Connecting the dots; Liver, Cholesterol, Hormones, Low T


Close your eyes. Fall in love. Stay there.



Most of my writing takes place either late night or late morning. Late at night is the only time I have peace and quiet. I am not an early morning person—even though I am forced to play one in every day life in order to get my son out the door by 7am. No matter how late I stay up, I always have lots of company on Facebook. Many of my women friends can’t get to sleep or stay asleep. Meanwhile, many men sleep very well and snore really well too—thanks to breathing machines that make sure they breathe regularly all night long. Men blame our sleep problems on “hormones,” but have no clue that hormones are responsible for their sleep issues as well.

A theme that will be repeated throughout this book is that in order to have vibrant health, you must understand how your body works at the cellular level! Most doctors are CLUELESS about liver methylation. If they HAD a clue—they would abolish statin drugs!  When your innate, God given youth (sex) hormones decrease, so does quality of life—along with physical and mental decline, loss of energy, loss of memory, heart disease, and arthritis.

Hormones run every function in our body. Hormone health is critical to wellness, energy, and longevity. Hormones are the chemical messengers that travel throughout the bloodstream coordinating complex processes like immunity, fertility, metabolism, and puberty. Many of these hormones are actually steroid hormones—steroid meaning, “body regulators made from cholesterol.”  Indeed, the very feared substance we’ve been told we must eliminate.

Remember cholesterol from the previous chapter?  Cholesterol is the basic building block of all steroid hormones and it gives them all a similar structure. When you look at a molecular diagram of all the steroid hormones, they look almost exactly alike. This is because they all originate from the natural breakdown of fats and sugars.   Without enough cholesterol—say, because you are taking statins and blocking production of it, you don’t make enough steroid hormones. That means you are deficient in the following hormones:

  • Pregnenolone: the steroid hormone precursor from which all other hormones originate, very potent memory enhancer, reduces stress, improves mood and energy, improves immunity, reduces PMS and menopausal symptoms, and repairs the myelin sheath. At 75 years of age, your body produces 60% less than in your thirties.

* Even though natural pregnenolone was successfully used as far back as the 1930’s for rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune disorders, it was discontinued when pharmaceutical giant Merck introduced the synthetic version,cortisone, in 1949.  Soon after, the synthetic steroid hormones prednisone and dexamethasone were introduced as well. * (Mercola article)

  •  Progesterone: dominant female hormone, opposes estrogens, protects against cancer
  • Estrogens (there are three—estradiol, estriol, and estrone): opposes progesterone and testosterone, regulates healthy metabolism, initiates weight gain, allows water and sodium into cells causing fluid retention and high blood pressure if unopposed, opposes thyroid  (iodine supplementation has been proven to help reverse polycystic breast and ovary disease)
  • Testosterone: Dominant male hormone, also present in females, responsible for sex drive, opposes estrogen, anabolic steroid, protects against cancer, ancient cultures associated it with physical strength and will power.
  • DHEA: memory hormone (because of pregnenolone), increases lean muscle mass, decreases fat, promotes strong bones, increases immunity
  • Adrenaline: supports “fight or flight,” increases focus, requires natural salt to function optimally, allows humans to stand upright
  • Cortisol: helps us adapt to stress, stimulates appetite, improves digestion, improves mood, supports “fight or flight’,” stimulates circulatory system, muscles, lungs, and brain, fights leukemia and lymphoma

The plot thickens . . .


The transformation from cholesterol to hormones, and from one hormone to another requires an enzyme, which in turn requires vitamin and mineral cofactors.  Taking HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) has been associated with a reduction in Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an enzyme necessary for every cell in your body and most especially your heart. Most of these conversions take place in your liver—but also in your adrenal glands, ovaries, testicles, skin, brain, and retina.

Dr. John R. Lee, M.D. has written many books about hormones. Here is an excellent description from: What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Menopause:

“The production of hormones is a dynamic, fluctuating system, constantly responding to changing body conditions and needs. Hormones are the control messengers for a vast, interrelated, ever-changing network of organ-system commands. As such, they must be continually synthesized for moment-to-moment situational needs and likewise must be metabolized and removed from the system when no longer needed in order for their presence to fall as their need diminishes.”

In other words—hormones tell all your cells what to do.

The organ responsible for metabolizing and excreting hormones as they travel throughout the bloodstream is your miraculous liver. It goes without saying, that adequate cholesterol and a properly functioning liver are critical to making, delivering, assimilating and excreting all hormones. Hormone health is absolutely CRUCIAL to a vibrant, balanced life that allows human beings to fulfill their purpose. The steroid or ‘sex” hormones are the key. When you’re young and in love, all the good hormones oppose and balance the stress hormones. This is vibrant health.

When you enter puberty, you are at the peak of hormone health. The hormone progesterone is a precursor to both the male and the female sex hormones: estrogen (which is actually not a single hormone but a group of three) and testosterone, as well as all the critically important adrenal cortical hormones (aka stress hormones). Precursor means you must have progesterone to make all the other hormones.

Progesterone is made from the sterol pregnenolone– made from cholesterol–made from the breakdown of fats and sugars–converted by mitochondria (power stations inside the cells). If you have been reading these chapters from the beginning, light bulbs should be coming on! All the dots connect. Your body is miraculous and functions perfectly and predictably—naturally.

If you are a young male, testosterone is at an all time high.  If you are a young woman, the form of estrogen known asestrodial is dominating your health. Estrodial makes everything grow and proliferate.  This estrogen, along with the hormone progesterone is responsible for making babies. Mother Nature is perfect and aligns sex drive with sex hormones for the purpose of procreation. Progesterone maintains the lining of the uterus allowing the fertilized egg to attach and grow. Any drop in progesterone levels or blockage of any of its receptor sites will result in loss of the embryo due to premature shedding of the uterine lining.

Progesterone is the precursor to testosterone and adrenal corticosteroids as well. In men, progesterone is synthesized by their testes to produce testosterone and in their adrenal glands to produce corticosteroids. Testosterone opposes estrogen. Testosterone protects nerves, brain and heart health, and increases bone density.
From age thirty onward, your testosterone levels begin to drop. Even mainstream media and conventional medicine now acknowledge the condition referred to as “Low T.”  For most middle-aged men, this process occurs gradually, unlike menopause in females. But the effects are very similar. Men develop high blood pressure and are put on medications that have the undesirable side effect of impotence. Impotence does not equal vibrant health! Men are told they have high cholesterol and are put on statins. Testosterone levels drop; estrogen becomes unopposed, and causes them to gain weight. The increased weight causes fat around their middle which causes heart problems and difficulty breathing when lying down which leads to sleep apnea. Both men and women must have sleep to digest stress hormones and perform immune functions.

As a woman ages, she will still make estrodial, but as the production of eggs in her ovaries decrease, so does the hormone progesterone. As menopause nears, she will not make progesterone—because it is secreted by the uterine lining after ovulation. But she isn’t ovulating. Just as in men, this leads to estrogen dominance because progesterone balances estrogen and testosterone. This is a big problem for women and is becoming a problem for more and more men as well. Remember that estradiol makes everything grow and proliferate. That’s great if you want to make babies—but a whole different issue if you are over fifty and menopausal!  Hmm . . . wonder what would grow and proliferate at that age—fatty cysts and tumors perhaps—as in PCOS—polycystic ovary syndrome?

Progesterone protects the body from the undesirable effects of unopposed estrogens. Estrogen allows water and sodium into cells, causing water retention and high blood pressure. Estrogen opposes thyroid function, promotes histamine release (causing allergy symptoms), decreases the amount of oxygen present in cells, promotes blood clotting (which increases the risk of stroke and embolism), thickens bile and promotes gallbladder disease, causes loss of zinc, copper retention, decreased sex drive, increased risk of fibrocystic breasts, uterine fibroids, endometrial cancers, loss of bone density, and prostate cancer.

Young girls, in the peak of sexual health, are choosing to take birth control pills at an earlier age, and delaying childbirth.Birth control pills are synthetic, laboratory created estrogens. Young men are taking synthetic steroid hormones. Synthetic testosterone, estrogens and laboratory created “progestins” have a different molecular structure than natural hormones made from fat. As these molecules travel the bloodstream, they fill up estrogen and progesterone receptor sites in the reproductive organs and glands, but the body does not have the enzymes and cofactors to metabolize and excrete them. Synthetic progesterone does not have the innate ability to make estrogen and testosterone like natural progesterone.  These synthetic hormones do not break down in your liver. Therefore, it becomes a toxin that your body must remove from your blood and store in fat—mostly around your middle. Is it any wonder why so many young girls are getting the same fat around their middle as middle–aged women?

Synthetic estrogens feed estrogen sensitive tissues in your breasts, endometrium, uterus, and cervix. This out of control tissue growth begins as an estrogen waste product that can’t be properly metabolized in your body because it is unnatural and toxic. The molecular structure isn’t the same. Your body, in its miraculous wisdom, surrounds toxins with lymph to provide “crowd control” and stop them from traveling to distant sites and forming more clusters of toxic tissue aka cysts and eventually tumors. Light bulbs yet?

This same phenomenon occurs as women reach menopause. HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) was first introduced in the 1960’s using only synthetic estrogen. Thousands of women lost their lives after taking these unnatural estrogens—from out of control tissue growth aka uterine (endometrial) cancer. It took two decades of these trusting women dying needlessly–before the mostly male medical profession realized that unopposed estrogen was the cause. Unfortunately, the same medical profession spent the next decade in intense marketing campaigns and public relations spots—convincing women that HRT was now safe and they would be protected from cancer with the addition of the synthetic hormone progestin—marketed most commonly in a pharmaceutical compound called Provera. This may have helped balance unopposed estrogens—but synthetic hormones still could not be broken down in the liver like natural hormones. So, again, your body removes them from the blood, surrounds them with lymph, and stores them in fat. The only way to remove toxins from fat storage is to A) stop putting them in your body and B) lose the fat around your middle.  Bio Identical hormones are safer than synthetic hormones, but they only work as long as you take them. So you would have to take them for the rest of your life to continue to get the effects.

Since the 1940s approximately 77 thousand chemicals have been introduced to the human race. These synthetic, laboratory created chemicals from petrochemical, industrial, pharmaceutical, and electrical industries were never intended for human ingestion. These chemicals are estrogen imposters called “xenoestrogens” which invade our cells and steal our estrogen receptors. There is no way for any human at this point in time, to avoid them. Industrial wastes pollute our air and water–food additives, pesticides, hormone and steroid injected meats pollute our food–cell phones, computers, and electrical devices have stripped our world of healing negative ions and caused electromagnetic pollution. Electromagnetic pollution is becoming such an issue that many European countries ban cell phones for children ages 5-18.  Most people are now aware of many of these toxins—fresh paint, dry cleaning chemicals, printing chemicals, ant killer, PVCs, Dioxins, DDT, Benzene, Parabens and phthalates in cosmetics, BPA in plastics— to name a few–but are clueless as to how to limit them or prevent them from establishing a community around their waistline. Remember, in order to remove these toxins—you must stop putting them in your body, remove the fat in which the already ingested toxins are stored, and give your body the fuel it needs to perfectly and innately balance hormones.

In order to process and excrete hormones, your liver must be able to carry out the process of methylation. Methylation is the process of taking a single carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms—known as a methyl group, and finding a methyl donor to complete the chemical structure that allows hormones to perform their critical functions. Many critical body functions are dependent upon the ability of your liver to carry out the process of methylation. One function of this process is to remove bad estrogens, because by definition they are missing a methyl group. Methylation also turns on and off genes, fights infections, and repairs DNA—just to name a few. Methylation problems can be genetic—about 10 percent of humans have a deficiency of methyl groups and die of liver or heart disease in their fifties specifically of that lack of methyl groups.

This may sound complicated—but perhaps an example will help.

Western medical doctors test you for HDL and LDL cholesterol levels.  Remember from the last chapter—this stands for high or low-density lipoprotein (fat + protein). The protein in the blood is homocysteineStudies show that too much homocysteine floating around in the blood causes fatty deposits to stick to the arteries (atherosclerosis), which leads to blood clots and strokes. Homocysteine is missing a methyl group. In order to pull excess homocysteine out of the blood, it needs a methyl donor. The B vitamins—B6, B9, B12 (methylcobalamin) are methyl donors that grab these proteins and with the help of the enzyme “methyl transferase,” make the most active form of folate in your body, known as methylfolate. Without the B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium, this process can’t be completed.

How important is folate?  Methylfolate deficiency will cause toxic buildup in your bloodstream of the protein homocysteine! Methylfolate is also known as glutathione, which is the master antioxidant of the bloodstream! (You can get natural glutathione from good fat rich avocados!)


The Mayo Clinic website lists all the conditions associated with folate deficiency: alcoholism, hyperhomocysteinemia, megaloblastic anemia, neural defects in pregnancy, methotrexate toxicity, acute lymphocytic leukemia, Alzheimer’s disease, arsenic poisoning, chronic fatigue, depression, ETC, ETC, ETC.


Yet—nowhere on the website will they explain LIVER METHYLATION! Trust me—you have to do your research to connect the dots! You must have B vitamin methyl donors and essential minerals to pull out excess bad estrogens and homocysteine proteins from the blood.

There are many natural ways to add methylators to your diet. Here are a few of my favorite:


  • RAW ORGANIC BEETS—juiced or eaten raw on salads, beets are trimethylglycine and are liver methylators. If you are not juicing, you can buy beet (betaine) powder and eat it or add to smoothies. Betaine powder is very sweet and tastes good.



David Wolfe, Longevity Now Conference April 2011  (Suzy Cohen is my favorite pharmacist and this article explains methylation in great detail)

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Thomasina Copenhaver
Thomasina Copenhaver is a naturopathic doctor and registered nurse with over 30 years experience in the healthcare profession. Her passion is writing, researching, and empowering all humans with knowledge of healing at the cellular level; to enable them to make educated and informed choices regarding their health. For more information visit her website: or to buy her book, "Notes from a Naturopath" visit Amazon or Barnes and Noble.