In order to keep your hormones healthy and in balance, it helps to know what they are and what purposes they serve in keeping your body at or near peak efficiency. You’ve probably heard the expression along the lines of “hormones being out of whack” to explain a person’s behavior at any given time, and the truth is that hormones out of balance can put a person in some sort of flux or funk. It can happen to men as well as women, and there is nothing funny about it even if some folks joke about it.
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers within your body that are produced in the endocrine glands (such as the pituitary, pineal, thymus, thyroid, adrenal glands, and pancreas) and travel throughout your body via your bloodstream, essentially informing your tissues and organs what they are supposed to do, per healthline.com. In doing so, hormones work to help regulate many of your body’s more significant processes, to include metabolism and reproduction. Other processes they influence are growth and development, sexual function, and mood.
Per medlineplus.gov, hormones are powerful in that small amounts can cause significant changes in your cells. That explains why a deficiency of a certain hormone can produce major consequences in your body. Keeping them in balance and properly regulated sounds like an ongoing juggling act, and indeed it is.
It’s considered normal for your hormone levels to change at various times in your life, such as, for women, before and after their period, or during a pregnancy or menopause, per webmd.com. However, if a woman’s period arrives at a different time than usual or if she skips a period, it can be a sign of too much or not enough of certain hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone.
If you have suspicions of a hormonal imbalance or hormone disorder in your body that seems outside the bounds of what is considered the norm, see your health-care provider. He or she can perform lab tests to check hormone levels in your blood, urine, or saliva.
8 Signs You Might Have a Hormonal Imbalance
OK, if you check around, you can find a lot more than eight signs of a hormonal imbalance, but here are eight, in no particular order, to help get you started:
- Sleep issues. For women, a significant increase in progesterone preceding a period can make it more difficult than usual to fall asleep, per healthyandnaturalworld.com. A similar problem occurs when there is a steep drop in estrogen and progesterone levels after childbirth.
- Mood swings. We can lump anxiety and depression into this category as well. The fluctuation of estrogen levels during the reproductive cycle can be a major factor in this, with women who experience reduced estrogen levels being more susceptible to emotional stress, per healthyandnaturalworld.com. Similarly, changes in the hormone cortisol, as well as hormones produced by the pituitary, hypothalamic, and gonadal glands, can be the source of symptoms related to depression.
- Chronic acne. One source of this, and this holds true for both men and women, is an excess of androgens (“male” hormones common to both men and women, per webmd.com) that can cause the oil glands on your skin to overwork as well as affect the skin cells in proximity to your hair follicles.
- Brain fog. More specifically, memory problems. This can be related to alterations with estrogen and progesterone that make your head feel “foggy,” per webmd.com.
- Persistent fatigue. Too much progesterone can induce sleepiness while a deficiency in the production of the thyroid hormone can drain your energy.
- Increased appetite/weight gain. A drop in estrogen can entice you to eat more, leading to weight gain while also affecting your levels of leptin, a hormone that works to regulate food intake, per webmd.com.
- Loss of libido. Men and women both have testosterone in their body, and when those levels go down, so does your sex drive.
- Vaginal dryness. Chalk this up to an imbalance in your estrogen level as well, women. This can happen during menopause, while having a baby, or in getting your ovaries removed, per healthyandnaturalworld.com.
8 Home Remedies Aimed at Hormonal Health
When it comes to boosting or at least maintaining a healthy balance of hormones, there is no “one size fits all” remedy. But here are eight natural home remedies to consider, with a consultation with your physician always a good idea to go along with this:
- Omega-3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fatty acids have been found to be essential for normal thyroid function, helping with brain function, and useful in reducing menstrual cramps, per top10homeremedies.com.
- Epimedium (horny goat weed). Can improve libido, per healthyandnaturalworld.com.
- Maca root. A native plant abundant in protein and from South America that can boost hormone production.
- Vitamin D. It plays a variety of roles in maintaining your health, among them assisting in the reproduction function, helping to maintain proper function of the parathyroid gland, and contributing to the synthesis of estrogen, per top10homeremedies.com.
- Coconut oil. Per top10homeremedies.com, coconut oil can help balance hormones and is helpful for people suffering from hypothyroidism.
- Holy basil. It works as an adaptogen that can help reduce and stabilize cortisol levels.
- Ashwagandha. A popular Ayurvedic herb that can boost energize, diminish stress and fatigue, and restore hormonal balance.
- Magnesium. Yet another nutrient that pitches in to balance hormone levels while also decreasing inflammation and stress levels, per bloglino.com.