Did you know that hormones are connected to almost every process in the body?
I think you’ll agree with me when I say that most people tend to only associate puberty or menopause with hormones. Interestingly, there’s so much more involved when it comes to hormone balance.
You’re about to find out how hormones can be rebalanced naturally with a little diligence and how gut health is intricately tied to it all. Let’s dive in to 7 top herbal supplements for hormone balance!
Signs & Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance
You may ask, “How do I know if my hormones are out of balance?”. I’m glad you asked, because there are several tried and true signs and symptoms to look for, for both men and women. Some of these may come as a surprise to you but remember that hormones are vitally connected to almost every function in the body.
- Mood Swings
- Poor Sexual Wellness
- Weight Gain
- Anxiety & Depression
- Poor Sleep
Mood swings are a classic symptom of hormone imbalance. Interestingly, while many people think mood swings from hormone imbalance is exclusive to teenagers during puberty or women during menopause, that’s far from the truth.
For example, both a decrease in estrogen and an increase in cortisol (stress hormone) levels can cause a very tenuous mood state. You may be interested to know that excess cortisol also affects appetite, satiety, weight gain, and poor sleep.
Additionally, estrogen and testosterone play a key role in the sexual desire, arousal, and function. As we age, production of these sex hormones decreases, leaving as many as 43% of women and 30% of men reporting decreased sexual wellness.
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What Are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that travel throughout the body, directing several different important pathways. To simplify, they are secreted into our blood stream on demand by the endocrine system when directed to do so by the brain. The endocrine system includes numerous glands and organs in the body that produce hormones.
Estrogen and Testosterone are two hormones that individuals are most familiar with. However, growth hormone, thyroxine, cortisol, insulin, dopamine, ghrelin, and progesterone are all hormones that also play a significant role in the function of our bodies.
This may come as a surprise, but these hormones are responsible for everything from temperature regulation, heart rate, metabolism, and blood pressure to stress response, blood sugar, fertility, and more.
What About Menopause?
I know what you’re thinking! What about Menopause? Registered Dietitian, Su-Nui Escobar, of Menopause Better describes how an imbalance of the progesterone to estrogen ratio leads to estrogen dominance, causing common symptoms associated with menopause, such as weight gain, bloating, irritability, mood swings.
Escobar also discusses how to increase progesterone naturally .
Gut Health, Mental Health & Hormones
What’s the gut got to do with it? Surprisingly, there are more than 20 active hormones produced in the gut. Therefore, gut health plays a crucial role in hormone balance. This is where the gut brain axis comes into play.
The diversity of the gut microbiome affects the gut’s ability to produce and release hormones. Gut health also affects how well these hormones function and regulate processes such as hunger, inflammation, anxiety, and depression.
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7 Top Herbal Supplements for Hormone Balance
While there are numerous supplements to balance hormones on the market, some are “Queen of the Court” when it comes to effectiveness. We are going to look at 7 top herbal supplements and nutraceuticals that are very effective supplements for hormone balance.
Some of these supplements are classified as adaptogens. Adaptogens are herbs that help the human body maintain balance by stabilizing the internal environment and calming external stressors, such as stressed states, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. In simple terms, they help the body adapt.
The adaptogenic herb Shatavari has been popular for centuries in Ayurveda, Chinese medicine. Shatavari supports healthy hormone balance and overall sexual wellness and vitality in women.
This herb contains phytoestrogens, the precursor to estrogen, which studies show may reduce symptoms associated with this phase of life, such as hot flashes, moodiness, and bone density.
Fenugreek, an herb that supports overall sexual wellness, also supports healthy hormone balance in women. Some cultures use it in cooking to “bring the spark back”.
Tongkat Ali is an herb that supports healthy hormone balance and healthy testosterone levels in men. It is historically popular in Southeast Asia as an aphrodisiac.
Probiotics help nourish the good bacteria in the gut. When the gut is healthy it can more efficiently produce hormones which are distributed throughout the body.
Therefore, probiotics help maintain weight stability, promote energy balance, control fat deposition, decrease inflammation, and provide a protective effect against autoimmune diseases.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that promotes stress relief, health, longevity, and increases resistance to external stressors. This helps keep cortisol levels stabilized.
B vitamins are essential supplements for hormone balance. The 8 B vitamins include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9), and cobalamin (B12). B vitamins are essential for many functions within the body.
B12 is responsible for making serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin, which are neurotransmitters that control mood and motivation, and help you fall asleep. Some of the other b vitamins affect hormone production, mood stability, fatigue, and excretion of excess hormones in the body.
The herb Kanna is effective at lowering stress hormone levels and increasing energy and motivation. Likewise, it is effective in increasing levels of Serotonin, also known as the “happy hormone”.
Balancing hormones naturally is possible when you have the right supplement combination for your body. Supplements for hormones are not a one size fits all. It’s also important to remember that it takes time to balance hormones naturally, so give yourself at least 90 days when starting supplements for hormone balance, before you decide if the regimen is a good fit for you or not.
The purpose of this information is to inform and empower the reader to make positive lifestyle changes. It is not intended to replace medical advice or instructions given by your doctor or healthcare provider.
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Angela Lago is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and holds a Master’s of Science in Nutrition. She is passionate about researching the connection between gut health and mental wellness. Learn more about Angela’s journey from being depressed, anxious, and sleep deprived to being happy, healthy, and thriving!