How many times have you had an intense craving for cake right before your period was due? How many times have you wanted to bawl your eyes for no reason, or have had a splitting case of the dreaded migraine? When our hormones start to go a little haywire, things can start to look bleak.
Hormones are the chemical messengers of the human body. They travel through our bloodstream to each organ of our bodies and regulate various processes such as growth, reproduction and metabolism.
Some of the most common hormones are estrogen, progesterone and testosterone (sex hormones), adrenaline (energy hormone), melatonin (sleep hormone), cortisol (stress hormone) and thyroid (metabolism hormone).
The common symptoms of hormonal imbalance include migraines/headaches, craving for sweet food, acne breakout, urinary tract infection, facial hair growth, irritability, anxiety, excessive stress, insomnia, weight gain, mood swings, fatigue and depression.
Women experience greater hormonal changes than men, a sizable amount of which occurs throughout puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, post partum depression, premenopausal and, finally, menopause.
Some of the other common causes of hormonal imbalance include poor dietary habits, increased work and/or personal stress, birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy, caffeine and certain medications.
Below is a list of home remedies you can try to balance those fluctuating hormone levels:
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids create eicosanoids – hormones responsible for transferring biological information to the entire body, regulating inflammation, expanding and contracting the walls of the arteries, and preventing blood clotting.
Deficiency of essential fatty acids in the body is causes the production of erratic hormones that throw off the hormonal balance of the body.
Linolenic and Linoleic Acid are essential fatty acids that build the specialized fatty acids called Omega-3 and Omega-6 that play a key role in the normal functioning of our body tissues.
While most fatty acids are produced by the body, Omega-3 and Omega-6 are two essential fatty acids that must be obtained from food.
Some high food sources of essential fatty acids include:
- Seafood: Salmon, tuna, mackerel, oysters, striped bass, sardines, herring, trout
- Dairy products: Regular/soy milk, eggs, yogurt, margarine
- Nuts and grains: Flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, peanut butter, bread, oatmeal
- Oils: Canola oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, mustard oil, cod liver oil, soybean oil
- Vegetables: Kale, Brussels sprouts, parsley, mint, spinach
Here is a simple salad recipe oozing with fatty-acid goodness:
Salmon salad with capers and parsley
- Pour 6 cups of water to a heavy pot or a big skillet.
- Add chopped veggies (2 carrots, 1 small onion and 1 stalk of celery)
- Sprinkle 1 and ½ teaspoons of salt.
- Squirt 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and simmer for 8 minutes.
- Take three salmon fillets and gently lower them in the broth.
- Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes until they are opaque.
- Use a spatula to bring them out of the water, and keep them aside.
- Take a glass bowl and half chopped red onion, 3 tablespoons of capers, 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and ½ a teaspoon of salt.
- Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes.
- Add the diced salmon, garnish and serve.
Note: Women who take blood thinners or aspirin must refrain from the use of fatty acids for relief from menstrual cramps as they may intensify the bleeding.
Saturated fats are the building blocks of hormones in our bodies.
Coconut oil is an incredible source of saturated fats, one of the most beneficial of which is lauric acid. These fats combat hypothyroidism by increasing metabolism, which in turn, balances the hormonal levels of the body.
Since saturated fats are responsible for the production of hormones in our bodies, it helps aid pregnancy and a regular menstrual cycle.
Include this cereal in your breakfast for a healthy dose of coconut milk:
Coconut Milk and Oatmeal Cereal
- Mix together 1 cup of warm water, 1 cup of organic rolled oats and 2 tablespoons of whey/lemon juice/ vinegar in a bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the oats to soak for 8 to 12 hours.
- Take 1 cup of whole coconut milk in a skillet.
- Add ½ teaspoon of sea salt to and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Pour coconut milk in a bowl and add soaked oats.
- Sprinkle grated coconut over the cereal and enjoy.
Also known as ‘Peruvian Ginseng’, maca is a wonder herb like no other. Maca is an adaptogen, a nutritious substance that helps the body “adapt” by charging the endocrine system, and in turn, regulating hormone production in the body when either one of the hormones falls out of balance.
In 2006, a study was conducted (published in the International Journal of Biomedical Science) to test the effects of organic maca on the hormonal levels of early postmenopausal Caucasian women. In the 4 month study, women were allotted two groups with 11 participants in each where one group was given two vegetable, hard-gel capsules containing Maca twice a day, while the other was put on Placebo.
The study observed that maca significantly boosted the hormonal production by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, helped balance general hormonal levels, and provided postmenopausal relief by reducing night sweating and hot flushes.
- Take one cup of coconut, hemp or almond milk in a bowl.
- Add ½ a tablespoon of Maca powder, 1 tablespoon of flax/chia seeds and one medium-sized banana to the milk.
- Toss these contents in a blender for 35-40 seconds.
- Add berries of your choice to the drink and consume.
Flax seeds are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids that form cell membranes, which then transport the hormones to different parts of the body.
Flaxseeds are also a rich source of lignans that help in the formation of progesterone (sex hormone produced during embryogenesis, menstruation and pregnancy) and reduction of androgen levels in men with prostate cancer.
A 2007 study published in the Nutraseutical Research journal described the impact of flaxseed supplementation (30 g/day) on hormonal levels in a 31-year old woman with PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome). The woman was was put on a daily dose of 30 grams of flaxseeds for 4 months and it was observed that there was a significant reduction in androgen levels and a decreased growth of facial and body hair (hirsutism) triggered by hormonal imbalance in the woman’s body.
Substitute your regular margarine or peanut butter with this wonderful and healthy seed butter that will help balance your hormones, and bring some variety to the breakfast table:
Seed Butter and Rye Bread
- Toss 1 cup of sunflower seeds, 1 cup of pumpkin seeds and ¼ cup of flaxseeds in a food processor and grind them.
- Add 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, 1 tablespoon of flax oil, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup/honey, and 1 teaspoon of sea salt and blend again until smooth.
- Enjoy with healthy rye bread every morning.
Holy basil, an adaptogen herb busts with incredible medicinal properties that help to regulate the hormone-producing endocrine system of the body, thus bringing them down to a level of balance.
Holy basil is especially effective in managing cortisol, the stress hormone that is responsible for causing high blood sugar levels, obesity, slowing down of the body’s cell-regeneration processes, weakening of bones and muscles, irritability and fatigue.
As an adaptogen, holy basil helps the body adjust to environmental pressure and stress. According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Restorative Medicine, adaptogenic herbs help moderate the body’s response to stress, improve immunity, increase energy and fix erratic sleep patterns in the human body.
Chew 5 to 7 fresh basil leaves early morning or simply replace your morning coffee/tea with this basil tea for stress relief.
- Pour one cup of water in a skillet.
- Add 5 leaves of basil, one teaspoon of regular tea powder, 3 to 4 slices of ginger.
- Add ¼ cup of milk and 1 teaspoon of sugar to taste.
- Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Remove from heat and put aside to brew for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Strain it in a cup and drink twice a day.
Raw carrots contain an indigestible fiber, making them the ultimate detoxifiers.
When raw carrots are consumed on a daily basis, they attach themselves to our bodies’ unused toxins and hormones and carry them out of the body. These fibers also flush out certain harmful bacteria that make the liver toxic and further throw off the hormonal balance of the body.
Furthermore, carrots balance the estrogen and progesterone levels in the body, reduce menstrual cramps and PMS, and battle insomnia. Raw carrots also inhibit the re-absorption of estrogen by the intestine.
Although carrots can be added to a variety of recipes, the best, quickest, and most effective way of consuming a carrot is by combining it with other fruits to boost the health quotient, and keep it delicious too.
Carrot, Tomato, Apple and Orange Juice
- Dice 4 large carrots, one medium orange, one medium tomato and one medium apple.
- Throw them in a blender and blend for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Pour the juice in a glass.
- Add ice cubes and drink.
- Drink this healthy juice every morning to keep your hormones in check.
- Exercise regularly for 30 minutes each day.
- Include whole grains, leafy greens and organic fruits in your diet.
- Avoid processed foods.
- Consume 8-10 glasses of water every day.
- Cut down on our intake of red meat.
- Practice meditation and yoga.
- Give up smoking and drinking.
International Journal of Biomedical Science: Hormone-Balancing Effect of Pre-Gelatinized Organic Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon): (III) Clinical responses of early-postmenopausal women to Maca in double blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled, crossover configuration, outpatient study