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Before we get into our discussion of herbs for hormone imbalances, I want to have a little chat about their proper place in your healing. I know how easy it is when coming from an allopathic view of medicine to see herbs and supplements as replacements for pharmaceuticals. For example, you might currently be taking a prescription medication for blood pressure, but you want to be more natural so you turn to google to find an herb that will lower your blood pressure. This inevitably leads to a medicine cabinet overflowing with supplements that haven’t actually given you any results. This either drives you deeper into the arms of the snake oil salesmen selling machines and products and supplements that are guaranteed to cure what ails you, or it drives you away from natural medicine altogether, labeling anyone that so much as sips chamomile tea as a quack.
Using herbs requires an entire mindset shift. In all of the centuries of usage, herbs have never been used in the way that we today use our pharmaceuticals. Herbs are meant to be one piece to a holistic view of our bodies that are supported day in and day out by our choices in the areas of lifestyle, and food, and fun. It requires that we be in tune with our bodies, so that as we begin adding herbs into our lives, we can listen to our bodies to see how they are received. It also requires patience, something in short supply in the healthcare system today, as herbs often work slowly, building and moving the body from the inside out.
Now that we have the foundation for using these amazing herbs set in place, let’s jump in!
Maca: Maca is one of the classic adaptogenic herbs for hormone balance. It grows in the Peruvian Andes and is the highest growing food crop in the world! Maca is known for it’s ability to support energy and endurance as well as boost libido. Since it seems to help the most with symptoms of low estrogen, it is usually most helpful for women who are in perimenopause or postmenopausal. Not just for women though, Maca is also known as an excellent tonic for the male reproductive system and has been shown to improve male fertility!
It is recommended to only supplement with gelatinized maca, as raw maca can have unpleasant side effects. It is also good to use caution with maca if you have hypothyroidism.
The Maca Team is my personal favorite place to get Maca from, as they have several different varieties and provide loads of education. A good way to put some of their delicious powders to use is in this tasty Bliss Bite recipe!
Vitex: Also called Chasteberry, Vitex is one of the most popular herbs for combating PMS symptoms. It is also known to promote fertility, as one of the most common reasons that women drop out of studies being done on Vitex is due to becoming pregnant! This is likely due to its ability to increase progesterone during the luteal phase of the cycle. This ability also makes it a good choice for preventing miscarriage in cases where a woman has had multiple miscarriages previously.
This is one of those herbs where it pays to be patient. The general timeline for noticing the beneficial effects of Vitex is 3 months, so I recommend keeping some faster acting herbs around for symptom relief during the beginning. The generally recommended dosage for Vitex is 20-40mg/day, and their aren’t any known contraindications, but as always, pay attention to your body when adding new herbs and supplements!
Ashwagandha: I know I talk about this one all the time, but it is truly one of the premier adaptogenic herbs for women! We have talked before about how stress impacts our hormones, and Ashwagandha is well known for reducing the side effects of stress as well as increasing energy in a very gentle way. It also helps boost the conversion of T4 to T3, so if you are dealing with an underactive thyroid, this may be a helpful herb to start including with your daily supplements! This also means that if you have an overactive thyroid, then this may not be a great herb choice for you.
Ashwagandha is traditionally taken in warmed milk in the evening like in this recipe!
If this post peaked your interest and you feel the need for more in-depth guidance then I invite you to join my 4-Day Hormone Jumpstart. I have packed this program full of practical tools and information to help you get a handle on your hormones.