Hormonal shifts are a natural part of the female reproductive cycle. Female sex hormones are chemical messengers released within the body to help support ovulation, pregnancy, mood and sex drive. Depending on where a woman is at in her reproductive cycle, she may see dramatic fluctuations in the sex hormones, specifically estrogen and progesterone. Hormonal shifts can contribute to changes in mood, energy levels, acne, water retention and PMS.
As women draw closer to menopause there is a significant decrease in sex hormone production and women may experience symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia, brain fog and irritability. All this fluctuation may leave you feeling vulnerable and defeated by your own hormones.Luckily there are many herbal allies available to women to support hormonal production and promote hormonal balance within the body.
When it comes to hormonal balance herbs are quite amazing! There are a large variety of medicinal herbs that have the ability to bring the female sex hormones back into balance, offering respite from many common symptoms and complaints during the fertility years, through menopause and beyond. Here are some of my favorite herbs to use when the female hormones need support.
Perhaps one of the most well-known of the hormone balancing herbs is Vitex (Vitex Angus-Castus), also known as Chaste Tree. Vitex has the ability to stimulate and balance the pituitary gland primarily in its relationship to the female sex hormones. It has a normalizing effect on female hormone balance, supporting the hormonal release from the ovaries in the second half of the reproductive cycle.
It is a well-known remedy for PMS, specifically when progesterone support is needed, is useful for painful and heavy periods and re-establishing hormonal balance post contraceptive pill.
Maca (Lepidium Meyenii) is an herb native to Peru with a rich nutritional content, containing amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. It is most well known as an adaptogen herb, a category of herbs which helps to modulate the body’s stress response and increase energy. In addition to its nutrients content and adaptogenic effects, maca has strong hormonal balancing properties. It has been shown to increase estradiol, decrease hot flashes and night sweats, and increase sex drive.
Hormone expert Dr. Sara Gottfried states “Maca (Lepidum meyenii) is one of those ancient wonder foods that your grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother was probably using to cure “female” problems way back in the day. The sweet, somewhat chalky tasting fruit has been shown to help with insomnia, energy, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, libido, and even anxiety and depression”.
The herb Licorice (Glyccyrrhiza Glabra) has a long list of medicinal uses. It is antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic, although many are unfamiliar with its hormone balancing properties. Licorice is rich in isoflavones, plant components that are both antioxidant and estrogenic in nature. The estrogenic qualities of licorice provide a modulating effect on hormones, increasing estrogens when too low and decreasing estrogens when too high. Like maca, it is both adaptogenic and hormonal balancing making it an ideal remedy for both PMS and menopausal symptoms.
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa) is an herb with a strong affinity to female reproductive health. It contains antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. It has been traditionally used during labor and child birth and to reduce hot flashes associated with menopause. Black cohosh also has a relaxing effect on the uterus making it useful for menstrual cr Doctor and herbalist Aviva Romm recommends black cohosh’s for use in painful periods, “We typically hear about black cohosh for menopause, but it’s another classic herb not just for menstrual cramping and pain, but low back ache and that pulling sensation in the backs of the thighs that sometimes accompanies period pain, and it may boost your mood a little, too, without being stimulating, because it increases dopamine.”
Herbs in Daily Practice
Now that you know a little about herbs for hormonal balancing, how do you apply them to a regular practice for overall support? There are many practical ways that women can include hormone balancing herbs into their health routine. Tea is one easy way to bring herbs into a daily practice. Whether it’s a relaxing evening treat or a health enhancing tonic, tea is a convenient and practical way to incorporate the healing benefits of herbs into your life.
You can use hormone balancing herbs such as vitex and licorice alone or blended together of your favorite herbal teas. Pair vitex with your favorite calming nervine herbs such as chamomile (Matricaria Chamomille) and lemon balm (Melissa Offcinalis) to help soothe your central nervous system and support hormone balance throughout the body. Licorice's sweet taste makes it especially pleasant to drink as tea and it is a great herb to add to just about any blend to bring flavor and richness. Create a daily hormone tonic, by pairing licorice with raspberry leaf (Rubus Idaes), nettles (Urtica Dioica) and oatstraw (Avena Sativa). These herbs are rich in minerals and are toning to the female reproductive system.
One of my favorite ways to use herbs is as a food. Many medicinal herbs are regularly used in cooking to enhance flavor, such as turmeric and garlic but you can also utilize herbal powders in food preparation to access the healing power. Herbal powders are an easy way to incorporate healing herbs into your hormonal balancing protocol. Smoothies are a great vehicle for herbal powders. Hormone balancing maca has a sweet, malty flavor making it the perfect super food addition to your morning smoothie. Add your favorite protein powder, fresh or frozen berries, nut milk and 1-2 tablespoons of maca powder and you have a nutrient dense, hormone balancing smoothie.
You can use your favorite herbal powder as a medicinal addition to an easy to make super food energy bite. Try adding licorice and/or maca powder to your favorite nut butter. Mix in some dried coconut and cocoa powder and shape into small size balls that can be eaten as a quick super food snack or hormonal balancing energy booster. Herbal powders can also be blended into rich flavored beverages to enhance vitality and provide hormone support. Hormonal balancing maca and licorice can blend well into your favorite latte or chai drinks for a delicious tasting hot beverage with medicinal benefit.
If teas and herb powders are not the right fit for you, herbal tinctures are another way to support your hormonal needs. Tinctures are liquid herbal extracts which rapidly assimilate into the bloodstream, providing fast relief for acute conditions. When dealing with menstrual cramps, a tincture of black cohosh can provide hormonal help by giving you fast relief from pain and spasm, letting you get on with your day. With the help of herbs, women can find many useful allies to achieve hormonal balance and optimize health.
Are you ready to start balancing your hormones by accessing the healing power of herbs? As a clinically trained herbalist, I know exactly how to combine the right type of herbs for your health needs. I regularly custom formulate for my clients to help with issues such as hormone balance, adrenal fatigue, colds and flu and nervous system support. The benefit of a custom blend is that it is made just for you and your specific health issues. This personalized approach to medicine allows you to experience better symptom relief and quicker healing results. Contact me about custom tincture formulation and start experiencing the many benefits of medicinal herbs today!