Homeostasis, in less words, simply means balance. Today, we are mostly talking about hormonal homeostasis via the endocrine system along with hormone boosting supplements and how they often have an uphill battle within your own body when it comes to doing what they claim.
Well, your body at least tries to achieve homeostasis under most conditions. When it fails and an imbalance is created, poor health usually follows - whether it is major diseases, mental issues, reproductive problems, adrenal fatigue, and so on.
For example, people who inject synthetic testosterone and/or anabolic steroids into their body will find that their testicles will quit producing its on natural testosterone in an effort to create homeostasis to combat the excessive amounts of testosterone. However, most people who do that will defy their body and inject even more synthetic hormones into their bloodstream. Which is why professional bodybuilders that use steroids have a complicated cycle. They have to go through a post cycle therapy to stimulate the body to produce its own hormones again. Many often fail in the long term and are left with shrunken testicles, excess estrogen, female-like breast tissue, and a total loss of sexual function along with other health problems.
We live in a time where the market is flooded with supplements claiming everything from preventing cancer to boosting hormones. Many people are under the impression that there is a pill or supplement for everything. Some guys also evidently think they will live to be at least 120 years old and still maintain raging erections throughout the day if they keep taking the right supplements, as well. But without all the exaggerations, let's get on with this post.
The main reason I thought of this subject was because the other day I wrote a blog post about a supplement that claims to have a hormone boosting effect. If interested, you can find that post here: DAA - D-Aspartic Acid
When researching DAA, I came across the usual stuff. You know, this is an agonists of this, antagonist of that; it increases this hormone until another hormone is produced to cancel it back out until you are at the point you have less testosterone circulating than you did before you took it. To save myself time rambling about it, I'll just give you an example. Below, I will provide an excerpt from a website along with a link to its source:
"DAA accumulates in neuroendocrine tissue such as the pituitary gland, pineal gland and gonads where it works as an excitatory compound to stimulate the release of hormones. As the levels of DAA build up in these tissues it increases the production and release of hormones; of particular interest are luteinizing hormone and testosterone. Luteinizing hormone is released from the pituitary gland and it signals the release of testosterone from the testes and progesterone from the ovaries. Once the testosterone has been released in excess, the body works to maintain homeostasis by balancing the hormonal ratios. Negative feedback mechanisms in the pituitary gland switch off further testosterone release to drop testosterone levels and the body starts converting testosterone to estrogen via the enzyme aromatase; DAA also supports this by increasing the aromatization of testosterone to estrogen and testosterone levels drop while estrogen increases to normalize the ratios and maintain equilibrium." Source Link
As you can see, those particular "hormone boosting" supplements sound like a waste of time and just goes around in a circle until you are at a point of simply wasting money while maintaining hormonal homeostasis. Ha! I'm not just singling out DAA, either. This goes for most "boosters" out there. To make it easier to understand, your body tries to have what we will call a hormone thermostat. Things can get a little high or a little low, but it tries to keep it within a normal parameter. Getting a slight boost in testosterone is good, but when one tries to overly boost their levels with supplements, it usually doesn't last long due to that homeostasis thingy.
When concerning these hormone boosting supplements, for them to work extremely well they have to pretty much cause an imbalance in your hormonal system. I'm not talking about a slight bump in testosterone that helps you get through your day to day activities or perform one more extra rep at the gym, I'm talking about "really boosting" your levels.
I must say, though, most of the time hormonal imbalances are not in your favor. For example, the stress hormone cortisol often wreaks havoc on your sex hormones. Too much cortisol along with excessive adrenaline release can cause an imbalance of testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. A report from the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism stated: “Stress can lead to changes in the serum level of many hormones including growth hormone, prolactin, glucocorticoids and catecholamines.” Stress is not created equal, either. A quote from this page (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3079864/) states, "The growth hormone (GH) level is increased during acute physical stress. The level can increase up to two- to tenfold. Because of its insulin-antagonistic effect, GH may enhance metabolic activity. In psychological stress, however, GH responses are rarely seen. Rather there is GH secretory defect with prolonged psychosocial stress."
However, I must say, a lot of these bodily reactions are totally healthy and are just a normal response to the "fight or flight" reaction. It is long-term and/or chronic stress that causes the body to lose its hormonal homeostasis. Instead of looking for "boosters," it might be a better idea to look for balance so you can maintain "optimal" levels without searching for outrageous levels of certain hormones. Does that make sense now?
Anyway, that's why adaptogenic herbs seems to be the best at this, as they help create balance along with aiding your body into adapting to various types of stress, etc. There are loads of adaptogens out there in the herbal market (too many to get into on this particular post), but one of my favorite ones is the good ol' reliable ginseng. I've took that stuff for years and it has never let me down. I wrote about that a few years ago on this blog, here: Hot or Warm Korean/Panax Ginseng vs. Cold or Cooler American Ginseng
Well, hopefully this post clears up any confusion you may have had. I also tried to make it easier to understand this subject in layman terms because I know many readers out there just want to cut the crap and get to the bottom line. However, if you are still unsure about the role of hormones in homeostasis, I found an in-depth article, here: The Role of Hormones in Homeostasis (yale.edu)
---End of Post "Homeostasis vs. Hormone Boosting Supplements"