Hormones & Immunity
How do hormone imbalances weaken your immune system? The body relies on the thyroid and adrenal glands to stimulate various immune-activated functions. Furthermore, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone imbalances can suppress the immune response. Hormone levels that are too high or too low will have a strong impact on immunity, so it is imperative to keep hormone levels in check. IF YOU ARE NOT ALREADY PARTICIPATING IN A BIOIDENTICAL HORMONE PROGRAM, HAVE YOUR LEVELS TESTED TO DETERMINE IF YOU WOULD BENEFIT FROM SUCH A A PROGRAM.
Adrenal – The adrenal glands have a significant influence on immunity, as they produce hormones that are vital to several metabolic functions, including DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, and epinephrine. Specifically, the adrenal glands production of cortisol needs to stay balanced to sustain immunity. The overproduction of cortisol weakens the immune system by suppressing neutrophil function. Also, when the body is stressed, it makes sleep difficult and increases insulin, a fat storage hormone. IF YOU SUSPECT THAT YOU MIGHT SUFFER FROM ADRENAL FATIGUE, ASK FOR A 24 HOUR CORTISOL TEST.
*Thyroid – The immune system needs an active production of natural killer cells to fight off foreign intruders. Researchers found that natural killer cells were more active among individuals with optimal thyroid hormones. Immune activity was decreased among those with low thyroid levels, as thyroid hormones also regulate the inflammatory response.
*Estrogen – Extremely high or low estrogen levels can affect the immune response. Excessive production of estrogen can suppress thyroid activity, as well as reduce interleukin 2 and natural killer cell activity. Furthermore, high levels of estrogen decrease the size of the thymus gland, which depresses immune activity by causing a reduction in thymus hormone levels in the blood. In contrast, postmenopausal women that are estrogen-deprived have weakened immunity. Low estrogen levels increase pro-inflammatory markers, decrease natural killer cells, B lymphocytes, and T helper cell activity.
*Progesterone – Progesterone affects T cell and natural killer cell activity. This is especially observed during pregnancy, as progesterone aids immunoregulation of the fetus. Progesterone also tends to help most women sleep better and protects them from the detrimental effects of stress.
*Testosterone – T-lymphocytes control the body’s immune response. While these cells fight against infections, overproduction can lead to autoimmune diseases. When testosterone levels are low, T-lymphocyte production multiplies. In contrast, testosterone levels that become too high significantly increase corticosterone levels to suppress immune activity. Testosterone also regulates cytokine production of monocytes and lymphocytes – white blood cells that are essential to immunity.