Hormonal balance is vital to our health, but it can be disrupted in many ways. While we all face naturally-occurring fluctuations like puberty, menopause, and perimenopause, hormonal imbalances can also happen as a result of exposure to toxins, an unbalanced lifestyle (like poor sleep or diet, stress, and inactivity), or thyroid issues or diabetes. Regardless, it’s important to understand what causes them, and how they can be dealt with.
Conventional treatments for hormonal imbalances typically consist of synthetic hormone replacement therapies, birth control pills, insulin injections, thyroid medications, and more, but the majority of people suffering from hormonal disorders relying on such treatments often deal with some unfortunate downsides. These treatments can cause people to feel dependent on taking prescription drugs for the rest of their lives in order to ensure they keep their symptoms under control.
They can also serve as a mere bandaid for their symptoms —masking the issue but not solving it, even causing the individual to develop abnormalities in other areas of the body while the disorder progresses. Furthermore, they can put people at a higher risk for serious side effects like stroke, osteoporosis, anxiety, reproductive problems, and cancer. So what’s the alternative?
Thankfully, there are a plethora of ways to balance hormones naturally. First, you’ll need to be aware of the symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance, then the root causes, and finally, how you can treat the problem without the negative side effects caused by synthetic treatments.
How To Know If You Have A Hormonal Imbalance
Symptoms can range drastically depending on what type of disorder or illness you have, but among the most common signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalances are:
- Infertility and irregular periods
- Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- Depression and anxiety
- Low libido
- Changes in appetite
- Digestive issues
- Hair loss and hair thinning
Common Problems Associated With Hormonal Imbalances
- Estrogen dominance: is linked to changes in sleep patterns, weight and appetite, an increase in stress, a slowed metabolism
- Low estrogen: is linked to a low sex drive, reproductive problems, menstrual irregularity, changes in mood
- Hypothyroidism: is linked to a slowed metabolism, weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, digestive issues, irregular periods
- Low testosterone: is linked to erectile dysfunction, muscle loss, weight gain, fatigue, mood-related problems
- Hyperthyroidism: is linked to anxiety, thinning hair, weight loss, IBS, trouble sleeping, irregular heartbeats
- Diabetes: is linked to weight gain, nerve damage (neuropathy), higher risk for vision loss, fatigue, trouble breathing, dry mouth, skin problems
- Adrenal fatigue: is linked to fatigue, muscle aches and pains, anxiety and depression, trouble sleeping, brain fog, reproductive problems
What Causes Hormonal Imbalances
Hormonal imbalances are the result of a combination of factors, including:
- Poor gut health and food allergies: More research is linking gut health to hormone regulation.
- Inflammation as a result of poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle
- Genetic susceptibility
- Toxicity in the form of exposure to pesticides, toxins, viruses, cigarettes, excessive alcohol, and harmful chemicals
- Excessive amounts of stress, as well as a lack of rest
Natural Treatments For Hormonal Imbalances
1. Consume Healthy Fats
Your body requires different types of fats — including saturated fat and cholesterol — to create hormones that help keep inflammation levels low, boost metabolism, and promote weight loss. Coconut oil and avocado are great sources.
2. Incorporate Healing Herbs
Adaptogen herbs are a class of healing plants that work to promote hormone balance and fight off various diseases. Research has found that various adapotogens can improve thyroid function, reduce anxiety and depression, support adrenal gland functions, and more.
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3. Improve Your Gut Health
Taking care of the gut is becoming of increasing concern, especially since it’s been found to cause autoimmune reactions, including arthritis and thyroid disorders. Many things contribute to an unhealthy gut, including:
- Antibiotics and medications like birth control
- Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and processed foods
- Diets low in fermentable fibers
- Dietary toxins such as industrial seed oils
- Chronic stress
- Chronic infections
4. Avoid Conventional Body Care Products
Many commercial products are laden with potentially-harmful chemicals including: DEA, parabens, propylene glycol, and sodium lauryl sulfate. Instead, do your research and find natural products made with essential oils, coconut oil, shea butter, and castor oil.
5. Exercise Regularly (Especially Interval Training)
High intensity interval training (HIIT) has been popularized in recent years for its ability to quickly and efficiently get and keep the body in shape, but the University of Notre Dame Medical School in Sydney also discovered that: “HIT is associated with increased patient compliance and improved cardiovascular and metabolic outcomes and is suitable for implementation in both healthy and ‘at risk’ populations.”
6. Sleep More, Stress Less
Seems easier said than done, right? But not getting enough sleep can mess with your hormone schedule. Cortisol, for example, is the primary stress hormone, and is regulated at midnight. If people go to bed late, they never find relief from their sympathetic flight/fight stress response. One report published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism found that: “Stress can lead to changes in the serum level of many hormones including glucocorticoids, catecholamines, growth hormone and prolactin.”
7. Limit Your Caffeine And Alcohol Consumption
Caffeine can stay in your system for up to six hours, and the chemical can affect the central nervous system, raising your heart rate, increasing alertness, and altering the way your brain produces hormones.
We’ve come to accept synthetic treatments as our first step toward bettering our health, but what’s even more important is understanding your condition, what causes it, and taking holistic approaches before succumbing to anything else.
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