SHBG (short for - Sex Hormone Binding Globulin) or THBG (Thyroid Hormone Binding Globulin) COULD be the "Bad Boy" that is interfering with Your Health - that hasn't yet been uncovered!
Though this is VERY complicated and involved (and not even the researchers of SHBG fully understand it), here is part of what is definitely understood.
Sex Hormone Binding Globulins are the Key Transporters of our sex and thyroid hormones to the different parts of our body. BUT... SHBG doesn't treat all the hormones the same. AND... it's not just about transporting hormones to the different parts of the body, it's also about how "willing" these binding proteins are in releasing the hormones once they bind them.
Remember, once a hormone binds to SHBG, it is INACTIVE. But once SHBG releases the hormone to the cell receptor site, the hormone can become active and do it's job inside the cell.
So to truly understand this part, you also need to know that SHBG PREFERS to bind to Androgens like Testosterone and Dihydrotestosterone MORE than it does Estrogen! SHBG will bind up Testosterone first and foremost.
So in the "natural" and "normal" situation, our bodies deliver more Testosterone to our cells during midlife than it does our Estrogens. (hence the mustache!) And since Testosterone continues to be produced by the Adrenal Glands AFTER menopause... we get a double whammy of lower Estrogen and Higher Testosterone effects.
This is why Estrogen supplementation helps BALANCE the difference between our SHBG preference for Androgens over Estrogens... and why we need so little Androgen supplementation even after Menopause...
When you increase Estrogen, you actually INCREASE SHBG. If you use too much Estrogen, you will increase SHBG too much and do yourself NO good. You will only bind up more Testosterone AND Estrogen. But if you use the RIGHT amount... you will balance the "aging ratio" of Testosterone to Estrogen and thereby have a balanced delivery of both of these sex hormones to your tissues!
As a quick review... (this stuff is complicated!)... During Midlife, our levels of Testosterone do not decline as quickly as our Estrogen levels. And in addition to that, our Adrenal glands continue to make Testosterone even after our ovaries have stopped working or are removed. So this imbalance between Testosterone and Estrogen occurs in ALL women!
You can see why you can have symptoms of hormone deficiency even though Your levels are measuring normal if your SHBG is not within normal ranges, OR your Hormones are not well balanced!
SHBG actually plays a critical role in your hormone balance because your hormone levels actually alter this binding protein! Your Hormones should stay within a normal range, but so must your SHBG!
So What ARE some of the causes of abnormal levels of SHBG?
You aren't going to like what you read here... BUT... ONE of the Most Common causes of elevated SHBG is elevated cortisol - which is caused by chronic stress, depression, anxiety, and lack of sleep!
Elevated estrogen levels is another common cause. This can occur by using too much Estrogen replacement.
Sometimes women think that if they have hot flashes it must mean they need more estrogen. Sometimes this is the case, but often it does not mean that, and increasing Estrogen will simply cause an even greater imbalance by increasing the SHBG which then binds to their Testosterone.
Oral contraceptives also increase SHBG. (And this is actually why some doctors use oral contraceptive pills to decrease acne in young girls!)
Excessive use of plant estrogen supplements effect SHBG just like too much Estrogen supplementation.
And Cigarette smoking also increases SHBG.
When it comes to Thyroid Hormones, too much thyroid hormone will also increase SHBG. So if a woman takes too much thyroid hormones, her body will make excessive SHBG AND Thyroid Hormone Binding Globulin too.
And finally, diseases of the liver, or the livers inability to work properly as a detoxifier of the body, will increase SHBG. Examples include excessive alcohol use, hepatitis, heavy metals, toxins such as PCBs, pesticides... ugh... probably glyphosate... all put excessive pressure on the Liver to perform!
Remember, the Liver is responsible for metabolizing your Estrogens properly and with the help of our GUT, toxins and Estrogen metabolites are cleared out of the body.
Here is the LIST of Causes of ELEVATED SHBG:
* Elevated Cortisol levels (caused by medical illness, stress, insomnia, etc)
* Elevated estradiol levels
* Overactive Thyroid
* Liver disease
* Heavy metals or other toxic substances which put a strain on the liver
* Bowel Dysfunction
* Birth control pills
* Extreme weight loss
* Cigarette smoking
* Excessive use of phytoestrogens (plant estrogens)
* Medications used to treat seizures
When it comes to LOW SHBG, ALL conditions that are known to have elevated levels of Androgens are the main culprits:
Here are the causes of LOW SHBG:
* PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
* Low Thyroid function
* Diabetes and insulin resistance
* Elevated Testosterone and other Androgens
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