Hormonal imbalances can wreak absolute havoc on your body. If you’ve experienced some or all of the symptoms listed below, you may be suffering from a hormonal imbalance.
While there are conventional treatments that can help to level off your hormones, they usually come with a hefty price tag and unwanted side effects.
Are you looking for a way to balance your hormones naturally? We’ll discuss some of the best ways that you can do just that. As a bonus, I’m going to help you create a plan to take charge of your body again.
What Exactly Are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that travel through your body’s fluids (e.g. blood or lymph) and carry out specific functions in different areas.
There’s a hormone in our bodies for almost anything. If your body does it, a hormone likely triggered it.
These messengers are secreted by several organs known as “endocrine glands”. The testes, ovaries, pituitary gland, pineal gland, thyroid, thymus, adrenal glands, and pancreas are just some examples of where hormones come from.
Hormones are responsible for everything from growth, puberty, fertility, menstruation, metabolism, insulin processing, fight or flight reactions, and even our emotional state.
How to Figure out If Your Hormones are Out of the Normal Range
To determine whether you have a hormonal imbalance, there are no two ways about it – you need to be diagnosed by your doctor.
If necessary, you will referred to an endocrinologist – a specialist that deals in hormone issues.
Your doctor may be able to determine whether your hormone levels are off simply by taking a look at your symptoms. If not, laboratory tests may be required.
One difficulty when determining if hormonal imbalance is actually an issue, is that hormone levels are constantly in flux – especially in women. It’s often difficult for women to determine whether what they’re experiencing is normal or not.
This is a social as well as a medical issue. Women frequently feel that being off-kilter due to our hormonal cycles makes us weak, or that it’s shameful in some way. This is part of why hormonal problems issues often go undiagnosed.
Physical Effects of Hormonal Imbalance
There are many physical conditions that may indicate that your hormone levels are off.
Hormonal imbalances can cause skin issues, including acne. Even normal hormonal changes due to the menstrual cycle can cause adult acne.
Hormonal imbalances can also lead to excessive hunger.
Evidence suggests that the hormones that cause and control hunger may also signal your body to hold on to weight. The combination of these effects can potentially lead to obesity and a myriad of additional health problems.
Hormonal imbalances may cause sleep disorders. It works the other way too – lack of sleep can create hormonal imbalances, resulting in a vicious cycle. Menopausal hormonal changes are frequently responsible for sleep disorders.
Digestive trouble can be linked to hormonal imbalances too, particularly in women.
Effects of Hormonal Imbalance on Our Mental State
Hormones can affect your mental state in far more ways than simply being cranky during your period.
Hormonal imbalance is thought to play a role in the development of depression. In fact, tests on hormone levels are usually required for depressed patients. The symptoms of depression and thyroid hormone imbalances are extremely similar.
While anxiety is a complicated issue with many contributing factors. Any change in your hormone levels can lead to feelings of anxiety.
Stress can raise levels of the hormone cortisol, which leads to anxiety. Thyroid hormones may also trigger panic attacks.
Hormones can also create “memory fog” or forgetfulness. While this isn’t necessarily serious, it can create real problems in your day to day life. The root cause of this brain fog may be in the sleep problems and fatigue that often accompany hormonal imbalance.
Why Do Hormones Go Haywire?
There are many potential causes of hormonal imbalance. Age, menstrual cycle and menopause, trouble with the thyroid gland, diabetes, and even medications have the potential to throw your hormones out of whack. Pregnancy and lactation can also create issues.
Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy are obvious medications that may cause issues since they directly affect the hormones, but other medications and even supplements may create hormone imbalance.
Lifestyle can be to blame too. Inactivity and poor diet can lead to hormonal imbalances. There is also some evidence of environmental causes. We’ll address these later.
Conventional Treatments for Hormonal Imbalance
Modern medicine’s answer to hormonal imbalance depends on whether you’re a man or a woman and what type of imbalance you’re experiencing.
Hormone replacement therapy is frequently the answer, but anti-depressants or birth control are other options.
In addition, there are things you can do at home to help get your hormone You’ll need to discuss any potential changes with your doctor first, of course.
Switch to a Whole Food Diet
Whole foods are just what they sound like: foods in their whole form.This means a diet with very few if any processed foods. A whole food diet is, overall, very good for you. It eliminates a lot of the components of modern diets that create health issues, e.g. processed sugar and trans fats.
There is also some concern that the chemicals used in processed foods (artificial sweeteners and preservatives) may play a role in hormone disruption. While the FDA says all of these chemicals are safe, there’s a lot of concern about the minute effects they could be having.
Consider Going Organic
While we’re on the subject of diet changes to reduce your risk of hormonal imbalance, you might want to consider going organic.
Possible links between exposure to pesticides and hormonal issues mean this might be a good idea.
I know how expensive it can be to even attempt an all-organic diet, let alone sustain one. That’s where the Dirty Dozen list comes in. The Dirty Dozen is a list released by the EWG each year that shows us the fresh products that are most likely to contain high levels of pesticides and should be avoided.
By shopping exclusively organic for items on the list and letting other non-organic products slide when they’re cost prohibitive, you can reduce your exposure to pesticides while keeping your budget intact. This is the method that our family uses for produce shopping.
Foods to Eliminate
There are some foods you can avoid to try to help get your hormones back on track. First off, eliminate soy products.
Soy contains phytoestrogens that mimic estrogen and may throw off thyroid hormone levels.
Artificial coloring agents should also be avoided. These often contain petroleum, which is known as an endocrine disruptor. Many other health issues have also been at least loosely connected with artificial colorings, so they’re definitely a food product you should try to avoid.
Dairy products contain hormones which may potentially cause imbalance in our own system. Studies have shown that consuming dairy products regularly may have negative impacts on the hormone levels of men and women. Potential effects in children are of even more concern.
Eliminate Chemicals from Personal Care Products
The EWG has also constructed a Dirty Dozen list of endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors do exactly as you’d expect: they disrupt the endocrine system. This is the body system responsible for regulating and distributing hormones, so these are obviously not a good idea for hormone issues.
Phthalates are a type of endocrine disruptor on EWG’s list that have been linked to hormonal changes.
These chemicals are frequently found in personal care products, so you might want to check labels and avoid them. Beware, though. They are often listed only under the blanket category of ‘fragrance’.
Parabens are one chemical found in almost all personal care products. Check your deodorant, shampoo, soap, makeup, and lotion. This chemical is likely in all of them, and it is thought to be a potential endocrine disruptor.
Limit Chemicals for Cleaning
Endocrine disruptors are often found in cleaning products. Try to use all natural or organic products. I love Mrs. Myers Clean Day All Purpose Cleaner to help keep chemicals out of my house. You can even use old-fashioned cleaners like white vinegar and baking soda.
Consider Adding Supplements or Superfoods
Fatty superfoods like coconut oil and avocado contain fatty acids that may help balance hormones. Hemp seed, wheatgrass, chia seeds, flax, and goji berries are also thought to be good for hormonal balance.
Supplements like St. John’s Wort, black cohosh and fish oil are commonly used for hormonal imbalance, as well. Their efficacy in the actual treatment of hormonal imbalance is unconfirmed and St. John’s Wort can interact with prescriptions so consider carefully before trying these.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
Stress has been proven to affect your hormone levels. You probably can’t eliminate stress from your life completely but there are some ways to control it to some degree.
You might try yoga, mindfulness exercises, or tai chi to relax more effectively. Therapy is also a great option for learning to cope with stress. A therapist can teach you exercises that can help.
Activities to Balance Your Hormones Naturally
Get physical! Physical inactivity is one of the causes of hormonal imbalance. This problem is super easy to fix.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a strenuous workout at the gym involving cardio machines and weight benches. Simply take a walk. Get outside and enjoy some fresh air. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do a little of the yoga I mentioned above for a double whammy. You don’t need a personal trainer to get active.
Get Your Hormone Levels in Check
The first step in making a plan to balance your hormones naturally is to figure out which hormones are causing your problems. This will require a trip to the doctor. Your doctor will determine the issue, and will likely give you options for a course of treatment.
If the doctor offers medications, you may want to dig a little deeper. While medications are often necessary to treat hormonal imbalance, drugs like hormone replacement therapy should be carefully considered as the side effects can be extensive.
Finally, make some of the above changes in your life. Whether you decide on medical treatment or not, lifestyle changes can help you to feel better overall and help your body function at its peak.
My Parting Thoughts on Balancing Hormones Naturally
Hormone imbalances can cause major health issues, there’s no doubt about it. Once you’ve discussed this condition with your doctor, you should seriously consider making some of the changes listed in this article. Changing your cleaning products and improving your diet are good points to start with.
While short term hormonal imbalances are more inconvenient than anything, long term hormone imbalance can have leave a lasting impact on your body. Go to the doctor, get it figured out, and take action at home to improve your endocrine health.