Tag Archives: balanced hormones

Herbs for the Maiden, Mother & Matriarch

By this point you are aware of how important hormone balance is in our bodies, if you are not, check out these blogs before continuing.

  1. What are “Female” Hormones?
  2. How to Know When Your Hormones are Outta Whack

Now that we have a basic idea of what hormones are and how they get out of balance, let’s look at how to get them back in order.  You know me, I’m all about the solution and not dwelling on the problem.

As you probably know there are three phases of a female’s life cycle:  The Maiden, The Mother and The Matriarch (or Crone, but I hate that term so I use Matriarch).  The first step to balancing hormones is by honoring the cycle that you are in.  Here is a brief description of these cycles:

  • The Maiden represents enchantment, inception, expansion, the promise of new beginnings, birth, youth and youthful enthusiasm, represented by the waxing moon;
  • The Mother represents ripeness, fertility, sexuality, fulfillment, stability, power and life represented by the full moon;
  • The Matriarch represents wisdom, repose, death, and endings represented by the waning moon.

There are many herbal remedies that nourish and support the female reproductive system in all the cycles of life: Maiden, Mother, and Matriarch. Since the beginning of time women have always reached instinctively for natural remedies to support their overall health and hormone balance.  It is only within the past few hundred years that we have gotten away from our natural roots and began to rely on modern “medicine”.  I use that term lightly because I don’t even see it as medicine, but rather a system that focuses on band aiding the symptoms and not treating the whole person.  This leads to a myriad of other symptoms, check out a commercial for prescriptions, have you seen even 1 without side effects?  I haven’t and generally the side effect symptoms are worse than the initial symptoms.  That being said, click here to read The Full Medical Disclaimer.

I do believe highly in Nature’s Medicine.  Our bodies are made of the same elements as nature and it is through Nature’s Medicine that we will heal ourselves.  There are many wonderful herbs, foods and elements that can help us maintain homeostasis and specifically hormone balance in each life cycle phase.  This blog will focus mainly on herbs to help balance the female hormones.  I will first go over which are good for females of all ages, then I will break down the ones that are best for the Maiden, Mother and Matriarch.

All Life Cycle Phases:

Alfalfa sprouts are a staple of salads and contain nutrients, but the leaves hold the best healing potential and contain phytoestrogens that are beneficial in menopausal and breast feeding women.  Sprouts in general are a great way to maintain balance without putting undue stress on your digestive system.

Note: It is always best to purchase Organic Alfalfa since it is one of the more highly GMO crops.

Asparagus racemosus known in India as Shatavari, has been a treatment for infertility and lack of libido in women for thousands of years, and is regarded as one of the most important herbal tonics for women.  In India, it is often boiled with milk and consumed.

Note:  They cherish their cows in India, we don’t here.  I don’t recommend use of milk unless it is raw and even then, in limited amounts.

Clary sage oil has a special affinity with the female system in general and is recommended for women who are experiencing hot flashes, pain and tension associated with menopause, menstrual problems and PMS.  It is also relaxing, soothing and tends to be earthy and grounding.

Note: Do not use during early pregnancy as it can cause miscarriage.

Red Raspberry Leaf is rich in iron, potassium, magnesium and B, C & E vitamins which are helpful for immune properties & energy.  It also provides ample blood flow to the pelvic area.  (I will get more into this herb in the Mother Phase however it is great for all cycles.)

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THE MAIDEN PHASE:

Burdock (root) and Dandelion (root) are a great pair as liver cleansers and the burdock helps greatly with teenage acne.  Teas of these two roots are excellent with a little bit of honey to sweeten.

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Milk Thistle will help with adolescent surges and the emotional roller-coaster.

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Pau d’arco from South America is rich in calcium and has positive effects on a growing endocrine system.

Siberian ginsing is a major endocrine gland tonics and have properties similar to the adrenal cortical hormone, this is great for exhausted teenagers.  It also supports the liver and bloodstream.

Wild Yams beneficially effect the adrenals, digestive system, liver and endocrine system.

 

THE MOTHER PHASE:

Avena Sativa better known as oats are an alleviator of menstrual cramps.  It increases blood flow and stimulates the central nervous system.  Avena Sativa is also thought to free bound testosterone, an essential hormone for both females & males.

Dong quai and wild yams (not to be mistaken for sweet potatoes), along with other estrogenic herbs can be used in combination to treat menstrual difficulties and other conditions where a woman’s hormones need to be brought back into balance.

Note:  Dong quai is not to be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Galactagogues are those herbs that establish and promote the flow of mother’s milk. They often have high calcium contents and vary in taste. Below are a few examples of Galactagogues:

  • Alfalfa
  • Anise Seed
  • Basil
  • Black Seed Oil
  • Blessed Thistle
  • Borage Seed Oil
  • Caraway Seed
  • Castor Oil
  • Chaste Tree
  • Dandelion Root
  • Dill
  • Fennel Seed
  • Fenugreek
  • Garlic
  • Goat’s Rue
  • Hops
  • Jasmine Oil (not to be used during pregnancy)
  • Lemongrass
  • Milk Thistle Seed
  • Sesame
  • Tribulus terrestris

Red Raspberry Leaf is a must for anyone trying to conceive as it clears toxins that can prevent pregnancy.  It also strengthens uterine walls making implantation easier reducing the risk of early miscarriage.  While pregnant Red Raspberry Leaf will continue to strengthen, and tone the uterus.  Trick is finding the right balance for your body, if you drink too much you can throw yourself into early labor.  I drank 1-2 cups daily until about Week 36 when I increased to 4-5 cups daily.  This worked well for my body however all bodies while similar are different.  I was lucky enough to have a healthy baby boy in under 1.5 hours.  I believe this was because the Red Raspberry Leaf had allowed me to dilate over time instead of all at once.  Just listen to your body and if you feel anything more than slight creamping, be sure to cut back on consumption.

Note:  Always consult with a licensed herbalist before taking any herbs during pregnancy.

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THE MATRIARCH PHASE:

Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, which disrupts endocrine function and prompts premature aging.  It stimulates blood flow to a woman’s reproductive organs and also helps to produce positive effects on hot flashes, anxiety and depression.

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Avena Sativa better known as oats are known as a libido enhancer and alleviator of menstrual cramps.  It increases blood flow and stimulates the central nervous system.  Avena Sativa is also thought to free bound testosterone, an essential hormone for sexual desire in both genders.

Black cohosh contains numerous chemical constituents, among them isoflavones which mimic hormonal activity. This makes this herb useful for hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and even the depression sometimes associated with menopause.

Note:  This is never to be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding

Catuaba bark has been used by the Tupi Indians of Brazil for thousands of years.  It stimulates the central nervous system, thereby providing energy and a more positive mood.  It is also known to be an aphrodisiac.

Epimedium better known as Horny Goat Weed, it not only encourages blood flow to the reproductive organs but also has menopause symptom relieving effects.

Maca (root) also known as Peruvian Ginseng, has been used for centuries by the indigenous people of the Andes, to treat infertility, sexual dysfunction, hot flashes, sleep disruption and night sweats associated with menopause.

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Muria Puama this little known herbal gem calms the nerves, relieves anxiety and also increases blood flow to the pelvic area.

Red Clover greatly benefits the body’s arterial strength and flexibility while helping to relive menopausal symptoms.  It also helps to maintain bone strength.

Shilajit revered in both traditional Indian and Chinese medicine is used as a tonic, which aids in physical energy, mood enhancement and sexual drive.

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Suma known as South American Ginsing, is commonly used to improve the mood, stimulate sexual desire and encourage overall reproductive health.

Tongkat Ali used in Malaysia by women to stimulate libido, increase sensitivity to erogenous zones, supports energy levels, cognitive function and creates positive responses to stress.

Tribulus terrestis stimulates androgen receptors in the brain and encourages the body to use hormones more efficiently.

Now that you have this information you can start honoring the stage you are in by doing research on the herbs in the correct category.  Some herbs may have contraindications with certain medicines, so be sure to check with your physician before beginning any new herbs or adding to your current.

 

In this section, we covered the different phases of a woman’s life cycle as well as herbs to help with each of those cycles.  Next we will focus on how to balance your hormones through diet adjustments and lifestyle changes.

How To Tell When Your Hormones Are Outta Whack

How to Tell When Your Hormones are Outta Whack

In the last blog, What are “Female” Hormones?, we learned that our hormones are the chemical messengers in our bodies that help it function properly.  Hormones effect the brain, heart, bones, muscles, and reproductive organs and are an essential part of the workings of every cell in the human body.  As you can see, having balanced hormones is a very important part in overall health and wellbeing.  So in this blog I will discuss how hormones get thrown outta whack as well as how to tell if your hormones are balanced or not.

How do Hormones Get Out of Balance?

Our bodies are ingeniously designed machines and they withstand many years of torture from our toxic life styles.  Hormone balance is deeply connected to the foods we consume, the amount of movement that we do, how many toxins we take in, how much weight we carry and the stresses that we deal with.  Let’s do a quick review of a few of the many factors that can throw off your hormonal balance.

Consistent high levels of stress: When stress takes center stage in our lives and becomes chronic, Cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, floods the system and total hormone production is disrupted. The body tries to compensate for this disruption by stealing its own supply of available progesterone, to make more cortisol, thus depleting this key hormone.  Prolonged stress tears up our bones, melts our muscles, robs us of vital energy and strength, lowers our libido and overwhelms or immune system.  All of these factors put our bodies at serious risk of chronic illness, cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Poor food choices: Insulin, serotonin, cortisol, and dopamine, not to mention estrogen and testosterone are each affected by the food choices we make.  Xenoestrogens in animal products and byproducts all throw off your hormonal balance (more on Xenoestrogens below).

Inadequate sleep: Sleep deprivation has been shown to lower the appetite-suppressing hormone known as leptin and increase the hormone that stimulates hunger known as ghrelin.  Chronic sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your bodies stress response hormone, cortisol.  Having these hormones out of whack will affect your brain function, ability to keep off weight as well as damaging your immune system.

Taking synthetic hormones: Synthetic versions of Estrogen and progesterone hormones may change the way your body absorbs or discards critical nutrients and can also have an adverse effect on your mood.  They can also impact the hormones that make your body interested in sex so that you find your libido pretty much non-existent.

Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of movement or exercise cause a host of problems in the body, hormone imbalance being only one. 

Xenoestrogens: These man-made toxins mimic the estrogen that is naturally created by the body.  Unlike natural estrogen, these fake hormones severely overstimulate cellular activity, wreaking havoc on the internal balancing mechanisms of the body raising the estrogen burden and along with it the risk of breast cancer.  Xenoestrogens are found in beef and dairy that is pumped full of synthetic growth hormones, in personal care products, household cleaners, in plastics, acetone (paint thinners, removers & even fingernail polish remover) and in pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and more.  The scariest thing about these Xenoestrogens, is that once they are introduced into the body, they are not easily removed.

SIGNS THAT YOUR HORMONES ARE OUTTA WHACK

Even when only one unbalanced hormone is present, it may result in the following hormonal imbalance symptoms in women.  This list is not all encompassing, please remember that hormones are messengers and if they are not functioning properly you will have some sort of dis-ease of the body.

Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance in Women

  • Fatigue not relieved by rest
  • Tired all the time/no energy
  • Difficulty getting up in the morning
  • Poor sleep
  • Craving for salty or sugary foods
  • It takes more effort to perform every day tasks and duties
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Decreased ability to handle stress
  • Increased time to recover from illness or injury
  • Light headed when standing up quickly
  • Light headed, dizzy, or nausea after periods of not eating
  • Hirsutism (excessive facial hair)
  • Depression
  • Lack of enjoyment or happiness
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Food intolerance
  • Sinus problems
  • Alcohol intolerance
  • Excessive allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Dry and thin skin
  • Excessive hunger
  • No hunger
  • Hair loss
  • Unexplained headaches
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Infections
  • Liver disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Inflammation
  • Blood pressure problems
  • Low body temperature
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Mood swings
  • Poor memory
  • PMS
  • Sleep disorders
  • Tender breasts
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty building muscle
  • Cramping
  • Fluid retention
  • Slow metabolism
  • Irritability
  • Chronic illness
  • And more and more and more

Today we learned about the causes of hormone imbalance as well as common symptoms.  Check back tomorrow for different natural ways to balance these hormones during the Maiden, Mother and Matriarch Phases of life.

Check out the Full Medical Disclaimer Here.

 

What are “Female” Hormones?

By: Stephanie Phillips

Hormones are the chemical messengers that regulate or change the functions of organs and structures throughout your body.  Hormones are created in small organs, called glands and move throughout the body, usually through the bloodstream.  The release of hormones is one ways that different parts of the body communicate with one another.  While hormones are present in both males and females, the main ones we will focus on in this blog are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone as it relates to female development.  These hormones are created by the ovaries, two almond-shaped sex glands that are in the pelvis.  Your ovaries also produce a woman’s eggs.

During fetal development, the sex glands are relatively active.  By the time, you are born, every egg is fully formed and stowed away in the ovaries.  During infancy and childhood, or the Maiden Phase, they slow down production.  Then, when puberty hits, the sex glands kick back into high gear.  At this time, they begin to produce adult sexual development and urges.  Mood swings area also associated with puberty.  After this period, most women settle into a regular ovulation pattern.

As mentioned before, the ovaries make both estrogen and progesterone, along with other hormones in a cyclic fashion (ie. Why it is called the monthly cycle).  The levels of these hormones rise and fall with ovulation.  This takes between 21 to 35 days, and ends with a two to seven-day period of menstruation.  This is called the Mother Phase, since this is when your hormones have balanced out and your eggs have had time to mature.  This process will continue for 30 to 40+ years of your life.  It is important to remember that your cycle can be interrupted now and then, of course by pregnancy but also by stressful events.

Estrogen is the primary female hormone, building up the uterine lining, stimulating breast tissue and thickening the vaginal wall.  It also effects almost every organ in the body.  It plays a critical role in bone building and is thought to have very important effects on the cardiovascular system.

Progesterone, is also a very important hormone, especially when it comes to pregnancy.  It is produced only during the second half of the menstrual cycle and prepares the uterine lining for an egg to implant.  Progesterone also has other effects on any of the tissues that are sensitive to estrogen.

Testosterone, is also produced by the ovaries and plays a role in generating energy, developing muscle mass and stimulating sexual desire.

The balance of these hormones in your body at any given time is affected by many factors.  The pituitary gland, a gland found at the base of your brain, and your ovaries are constantly communicating via their respective hormones, dictating the changing hormone levels of your monthly cycle and the production of eggs.  The pituitary gland produces a follicle-stimulating hormone among other hormones.  Medications, stress, body weight (over or under), time of day and even time of the moth can all cause temporary changes in your hormone.

Once we reach the Matriarch Phase of life, permanent changes to the hormone levels and hormone balance occur.  The ovaries will slowly begin to stop releasing eggs, which at this point may no longer be viable.  When this happens they also quit producing their hormones.  This will usually happen over a period of time, beginning anywhere from the late 30’s to the 40’s and even early 50’s in some women.  Progesterone is the first hormone to slow down production, this can lead to heavier and more frequent periods.  This is known as “perimenopause”.

After that the estrogen production begins to taper off, this is what leads to the common discomforts and health concerns that are associated with menopause.  Fluctuating and falling estrogen levels disrupt your internal thermostat, causing hot flashes or vasomotor instability.  Your sleep cycles and some muscle tone are affected by the drastic reduction in estrogen, most notably muscle tone in the pelvic area.  Therefore it’s so vital to keep up those Kegel exercises.

This has been just a quick description of the female hormones and how they work.  Tomorrow I will put up a blog on How to Tell When Your Hormones are Outta Whack.