If you’re a woman looking to balance hormones naturally you’re in the right place. Your hormones regulate everything from your mood to your metabolism so you can best believe that it’s worth your while learning how they work and get them functioning properly.
Understanding Hormones: What You Need to Know
When the word ‘hormones’ is used, most of us think of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. The truth is that healthy balanced hormones are not just reproductive hormones, but also adrenal, thyroid, liver, digestive and intestinal.
They all have to be maintained in a state of homeostasis (balance) and if one is thrown off it sets off a cascade of events.
Hormone balance tests
The only way to know 100% that you have a hormonal imbalance is to get tested. You can have the tests done with your OBGYN or do them yourself with a convenient lab testing kit from EverlyWell.
If you go through your OBGYN I would suggest getting the following tests done:
- Full Hormone Panel : that includes tests for estrogen, progesterone, FSH and LH
- Full Thyroid Panel : that includes tests for – TSH (Thyroid-stimulating hormone) , Free T3 (free and total triiodothyronine) , T4 (free and total thyroxine) , Thyroid antibody test
- General blood test – making sure it includes testing for iron levels and C-reactive proteins which are an indicator for inflammation.
- Vitamin D3 test
- Blood sugar test
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance
The symptoms of hormonal imbalance will vary depending on which glands and hormones are primarily affected but here are some common symptoms to look out for :
- Heavy or irregular periods – this including menstrual cycles which are extremely short or long and periods which have gone missing for more than 3 months
- Hirsutism – excessive hair on the face, chin, or other parts of the body
- Acne on the face, chest, or upper back
- Thinning hair or hair loss
- Fatigue and brain fog
- Low libido
- Insomnia and poor sleep patterns
- Night sweats and hot flashes
What it means to have balanced hormones
When your endocrine system is functioning as it should, much like an orchestra in harmony you will experience the following:
- You spend your day feeling calm and energized. You don’t feel stressed or overwhelmed.
- Periods are not necessarily 28 days apart, but they are regular.
- You go to sleep at a reasonable hour and sleep through the night, getting 7-8 hours of sleep (it is fine to have an afternoon nap when needed, as that is part of our natural sleep cycle).
- You have good brain function – the fog has lifted and your memory and focus are regular.
- Your hair grows where it is supposed to grow and not elsewhere.
- Your muscles and joints are not sore and you feel limber.
- Your skin is clear and smooth and not dry.
- You maintain a good sex drive and you function as you should.
How to Balance Hormones Naturally
At this point you might be wondering … What does it take for this to occur? How do I balance my hormones naturally?!
Well as you’ve already learned there are many hormonal ‘systems’ and in order to balance hormones naturally you must support them all.
Let’s take a look at what can be done naturally to balance your hormones.
1) Nutrition for balanced hormones
My mantra is always – food first! Hormonal harmony greatly depends on the quality of our nutrition. The best diet for balanced hormones is one which provides an adequate supply of macro & micro nutrients and isn’t inflammatory for you.
That said there are certain foods and supplements you should consume to support your entire endocrine system and achieve hormone harmony.
Hormone Balancing Foods
These foods include but are not limited to :
- Cooked leafy greens/cruciferous veggies
- Eggs (pastured)
- Collagen protein found in Bone broth & Collagen Peptides
- Fats from cold-water fish, grass-fed meat grass-fed butter, ghee and avocados.
- Grass-fed organ meats
Cycle Sync Your Diet
As far as nutrition goes we can go one step further and Cycle Sync our diet to balance hormones naturally.
Cycle syncing is when we adapt our nutrition to each phase of the menstrual cycle.
Cycle Syncing is beneficial for all women because it is the only diet / way of eating that is safe for women’s hormones. It’s one that responds to your hormonal fluctuations each and every week in real time.
Cycle syncing is all about knowing which foods to consume at each phase of the menstrual cycle. Here is a general idea of the types of foods you would eat and when but for a full list of foods with recipes please visit – How to Cycle Sync Your Diet
- Menstrual Phase – Cooked anti inflammatory foods
- Follicular Phase – Fresh, light, raw foods
- Ovulatory Phase – Detoxifying probiotic rich foods
- Luteal Phase – Warming foods & spices
What’s great about the Cycle Syncing method is that it doesn’t impose restrictions on the quantity or type of macronutrients that should be consumed. It is more about WHEN you eat certain foods. So you can cycle sync a high fat low carb diet, or a Paleo diet or even a Vegan diet.
What’s important is that you consume the right types of food at the right times of the month to maintain hormonal balance.
2) Seed Cycling
Seed cycling or seed rotation is a food as medicine protocol that involves consuming certain seeds at specific times of the menstrual cycle.
3) Oil Cycling
Similar to seed cycling is oil cycling. Oil cycling is yet another food as medicine protocol which can balance your hormones naturally. Some of my clients find it simpler to implement than seed cycling and perhaps you might too.
How to do Oil Cycling :
In the first half of the menstrual cycle (Days 1 to 14 approx) fish oils work to influence estrogen production
In the second half of the menstrual cycle (Days 15 to 29 approx) Borage/Primrose oils work to influence progesterone production.
4) Reduce Toxin Exposure for balanced hormones
Endocrine Disruptors in personal care products could be wreaking havoc on your hormones causing you to feel awful and have a less than stellar menstrual cycle. If you truly want to balance your hormones naturally you must take a closer look at the products you use on your skin and hair along with the products you use in your home. Start replacing them with cost effective simple greener alternatives.
For a full list of toxic ingredients to avoid and safer alternatives see this post on endocrine disruptors in personal care products.
full moon – signals ovulation new moon – menstruation
Lunaception is a technique that came about in the late 1970s by Louise Lacey. She had been on the pill and when she came off had irregular cycles. She began researching circadian rhythm and saw an experiment where a physicist had found that women’s menstrual cycles became regular by sleeping in complete darkness for 13 days, sleeping with a 100-watt bulb burning all night (under a lampshade in their bedroom) on days 14-17, and then returning to sleeping in complete darkness until the new period began. She tried a few variations of this and she together with 27 other women were able to direct their fertility.
How to do Lunaception
If your cycle is irregular
- sleep in complete darkness for one to two months to help reset the body.
- the day before the full moon, allow a small amount of light into the room. Natural moonlight through a window is best, otherwise try and find a very white, yet dim nightlight for your room.
- do this for 3 days, then go back to sleeping in complete darkness until the next full moon.
If you already have a regular or semi-regular cycle of 28 to 30 days:
keep following your cycle and on days 14-16 sleep with a small amount of light in the room.
What is complete darkness?
- Fifteen minutes after turning out the lights, you can’t see objects in the room, including your own hands.
- Bedroom windows are covered with room-darkening blinds or curtains backed by light-blocking fabric.
- Cracks of light from under doors can be covered with a towel.
- Cracks around the edges of windows can be covered with aluminum foil.
- Cover up alarm clocks and any other sources of light in the room.
- If you often get up at night to use the restroom, place dim nightlights in the hallway and bathroom and refrain from turning on overhead lights.
This technique has worked for me so I can say with confidence that it may take a few months, but eventually your cycle should sync.
How to balance hormones naturally to lose weight
Your hormones regulate everything from your mood to your metabolism. Diet is your number one tool when it comes to losing weight.
Eat for hormonal balance and weight loss will be an inevitable side effect. You won’t have to fight it and you won’t get caught up on the hampster wheel of the latest diets and gimmicks. None of those fad diets out there are sustainable or helping your hormones.
How to balance hormones naturally for acne
Many women in my practice, myself included have gotten rid of adult and hormonal acne by eliminating dairy, gluten and sugar from our diet. These foods can be inflammatory for many and chronic inflammation throws hormones out of whack. The only way to know how your body is affected by these foods is to completely eliminate them for at least 3 months.
How to balance hormones naturally after the pill
The pill depletes your body of vital nutrients and messes with your gut flora. That’s why after coming off the pill you may find that your acne and other symptoms which were masked by the synthetic hormones are even worse.
To successfully balance your hormones after the pill you will need to replenish micronutrient levels and give your liver (main detoxification organ) and your gut much love.
How to balance hormones naturally after pregnancy
Did you know that the postpartum hormone drop is considered the single largest sudden hormone change in the shortest amount of time for any human being, at any point of their life cycle?
According to Aviva Romm during pregnancy, our estrogen and progesterone increase to the level of something like taking a hundred birth-control pills a day. By about three days postpartum you’re essentially back to a baseline that is close to non-pregnant. Because estrogen and progesterone are going from so escalated to normal it can cause huge emotional changes.
As a mom of two I have certainly experienced this first hand and what has helped to keep me grounded is nutrition. Making sure that my diet was well balanced with each meal containing an ample serving of protein, veggies, smart carbs and fat helped me to quickly feel myself again.
Seed cycling also worked wonders for my cycle postpartum.