Helpful guide for hormonal imbalances

Did you know your hormones can have a big influence how our bodies work? This hormonal system is called our Endocrine system and is important for many different functions of the body along with our reproductive organs. Without optimal functioning, both women and men can suffer from a range of symptoms. 

Since many women in particular have problems with their menstrual cycle, I will focus on a couple of hormones and common issues such as PMS, fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS, infertility and menopause. Along with practical tips how you can prevent, manage or overcome these issues.

It is sad to think that pain/cramps, moodiness, heavy bleeding, food cravings etc are all part of getting your period. This may be common but it isn’t normal. One should be able to have your menstrual cycle without the excessive side effects!  

Knowing your imbalance can be tricky as blood tests or a saliva test don’t always pick up the problem, infact many blood tests come back ‘normal’ for hormonal issues. Much of how we diagnose a problem is through patient symptoms. Ultra scans can be useful (this helped me diagnose my PCOS) but I had normal bloods but had other symptoms. We must also remember that our hormonal issues are not just located to our reproductive organs.

These issues are normally a complex intertwined integration of the whole body. For example new and emerging research shows now our gut microbiome is playing a role in hormonal health. Dysbiosis (unbalance of good vs bad bacteria) can have a huge part to play in metabolising and clearing hormones, particularly many ‘fake’ hormones we get from our environment such as parabens, plasticides, toxins, dyes etc. Having a healthy working digestive system is vital for balancing hormonal health. In many cases this can really help with hormonal issues, especially those with oestrogen dominant conditions like endometriosis and fibroids. This over production of oestrogen may be caused by the brain, inflammation or even oestrogen-mimicking toxins that bind to your oestrogen sites instead of actual oestrogen and thus cause an excess of oestrogen looking for a home. The bowel is very important in getting rid of this excess, otherwise it gets re absorbed and re circulates back into the system causing more inflammation. In a Danish study of over 37, 000 women whom had endometriosis, these women had a 50% increase of developing Inflammatory bowel disease with 70% having bowel discomfort of some kind. 

This is one tip that I would recommend- if you have constipation, loose stools, IBS, excessive bloating, reoccurring thrush or UTIs (which are all common in those with hormonal issues), then aim to get this sorted first.

Secondly the liver! The liver is power detox and along with your digestive system, you need to help the liver to do its role in detoxifying toxins and hormones. If you mistreat your live with junk foods, excess sugar, alcohol etc then it does less of what it needs to REALLY do and instead is only constantly detoxing the abundant insults coming from a poor diet.

Other factor also include stress. Remember….Your brain controls your reproductive organs. If you are stressed the part of the brain that controls the signals to make oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone goes out of whack and thus signals are not sent and optimal levels are not produced or over produced. Other factors causing hormonal imbalance include thyroid dysfunction, poor blood glucose metabolism, immune irregularities.

DID YOU KNOW- Your reproductive hormones interact with several brain chemicals, which is why your mood can be affected if you suffer from PMS. As an example is the effect progesterone has on the brain chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) that promotes feelings of relaxation, calm and sleep. If you are making less progesterone (ie because you are stressed), your GABA levels are affected, leading to irritability, anxiety and disturbed sleep.

Experiencing many menopause symptoms is not normal either. Yes there is a drop in hormone levels but doesn’t mean it is the cause of symptoms. Those who experience worse menopause symptoms have higher stress levels, excess weight (causes inflammation) and lower vitamin/ mineral levels like magnesium, iodine, D, B vitamins, stored DHEA (healthy fats in the muscle tissue). So if you are wanting to slide through menopause you need to work on exercise and a very healthy diet, plus a few supplements like magnesium.

So what to do about your hormonal issue?

The good news there is ways to reduce, manage or over come your hormonal issue but you need to have a good look at the different factors. Hormonal issues are complex and so looking at the whole picture is important such as stress, weight, diet, activity, digestive health, liver health, the type of medications you are on/ taken in the past and toxins in your environment e.g. if you are a hairdresser.

In terms of supplements there are many naturopathic remedies I recommend for different conditions, these can help reduce testosterone or oestrogen clearance to balance hormones and reduce inflammation (including pain), or help get rid of pathogenic bacteria or help detox the liver.

Dietary supplements can be used short term or long term depending on the severity of the condition such as magnesium, B6, turmeric, iodine, white peony, cinnamon, withania and more. Talk to me about your condition and what we can do to help.

Importantly diet is a major factor. 

It is essential that you are eating as well as you possibly can. A diet rich in antioxidants (combat oxidative stress), fiber (support probiotic and bowel health), high in B vitamins to support nervous system and liver support. Omega 3 fatty acids again are anti inflammatory and support imbalances caused by inflammation in your body.  

Plus high intake of filtered water or herbal teas. Definitely keep coffee in moderation (especially if suffering from hot flushes in menopause!)

Veges- broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale, spinach, cabbage, mushrooms, celery (organic), onion, alfalfa sprouts

Fruit- blueberries, strawberries, oranges, grapes, avocado, banana, figs, blackberries

Grains and legumes- soy, chickpeas, quinoa, millet, bulgur wheat, buckheat, brown rice

Nuts and seeds- pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, almonds, cashews, Brazil, walnuts

Herbs and spices- ginger, fennel, rosemary, turmeric, coriander, dill, parsley

Meat, fish and dairy- milk, cheese, and yoghurt, fish (less red meat).

Last tips!

1) Don’t forget adequate sleep!

2)      Remember to breath during the day!

3)      Regular exercise- getting a sweat on helps detoxify

4)      Meditate to manage stress if need be.

I have only touched sides in this article, get in touch if you would like more information on how to help a hormonal imbalance.

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