Written by Payal Thaker
For years I have suffered from hormonal imbalance due to leaky gut, caused by all the antibiotics and heavy gut destroying prescription medicine that I was put on in my teenage years to deal with acne and multiple skin issues. The fight was (is) real!
As a naive little girl in hopes to find a cure for her skin issues, I ended up
ruining my microbiome and permanently causing excessive skin sensitivity, damaged skin barrier and what not…
When I was moved by plants and healing my skin and gut through studying the natural ways, I decided to help those in need just like myself. I understand the pain, and this is why I’m so obsessed with Plant Healing, Plant Medicines and everything mother nature has to offer as a prevention to all of our problems. 🙂
Hormones — such as estrogen, testosterone, adrenaline and insulin — are extremely important chemical messengers that affect many aspects of our overall health. Hormones are secreted by various glands and organs, including thyroid, adrenals, pituitary, ovaries, testicles and pancreas. The entire endocrine system works together to control the level of hormones circulating throughout our body, and if one or more is even slightly imbalanced, it can cause major health problems.
Conventional treatments for hormonal imbalances usually include synthetic hormone replacement therapies, birth control pills, insulin injections, thyroid medications and more. Unfortunately, for the majority of people suffering from hormonal disorders, relying on these types of synthetic treatments often does three things:
- It makes people dependent on taking prescription drugs for the rest of their lives in order to keep the symptoms under control.
- It simply masks these symptoms, but doesn’t solve them, which means that the patient can continue to develop side effects in other areas of the body.
- It causes a higher risk for serious side effects such as stroke, anxiety, reproductive problems, and more.
What I have learned over the years is that the entire endocrine system works together to control the level of hormones that circulate throughout our body. When just one of these hormones is even slightly imbalanced, it can lead to health problems that affect our growth, sexual development, function, sleep, metabolism and hunger.
Signs and Symptoms
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of hormone imbalances include:
- ACNE! (mostly in the Jaw and Chin areas)
- Infertility and irregular period
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Depression and anxiety
- Low libido
- Changes in appetite
- Digestive issues
- Hair loss and hair thinning
Symptoms of hormonal imbalances dramatically depend on what type of disorder or illness they cause. For example, high estrogen can contribute to problems that include endometriosis and reproductive issues, while symptoms of diabetes often include weight gain, changes in appetite, nerve damage and problems with eyesight.
Some specific problems associated with some of the most common hormonal imbalances include:
- Estrogen dominance: changes in sleep patterns, changes in weight and appetite, higher perceived stress, slowed metabolism
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): infertility, weight gain, higher risk for diabetes, acne, abnormal hair growth
- Low estrogen: low sex drive, reproductive problems, acne, menstrual irregularity, changes in mood
- Hypothyroidism: slowed metabolism, weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, digestive issues, irregular periods
- Low testosterone: muscle loss, weight gain, fatigue, mood-related problems
- Hyperthyroidism: anxiety, thinning hair, weight loss, trouble sleeping, irregular heartbeats
- Diabetes: weight gain, nerve damage, higher risk for vision loss, fatigue, trouble breathing, dry mouth, skin problems
- fatigue: fatigue, muscle aches and pains, anxiety and depression, trouble sleeping, brain fog, reproductive problems
Food allergies and gut issues: According to my years of research, there are so many new studies showing that your gut health plays a significant role in hormone regulation. If you have Leaky Gut Syndrome or a lack of beneficial probiotic bacteria lining your intestinal wall, you’re more susceptible to hormonal problems, and ACNE!
Risk Factors and Causes
- Being overweight or obese
- High levels of inflammation caused by a poor diet and a lifestyle choice
- Genetic disorder
- Toxicity (exposure to pesticides, toxins, viruses, cigarettes, excessive alcohol and harmful chemicals)
- High amounts of stress, and a lack of sleep and rest
How to Really Balance Hormones Naturally:
Step 1: Swap carbs with healthy Fats!
Eating a variety of foods high in long-chain fatty acids is key to keeping your hormones in check. Your body needs various types of fats to create hormones, including saturated fat and cholesterol. Not only are these essential fats fundamental building blocks for hormone production, but they keep inflammation levels low, boost your metabolism, and promote weight loss. Refined carbohydrates lead to inflammation and can mess with the balance of your hormones, and Healthy fats have the opposite effect.
My four favorite sources of anti-inflammatory, healthy fats include: coconut oil, avocados, black seed oil, and Olive oil. Coconut oil uses are plentiful — for example, coconut oil (or cream/milk) has natural anti-bacterial and fat-burning effects. Black seed oil nutrition is also impressive: it’s one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to lower inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids are a large component of brain-cell membranes and are important for cell-to-cell communication in the brain.
Here’s a rule of thumb: Steer clear from oils high in omega-6 fats (safflower oil, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, canola, soybean and peanut), and load up on rich sources of natural omega-3s instead (wild fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and grass-fed animal products). I also want to mention that there is a type of omega-6 fat that you want to get in your diet called Gamma-linoleic acid, which can be taken in supplement form by using Evening Primrose oil or Borage oil, and it’s also found in Hemp seeds. Studies show that supplementing with GLA can support healthy progesterone levels.
Step 2: Use Adaptogen Herbs
Adaptogen herbs: these are a unique class of healing plants that promote hormone balance and protect the body from a wide variety of diseases, including those caused by excessive stress. In addition to boosting immune function and combating stress, research shows that various adaptogens — such as ashwagandha, medicinal mushrooms, rhodiola and holy basil — can:
- Improve thyroid function
- Lower cholesterol naturally
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Reduce brain cell degeneration
- Stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels
- Support adrenal gland functions
Ashwagandha, in particular, is my absolute Favorite Indian herb that I have been consistent with for the past few years. It can be extremely effective at balancing hormones. It benefits thyroid function because it promotes the scavenging of free radicals that cause cellular damage. Ashwagandha can be used to support a sluggish or overactive thyroid, and it can also help to overcome adrenal fatigue. Your adrenals can become overworked when you experience too much emotional, physical or mental stress, leading to the disruption of hormones like adrenaline, cortisol, and progesterone.
Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi, helps to regulate cortisol levels, working as a natural remedy for anxiety and emotional stress. Studies show that holy basil can also protect your organs and tissues against chemical stress from pollutants and heavy metals, which are other factors that can lead to hormone imbalance. I like to drink tulsi infusions 3-4 times a week to regulate cortisol levels in my body.
Step 3: Address Emotional Imbalances
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, internal emotions have a direct impact on a person’s health. Addressing emotional imbalances, external factors, and lifestyle choices can help prevent health conditions associated with hormonal imbalances.
TCM practitioners believe that the emotions of fear cause disease in your reproductive organs, kidneys and adrenals, affecting cortisol levels. This can lead to serious conditions like PCOS and infertility. The emotions of frustration, impatience and unforgiveness cause disease in your liver, which can lead to an estrogen imbalance. And emotions of worry and anxiety can cause issues with your insulin levels, which can then affect several hormones.
You can overcome this by reducing stress levels, and taking time for yourself. Practicing meditation, and lymphatic drainage massage with Gua Sha practice can be extremely beneficial. As well as deep breathing exercises, spending time outdoors, and exercising every day. Traditional Chinese Medicine therapies like acupuncture and lymphatic massages have helped me come through this and I really want to help as many as I can because it not only helps to improve hormonal imbalance, but combat stress and improve blood flow.
Your emotions and hormones are connected, so by working to balance one, you are impacting the other. If you are ever feeling stressed, angry, agitated or even fearful, understand that this is affecting your hormone balance and can lead to even bigger health issues and definite BAD SKIN. Keep working on your emotional balance by making it part of your daily routine.
Step 4: Use Essential Oils:
To balance your hormones naturally, it’s important that you eliminate toxins from your body by avoiding conventional body care products that are made with potentially-harmful chemicals including DEA, parabens, propylene glycol and sodium lauryl sulfate. A better alternative is to use natural products made with ingredients like essential oils, coconut oil, shea butter and castor oil. This is exactly why I got myself into YBP SKIN. I was tired of using products that are filled with hormone disrupting ingredients. I wanted to use products that are good for my MIND, BODY & SOUL.
To replace toxic body care and cleaning products, use these hormone balancing essential oils:
- Clary Sage: This helps to balance estrogen levels because it contains natural phytoestrogens. It can be used to regulate your menstrual cycle, relieve PMS symptoms, treat infertility and PCOS, and even reduce the chances of uterine and ovarian cancer. It also serves as a natural remedy for emotional imbalances, like depression and anxiety. Diffuse 3-5 drops of clary sage to help balance hormone levels and relieve stress.
- Oregano: Problems with our gut health have been found to cause autoimmune reactions, including thyroid disorders. Use oregano essential oil to relax your body, improve your digestion and gut health, boost your metabolism and reduce inflammation. You can add 1-2 drops to a glass of warm water to take it internally.
- Lavender: Lavender oil promotes emotional balance, as it can help to treat anxiety, depression, moodiness and stress. It can also be used to promote restful sleep, which will help to balance your hormone levels as well. Diffuse 5 drops of lavender oil at home, add 5 drops to a warm water bath, or apply 1 drop topically to your temples, back or neck or wrists.
- Sandalwood: Sandalwood essential oil can be used to increase your libido, reduce stress, promote relaxation, boost mental clarity and even help you to relax. The powerful fragrance triggers peaceful feelings and results in the overall reduction of stress that can lead to hormone imbalances. Inhale sandalwood directly from the bottle, diffuse it at home or apply 2-3 drops to your wrists and bottoms of the feet.
Step 5: Supplement to Fill Nutritional Voids
It’s sometimes necessary to supplement in order to fill nutritional voids that can be leading to a hormone imbalance. Here are the top supplements that I Included for balancing my hormones:
- Garlic: I have talked about the importance of garlic so much that I feel some of you might think I’m getting paid to sell garlic. TBH there is nothing like Garlic, its nature’s best kept power herb. It kills bad bacteria in the gut and stops leaky gut problems without any side-effects.
- Evening primrose oil: Evening primrose oil contains omega-6 fatty acids, such as LA and GLA, that support overall hormonal function. Supplementing with evening primrose oil can help to relieve premenstrual and PCOS symptoms. It also helps fight infertility.
- Vitamin D: Lack of sunlight can lead to major depression. This is why people who live in dark areas often suffer from seasonal depression and other health problems unless they supplement with vitamin D. Sunshine is really the best way to optimize vitamin D levels because your bare skin actually makes vitamin D on its own when exposed to even small amounts of direct sunlight. Most people should supplement with around 2,000–5,000 IU daily of vitamin D3 if they live in dark areas, during the winter, and on days when they’re not in the sun.
- Probiotics: Probiotics can aid in repairing your gut lining, which in turn can balance your hormones. When undigested food particles, like gluten for example, leak through your gut into your bloodstream, it causes heightened inflammation. Most people with leaky gut have a deficiency of probiotics in their guts. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can actually improve your production and regulation of key hormones.
Step 6: Beware of Medications and Birth Control
Are you aware of your medication’s side effects? Some can disrupt your hormone balance, leading to side effects like fatigue, appetite changes, altered sleeping patterns, low libido, sadness and even depression. Beware of your medications, talk to your doctor about the side effects and research natural alternatives whenever possible.
Birth control is another dangerous medication that alters hormone levels. “The Pill” is a type of hormone therapy that raises estrogen levels to such dangerous levels that it can cause many complications. I cannot urge you strongly enough to stop using the pill, especially considering that there are many other (safer) ways to prevent pregnancy. Studies show that the health risks of taking them, especially long-term, such as:
- Breakthrough bleeding between cycles
- Increased risk of uterine bleeding, blood clotting, heart attack and stroke
- Increased blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Back pains
- Mood changes
- Benign liver tumors
- Breast tenderness
Step 7: Get More Sleep
Unless you get 7–8 hours of sleep every night, you’re doing your body no favors. A lack of sleep or disturbing your natural rhythm can be one of the worst habits contributing to a hormone imbalance. How so? Because your hormones work on a schedule! Case in point: Cortisol, the primary “stress hormone,” is regulated at midnight. Therefore, people who go to bed late never truly get a break from their stress response or enjoy a good night sleep.
Lack of sleep and long-chronic stress are two of the biggest contributors to high cortisol levels.
Sleep helps keep stress hormones balanced, builds energy and allows the body to recover properly. Excessive stress and poor sleep are linked with higher levels of morning cortisol, decreased immunity…stick with a regular sleep-wake-cycle as much as possible.
How to Test Your Hormone Health
If you are concerned about your hormone health, you can have your hormone levels tested in the following ways:
- Saliva testing: Saliva testing measures your body’s hormones levels at the cellular level. A saliva test can measure your estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol and DHEA levels. When you provide and test multiple samples over time, your doctor can chart changes in hormones. Please know that it may take more than a few tests to give you the real cause of your imbalance. It’s not an easy one day job. So be prepared to spend time, money and energy.
- Blood testing: your blood is collected at a lab and then measured for hormone levels. A blood test can maybe measure total hormone levels, which saliva and urine testing cannot do.
- Urine testing: A urine hormone test requires that you collect every drop of urine for a 24-hour period. Then your urine is tested to identify each hormone that is present and at what levels on that particular day. This is the most extensive hormone health test because it measures your hormone levels throughout the entire day, instead of the levels for a moment in time, which is the case for blood and saliva tests. ( I have done all of the tests for an extensive period of time to finally get through my problem of hormonal imbalance.)
- Follicle-stimulating hormone testing: This type of test is commonly used to measure the hormonal status of premenopausal women who are beginning to experience symptoms of menopause. ( I did not take this one, since I was young and menopause was definitely out of question )
- Hormonal imbalances affect many millions of people worldwide, in the form of common disorders.
- Symptoms include feeling anxious, tired, irritable, gaining or losing weight, not sleeping well, skin deep acne on jaw area and cheeks, loss of appetite
- Causes for hormonal imbalances include poor gut health, inflammation, high amounts of stress, genetic,and toxicity
Natural treatments include eating an anti-inflammatory diet, consuming enough omega-3s, getting good sleep, exercising and controlling stress.