During numerous instances of her life, including post-pregnancy, starting or discontinuing hormonal birth control, and menopause, a woman’s hormones are likely to become imbalanced. Symptoms of hormonal imbalance can range from inability to gain/lose weight, irregular periods, and loss of libido, to digestive issues and hair loss. Most hormones throughout the female body come from the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, the adrenals, and the ovaries.
Over the past five decades, endocrine-related disorders and cancers have been dramatically increasing, and this could definitely be related to the some 800 chemicals that are “known or suspected to be capable of interfering with hormone receptors, hormone synthesis or hormone conversion” that humans come into contact with regularly.
Common Endocrine Disorders
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Affecting approximately 5 million American women of child-bearing age, PCOS remains one of the most common endocrine disorders. Many symptoms of PCOS has an underlying hormonal cause. For example, abnormally high levels of androgens, or male sex hormones, can result in unwanted hair growth (most often seen on the chin, upper lip, and tummy) and trouble conceiving. Low levels of progesterone exhibit itself with symptoms like weight gain, decreased sex drive, and painful and irregular periods. Estrogen dominance is often associated with PCOS and presents itself with symptoms like bloating, mood swings, headaches, hair loss, and fatigue.
Affecting approximately 10 million Americans, hypothyroidism is twice as common as PCOS. Known as an underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism is characterized by a thyroid secreting an insufficient amount of the thyroid hormone. Symptoms are vast and varying, depending on the patient, but the ones most likely to be seen are chronic insomnia, weight struggles, temperature regulation issue, poor skin and immune system health, gallbladder disease, and depression.
Also called chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s happens when the body begins attacking the thyroid gland, causing it to swell. This disorder affects approximately 14 million people in the United States, alone. Estrogen dominance is a characteristic often seen in those suffering Hashimoto’s, and this is one reason a high percentage of Hashimoto’s patients are also eventually diagnosed with PCOS. Common symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis are unexplained weight gain, enlarged thyroid, fatigue, slow heart rate, and swelling in the extremities.
Common Causes of Estrogen Dominance
Today’s go, go, go lifestyle filled with synthetic materials and synthetic drugs is the leading cause of hormonal imbalances in developed countries, and why they are only on the rise. Nearly half of all Americans would say that their stress levels have increased over the last five years, and while cortisol can have its benefits, overproduction of it can lead to serious hormonal issues. Because cortisol and progesterone compete for receptor sites, chronic stress blockades the body from utilizing the progesterone, eventually leading to estrogen dominance.
According to the National Institute of Health, our delicate balance of hormones is seriously at risk, “in part because a growing number of contaminants in the environment can accumulate in exposed individuals and may have adverse consequences due to their action as endocrine disrupting chemicals.” These endocrine disrupters, known as xenoestrogens, can be found all throughout products intended for daily use, such as BPA in plastic and canned foods, certain flame retardants in clothing, and synthetic estrogen, stemming from hormonal contraceptives, in drinking water. And, because hormonal contraceptives are directly dosing your body with synthetic hormones, it is no surprise that these have the ability to cause imbalance with the naturally occurring ones. Studies have found birth control capable of altering libido, triggering mental illness, and even hair loss [6,7,8].
Common symptoms of estrogen dominance are infertility/decreased fertility, loss of libido, depression or anxiety, ovarian cysts, acne, excessive fatigue, and bloating.
Unbalanced hormones have just become a way of life for so many millions of women. Because many are told that there is no cure to their suffering, they’re left addressing the symptoms, only putting a bandage on a gaping wound – covering the root of the problem. I have discovered that there is a way to balance hormones, naturally and gently by harnessing the power of the earth. As Thomas Edison once said, “The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but will rather cure and prevent disease with nutrition.
1. Maca Root
The root of the maca plant, a vegetable closely related to broccoli, kale, and cauliflower, grows natively in the Andes and has grown most popular because of its hormone balancing properties. Indigenous South Americans have long consumed this root, commonly referred to as Peruvian ginseng, for many different reasons, such as enhancing libido and fertility, increasing energy, promoting mental clarity, treating erectile dysfunction, and supporting women overall. One study, examining maca’s beneficial effects on hormonal women, concluded that maca was a “valuable non-hormonal plant preparation for balancing levels of hormones“. Maca alleviated symptoms like hot flushes, incidence in night sweating, interrupted sleep pattern, nervousness, depression and heart palpitations. One of the more frustrating symptoms signaling a hormone imbalance, that can also be seen in women taking antidepressants, is sexual dysfunction and loss of libido. Taking the root daily demonstrated improvement in sexual function and resulted in a significant improvement in libido and orgasm.
Purchase a quality maca root powder here.
Oat straw, also known as Avena sativa, is the green and unripened stem and leaves of the plant. Most people recognize this plant for the common oat, the grain which grows and develops when it is left to fully ripen. With a longstanding history of being used medicinally throughout Europe, oat straw boasts a lengthy list of benefits for women, including the ability to treat osteoporosis and mood disorders, balance the hormones, and reduce cramping during menstruation and the frequency of headaches [11, 12]. Oatstraw is so gentle that its even been recommended during pregnancy, and is proven to help balance the hormones. Specifically, oatstraw stimulates the release of the luteinizing hormone, whose production is required all throughout the menstrual cycle. Regular intake of the incredible Avena sativa can yield benefits like mood enhancement, stress relief, and more restful sleep.
One small warning, because I am a gluten-free website, while oats are naturally gluten-free and Celiac safe, their processing and manufacturing makes them potentially unsafe for those with gluten sensitivities.
Purchase a quality oatstraw powder here.
3. Catuaba Bark
The bark of the Catuaba, several species of trees that grow natively in South America, has been traditionally used by indigenous Brazilian tribes for generations in treating ailments like fatigue, memory deficits, impotence, and depression. This bark is most definitely a supplement that every woman should consider, as it offers countless benefit to us, specifically. Catuaba has the ability to ease pain during menstruation and, most especially, aid in the increased production of dopamine and, in the human body, sex hormones and neurotransmitters are involved in a delicate dance. Increased dopamine may have antidepressant-like effects, and could “increase sexual desire in women”[17,18]. When it comes to catuaba bark, certain species can have different therapeutic effects. For example, Bignoniaceae can be used to ease severe menstrual cramps, as well as for diminishing pain during birth, Phyllanthaceae is recognized for balancing the thyroid, and Apocynaceae for treating low libido.
Purchase a quality catuaba bark powder here.
4. Ashwagandha Root
Ashwagandha, a fruiting plant of the nightshade family, grows natively in the Ayurveda, a country located in India. Known fondly as “a rejuvenator of Ayurveda”, the Ashwagandha root has really made a name for itself in Indian medicine. In modern medicine, Ashwagandha is recognized as an adaptogen, a natural compound that helps make the body more resistant to stress and cortisol production. By targeting the area of the brain where the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands meet, this root has the ability to offer a protective effect against stress. By regulating the hormones, Ashwagandha has the ability to ease menopausal symptoms naturally as well as improve the sexuality of women[23,24]. Traditionally, in Ayurveda, Ashwagandha root has also been used as a galactagogue, or an herb that increases breastmilk production, to support new mothers.
Purchase a quality Ashwagandha Root powder here.
5. Muira puama
Muira puama is a flowering plant that grows natively in the Amazon rainforest, and is often referred to as the “Viagra of the Rainforest”, because of its potent ability to boost libido in both sexes. Studies have referenced its enormous potential for use against stress, depression, and as an aphrodisiac. Another scientific adaptogen, Muira puama helps protect the body against stress, and because it is high in sterols, the foundation for hormones, this herb aids in balancing them. When studied, 65% of women reported an increase in libido after just one month of use, and by increasing blood flow to the pelvis, Muira puama also increases sensitivity, pleasure, and orgasm.
Purchase a quality Muira puama powder here.
After suffering the hallmark signs of hormonal imbalance long enough, I finally decided to take charge of my health through diet and nutrition. After heavy research, and experimentation, How He’s Raised is proud to introduce our newest product for a healthier you: HerLIBIDO [available here]. Filled with only a blend of 5 miraculous natural herbs, Maca root, Oatstraw, Catuaba Bark, Ashwagandha Root, and Muira Puama, HerLIBIDO is guaranteed to offer something to women of all walks of life. Now backed by scientific evidence, as explained above, these herbs have been used for generations for balancing hormones, boosting libido, improving orgasm, magnifying energy, and enhancing mood.
As with all herbs, pregnant, nursing, or women taking medications are encouraged to consult their doctor before use.
Until next time,
1. Environmental Health Perspectives The Impact of Endocrine Disruption: A Consensus Statement on the State of the Science
2. NCBI High Prevalence of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis in Patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Does the Imbalance Between Estradiol and Progesterone Play a Role?
3. American Psychological Association Stressed in America
4. Nature Medicine Cortisol Blockage of Progesterone: A Possible Molecular Mechanism Involved in the Initiation of Human Labor
5. NCBI Endocrine Disruptors: A Review of Some Sources, Effects, and Mechanisms of Actions on Behavior and Neuroendicrine Systems
6. Obstetrics & Gynecology Sexual Desire and Hormonal Contraception
7. JAMA Network Association of Hormonal Contraception with Depression
8. American Hair Loss Association Oral Contraceptives
9. NCBI Therapeutic Effects of Pre-Gelatinized Maca (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon) Used as a Non-Hormonal Alternative to HRT in Premenopausal Women – Clinical Pilot Study
10. Hindawi A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial as Maca Root for Treatment for Antidepressant-Induced Sexual Dysfunction in Women
11. Scholars Research Library Study of Pharmacological Effect of Avena Sativa: A Review
12. Pelagia Research Library Diversified Therapeutic Potential of Avena Sativa: An Exhaustive Review
13. NCBI Use of Lipid-Lowering Medicinal Herbs During Pregnancy: A Systematic Review on Safety and Dosage
14. IOSR Journal of Pharmacy Medicinal Plants Affected Male and Female Fertility (Part 1): A Review
15. Regis University Fibromyalgia: An Exploration of Herbs for Treatment
16. Hindawi Antinociceptive Activity of Trichilia Catigua Hydroalcoholic Extract: New Evidence on its Dopaminergic Effects
17. NCBI Antidepressant-Like Effects of Trichilia Catigua (Catuaba) Extracts: Dopaminergic-Mediated Mechanisms
18. NCBI Female Sexual Dysfunction: Therapeutic Options and Experimental Challenges
19. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Medicinal Plants of the Guianas (Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana)
20. Journal of Ayurvedic and Herbal Medicine Herbal Approach to Management of Thyroid Disease: A Review
21. International Journal of Green Pharmacy Indian Tribe’s and Villager’s Health and Habits: Popularity of Apocynaceae Plants as Medicine
22. PLOS One Triethylene Glycol, an Active Component of Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) Leaves, is Responsible for Sleep Induction
23. NCBI Clinical Evaluation of Ashokarishta, Ashwagandha Churna and Praval Pishti in the Management of Menopausal Syndrome
24. NCBI Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) Root Extract in Improving Sexual Function in Women: A Pilot Study
25. Drugs.com Withania Use while Breastfeeding
26. Sci ELO Mophoanatomy and Pharmacognostic Study of the Wood of Croton Echioides, the Northeastern Marapuama
27. NCBI Brazilian Plants as Possible Adaptogens: An Ethnopharmacological Survey of Books Edited in Brazil
28. NCBI Effects of Herbal vX on Libido and Sexual Activity in Premenopausal and Postmenopausal Women