Here are some ways you can balance your hormones naturally if you have a hormone imbalance.
FOR WOMEN & MEN
General advice for both men and women to re-balance hormone levels is to firstly work on all or some of the following:
- Reducing stress levels
- Get enough sleep and exercise
- Watch the amount of coffee, alcohol, and sugar you consume
- Look to improve your personal relationships
These general lifestyle factors will all help to rebalance hormone levels. Specifically, there are some added natural medications as well as hormonal medications that may be needed in certain situations. It is best that you consult with your health practitioner before taking these as they may interact with other supplements or medications that you are taking, or may have side-effects that you need to be aware of.
FOR PRE-MENOPAUSAL WOMEN
Supplements that may be helpful in restoring hormone balance if you have not yet reached menopause include:
- Chasteberry (Vitex) – this rises the progesterone levels and is usually best taken on an empty stomach at a dose of 200mg per day for one to six months at a time.
- Indol-3–Carbinol – this is an active ingredient extracted from broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. It is known to increase the breakdown and excretion of excess oestrogen. Take 200 mg twice daily for 1–3 months.
- Evening primrose oil – this may help improve progesterone levels and reduce symptoms of painful periods and breast discomfort prior to menstruation. Take 1000–2000 mg per day with food.
- Milk Thistle (St Mary’s Thistle or silymarin) – this extract has been shown to help support liver cleansing and therefore improve oestrogen metabolism. Take 140mg of silymarin three times daily with or without food.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – taking a good quality fish oil supplement may help to relieve the symptoms of painful periods. You could also try increasing your intake of omega-3 rich foods such as linseed (flaxseed) or oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel.
- Vitamin B6 – this may help with PMS symptoms and irritability. Take 50–100mg daily.
- 5–hydroxytryptophan (5–HTP) – this is used in the body to synthesise the happy hormone serotonin, and may be helpful in alleviating PMS and mood swings. Take 100 mg daily on an empty stomach.
- Progesterone cream – this is made by a compounding pharmacy and can be used in situations where there you have a low progesterone level and significant symptoms as a result. Usually it is given from days 14–28 of your menstrual cycle and applied either to the skin or into the vagina. It must be prescribed by your health practitioner.
SPECIFIC CONDITIONS – ENDOMETRIOSIS, FIBROIDS, POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME (PCOS), PRE-MENSTRUAL SYNDROME (PMS)
These conditions are usually a sign of hormone imbalance and, as such, all of the lifestyle suggestions as well as the above natural supplements may be of help. In some cases the use of the oral contraceptive pill may be warranted. Once again it is worth discussing this further with your healthcare practitioner.
FOR MENOPAUSAL WOMEN
Menopause is not a disease but rather part of the inevitable natural progression of women’s bodies. If you have no symptoms then there is no need to treat with hormones or natural medications. However if your life is being significantly impacted by the hormone imbalances that can come with menopause then it is worth speaking with your healthcare practitioner about the following options for management.
- Black Cohosh – acts like oestrogen in the body and is used to treat hot flushes, night sweats, vagina dryness and urinary urgency. It is usually taken as a 40 mg dose twice daily on an empty stomach for maximal effect. It is not advisable to take any compounds, which act like oestrogen in the body, if you have had a history of breast cancer or endometrial cancer.
- Red Clover – contains high quantities of plant-based oestrogens that may improve menopausal symptoms. You could trial taking 80 mg per day.
- St John’s Wort – this acts as a mild serotonin booster and may help to alleviate the symptoms of hot flushes and mood swings.
- Medications – sometimes medications are needed in the treatment of menopausal symptoms. These include clonidine for hot flushes, low-dose anti-depressants, as well as hormonal treatments, which are discussed further below.
- Hormones – sometimes the use of hormone treatment is needed to relieve menopausal symptoms of hot flushes, irritability, poor sleep and low sex drive. The goal with hormone treatment is to take the lowest effective dose that controls your symptoms and once symptoms are controlled not to stay on it for many years (generally less than five years). Hormone therapy can come with risks and so it is worth speaking with your healthcare practitioner about this preference and then weigh up the pros and cons specifically for your situation.
Keep in mind, with menopause that it is important to maintain healthy bone mass by getting sufficient exercise as well as calcium and vitamin D intake.