Herbs pack a potent punch of medicinal benefit when it comes to balancing hormones.

Herbs go beyond adding flavor to your food. They pack a potent punch of medicinal benefit - including when it comes to hormone balance.

Here’s the deal, hormones fluctuate throughout every woman’s life. Some of the more notable times your hormones will shift include menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. These are natural and expected shifts. At other times, exposure to environmental factors, like certain foods or exposure to toxins (i.e. xenoestrogens) through the air we breathe, food we eat, and products we use can cause an unintended effect on your hormones. When this happens, a woman can experience decreased energy levels, reduced sexual desire, weight gain, sleep troubles, or even infertility.

To help balance their hormones, many women are given options like hormone replacement therapy, thyroid medication, or birth control pills. While there may be times when those medications are necessary, most often they are a bandaid that masks the symptom while ignoring the underlying issue.

After you identify the root cause of your hormone imbalance, you can implement natural herbs that have hormone-balancing properties into your diet.

What is the Endocrine System?

Having a baseline understanding of how hormones act in the body will help you better implement a strategy of adding hormone-balancing herbs to your diet. The endocrine system is made up of glands throughout the body which trigger the release of hormones into the bloodstream. Receptors in your organs and tissues recognize these hormones and respond accordingly.

Hormones regulate many of the biological processes in your body, which is why keeping them in sync and within optimal levels is critical for feeling your best. A few examples of this include blood sugar levels, the function of reproductive organs, and body growth, sleep, and energy production.

Symptoms of a Hormone Imbalance

Regrettably, there are many factors in the world today that lead to a hormone imbalance. A few of those factors include environmental toxins, stress, inflammation, and a poor diet. Some of the symptoms are obvious like night sweats or rapid weight gain in the midsection. However, other symptoms are more discreet and may go unnoticed for a while.

Here are just a few of the symptoms of a hormonal imbalance:

  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Mood swings, anxiety, or depression
  • Low libido
  • Brain fog
  • Headaches
  • Hot flashes/night sweats
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Thinning, brittle hair
  • Heavy menstruation
  • Lack of menstruation

The Best Herbs to Balance your Hormones

Luckily, there are fantastic herbs with evidence to back them up for hormone balance! These herbs are called adaptogenic herbs. They are a unique class of healing plants that promote hormone balance and protect the body from a wide variety of diseases. Here are the top five best herbs for hormone balance:

1. Berberine

Berberine is a natural compound found in several plants like goldenseal, Oregon grape, tree turmeric, and barberry.

It supports the body through interaction with certain enzymes. For example, it helps activate adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), an enzyme that helps regulate many biological activities including lipids, glucose, and energy metabolism. Research also shows that berberine lowers fasting blood sugar levels. What does this have to do with hormones?

Berberine may support women who have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and are dealing with insulin resistance. Insulin is an important hormone that controls blood sugar levels in the body. Berberine can improve insulin sensitivity and inhibit fat storage.

2. Chaste berry

Chaste berries are the fruit of the Vitex agnus tree, which is also called chaste tree, monk’s pepper, or vitex. These berries contain diterpenoid compounds that are responsible for their anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and hormone level-regulating properties.  

Chaste berry works as a hormone balancer by targeting and lowering the hormone prolactin. This hormone is responsible for many of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. It also can relieve menopausal symptoms and help treat infertility issues and PCOS.

3. Ashwagandha

If you’ve heard of any adaptogenic herbs, you’ve heard of ashwagandha. It’s widely available and popular in herbal medicine. Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub from the nightshade family.

This herb helps to balance your hormones by moderating the brain’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis releases a multitude of hormones, one of which is cortisol. Cortisol helps you get through stressful events, however, too much of this hormone results in a whole host of chronic autoimmune diseases.

Taking ashwagandha root extract can result in less stress, better sleep, and lower blood cortisol levels.

4. Holy Basil

Holy Basil is one of the most common houseplants in India. It is a perennial that has a light lemon scent and purple-pink flowers. It is commonly consumed in supplement form or as holy basil tea.

Holy basil acts as a natural protector of organs and tissues, defending against things like heavy metals and stress. It contains phytochemical compounds that help keep hormone levels balanced naturally and manage symptoms of anxiety.  For example, ocimumosides A and B, have been identified as anti-stress compounds and may lower blood corticosterone (another stress hormone) and create positive changes in neurotransmitter levels in the brain.

5. Black Cohosh Root

This supplement is made from the ground roots of the black cohosh plant, also known as rattleweed or bugbane. It is primarily used for the management of symptoms of menopause, menstrual irregularities, and premenstrual syndrome. Research suggests that it might act as a phytoestrogen, which is a plant substance that acts similarly to the hormone estrogen when consumed in large amounts. For women who are on the fence or considering hormone replacement therapy, consider trying this herb for hormone balance.

When to Use Herbs to Balance Your Hormones?

Hormone balance is a delicate matter and there is a lot of misinformation about using herbs to balance your hormones. That’s why it’s so important to work with a functional medicine practitioner. Each person’s body is unique and the herbs that work for someone else may not be the right choice for you. A functional medicine practitioner will help create a personalized plan that will address your specific needs.

Other Ways to Balance Your Hormones Naturally?

The best treatment option for you depends on the root cause of your imbalance. Most likely you will want to pair medicinal herbs with other lifestyle changes. Here are a few ways to balance your hormones naturally:

  • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
  • Avoid toxins and endocrine disruptors
  • Exercise regularly
  • Manage stress levels
  • Get enough sleep

Work with a Functional Medicine Practitioner

Balancing your hormones can be tricky. It’s best to work with a functional medicine practitioner who is well versed in the best herbs for hormone balance and other lifestyle changes that support hormone balance. Interested in working with Dr. Morgan Miller to balance your hormones? Book a consult here!

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