How Can I Balance My Hormones?
ormones are chemical messengers, released by the glands into the circulatory system, that regulate much of both your physiology and your behaviour, including digestion, sleep, sensory perception, metabolism, stress, growth, movement, reproduction and mood. These hormones include oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid hormones, cortisol, adrenalin and many others.
Given the vital role that hormones play throughout your body, it may be no surprise to learn that any imbalance can result in many different health issues. Luckily, a well-balanced diet and some simple daily tasks can help improve your health overall and balance your hormone levels at the same time. This article takes a dive into how you can spot potential hormone imbalance issues and what natural steps you can take to prevent and correct them.
Signs of a Hormonal Problem
Hormonal imbalances affect the way you feel. Learning to identify symptoms related to hormonal imbalnces helps you understand why you are feeling suboptimal. Some signs of hormonal imbalances in women include having an irregular period, trouble conceiving, low libido, insomnia, osteoporosis, tired and moody. Men may experience reduced sex drive, low sperm count, erectile issues and even breast growth. You might lose or gain weight without changing your diet, find it difficult to lose weight, experience sever fatigue, and have mental health changes like anxiety or depression. Hair loss and changes in appetite may also occur.
If you are experiencing these symptoms and would like a definitive answer, please consult your GP or qualified nutritional therapist who will be able to arrange a series of conclusive tests that may include blood, saliva and urine tests or scans. My favourite test for hormone imbalances is the DUTCH Complete Urine Test, which is one of the most accurate tests providing a complete assessment of hormonal health. For anyone concerned about their risk for estrogen related cancer, this test checks for estrogen dominance and importanly offers a profile of the estrogen metabolites. It is a simple urine test, easily collected in the comfort of your home. Please get in touch if you would like to know more about this test.
In severe cases a doctor may even recommend a biopsy. Many treatments are available for hormone imbalances, including hormone replacement therapies, thyroid medication and other pharmacology-based options. While these can be very effective at treating your symptoms, they often do nothing to tackle the underlying condition that is causing the imbalance. Another downside is that you may be consigned to daily pills for the rest of your life. Try the following techniques to help naturally balance your hormones and potentially avoid a lifetime of pharmacology.
Try Adaptogen Herbs
Adaptogens are healing herbs that provide even more benefits than standard herbs. They are also wonderful at helping to balance your hormones, so if you are looking to improve your hormone levels with herbs, adaptogens are the first ones you should turn to. Adaptogens include many herbs you might recognise, such as holy basil, ashwagandha, asian ginseng and certain types of medicinal mushrooms. Not only can they help with your hormone levels, but they are great at lowering your cholesterol, improving thyroid function, and helping with anxiety and depression.
Many adaptogens can be drank as herbal teas and are available from supermarkets or healthfood shops. They can also be found in powder form, which is handy for adding to smoothies, soups, salads and just about anything else that you are preparing. Adaptogen supplements are also available, although you should check with a qualified nutrition professional before taking these as supplements are often under-regulated and can contain other ingredients which may have a detrimental effect. For more information on using herbs to balance your hormones, please take a look at 6 Herbs To Naturally Balance Hormones from my 'TT-Tips' section.
Eat More Healthy Fats
You may think the words ‘healthy’ and ‘fats’ don’t go hand-in-hand, but that isn’t at all true. Saturated fat and cholesterol are essential ingredients in the creation of hormones and a low-fat diet can actually disrupt this process. For more information on healthy fats, please read this article.
Substitute healthy fats for carbohydrates, which cause inflammation and can adversely affect hormone balance. Avoid man-made and processed fats like margarine and vegetable oil, and instead go for healthier fats like grass-fed butter, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, and avocados. Try to add some healthy fats to each meal and your hormones will thank you for it.
Improve Your Sleep
If you haven’t been getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night, it is time to rectify that. Missing out on sleep affects your body, your mind and your hormone levels. Hormones work in cycles and recent studies have shown that many are linked directly to your circadian rhythm, which relies on a regular sleep/wake cycle. Improving your sleep hygiene has many benefits in addition to hormone regulation, so if you haven't already developed a healthy bedtime routine, now is the time to start. Make sure you give yourself a long wind-down everynight that includes the same peaceful routine. This could involve taking a bath, writing in your diary, meditating, drinking some herbal tea. Make sure it is predictable and consistent so that your brain begins to learn that these signals mean it will be in sleep mode soon.
Try to keep your bedroom reserved for sleep and sex. Make sure it is a clean and welcoming environment so that you feel relaxed when you enter. Mobile phones are a multi-faceted source of stimulation for the brain and, for many people, the temptation to check their phone is too great when in bed. So consider leaving your phone on the dressing table or even in another room.
Implement Essential Oils
Essential oils can be a relaxing and pleasant way to rid your body of harmful toxins that can cause hormone imbalances. For a free and in-depth guide to essential oils, please click on the image to download my free guide, which will help you understand which oils to use when and the best ways to implement them.
Some of the best oils for hormone balance include clary sage, fennel, lavender and thyme. Experiment with oil diffusers or add a few drops to your bath. Please note that essential oils are very potent and so too much can be toxic and harmful. Usually between 2-5 drops of your preferred oil will be plenty.