Keeping your hormones balanced is an important part of maintaining your health. Your hormones are the chemical messengers of your body. They are produced in the endocrine glands and travel through your bloodstream to different tissues and organs, delivering messages that tell the organs what to do and when to do it.
Hormones help to control many of your body’s major processes. They regulate metabolism and appetite, influence your sleeping and waking cycle, effect your mood and stress levels, control your body temperature, play a role in reproductive cycles, influence growth and development and much more.
Numerous factors can influence your hormonal balance—environmental toxins, hormone-disrupting chemicals, and the stress of modern life to name a few. A hormonal imbalance occurs when you have too much or too little of a certain hormone in the bloodstream. As the body is so dependent on hormones for instruction, even small changes in hormones can have serious effects throughout your entire body.
Men and women can both be affected by imbalances in insulin, steroids, growth hormones, and adrenaline. Women may also experience imbalances in estrogen and progesterone levels, while men are more likely to experience imbalances in testosterone levels.
What Causes Hormonal Imbalance?
Everyone will experience natural periods of hormonal imbalance or fluctuations at particular points in their life, but hormonal imbalances can also occur when the endocrine glands are not functioning properly.
Endocrine glands are specialized cells that produce, store, and release hormones into the blood. There are several endocrine glands located throughout the body that control different organs. The most common factors that can lead to a hormonal imbalance include:
- chronic or extreme stress
- type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- hyperglycemia (overproduction of glucagon)
- hypoglycemia (more insulin produced than there is glucose in the blood)
- underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
- overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
- over- or underproduction of the parathyroid hormone
- poor diet and nutrition
- being overweight
- hormonal replacement or birth control medications
- abuse of anabolic steroid medications
- solitary thyroid nodules
- pituitary tumors
- Cushing’s syndrome (high levels of the hormone cortisol)
- Addison’s disease (low levels of cortisol and aldosterone)
- benign tumors and cysts (fluid-filled sacks) that affect the endocrine glands
- congenital adrenal hyperplasia (low levels of cortisol)
- endocrine gland injury
- severe allergic reactions or infections
- cancers that involve endocrine glands
- chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- iodine deficiency (goiters)
- hereditary pancreatitis
- Turner syndrome (females with only one functioning X chromosome)
- Prader-Willi syndrome
- phytoestrogens, naturally-occurring plant estrogens found in soy products
- exposure to toxins, pollutants, and endocrine disrupting chemicals, including pesticides and herbicides
As you can see, there are many things that can throw your hormones out of balance. This is why it’s important to understand what disrupts hormones, as well as how you can keep your hormones balanced.
If you’d like to learn more about the symptoms of hormonal imbalance you can read more in our article “What Are the Signs of Hormonal Imbalance?".
How to Restore Balance to Your Hormones
To bring your hormones back into balance, and to maintain hormonal balance, it is recommended to follow holistic dietary and lifestyle practices that promote health, and avoid the causes and triggers of hormonal imbalance mentioned above. Some important steps to take are to:
- Reduce stress levels and find ways to manage your stress
- Eat a healthy, whole foods diet and avoid processed foods and foods with added chemicals
- Exercise regularly
- Stay hydrated
- Make sure you get enough sleep each night
- Aim to follow a regular sleeping schedule
- Avoid exposure to toxins, pollutants, and endocrine disrupting chemicals, including pesticides and herbicides
- Cleanse the body regularly to lower your toxic load
Diet and lifestyle are always foundational for our health and the first place to start for healing any condition. There are, however, times when other means are necessary or helpful to support the healing process. Nature provides us with countless medicinal herbs that can support the healing of many body systems—including our hormones.
While men and women share many of the same hormones, there are also some notable differences. For this reason, herbs that are used to influence women’s hormones are generally different from herbs that are used to benefit men’s hormonal health. In this article, we are going to discuss the top herbs for women’s hormonal health.
Best Herbs for Female Hormonal Balance
Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) is a common herbal remedy used for a variety of women’s health problems. Vitex is the name of the largest genus in the Verbenaceae plant family, which includes over 250 species worldwide. Vitex agnus-castus is the most common vitex used medicinally.
The fruit of the Vitex agnus-castus, also called the chaste tree, is known as chasteberry, or monk’s pepper, and it is the part of the plant that is most commonly used as medicine—though other parts of the plant are sometimes used as well. Some of the women’s health problems that chasteberry is used for include:
- premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- menstrual disorders
- nursing difficulties
Interestingly, uses of chasteberry for women’s health go back as far as ancient Greece.
One of the most common uses of chasteberry is its ability to reduce symptoms of PMS, and there has been much research on this particular use. Researchers believe that chasteberry works by decreasing levels of the hormone prolactin. This helps rebalance other hormones, including estrogen and progesterone — thus reducing PMS symptoms.
In one study, women with PMS took chasteberry during three consecutive menstrual cycles. In total, 93 percent of those given vitex reported a decrease in PMS symptoms.
Chasteberry may also improve female fertility due to its influence on prolactin levels. This may be especially true in women with luteal phase defect, or a shortened second half of the menstrual cycle. This disorder is linked to abnormally high prolactin levels and makes it difficult for women to become pregnant.
In one study, 40 women with abnormally high prolactin levels were given either 40 mg of chasteberry or a pharmaceutical drug. The study concluded that chasteberry was as effective as the drug in reducing prolactin levels.
Evening primrose oil is made from the seeds of the flowers of the primrose plant native to North America. It has been studied extensively for women’s hormonal health and various studies consider it to be highly effective in treating premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.
Researchers believe that the healing benefits of evening primrose may be due to its gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) content. GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid found in plant oils. GLA converts to a substance in the body (prostaglandin E1) thought to help prevent prolactin from triggering PMS.
Evening primrose oil may also reduce the severity of hot flashes, one of the most uncomfortable side effects of menopause. One study found that women who took 500 mg daily of evening primrose oil for six weeks experienced less frequent, less severe, and shorter hot flashes.
Shatavari root (Asparagus racemosus) is a traditional Ayurvedic herb that has long been used for women’s reproductive health throughout all stages of their life; it is also a potent adaptogenic herb that helps to regulate the endocrine system, enhance immunity, and helps the body cope with physical and emotional stress.
Shatavari is a member of the asparagus family. As an adaptogenic herb, it can help regulate your hormones and help your body cope with physical and emotional stress. It is also rich in antioxidants which help prevent free-radical cell damage.
Shatavari is commonly used in Ayurveda as an immunity booster. According to a 2004 study, animals treated with shatavari root extract had increased antibodies to a strain of whooping cough when compared to untreated animals. The treated animals recovered faster and had improved health overall. This suggested an improved immune response.
Interstingly, shatavari is also commonly used to treat depression. This traditional use was supported by a 2009 study on rodents that found the antioxidants in shatavari have strong antidepressant abilities. They also impacted neurotransmitters in the brain, some of which are associated with depression.
Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa L.) is a vine native to North America, Mexico, and parts of Asia that has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy for treating menstrual cramps, PMS, rheumatism, and digestive problems.
Wild yam has dark green vines and leaves that vary in size and shape. It is the tuberous root of the plant, however, that is commonly used as medicine. Wild yam has played an important role in folk medicine for centuries and has been used to treat menstrual cramps, coughs, and upset stomachs.
Wild yam root contains a chemical called diosgenin. This chemical is a plant steroid that scientists can manipulate to produce steroids, such as progesterone, estrogen, cortisone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). It is believed that wild yam root has benefits similar to those offered by these steroids in your body, providing a natural alternative to estrogen therapy or progesterone creams.
Interestingly, test-tube studies reveal that the diosgenin chemical extracted from wild yam root also helps protect against the progression of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, a 30-day study on wild yam root in mice showed significantly reduced markers of inflammation as well as lowered nerve pain.
Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa and Cimicifuga racemose) is a flowering plant native to North America. It is sometimes called black bugbane, black snakeroot, baneberry, or fairy candle.
Black cohosh is an active ingredient in various women’s health products and has long been used in Native American medicine to help with menopause symptoms, fertility, and hormonal balance. In fact, the popular women’s health supplement Remifemin contains black cohosh as an active ingredient.
Researchers believe that black cohosh may be effective because it functions as a phytoestrogen, a plant-based compound that mimics the action of the hormone estrogen.
One of black cohosh’s most common uses is for alleviating menopause symptoms, and there is a lot of evidence that supports this use. One study involving 80 menopausal women who were experiencing hot flashes, found that those who supplemented with 20 mg of black cohosh daily for 8 weeks reported significantly fewer and less severe hot flashes than before they started the supplement. Other studies on black cohosh have confirmed similar findings.
Black cohosh may also enhance fertility, and it is used for a number of various purposes related to women’s health.
Zuma Nutrition’s Happy Hormones Tonic
While each of these herbs offers unique benefits for women’s hormonal health, they work best together. Together, these herbs work synergistically help balance hormones, regulate the menstrual cycle, provide PMS relief, and regulate and support the health of the endocrine system.
We’ve combined these herbs into our Happy Hormones Tonic, using only wildcrafted, organic, and biodynamically grown herbs, ensuring the highest quality and integrity that we can offer. We also take great measures to ensure that we do not use any toxic chemicals, fillers, or preservatives in any of our products.
This formula is especially helpful for women who are coming off the birth control pill or going through menopause. For many women coming off birth control, cycles remain irregular for up to two years after stopping the pill. Chasteberry can greatly shorten that time and helps ease the body into regaining its own natural rhythm. Chasteberry may also help to relieve many of the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, irregular cycles, depression, and flooding.
How Do These Herbs Work to Balance Hormones?
Chasteberry works by stimulating and normalizing the hypothalamic/pituitary glands, which regulates the balance of estrogen and progesterone in the body. It does this by increasing secretion of LH (lutenizing hormone) and decreasing FSH (follicular stimulating hormone). This can restore gonadotropin levels to youthful levels.
Shatvari herb acts as a potent adaptogenic herb that helps to regulate the endocrine system, enhance immunity, and helps the body cope with physical and emotional stress. Adaptogens work at a molecular level by regulating a stable balance in the hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal glands—all of which are involved in the stress response. Essentially, they work by “hacking” the stress response in the body.
These key herbs, along with the other medicinal herbs in our Happy Hormones formula, combine to form a unique supplement for restoring balance to hormones. This product is exclusively for women’s hormones, and is not recommended for men, as men and women have different hormones. To take, simply mix 1-2 servings in a glass of water, tea, or drink of choice and take up to twice per day.
Hormones are chemicals produced in the endocrine glands that travel through your bloodstream delivering messages that tell the organs what to do and when to do it. A hormonal imbalance occurs when you have too much or too little of a certain hormone in the bloodstream. As the body is so dependent on hormones for instruction, even small changes in hormones can have serious effects throughout your entire body.
Some fluctuations in hormones may be caused by dietary, lifestyle, or environmental factors such as chronic or extreme stress, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hyperglycemia, underactive thyroid, poor diet and nutrition, being overweight, hormonal replacement or birth control medications, abuse of anabolic steroid medications, and anorexia to name a few.
When women have a hormonal imbalance, it can lead to many different symptoms. Among the most common symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women include mood swings, headaches (especially chronic, recurring headaches), weak bones, low libido, unexplained weight gain, skin problems, fertility problems, heavy or painful periods, insomnia and vaginal dryness.
Bringing your hormones back into balance involves following holistic dietary and lifestyle practices that promote health, and avoiding the causes and triggers of hormonal imbalance. Aside from these foundational dietary and lifestyle practices, it can be very helpful to supplement with an herbal hormone remedy like our Happy Hormones formula—a unique women’s hormone formula that contains several medicinal herbs renowned for their ability to facilitate hormonal balance and women’s hormonal health.
Hormones play a major role in our health, our mood, and in many areas of our life. It is important that we maintain our health and pay attention to the signs of a hormonal imbalance. Keeping your hormones in balance is a key part of leading a happy, healthy, and balanced life.