormones affect the health and regulation of the body itself.
Hormones are chemicals that are secreted from the body’s endocrine system directly into the bloodstream. The body’s endocrine glands that secrete hormones include the ovaries, testes, pancreas, thyroid, and pituitary gland. The bloodstream carries the hormones to different organs and regions of the body (such as the brain), where they carry out their tasks.
The brain depends upon the appropriate balance of hormones in the body in order to function properly. When hormones become imbalanced, if your body is producing too much estrogen or testosterone, for example, it can affect your behavior, emotions, and physical health.
Hormones to Study
According to the Women’s Brain Health Initiative, the hormones that have the greatest effect on the brain are estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, cortisol, vasopressin, and melatonin. Estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone especially aid blood flow to the brain and protect against the onset of dementia.
Estrogen is mainly associated with women’s sexual development, but it can also help to prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Testosterone aids in the development and maintenance of nerves and arteries associated with the brain. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in men can sometimes be attributed to low levels of testosterone, which interferes with mental sharpness.
Recent research suggests that progesterone benefits the nervous system in a number of ways, by regulating mood, cognition, neurogenesis, and regeneration in the brain. Additionally, progesterone can benefit victims of traumatic brain injuries by reducing brain inflammation and improving mental sharpness.
Cortisol is the hormone released by your body during stressful situations and generally helps you regulate blood pressure and metabolism. But when people are exposed to high amounts of stress for long periods of time, such as in war, cortisol becomes overly active in the brain and could damage the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that stores memories. When cortisol concentration is too high in the brain, it can also lead to cognitive malfunction, emotional instability, and headaches.
Vasopressin is a hormone produced in the hypothalamus, a small organ at the base of the brain that controls appetite, hormone release, sexual behavior, and emotions. When the hypothalamus produces too much vasopressin, you could experience convulsions or even slip into a coma.
Melatonin is most well-known as a hormone that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep, but recent studies have discovered a number of brain-related benefits from melatonin. Like the other hormones mentioned above, melatonin can prevent neurodegenerative diseases, and can also assist with the brain’s recovery after traumatic experiences.
Hope in Hormone Therapy
Researchers have discovered that hormones can affect the brain in a number of ways, both positive and negative. For example, one 2014 study found that the bonding hormone oxytocin can help the brain manage fear more effectively and could be manipulated to treat people with anxiety disorders. Another study from 2019 found that growth hormones influence the body’s metabolism and communicate with our brains to tell us to conserve energy while we are on a diet. Scientists believe they could use this information to determine why some people have a hard time losing weight.
Contact Natural Bio Health
At Natural Bio Health, we understand the vital role that hormones play in your body. They can affect your energy levels, quality of sleep, your mood, and even your ability to recall things. We pair hormone replacement therapy with a customized healthy eating and weight management strategy. Your health will be affected as your hormones decline with age, but there are treatment options available. Call our office to schedule an appointment today.