Hormones are important chemical messengers in your body that control numerous systems and bodily functions.
They control protein synthesis and degradation, growth, tissue repair, mood, and body composition. They tell your body when it is time to wake up and go to sleep. They control hunger and thirst and signal your brain when you have had enough to eat. Hormones prepare you to face danger and stress, help you relax and unwind, control attraction, and facilitate reproductive behavior. They are the biochemical basis of human emotions, including love and attachment. And … they control the healing of your wound.
Hormones kick off the process of puberty and create the huge physiologic, psychological, and physical changes that turn us from children into men and women. With age, many hormone levels decline (exceptions to that are cortisol and insulin). Some of this decline is programmed into our bodies—i.e., in the fifth or sixth decades; women enter menopause and specific hormone levels decline. Many men now go through a similar process known as “andropause” as their testosterone levels decline. Biologically and evolutionarily, these changes signal the end of fertility and vitality and the long, slow (or worse, rapidly progressive) decline into disability, disease, chronic illness, and death.
Hormones are critical to healing. Even at the best wound centers, the focus of care is your wounds. It would be the rare wound care physician who would consider and treat your hormonal milieu. Unfortunately, it is even rare for many primary care doctors to check and treat potential hormonal issues. This is where the knowledge, skill, expertise, and interventional approach of those trained in anti-aging, age management, or functional medicine will be of huge benefit to you.
You can optimize your hormone levels for your situation; it will take months, though. If you are suffering with a non-healing wound and you are over thirty-five or so, your underlying problems make it likely that you will benefit from hormone treatment/replacement. This is where modern medicine can be helpful if you find the right doctor. Your body relies upon more than fifty known hormones, but we will focus on a few easily measured and treatable ones.
Learn More About Your Hormones
Delving into the specifics of optimal hormone levels, delivery methods, and the advantages and disadvantages thereof is beyond the scope of this work; there are dozens of volumes available on this topic alone. The Internet abounds with information of varying quality about hormone replacement therapy. This is a complex field, and there are some potential risks to doing things wrong but also tremendous benefits to doing things right. There are optimal ranges for most hormones (usually the top quartile, or one-fourth of the “normal range” that a lab reports out) and getting levels significantly above those can result in unwanted side effects or even cause medical problems.
Hormone replacement should be undertaken carefully, with frequent monitoring, repeated laboratory testing for levels, and careful management of symptoms and dosage. There is a variety of ways to replace or augment sex steroid hormone levels, including topical, oral, sublingual, injectable, or pellets. Each has benefits and potential problems, so we absolutely recommend you seek out a qualified practitioner to partner with you. With the right physician, you will be able to optimize and balance hormone levels and experience the many other benefits of bioidentical hormone replacement in addition to optimizing your wound healing.
If you make many (or all) of the lifestyle modifications we recommend, your hormone levels will improve significantly. However, if you have a non-healing wound, it is likely that you will need some significant help and external intervention (i.e. hormone replacement) to really initiate the healing process.
Sometimes as you attain a state of better health, you will be able to decrease your hormone dosages and eventually wean off of them, although it is likely that as you age, your best chance of maintaining optimal health will involve careful bioidentical hormone replacement since we all lose these vital substances with the passage of time.
The bottom line is this: If you are over thirty and you have a chronic wound, find a qualified physician to help you get your hormones tested. Consider carefully the generally significant benefits versus the small risks of replacing your sex steroid hormones (testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone) and others if indicated by suboptimal levels.