When we talk of herbs for female hormonal balance, we mean the flowers, roots, seeds, and leaves of various plants that have been used historically for many ailments including hormone balance.
The problem of hormonal imbalance is common nowadays due to modern lifestyles, diets, and toxic environment that bombards us with harmful substances that destabilize hormone balance. And when hormonal imbalance occurs, it can wreak havoc on all the other body systems leading to chronic health problems.
Hormonal balance is a delicate dance between the brain the endocrine glands, and the liver, and all have to have optimal communication to keep hormones in balance. But if one end of the communication is messed up everything goes wrong and an imbalance in hormones then happens.
Then you start to notice signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance, signs like:
- Irregular periods
- Depression and or anxiety
- Thinning hair
- Unwanted hair in cases of women
- Mood swings and irritability
- Weight gain
- Weight loss ( in hyperthyroidism)
- Bone loss
And many more.
In the recent past, menopausal women looked to HRT for hormonal balance but then that led to a host of problems including cancer.
And so more and more people are seeking to balance hormones naturally, and one such way to balance hormones is to use the age-old traditional remedies that cultures across the globe have known for hundreds of years, but are only now being brought to light through scientific evidence.
In fact, some adaptogenic herbs have been used for centuries especially in Eastern cultures to balance hormones Herbs for hormonal balance help to nudge these organs to do their part and thereby support a natural hormonal balance.
However, of note, when using herbs for hormonal balance it is very important that you do your very own due diligence, and talk to your doctor first as scientific research on efficacy is little and results are mixed.
So be sure to check with your doctor, and be careful about interactions with other medications you may be taking.
The best powerful herbs for hormonal balance.
A plant belonging to the legumes family, red clover is known to have various medicinal properties and was also known to be a blood purifier historically.
According to studies, red clover produces isoflavones that have an estrogen-like effect on the body and research finds that these chemicals alleviate symptoms of menopause like hot flashes, even osteoporosis, and cardiovascular problems that are commonly associated with menopause.
Also, red love naturally contains magnesium, calcium, niacin, phosphorous, thiamin, and vitamin C (source), but is important to note that so far study findings are mixed.
Vitex (chaste berry)
Vitex agnus castus is a plant native to Asia and the Mediterranean. Vitex has also known as chaste berry and is used to treat many hormone health problems. Usually, fruit is used.
The amazing thing is that vitex works on the pituitary, and the hypothalamus areas of the brain known for many hormones production.
Some of the hormones produced include follicle-stimulating hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and growth hormone-stimulating hormone, which as you can see stimulate the production of other hormones.
The pituitary gland is called the master gland because it is responsible for the production of many major hormones that affect many areas of the body.
These include adrenals, thyroid, and kidneys. Historically, vitex was used to balance estrogen and progesterone imbalances.
Chasteberry is also used to treat PMS and irregular periods, and modulates prolactin, thereby reducing breast tenderness and other symptoms of PMS.
Also by balancing estrogen and progesterone, vitex may reduce fibroids which are caused by hormonal imbalance, and reduce acne and endometriosis.
Studies have also shown that vitex normalizes prolactin levels and improves chances of pregnancy and fertility.
However, these studies are not conclusive and further studies are needed.
Evening prime rose has been used for years to help with female hormone issues such as PMS. Research shows the effectiveness of primrose oil for managing PMS is that Primrose oil contains GLA, an omega 6 fatty acid that converts to prostaglandins, substances associated with pain control.
Prostaglandins are may prevent prolactin from causing PMS. It is thought that women who have terrible PMS have a high sensitivity to prolactin.
Research also shows that evening Primrose helps with other PMS symptoms such as irritability, mood swings, fluid retention, depression, and more.
Per research adding nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, vitamins like pyridoxine vitamin C and niacin are also helpful in converting essential fatty acids to prostaglandin E1 to decrease prolactin sensitivity and PMS symptoms.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen herb that has been used for centuries in ayurvedic medicine for various ailments including hormonal problems.
Ashwagandha has been used in the treatment of adrenal hyperplasia and adrenal insufficiency. Per this study, ashwagandha increases cortisol levels, decreases stress and fatigue, increases stamina, and even improves insulin sensitivity. It is thought that ashwagandha improves stress by modulating the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis per research.
This pathway is responsible for the production of many hormones such as cortisol, and neurotransmitters like epinephrine. Ashwagandha may also help increase insulin sensitivity. Studies also found that ashwagandha improves male infertility, by decreasing oxidative stress and improving reproductive health in women by enhancing follicular stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone increasing fertility.
Additionally, this study found that taking 600 mg of ashwagandha improved thyroid health in patients with elevated TSH, a sign of a thyroid hormone imbalance.
But a word of caution in using ashwagandha is that some conflicting study results have also been found as well as some side effects. Caution is advised in pregnant women, those breastfeeding, or people with autoimmune diseases including thyroid disease. Check with your doctor first.
A member of the buttercup family, black cohosh relieves menopause symptoms but is also used to treat many other health problems. It can be taken as a capsule, tea, or extract.
Black cohosh roots and rhizomes-the parts that are normally used contain glycosides and ferulic acids which are anti-inflammatory. Black cohosh may also act as a phytoestrogen, a substance that mimics estrogen, and is normally used to treat PMS, period irregularities, and treat pain during periods, induce labor, and treat menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, and irritability.
Research however on the mechanism of action and effectiveness is not conclusive and more research is needed.
Rhodiola has been used for centuries in Europe and Asia. It grows in cold temperatures and high elevations. The root, which is an adaptogen helps modulate the stress hormone cortisol by supporting the adrenals.
Rhodiola is also an antidote to symptoms of chronic fatigue and was found to help with improvement in mood, and stress levels when research participants took 400mg of Rhodiola Rosea daily for a period of 8 weeks.
According to a 2012 article in the American Journal of Geriatric psychology, stress disturbs the neuroendocrine function through the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and Rhodiola works to offset this by working on the neuroendocrine pathway.
Rhodiola improves symptoms of PMS, peri, and menopause. It improves concentration and improves mental performance. Really, Rhodiola is a powerhouse of many health benefits. See the many ways Rhodiola improves health here.
Maca is a cruciferous root vegetable that grows in very high elevations in the Andes and Peruvian mountains. Maca has been cultivated in the Peruvian mountains for over 2600 years.
Maca is rich in nutrition and is a good source of magnesium, copper, calcium, zinc, selenium, phosphorous, and potassium. Maca is also rich in B1, B2, C, and E, B12, and iodine and is a rich source of protein, fiber and is a powerful antioxidant.
Maca is an adaptogen, which means it helps the body to adapt by regulating the endocrine system, and the nervous system. This helps the body to manage stress and calm anxiety, improving energy, stamina, and endurance.
Maca stimulates the hypothalamus and pituitary -our master glands and these produce hormones that regulate other hormones produced in the thyroid, the adrenals, the ovaries, testicles, and the pancreas as needed.
Maca is thought to help improve PMS, and hormonal balance in menopause, improve mood and help in cases of PCOS. Maca has many benefits, helps with insomnia, and hot flashes, increases libido, boosts fertility, decreases fatigue, and improves mental clarity (source).
Maca can easily be added to smoothies, soups, and salads.
The best herbs for hormonal balance
It is unfortunate that this wonderful source of so many health benefits is seen as the enemy in every well-manicured lawn. Dandelion has been used for years to treat many ailments including digestive issues, immune problems, and hormonal balance.
Dandelion contains prebiotic nourishing inulin, a type of fiber found in the roots. The flowers and leaves are all good for gut health and hormonal balance as well.
The leaves are a good source of vitamins C, B vitamins, and beta carotene as well as minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron, and calcium.
The roots are high in manganese, magnesium, iron, and calcium and promote hormone health and liver detoxification which also helps with hormone health.
The best part is dandelion root is edible like every part of the dandelion plant and can be cooked in soups, and teas. The root is also a good source of phytoestrogens and is also beneficial for PCOS.
As you can see, this really is not a pesky weed but a great source of many health benefits that we all should be happy to have. So go ahead and enjoy some dandelion tea, or coffee today. The root when roasted is a great alternative to coffee.
Turmeric is a rhizome plant in the ginger family that is well known for its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
Turmeric contains curcumin, the active compound that gives turmeric its bright yellow color and that contributes to turmeric’s antioxidant power.
Turmeric’s hormonal balancing power is threefold coming from its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and liver detoxification properties, states Dr. Laurie Tarzo
Dr. Tarzo explains that the reason turmeric works for hormonal balance is by treating the underlying health issues that cause the imbalance in the first place.
Things such as inflammation, gene expression issues, oxidative stress, and immune problems contribute to hormonal imbalance many of them due to lifestyle factors in modern life. The trouble with the way we live these days is that we are exposed to too many toxins in our food, the environment, and the products we use.
Turmeric protects our cells from these effects most of which are the reasons for hormonal imbalance. Of course, aging does happen and menopause is a fact of life that ultimately leads to hormone imbalance.
But many women and men experience hormonal imbalance while still young and in such cases, the problem is lifestyle and environmental toxins.
In fact, as an anti-inflammatory, turmeric protects us from aging, improves fertility, and helps reduce PMS- including period pain, and headaches.
Turmeric also helps improve other hormonal problems like endometriosis, fibroids, and ovarian cysts all of which are caused by hormonal imbalances.
And according to an article in Best for Nutrition, turmeric and curcumin regulate the immune system to prevent autoimmune thyroid disease, Hashimoto’s as well as prevent hyperthyroidism, goiter, and hypothyroidism all conditions related to thyroid hormone imbalance.
Turmeric also supports liver detoxification. The liver is important in hormone balance, especially in estrogen balance. As such, the liver helps hormonal balance by clearing excess estrogen and detoxifying the body. All these functions of turmeric support hormonal balance.
But please note that there are some contraindications for using turmeric as it can interfere with medications you may be on such as blood thinners. It can act as a blood thinner and potentiate blood thinners you may be on. So always talk to your doctor first.
Astragalus is a large genus with over 3000 species of herbs and small shrubs native to the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. It is a plant in the legume family whose roots have been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine.
Astragalus is a potent immune booster, a powerful antioxidant, and great for hormonal balance. It contains saponins, flavonoids, and polysaccharides, the elements that give astragalus its amazing health benefits.
The flavonoids help in cell signaling, help with free radical scavenging, therefore preventing oxidative stress and cell damage that can result in disease including hormonal imbalance.
Research shows astragalus has the potential to treat diabetes naturally by improving insulin sensitivity and protecting beta-cells against inflammation and cell death through its potent antioxidant qualities.
Nigella or black cumin has been known and used around the world for centuries to treat a wide range of ailments including hormonal imbalance.
It has a strong antioxidant effect. Per this 2019 scientific review, N Sativa or nigella’s main component, thymoquinone has efficacy against infertility, regulates insulin, testosterone, luteinizing, hormone, neurologic and mental illnesses, cancer diabetes, various bacterial and fungal infections as well and many more.
N Sativa and its component thymoquinone normalize insulin secretion from the pancreatic beta cells study finds.
Other studies have found the therapeutic effect of N sativa in cases of PCOS, estrogen imbalance, thyroid hormones, testosterone, and other female hormones.
In fact, a randomized controlled study found a potent effect on nigellas seeds on thyroid hormone function, and other research finds there is potential to use N. Sativa as an alternative to HRT in menopausal women.
Final words on the best herbs for hormonal balance
Hormonal imbalance is complex and the causes are many. But the good news is you don’t have to suffer forever. There are things you can do to improve your hormone health such as using natural herbal remedies such as the ones listed above.
But always be careful to get the highest quality, most pure well-sourced herbs to take care of your hormone health and really your whole health as hormones affect all parts of your body.
Additionally, there are many more herbs and supplements one can use for hormonal balance apart from those listed in this post.
However, whatever you decide to use always check with your health practitioner or consult and naturopathic doctor especially if you are using other medications, or have certain health conditions.
Read next: How to balance your hormones naturally
The best supplements for hormonal balance
The best foods to eat for hormonal balance