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3 Tips to Balance Your Hormones
by Lynn DeBuhr Johnson, CHC
“You’re so hormonal!” “What is it, that time of the month or something?” Many of us have heard people say these things to us when we act in a more emotional manner. The thing is, there is some truth to these sayings.
There are over 150 symptoms linked to hormonal imbalance. These include abdominal bloating, anxiety, acne, backaches, breast swelling and tenderness, swollen feet, depression, cramps, food cravings, fainting spells, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, insomnia, nervousness, impatience, drastic mood swings, and angry outbursts. Oh, and let’s not forget these classics – sluggishness, lethargy, delusions, indecisiveness, dizziness, constipation, hemorrhoids, skin eruptions, and migraines.
There seems to be an entire comedy industry around hormone imbalance, its symptoms, as well as its causes. But there is some truth behind the humor. Bearing children and being married seems to increase the likelihood of hormonal imbalance. It’s a major factor that inadvertently plays into many divorces.
I find it ironic that hormones often have a play in our relationships. Like communication in our relationships, communication is essential with hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers in the body that travel the bloodstream to the organs and tissues. They work slowly, thus taking more time to affect many of the body’s processes. Our endocrine glands are the special groups of cells that make hormones.
The main endocrine glands are the pituitary gland, thyroid, thymus, adrenal glands and pancreas. Just like one singular remark can create a tempest in a teapot, only a small amount of a hormone is needed to cause significant changes in our body. Again, mimicking communication within our relationships, hormonal imbalance occurs when one of these chemical messengers is no longer functioning properly. When two people are communicating, and one is more overpowering than the other, it is an unbalanced relationship. When there is over- or under-production of specific hormones, they can’t communicate properly. The primary hormone that causes these changes is estrogen.
The liver regulates hormonal balance by selectively filtering out of the blood and excreting unwanted excess hormones. One of these is estradiol, a type of estrogen which causes many of the typical problems. If not eliminated, it can build up in the body.
Another part of the hormonal imbalance problem is that there is too much estrogen in the body and not enough progesterone. Fluid retention is the result. This affects the circulation and impedes oxygen and nutrient flow to the brain and female organs.
Throughout the following ideas for treatment you might also recognize other causes that are in play in your own body. As you read through, take the time to be still and listen to what your body might be telling you needs to be done. We usually recognize what needs to be done for us. We get those “Ah ha!” moments, and know it to be the right course. The next step is to get on the path and take that trail. Here are three tips to use on your walk.
1. Clean nutrition. Constipation is a primary reason why the liver cannot get rid of excess estradiol. Eat natural foods with sufficient bulk. Avoid processed and junk foods. If you make a smoothie with bananas, berries, cherries, and spinach, not only do you get a quick, great tasting meal, you’ll also that bulk, plus 30% of your magnesium needs, as well as vitamin A (110%), vitamin C (220%), vitamin K (360%), folate (45%), manganese (81%) and much more. A meal like this that is high in complex carbohydrates will also help you deal with stress. It is thought that they increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical which counteracts depression.
The B vitamins and magnesium help the liver excrete unwanted estrogen. Fried foods block the absorption of magnesium. So, next time, instead of having chips and dip for a snack, make yourself a quick guacamole, then throw a dash of kelp in it. Guacamole is a fantastic food in many ways. Thanks to the nutrient rich avocado, it provides a wide spectrum of amino acids, vitamin A, C, E, B6, and K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese, all of them in fairly large amounts. Adding kelp only raises the nutrient count while also providing iodine and calcium. Magnesium and vitamin D will help in calcium absorption. These foods are important to keep your blood calcium up, so that you don’t have headaches, tension, nervousness, depression, or insomnia.
2. Work it out. Regular outdoor exercise is important. Walk at least half a mile a day. This increases oxygen intake, which in turn aids in nutrient absorption and elimination of toxins. You’ll also get additional vitamin D to aid in calcium absorption. Being overweight increases overall estrogen levels because adipose tissue, which is fat, produces estrogen. Exercise will also get the estrogen circulating throughout your body, which will allow it to get rid of the excess estrogen. And let’s not forget cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone. That will determine your energy level while you are exercising, as well as what fuel you will be using – fat, protein or carbohydrates. Increased cortisol will also help with the muscle aches you might feel, as well as helping to repair muscle tissue that you strained during a workout. Mix up your workout – yoga one day, aerobics the next.
3. Eat more of those wild, wacky weeds. Include dong quai, false unicorn root, fennel seed, squaw vine, blessed thistle, and sarsaparilla root in your diet. They help balance the hormones. The phytoestrogens in dong quai work with the body’s natural estrogen, optimizing female hormones. This action enhances sexual responsiveness, and has a tonic effect on a whole range of menstrual problems including menopause, painful menses, hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. Dong quai’s other qualities include liver protection, pain relief, and strong antibacterial actions. Dong quai increases production of white blood cells strengthening the immune system, which may play a role in cancer prevention. You can make a decoction by boiling the Dong Quai root. False unicorn root is of the greatest value in female disorders of the reproductive organs, and is useful in impotence, as a tonic for urinary problems, for liver and kidney diseases, and especially in diseases due to poor liver functions.
Although it is bitter, you can make a tea with it, or take it as a fluid extract. These are just a few ideas to allow you to think about the different processes that are going on within your body. Our bodies are miraculous, with so many intricate things going on all at the same time. When we are functioning within a balance, you will notice how wonderful you feel. It does take some time and planning, but it’s worth it when you don’t need to take the time to stay home when you are continually sick and in pain. Take it one step at a time, and slowly incorporate these things into your daily planning. You will be happy when you are living a rich, full life.
Feeding Your Health is a health counseling firm founded by Lynn DeBuhr Johnson. A graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York, Lynn has also studied with Lou Corona and is a recognized raw food chef and instructor. Lynn combines her multiple talents to teach entertaining and informative nutrition and raw food classes and to counsel people one-on-one to achieve greater health. Through Feeding Your Health, she offers lectures, classes, hands on workshops, coaching and consultations in Minnesota, Iowa and nationwide. Lynn has written articles about healthy eating. Between Lynn’s infectious energy and enthusiasm and her killer desserts, you’ll be inspired to think about feeding your health. http://feedingyourhealth.com/