Think your hormones are imbalanced?
Think your hormones are imbalanced? Hormones and PMS.
By Belinda Llewellyn ND, Naturopath, Gaia Natural Medicine
Hands up if you struggle with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and just thought it was normal. Growing up I certainly did; now I know different. As a naturopath I’ve learnt that our hormones don’t have to control our life. But in order for this to be a reality, we need to take responsibility for how we’re choosing to live our lives, right now.
HABITS THAT INFLUENCE OUR HORMONES
Think about how you’re living your life and the choices you are making in relation to the following:
1. What chemicals are you putting into and on your body?
2. How much exercise are you doing?
3. Are you practising relaxation and living consciously in the moment?
4. Do you manage stress effectively?
5. Are you getting enough quality sleep?
6. What is your diet is like and how much water are you drinking?
Your attitudes, expectations and experience of life also play a role in the development of hormonal imbalance and PMS.
TELL-TALE SIGNS OF HORMONE IMBALANCE
There are actually six different categories of PMS relating to specific hormonal imbalances and associated symptoms. Here are the categories:
1. PMS-A: ‘Anxiety’ – mood swings, tension, insomnia, irritability, heart palpitations.
2. PMS-C: ‘Cravings’ – increased appetite, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sweating.
3. PMS-D: ‘Depression’ – clumsy, forgetful, feeling hopeless, crying, fatigue, low libido.
4. PMS-H: ‘Hyperhydration’ or fluid retention – bloating, breast tenderness, weight gain.
5. PMS-P: ‘Pain’ – back pain, period pain, clotting, migraines, reduced pain tolerance.
6. PMDD: Severe PMS that interferes with a woman’s ability to perform normal daily activities.
You may experience one or a combination of these over a defined period of time (up to two weeks prior to the onset of bleeding). Other signs of a hormonal imbalance include acne (especially around the chin) and erratic periods and/or ovulation.
OUR BODIES ARE DESIGNED TO MAINTAIN BALANCE
PMS is purely your body’s way of telling you that your hormones are out of balance. By recognising which category(s) you fall into, you can pinpoint what you need to do in order to support your body to bring your hormones back into balance. Natural medicine can offer a wealth of assistance here. You can start by monitoring your cycle (there are some great apps out there), which will help you recognise different patterns.
8 ATTAINABLE STRATEGIES FOR MAINTAINING HORMONAL BALANCE
The key here is to live in a way that will maintain a healthy stress response along with healthy gut bacteria and liver detoxification of unwanted hormones. Here are my tips:
1. Eat wholefoods (preferably organic) while avoiding processed foods. Specific foods to include: cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage), bitter greens (rocket), fermented foods, fibre (whole grains and legumes), quality protein and fats (nuts/seeds and plant oils), phytoestrogens (non-GMO soy products and flaxseeds).
2. Balance daily morning exercise with moments of relaxation throughout the day and evening.
3. Get eight hours of quality sleep a night by practising sleep hygiene.
4. Keep hydrated by adding Celtic salt to your purified drinking water.
5. Avoid non-organic animal products (dairy, meat, poultry, eggs).
Avoid xenoestrogens: pesticides, plastics, commercial cosmetic and cleaning products, medications (contraception, HRT, analgesics, etc).
6. Avoid or minimise alcohol, caffeine and sugar intake.
7. If you’re overweight, engage in a safe, long-term weight reduction program.
MY TOP 3 NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS TO ASSIST HORMONAL BALANCE
These three nutritional supplements are important for maintaining hormonal balance long term (but, before you take them, it’s best to check in with your naturopath or nutritionist):
1. Magnesium and vitamin B complex powder with chromium.
2. Vitamin C and zinc powder.
3. Evening primrose oil.
MY FAVOURITE HERBAL REMEDIES TO ALLEVIATE HORMONAL IMBALANCE
If your work-life balance is tricky to manage right now then there are some wonderful herbal remedies that can support hormonal balance. Here are my favourites:
1. Adrenal health: Withania (also known as ashwagandha) helps the body adapt to stress.
2. Nervous system tonics: St John’s Wort will enhance emotional wellbeing.
3. Liver support: St Mary’s Thistle assists liver detoxification of excess hormones.
4. Hormone modulating: Vitex has scientifically shown over three months to reduce symptoms of PMS.
5. Anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxants: Turmeric, ginger and cramp bark help reduce clotting and cramping, helping you to avoid prescription drugs.
LIVING CONSCIOUSLY ENSURES A POSITIVE OUTCOME
To help you understand what’s going on with your hormones and to get the most appropriate treatment strategy for you, I recommend working with a naturopath while practising restorative (or yin) yoga, which will support your nervous system by teaching you to relax and manage stress effectively and effortlessly.
By gaining an understanding and reducing your stress, you will learn how to live consciously and in the moment, which will enable you to listen, love and nurture your body to help you recognise when your hormones are out of balance and know what to do to rebalance them.
Belinda Llewellyn and her Naturopathic Clinic in Bayswater, Gaia Natural Medicine, are a part of the Nourish Melbourne Community, offering Nourish Melbourne Members 20% off their initial consult and 10% off all further visits. Click here to find out more about our partnership with Gaia Natural Medicine and here for more info about becoming a Nourish Melbourne Member.