How do I balance my hormones with natural remedies?
I get this question quite often from women TTC worldwide. I am always glad when women ask for help to balance their hormones naturally. There are indeed many proven options. As I know firsthand, when our primary “go to” is Google, we will have a ton to sift through, and then a major task to determine what to trust.
Good thing is I spent probably hundreds of hours, in the 5 years I was TTC, doing this sifting for you!
I have read and read, and more importantly consulted with top experts who had no incentive to point me anywhere but along the path of the best science we have. I tried and erred myself! So, I have a lot to share onward. Of course, do your own research. I just advise, always seek the best. And that is most often among folks who have no incentive to their claims and guidance.
When balancing hormones naturally, be patient
These methods can take time. Think of it this way: your body is already a well orchestrated system. A very complex system. With the natural remedies and methods, your body is getting support to re-balance itself. But, it still needs to do it itself, to re-calibrate. With natural medicine and methods, the body is not being forced. It can take time. I have been amazed in my more than 20 years resourcing natural medicine how much my body does listen and adjust when I help it along!
When I was in my early twenties, I was in intense dance trainings, I was on the thin side, and really overall healthy. Still, I was getting periods only a few times a year. The old-geezer GYN that my mom took me to had nothing really to say (and also weirded me out). Then the young woman GYN that I had done my own research to find curtly told me that I should go on the pill. With no other explanations or education from her, I was unwilling to take such advise. I reasoned, I did not need contraception, and I wanted to get to the root of my issue rather than use drugs to control it.
After asking around a bunch, I fortunately got to a lovely middle aged woman GYN who worked in her home office and had warm fuzzy things and spicy smells all around. She had herbs for me. This one was for two weeks, the other one for two weeks, and one of them daily. Within 3 months, I had a regular cycle and it stuck like that for years!
Natural medicines and methods are best, when possible.
Let me explain why. It’s not just a hippy-thing, or some idealistic philosophy. This preference can be explained by simple science. You see, the body knows how to do what it needs to do, already. It is built brilliantly! With natural medicines we offer support for IT to do the right thing, rather than directing, and intervening on, one aspect of the whole intricate system.
For instance, there are meds that help women to ovulate. That medicine forces ovulation. It does not address the whole fantastic orchestration of hormones that together, in balance, create on-time ovulation. It does not work to support the whole hormonal system to function at primo levels.
When we notice a hormone imbalance, that is your body asking you for help.
I look at natural methods as assisting the body to actualize it’s mastery.
In the field of natural remedies (as opposed to synthetic medications) specially for fertility, we find:
- nutrition & diet specifications
- physical activities
- manual methods
- accupuncture & chinese medicine
Synthetic medications can also be used for fertility issues. The main difference is that —which can give the body the hormones that are missing, or low, but do not actually help the body re-learn to do what it wisely knows how to do in the first place. In its natural state.
There are only a few natural ways to balance hormones for fertility which are generalizable.
It is important to note that most herbal and even food-based hormone balancers are to be used specifically to increase or decrease the hormone that is in imbalance.
These remedies and herbs can only rightly be chosen after you have accurately assessed your particular hormonal issue, via at-home tracking and potentially saliva or blood testing.
See below for natural suggestions that support overall hormone balance.
How do you know if there is an hormonal imbalance?
- first assessments are best done by you – Chart your cycle daily at home.
Cycle tracking has you take data, daily, of some key signs in your fertility physiology. It is the perfect way to begin to notice indications of what might be “off” in your hormones. And, of course, you will also get data indicating how right “on” your body is in other areas.
Cycle tracking and charting is essential for fertility optimization. When it was my turn, I started right out asking my OB/GYN if I was fertile. I had no idea how to know. Very fortunately, she pointed to me to a book that taught the Fertility Awareness Method. I then got a private consultant in the same method to train me diligently over months. Daily tracking, with her guidance, taught me so much. I learned that being “fertile” meant tracking a whole bunch of markers and looking for patterns. Learning about my fertility level was not a one-shot check-up deal.
Once I could notice certain patterns, I was armed with information to ask for accurate help. I sought MDs who were also NDs and fertility specialists. I was also able to enlist my conventional MDs when I wanted targeted blood testing, based on my charts’ data.
Here is an example. Over a few months of tracking, I noticed that my BBT would rise after ovulation, but not right away, and sometimes not even by a whole degree. I learned that this lack of a clear and marked rise could indicate low progesterone in the Luteal phase, when it is supposed to surge and sustain if pregnant. Proper levels of progesterone in the Luteal phase can be critical for embryo implantation to happen and to stick.
Once I tracked this data about my own fertility physiology and learned what that BBT pattern might indicate, I asked my MD for targeted blood testing. For progesterone in the Luteal phase, they test on day 7 after ovulation (7 DPO). I asked for this specific test each month for a few months. One time the level was fine, once it was a bit low, and once it was “borderline”. Putting that all together with my team of professionals, I decided to use a progesterone cream every day after my ovulation. The cream provides a small boost of natural bio-identical progesterone to the body. My BBTs were more exactly as they should be each cycle since. So my data from daily tracking also confirmed that my method (the progesterone cream) was working.
Cycle tracking daily, over a few cycles at least, can help you self-assess important minor or major imbalances in hormones
When tracking and charting fertility regularly, a woman can gain data that might help her notice
- issues with progesterone or estrogen levels
- issues with LH firing
- thyroid issues
- Get targeted blood testing
In this country, for blood work, you must be referred by your MD. A GP, or a GYN – any MD is fine. This is another great reason to chose Doctors with whom you have a good rapport, so that once you are educated about your own body, you can address possible blood testing in collaboration with your Doc, who must send the order to the lab.
Blood tests do show us the precise hormone level. That is why they are so useful. However, it is important to note that they also only show us the hormone level on that day at that time of your blood draw. This can cause mild to moderate inaccuracy that only our charting, or saliva testing, can clarify.
I was taught by my Natropathic GYN that hormone levels can vary in different hours of the same day! This makes blood testing not necessarily as accurate as it is most often assumed to be, at least in the case of women’s reproductive hormone level. This is the reason she recommended not relying on any one test.
how can targeted blood-testing help?
Here is an example. In the follicular phase, estrogen should dominate. It should also peak soon after your period ends, to signal the LH to rise and then surge. If the estrogen is low, and does not peak, and thus does not signal LH, you are unlikely to ovulate. So, if one notices physiological signs that Estrogen might be too low, then a blood draw early in the follicular phase can confirm or deny the suspicion. Targeted blood testing is also best done for a few cycles, in case there is one “odd ball” cycle.
Another great option I learned also from an MD, ND on my team was saliva testing. These are done at-home 2-3 times per day for 7-10 days and then shipped frozen to the lab. This method provides a very comprehensive picture of the hormone balance and imbalances. I learned so much form doing this process, and only wish I had done it sooner when it was my TTC time!
Herbal & Diet supports I used for overall hormonal balance.
The following are herbs and foods that I learned from my Natropathic Docs, Nutritionist and Herbalist.
- MACA root powder is good to use daily. It is a superfood. It supports overall hormonal balance in both men and women
- Vitex – herbal tincture. Vitex works to tonify the pituitary function. The pituitary is the master gland that signals all reproductive hormone production. Vitex helped me immensely both during TTC and in early adulthood to regulate my cycles. I have read that many MDs these day even now know about it and are recommending it.
- Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. For red raspberry leaf to support you, it is best drink it a lot. I drank it all through the day after making a strong —–the night prior. It is a tonifier for the uterus.
- Prenatal vitamin/mineral Across the board, among MDs and NDs who were on my team, a good brand pre-natal was always recommended during TTC. Having a consistent balance of essential vitamins and minerals will help your whole hormonal system balance. Be sure to purchase a reputable brand.
For my recommendations, see my PRODUCTs PAGE
It is important to note that many internet articles promote herbs for “fertility” in general, which are actually ONLY to be used for a specific hormone deficiency or dominance.
If you are serious about being accurate in your herbal choices, do consult a trained herbalist. Do ask good questions about what the exact effect is of the herb they are recommending. Do you own research and be sure what you are advised is accurate. Susun Weed is a matriarch in the resurgence of herbal medicine in the last decades. I have often cross-referenced with her writing when I was advised about any herbs.
The above herbs that I am aware of, I have used myself and witnessed their support. They are also, again, the correct supplements for overall hormone balance. Once you have data from your at-home cycle tracking and potentially lab analyses, you can get herbs more specific to your own bio-chemistry.
What Life-style adjustments are natural ways to help hormones get into balance?
- A Balanced diet of whole foods. Food is our first medicine. Eat whole grains, veggies, fruits. Reduce processed foods. They are just not nutrient-rich like whole foods and I have understood our gut health and process is benefitted by avoiding processed foods.
Great things to add for hydration, vitamin and mineral content: coconut water, aloe vera juice, fresh sprouts, green leafy veggies, berries, superfoods, raisins, blackstrap molasses, whole cooked grains (over pasta or breads).
- Exercise. Getting a good healthy dose of physical activity, regularly, cannot be overstated. Cardiovascular activity, even only 15-20 per day, helps so many systems in our body! There is a lot to read on the topic of exercise, many experts to consult with. All I wish to say is: OF COURSE your exercise level being good for you WILL increase your reproductive potential.
I created a really nourishing movement mediation, gentle movement that is consistent for 20 min and brings blood flow and tonification directly to the reproductive organs. It’s on YouTube!
3. Sleep. Get healthy sleep. This also helps everything and cannot be overstated. There is lots to read from experts in nutritional and holistic health. I just say: make this a priority and do not push it aside as secondary.
More advise: as much as possible, sleep with the dark, like 10-6 or earlier even. The body regulates with nature’s cycles. Our reproductive cycle is an intricate balance of communications and bio-chemistry in our bodies. The more we can align with nature’s cycles, the more we are supporting the body’s rhythms and cycles, especially the menstrual and reproductive cycle.
I learned about this through one of the MD/NDs on my team. More can be seen in this post I wrote on “Lunception”.