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Natural Remedies for Hormone Imbalance

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Social channels like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok are always buzzing with the next great thing to balance hormones. But did you know the most effective things you can do for hormone health are in the choices you make day to day?

Hormones are rarely altogether “in balance,” as our body’s constant dance of highs and lows responds to our environment. Being out of balance can mean many things — menstrual cramps, irregular cycles, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, perimenopause, or menopause — and that’s just a short list.

Symptoms may range from minor premenstrual discomfort to daily pain. Whatever the condition or cause, health foundations like hydration, nutrition, and exercise are paramount in managing and even resolving common hormone-related symptoms.

There are many natural remedies and treatment strategies for hormone imbalance. No matter which tools you choose, the most effective approaches support the body’s natural ability to bring hormones into balance again. 

Health Foundations for the Hormonal Cycle

Foundations are a starting point for naturopathic doctors to help patients maintain a healthy hormonal cycle. This principle of natural medicine refers to lifestyle choices that nurture a healthy body and mind.

Water Is Crucial

Adequate hydration is essential for good health. We need about 64 ounces of water daily for regular bowel movements, urination, and sweating — three ways our bodies eliminate waste. This process removes excess metabolites, the breakdown products of hormones that cause acne and inflammation and contribute to cramps, hot flashes, and fertility challenges. The result is better skin and hormone health.

Focus on Healthy Foods

A low-glycemic, high-protein, whole-food diet helps balance blood sugar, keeps you full, and supports hormone balance. Choose unprocessed and organic foods whenever possible, incorporating cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, and cabbage to metabolize estrogen and clear excess hormones through the liver. Lean protein in beans, chicken, fish, and turkey provides building materials for hormone production and stable blood sugar. 

Balance Your Hormones with Exercise and Movement

Increasing muscle mass supports the body’s metabolic and detoxification systems. Both have essential roles in maintaining hormone balance and a healthy weight. Exercise also relieves stress, which can help regulate mood throughout the menstrual cycle and menopause. 

Gut Health for Hormonal Balance

There is mounting evidence that gut bacteria influence hormone balance and affect the severity of PCOS, endometriosis, and menopausal symptoms.1Cani PD, Knauf C. How gut microbes talk to organs: The role of endocrine and nervous routes. Mol Metab. 2016 May 27;5(9):743-52. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molmet.2016.05.011. PMID: 27617197; PMCID: PMC5004142 Fiber-rich foods feed good bacteria in our intestines, supporting the elimination of excess hormones and toxins.

Reduce Stress

Stress interferes with the normal function of thyroid hormones, testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. Under extreme stress, our adrenal glands release cortisol, inhibiting insulin production. A large meta-analysis found that mindfulness-based practices like yoga reduce cortisol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.2Pascoe MC, Thompson DR, Ski CF. Yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction and stress-related physiological measures: A meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017;86:152-168. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.08.008 Meditating, reading, journaling, and even coloring can help keep stress in check.

Support Quality Sleep

Understanding your circadian rhythm (sleep–wake cycle) and practicing good sleep hygiene may help with hormone balance. Establish a regular bedtime, turn off electronics at least one hour before, and calm yourself with one of the stress management techniques listed above.

Herbal Medicine

Herbs, nutrients, and supplements can treat and resolve symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance. A naturopathic doctor specializing in hormone health is well versed in herbal treatments that address common issues.

Herbs for Hormonal Balance

Many herbs and plant compounds support hormone balance and hormone metabolism. When symptoms result from a buildup of hormones, like excess estrogen in the body, a dietary supplement can help.

Sulforaphane from broccoli seed extract aids hormone clearance through the liver.3Michnovicz JJ, Adlercreutz H, Bradlow HL. Changes in levels of urinary estrogen metabolites after oral indole-3-carbinol treatment in humans. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1997;89(10):718-723. https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/89.10.718,4Dalessandri KM, Firestone GL, Fitch MD, Bradlow HL, Bjeldanes LF. Pilot study: effect of 3,3′-diindolylmethane supplements on urinary hormone metabolites in postmenopausal women with a history of early-stage breast cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2004;50(2):161-167. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327914nc5002_5 This herb is called diindolylmethane or, more commonly, DIM. 

Chasteberry (vitex agnus castus) is traditionally used to support progesterone production while reducing estradiol in estrogen-dominant or low-progesterone states. Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) helps eliminate excess testosterone and clear the byproducts that induce hair growth and acne, commonly seen with PCOS.

Another powerful herb is maca (Lepidium peruvianum). Numerous clinical studies support maca’s benefits during the menopausal transition.5Meissner HO, Mscisz A, Reich-Bilinska H, et al. Hormone-Balancing Effect of Pre-Gelatinized Organic Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon): (II) Physiological and Symptomatic Responses of Early-Postmenopausal Women to Standardized doses of Maca in Double Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Multi-Centre Clinical Study. Int J Biomed Sci. 2006;2(4):360-374. Maca can also help with hormone symptoms during the menstrual cycle, perimenopause, and menopause.

Data suggests black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) alleviates hot flashes and other symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.6Shams T, Setia MS, Hemmings R, McCusker J, Sewitch M, Ciampi A. Efficacy of black cohosh-containing preparations on menopausal symptoms: a meta-analysis. Altern Ther Health Med. 2010;16(1):36-44. Black cohosh is also used to manage menopausal symptoms in women with a history of breast cancer.7Rebbeck TR, Troxel AB, Norman S, et al. A retrospective case-control study of the use of hormone-related supplements and association with breast cancer. Int J Cancer. 2007;120(7):1523-1528. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijc.22485

Magnesium Supplements and Healthy Fats

Magnesium supports the body’s biochemical reactions, from liver detoxification to cell energy production. It’s also a natural muscle relaxant (for cramps), treats headaches, and promotes digestive health. Magnesium has the potential to improve insulin sensitivity in patients with PCOS, where blood sugar is often a concern.8Kostov K. Effects of Magnesium Deficiency on Mechanisms of Insulin Resistance in Type 2 Diabetes: Focusing on the Processes of Insulin Secretion and Signaling. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(6):1351. Published 2019 Mar 18. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20061351

With endometriosis, menopause, PCOS, and premenstrual syndrome, inflammation often triggers pain. Supplements like fish oil and flax, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, may tame inflammation and alleviate discomfort.

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Footnotes

  • 1
    Cani PD, Knauf C. How gut microbes talk to organs: The role of endocrine and nervous routes. Mol Metab. 2016 May 27;5(9):743-52. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molmet.2016.05.011. PMID: 27617197; PMCID: PMC5004142
  • 2
    Pascoe MC, Thompson DR, Ski CF. Yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction and stress-related physiological measures: A meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017;86:152-168. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.08.008
  • 3
    Michnovicz JJ, Adlercreutz H, Bradlow HL. Changes in levels of urinary estrogen metabolites after oral indole-3-carbinol treatment in humans. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1997;89(10):718-723. https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/89.10.718
  • 4
    Dalessandri KM, Firestone GL, Fitch MD, Bradlow HL, Bjeldanes LF. Pilot study: effect of 3,3′-diindolylmethane supplements on urinary hormone metabolites in postmenopausal women with a history of early-stage breast cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2004;50(2):161-167. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327914nc5002_5
  • 5
    Meissner HO, Mscisz A, Reich-Bilinska H, et al. Hormone-Balancing Effect of Pre-Gelatinized Organic Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon): (II) Physiological and Symptomatic Responses of Early-Postmenopausal Women to Standardized doses of Maca in Double Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Multi-Centre Clinical Study. Int J Biomed Sci. 2006;2(4):360-374.
  • 6
    Shams T, Setia MS, Hemmings R, McCusker J, Sewitch M, Ciampi A. Efficacy of black cohosh-containing preparations on menopausal symptoms: a meta-analysis. Altern Ther Health Med. 2010;16(1):36-44.
  • 7
    Rebbeck TR, Troxel AB, Norman S, et al. A retrospective case-control study of the use of hormone-related supplements and association with breast cancer. Int J Cancer. 2007;120(7):1523-1528. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijc.22485
  • 8
    Kostov K. Effects of Magnesium Deficiency on Mechanisms of Insulin Resistance in Type 2 Diabetes: Focusing on the Processes of Insulin Secretion and Signaling. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(6):1351. Published 2019 Mar 18. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20061351

This article is provided by

The Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. INM’s mission is to transform health care in the United States by increasing public awareness of natural medicine and access to naturopathic doctors. Naturopathic medicine, with its person-centered principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness overwhelming healthcare systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain optimal lifelong health. INM strives to fulfil this mission through the following initiatives:

  • Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of evidence-based natural medicine
  • Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
  • Research – Expand quality research on this complex and comprehensive system of medicine

About The Author(s)

Author

Mona Fahoum, ND

Dr. Mona Fahoum, owner of Meridian Medicine and Essential Wellness, specializes in preventive care, women’s health, and hormones. She’s a Bastyr University graduate with an advanced certification in Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement. In addition to her clinics, she’s the Clinical Services Director at the Bastyr Center and has been adjunct faculty at Bastyr University. She’s a past WANP president and consults for Symphony Natural Health, focusing on women’s health.

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