6 Herbs to Naturally Balance Hormones
Hormones are responsible for regulating just about every process within the body. When our hormones become disregulated, serious chronic illness can be the result. Please look on my articles page for more information on identifying hormone imbalances.
The good news is that there are some wonderful herbal remedies that can help to keep your hormones balanced. Below are six helpful herbs with advice on how to take them for maximum hormonal benefit that will get you back on the road to health.
1. Maca is a cruciferous root native to Peru. It’s an adaptogenic compound, meaning that it supports the hypothalamus and pituitary during stressful times, which helps balance the female sex hormones. It’s loaded with zinc, B vitamins and iron, which are necessary for hormone production. It is also known as an aphrodisiac, especially for women, so it’s a great choice for women whose sex drive has disappeared. It helps to restore the oestrogen-progesterone balance, which benefits fertility, PMS symptoms, and PCOS.
Maca comes as a powder that can be added to smoothies and juices or as a capsule. The preferred form is gelatinised maca, which is more bioavailable.
Caution: Maca contains glucosinolates. At high dosages, it can act as a goitrogen, which may suppress the thyroid, which is not good for already suppressed thyroid function (hypothyroid).
2. Vitex is also known as 'chasteberry' or 'chaste tree' and is made from the berries of a Mediterranean tree. Its main hormonal effect is to tell the pituitary to make less prolactin. This encourages ovulation, since prolactin inhibits ovulation. It also helps to improve PMS symptoms, correct luteal phase defect, and increase breast milk production.
The recommended cycle for using it is to start on day 5 after the period begins and end on the first day of the next period. For women who are not menstruating, you can follow the moon cycle - starting it 5 days after the new moon, and ending it on the next new moon. It should only be used for 3 months at a time.
3. Wild Yam is a tuberous plant that has been used in folkloric medicine for hundreds of years. The active ingredient is called diosgenin. It is also rich in vitamin C, beta carotene (vitamin A), B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium and zinc. It is known for its ability to soothe menstrual cramps, improve mood, and relieve arthritis pain. It also increases bile flow and supports the liver, so it is a good support for detoxification.
Caution: For women with a history of breast, ovary, or uterine cancer, it is best to discuss wild yam with your licensed healthcare practitioner before starting a course.
4. Black Cohosh is a flowering plant found mostly in North America. The medicinal part is the roots and underground stems. It has long been used to relieve menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, racing heart, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and irritability.
5. Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) is a rich source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is an essential (meaning the body doesn’t make it) fatty acid. GLA is not commonly found in food and it’s one of the few omega 6 fats that is anti-inflammatory. EPO is produced from the seed of the primrose plant, which grows in Europe and North America.
Although initially used by Native Americans as food for a few hundred years, it has been used to relieve PMS symptoms such as bloating, water retention, acne, depression, breast tenderness, and irritability. It also can be helpful for hot flashes and night sweats during menopause. Another benefit of evening primrose oil is decreasing production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the byproduct of testosterone that can cause hair loss. Finally, it can be helpful with fertility, helping the body to produce fertile mucus, which helps the sperm get to the egg more easily.
6. Rhodiola is a green flowering plant that grows all over the northern arctic, including North America, Europe, and Siberia. The roots are the active part of the plant. It is a powerful adaptogen that is incredibly useful for surviving during times of stress and pressure by regulating the immune and neurological response to stress. It can fight fatigue, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve memory and brain function, strenghten cardiac function and exercise performance and help speed muscle recovery.
Start slow with Rhodiola and look for a brand that sources their Rhodiola from Siberia like Gaia Herbs. You should also make sure you are getting Rhodiola Rosea that is standardised to contain rosavins and salidrosides.
DISCLAIMER: It is important that you seek medical advice for proper testing and diagnosis before taking any of the supplements recommended in this handout. Any supplement recommendations should be reviewed by a doctor or qualified nutritional therapist to ensure that they are not in conflict with any medical issues or medications.