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N
aturopathic Medicine
 

Get To Know Your Endocrine System

© Lauri M. Aesoph ND


Diabetes mellitus is the worse case scenario of a pancreas gone wrong. In this disease, the seventh most common cause of death in the United States, insulin is ineffective or absent causing very high blood sugar. Resulting signs and symptoms include glucose in the urine, extreme thirst and hunger, frequent urination, weight loss and fatigue. A blood glucose test can confirm or dismiss a diabetes diagnosis.

Like all body parts, the pancreas requires its share of vitamins and minerals to function properly. At the 1994 American Diabetes Association Meeting, information was presented on the value of various nutrients. Magnesium deficiency in common in diabetes. Production of free radicals, the molecules that damage healthy tissue, increases in diabetes. Antioxidant nutrients like vitamin E and C, and beta-carotene dampen free radical harm (Diabetes Care, 1994, vol 17).

A diet low in fat and high in fiber is central to diabetic treatment, however, many herbs help too. French researcher Oliver Bever and his Swiss colleague G.R. Zahnd reported on several plants that naturally lower blood sugar like onion, garlic, bilberry and fenugreek (Quarterly Journal of Crude Drug Research, 1979, vol 17).


Testes

Function
Two testes, housed in a man's scrotum, produce sperm and testosterone. Without this male sex hormone, men wouldn't have deep voices, beards or be muscular. Testosterone, also responsible for sex organ development, is produced in the testes under the direction of gonadotrophins from the anterior pituitary. Testosterone also enhances libido in both sexes.

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One of the most common problems to strike older men is benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH. Testosterone naturally declines with age, while other hormones like prolactin, estradiol, luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone all increase. The net result is a boost in dihydrotestosterone, a powerful male hormone, that causes prostate enlargement.

An enlarged prostate presses down on a man's urinary tract causing frequent and hesitant urination. Urine may dribble out rather than flow in a steady, strong stream. Nighttime wakings to urinate disrupt sleep and create fatigue.

Luckily natural remedies are very successful at treating BPH. Cutting out coffee and drinking more water are first steps. Supplemental doses of zinc, vitamin B6 and essential fatty acids like evening primrose oil or sunflower oil also help. The herb saw palmetto is an excellent remedy for BPH.


Ovaries

Function
On the female side, two ovaries, linked to the uterus via fallopian tubes, produce a woman's eggs as well as estrogen and progesterone. These female hormones endow a women with her feminine traits: large breasts and hips, soft skin and a menstrual cycle. During pregnancy, the placenta also produces progesterone, taking over from the ovaries. This arrangement allows pregnancy to proceed normally, as well as prepare a woman's breasts for nursing her baby.

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One of the most common endocrine-related problems that plague women is premenstrual syndrome. Half of premenopausal women complain of fatigue, tender breasts, depression, irritability, food cravings and any number of the 150 symptoms association with this syndrome one to two weeks before their periods.

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