The Ovary-Adrenal-Thyroid axis, also known as OAT, is the way in which these three hormone producing glands communicate with each other, this is very common in women and I see it present daily in my clinic with most hormonal related issues.
OAT is a system of endocrine glands that work synergistically together, when one becomes imbalanced the entire system will become affected and you will experience a number of hormonal systems.
Every women at her best will have optimal OAT function taking place, but when you experience imbalances most women will head to the doctor and they will find that most doctors are not aware of this system let alone know how to address or test for it. They end up treating one of the glands instead of the three together resulting in little improvement.
This is when generally women are still seeking answers and they turn to holistic care.
"It’s just adrenal fatigue."
"It’s just hypothyroidism."
"It’s just oestrogen and progesterone imbalances."
When the thyroid, adrenals and ovaries stop communicating appropriately or start misfiring, a whole array of symptoms will follows:
Depression or Anxiety
Irregular or heavy periods
Sugar and caffeine cravings
Irritability between meals
Difficulty falling asleep/ staying asleep and not waking feeling rested
Catching every cold or feeling sick often
Lightheaded or dizziness from changing positions
Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
The list goes on and on
Identifying where the imbalances lie is key! And pathology testing is essential to determining which organs are in need of some love and where to begin working.
Common testing I hold in my clinic includes:
Estradiol, FSH, LH (Best tested on Day 3 of your menstrual cycle)
Progesterone (Best tested on Day 19-22 of your menstrual cycle)
Adrenal Stress Index test
Dutch Complete with Cycle Mapping
Thyroid panel: TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, Anti-TPO, Anti-thyroglobulin
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin
Additional testing may be necessary based on your individual needs
What can you do right now to start correcting OAT dysfunction?
Start with your adrenal glands!
By supporting your adrenal glands, through diet and supplementations you can improve the communication of the entire OAT system. Of course, having adrenal testing will help ensure you are providing the right kind of support with targeted therapies, but bringing in a little help from adaptogen herbs can get you a head start.
In fact, in my clinic, I begin patients on adaptogenic herbs while we are waiting on test results because these herbs can take some time to work on the endocrine system.
Adaptogens support your adrenal glands and help bring balance to your cortisol hormone.
Here are 3 of my go to adaptogenic herbs:
Rhodiola. The endurance herb, helps reduce the effects of stress and improves resiliency. Aim for 200 mg daily of a standardised herb containing 3% total rosavins. Rhodiola should not be taken if there is a history of bipolar disorder.
Eleutherococcus.The focus herb, Eleuthero increases concentration, energy and reducing insomnia. It also helps build muscle and increases mental alertness. Aim for about 200 mg daily of a standardized herb containing 0.8% eleutheroside. Eleuthero should not be taken if you have high blood pressure. Take this herb before noon to ensure a restful night of sleep.
Ashwagandha (Withania). The calming herb, Ashwagandha reduces inflammation, oxidative stress, anxiety, plus improves sleep and memory. It also promotes healthy energy and a healthy libido. Ashwagandha is in the nightshade family, which can be problematic in some people who have a sensitivity. Aim for about 200 mg daily of standardized herb containing 5% withanolides.
Remember, herbal therapies can take anywhere from 6-12 weeks to really feel the effects. Be patient and give the herbs an opportunity to help. They are doing some heavy over hauling after all.
If you can’t get access to pathology testing though your GP or you would like a holistic cared approach to your health, then come see me in my clinic and together, we’ll get to the root of your symptoms so you can start feeling at your optimum best again!
Wild Oak Naturopathy