Hormone Therapy for Immune System
Immunity – the word conjures up different images for each person. Some people think of their immune systems as keeping them free from colds and viruses. Others link their immune systems to autoimmune diseases. We also know there is a brain/gut connection that impacts how the immune system functions. What you may not know much about is the use of hormone therapy for immune system health.
In this look at hormone therapy and immune system functions, we will examine
- What the immune system is
- How the immune system functions
- The influence of hormones on immunity
- Which hormones affect the immune system the most
- How to use hormones to improve your immune system
- How to get hormone therapy that can benefit the immune system
It is essential to understand how hormone therapy for immune system functions can benefit your health. If any of your vital hormone levels are low, the body may not be able to produce the necessary antibodies and B and T cells that can fight invading germs. When that happens, you get sick, or your body begins to attack itself. That is the basis for autoimmune disorders.
Hormones exert significant influence on the immune system, which can help ward of illness and reduce the risk of autoimmune diseases.
About the Immune System
The immune system has an important purpose – keeping infectious microorganisms out of the body. Next, it must destroy any invading germs, fungi, viruses, or bacteria that do make it inside. To do that requires a network of organs, cells, glands, and hormones working in unison. If there is a deficiency in any essential hormone, immune system development, and performance can weaken. That would leave the body susceptible to illness and breakdown.
Lymphoid organs play a crucial role in immune system functions. White blood cells called lymphocytes travel within the lymphatic and blood vessels throughout the body to offer infection-fighting protection. The lymphoid organs include:
- Blood vessels
- Bone marrow
- Lymph nodes
- Lymphatic vessels
- Peyer’s patches
Blood cell production begins in bone marrow. One of the reasons we talk about hormone therapy for immune system functions is that testosterone plays a crucial role in the maintenance of bone marrow and the stimulation of red blood cell production. Growth hormone is the leading stimulator of cell regeneration. Without proper cell formation, the immune system will not function properly.
In addition to the lymphoid organs mentioned above, the following glands exert an influence on the immune system through hormone production:
- Adrenal glands
- Pituitary gland
It may seem strange to list the ovaries and testes when discussing immunity, but they are testosterone producers.
Immune system functions rely on many hormone-producing glands as well as lymphoid organs.
How the Immune System Works
The immune system relies on many factors working together to keep it strong and healthy. Once lymphocytes form in bone marrow, some of them remain there to complete their maturation. Those are the B cells that produce antibodies to infectious microorganisms. Neutrophils critical for immune responses also mature in bone marrow. Other cells leave the bone marrow and travel to the thymus to become T cells that attack and kill the infectious microorganisms.
If a person has low testosterone and growth hormone levels, immune system functions could suffer due to reduced cell regeneration.
It is one thing to develop a cold when the immune system is not working properly. Within a few days, your lymphocytes can help restore better health. Infectious diseases such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites can weaken an already weak immune system, causing longer healing times. You can get disease-causing organisms that can spread infections in the following transmission ways:
- Airborne through sneezing or coughing by an infected person leaving particles that are then inhaled by others
- Blood-borne through transfusions (rare due to testing), sharing of needles, or coming into contact with infected blood
- Direct contact with an infected surface
- Food-borne from contaminated food
- Insect-borne such as through a bug bite after it has bitten an infected person
- Sexual contact transmission
- Water-borne from contaminated water
That is not what happens with an autoimmune disorder. At times, your body can begin to attack itself rather than invading microorganisms. Not only does an autoimmune disease cause havoc on your well-being, but it can also impact hormone production.
Typically, a triggering event will cause an autoimmune response in the body. When this occurs, the immune system sets out to get rid of the supposed invader. Unfortunately, in the process, it begins to attack something else. Autoimmune triggers can include:
- Childbirth – may affect as many as 1 out of 12 women causing an autoimmune response
- Genetic predisposition
- Leaky gut issues
- Physical problems – such as bacteria, parasites, viruses, yeast
- Emotional or mental triggers – including stress
- Unknown issues
Thyroid disease is the most common autoimmune reaction in women after giving birth. Thyroid treatment is one example of using hormone therapy for immune system strengthening.
Infectious conditions and autoimmune disorders can occur with a faulty immune system.
How Do Hormones Impact the Immune System?
We have already touched on how growth hormone and testosterone play a role in the crucial cell reproduction necessary to provide B and C cells to the body. That is only a small part of the bigger picture. When the body is in a state of hormone imbalance, immune system functions naturally suffer. Just as low testosterone, estrogen, and growth hormones can weaken the bones, they decline can also impact the immune system.
As we look at how each hormone affecting immune system functions works, we can better understand the importance of maintaining proper balance:
- Adrenal hormones – the adrenal glands give us critical hormones that influence immunity and essential metabolic functions, including:
- Cortisol – necessary for immunity, too much can suppress neutrophil function
- DHEA – promotes T cell function
- Epinephrine – short-term stress can stimulate epinephrine which helps mobilize immune functions
- Progesterone – low levels are linked to certain autoimmune diseases as T cell and NK (natural killer) cell activity are affected by progesterone balance
- Testosterone – low testosterone levels can also cause too much of an increase in T cell production which can lead to autoimmune diseases
- Thyroid hormones – optimal thyroid hormones help increase production of NK cells which are the first line of defense against invading microorganisms
In our next look at hormone therapy for immune system functions, we want to see how specific hormones influence autoimmune responses:
- Estrogen – women, who naturally have higher estrogen levels, are also more at risk for autoimmune diseases. It may be that estrogen enhances the immune systems inflammatory processes. A condition called estrogen dominance may play a role in this. Estrogen dominance occurs when the balance between testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen is offset because estrogen levels climb and the other two decline. Weight gain or being overweight can increase estrogen levels. A woman’s monthly cycle with its hormone fluctuations can cause problems for autoimmune conditions. Some women find that menopause and lower estrogen levels may improve their symptoms. Others may experience an increased risk of some conditions, including cardiovascular disease. Men must also be careful of estrogen dominance as it can accompany low testosterone levels.
- Cortisol – we bring this hormone up again due to its role in autoimmune diseases. Any type of stress, be it emotional, mental, or physical, can interfere with connections between the brain and adrenal glands. There is a critical connection between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands that regulate hormone production.
- Alopecia areata (loss of hair) – scalp
- Crohn’s disease – gut/intestines
- Grave’s disease – thyroid
- Hashimoto’s disease – thyroid
- Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus – pancreas
- Multiple sclerosis – brain and spinal cord
- Psoriasis – skin
- Rheumatoid arthritis – joints and cartilage
- Ulcerative colitis – colon
- And more
- Progesterone – both progesterone and cortisol come from a hormone called pregnenolone. If you are under any form of stress, more pregnenolone will turn into cortisol than progesterone. That becomes a problem because progesterone, as we stated before, opposes estrogen and protects against having too high an estrogen level in the body. Inflammation and autoimmune processes increase.
Disruptions in this axis increase inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Some of the conditions and areas of the body involved in this include:
When the body is in a state of stress, cortisol levels climb, leading to a condition called glucocorticoid receptor resistance (GCR). In this state of cortisol resistance, inflammation grows. Eventually, the result is a decline in cortisol levels but a further increase in inflammation and autoimmune responses.
Hormonal changes can increase inflammation and autoimmune responses in the body.
Which Hormones Can Help Improve the Immune System?
There are many benefits of using hormone therapy for immune system strengthening. If you have hormone levels that are out of balance, putting them back into a normal state can help reverse the symptoms of weakened immunity and autoimmune diseases.
Here are some of the ways hormone therapy can help the immune system:
- DHEA – boosting low DHEA levels may increase the number of B and monocyte immune cells, as well as NK and interleukin-2.
- Estrogen – by increasing low levels of estrogen, the risk of cardiovascular disease may decline. Estrogen may help to stimulate immune system functions to fight infections.
- Human growth hormone – the benefits of human growth hormone for immune system functions begin with stimulating the production of new cells. Without new cells, the body will not have enough immune fighting cells to ward off invading microorganisms. Another critical aspect of HGH function is its ability, through cellular regeneration, to restore thymus size and function. The thymus, crucial to T cell production, shrinks with age. However, research has shown that HGH therapy in people with HIV/AIDS has increased the thymus to effectively improve T cell levels.
- Progesterone – increasing low progesterone levels improves T and NK cell activity. During pregnancy, progesterone supports the development of the immune system in the growing fetus.
- Testosterone – without enough testosterone, bone marrow production declines, resulting in a decrease of red and white blood cells. Another benefit of both testosterone and human growth hormone is in keeping cortisol levels from getting too high.
As you can see, using hormone therapy for immune system strengthening can have quite an impact on your health and well-being.
Balancing hormone levels may be the best thing you can do for your immune system.
How Do You Get Hormone Therapy for the Immune System?
Getting hormone therapy for immune system benefits begins with finding out if you have any type of hormonal imbalance. For that to happen, you want to contact a doctor specializing in hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The HRT specialist runs diagnostic blood tests to measure critical hormone levels to detect if there are problems. If so, the appropriate type of treatment can then be prescribed.
In addition to blood analysis, each person will undergo a consultation, physical examination, and complete a health history questionnaire. If you would like to know more about hormone replacement therapy, immune system functions, or improving your health, please contact National HRT for a free consultation.
- Sex Hormones Determine Immune Response Veena Taneja Published online 2018
- Sex hormones influence on the immune system: basic and clinical aspects in autoimmunity.Cutolo M1, Sulli A, Capellino S, Villaggio B, Montagna P, Seriolo B, StraubVolume 34, Issues 1–6, 1989, Pages 253-262