The endocrine system, which regulates your hormones through organs like the thyroid, the adrenal glands, the hypothalamus, the pancreas, the thyroid, the pineal gland, and other endocrine glands such as the sex glands—is like a complex spider web, each strand touching all the other strands.
One pluck to one of those strands impacts the integrity of the entire web and can even crash the system because of extreme physical or emotional trauma—causing conditions like adrenal fatigue and adrenal burnout.
If you’re feeling moody, bloated, gaining weight around the middle, or are feeling so completely exhausted just by simple physical acts such as walk up the stairs or a short workout—chances are hormones can be to blame and that you might have a case of hormonal imbalance.
Hormones help regulate
In fact, if your hormones are out of balance, your body will let you know it.
Signs That You May Have a Hormone Imbalance
There are all kinds of symptoms of hormone imbalance – but some chief signs are exhaustion, mood swings, depression and others. Let’s look at all the signs of hormone imbalances and then discuss how to get them back into balance naturally, without reliance on any dangerous synthetic, and cancer-causing hormone patches or supplements like estrogen-based or testosterone-based supplements.
Some common symptoms of hormone imbalances
How Prolonged Stress Creates Hormonal Imbalance and Adrenal Fatigue
The trouble is, just one high hormone, like cortisol, consistently raised from prolong stress, lack of full recovery after workouts, grieving, or being in unhealthy relationships, for example, can throw other hormones out of balance as well.
This why getting plenty of sleep, avoiding harsh, stress-inducing chemicals (any kind of stress, from too much exercise to exposure to harsh pesticides, fragrances—all of it, even dieting—it’s all stress).
In fact, if you are suffering from even a mild case of adrenal fatigue, with compromised hormone levels in the stress hormones adrenaline or cortisol, this can so impact energy that any kind of prolonged exercise can further weaken the system.
This is why for people with moderate to extreme adrenal fatigue, doctors advise long, slow walks with plenty of time to recover afterward.
I sometimes see clients get so motivated about getting in shape, especially when they have just started to look really fantastic, they get so excited about pushing it even further that they are at the gym at four and five a.m. after not even getting a few hours of sleep.
And this is a good recipe crashing your whole hormonal system, creating conditions like adrenal fatigue, when you so deplete your fight or flight hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that you create fatigue and weight gain as opposed to weight loss and energy.
Why? Because you need lots of high healthy fat and at least 8 or 9 hours of sleep a night to manufacture the very hormones you need to burn fat (like growth hormone (GH)) and to manufacture energy.
Your body’s chief stress-handling hormones are adrenaline and cortisol. These are disrupted by either extreme physical, mental, emotional, or toxic stress or prolonged stress. Keep in mind, even supposedly-super-healthy marathon runners often get adrenaline fatigue because of the prolonged stress of such long, long races. So even over-exercise, yes, in fact can quite easily create a hormonal imbalance. Especially when runners become super-obsessed with running increasingly longer distances. (This is why for them, I always advise a protocol of two days’ rest, two days light or moderate cardio) and three days weight training for four to six months to allow the body to recover).
We release cortisol in the mornings, to help us meet our energy requirements for the day and to power through busy times when it is light outside (as our ancient mechanisms are powered to do). Cortisol wanes gradually throughout the day to help us sleep at night.
UNLESS we are consistently stressed.
That’s because we also release cortisol every time our body experiences stress—even when we exercise too hard and without recovering adequately.
Other issues challenging our hormonal balance are that
So, besides the supplements and herbs I am going to recommend for you today, I also recommend a protocol of STRESS MANAGEMENT—for all of us.
In chapter one, I discuss journaling, a morning routine that motivates and clears the mind called Clearing. I also like meditating with essential oils for stress management, such as lavender oil and Roman chamomile.
Find a very quiet place outside or inside (in early morning sunlight if you are going outside—you don’t want harsh sun providing more stress). It also needs to be a chemical-free environment, free of pesticides (or that’s more toxic stress).
Take ten minutes. Thank God or your Creator for your body, mind, everything in your life you’re grateful to. Try to get completely silent with yourself and to think of one goal for the rest of your day or tomorrow. See yourself accomplishing just this one thing.
Or simply relax and try to hear our own breathing deep within and focus on all the sounds of your body. Try to envision yourself becoming weightless as you do this.
It really relaxes the body and mind and can help you reset hormones as well.
For a great article on this, see Now and Zen: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Mind and Improve Your Health by leading scientists at Harvard Medical School.
Fiber and filtered water will help you clear the system of hormone disrupting chemicals we absorb from our food, water, and the environment, no matter how clean we eat. So, eat lots of organic veggies, as local as you can get them, and drink as clean of filtered water as you can get too. Look into a five-cycle reverse osmosis filter for your home. I combine a five cycle R.O. system with a filter at the main in my home, to doubly purify my water.
Some of the most innocent smelling fragrances are full of hormone disrupting chemicals. So, do personal skin care products and pesticides, which actually turn male frogs female in a process called “chemical castration.”
So, to avoid getting a saggy, pendulous belly, to avoid man-boobs and big hips, we have to avoid these excess estrogens in the environment all we can.
Scientists now believe, for example, that the reasons teen girl’s shoe size is increasing and the age of onset of menstruation is decreasing, is simply because of estrogens in the environment.
Sleep is when we balance hormones and manufacture hormones. You need more of this if you are trying to correct any kind of imbalances. Aim for 8 to 10 hours of sleep for a while. Sleep heals all—it really does.
Caffeine is one of the easiest ways to increase stress in the body, when in order to achieve hormone balance, you need to decrease stress. Embrace lots of healthy water and organic vegetable juices, as well as lots of adaptogenic herbal teas, like Ashwaganda or red raspberry leaf tea, for balancing hormones.
—increase fiber, avoid chemicals and fragrances, more filtered water, natural sweetener lots of healthy sleep— for people with severe adrenal issues, long slow walks are the remedy—but only with lots of recovery time afterward and in soft sun with no chemicals around you at all.
Vitamin D is actually a pre-hormone. You must have adequate D to even make hormones, which is why many of us have hormonal imbalances today—we’re avoiding the sun and trying to stay youthful and healthy. The easiest way to get pure, easily-absorbable vitamin D is via 15 minutes of early morning sunlight before 10 a.m. Cod liver oil is also a great source of vitamin D as well as a trustworthy D3 supplement.
Adaptogens are herbs that actually help our bodies to secrete hormones that make us more resilient during times of stress, preventing the release of hormone disrupting cortisol, balancing other hormones, and preventing the belly fat gain caused in times of stress.
I highly recommend that you experiment with these three herbs to improve hormone balance and, especially, conditions like adrenal fatigue.
So lets start with cortisol:
In Peru, maca is widely renowned for hormone balancing and enhancing fertility in both women and men.2 For those of you feeling like you need more energy, endurance, and power in the face of stressors of all kinds, maca is the herb for you. As Amy Myers, M.D. notes, “As an adaptogen, maca raises hormone production when your body is under-producing hormones and lowers hormone production when your body is over-producing hormones. When used over time, maca nourishes and enhances the function of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which restores balance to the adrenals.”3
Rhodiola is wonderful for reducing the release of cortisol during stressful situations of all kinds. It’s a wonderful herb, too, for enhancing energy and concentration as well as having anti-depressant effects.4
If you have a thyroid disorder or feel you may be approaching a condition of hypothyroidism, Ashwagandha is the herb for you. Ashwagandha also helps improve adrenal function and increase the production of serum concentrations of T3 and T4.5
Ginseng helps the body to become more resilient to the effects of stress in numerous ways. It helps to regulate the HPA axis, to prevent pro-inflammatory cytokines from being released that are triggered by stressful experiences, and to strengthen the immune system during times of stress, preventing you from getting ill. It also boosts mental and physical energy, helping you to enhance mental and physical performance.6
When estrogen moves to the liver to be metabolized, it is metabolized in one of two pathways, one which is good, and one which is not so good, both of which result in very different estrogen metabolites.
The 2-hyrdroxy pathway is what we want. This pathway in the liver creates “positive,” healthy estrogen metabolites. These metabolites are released into the bloodstream and account for many benefits previously attributed to estrogen in its pre-metabolic state. These include the prevention of heart disease, the building of strong, healthy bones, and soft, supple skin.
The “negative” or “bad” estrogen metabolism pathway is the 16-hydroxy pathway.
Estrogen broken down in this pathway results in metabolites responsible for many of estrogen’s undesirable actions, including weight gain and an increased risk of cancers, especially breast cancer.
There is no better management for the symptoms of estrogen dominance and proper estrogen metabolism DIM. DIM, which is found in cruciferous vegetables, has the power to shift estrogen metabolism to the
It also boosts the production of 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OHE), which is also known as the good or protective estrogen hormone such as soy, red clover, and chaste berry extract in selected cases.
Like DIM Calcium D-glucarate is crucial for individuals suffering with estrogen dominance. This compound which is found in some fruits and vegetables such as cruciferous vegetables, oranges, and apples, has been proven to be especially skillful helping remove toxins from the body, including excess used hormones. Calcium D-glucarate preventing estrogens from being reabsorbed into the blood stream and deposited in the tissues of your body. See study.
Many studies have shown that resveratrol can increase testosterone serum levels in the body as well as suppress estrogen by inhibiting the aromatase enzyme.
Fenugreek is a plant similar to clover that grows in Europe and Western Asia. It is rich in small brown seeds that are very high in both insoluble and soluble fiber and rich in all kinds of unique compounds that help manage insulin. It’s often used in Indian cooking and has a very pungent odor.
Fenugreek is also rich in a powerful antidiabetic amino acid called aminoacid 4-hydroxy isoleucine [4-OHIe]. Studies show these compounds in fenugreek help to enhance insulin sensitivity by slowing digestion and the rate at which the body absorbs carbohydrates and sugar. Fenugreek also helps improve how the body uses sugar and increases the amount of insulin released. In other words, it really enhances how we use carbohydrate and glucose in the body.
This is what we want.
You can drink fenugreek tea twice a day or eat soaked fenugreek seeds in the morning and the effect lasts the entire day. Some people use fenugreek extract as well. All have shown to powerfully enhance insulin sensitivity.
**One important point I want to make clear is that the research shows that you do NOT want to mix fenugreek seeds with yogurt if you want to experience their benefits for insulin resistance. As this 2009 study makes quite clear: there were no significantly changes in lab parameters in cases consumed it mixed with yoghurt [as opposed to eating seeds soaked in hot water.” So be safe and just eat soaked seeds!
Berberine is a multi-beneficial compound that is way up there on my list of natural drugs for enhancing IS and for reversing metabolic syndrome. First, let’s talk about what berberine does that is making researchers everywhere call it “natural metformin!”
A recent 2015 study found that berberine has powerful and myriad beneficial effects for treating diabetes such as improving insulin resistance, promoting insulin secretion, inhibiting gluconeogenesis in liver, stimulating glycolysis in peripheral tissue cells, modulating gut microbiota, reducing intestinal absorption of glucose, and regulating lipid metabolism.
In a 2008 study, of two groups of diabetic adults were given either 500 mg. of bergerine or the traditional diabetes drug, Metformin, the group taking berberine (500 mg., three times daily) experienced “Significant decreases in hemoglobin A1c (from 9.5%+/-0.5% to 7.5%+/-0.4%, P<.01), fasting blood glucose (from 10.6+/-0.9 mmol/L to 6.9+/-0.5 mmol/L, P<.01), postprandial blood glucose (from 19.8+/-1.7 to 11.1+/-0.9 mmol/L, P<.01), and plasma triglycerides (from 1.13+/-0.13 to 0.89+/-0.03 mmol/L, P<.05) were observed in the berberine group.”
Additional studies have also indicated that berberine has positive effects upon weight loss and for lowering cholesterol as well. Part of berberine’s beneficial effects for fat burning and weight loss come from, as Dr. Josh Axe notes, is the fact that
“berberine is one of the few compounds known to activate adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase or AMPK. AMPK is an enzyme inside the human body’s cells, which is often called a “metabolic master switch” since it plays a crucial role in regulating metabolism. AMPK activation boosts fat burning in the mitochondria. Studies have demonstrated that berberine prevented fat accumulation in the human body.”
Alpha lipoic acid is made naturally in our bodies. It’s an essential Omega 3 fatty acid that our bodies cannot make on its own, so we must get it from food or supplements. It’s also a precursor to DHA and EPA.
ALA is a very necessary compound that is found in every single cell of our body and, importantly, it is very important for helping us to utilize glucose from the foods we consume as fuel/energy for the body.
ALA is an antioxidant found in spinach, broccoli, and tomatoes. However, the clinical trials done using ALA use much more of the compound than the RDA for ALA. More than you’ll ever get from food, so if you want to use ALA to boost your insulin sensitivity then you’re going to need to supplement.
One thing—in all these studies, big dosages of ALA were used—much more than you will ever get naturally from food. So a high quality ALA supplement would be in order to experiencing the insulin sensitivity enhancing effects of this compound.
While the ALA dosages in these studies vary, 600mg per day may be the maximum effective dosage for diabetics. However, fitness professionals recommend lower dosages to being with of 50-100mg per day.
Raising Testosterone Through Much Needed Vitamins
In studies zinc has proven to both increase and modulate testosterone production in men. In one now famous study, men were deprived of zinc for 6 months, and their testosterone dropped to nearly .25% of what it was, and then given zinc supplements. In all the participants, testosterone production nearly doubled that of what it was at baseline after deprivation. Such studies seem to indicate a definite correlation between zinc and testosterone at some level, and supplementation with this important trace element certainly cannot hurt. It is important to know that when taking Zinc, take some B6 and Magnesium with it for absorption and the conversion of cholesterol to testosterone.
Vitamin D is important for testosterone and it’s an important supplement period, because it is found in so few food sources. Egg yolks, fatty fish, and different milks such as soy and cow’s milk have Vitamin D (However i like to steer away from soy and dairy due to the high chance of an intolerance), as well as sunlight, and that’s about it.
When it comes to Vitamin D being good for boosting testosterone, the research is overwhelmingly positive.
Vitamin B6 is found in foods such as fish, poultry, liver, potatoes, and non-cirus fruits. Deficiency in this important B vitamin is directly related to fatigue and anemia, so it is crucial for stamina and energy.
Vitamin B6 has proven to stimulate testosterone both directly and indirectly. In fact, it promotes the production of androgens, which result in a rise in testosterone levels, and works on the C2 pathway in the brain to protect testosterone from other hormones which are detrimental to T, like estrogen.
We live in a world that surrounds us with stressors of all kinds that can imbalance hormones. What we must do is armor ourselves in resilience to become more resistant to stress. Stress is not going anywhere, folks, but we can strengthen the body in the face of it.
Be well and God bless,
1Hormones. BC Campus.
2Riggins, K. (2015). Maca root for adrenal fatigue. Healthfully.
3Myers, A. The five best adaptogens to combat adrenal fatigue.
4Daniels, C. Rhodiola rosacea and MAOI side effects. Livestrong.
5Adaptogens. Science Direct. from Integrative Medicine: 4th edition. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/adaptogen/
6Myers, A. The five best adaptogens to combat adrenal fatigue.