The female hormone, estrogen, is produced in the ovaries. It is responsible for the growth of the female sex organs and mammary glands. It is also responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle, and plays a role in sex drive. As women age, the amount of estrogen produced decreases. Hormone production can also fluctuate throughout life, causing mood swings, decreased libido and infertility. Many women look first to natural remedies to help restore hormone balance. However, always consult your physician or health care provider before trying herbs or other alternative therapies, especially if you are currently taking prescription hormone replacements.
Proper nutrition is essential to maintain a healthy endocrine system, which regulates hormones in the body. Try to eat a diet rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. These are found in fish oils, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. Also, consume a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to provide a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Buy organic foods when possible, and avoid foods with added hormones and chemical additives such as commercial meat, eggs and dairy products. Hormone-free and organic options are available in most supermarkets. Although soy, which has naturally occurring estrogen, can help increase estrogen levels, too much estrogen is not healthy. High estrogen levels have been associated with cancer and tumor growth.
DHEA, black cohosh and don quai are all natural supplements which help balance hormone levels. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is the steroidal precursor to the sex hormones. In men it is converted to testosterone, and in women to estrogen 1. It is normally produced by the adrenal glands, but can also be taken in supplement form. Black cohosh and don quai are herbs with naturally occurring estrogen, called phytoestrogen. According to Clayton College of Natural Health, black cohosh is used by herbalists to treat menopause, menstrual problems and balance hormones 2. It increases circulation to reproductive organs and encourages uterine contractions. It should not be taken during pregnancy. Don quai is a Chinese herb used to treat a variety of female hormone-related issues, including menopausal hot flashes, irregular periods, PMS, anxiety and anemia-related weakness. It also increases blood flow to the pelvic region, and should not be taken during pregnancy.
It is well known that exercise helps regulate hormone levels. Regular exercise strengthens the endocrine system, which, again, is responsible for the regulation of all hormones. The Pro Health Library cites several studies on hormone imbalance and exercise. In addition to regulating hormone levels, exercise helps strengthen the immune system, combat stress, increase energy and improve overall quality of life. It is important to get 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day. This may include jogging, biking, swimming or even a brisk walk.
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