When you hear the word hormones, what comes to mind? If you’re in the camp that associates hormone problems with being difficult to deal with, something you dread around your cycle, or something that causes mood swings, you’re in the right place. While hormones can cause discomfort sometimes, they are actually a meaningful part of the human body that exist to help you thrive. Hormones are chemical messengers that impact almost every aspect of your wellbeing from your metabolism to your mood, your sleep quality, to the health of your cycles and so much more. That’s why it can be frustrating when they start to get out of balance.
What are signs of imbalanced hormones?
- Rapid weight gain or stubborn weight loss
- Hair loss
- Painful or irregular periods
- Adult acne
Unfortunately, when you go to the doctor to complain about the above symptoms, you are usually told that “Your labs look fine, there’s nothing we can do.”
Hearing your labs look fine should bring relief. Except there’s no relief knowing your labs looking normal when you don’t feel like yourself and walk away without answers.
If you suspect hormones are something that you need help with, but haven’t received much advice beyond using birth control, we want to share some actionable steps you can take so you know how to balance hormones naturally.
At Rooted In Healing, one of the ways we help folks balance their hormones naturally is by addressing where the dysfunction started. We determine this through looking at something called the Hormone Cascade.
What’s the Hormone Cascade?
Here’s an overview of what the Hormone Cascade (also known as hormone dysfunction) looks like from a chronological perspective:
- Sugar: Blood sugar imbalance
- Stress: The adrenals become strained
- Pituitary / Thyroid issues begin to emerge
- Sex: DHEA, Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone become out of balance
When dysfunction is addressed early on, like when you’re simply dealing with blood sugar issues, your symptoms are probably annoying but tolerable and can be reversed quickly. If dysfunction is not addressed, it continues to move down the cascade and you will begin to experience more severe symptoms that take much longer to heal from. That’s why you want to start working on this as soon as possible to prevent further issues down the line.
Let’s dive deeper into each part so you can learn how to balance your hormones naturally and systemically.
Imbalanced blood sugar is often times the root cause of symptoms like sugar and carb craving, low energy, irritability and difficulty with focusing. Imbalanced blood sugar can also lead to symptoms like headaches, excessive thirst, nausea and stubborn weight around the mid section due to excess insulin. The long term spiking and crashing of imbalanced blood sugar, as opposed to more subtle dips and rises, can cause stress on other areas of the body like your adrenals, which produce stress hormones.
When your adrenals are under stress long-term they excrete too much cortisol, which is one of your main stress hormones. When too much cortisol gets released it can lead to irregular patterns which are known as being hyper or hypo cortisol. Having too much cortisol (Hypercortisol) can lead to insomnia, inability to relax, palpitations, difficulty maintaining or building muscle and sugar cravings. Conversely, having too little cortisol (Hypocortisol) can lead to extreme fatigue, exhaustion after exercise, unusual feelings of overwhelm and brain fog. A long term imbalance of the stress hormones will effect your sex hormones. This happens because your sex hormones are either produced in, or rely on, healthy adrenal function.
Long term adrenal exhaustion will impact the production of your sex and steroid hormones. Hormones like DHEA, which are produced in the adrenals, also act as the building blocks for your sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone.
Once dysfunction starts to appear in steroid and sex hormones, it’s likely the severity of your symptoms will increase too. At this point in the hormone cascade you can start to experience conditions like hypothyroidism, Hashimotos, PMS, PMDD, PCOS, infertility, early menopause, hot flashes, etc.
That’s why treating symptoms with birth control, bio identical hormones and/or pharmaceuticals don’t truly resolve the problem and many will not completely reverse your symptoms. While those options can bring relief, they fail to address why the imbalance is happening in the first place. It takes a multi-faceted approach to improve your hormone health naturally, and we’re here to help.
How to Balance Hormones Naturally:
Because hormones are intricate, interconnected and complex, it’s an area of health where it is almost always in your best interest to test and not guess which ones are imbalanced before starting a protocol.
But! There are also free steps you can take to begin to balance your hormones naturally prior to investing in testing and intimate support from a practitioner.
To balance hormones with diet is one of the most effective tools you can use. Here are some ways:
- Eliminate refined sugars and carbohydrates.
- Prioritize protein and healthy fats in your meals. Fats that your hormones loves are ones like Ghee, Coconut oil and Olive oil.
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol
- Focus on fiber
- Add in liver loving foods like beets, avocado, cruciferous veggies, berries and sun chokes
- You can also try using some liver loving herbal teas like dandelion and milk thistle
Diet and supplementation are integral pieces of any stress management protocol, but it’s also important to incorporate other lifestyle changes. Stress management techniques that you could use look like:
- Tapping, Shaking,Dancing,
- Allowing yourself to cry
- Somatic therapy
Supplementation for Stress
Although you should not solely rely on supplements to manage stress, supplements can be effective in efforts to balance hormones and relieve stress. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Adaptogens like Ashwaghnda, Rhodiola rosea, Holy Basil and Reishi can all help support lowering your over cortisol levels
- Magnesium Glycinate can help promote relaxation
- L Theanine, L Taurine, Tryptophan and 5HTP (It’s always best to speak with a professional before taking these to ensure there are no contraindications with your current medications)
Products that we use in our every day life, like our household cleaning products and self care products can, unfortunately, be loaded with toxins and endocrine disrupters that impact your hormone balance.
We recommend EWG (Environmental Working Group), which is a great resource for determining the toxic load of your products. You can use this link to get more information about ingredient scores for products in your home as well as suggestions for cleaner options.
BeautyCounter is a clean beauty brand that we always recommend to clients who are trying to get their health in check. While there are many “natural” brands on the market, Beautycounter has a rigorous ingredient screening protocol that ensures their products meet the highest standards for health and safety. Our team has found that their products perform better than most on the market. If you would like to explore their products, click here.
How to Heal Hormones Naturally Beyond Diet and Lifestyle Changes:
If you have already implemented the steps outlined above and still struggle with weight gain, infertility, hair loss, facial hair, or any of the other symptoms we mentioned in the first section of this post, then you need to invest in testing and 1:1 support.
At Rooted in Healing our hormone specialists can work with you for a full year to get your hormones back into balance naturally, and we currently provide the following testing:
- DUTCH hormone test which provides a comprehensive deep dive into your stress and sex hormones as well as how your body metabolizes them
- Cost $200-$325 depending on test
- DiagnosTechs e-FHP (extended female hormone panel or Cycle Mapping), which provides deep insights by gathering 11 saliva samples that are measured at specific times throughout a menstrual cycle. The test provides a dynamic mapping of the the active levels of your hormones which can be helpful when addressing the root cause of symptoms such as infertility, irregular, painful or missing periods, PMS, acne, migraines and conditions like PCOS and endometriosis.
- Cost $325
If you know it’s time to dive into your hormone health beyond guessing and implementing DIY protocols, we are currently accepting a limited amount of new clients. Our staff hormone wizard, Natalie (FNTP, RWS), would love to hold your hand as you move through the healing process. You don’t have to do this alone.
Learn about our services and apply to work with us here.