“A hormone is a chemical substance which is produced in one location of the body and travels to another to convey, create, or generate a response”.
Dr. Jesse Stoff (M.D.). 

It’s also important to note that no hormone works in isolation from other hormones; they all function within a complex, subtle web of interconnectedness. Reference: Dr. John Lee  Many hormones have an effect on the immune system, disease and each other. 

Thyroid Hormone Imbalance and the Immune System
“Thyroid hormone stimulates the activity of Natural Killer (NK) cells [cells in the immune system].” Dr. Jesse Stoff  

What nutritional element does the thyroid need to function? Iodine.
Janice Wittenberg, RN states that “Iodine in particular is important to the production of the thyroid hormone. Low to sub-clinical [not measurable through testing] thyroid function is very common.  Soils in the mid-west and areas along the St. Lawrence have the lowest iodine concentrations and largest number of thyroid related problems in the world." 

“Estrogen inhibits thyroid hormone activity and thus exacerbates thyroid deficiency. In contrast, progesterone, cortisol, and testosterone are thyroid allies.” Dr. John Lee

The most common symptoms (there are many) of a low functioning thyroid are fatigue and intolerance to cold according to Dr. James Balch.

Adrenal Glands and the Immune System
Janice Wittenberg  R.N. in her book, "The Rebellious Body", comments on adrenal glands by saying that they can, as a result of stress and nutritional deficiencies, produce hormones that inhibit the production of prostaglandins that interfere with immune response.

These hormones also deplete thymus [immune system] function. The thymus gland is responsible for training an immune system cell grouping called T cells.  She says pantothenic acid is particularly important in strengthening the adrenals among other things. The hormone produced in excess is cortisol.

Testosterone, Estrogen & Progesterone - hormone balance
The hormones testosterone, progesterone and estrogen can be found in both men and women, just in different amounts.

Estrogen is getting a lot of attention and rightly so as it’s a powerful hormone and found everywhere. Testosterone and progesterone balance its effects.

According to Dr. John Lee, MD, estrogen is a word that encompasses a class of three hormones; estrone, estradiol and estriol. It’s not one hormone. Of the estrogens, estradiol is the strongest and estriol is the weakest.

Estrogens come from different places. First, they are produced by the body in both men and women. Second, plants produce compounds with estrogen like qualities. They’re called phytoestrogens. 

Xenoestrogens refer to the third kind which are environmental compounds (usually petrochemicals) and can be found everywhere – like in pesticides, meats or plastics.

The fourth kind are chemical estrogens made by pharmaceutical companies for use in things like hormone replacement therapy.  Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo states that chemical estrogens are based on estradiol, the strongest, while phytoestrogens or plant based estrogens, are typically high in estriol, the weakest.

Estrogen Dominance Upsets Hormone Balance
Estrogen dominance is a term that can apply to both women and men. It’s described by Dr. John Lee as “a condition where a woman can have deficient, normal, or excessive estrogen but has little or no progesterone to balance its effects in the body.” 

He further states, “ A key to hormone balance is the knowledge that when estrogen becomes the dominant hormone and progesterone is deficient, the estrogen becomes toxic to the body…”

Progesterone is the “antidote”  to the harmful effects of estrogen creating greater hormone balance. While a correct hormone balance between estrogen and progesterone is particularly important to women, it’s also important to men and just used in smaller amounts.

Testosterone for men also helps protect against the harmful effects of estrogen and the hormone imbalances it causes.

"The Hormone Replacement Debacle" by John Lee M.D.
"Prostate Cancer Survival, Testosterone & Estrogen" by John Lee M.D.


Hormone Imbalance Causes 5 yr. Olds to Grow Breasts & Pubic Hair
Hormone imbalance is not a small problem. The following is one example of what estrogens can do:

A couple of years ago, a clinic in Montana had several 5 year old girl patients who were developing breasts and exhibiting other signs of physical maturity way beyond their age.

After investigating the situation, the clinic director discovered that all the girls' families bought milk from the same dairy. It was then discovered that the advanced physical development these girls were experiencing were due to the hormones used in the dairy products.

This caused a hormone imbalance because the estrogen levels were too high. This is not isolated to Montana. This is a growing problem in this country and could be one of the causes of overweight children and adults as well.

Some of the things estrogen, testosterone and progesterone do with reference to the immune system and disease are as follows:

Estrogen, Progesterone and the Immune System
Dr. Willian Hrushesky believes that natural killer cell activity and interleukin 2, both powerful immune system components, are compromised by estrogen dominance and promoted by adequate progesterone. His opinions were presented in the Journal of Women’s Health.

Dr. John  Morrow, PhD and Dr. David Isenberg PhD say that estrogen has been shown to decrease the size of the thymus [depresses immune system] and to cause a reduction in the level of thymic hormone in the blood.

They also say it has been shown that the level of thymic hormone is markedly decreased in the blood of women who are either post-menopausal or who have had their ovaries removed and are undergoing estrogen therapy.

Estrogen, Progesterone and Cancer
Dr. David Zava tested estrogen and progesterone levels in breast tissue specimens from several thousand women who had undergone breast cancer surgery. “Almost universally, they revealed a deficiency in progesterone relative to estrogen.”

John’s Hopkins published a study that showed that “the breast cancer incidence was 5.4 time greater in women with low progesterone than in women who had good progesterone levels…when the incidence of all types of cancer was looked at, they found that the incidence was 10 fold higher in women with low progesterone levels compared to women with good progesterone levels.”

“Estrogens in general tend to promote cell division, particularly in hormone sensitive tissue…” says Dr. John Lee. He also says that on a “gene” level, two genes figure prominently, Bcl-2 and p53. Bcl-2 production promotes cell proliferation (cancer). It is stimulated by estrogen. On the other hand, activation of gene p53 activated by progesterone, inhibits Bcl-2 shutting down cell proliferation. 

Dr. Lauren Sompayrac states, “One indication of the importance of p53 (see above) is that this anti-oncogene is not activated in a large proportion of human tumors”.  P53 is activated by progesterone according to Dr. John Lee.  

Hormone Imbalance and Autoimmune Disease
Drs. .Morrow and Isenberg also state, “There is little doubt that oral contraceptives, especially those with moderate or high doses of estrogen, can exacerbate or even induce a relapse of quiescent [latent, dormant] autoimmune disease.

” In addition they explain, “There are some reports of high estrogen levels in both females and males with this disease  [lupus].

Male patients with lupus have also been shown to have lower levels of the male sex hormone testosterone.” Dr. John Lee also states that recent studies have shown that “women who use hormone replacement therapy containing estrogen are more likely to get lupus.”

Dr. John Lee says that “ Women are afflicted with autoimmune diseases at a much higher rate than men, which is a good clue that female hormone balance in involved in some way. …The onset of autoimmune disorders is often in middle age, when estrogen dominance becomes common.”

His conclusions are that estrogen dominance may have a hand in triggering the problem and thus correcting the estrogen dominance leads to gradual correction of the problem.

Or, since progesterone is the main precursor of corticosteroids, and in progesterone deficient women, restoration of normal progesterone levels may enhance normal corticosteroid production, thus suppressing the autoimmune attack.

The material on this web site including hormone balance & hormone imbalance is offered to you for informational purposes only and is not meant to be interpreted as medical advice to diagnose, treat or cure any immune system disorder. You should consult with a qualified health professional whenever your health is in question.
Copyright 2001-2014 Benjamin Associates LLC. All Rights Reserved
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Hormone & the Immune System focus: hormone imbalance, thyroid hormone, adrenal glands, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone
Hormone Balance - Hormone Imbalance
How it affects the immune system
Immune System
Immune Stressors
See Immune 101

Fast Facts
  • An imbalance in thyroid and adrenal hormones, testosterone, the estrogen’s (estrone, estradiol, estriol), and progesterone can affect the immune system.

  • Our chemical environment (xenoestrogens) and nutrition are both contributing factors to hormone imbalance.