Remember what it was like to have your hormones in check? I’ve been there! To be completely honest, even on our best days it’s not easy to balance hormones naturally. But there are a few ways I go about it, both in the clinic and in my own life, that you need to try for yourself.
And here’s the most important thing that I have to stress. You do not need to live with or put up with symptoms of hormonal imbalance. I know exactly how hard that is and trust me, it’s not fun. But I find comfort in knowing that there are many options for support, both natural and medical, that can assist you to overcome, and in many cases resolve these issues. As a naturopath, I help people to learn more about how to balance hormones naturally, every day.
So, do you think you’re ready to learn more about how you can help balance your hormones naturally and take back your health?
Address Underlying Causes To Balance Hormones Naturally
It’s my core belief that you need to begin by identifying the underlying drivers for any condition, so you can heal from the root cause. That means in times of pressure, think flu season or even school holidays, it’s not going to come creeping back. As the endocrine system (the system that governs your hormones) looks after so much in the body, the triggers may be widespread but here are six of the most common:
1. Stress & Lack of Balance & Self-Care
Stress is upending our health as we know it. The release of stress hormones into the body is often responsible for not only hormonal imbalance, but also a catastrophic cascade of events, from poor digestive health to low levels of natural immunity. Up until recently, the World Health Organization called stress the health epidemic of the 21st Century, which is proof of just how much it can impact our health and wellbeing.
2. Thyroid Imbalance
You may know the thyroid as the gland in our neck that’s associated with conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease.. but for the state of our collective health, we don’t give the thyroid gland enough credit. This delicate gland is responsible for producing two key thyroid hormones (T4 & T3) which govern many crucial functions in the body such as our metabolism (enter energy, mojo and weight control!). A thyroid imbalance has many chain reactions in the body, with a negative effect on hormones and ovarian function being just one. Another point is that many people with slight thyroid dysfunction go undiagnosed as the screening test (TSH) that is usually ordered, does not show enough of the picture to pick up sub-optimal thyroid states.
3. Gut & Liver Imbalance
I like to say that one imbalance can trigger another. We do not live in a body of seperate systems, in reality each system interacts with and supports the others. The gut and liver are two areas of the body that work symbiotically and that are collectively sensitive to stress and prone to imbalance. A common example of gut imbalance is a state called dysbiosis, which is a reduction in microbial diversity and a combination of the loss of beneficial bacteria alongside the overgrowth of unhealthy organisms. This ultimately affects hormone metabolism and elimination. This issue becomes even more problematic when the liver’s function is also diminished. Poor liver detoxification further affects the metabolism and elimination of hormones, which greatly contributes to imbalance and the manifestation of negative hormonal symptoms. These two interlinked factors also contribute to poor digestion, which plays a role in nutrient depletion and reproductive function (one that we will explore in further detail soon).
4. Poor Sleep Patterns
Our sleep cycles govern all areas of our lives – especially our hormones. While eight hours a night is a great rule of thumb, we all need to ensure we’re meeting our own unique sleep requirements for ultimate health and wellbeing, as while we’re sleeping our bodies have a chance to restore, detoxify and rebalance. Our sleep cycles can be disturbed by late night blue light; that is, the use of phones or computers, or even watching TV as our body begins to unwind for the day. This kind of light interrupts the natural circadian rhythm of the body, which in turn disrupts the body’s natural balance of hormones. It is important to avoid screens for 2-3 hours (even one hour if that is all you can manage!) before bedtime. Additionally, avoid stimulating input (like crime tv shows or social media) and create a bed-time routine that involves relaxing activities such as reading with a low, warm light, baths, essential oils, herbal teas, guided meditations and relaxing or classical music.
5. Nutritionally-Poor Diet
Just as foods can support health, they can also diminish it too. A nutritionally-poor diet can lead to nutrient depletion and deficiency, or contribute to chronic inflammation, especially with the addition of high sugar intake, processed foods and vegetable oils. Typically this begins to impact gut function, which as we have seen, tends to wreak havoc on the natural balance of hormones. Try to avoid foods with high sugar content (that goes for artificial sweeteners too), along with unnecessary additives, stabilizers, flavours and preservatives. Think about the philosophy of farm to table and eating as close to nature as possible. If you can recognise where the food came from (e.g. an egg, butter, a walnut, an apple, broccoli, oats) you are good to go, but if can’t recognise where it originated (e.g. barbecue flavoured rice crackers, nutri-grain or pepsi max), try to minimise or avoid these foods.
This is that uncomfortable time in our lives that can start as early as the age of 40, where hormone levels begin to fluctuate even more than usual, as we make our (usually) slow transition into menopause. Flushes, insomnia, mood changes, irregular cycles and heavy bleeding are common symptoms, and these are driven by the changes occurring with our reproductive hormones. This is usually due to wild fluctuations in oestrogen, coupled with lowered progesterone levels, which contribute to an overall imbalance and the draining symptoms that go alongside it. There are wonderful ways that we can ease the signs and symptoms of this time of life (which at 44 years old I personally am experiencing!), but it definitely requires a bit more support that includes the addition of natural medicines such as herbs and nutrients for optimal outcomes.
How to Balance Hormones Naturally
While the solutions may be the opposite of the problem – that is, catching up on sleep or eating healthy foods, there are also three ways that I tend to recommend to help balance hormones. And I know how hard it can be to make the space and commit, but trust me, it’s so worth it.
1. Get comprehensive testing to see what is really going on.
Coming from a health science background, I appreciate cold, hard evidence to identify the body’s imbalances. Tests may include something as simple as bloodwork from your GP, or for some people we require more elaborate and detailed testing such as a salivary hormone panel or DUTCH hormone test. Regardless of the choice, these can all be employed to help uncover underlying physiological issues that may be contributing to unhappy hormones and poor health.
2. Use therapeutic herbal and nutritional remedies.
Herbal remedies and nutritional medicines are where naturopaths get to really geek out in a way that not many other practitioners get to. Herbal and nutritional remedies (and dietary nutrition more broadly speaking) can be used to treat widespread problems, as they are typically a concentrated form of a plant or nutrient with health promoting benefits – just look to everyone’s favorite for colds, Vitamin C. It’s the same principle! A naturopath may recommend medicines or a more general hormone balancing diet. Check out our recent blog on A Daily Ritual to Nourish Your Body & Balance Your Hormones for tips on creating a simple wholefood smoothie.
3. Seek assistance from a qualified practitioner who can help break it down!
Being a Naturopathic practitioner who specialises in supporting hormone balance, this last solution is without a doubt in my opinion the most powerful and incorporates solutions one and two. Working one-on-one with clients to get to the root of their imbalances and struggles, so we can find a natural solution, is the best part of my job hands down. And when we get it right – you’ll never look back again.
If you’re ready to take the next step and wish to learn more about how to balance your hormones naturally, head here to book a 20 minute discovery session where we can figure out your next step to balanced hormones and thriving health.