IR-Hormone Imbalance – I: Hormones and Body-Weight Issues

By Catherine Haug, April 28, 2021

I’ve been struggling with excess fat in my belly area for over 50 years. About 30 years ago, I learned I had insulin resistance, which plays a role in the accumulation of belly fat due to excess insulin in my blood. 6 years ago I started taking myo-inositol to treat insulin resistance; I did lose about 30 pounds but I still have a big belly and another 40 pounds to go, and it just isn’t happening.

Now I’m beginning to learn that other hormones and/or leaky gut may also play a role in body-weight issues.  This post includes two important ways to help you lose weight naturally:

  • Balancing 5 hormone blocks: Insulin is not the only hormone involved in inability to lose weight, according to a “Harmony Health Labs” article (1), which is a sales-pitch for a particular supplement (HB-5), but also provides lots of great information. You can use their HB-5 supplement, or separate, individual supplements of your own choosing. The details are:
    • The 5 Hormone Blocks;
    • Dr. Wood’s foods and supplements to reverse the blocks, including references to scientific studies;
    • Recommended amounts of each, as included in Dr. Wood’s HB-5 supplement;
    • General recommended daily dosage of each food and supplement. 
    • Cat’s related pdf file: General Recommended Dosage and Duration of Ingredients in HB5 (pdf)
  • How to heal a “leaky gut” for better health and weight loss. [I may move this to a separate article.]

See also:

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

  1. Thyroid hormones T3 and T4: When not functioning properly, these hormones control your metabolism. But when not functioning properly, your body stores the calories you consume as fat, and refuses to break down that fat. Thyroid hormones also play a role in “brain fog.”
  2. 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.]
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 form 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).]

  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:
    1. supplement with kelp (a natural source of iodine) [references iii, ii, iii]
    2. add more copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, and selenium [references: iv, v]
  2. Excess cortisol: supplement with:
    1. Rhodiola Rosea [references vii, viii, ix, x, xi], and
    2. Red ginseng [references: xv, xvi, xvii, xviii, xix ]
    3. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) [no references included]
    4. Bladderwrack plant powder [no references included]
    5. See also NIH article (11) for info on Cortisol-induced Insulin Resistance
  3. Estrogen: supplement with
    1. 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]
  4. Insulin:
    1. Food in diet: “One approach is to reduce the amount of carbs, processed foods, and refined sugars that you eat.”
    2. 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]
  5. Leptin:
    1. African mango seed extract [xxxii, xxxiii, xxxiv, xxxv]

‘* NOTE: There are two types of cinnamon: cassia (the variety in most grocery stores) and Ceylon (less common). HB-5 uses cassia cinnamon, which can be toxic, 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); they do provide a full 180 Day, 100% Money Back Guarantee. Or you can add needed individual supplements to your regimen.

Dosage and Duration for Desired Result

from hormonalbalance.org/about-hb5 (3):

  • Dosage Instruction: Take 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 would have preferred to use zinc as amino acid chelate, similar to copper and selenium.

  • 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.”
  • 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:

  1. 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);
  2. Special yeast to balance candida in the gut (candida overgrowth is a major cause of leaky gut): S. boulardi (iHerb LKN-01421); 
  3. Gut repair product that includes L-glutamine, arabinogalactan, licorice aqueous extract, and aloe vera (Amazon B00MMP4VTW) that I add to my daily smoothie; and
  4. Digestive enzyme supplement (Thorne B. P. P; iHerb code THR-41002).

References:

This article:

  1. Hormonal Harmony, HB-5:
    1. digi.hormonalbalancenow.com/hb5cb (see also “Studies links within the Hormonal Balance Article,” below, which are Roman numeral numbers)
    2. hb5.us/hb5-tsl
    3. hormonalbalance.org/about-hb5
  2. pharmiweb.com/press-release/2020-06-04/hb5-hormonal-harmony-reviews-reveal-five-active-ingredients-for-weight-loss
  3. wphealthcarenews.com/hb5-reviews/ 
  4. reddit.com/r/easy_pro_funnels/comments/ldrs7d/hormonal_harmony_hb5_reviews_dont_buy_until_read/
  5. Healthline, on cassia vs Ceylon cinnamon: .healthline.com/nutrition/ceylon-vs-cassia-cinnamon 
  6. Dr Houston Anderson: drhoustonanderson.com/fix-progesterone-estrogen-ratio-last-time/
  7. MDApp: mdapp.co/progesterone-to-estrogen-ratio-pg-e2-calculator-529/
  8. hormonesbalance.com/articles/using-the-mighty-zinc-to-balance-your-hormones/
  9. Zinc-to-copper ratio:
    1. Livestrong: livestrong.com/article/511087-how-to-take-copper-with-zinc/
    2. Weston A Price: westonaprice.org/health-topics/modern-diseases/copper-zinc-imbalance-unrecognized-consequence-of-plant-based-diets-and-a-contributor-to-chronic-fatigue/
  10. Cautionary note about Rhodiola and other adaptogens: adrenalfatiguesolution.com/adrenal-fatigue-supplements/ 
  11. Cortisol-induced Insulin Resistance: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7033265/
  12. Weston A. Price Foundation, on Natural Support for Hormone Balancing: westonaprice.org/health-topics/modern-diseases/recovery-bioidentical-hormones/ 
  13. Jonathan Otto’s gut repair
    1. sales pitch: gutrepair360.com
    2. 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/

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