Herbs I Use to Balance My Hormones

Okay real talk: some days I feel like I entered puberty and never exited. 

Like I'm, still here... moody, acne-prone, sweaty, and oily. The struggle is real, and it's basically never ending. 

My journey to figure out how to deal with my hormones has lead me from the rudest GYN in Toronto (no really, you should see his RateMD page, yikes) to an endocrinologist who basically told me to come back when I want to get pregnant (because until then, who cares?) and tons of blood/salivary/urine tests to get to the bottom of it.

I've been offered multiple prescriptions, which came with multiple side effects that freaked me out. Seriously though, am I the only one who actually reads the pamphlets you get at the pharmacy?! Pharmaceutical medicine is scary AF sometimes. 

I also found myself SO JEALOUS of my clients who would come in with acne, mood swings, and weird periods that completely resolved after a few weeks of diet/lifestyle changes. Why was is so much harder for me?

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But enough about me! A few weeks ago, I polled you guys on Instagram and asked you to send me your hormone balancing questions. Today I'm going to answer all of them as well as share a few products that I use as a part of my overall nutrition and lifestyle plan to keep my skin clear(er), my mood stable, and my periods... pleasant, actually! Keep in mind that I am not a doctor and I don't know anything about your personal health history! Be sure to consult with your healthcare professional about your personal needs before making any big diet/supplement changes.

Your Hormone Questions Answered

"Why is flax recommended for hormones?"

First, you need to know that some plants contain phytoestrogens (literally plant estrogens) that have similarities to the female sex hormone, estrogen. One kind of phytoestrogen are lignans, and flax seeds contain more lignans than any other food! Because these plant estrogens bind to our estrogen receptors, they actually have an anti-estrogenic effect which can lower the risk of hormone-related cancers, like breast cancer.

Almost everyone can safely consume some flax daily. I highly recommend using ground flax seeds, not flax oil, because it comes with the added benefit of fibre, which also helps your body get rid of unwanted estrogens, lowering breast cancer risk. If you have a history of estrogen-sensitive cancers, limit your intake to 2 tablespoons daily and check with your doctor.

"I've heard that Chaste Tree is great for balancing hormones?"

Chaste Tree is usually used in cases of low progesterone, a key sex hormone that doesn't get enough airtime. If you have irregular cycles, mood swings, and hormonal acne, it could be related to low progesterone. This supplement works by supporting your pituitary gland to increase progesterone levels and LH levels, both of which are key for ovulation.

But test, don't guess! Ask your doctor for a blood test to check your progesterone. Try to go to the lab on day 21 of your cycle (21 days after the first day of your period). This will provide the information needed to know if Chaste Tree supplementation is right for you.

"What can I do about hormonal mood swings?"

I think it's really important to first understand that women's bodies fluctuate throughout our cycles, and so do our emotions! This is natural, and while you shouldn't have debilitating mood swings, keep your expectations realistic as you probably won't feel the same all month long.

Start tracking your period and all associated symptoms, including your moods! I recommend Clue, because it's free, intuitive, and it's more gender neutral - there's not a pink flower in sight. See if you can notice some patterns in your cycle, when are you experiencing mood swings? This information will provide insight into what the underlying imbalance could be, and what tests might be needed to confirm.

"Are there any supplements that help hormonal acne?"

Before looking to supplements, make sure you're consistently getting great nutrition! Make sure you are completing the following checklist for 3 months:

  • Eating 5 servings of veggies and 3 servings of fruit per day.
  • Drinking 1/2 your body weight in fl.oz of water every day (ie. 145lb woman needs 72oz)
  • Eat a low glycemic diet consistently and limit treats.
  • Get most of your fats from nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, cold pressed oils, wild fish, and egg yolks.
  • Get adequate protein, you should be aiming for an absolute minimum of 0.36 grams per pound of body weight (ie. 145 x 0.36 = 52 grams) but you will need more if you are active. I usually recommend about 0.8 - 1 grams per pound of body weight as optimal.
  • Get some exercise daily, even a 30-minute walk!

If you're still struggling with hormonal acne after ensuring these baseline needs are met, you can try adding some supplements. 

Milk Thistle

Helps your liver do its job better - which means eliminating toxins. Your liver is responsible for processing and eliminating hormones that your body wants to get rid of.

Schisandra Berry

Like flax, schisandra is a source of phytoestrogens, which can improve estrogen metabolism and help reduce the overall estrogen activity in the body. It also increases antioxidant production, especially glutathione, which is your body's most important antioxidant.

Dandelion Root

Supports bile production, which means better absorption of dietary fats and fat-soluble nutrients (vitamins A, D, E & K). These nutrients, as well as fats, are key for better skin health! It also acts as a mild diuretic to help with water retention.

Turmeric

The bright yellow colour of this spice is thanks to its high antioxidant content. It supports yoru liver as well as improving estrogen metabolism. Like flax and schisandra, it contains phytoestrogens. 

I've been using two products that contain all these ingredients (and some others), and I teamed up with MegaFood Canada to bring you guys this blog post! Plus, if you're reading this before August 31st, you can head over to my Instagram page and enter to win both of these.

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Daily Purify Nutrient Booster Powder™ and Turmeric Strength™ for Liver

I add one scoop of the Daily Purify to about 6oz of water and drink it first thing in the morning along with 2 tabs of the Turmeric Strength. Here are the benefits I've personally noticed:

  • Less water retention, the Daily Purify contains a lot of natural diuretic plants like dandelion root and parsley.
  • Clearer skin, after about 2 weeks of using them both consistently.
  • I don't get as hungover when I drink! That's been a huge perk through patio season.

I'm a fan of this line because everything is made from whole foods, sources from farmers. As a nutritionist, obviously I believe food comes first, but it's nice to have supplement options that fit my philosophy. If you're interested in trying these for yourself (first, make sure you enter my giveaway!) you can find them on Well.ca and VitaSave.ca. Plus, make sure you follow @MegaFoodCanada!

If you have any hormone questions you want me to answer, leave me a comment below! 

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