So, as you know, my job is helping women balance hormones through food and lifestyle choices and my natural therapies like homeobotanicals and homeopathy. Regular readers will also know that I believe every woman is different and deserves to be treated that way. That said, a lot of what I teach is hormone balancing and how to ensure that our cycles run smoothly. With no sucky signs of something gone haywire, like premenstrual moods swings, breast pain, bloating, hormonal headaches, skin breakouts, short luteal phase (time from ovulation to period) and more.
How to Balance Hormones
Basically balancing hormones is about 3 main things:-
1. Ensuring enough progesterone
2. Balancing oestrogen and making sure that we’re detoxing it properly – think gut and liver.
3. Reducing any inflammation that may messing up the orchestra of chemical signals in the body
Now this is big stuff. Too big for one blog, so I thought I’d break it down into parts. So, if you want the whole story you’ll need to read a few blogs. And this stuff is relevant even if we’re perimenopausal and menopausal.
This time, I want to look at progesterone, why it’s important and how to ensure we have enough.
Making Enough Progesterone
Progesterone is the calming hormone and it reduces inflammation. It protects from effects of oestrogen and we need to make enough to make sure oestrogen doesn’t “dominate”. It’s also pretty key if you suffer any PMS symptoms.
So how do you know if you’re producing enough?
Well there are some natural signs like not ovulating, short luteal phase (can affect fertility), pre-period spotting and PMS symptoms.
You could also check your basal body temperature to see if there is a temperature rise which is driven by an increase in progesterone. Women tracking cycles to plan a pregnancy often record basal body temperature.
You could arrange a progesterone test. Your GP can arrange a blood test (about 7 days before your period is due is ideal) or you can order a saliva test privately.
Self-Help For Making Progesterone
There are steps we can take to produce and maintain healthy levels of progesterone, including:-
- Reducing alcohol.
- Reducing stress. One key reason is that stress produces cortisol and the building blocks of cortisol are the same as progesterone. That means if your adrenals are pumping cortisol, you’re likely not producing good levels of progesterone.
- Reduce all the usual suspect inflammation-causing foods – sugar, wheat, cows’ dairy.
- Taking regular, gentle exercise to reduce stress and inflammation.
- Making sure you’re getting enough magnesium. Dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds are good sources or you could consider a supplement too reduce PMS symptoms and protect progesterone.
- Making sure you’re getting enough selenium. Sources include Brazil nuts, fish/seafood and organ meat like liver. Or you could consider a supplement.
- Investigating herbs – the gentle and safe Homeobotanical blends I make, for example, contain hormone balancing herbs such as Vitex Agnus Castus and support mood /emotional balance.
If you suspect you’re suffering low progesterone and want to give it a boost, get in touch about working with and lets develop a tailored plan to get your hormones back into balance and reach your health goals e.g.kicking PMS to the kerb or fuelling fertility.
Next, we’ll look at oestrogen.