With the contraceptive pill, hormone disrupting chemicals like BPA everywhere, and even added hormones in the chicken we buy from the grocery store, it's no wonder women sometimes have a hard time balancing the hormones in our bodies. According to Dr Axe some of the symptoms of hormone imbalance include irregular periods, fluctuations in weight, depression and anxiety, fatigue or insomnia, low libido, digestive issues and hair thinning.
There are a few ways to try and balance your hormones naturally, including eating a diet rich in healthy fats such as coconut oil or avocados, and to balance your intake of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fats, according to Dr Axe. You can also try to improve your gut health, which is significantly linked to hormone levels, and you can try to eliminate hormone altering chemicals from your daily routine (such as paragons and sodium laurel sulphate, commonly found in shampoos and other bath products). There are also a number of herbs which can assist with rebalancing your hormones. Six of the best are listed below:
1) Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa). Black Cohosh has been used for at least two hundred years by Native Americans, according to AlterNet. It is known to treat menopausal and pre-menstrual symptoms, and scientific evidence suggests that it acts like oestrogen in some parts of the body. It has anti-inflammatory properties that studies have linked to lowered levels of inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.
2) Ginseng. According to Dr Axe, ginseng is the number one herb for lowering the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol can affect every system in your body and lead to irritability and anxiety, weight gain and bone loss, as well as depleted energy. High levels of cortisol put your body into "fight or flight" mode, causing digestive issues and an increase in blood pressure - that's why cortisol is known as the "aging hormone." Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng) is the most well-known adaptogen herb, and research has confirmed its ability to help you withstand stress. It is an antioxidant and an antidepressant, and it can lower both blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
3) Ashwagandha. Commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, this herb also lowers the cortisol levels and has an anti-aging effect. It stimulates blood flow to the female reproductive organs, which helps with sensitivity and arousal, according to Global Healing Center. It can also help to combat the issues many experience during menopause, including hot flashes and depression.
4) Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus). This herb comes from the Mediterranean and has long been used to promote female health. Extracts from the leaf and the berry have markedly different effects, as do differing concentrations of the herb extract, so it's important to use this one with total accuracy. Natural Living Ideas explains that chasteberry acts on the pituitary gland to regulate hormones like oestrogen and prolactin. It can be used to treat a range of hormonal issues in women, such as PMS, cyclical breast pain, polycystic ovaries, and issues relating to menopause. Well-known naturopath Cassie Mendoza Jones recommends this herb to clients who have recently ceases taking the contraceptive pill, because it normalises the length of the natural menstrual cycle and helps with the associated acne, irritability and soreness.
5) Pasque flower (Anemone pulsatilla). This herb is used to treat pain or inflammation in the reproductive system for either females or males, according to Cassie Mendoza Jones. It has analgesic (pain relieving) and anti-spasmodic actions, so it can help to relieve the pain associated with the menstrual cycle. It also soothes a number of emotional issues relating to depression and anxiety, exhaustion and teariness, and it promotes healthy sleep.
6) Suma root. Also known as South American ginseng, this herb comes from the Amazon and is commonly used to improve mood and encourage reproductive health, according to Global Healing Centre. Early research indicates that suma increases levels of estradiol-17beta, a sex hormone vital to balanced hormone levels. It has long been used for its aphrodisiac qualities, too!
Hormone imbalance is a common struggle for women and it can be a delicate issue to deal with. Doctors commonly prescribe the contraceptive pill or other hormonal treatments, but there are natural ways to address these issues, too. While they sound innocuous, herbs are a powerful tool for adjusting hormone balances and they should be treated with caution. Always start with low dosages, which can be found at the pharmacy. A naturopath may be able to recommend a herbal treatment specific to your hormonal issues.