I’m also going to throw green tea in this category. Aside from helping you get your caffeine fix, and providing you with anti-oxidants, green tea also affects your hormones! It’s pretty amazing! It helps increase levels of something called sex-hormone binding globulin which does what its name suggests, it binds your androgen hormones like testosterone, decreasing levels in the body.
Happy day 3 of Women’s Health week 2018! Let’s talk hormone imbalance. This post is going to go over my favorite herbs for balancing female hormones! I always get questions from girls asking me how to “balance their hormones”. I want to start by saying, that it’s really not that simple. I actually was reluctant to write this post, because suggesting that one herb, or supplement will balance your hormones and solve your problems would very wrong of me. It really is about finding the root cause, ruling out potential diagnosis that could be throwing off your hormones, and taking a complete medical history, so that I can get a better idea of your whole health picture. I’m not kidding when I say I believe in individualized, whole body medicine!
However, with all of that said, I felt the need to write this because of all the questions I do get. This post is the most helpful if you know what kind of “hormone problem” you are having. I categorize herbs by the type of hormone they work on. Remember, you have reproductive, thyroid, and adrenal hormones that all work very closely together, but also have very specific functions. Affecting one can really throw off the others, so just be careful before taking something saying that it will work on your hormones.
GET YOUR LEVELS CHECKED:
First thingsIf you have reason to believe your hormones are not functioning properly, the best thing to do is to run labs to determine what is going on. Is it a reproductive or adrenal hormone problem, or is it your thyroid? Is it PCOS? This helps rule out potential root causes of your symptoms, find the correct diagnosis, and get your the treatments that are actually right for you, instead of wasting your time and money on more general supplements and herbs that might not work for your particular case, or might actually make your problem worse!
Your androgens are your “male hormones”. If these are elevated you might be experiencing symptoms like acne, or excessive hair growth on your face or breasts. Other typical symptoms include irregular periods, or lack of a period, difficultly losing weight, high blood pressure, and infertility. Elevated androgen level is also a hallmark sign of PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), which is the most common hormonal disorder in women, and a very common cause of female infertility. However, having excess androgens doesn’t necessarily mean you have PCOS, so getting labs run can help you differentiate the two.
Anti-androgenic herbs are helpful for these symptoms. Saw Palmetto, is a very popular anti-androgenic herb, stops testosterone from being converted to DHT, which is responsible for symptoms like acne, excessive hair growth, and male pattern hair loss. In addition, Licorice root has been shown to help lower blood levels of testosterone in females.
These are hormone like molecules found in plants! The most researched, and well known is probably the soybean. Phytoestrogens can help support healthy menstrual cycles, and I often use them with my menopausal patients as well to help relieve their symptoms. They are also effective for women who have irregular or no periods. Flaxseed, is not technically a phytoestrogens, but gets converted to estrogen in the body, so I throw them in this category as well! Some phytoestrogenic herbs include Dong quai, Ginseng, and Red Clover. These are a bit controversial, because of their estrogenic effects, and therefor their ability to worsen things like fibroids, or endometrial cancer. Unfortunately, most studies we have are done on animals, and the evidence isn’t really conclusive, so make sure to bring this up with your doctor!
This is one of the most popular hormone balancing herbs out there, and for good reason, I think it’s amazing! I’ve had so much success with this herb with patients! Again, you have to use it the right way, and for the right reasons. Vitex addresses a few different aspects of hormone imbalance, and more specifically can help with a few potential causes of irregular periods, lack of periods, or infertility. Vitex helps support the second phase of your menstrual cycle, the luteal phase, and can help increase progesterone levels naturally. One of its strongest effects is lowering prolactin levels. High prolactin levels are often associated with infertility, lack of period, or irregular periods. If you try this herb, just know that you have to be patient, sometimes it takes 2-4 months of consistent use to start noticing its effects.
I hope you found this post helpful! Please leave any questions you have in the comments below, and I’ll make sure to get them answered.
I see patients all over the Country (or internationally) virtually through an online platform. If you are interested in learning more about my services please visit www.DrKananiND.com or email me at Contact@DrKananiND.com.
Wishing you health and wellness,
// Dr. Nikka Kanani