Women’s Health Series: Hormone Imbalance

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thoughtful-womanFrom puberty to menopause, symptoms such as mood swings, bloating, headaches, hot flashes, and insomnia are indicators of hormone imbalance. Stress, poor nutrition, lifestyle changes, toxins, and other factors can exacerbate symptoms. At Village Green Apothecary, we see symptoms as a sign of disharmony within the body that needs to be addressed. Finding and resolving the root cause of your symptoms will almost always lead to feeling better and living a healthier lifestyle.

Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance

Hot flashes and night sweats
Insomnia
Fatigue
Weight gain
Vaginal dryness
PMS
Low libido
Mood swings
Depression
Foggy memory
Endometriosis
Fibroids

What are the Common Causes of Hormone Imbalances?

Having more periods in one’s lifetime (women are starting their periods earlier)
Stress (excessive need for cortisol depletes progesterone, as some of it is converted to cortisol to support stressed/tired adrenal glands)
Foreign estrogen exposure (synthetic hormones, chemicals and plastics with hormonal properties)
Use of oral or injected contraceptives / hormone replacement therapy
Poor diet (usually high in carbohydrates, low in fiber)
Consumption of trans-fats (margarine, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils)
Nutritional deficiencies (especially magnesium, zinc, copper and B complex vitamins)
Luteal Insufficiency (insufficient ovarian progesterone production, i.e. corpus luteum making too little progesterone)
Anovulatory cycles (cycles where menstruation occurs, but no ovulation, and therefore no ovarian progesterone is produced)
Obesity (in postmenopausal women, estrogen is made in the fat cells; excess fat cells make excess estrogen)

Hormonal Imbalance – Estrogen Dominance

A major cause of hormone imbalance is estrogen dominance. This occurs when there is too much estrogen or not enough progesterone to balance its effects. Estrogen dominance is caused by exposure to potent, environmental estrogens (xenoestrogens), found in plastics, pesticides, cleaners, detergents, beauty care products, meat and dairy products, stress, anovulation, poor diet, obesity, microbial imbalances, as well as synthetic hormones from birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy.

Foreign estrogens are much more potent than the estrogen made by the ovaries. Artificial estrogens activate receptors to stimulate a hormonal effect or occupy the receptor and block natural estrogen from doing its job, thereby disrupting normal endocrine function. Xenoestrogens can accumulate over time, are absorbed through the skin, are difficult to detoxify, and are stored in fat. While endogenous estrogens are biologically active only during the years of sexual maturity, have a life expectancy measured in days, and fluctuate month to month, xenoestrogen exposure starts with fetal development and can be around for decades.

Synthetic hormones (birth control pill and hormone replacement therapy) can also disrupt hormone balance. There are also many health risks associated with taking man-made hormones, such as increased risk for blood clots, gallbladder disease, and cancer.

Your diet can have a significant impact on your hormones. Here are some foods that are beneficial in promoting hormone balance:

Omega-3 fatty acids (wild salmon, flax, walnuts, etc.)
Dark leafy greens (bok choy, collards, kale, turnip greens, dandelion greens, spinach, etc.)
Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, arugula, etc.)
Colorful fruits and vegetables (berries, citrus, melons, pears, apples, beets, carrots, etc.)
Whole grains (brown rice, millet, quinoa, whole wheat, corn, etc.)
Legumes (lentils, soy, black beans, pinto, garbanzo beans, etc.)
Nuts and seeds (almonds, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.)
Sea vegetables (wakame, kombu, hijiki, arame, nori, dulse, etc.)
Healthy fats (eggs, avocados, butter, flaxseed oil, nuts and seeds, nut butters, etc.)
Organic dairy foods/dairy alternatives (milk made from almonds, rice, hemp, oats, soy, etc.)
Organic/hormone-free protein (meat, poultry, grass-fed beef, fish, eggs, cheese, etc.)

Supplements can also play a role in hormone balance. It is important to consult with a nutritional expert to determine an action plan for your particular needs.  Two supplements that may be of benefit are chaste tree berry and evening primrose oil.

Chaste tree berry is one herb that has a long history of use for gynecological concerns, such as PMS, various menstrual disorders, and menopausal complaints. Chaste tree berry helps support the female reproductive system by supporting a balance of female hormones.

Another supplement, evening primrose oil (EPO), provides an excellent source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA helps to promote the production of anti-inflammatory chemicals in the body and may be helpful for hormone balance, joint pain and swelling, various skin conditions, and to nourish hair and nails.

Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) may also be an option. Our Village Green team of compounding pharmacists specializes in providing individualized compounded prescriptions to fit each woman’s exact needs. Call us today at 800-869-9159 x1012 for more information.

Through diet plans, exercise routines, lifestyle tips, specialized testing, as well as natural or bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, hormone imbalance can be corrected. Schedule a consult today with one of our nutritionists or naturopathic doctors.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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  • Paula Gallagher
    Paula Gallagher
    Paula is a highly qualified and experienced nutrition counselor on the staff at Village Green.
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    Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, ND is a pioneer of integrative medicine and a leading authority on science-based natural medicine.
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    Debi Silber
    Debi is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition, a personal trainer, and whole health coach.
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    Dr. Rav Ivker
    Dr. Rav Ivker is a holistic family physician, health educator, and best-selling author.
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    Susan Levin
    Susan writes about the connection between plant-based diets and a reduced risk of chronic diseases.
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