Hormonal support for women who want to rebalance their hormones naturally.
In 2016, I moved to Canada from Europe. This was a big change for me. The first few months were challenging. I thought then that I was healthy. I now understand that I was certainly not healthy mentally or physically. I’ve come a long way since then. And I am aware today that there is still room for growth. I can’t wait to learn more and become an even better version of myself.
Back then, I was taking the birth control pill, which had been prescribed to me by a Doctor when I was 19 to solve my acne problems (I didn’t have that much acne then). I didn’t know better. So I trusted the Doctor and stayed on the pill for more than 5 years.
When I moved to Vancouver for a job, after living in Calgary for 3 months, I knew deep down that something wasn’t right and I had to change. I couldn’t recognize myself in the mirror. Who was that girl in the reflection? I had gained over 20 lbs (almost 10 kg). I had very bad acne around my mouth and jaw line, and on my back. Worst than I had ever had before. And mentally, well, you can only imagine that my self-esteem, self-worth and self-love, had sunk down to its lowest point. I was constantly beating myself up, criticizing myself, using self negative talks in my mind. I was very hard on myself. You could say that I was depressed. Down on myself, desperate, not loving myself and life.
This is when I made a conscious choice to change and get better. To heal myself.
It started with ditching the pill! The first best decision I made! The second one was to join a gym so they could kick my big butt and help me get into shape! And from there, many good choices followed. One little change after the other. I started to change my nutrition. It was hard. But consistency was the key! To keep going no matter what. I also had to learn discipline. Something I do not have by nature. But the only way to keep going is to make constant effort. And that requires discipline. To prioritize yourself and make the best decisions every single moment. Over the long term, all these little changes made a huge difference! And I started seeing results. That’s when my thoughts about myself started to change as well.
My whole health was improving. Physically, it was noticeable. I was shedding the extra fat. Mentally and emotionally, I started feeling some big shifts. I was more stable, grounded, peaceful and overall happy and joyful. Detoxing myself from the effects of the pill was like coming out of a thick fog. I went through a stage where I was feeling guilty and beating myself up for ever going on that prescription drug. But I didn’t know better at the time and I just trusted the establishment of Doctors and the medical system. Today, with all the knowledge I have gathered on the subject, I know better. And I am choosing better for myself.
In this post, I want to share with you what I have learned. Because female hormonal health is SO important! It is a major building block of your overall health. Fertility is not just about having babies. Fertility is also an indicator of your health.
Do you have regular cycles?
Are your periods painful?
Do you get crazy PMS?
Do you ovulate?
What contraceptive methods are you using?
What is in your diet, your beauty products and your environment that is affecting your hormones?
These are all very important questions that you should ask yourself and find the answers for yourself.
Balancing my hormones has not only been a saving grace for my own physical, mental and emotional health but it has also benefited my husband, my friends, my family and any person that comes in contact with me. Because I am a more balanced person all together. I feel whole. And most importantly I feel in control of myself. I know what’s going on with me and I know how to deal with myself. This is self awareness and self empowerment. I wish every woman on this planet would learn this!
So here are my major takeaways when it comes to hormonal health.
How to balance your hormones naturally
Whether you are coming off the pill or suffer from PCOS, estrogen dominance, or any type of hormone related imbalance, this article is for you!
DISCLAIMER: this article is a guide to help you on your own health journey. It is based solely on my experience and research over the last few years. It is not meant to replace your own healthy routine or to be followed as a protocole. I created this document to educate, inform and inspire people. I want to show you that there is a natural way of finding a healthy balance in life that works for you. Everybody is unique. I am not saying that what worked for me will work for you. I do not believe in the “one approach fits all”. But it’s worth the try. So try things that seem to make sense to you intuitively and see how they help and support you. Make sure to talk to your Doctor or health care practitioner before adding any supplements to your diet or making any big dietary changes. And please, do your own research! Knowledge is empowering! You are your own best health advocate! Always remember that.
Hormones Balancing Steps
These are the key steps I followed to balance my hormones:
1. Heal the gut – for better absorption, elimination and detoxification. You can’t rebalance your hormones without addressing your gut health.
Repair the gut lining. I was showing signs of leaky gut syndrome, so I decided to follow a diet that would help repair that. A healthy gut lining is very important for proper nutrients absorption.
Repopulate the gut microbiome with healthy microbes. A strong gut = a strong health. I started taking probiotics and I have taken them ever since. You also want to make sure you get enough prebiotic foods in your diet as the good microbes feed on them.
2. Support the liver – to improve liver function for better detoxification. The detox process of the liver and the gut is very important in reducing and eliminating estrogen dominance, which I was showing signs of.
3. Regulate blood sugar – to eliminate insulin resistance, avoid energy crashes, and boost metabolism.
4. Support the adrenals – to regulate cortisol levels, improve sleep and reduce stress.
5. Reduce inflammation – to lose the extra weight and help the body go back to balance. Stress is a huge factor in inflammation.
I have already addressed the importance of nutrition in a previous blog post (see Living healthy, where to start). When it comes to hormones, nutrition plays a fundamental part in rebalancing the body back to health. A healthy hormone balance can only be achieved with a healthy gut. Your gut health is pretty much at the root of all your health issues. So you want to prioritize good nutrition and if there is anything you should do for rebalancing your hormones is to eat properly!
Here are a few guidelines you could follow:
- Avoid all refined sugar at all costs! Opt for the more natural ones (honey, maple syrup, dates, coconut sugar,…).
- Quit alcohol. It wreaks havoc on your system. It’s not the kind of support you need right now.
- Limit caffeine intake to 1 cup a day and have it before 3 PM. When you do drink caffeine, make sure you drink enough water with it or after.
- Eliminate white carbs (white wheat = pasta, bread, cereals,… /avoid rice and white potatoes). Go for the more complex carbs (whole grains, quinoa, sweet potatoes,…).
- Increase your protein intake. Make sure you add protein to your breakfast. This will regulate your blood sugar throughout the day to avoid cravings and the afternoon energy crash. Make sure you eat 1 portion of protein at every meal.
- Red berries are great for you! Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, goji berries,…. Add them to your smoothies, salads, baking recipes, snack on them,… Blueberries are my favourite as they are super antioxidants and have a very low glycemic index.
- Try going dairy free. Instead, use coconut yogurt, nut milk like almond or coconut milk, goat or sheep cheese like feta, manchego, asiago,… Dairy is full of hormones from cows and this is the last thing you need when you are trying to regulate your own. It will aggravate your hormone imbalance and exacerbate your hormones. Not to mention the lactose which is basically sugar. Now, it doesn’t mean that you’ll have to be DF for the rest of your life. Since my hormones are back on track, I have started reintroducing good quality cheese and grass-fed yoghurt in reasonable amounts in my diet. Because I do love cheese and yoghurt! And I’m happy to say that I am not as reactive to it and it doesn’t affect me as much anymore. Of course, like everything else, don’t over do it!
- Snack on nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistacchio, brazil nuts, macadamia,…). Nuts are a great source of healthy fat, and are packed with minerals, nutrients and fiber. So you want to incorporate them in your diet as much as possible. In your smoothies, in baking, in salads, in dishes,… You can either have them whole and raw or in nut butters.
- Add seeds to your salads or steamed veggies (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, hemp hearts, sesame seeds,…). Like nuts, seeds are full of good nutrients that will help nourish you. The fiber also boosts the flow of your digestive tract.
- Stay away from vegetable oils like sunflower oil, safflower oil, soybean oil and canola oil as they trigger an inflammatory response in your body. Instead, use extra-virgin cold pressed organic olive oil, extra-virgin cold pressed organic coconut oil, grass fed butter, ghee,…
- Add healthy fats – avocado, coconut oil, MCT oil, olive oil,… This will help regulate your blood sugar levels and cravings throughout the day. Plus, they are excellent nutrition for your health!
- Eat lots of greens! Leafy greens like lettuce, kale, spinach,… and veggies (broccoli, green beans, asparagus, zucchini,…) are packed with vitamins and minerals, they are also full of fiber and a good antioxidant. They will make your gut happy!
- Enjoy dark chocolate (get the 70% cocoa. The others have too much sugar, sorry…). Chocolate is delicious and also good for you! So go for it (with moderation, of course).
- Eat mindfully. Chew your food, a lot! Take time to eat your meals. Take a deep breath before starting a meal and always be thankful for the food you are about to eat. Gratitude puts you in a healthy state of mind and prepares your body to receive the food without shame or guilt.
- Drink a lot of water! You should be drinking half your bodyweight in ounces daily. You want to detox your system and flush out all the excess hormones, toxins and other garbage that doesn’t belong in your healthy body. Make sure it’s filtered water though. You want to drink clean water. The reality today is that the water from our tap (if you live on the grid. If you have a well, you might enjoy higher quality water. Good for you!) is full of added chemicals and minerals that we do not want to ingest. Most of them are endocrine disruptors (meaning they mess up with your hormones).
Plants & Herbs
Plants and herbs are a wonderful part of the creation that helps support our mind and body in so many ways! They can be a very useful tool to balance your hormones.
Here are a few plants & herbs I used and experimented with. I encourage you to try the ones that inspire you and see how it can help you. Most of these can be found in powders and added to your smoothie, favourite drink, baking recipes or taken in capsules. Remember to always check with your Dr when incorporating supplements into your diet.
- Ashwagandha is a great hormone balancing powder. It is an adaptogenic herb which means it helps you adapt to stress by supporting your adrenals. It also helps lowering blood sugar, boosting brain functions and releasing feelings of anxiety and depression.
- Maca root is full of great nutrients, vitamins and minerals. It boosts energy, improves mood, thus reducing anxiety and depression. Maca has been shown to reduce cortisol levels and improve fertility. It also improves brain function.
- Ginseng is a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation. It also boosts brain functions and immunity. Ginseng has also been found to lower blood sugar. It mostly increases energy levels.
- Milk thistle is one of the best liver cleansing herbs. A healthy liver is vital for hormone balance. Milk thistle is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It helps with acne, blood sugar balance and brain functions.
- Dandelion is a great liver detoxifier. It supports blood sugar balance, digestion, gut microbiome and clear skin. It is also diuretic so it will help with water retention.
- Rhodiola is another adaptogenic herb that stimulates the nervous system. It helps with physical and mental fatigue by supporting energy levels. It induces relaxation and reduces stress and anxiety. It also improves sleep. Rhodiola affects adrenals and thyroid hormones.
- Cramp bark, as its name indicates, helps reduce period cramps. It also reduces pain and inflammation of the uterus.
- Astragalus is an antioxidant that boosts the immune system. It also supports energy levels and reduces stress.
- Dong quai has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to reduce headaches, PMS and menstrual cramps. It has really helped me reduce my PMS symptoms.
- Chaste tree, also known as chasteberry or Vitex has been used to support PMS, heavy periods, acne, migraines and fertility. It stimulates progesterone which is great if you are estrogen dominant.
- Shatavari is a herb used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is a female tonic, meaning it’s good for all female hormones. It also supports energy levels and adrenal hormones.
Tea is a great way to use plants and herbs. I love tea because it is warm, comforting and helps you keep hydrated. Here are a few of my favourites:
- Holy basil or Tulsi tea supports the adrenals and nervous system.
- Rooibos tea helps with cortisol balance.
- Green tea is antioxidant.
- Liquorice tea supports estrogen levels, adrenals and is great to curb those sugar cravings.
- Fennel tea with peppermint. This is a great combo to improve digestion. Fennel also helps with hormone balance especially for PCOS. It helps decrease androgen levels and acts as estrogen.
- Nettle leaf tea is very nourishing and balancing. It is a great source of iron to stimulate thyroid hormones. It has soothing effects on the kidneys and adrenals. It balances blood sugar, supports liver function, fights inflammation and boosts energy. Nettle is also a good remedy for heavy periods.
- Matcha latte is one of my favourite drinks. Make it with almond or oat milk and add a little bit of honey or stevia for sweetness. Matcha is a concentrated green tea powder full of antioxidants.
- Golden milk made with turmeric and ginger. You can add any adaptogenic herb like maca or ashwagandha to it as well. It is a latte so make it with almond, oat or coconut milk. Turmeric is great at reducing inflammation and ginger is a warming spice that aids digestion and reduces bloating and gassing.
- Chai tea latte. A caffeinated drink full of warm spices. Add cinnamon, ginger, clove, cardamom, star anise and black pepper to your nut milk of choice and your favourite natural sweetener.
- Spicy hot chocolate. A heart warming, sweet drink to which you can add any adaptogenic herb. Drink it with coconut cream for more deliciousness. Add cinnamon, a pinch of cayenne pepper and himalayan salt to it for a twist.
- Chicory root and dandelion tea for liver support. Look for the brand Dandy Blend. It’s available on Amazon.
These are the supplements I took when I came off the pill. The pill depletes your body from most its vital vitamins and minerals. They are so important for natural hormonal balance but also for immune support, energy levels, blood sugar balance, reducing inflammation,…
Again, make sure you talk to your Dr before adding any supplements to your diet!
- Magnesium Bisglycinate (Magnesium Citrate can make you poop)
- Vit C
- Vit B (multi complex – make sure it has B12!)
- Vit D3
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Folic acid (only after testing your thyroid hormones)
- Curcumin for inflammation
- Digestive enzymes
Essential oils are an extra support for your mental, emotional and physical health. I started incorporating them along with all the other little changes in my diet and lifestyle. They are part of my daily routine now and I love them! They are so supportive and balancing. You can inhale them, diffuse them or rub them onto your feet, or other parts of your body. I also love adding them to my bath (lavender, clary sage or Ylang Ylang, or a mix of them), using them as perfume (Joy) or as deodorant (Geranium).
These are my favourites for hormone balance:
- Clary sage
- Progessence Plus (a Young Living blend) – it helps to support healthy progessence levels.
- Dragon time (YL) – this one is great for PMS and period support.
- Ylang ylang
- Lady Sclareol (YL)
- Joy (YL)
As mentioned in my post Living healthy, where to start?, lifestyle is another key building block of your overall health and wellbeing. Our lifestyle can support a healthy hormone balance or create a hormonal mess. You create the results you get by making the right supporting choices.
Here are a few rules of thumb:
- Improve your sleep habits:
- Avoid screen time 1h to 30min before bed
- Avoid eating a heavy meal before bedtime
- Try to eat 3-4 hours before bedtime
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day even on weekends
- Respect the sacred sleep hours (between 10pm and 2am). They are the most restful hours of your night. It is best to go to bed around 10pm.
- Get enough sleep. An average of 8 hours per night is good.
- Practice mindfulness. Spend some quiet time with yourself. Meditate, relax. Give yourself some down time.
- Spend more time outdoors. Go for a 30 min walk every day if you can, breathe some fresh air daily.
- Stretch and flex daily. To wake up and at the end of the day. Just a few movements to get the blood flowing and release tensions. I love Yoga and I practice it every single day. Even if I can only get 10 or 15 min in, I reap all the benefits and feel so much better!
- Exercise in sync with your cycle. During your luteal phase (from ovulation to your period), you want to prioritize low impact exercise. Especially in the weeks leading up to your period. During your follicular phase (from your period to ovulation), your hormones are on the rise and so will your stamina and energy levels. So go for the higher intensity training.
- Be aware of your thoughts and inner dialogue. Cultivate a positive mindset. Love yourself, be kind to yourself, forgive yourself.
- Remember to breathe deeply and consciously. Take a few big belly breaths. Fill your lungs, open your heart, expand your chest and then release fully.
- Remove endocrine disruptors. Watch out for those chemicals that bring your hormones out of whack. They are hidden in your shampoo, lotions, moisturizers, hair spray, laundry detergent, dish soap, hand soap, make up,…
- Stay hydrated. Drink enough water. Make sure you filtrate your water. Good quality water is very important.
- Reduce stress and learn how to cope with it using all the above techniques like yoga, meditation, time spent outdoors,… or listen to some music, have an epsom salts bath with lavender essential oil, pet an animal, go out with your friends and laugh, read a book,…
If you’re looking at a more natural way to prevent pregnancy, you will find so many! The most important, is to find one that works for you. The pill doesn’t have to be the only solution to control fertility. Since ditching the pill, I found a few methods that work for me and I am sticking to them as they support me the way I need.
Of course, these techniques work best if you have a more regular cycle so you can track them and know exactly when you ovulate and when your fertile window is. The good news is that, since you are already working at balancing your hormones naturally, your cycle should come back to a more natural, balanced rhythm too.
So here are a few methods worth considering (please, always do your own research and talk to your Dr if you have any questions or doubts):
Fertility Awareness Methods (FAMs)
FAMs are natural ways to track your ovulation so you can prevent pregnancy. It’s about tracking your menstrual cycle so you know when you ovulate every month. The days around your ovulation are your fertile days, when you’re most likely to get pregnant. So during those days (usually 5 days leading to ovulation and a couple of days after ovulation), you want to use barrier methods like condoms (male or female), pull-out methods or avoid intercourse all together (although these are the days of your cycle when you feel at best and when your sex drive is at its peak).
There are 3 methods to track your ovulation:
- The temperature method – you take your temperature every morning before you get out of bed. There are many good apps linked to special thermometers to help you do this easily (I use Femometer).
- The cervical mucus method – you check your cervical mucus (vaginal discharge) every day. It’s just an easy check in your underwear when you go to the bathroom and when you wipe. You will notice that the colour, consistency and even smell of your mucus will vary depending on where you are in your cycle. No need to be disgusted here. It’s all natural and normal.
- The calendar method – you chart your menstrual cycle on a calendar. There are many apps for this and I’ve tried a few different ones over the years (Flo, Cues,…). You can also track your PMS symptoms and when you have sex.
I’ve used all methods and they work well together. They create body awareness which is great to manage all the changes, fluctuation, symptoms and such, throughout your cycle.
Talk to your Dr about other contraceptive methods (that doesn’t involve the birth control pill!) if this doesn’t work for you and you still have doubts or questions. And always remember, you are entitled to your own choices. Go with what feels best for you. No one should impose their medical authority on you. Make informed decisions.
These are some helpful resources I used to learn more about natural hormone balance, hormone health, gut health,…
Don’t just take my word for it. Do your own research. Learn for yourself. Seek the right information. My goal here is to empower you so you can make the best choices that are right for you. You are unique, your health is unique, your story is unique. And so will your treatment protocol be. Unique to you. Get help from knowledgeable and respectful practitioners. I absolutely love Naturopaths and their holistic approach to health. I know they can help you too.
- Beyond the Pill – Dr Jolene Brighten
- Period Power – Maisie Hill
- Period Repair Manual – Lara Briden, ND
- Melissa Ramos – @sexyfoodtherapy
- Dr Aviva Romm – @dr.avivaromm
- Dr Amy Myers – @dramymyers
- Dr Jolene Brighten – @drjolenebrighten
- Dr Axe – @drjoshaxe
- Tara Thorne – @tarathornenutrition
- Jenn Pike – @jennpike
- Holistic Hormone Nutrition – @composednutrition
- Sarah Gottfried, MD – @saragottfriedmd
- Jessica Victoria, Naturopath – @jvictoriahealth
- For endometriosis – @the.endo.nurse
- Lucy Fitz, Naturopath – @lucy_fitz
- Women’s Health Coach – @marinadwright
- Dr Paria, ND – @doctor.paria
- Naturopathic Doctor – @drcorinadunlap
- Dr Aviva Romm – MD, Midwife and Herbalist
- Dr Josh Axe – The leaky gut specialist
- Jenn Pike – Author, Nutritionist and Coach
- Magdalena Wszelaki – Author, Certified Health Coach and Herbalist
- Great blog about hormones and nutrition
And so much more…
I hope you found this article useful and interesting. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or need any more tips. I’d love to help!
I wish you all the best in your own healing journey. May you become a strong, healthy, empowered woman in control of your health, vitality and fertility.