Natural Feminine Care and Hormonal Support
By Sarah Baker, CHN
Hormones pretty much rule our world. They play a role in our mood, sleep cycle, energy levels, food cravings, weight fluctuations and obviously our reproductive cycle.
To help you balance your hormones, we rounded up various natural feminine care solutions and supplements that help with all the different hormones in our body. But first, it would be useful to know the signs that your hormones could be out of whack, and the proper steps to take to get that body back in balance!
How Do You Know if Your Hormones Are Imbalanced?
Imbalanced hormones could lead to fatigue, trouble sleeping, issues with weight gain, brittle hair and nails, and exceptionally annoying PMS symptoms.
When our estrogen, testosterone and progesterone are imbalanced, it typically leads to a combination of fatigue and weight gain. These symptoms could also be a result of the hormone insulin not working optimally due to eating too many sweets and carbohydrates. Even though many of us believe that hormones are only related to our reproductive cycle, hormones are involved in many different processes in our body—especially when it comes to insulin. If you ever have moments when you feel extra tired or are experiencing “brain fog,” it could be because of an insulin intolerance or imbalance.
The hormone cortisol throws us off balance when we are exposed to extra amounts of stress. When you are feeling constantly stressed, a cortisol imbalance may cause you to feel extra anxious, experience comfort food cravings, and could cause difficulties getting a good night’s sleep.
In a nutshell, there are hormones related to various bodily systems, so it’s important that we are always taking preventative measures to keep our body and our hormones in harmony!
Natural Ways to Balance Your Hormones
Be mindful of what you consume. Whenever I talk with clients or readers about preventative health and general wellness, my number one tip is always to focus on your diet. We all know what we should and shouldn’t be eating, but it seems to be easier said than done. To help give a bit of guidance, I want to share what types of foods you can add to your diet that will support healthy hormones.
- Increase healthy fats. Including healthy fats into our diet like avocado and nuts like walnuts help support progesterone and estrogen production. Bonus: eating healthy fats also helps you feel fuller longer and can reduce cravings.
- Increase fiber and fermented foods. Fiber from fruits and veggies, and fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles and kombucha, all support a healthy gut and digestion. When our gut is functioning the best it can, it helps keep our hormones working together with ease.
- Increase cruciferous vegetables. Veggies like cauliflower, broccoli and kale bind to excess estrogen in the body to metabolize and flush it out.
- Decrease sugars and grains. Besides the obvious (bread, baked goods, desserts), try minimizing high-sugar fruits, grains like pasta, and even beans/legumes for a few weeks. If you feel more energized, clear, and lighter, it could indicate that an insulin imbalance is happening when eating high sugar foods and grains.
Sleep, sleep and more sleep. You probably read this in almost every health-related article you come across, but that’s because it’s SO important. When you sleep (and get really good sleep) your body recovers, heals, regenerates and renews. When you get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, your body works to balance hormones. The body also releases and creates HGH (human growth hormone) when we get an adequate amount of sleep each night, and this type of hormone helps with healthy cell production, it helps you recover, and helps boost endurance.
Supplements That Support Balanced Hormones
Adaptogen herbs: These types of herbs help us regulate and manage stress within our body, which helps to act as an extra line of defense against stress-related illnesses. Not only do these types of herbs help with stress, they may support the organs in our body that produce and regulate hormones such as our thyroid system, adrenal glands, and insulin levels. These herbs include:
- Ashwagandha is especially helpful for thyroid function. Holistic practitioners have used ashwagandha to help with overactive or sluggish thyroids and adrenal fatigue. Even though adrenal fatigue is not widely recognized in Western medicine, many alternative physicians and practitioners recognize adrenal fatigue as an issue due to excess emotional, mental or physical stress. When our adrenals are being overworked to handle this stress, it could lead to an imbalance in progesterone and cortisol.
- Rhodiola helps us increase our energy during times of stress. It is also said to help decrease cortisol levels.
- Holy basil is used to help regulate cortisol levels to naturally alleviate mental stress and anxieties. Some studies have also linked it to helping us flush out heavy metals from our bodies due to environmental stress that could also cause hormonal imbalances.
Essential oils are great to include in natural cleaning solutions and self-care rituals as they have many different properties and compounds that help us balance our mind, body, soul (and hormones!). I love the following essential oils for balancing hormones:
- Lavender is a popular essential oil that helps promote a calm state of mind. It is known to help reduce stress and moodiness and promote a deep and restorative sleep cycle. When we are in a calm and neutral state of mind, or hormones have a much better chance of working together.
- Thyme oil may help balance progesterone levels by supporting healthy production of this specific hormone. Because of this, thyme oil may help to promote sleep and even decrease menopausal symptoms. I like to add both lavender and thyme oils to evening baths to wind down after a long day.
- Clary sage may help balance our estrogen as it contains phytoestrogens. This specific oil is said to help with PMS symptoms and could help regulate our menstrual cycle. I like to rub clary sage oil directly onto my abdomen when I’m experiencing cramps as a natural remedy.
Additional supplements can be used, especially when we aren’t eating the healthiest of diets. To add a tad bit more options for you if you would rather experiment with supplements over essential oils, check out the below supplements that have been linked to helping us balance our hormones.
- Vitamin D is important to include in our diet (usually in the form of a supplement) as it’s hard to find in many foods and hard to get if we aren’t in the sun throughout the day. It is useful to take a vitamin D supplement especially in the winter months when we feel like we are experiencing seasonal depression.
- Evening primrose oil is an ancient remedy used to help with fertility and premenstrual symptoms and it also contains fatty acids.
- Probiotics, like fermented foods, help support gut health and digestion and provide us with healthy bacteria that may help the production of hormones like ghrelin, leptin and insulin.
- Maca comes from the radish family and has been used for centuries in Peru to help with fertility, testosterone levels, and reducing PMS symptoms.
While many of us experience symptoms of imbalanced hormones, there are numerous ways to help alleviate these symptoms and ultimately balance hormone production with many different natural remedies and supplements. As with every new herb and wellness method, you should always consult your doctor before adding them to your diet.