Hormones are chemical messengers produced by different glands and tissues which form part of the endocrine system. They play an integral role in your overall health and are responsible for regulating a wide range of bodily processes including your appetite, metabolism, circadian rhythm, respiratory rate, body temperature, emotions/moods, reproductive health, and the list goes on.
When your hormones are imbalanced you may experience fatigue, sleep disturbances, unexplained weight gain or loss, depression, anxiety, dry skin, hair loss, allergies, joint pain, chronic headaches, menstrual irregularities, and lowered immune function.
The best place to start is to identify why your hormones may be imbalanced. Whether it’s undereating, overexercising, high stress, inadequate sleep, poor diet, a thyroid disorder, exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals or other lifestyle factors. As a naturopath, supporting hormonal health is a primary focus of our care. Naturopathic support involves identifying an individual's unique drivers and underlying contributors through clinical case taking and further pathology/functional testing. Accessibility to naturopathic care isn’t always easy but one can always start by incorporating the below strategies to better support your hormones.
When we’re stressed, our body releases cortisol in response to the perceived threat. When stress becomes chronic, we become depleted and convert progesterone to cortisol, leading to hormonal imbalances.
Magnesium is a woman’s best friend when it comes to nervous system regulation and hormonal related complaints such as PMS, cramps, headaches, period pain, and mood changes. Aim to increase your consumption of magnesium-rich foods like nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables. Magnesium and stress have a love-hate relationship. Magnesium is required in adequate amounts to support our body’s stress response as it’s our calming mineral. Unfortunately when we’re under high stress, magnesium levels deplete. So while it’s important to increase your intake of magnesium-rich foods, dietary consumption is not always enough and therefore it’s equally as important to reduce stress to ensure your body isn’t depleting your magnesium status in times when you need it most! Meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, nature walks, and self-care rituals are all great tools to lower your stress levels.
Improving your sleep routine to ensure you’re achieving deep and restorative night's sleep is key to balancing your hormones. Implement nightly sleep rituals such as maintaining a consistent bedtime and wake time to regulate your circadian rhythm, avoid technology use one hour before bed, dim the lights when the sunsets to help stimulate melatonin, sip on a calming herbal tea such as lemon balm, chamomile, or valerian, swap social media use for a good book, spray magnesium on your abdomen and stomach before bed, and/or diffuse lavender essential oil in your room.
Xenoestrogens are a type of xenohormones that can influence your hormonal health. Xenoestrogens are found in soft plastics, conventional cleaning products, beauty products, perfumes, room diffusers, air fresheners, and fragrances. Work towards limiting your exposure as much as possible by choosing organic/natural household cleaning products, personal care products (e.g. deodorant, toothpaste, skincare, makeup, and hair products) reusable glass Tupperware, and allowing fresh air into the home.
The oral contraceptive pill and IUDs (amongst many other forms of conventional birth control methods) disrupt natural hormone production. Consider consulting with a qualified practitioner to discuss the fertility awareness methods (FAM) so you can naturally track your menstrual cycle, develop greater awareness of your body and use natural methods to determine ovulation to enhance fertility.
Give Your Liver Some Love
The liver plays an important role in managing your hormones as it’s responsible for metabolizing and excreting hormones. If your liver is overburdened or not functioning optimally, this can lead to an accumulation of hormones being recycled within the body. For example, oestrogen dominance can contribute to heavy periods, pain, headaches, anxiety and low energy. Consuming cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kale, rocket, bok choy and silverbeet) daily can help regulate oestrogen.
Need individual support? Contact Tayla via email firstname.lastname@example.org, Instagram @curawellness.co or book in for a naturopathic consultation (available to anyone in Australia).
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Ranabir, S., & Reetu, K. (2011). Stress and hormones. Indian journal of endocrinology and metabolism, 15(1), 18–22. https://doi.org/10.4103/2230-8210.77573
Trickey, R. (2011). Women, hormones & the menstrual cycle. Fairfield, VIC