Balancing Hormones Naturally
Author: Angelique Bone
Hormones carry an important function in the body – they bind to receptors in certain organs to initiate a response, thus keeping the bodily functions working. ¹ Occasionally though, these hormones become unbalanced, leading to health issues. The most common examples of these are in women experiencing Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), or going through menopause.
Hormones out of whack
Hormone imbalances occur when there is either too much or too little of a hormone, or if one hormone is not in ratio in relation to another hormone. ¹ So for example, if your oestrogen levels are high, but your body hasn’t produced more progesterone to maintain a balanced ratio of these two hormones, symptoms of imbalance can occur. Symptoms vary widely from non-specific (e.g weight gain, fatigue, muscle stiffness, hair thinning and constipation or diarrhoea) to more specific symptoms, like mood swings, menstrual irregularity, menstrual pain, clotting and spotting, etc. ²
Blood, rage and tears
PMS can affect up to three out of four women. Even though the symptoms are often mild, for some women they can get to the point of disrupting daily activities.³ However, there are ways in which we can help balance our hormones naturally. Vitamin B6 (at about 100mg per day) has been found to be helpful in managing PMS symptoms, particularly those related to mood. ⁴Combine this with magnesium, another nutrient which has shown promising results in the management of fluid retention and mood swings associated with PMS, ⁵ and you may be well on your way to keeping those symptoms in check.
You may also like to consider some Chaste Tree or Vitex agnus-castus as it is scientifically known. It has the capacity to bind to oestrogen receptors and also to increase progesterone levels ⁶ and has been used in a number of studies and trials. Results show it can be helpful in the reduction of symptoms including headaches, constipation and mood swings. ⁶
Some dietary factors to consider - try cutting down on the coffee, because for some women there seems to be a link between the severity of symptoms and how much caffeine they consume. ⁷ High fibre foods are helpful in removing excess oestrogen from the body ¹⁰, so if you suffer from high oestrogen, make sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and some complex carbs, such as oats and good quality wholemeal bread.
Hormone irregularity also commonly occurs in early menopause. Oestrogen levels fluctuate, leading to some of the symptoms of menopause and possible irregularities in the menstrual cycle. ¹
One of the most widely used herbs for this is Black Cohosh. There have been a large number of studies showing it to be beneficial in balancing hormone levels, thereby reducing menopausal symptoms. ⁶ It seems to work even better when you take it in combination with St John’s Wort, especially in terms of stabilising mood.⁸
Soy isoflavones can bind to oestrogen receptors ⁶, thus balancing the effects of low oestrogen levels or oestrogen fluctuations. Not only this, but they may help to improve sleep quality in post-menopausal women as well. ⁹
In addition to this, it can be helpful to maintain regular exercise. This seems to help relieve symptoms of both menopause and PMS.¹ Also consider minimizing dairy and red meat, as these seem to promote hot flushes. ¹⁰
If you think you might have a hormone imbalance or want to see where your hormone levels are at, it’s a good idea to get a saliva and blood test done to check what your hormone levels are up to. This may help determine where the problem lies and also if you need further investigation and intervention. Please be aware that some causes of hormone imbalance do need medical intervention.
There are several options available for obtaining hormone balance, but as always, if you are taking any prescription medications, please check with your doctor or pharmacist first for any possible interactions before starting on any herbal hormone balancing formulas.
1. Trickey, R. 2011, Women, Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle, Trickey Enterprises Pty Ltd, Fairfield, Victoria, Australia.
2. O’Keefe Osborn, C., 2017, Everything You Should Know About Hormonal Imbalance, www.healthline.com/health/hormonal-imbalance.
3. Steiner, M. 2000 (Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience) in Womenshealth.gov, updated 2018 “Premenstrual Syndrome”, www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/premenstrual-syndrome.
4. Kashanian et al, 2008 and Wyatt et al 1999, in Braun, L. & Cohen, M. 2015, Herbs and Natural Supplements Volume 2, Churchill Livingstone, Chatswood NSW Australia.
5. Facchinetti et al., 1991b, Rosenstein et al 1994, Walker et al 1998 in Braun, L. and Cohen, M. 2015, Herbs and Natural Supplements, Churchill Livingstone, Chatswood NSW Australia.
6. Braun, L. and Cohen, M. 2015, Herbs and Natural Supplements Volume 2, Churchill Livingstone, Chatswood NSW, Australia.
7. Rossingol, AM 1985, in Trickey, R. 2011, Women, Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle, Trickey Enterprises Pty Ltd, Fairfield Victoria, Australia
8. Shams et al. 2010 , Laakman et al 2012 and Briede et al, 2007, in Braun, L. and Cohen, M. 2015, Herbs and Natural Supplements Volume 2, Churchill Livingstone, Chatswood NSW Australia.
9. Drews et al. 2007b & Hachul et al. 2011, in Braun, L. & Cohen, M. 2015, Herbs and Natural Supplements Volume 2, Churchill Livingstone, Chatswood NSW Australia.
10. Balch, P.A. & J.F., 2000, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 3rd Edition, Penguin Putnam Inc., New York.
|Written by Angelique Bone|
Angelique (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified naturopath with a passion for herbal medicine and helping other people feel the best that they can. She believes that balance and moderation is important in maintaining good health.
Angelique enjoys reading, spending time with her family and baking goodies with her two young boys.