Seven Steps For Restoring Hormonal Balance Naturally
Hormonal imbalances are one of the biggest causes of disruption to physical and emotional wellbeing.
Hormones are "chemical messengers" of the endocrine system that are deposited into your blood and carried to your various organs and tissues, where they then regulate a range of key body functions, including:
- growth and development
- reproduction and sexual function
- heart rate
- blood pressure
- sleeping and waking cycles
- body temperature
The glands of the endocrine system are where hormones are produced, stored, and released that regulate these functions.
These primary glands and their respective functions include:
- Adrenals - produce Adrenaline (regulates metabolism), Cortisol (controls stress response) and Aldosterone (controls salt and water balance);
- Pituitary - produces reproductive hormones that control egg and sperm production and lactation
- Pancreas - produces glucagon (helps increase blood glucose energy) and insulin (reduces blood glucose energy)
- Pineal - controls production of melatonin (regulates the sleep/wake cycle)
- Thyroid - produces the metabolic hormones of Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4) which control rate of metabolism and energy
Read on to discover the common signs of hormonal imbalances, the main causes, and what you can do naturally, to help bring your body back into balance.
Signs or Hormonal Imbalances
Hormones play an extremely important part in your overall health.
Unfortunately, your hormones are easily affected by various internal and external factors that can fall out of balance over time. These imbalances lead to your body not functioning as it should, which can produce a whole host of issues.
Hormonal imbalances can be caused by your diet, your medical history, the stress you experience day to day, exposure to toxins in your environment and even your own genetics. Another leading cause of hormonal imbalance is a high level of inflammation in the body, usually caused by poor gut health.
The signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalances are varied, and can include:
- Unexpected, inexplicable weight gain or weight loss;
- Lengthy periods of fatigue;
- Hair thinning and/or hair loss;
- Depression and anxiety;
- Infertility and/or irregular periods.
Even a lack of sex drive is a common symptom of a hormonal imbalance, usually caused by long term stress and subsequent adrenal dysfunction.
The marketplace is flooded with conventional treatments for hormonal balances and magic pills that promise the earth but deliver little.
Unfortunately, the consumption of these medications can lead to a lifelong affliction, and many of these treatments only serve to fix the symptom you’re suffering; they do little to right the underlying hormonal imbalances that so desperately need to be corrected.
The main causes of hormonal imbalances include:
- A heavy processed food diet
- Excess stress
- Anxiety & Depression
- A lack of movement and exercise
- Chemical cosmetics & personal care products
- Puberty & Menopause
Tips For Supporting Natural Hormone Balance
1. Focus Your Diet Towards Whole Food
Hormonal imbalances can be exacerbated when you eat foods that are processed, refined and that are industrially grown and raised using harmful chemicals.
A wholefood diet means a diet rich in foods that are in their natural, unrefined state, sourced as locally as possible.
That means avoiding supermarkets as much as possible and shopping at your local farmer's markets regularly, whilst looking out for spray-free and organic produce where available.
Nature's table provides an abundance of colour and taste, that is very appealing and even therapeutic, particularly when you take the time to shop for food outdoors in natural surroundings where people are smiling.
To support hormonal restoration, pay special attention to leafy greens and root vegetables and be sure to include these regularly in your diet each week.
2. Load up on Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are good fats that satiate you, lower insulin resistance and protect vital parts of the anatomy.
Hormones are formed from fat and cholesterol. So, without certain fats in the diet, hormone production suffers.
Fats also help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. That's why nutrient deficiencies and not getting enough good fats in the diet, can certainly be a primary cause of hormonal imbalance.
Healthy fats also support the heart and blood. They protect the nerves and they are anti-inflammatory, which of course, is good for all round optimum body function.
In addition, the body is not able to produce certain sex hormones like progesterone, estrogen and testosterone without cholesterol.
However, the key is to ensure that you're getting a healthy (HDL) source of cholesterol from good fats, rather than from "damaged" fats like trans fats from hydrogenated seed oils like safflower, corn and canola.
Some of the best sources of healthy fats for restoring hormonal balance include:
- Omega 3's - help to support and promote hormone synthesis, as well as fight inflammation as well. Great sources include; Flax Seeds, Flax Seed Oil, Chia Seeds and Walnuts. The best animal sources include cold water wild caught, fatty fish like Salmon and Sardines (avoid farmed varieties) and whole organic, free-range eggs.
- Avocados - rich in monounsaturated fats and they can easily be enjoyed with a salad, on wholegrain toast, as a homemade guacamole, or added to a green smoothie for extra creaminess.
- Coconut Oil - potent anti-inflammatory food that also supports weight loss and even hormone production. Spoon into raw homemade desserts, add to smoothies, use for baking and frying due to it's high heat point it does not go rancid like other oils
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - another mono-unsaturated plant oil, olive oil promotes the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Use for salad dressings and for drizzling over raw and steamed vegetables and for dipping wholegrain bread
- Walnuts - a quick and easy snack, walnuts are rich in plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, which as explained are important for hormone production. Crumble them over salads, oatmeal, raw yogurts, or dip them into raw honey as a delightful, easy mid morning snack.
3. Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics and prebiotics are vital to ensure a health gut microbiome.
A healthy gut is crucial for restoring hormonal balance because of the impact that gut health has on so many key functions of the body such as energy production, digestion, skin health, stress management and sleep.
Also, a healthy gut helps to avoid and reduce inflammation in the body, which leads to toxicity and disease.
Probiotics are the foods that help cultivate healthy bacteria in the gut and come from mainly from fermented foods such as, sauerkraut, kimchi, organic yogurt, kefir, olives, pickles and kumbucha.
Prebiotics "feed" the healthy bacteria in the gut to ensure they remain strong and are found in certain fruits and most vegetables, such as bananas, asparagus, broccoli and mushrooms.
4. Release Pent-up Emotions
Although many allopathic general practitioners still resist the idea, there is a clear link between emotional and physical health and vitality.
How you feel affects how healthy you are. And this connection has a big bearing on your hormonal balance over time.
Some practitioners believe that emotions like fear and anxiety, are a cause of disease in the kidneys, reproductive organs and our adrenals, elevating cortisol levels to concerning highs.
Over time this can cause infertility, a lack of libido, chronic fatigue, weight gain and irritability.
Similarly, feelings of frustration or impatience, or not being able to forgive, can contribute to disease in the liver, which can lead to an estrogen imbalance.
Emotions such as anxiety can cause issues with your insulin levels, which can then affect several vital hormones.
If you are suffering from a hormonal imbalance, or even if you are just seeking peace of mind; one of the best things you can do for yourself is to address any major emotional imbalances in your life.
You can start this with a purposeful reduction in your stress levels, taking time for self care, and forgiving those against whom you still hold grudges for bygones.
Remember also to be grateful for what you have, rather than what you've lost. Practice grounding exercises such as the following:
- Regular mediation
- Deep breathing
- Earthing - outdoor bare foot walks on the sand or grass
- Hikes in nature
- Tai Chi.
Traditional therapies like acupuncture, remedial massage and chiropractic can also be very beneficial to help you realign, combat stress and rebalance your hormones naturally.
5. Reduce Your Toxic Load With Essential Oils
To balance your hormones naturally, it’s important that you eliminate toxins not only in your body those that you place on your body.
That means getting rid of conventional personal care products and cosmetics that are laden with harmful and disruptive chemicals. Instead, replace these toxic body and earth-friendly, low-tox varieties you'll find in good health food stores, as well as pure Essential Oils
Ideal essential oils to focus on if you have signs of hormonal disruption, include:
- Clary sage: this beautiful, earthy oil helps to balance estrogen levels due to its high concentration of phytoestrogens. It can help relieve PMS symptoms, reduce the chances of uterine and ovarian cancer, and remedy depression and anxiety. Diffuse 3-5 drops to help balance hormone levels and to relieve stress, or massage 5 drops of clary sage on your tummy to relieve cramping.
- Fennel: this gorgeous oil is used to help relax your body, improve your digestion and your overall gut health, boost your metabolism and even reduce inflammation. It’s an essential oil powerhouse! For application, rub 2 drops of fennel into your stomach or drink 1-2 drops in a glass of warm water.
- Lavender: Hailed as the kind of all oils- Lavender oil promotes emotional balance. This wonderful oil can be used to treat anxiety, depression, stress, and promote restful sleep- which is crucial to a healthy hormone balance. Diffuse this oil, or rub 3 drops into your wrist and temple to feel its effects.
- Peppermint: This minty fresh, multi-purpose oil is one of our favourites, and our fastest selling. This oil can be diffused or applied to your wrist to provide an instant energy boost, provide clarity of mind, and to reduce your feelings of tension.
To learn more about our recommended range of therapeutic grade pure essential oils go here.
6. Beware of Medications and Birth Control
Some medications can be extremely disruptive to your hormone balances, especially if you’re taking birth control pills.
Be very aware of the medications you put into your body, do your own research and get a second opinion before choosing to regularly take take birth control medication.
Study the side effects and where possible, see what natural alternatives you can find.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important parts when it comes to recalibrating your body and mind.
Without enough quality, regular sleep, you will wear yourself out and cause hormonal disruption. Sleep allows your body to recover and keeps your stress hormones balanced.
Your body's natural sleep wake cycle or circadian rhythm supports you best, when you get 8 hours of sleep per night. The secret to this is having a conscious pre-bedtime routine that allows your body to get straight to sleep with minimal disruption.
Additionally, perfect sleep is considered "the greatest gift" that you received, when you are regularly embracing the 7 principles of health - Air, Water, Sunshine, Walking, Wholefoods, Non-Toxic Relationships and Passion.
For key tips on getting a better night's sleep, read our blog: 7 Tips For A Better Night's Sleep
The Main Take Away
The endocrine system is a network of "glands" that help to regulate various bodily functions that support all round optimum health.
If you suffer from fatigue, irritability, chronic anxiety, stress or weight gain, it's generally a sign that your hormones are out of whack and need recalibration.
As always, the first step is to return to the 7 principles of health as a starting point.
Next, pay special attention to your exposure to chemicals in your foods and the products you use on your body and around the home. Finally, follow as many of the tips suggested in this blog and you'll be well on the way to self healing.
Tolman Self Care.