The Hormonal Stress Buster

Progesterone is one of the 'feel good' hormones and many people don't have enough of it
By Ann Louise Gittleman
Ann Louise Gittleman
Ann Louise Gittleman
Ph.D.
Ann Louise Gittleman holds a master’s in nutrition education from Columbia University, and is certified as a nutrition specialist by the American College of Nutrition. She also has a doctorate in holistic nutrition and has served as the chief nutritionist of the Pediatric Clinic at Bellevue Hospital and is the former director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Santa Monica, Calif. This article was originally published on AnnLouise.com
October 30, 2021 Updated: October 30, 2021

It goes without saying that stress has become one of the most prevalent health concerns we’re facing during these trying times.

Unfortunately, stress has major far-reaching tentacles impacting almost every disease and autoimmune issue known to man. It can manifest in things such as weight-loss resistance, migraine headaches, or even acne. And, it can be involved with more life-threatening issues such as cardiomyopathy, Parkinson’s, stroke, and dementia. Stress affects every aspect of our health and well-being, so it’s imperative to keep our stress levels in check as much as possible.

Making sleep a No. 1 priority, spending time in nature, meditating, and unplugging on a daily basis are wonderful ways to handle stress. But there is another way that many of us overlook: a hormonal stress buster that you probably haven’t considered.

Progesterone is one of the “feel good” hormones. And, if you, like millions of others around the world, are dealing with unrelenting stress, you are likely in need of a boost of it.

How Progesterone Beats Stress

Produced by the adrenal glands, progesterone functions as both buffer to and treatment for various ailments including stress. Because progesterone plays a significant role in so many functions critical to good quality of life, normal fluctuations in this hormone can have potentially deleterious effects, including the stressful feelings of depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness.

Quite simply stated, stress causes estrogen dominance and a lack of the calming effects of progesterone that counter excess estrogen’s negative and often irritable, excitable effects. And no wonder it plays such an important role in our brain health. Progesterone is up to 20 times more concentrated in the brain than in the bloodstream.

Progesterone is widely recognized today thanks to the pioneering research of Dr. Raymond Peat and Dr. John Lee. They found that progesterone deficiency is epidemic among men and women from 18 to 80. Many people simply aren’t producing enough progesterone because they lack the nutrient precursors zinc and vitamin B6. And excessive stress depletes this critical hormone.

Progesterone’s key role is to help negate the effects of excess estrogen. But when levels are low and estrogen dominance happens, largely due to long-term stress, symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, and irritability begin to appear. These can cascade into so many areas in our lives and destroy our health and well-being.

It isn’t common to consider hormones first when you think of ways to approach debilitating stress and anxiety in today’s world. There are many other considerations such as thyroid and adrenal health that control the body’s intricate emotional balance. But through the many years I’ve been working with hormone testing, I have found that most people are lacking the proper amount of progesterone needed to combat excess estrogen and help control stress. Therefore, I recommend two very important things to consider as you navigate your way to better mental health and an improved quality of life.

Here’s How to Test Your Hormone Levels

It’s absolutely essential to have your hormones tested if you want an accurate measurement of individual hormones. I recommend the Salivary Hormone Panel, which evaluates your body’s levels of bioavailable progesterone, estradiol, estriol, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol. Unlike blood tests, which don’t measure bioavailable hormone activity, saliva testing is considered to be the most accurate measure of free, bioavailable hormonal activity.

This convenient, at-home Salivary Hormone Testing Kit uses a saliva sample to provide an individualized hormone assessment (from yours truly) to help identify and alleviate the underlying causes of many imbalance-related issues, including stress, anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness.

Keep in mind that as a rule of thumb, I’m not recommending hormone products without testing. But since it’s safe to use and since nine out of 10 times, I find deficient levels of progesterone on everyone I’ve tested, I recommend the topical use of ProgestaKey (a transdermal cream that contains USP progesterone derived from wild yam). Products like this can aid in optimizing your progesterone levels and correcting estrogen imbalance.

Progesterone can help control stress, anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness throughout the many stages of life for both men and women. If you find you have a deficiency of this hormone, you can take steps to address it.

Ann Louise Gittleman holds a master’s in nutrition education from Columbia University, and is certified as a nutrition specialist by the American College of Nutrition. She also has a doctorate in holistic nutrition and has served as the chief nutritionist of the Pediatric Clinic at Bellevue Hospital and is the former director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Santa Monica, Calif. Her latest book is “RADICAL LONGEVITY—The Powerful Plan to Sharpen Your Brain, Strengthen Your Body, and Reverse the Symptoms of Aging.” This article was originally published on AnnLouise.com

Ann Louise Gittleman holds a master’s in nutrition education from Columbia University, and is certified as a nutrition specialist by the American College of Nutrition. She also has a doctorate in holistic nutrition and has served as the chief nutritionist of the Pediatric Clinic at Bellevue Hospital and is the former director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Santa Monica, Calif. This article was originally published on AnnLouise.com