By Catherine Haug, April 28, 2021
I’ve had insulin resistance since my early 20s (50+ years ago), causing carvings for sugar, and a build-up of excess fat in my belly area. And now I’m beginning to learn that other hormones and/or leaky gut may also play a role in body-weight and food sensitivity issues. This post includes two important ways to help you lose weight naturally:
- Balancing 5 Hormone Blocks, and
- How to Heal a “leaky gut”
This article has been divided into two parts:
- IR: Hormone Imbalance-I: Hormones and Body Weight Issues, about 5 hormone blocks and healing a leaky gut (this page); and
- IR: Hormone Imbalance -II: Links to Videos (from Rosemarie Lascalzo)
- This site: 1. Diet and Health Menu; 2. Notes on Insulin Resistance (IR); 3. Notes on Weight Loss; 4. Choline, Inositol, and Insulin Resistance; 5. Ketogenic Diet (includes several articles; 5. Cortisol and Adrenal Fatigue (not yet moved from iWeb/Health-Metabolism)
- Other Sites: 1. WAPF article: Natural Support for Hormone Balancing, by Kim Schuette (12)
Insulin Resistance: I’ve been struggling with excess fat in my belly area for at least 55 years. About 50 years ago, I started having low blood sugar most of the time. Then, about 30 years ago, I learned these were symptoms of insulin resistance, which plays a role in the accumulation of belly fat due to excess sugar and insulin in my blood, which could lead to Type-2 Diabetes. 6 years ago I started taking myo-inositol to treat insulin resistance at the recommendation of my Naturopath. I did lose about 30 pounds but I continue to have a big belly and another 40 – 60 pounds to go, and it just wasn’t happening.
March 2022 update: beginning in October 2021, I started losing weight again, and as of this update, I’ve lost another 25 pounds. But I’ve also been dealing with NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), which is linked to Insulin Resistance.
Food Sensitivities: Since 2011, I’ve also been dealing with food sensitivities, caused by a leaky gut. The problem likely started even earlier, but I didn’t know what it was until I started seeing a wonderful acupuncturist who also practices NAET (a treatment for allergies and food sensitivities linked to a leaky gut).
Five hormone blocks that lead to body-weight issues
Most of this article is from: digi.hormonalbalancenow.com/hb5cb. [NOTE: that link is a sales pitch for a particular supplement developed by Dr Wood (naturopath) that contains all of his supplement ingredients listed below.]
I don’t want to use his supplement because he uses cassia instead of Ceylon cinnamon (see more about that below), so I will try my own supplement mix. I do believe all 5 of my hormones need some help.
The 5 hormone blocks
- Thyroid hormones: When functioning properly, these hormones control your metabolism. Your thyroid organ, prompted by TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) takes iodine (from your diet), which is converted to iodide, then turns it into T4 (thyroxine hormone, a combo of 4 iodides and a protein), which then converts to the more powerful T3 (triiodothyronine hormone, a combo of 4 iodides and a protein). But when not functioning properly, your body stores the calories you consume as fat, and refuses to break down that fat. These thyroid hormones also play a role in “brain fog.” (14) There are additional thyroid hormones: T2 and T1, which play minor roles. (15)
- Cortisol – the stress hormone: When cortisol levels are high, your brain thinks you are in survival mode and stores fat rather than burning fat. [I note that my cortisol levels are too low, rather than high, day and night.]
- Estrogen: When not in balance with progesterone, estrogen can “very easily lead to weight loss resistance.” My question: what is proper balance for these two hormones? From Dr Houston Anderson (6): the desired “progesterone-to-estrogen ratio [Pg/E2] is 100-500. (To calculate your progesterone to estrogen ratio, take your progesterone and divide it by your estrogen which then provides your progesterone to estrogen ratio. Providers vary but I have observed many practitioners aiming at a progesterone to estrogen ratio greater than 200).” See also MDApp (7) for more detail.
- Insulin: Its most well-known role is to help the cells take up needed sugar to burn for energy. Another role is to “help the body convert carbs from the diet into sugar, … then tells your body to store this sugar as glycogen in your muscles. [That’s all well and good, but] muscles can only store a small amount of glycogen at any given time, [so] the body stores the additional glycogen as fat.” When there is excess sugar in the blood, insulin directs the liver to convert the excess sugar into storage-fat.
- Leptin “tells your brain when you’ve had enough to eat.” But when you start gaining weight (due to hormone issues above), you can no longer burn fat (as result of other hormone issues, above), your fat cells start producing more and more hormones, overwhelming the brain, so it ignores the messages entirely; a.k.a, leptin resistance.
Fixing the blocks with studied natural remedies
Fixing this problem is easier than you might think, according to the article. [NOTE: the quoted references (for scientific studies, numbered with Roman numerals) can be found in the References section of this article (bottom of page), under “Scientific Study Links,” or in the original article (1).]
- Thyroid: “get more iodine in your diet…so it can make enough of the T3 and T4 hormones needed to control your metabolism.” [NOTE: the article sites several studies; see the article for details about these references.] His solution is to:
- supplement with kelp (a natural source of iodine) [references i, ii, ii, iii]; I used to take Lugols, an aqueous form of iodine (16), but switched to plant-sources of iodine, such as bladderwrack at the recommendation of my naturopath, as it also helps with cortisol health.
- add more copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, and selenium [references: iv, v] [Cat’s note: all but magnesium should be taken in chelated form – held by proteins or other complex molecules – as salt forms (such as oxides, chlorides, etc.) are toxic heavy metals.]
- Excess cortisol: supplement with:
- Rhodiola Rosea [references vii, viii, ix, x, xi], and
- Red ginseng [references: xv, xvi, xvii, xviii, xix ]
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) [no references included]
- Bladderwrack plant powder [no references included]
- See also NIH article (11) for info on Cortisol-induced Insulin Resistance
- Estrogen: supplement with
- Diindolylmethane (or DIM for short), which
- “leads to a favorable shift in estrogen metabolism” [references xxi. xxii] and
- “suppresses high-fat diet-induced obesity” [reference xxiii]
- Diindolylmethane (or DIM for short), which
- Food in diet: “One approach is to reduce the amount of carbs, processed foods, and refined sugars that you eat.”
- Supplement with cinnamon;* research shows it:
- “Reduced insulin levels, lower cholesterol levels, and less erratic blood sugar;
- “Reduced body Mass Index, or BMI” [xxiv];
- “Helps to support healthy estrogen levels” [xxv];
- “Led to a significant decrease in waist circumference” [xxix];
- “Increased fat burning and reduced fat tissue dramatically [xxx];
- “led to decreased body weight, decreased BMI, decreased waist circumference, and decreased fat mass in adults” [xxxi];
- [See also the article’s references: xxvi, xxvii, xxviii]
- African mango seed extract [xxxii, xxxiii, xxxiv, xxxv]
‘* NOTE: There are two types of cinnamon: cassia (the spicy variety in most grocery stores) and Ceylon (less common). HB-5 uses cassia cinnamon, which can be toxic when taken at higher levels such as in HB-5, so I recommend Ceylon cinnamon. See “Cat’s note” under “Cinnamon” in the “HB-5 Ingredient List,” below.
HB-5 Supplement: Dosage Amounts and Duration
Dr. Wood’s supplement HB-5 includes the ingredients listed below (1, 2). As of this writing (4/28/21), the product is not available on sites like iHerb or Amazon, and can only be purchased from Hormonal Harmony (1a, 1b). Or you can add needed individual supplements to your regimen.
Dosage and Duration for Desired Result
from hormonalbalance.org/about-hb5 (3):
- Dosage Instruction: The following constitute one serving: 3 capsules once daily, with at least 8 oz of water (Check the product label for further instructions);
- Duration for Desired Result: Use it continuously for 30 – 60 days to experience optimal results
- 90 capsules per bottle (good for 30 days at 3 capsules/day)
HB-5 Ingredient List, including Daily Dosage Amounts
Upon my request, Hormonal Harmony sent me a copy of the HB-5 product label (saved as CATSFORK / PDF FILES > HB-5-Hormonal Harmony-Label-042621.pdf); sorry, I have not provided a link to it here. Ingredients and amounts (from the label) are listed below for each 3-capsule serving and daily amount (3-servings)
- For Thyroid:
- Kelp: rich in iodine to provide healthy levels of T3 and T4 hormones. 38 mg of plant powder/serving;
- Zinc (as zinc oxide): 10 mg/serving;* See also the “Mighty Zinc” article (8)
- Copper (as amino acid chelate): 200 mcg/serving;*
- Magnesium (as magnesium oxide): 20 mg/serving;
- Selenium (as amino acid chelate): 200 mcg/serving (to transport T3 and T4 in the bloodstream and power metabolism).
‘* Cat’s see notes about zinc-to-copper ratio, below. Also, I prefer to use zinc as amino acid chelate (such as zinc picolinate), similar to copper and selenium. That is, while these minerals are essential, for some (such as selenium), taken in salt form (such as a chloride or oxide), they can be toxic. Taking them in chelated form (chelated by a fatty acid or amino acid) is not toxic – the body wants them chelated, and makes them easier to absorb.
- For Cortisol:*
- Rhodiola Rosea Root Extract for reducing stress and burning off excess fat by regulating cortisol levels in the body. 600 mg/serving [Cat’s note: Caution: Rhodiola can also be a stimulant to which you can become addicted. Best to take a break every 2 – 3 weeks (10). I get this in RLC Lab’s A-Drenal supplement (25 mg/capsule; I take 2 caps = 50 mg/day) which includes desiccated adrenal tissue plus adaptogens];
- Red Ginseng Root Extract: an anti-obesity ingredient that accelerates weight loss. 200 mg/serving [Cat’s note: I get this from A-Drenal supplement (25 mg/capsule; I take 2 caps = 50 mg/day];
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): causes metabolism to work harder. 150 mcg/serving;
- Bladderwrack Plant Powder: a seaweed rich in iodine, to control cortisol levels healthily, and L-fucose [not “fructose”] to help lose weight. 50 mg of plant powder/serving.
‘* [Cat’s note: see also Adrenal Fatigue Solution article on supplements (10) for other options.]
- For Estrogen:
- DIM (diindolylmethane from Broccoli and Cauliflower) to overcome fluctuations in body’s estrogen levels. 300 mg/serving.
- For Insulin:
- Cassia cinnamon bark extract: 500 mg/serving.
- [Cat’s note: Unfortunately, this product does not use the better type of cinnamon, which is Ceylon or true cinnamon. While both are among the best anti-inflammatory ingredients that also keep a check on insulin levels in the blood, cassia cinnamon is toxic if taken every day (especially to the liver, due to a high level of coumarin), but Ceylon cinnamon does not contain much coumarin. From Healthline (5): “Cassia contains approximately 1% coumarin, while Ceylon contains only 0.004%, or 250 times less. This is so low that it’s often undetectable.”
- Cassia cinnamon bark extract: 500 mg/serving.
- For Leptin:
- African mango extract for improved body weight, body fat, and waist circumference, and significant improvements in leptin levels (compared with a placebo group), to reverse leptin resistance (xxxii). 150 mg/serving.
‘* Zinc-to-Copper ratio; according to:
- Livestrong (9a): Zinc and copper should be taken in a proper balance of “2 mg of copper …for every 15 mg of zinc [a zinc-to-copper ratio of 7.5:1] … but do not exceed the daily maximal intake limit of 45 mg of zinc per day.”
- Weston A. Price Foundation article by (9b), the recommended zinc-to-copper ratio is 8:1.
I currently take 30 mg zinc and 4 mg copper daily, which meets that balance requirement. However, HB-5 supplement has a ratio of 10 mg zinc to 200 mcg copper (or 10 mg zinc to 0.2 mg copper which is a much higher ratio of 50:1).
See also, regarding HB-5 product:
- W.P Healthcare News (3); also states “the product is 100 % Organic and High-Quality Ingredients, and does not contain stimulants;” and
- Reddit: Hormonal Harmony Reviews (4).
Recommended daily dosage (foods, supplements) for ingredients in HB-5
See my pdf: HB5-Ingred-GeneralRecomDosage_042821 (saved CATSFORK / PDF files > HB5-Ingred-GeneralRecomDosage_043021.pdf). I wrote that article as a guide to determine daily dosage and duration of supplements/foods of my own choosing, since HB5 contains cassia rather than Ceylon cinnamon (cassia can be toxic to the liver if taking 1/2 teaspoon/day for an extended time, as discussed in this article).
Heal your Gut
Another common factor contributing to weight gain is a “leaky or sick gut.” This means your gut lining is full of holes that allow harmful toxins to get into your blood stream. It also means your gut microbiome is out of balance – i.e., you need more of the right microbes to kick out the bad ones. The following 3-step action plan to repair your gut is from a 6/7/21 email by Jonathan Otto.
3-Step Action Plan for Gut Repair:
“Step #1. Soothe the lining of your gut
By using a unique combination of L-Glutamine, Protease, and Licorice Root, I’ve found that you can fill in the holes of your gut lining that have been damaged over time. This first step helps your gut to stop “leaking” harmful toxins into your bloodstream and other parts of your body.
Step #2. Create a new layer of protection in your gut
Once you’ve repaired the holes in your gut lining, it’s time to create a new layer of protection. I recommend Marshmallow Root to help protect your intestinal lining. This powerful herb will help prevent future damage and limit the release of any toxins.
Step #3. Repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria
Last but definitely not least, it’s time to give your gut what it needs not only to survive, but to thrive. This is done by repopulating your gut with healthy bacteria. Probiotics are a great option for this, just make sure when you choose a probiotic you’re getting the real deal, not a knockoff without enough living cultures in it.”
He put together a sales pitch (13a) that includes a 3-step supplement plan to help with healing your gut, and a list of 84 scientific studies to support his program. For a copy of his supplement label, which includes a list of ingredients, see reference (13b). The ingredients include various herbs, food enzymes, a probiotic blend (not spore-based), fulvic mineral powder, and NAG (N-Acetyl Glucosamine). I note that all 3 of his steps are included in one supplement. Or you can choose your own supplements, as I have done.
Over the last couple years, I’ve been working my own program to heal my gut, and I’m feeling much better as a result. The biggest factor in my program is using the following in my daily supplement regimen:
- Quality spore-based probiotics (these have a longer shelf life than regular probiotics): Terraflora (Amazon B07G7GK2N1) which includes humic acid (of which fulvic acid is a component);
- Special yeast to balance candida in the gut (candida overgrowth is a major cause of leaky gut): S. boulardi (iHerb LKN-01421);
- Gut repair product that includes L-glutamine, arabinogalactan, licorice aqueous extract, and aloe vera (Amazon B00MMP4VTW) that I add to my daily smoothie; and
- Digestive enzyme supplement (Thorne B. P. P; iHerb code THR-41002).
- Hormonal Harmony, HB-5:
- Healthline, on cassia vs Ceylon cinnamon: .healthline.com/nutrition/ceylon-vs-cassia-cinnamon
- Dr Houston Anderson: drhoustonanderson.com/fix-progesterone-estrogen-ratio-last-time/
- MDApp: mdapp.co/progesterone-to-estrogen-ratio-pg-e2-calculator-529/
- Zinc-to-copper ratio:
- Cautionary note about Rhodiola and other adaptogens: adrenalfatiguesolution.com/adrenal-fatigue-supplements/
- Cortisol-induced Insulin Resistance: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7033265/
- Weston A. Price Foundation, on Natural Support for Hormone Balancing: westonaprice.org/health-topics/modern-diseases/recovery-bioidentical-hormones/
- Jonathan Otto’s gut repair
- sales pitch: gutrepair360.com
- copy of the product label including ingredients: mk0welloflifem113jho.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Gut-Repair-360-Sales-Page_36.jpg
Scientific study links within the Hormonal Balance article:
These are numbered using Roman numerals in the original article; I did not replace them with regular numbers, since my reference list above uses regular numbers and it could get confusing. I have retained the Roman numerals for the list, below, for each reference.
- i ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6284174/
- ii ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3687637/
- iii ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3139337
- iv ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25788177
- v ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24390903
- vi ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19016404
- vii ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10839209
- viii ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10839209
- ix ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12725561
- x ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15256690
- xi ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11081987
- xii ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25970041
- xiii ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4942897/
- xiv ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3808124/
- xv ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5628357/
- xvi ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10659900
- xvii ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11798012
- xviii ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11991768
- xix ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5766689/
- xx ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3986624/
- xxi cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/26/3/435.1
- xxii ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048776/
- xxiii ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28586165
- xxiv ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5067830/
- xxv nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29250843
- xxvi ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3924990/
- xxvii ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4835984/
- xxviii ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5085873/
- xxix ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5469078/
- xxx ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5446408/
- xxxi ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30799194
- xxxii ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19254366
- xxxiii ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21697664
- xxxiv ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2931392/
- xxxv .ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK132337/