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Hormones. Does that word conjure up feelings of moodiness, concern about acne, sugar cravings, irritability, weight gain, the feeling of being at war with your body?

The endocrine system, a series of glands responsible for secreting hormones, is an amazing but delicate system, especially in women. It’s fascinating, really. Your brain communicates with your thyroid, adrenals and ovaries to trigger ovulation and menstruation all the while regulating your metabolism, mood, stress response, energy levels, weight, and sex drive.

Woman these days are wearing many hats– they’re on top in their careers and are managing families and home life after 12 hour work days. This type of stress can cause your hormones to go haywire. Blame cortisol, your main stress hormone, which spikes during times of stress, and it stays elevated due to the chronic stressors modern life presents. While cortisol is intrinsically not bad, chronically high cortisol can become problematic. Chronic stress can cause inflammation and affect your thyroid and female hormones, especially progesterone. (The other main female hormone is estrogen). Low progesterone can cause menstrual irregularities, depression, breast tenderness, mood swings, insomnia, low sex drive, fatigue, and anxiety, to name a few symptoms.

If you’re experiencing a worsening in PMS, hot flashes, changes in your cycle, or any of the above symptoms, listen up. Here are 4 tips to get you started balancing your hormones– and you can start right away.


1) Lay off the sugar & wine. Are you self medicating with a glass (or bottle) of wine every night to unwind? Or are your sugar cravings overpowering during the day? Sugar and booze are 2 of the biggest endocrine disruptors, and they contribute to the body’s stress load. Sugar causes inflammation and feeds bad bacteria in your gut (read: causes bloating, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, candida), and wine stresses your detox system, which needs to be kept in good working order to metabolize your hormones and contribute to overall hormone balance. Kick both and feel better in a week. Your hormones will be happier too. This supplement is a great choice to help combat cravings when weaning off booze and sugar.

2) SLEEP. Sleep is the best Rx for stress. We don’t get nearly enough of it. We’re burning the candle at both ends, and our hormones are paying for our on-the-go lifestyles. Lack of sleep causes high cortisol, weight gain, sugar cravings, and fatigue. Get 8-9 hours nightly. Don’t be afraid of a 20 minute nap on the weekends (or during the workday). 

3) Support your liver. As I mentioned, your liver is in charge of metabolizing hormones and plays a crucial role in hormone balance. Your liver is your hardest working organ, so be kind to it. It has to filter everything you eat (including medications), drink, breathe, and apply to your skin. So ditch the diet sodas, sugar, booze, white flour, and chemical-laden processed foods. Swap them out for liver-loving cruciferous veggies, organic proteins and eggs, leafy greens, beets and carrots, and green veggie juices. Here is my list of top liver cleansing foods. Try this easy roasted broccoli or spicy cauliflower for dinner tonight.Start tomorrow morning with a mug of hot water, lemon, and turmeric. Need a jumpstart?

4) Fix your stressful relationships. This one may take some time, but you can start by asking yourself these questions: are you trapped in an unhappy or unhealthy relationship? Be open and honest. Would seeking therapy help? Examine all the close relationships in your life and figure out how you can improve them. Don’t forget about your most important relationship– your relationship with yourself! Your emotional wellbeing is crucial to happiness and hormone balance. Finding a spiritual path can help– whatever speaks to you. I recommend meditation.

I often recommend herbal tinctures or supplements to help bring hormones back into balance. I like blends with adaptogenic herbs and vitex (chasteberry) or wild yam. I also recommend a full thyroid panel and saliva hormone testing to check your hormone levels, then I can design a program customized to you to balance them.

Other hormone disruptors:

processed soy, or too much soy in general. Soy is estrogenic.
endocrine-disrupting chemicals from your cosmetics or environment
birth control pills (or other hormonal birth control)
eating conventionally raised meat & fish that has been fed growth hormones or antibiotics
yeast overgrowth bad bacteria or parasite infections in the digestive tract.

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