Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. They are made by your pancreas, thyroid, ovaries, and the pituitary, thymus and adrenal glands. Hormones travel in your bloodstream and influence all your major organs and body processes: your brain, heart, bones, muscles, reproductive organs, metabolism, mood, and much more.
Hormones work best when balanced, but can become easily imbalanced by:
- Genetics and medical history
- Higher than average levels of stress and inadequate sleep
- Poor food choices, including food allergies and gut issues
- A largely sedentary lifestyle that results in being overweight
- Daily exposure toxicity, like air pollution, harmful chemicals beauty & household products, pesticides in our food, chemicals in our water, and of course cigarettes and alcohol
Conventional treatments for hormonal imbalances include synthetic hormone replacement therapies (HRT), birth control pills, insulin injections, thyroid medications and more. Unfortunately, for the majority of people suffering from hormonal disorders, relying on these types of synthetic treatments can perpetuate several things:
- It can make us dependent on taking prescription drugs for the rest of our lives in order to keep symptoms under control.
- Most synthetic treatments only mask symptoms, instead of solving them. This can result in continued to development of abnormalities in other areas of our body while our hormonal disorder progresses.
- It increases our risk of experiencing serious side effects such as stroke, osteoporosis, anxiety, reproductive problems, cancer and more.
Here are 4 ways you can balance your hormones naturally without experiencing the negative side effects associated with synthetic treatments.
(1) Adaptogen herbs are a unique class of healing plants that can help promote hormone balance and protect the body from the effects of cortisol caused by chronic stress. While they won’t take the place of a healthy diet and learning how to properly deal with stress, they can help the body improve hormone balance. Please speak with an herbalist (like me!) before using any of these herbs:
A mainstay of Ayurveda medicine, ashwagandha has been shown to reduce the hormones that disrupt endocrine function and prompt premature aging. Women experiencing menopause also report that ashwagandha helps to produce positive effects on hot flashes, anxiety, and depression.
Communities in the Andes have been using maca root for centuries to combat infertility, hot flashes, insomnia, and night sweats associated with menopause. It’s also a commonly used aphrodisiac and libido stimulant, and women who use this herb often see improvements in fertility, reduction in PMS and better skin/hair. It is typically available in powder form or capsules, and should be discontinued during pregnancy.
One of the most well known adaptogens is Asian ginseng, or panax ginseng, which is chemically distinct and not interchangeable (for our purposes) with other types of ginseng. Panax ginseng can improve your ability to withstand stress and carries potent antioxidant effects, antidepressant effects, and can help naturally lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Traditionally used in Chinese medicine, astragalus is a powerful immunity and energy booster. It is often combined with ginseng to treat general or chronic fatigue, and infections such as candidiasis, herpes, mono, and hypoglycemia. A wonderful support for burnt out adrenal glands!
(2) Avoid Exposure to Endocrine Disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the production, release, transport, metabolism or elimination of the body’s natural hormones. In today’s industrialized society, we come across these more than ever before: in the air we breathe, water we drink, soil used to grow food, and beauty or household products we buy. These disruptors can mimic naturally occurring hormones, especially estrogen, which can result in both the overproduction or underproduction of actual hormones.
Do your best to avoid chemically dense products, such as: dry-cleaning chemicals, skin care products loaded with artificial ingredients, non-organic produce sprayed with pesticides, and chemical compounds known as xenoestrogens — including industrial compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyl, bisphenol A and phthalates used in plastic and aluminum cans.
(3) Essential Oils carry a wide range of endocrine-healing properties. For example, clary sage oil reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, and helps balance estrogen levels (especially useful for women who already know they have excess estrogen in their body). Thyme oil will help improve and balance your progesterone production. Sandalwood is very effective at balancing out testosterone levels in both men and women. Rose, lavender, and chamomile oils are fantastic for reducing stress and relaxing your mood, and frankincense is one of the best oils for balancing thyroid function. And don’t forget about primrose oil, as it can help reduce painful menstrual cramps! If you’d like to learn more about how essential oils can help you address your specific hormone imbalance, call me today for a free 15 minute consultation.
(4) Exercise The Right Way. Exercise in general is great for balancing hormones because it reduces inflammation, helps maintain a healthy weight, lowers stress, helps regulate appetite, and aids in getting better sleep. For those experiencing hormone imbalance however, intense extended exercise can actually make the problem worse. Sleep is much more important, at least during the balancing phase, so focus on relaxing exercises like walking, swimming or yoga. If high intensity workouts help you cope with your stress, try shortening your workouts to 20 minutes, 3x/week. Avoiding extended, high-intensity cardio workouts will help your body recover its hormonal balance more quickly.