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4 natural ways to combat hormonal imbalance

by Marie-France Trudelle ND 18 Jul 2024
4 façons naturelles de combattre le déséquilibre hormonal - La Boite à Grains

The women's health has been much in the news in recent years. Indeed, it's clear that women have been ignored (not to say scorned) for centuries when it comes to their hormones..4

A lack of openness and many taboos about the complexity of the female genital system have contributed to the ignorance that persists to this day, more than you might think..2, 4

Female sexual pleasure is largely underestimated, whereas this aspect is continually emphasized in the case of men..4

While most anatomy books demonstrating the male organs date back a long time, did you know that the first complete anatomical structure of a clitoris in a book only saw the light of day in 2005!

Despite this (or because of it), many women with a deep desire for connection and self-understanding are turning to spiritual approaches. Indeed, women's groups, "red tents", Full Moon and sacred feminine ceremonies... have abounded in recent years..1, 2, 4 And thank you, we need it!

Unlike men, who are hormonally equal throughout the month, women are cyclical..1, 2, 3, 4

From puberty to menopause, month after month, they experience repetitive waves of hormones that enable them to give birth to children..1, 2, 3, 4

But when fertilization does not occur, these hormonal fluctuations may seem unnecessary or superfluous. Especially if they are accompanied by discomforts such as mood swings or cramps..1, 2, 3, 4

So let's explore women's hormonal balance from a slightly different angle, and look at a few tips for preserving the harmony of these precious waves so we can get the best out of ourselves.

Hormones

The main hormones in the cycle are estrogen, progesterone, LH and FSH, as well as testosterone, oxytocin and even thyroid hormones and insulin, all of which can have an effect on the female cycle..1, 2, 3, 4

Estrogen

This hormone begins to increase towards the end of menstrual bleeding, reaching its peak at ovulation (mid-cycle). Among other things, it promotes the development of the endometrium, which will become the placenta if the chosen ovum is fertilized.

Although estrogen gives women most of their secondary characteristics, it's much more important than that!

Our entire body contains estrogen receptors, since estrogen performs over 300 different essential functions4compared with testosterone, which performs around 110.4

Estrogen improves mood, memory and sexual desire, and makes skin smooth and soft, eyes and hair shiny. It is also essential for nerve, heart and immune function, and regulates inflammation..1, 2, 3, 4

Estrogen characterizes temperament during the first phase of the cycle, which is markedly "masculine". We therefore feel more down-to-earth, active and "in action" during this phase..1, 2, 3

As Sarah-Maria LeBlanc, Quebec's foremost author on the subject of estrogen, so aptly puts it: "We love it!"1

But be careful! When it's out of balance, we love it a little less.

If our liver, intestines and kidneys don't "flush it out" and/or if "false" estrogen pollution overwhelms us, it's possible to experience symptoms of "estrogen dominance": breast pain, bloating, headaches, short cycles, anxiety, depression, heavy and/or painful bleeding and, eventually, gynaecological disorders such as endometriosis or fibroids....1, 5

Progesterone

Progesterone is highest in the second phase of the cycle; it is mainly secreted by the corpus luteum (a residue of ovulation). Its role is to maintain a possible pregnancy: Pro-gesterone = Pro-gestation.

It can easily become unloved, as it moves away from the masculine characteristics, socially valued and reinforced by the first phase of the cycle. It sharpens our senses, intuition and sensitivity..1, 2

It can easily become unbalanced, especially if estrogen is also unbalanced and not present in sufficient quantity to produce an ovum and therefore a corpus luteum, or if estrogen is already taking up too much space for progesterone to express itself adequately..1 This phenomenon is called "relative hyperoestrogenism" (too much estrogen compared with progesterone).

In a heavily polluted world with high stress levels and a diet that is often processed, hormonal balance is more fragile than we think..1

Maintaining or restoring balance

menstrual cycle

A healthy lifestyle is crucial when it comes to hormones.Whether it's sleep, hydration, exercise, stress management or diet, each of these items has its role to play, and no supplement can replace a respectable lifestyle!

Magdalena Wszelaki, in her excellent book Cooking for Hormone Balance, explains the tripod of hormone balance:

  • Intestinal health
  • Liver detoxification
  • Glycemia.5

According to her, these are the 3 foundations necessary for our hormones to be in balance. These 3 basic parameters are intimately linked to our daily lifestyle.

Indeed, stress in itself can be a cause of hormonal imbalance, since it negatively affects the essential pillars. Stress hormones such as cortisol raise blood sugar levels, reduce the workload of the liver and, via inflammatory mediators, can damage the precious intestinal mucosa..1, 5

If you feel your stress is insurmountable or uncontrollable, find ways to stand in the center of the storm, like an observer. 

Mindfulness meditation is one such tool. Making decisions for your well-being and trusting yourself can be essential to regaining lost balance.

Bear in mind, too, that certain health parameters are likely to make you experience more stress, without you even being aware of it. For example: vitamin and mineral deficiencies, functional thyroid, blood sugar or sleep disorders, to name but a few.

Moderate daily physical activity can support all 3 pillars and, in turn, help to manage stress.

The endocrine disruptors already mentioned in the section on estrogens can be limited, but are not completely eradicable, not by 2023 in any case!

At the very least, take care to replace plastics with Pyrex or stainless steel containers, filter tap water before drinking it, eat organically grown food, and meticulously choose your household and body products to be as natural as possible. Here are a few consumer habits that may seem trivial, but are very important for our balance.1, 5

Diet

Minimizing sugar intake and reducing carbohydrates is an excellent start to healthy blood sugar management..1, 5

Watch out for food allergens that seem to make you react. They can diminish the quality of your intestinal health. Intestinal health must be optimal to ensure estrogen elimination..5

The first foods to watch out for are: gluten, dairy products, soy, egg, corn, peanuts, solanaceae (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers, chillies and goji berries)..5

Fibres of all kinds are also your allies; they prevent constipation and trap estrogens to prevent their reabsorption..1, 5

The liver is responsible for solubilizing hormones and then excreting them via the bile and intestines, so it has an exceptional job to do.

Dietary sources of choline such as raw egg yolks, sunflower seeds, meat, organ meats and fish are excellent for promoting high-quality bile..1

Bitter greens such as endives, arugula, radicchio and broccoli sprouts are excellent for supporting the liver in its detoxification work..5

Magnesium is important for hormone detoxification, so green vegetables containing it, such as kale, Swiss chard and spinach, are also good choices..5

To find out more about the liver and how it functions, consult this other article on fitness and nutrition.

For many women, digestive health can be the key to a return to balance..5

Four interesting supplements for hormonal balance

As already mentioned, supplements can't replace good lifestyle habits!

However, using supplements in parallel can significantly speed up results, especially if they're chosen wisely and individually for you. Here are a few must-haves.

1) Vitex or chaste tree (vitex agnus-castus)

vitex womensense

Vitex is definitely one of the major plants for hormone regulation.

Its combined action on the pituitary gland (a regulatory gland in the brain) and on hormone receptors tends to increase progesterone by stimulating production of the corpus luteum. This helps reduce premenstrual discomfort and regulate short, long or irregular cycles. It also reduces heavy bleeding and increases the chances of fertility..1, 6

This plant is ideal after an episode of hormonal imbalance, such as miscarriage, abortion, discontinuation of hormonal contraceptives, etc.6

Vitex should be taken for more than 3 months, for a maximum of one year..6

Its incredible actions unfortunately tend to stop abruptly as soon as you stop taking it, if you don't modify the causal parameters.1

It should also be avoided if you are taking oral contraceptives or are breast-feeding.1, 6

2) Magsense

magsense womensense

Since I started naturopathy, I've always loved the MagSense product a sort of multivitamin with a therapeutic dosage of magnesium that supports the liver in detoxifying hormones. For many people, MagSense will also tend to calm the overloaded nervous system and give gentle energy, while promoting restful sleep.

3) EstroSense

estrosense womensense

EstroSense is a comprehensive formula specifically designed for healthy estrogen detoxification. The blend of herbs and natural molecules is designed to support each phase of liver detoxification to ensure optimal estrogen elimination. Several studies demonstrate the effectiveness of the ingredients contained in EstroSense.8

It's always a good idea to get your lifestyle under control and explore any digestive problems before embarking on estrogen detoxification in a more harmonious way. A registered naturopath will be able to support you in this process.

4) Fiber

reliefibre natural factors

As mentioned above, estrogen is solubilized by the liver and excreted in the intestines via bile. Good intestinal transit is essential for the complete elimination of estrogens, because if they stagnate too long in the intestine, estrogens can be reabsorbed! Let's not forget that Health Canada's suggested minimum daily fibre intake for women is 25 grams. 

If you're having trouble increasing the amount of fiber in your diet, these soluble fibers from Natural Factors dissolve easily in a glass of water and are very well tolerated by women who have problems with bloating associated with fibre ingestion.1, 5

In conclusion

Here again, supplements are only an addition to good lifestyle habits: rest, stress management, physical activity and a healthy diet are the basis of hormonal balance.

A registered naturopath has the skills to support you in returning to balance via the 3 pillars: liver, intestine and blood sugar.

Never forget that, despite optimal hormonal balance, women function in cycles. We can't escape this nature in an attempt to fit into the imposed male social model. Once you've got to know yourself, understand yourself and listen to your instincts, these cycles could become your greatest strength! 

About the author

Marie-France Trudelle, Certified Naturopath

In-depth knowledge of :

  • Nutrition and dietary supplements
  • Stress management and sleep
  • Physical activity and movement
  • Massage therapy

    References

    1. Sarah-Maria LeBlanc, I love my hormonesLes éditions Jouvence, 2022, 123 pages
    2. Miranda Gray, Lune Rouge, The forces of the feminine cycle, 4th edition, Macro éditions, 2020, 262 pages
    3. Miranda Gray, Lune Rouge, How my cycle can become my coach, Macro éditions, 2021, 248 pages
    4. Dr Sylvie Demers, Hormones au féminin, repensez votre santé, Éditions L'homme, 259 pages
    5. Magdalena Wszelaki, Cooking for hormone balancese, Harper one Editions, 2018, 374 pages
    6. Lessard, Manon, PhytotherapyIESN, 2014
    7. Lecompte, Michel, Nutrithérapie orthomolecularIESN, 2016
    8. https://womensense.com/fr-ca/produits/estrosense/
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