The Best Herb for Hormone Balance
If you struggle with hormonal imbalances and are looking to herbal medicine to try and balance your body's hormones naturally, you've come to the right place. Before we look at our favorite herbs to balance hormones, let's take a minute to understand the signs and symptoms of hormone imbalances, specifically in regard to female hormones.
Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
Hormone imbalances can occur at any stage in life, whether it be during a woman's reproductive years or in post-menopause. So what does a hormone imbalance even look like? Well, for many women in their menstruating years, it can look like painful menstrual cramps and other symptoms of premenstural syndrome (PMS), some may even develop polycystic ovarian syndrome. For women in all stages of life, symptoms include mood swings, hot flashes, weight gain, and vaginal dryness, to name a few. [PMID: 11250802]
Causes of Hormonal Imbalances
A major contributing factor to PMS is estrogen dominance. This can occur either because of insufficient progesterone and/or estrogen recycling. Progesterone is one of the female hormones linked to fertility and is an anti-anxiety agent. Chronically elevated emotional stress levels can lead to a decrease in progesterone levels. When the body is stressed, it releases cortisol. Now progesterone is a precursor to cortisol meaning as cortisol levels rise, progesterone levels fall. Too low levels of progesterone can cause an imbalance in your hormonal system and lead to painful periods.
Estrogen dominance can also occur if your body recycles estrogen into your system. Estrogen metabolic activity occurs primarily in the liver, so having a healthy liver is essential to keeping hormone balance (shoutout to our liver support tea). If there is too much estrogen in your system, it can lead to a number of health conditions. Symptoms include menstrual irregularities like excessive bleeding, irritability and mood swings, headaches, sleep disturbances, breast cysts, endometriosis, fibroids, gallbladder disease, and thyroid disorders. [PMID: 30855848]
Menopause and Hormone Balance
Did you know that you are more likely to experience menopausal symptoms if you suffered from PMS during your reproductive years? The sooner you prioritize female hormone balance, the better. Fortunately, it's never too late- or too soon- to work on hormonal balance.
Menopause occurs when a woman's period stops and her sex hormones naturally decrease in production, specifically estrogen, and progesterone. Oftentimes the first treatment to support the body during this change is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), with the intent of raising hormone levels, like estrogen to restore hormone balance. However, there are more effective ways to support the body during this shift when a woman now has to rely on her adrenal glands to produce those sex hormones. To understand this a little better, let's look at endocrine hormones.
The endocrine system is a network of glands that produce hormones responsible for various functions of the human body including metabolic demand, development, maintaining homeostasis, and reproduction. Within this system are the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. The pituitary gland controls many of the functions within the endocrine system, including the adrenal glands.
As you may already know, hormones are chemical messengers that your body releases to tell your cells and organs what to do. Reproductive hormones may be produced in small amounts by the adrenal glands. Women experiencing menopause must rely on their adrenal glands to produce the female hormones that were previously produced by the ovaries. Overworked adrenal glands can lead to adrenal insufficiency which will affect hormone balance.
Endocrine disorders like polycystic ovary syndrome, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and diabetes are all the result of poor hormone balance. Whatever stage of life you are in, supporting your adrenals is a major component of balancing hormones. [PMID: 30860733]
6 Herbs to Support Hormonal Imbalances
Female hormone balance is essential to regulate menstruation and all-around health. Female physiology revolves around the health of your reproductive system. Painful periods are just the tip of the iceberg, menstrual health says a lot about our hormone levels. This is why knowing how to balance your hormones is necessary for supporting your health and well-being. So let's look at some herbs to balance your hormones.
Raspberry Leaf to Balance Female Hormones
Starting us off is raspberry leaf, arguably the best herb to balance female hormones. Raspberry leaf is known to help alter estrogen dominance due to its high content of ellagic acid. This is a powerful antioxidant that may support estrogen metabolism which is important for hormone balance.
Raspberry leaf is a natural remedy that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to support women's reproductive health. According to traditional Chinese medicine, raspberry leaf offers several benefits for menstrual health and hormone levels in women.
A study published in the Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health investigated the effects of raspberry leaf tea on menstrual cramps in women. The research revealed that women who consumed raspberry leaf tea experienced a considerable reduction in menstrual pain and discomfort compared to those who did not consume the tea.
Similarly, a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food examined the effects of raspberry leaf extract on levels of estrogen in postmenopausal women. The study found that taking raspberry leaf supplements resulted in a significant increase in estradiol levels, a type of estrogen, and a decrease in menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. [PMID: 33563275, 10754818]
Ginger is a widely used spice known for its medicinal properties, which has been used for centuries. The rhizome of ginger contains several bioactive compounds, such as gingerols and shogaols, which possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. Recent studies have explored the effects of ginger on female hormones, especially its potential in reducing symptoms of menstrual disorders.
According to a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, ginger is effective in reducing the severity of dysmenorrhea or painful menstrual cramps in women. The study showed that women who took a ginger supplement experienced significant pain relief compared to those who received a placebo.
Similarly, another study published in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research investigated the effects of ginger on symptoms of PMS. The study revealed that ginger could significantly reduce the severity of PMS such as mood swings, irritability, and fatigue. [PMID: 19216660, 24944825]
Milk thistle, which is also known as Silybum marianum, is a flowering plant that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for its numerous medicinal benefits. One of its key components, silymarin, has been shown to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and hepatoprotective properties. Recent studies have explored the potential of milk thistle in regulating female hormones, specifically its effects on menstrual health and hormone levels in women.
A study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research reported that milk thistle supplementation significantly reduced menstrual bleeding in women experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding. The study showed that women who received milk thistle experienced a significant reduction in blood loss compared to those who received a placebo.
In another study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers investigated the effects of milk thistle on levels of estrogen in women diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common endocrine disorder in women. The study found that milk thistle supplementation significantly reduced the levels of estrogen in women with PCOS, which may help alleviate symptoms such as menstrual cycle irregularities, acne, and hirsutism. [PMID: 34371961, 36266431]
Vitex (Chaste Tree Berry)
Chaste tree berry, also known as vitex, is a herbal supplement commonly used to support female reproductive health. Vitex contains several active compounds, including flavonoids, iridoid glycosides, and essential oils, that have been shown to have a positive effect on female hormones. Recent studies have explored the potential of vitex in regulating menstrual health and estrogen levels.
A study published in the Journal of Women's Health & Gender-Based Medicine found that vitex was effective in reducing premenstrual syndrome symptoms, such as breast tenderness, mood swings, and bloating. The study concluded that women who took vitex experienced a significant reduction in PMS symptoms compared to those who received a placebo.
Another study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology investigated the effects of vitex on estrogen in women with menstrual cycle irregularities. The study found that chaste tree berry supplementation significantly increased progesterone levels and reduced estrogen levels in women with irregular menstrual cycles. This suggests that vitex may help regulate menstrual cycles and alleviate symptoms of hormonal imbalance. [PMID: 11159568, 8369008, 12809367]
Dandelion root is a natural herbal supplement that has been used traditionally to support female reproductive health. Dandelion root contains a variety of active compounds, including flavonoids, terpenes, and phytosterols, which have been shown to have a positive effect on female hormones. Recent studies have investigated the potential of dandelion root in regulating menstrual health and estrogen levels.
One study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that dandelion root extract was effective in reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), such as bloating, breast pain, and mood swings. The study reported that women who received dandelion root extract experienced a significant reduction in PMS symptoms compared to those who received a placebo.
Another study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology investigated the effects of dandelion root on estrogen levels in women with hormone-related conditions. The study found that dandelion root supplementation significantly increased levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which can help to regulate levels of estrogen in the body. [PMID: 26614455]
Fenugreek is an herb commonly used in traditional medicine to promote female reproductive health. Recent studies have investigated its potential in regulating menstrual health and estrogen levels in women.
In a study published in the Journal of Reproduction and Infertility, researchers investigated the effects of fenugreek extract on menstrual cycles in women with oligomenorrhea, a condition characterized by infrequent or irregular menstrual cycles. The study found that women who received fenugreek extract experienced a significant increase in the length of their menstrual cycles and a reduction in the frequency of missed periods, suggesting that fenugreek may have potential as a natural remedy for menstrual disorders.
Another study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food investigated the effects of fenugreek seed extract on estrogen levels in postmenopausal women. The study found that fenugreek supplementation resulted in a significant increase in levels of estradiol, a type of estrogen, as well as a reduction in menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. [PMID:
Bonus Suggestions to Help Support a Pain-Free Period
In addition to incorporating herbs to balance your hormones, here are some additional lifestyle shifts you may want to consider to optimize the health of your reproductive system.
Take synthetic hormones off your plate
Many conventionally raised animals are given synthetic hormones to increase growth and antibiotics to prevent illness in crowded living conditions. These substances can make their way into the meat, dairy, and eggs we consume, which can disrupt hormone balance and gut health. This can lead to a range of issues, including reproductive problems, weight gain, and immune dysfunction. Opting for organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised animal products can help reduce exposure to these substances and provide more nutrient-dense options for supporting overall health.
Incorporate healthy fats
Incorporating healthy saturated fats in the diet can have positive effects on hormone health, particularly for women. Hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone are made from cholesterol, a type of fat. Consuming adequate amounts of saturated fats, such as coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and ghee, can support the production and balance of these hormones. Additionally, these fats can help with nutrient absorption and improve brain function, among other benefits. However, it's important to consume saturated fats in moderation and to choose sources that are minimally processed and free of harmful additives.
Get adequate protein
Getting adequate protein in the diet is important for supporting hormone health. Hormones are made from amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Consuming enough protein can help support the production and balance of hormones such as insulin, cortisol, and thyroid hormones. Protein can also help with satiety and weight management, which can in turn improve insulin resistance and overall hormone balance. However, it's important to choose minimally processed, high-quality protein sources.
Rethink those HIIT Workouts
Metabolic and hormonally supportive workouts can be beneficial for overall hormone health. These types of workouts, which may include strength training, circuit training, or moderate-intensity cardio, can help regulate insulin, cortisol, and other hormones that play a role in metabolism and weight management. In contrast, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts may increase cortisol levels, which can negatively impact hormone balance if done too frequently or for too long. While HIIT can be a useful tool for improving cardiovascular fitness and burning calories, it's important to balance these types of workouts with lower-intensity exercise that supports overall hormone health.
Consider nature's multivitamins
Supplementing with nutrient-dense foods such as beef liver and oysters can be beneficial for supporting hormone balance. These foods are rich in bio-available essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin D, which play important roles in hormone production and regulation. Iron is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood and supports energy metabolism, while zinc is important for the production of testosterone and other hormones. Vitamin A and vitamin D also play important roles in hormone balance and immune function. While supplements can be useful for meeting nutrient needs, consuming these nutrients through whole foods like beef liver and oysters can provide additional benefits such as other micronutrients and healthy fats.
Check out our Cycle Harmony Tea blend made to help support a healthy cycle.