Hormones rule our bodies, and our minds. Hormones affect each and every part of the body.
But these are certainly not the only hormones in our bodies.
When you feel stress, cortisol is released.
Your body’s release of the thyroid hormone helps to regulate body temperature. This also has many other effects on many other systems throughout the body.
The widespread effects of hormones mean that taking hormone regulating herbs can be helpful to your health.
Herbs to balance female hormones
These hormones help regulate the menstrual cycle, fertility, sexual desire, and pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Menopause is a normal and healthy part of a woman’s life cycle. However, the symptoms can be unpleasant and cumbersome. This is why you will see that many of the herbs in this category aim to manage menopausal symptoms.
Pharmaceutical hormone replacement therapy has a time and a place. It can also be dangerous. This is one of the reasons why so many women are seeking out hormone regulating herbs. Be sure to speak to your health care provider before starting any of the following hormone regulating herbs.
Many women experience sexual dysfunction, which results in orgasm disorders and sexual difficulties. This is mostly a hormonal problem. Luckily, ashwagandha can help with that.
One study looked at the efficacy and safety of ashwagandha root extract in females’ sexual function.
Researchers gave 50 women a placebo or 300-milligram ashwagandha capsules twice per day for eight weeks. They assessed sexual function through the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) and the Female Sexual Distress Scale(FSDS).
Treatment with ashwagandha led to a significantly greater improvement in FSFI and FSDS scores. It also improved arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction.
This shows that ashwagandha is useful in improving the sexual function of healthy women.
You might have heard of vitex as a chaste tree or chaste berry.
This is one of the most popular hormone regulating herbs.
It’s useful for a wide range of female reproductive conditions. Americans and Europeans tend to use it for these purposes.
A systematic review study looked at the efficacy and safety of vitex extracts. Researchers found 12 randomized controlled trials. Eight of them looked at premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Two looked at premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Another two looked at latent hyperprolactinemia.
Seven out of the eight trials found that vitex extracts worked well in PMS. They worked better than placebo, pyridoxine, and magnesium oxide.
Two of the PMDD studies showed that vitex is just as effective as the medication fluoxetine.
One trial found that vitex works better than placebo to reduce thyroid release hormone-stimulated prolactin secretion. The study found that vitex can also normalize a short luteal phase in women. The other trial found that vitex is comparable to the medication bromocriptine. These help to lower prolactin levels in the blood. This helps to reduce cyclic breast tenderness.
More good news for vitex: adverse events were mild and infrequent.
Black cohosh is one of the hormone regulating herbs useful for menopausal symptoms.
One study reviewed randomized controlled trials for menopausal symptoms.
They found that black cohosh is helpful for hot flashes.
A word of warning: there isn’t much long term safety data for black cohosh. We really don’t know about its effects on estrogenic stimulation of the breast or uterus. So it’s best not to use this hormone supplement long term until more research shows it’s safe to do so.
Another one of the hormone supplements is red clover. Red clover’s Latin name is Trifolium pratense.
Progesterone helps improve outcomes in patients with uterine and ovarian cancer. It also helps to control fibroids and endometriosis.
Researchers in this study concluded that red clover extract could help lower the risk of certain cancers. This is due to the red clover’s ability to alter progesterone signaling.
You may know hops as the bitter-tasting ingredient in beer. But to those who know hormone supplements, it’s Humulus lupulus.
Hops contains a compound called 8-prenylnaringenin. It is a potent phytoestrogen. This is why hops has estrogenic effects on the body.
Hops is one of the hormone supplements useful in the treatment of menopausal and post-menopausal symptoms. These occur when there is a hormonal decline in women.
The application of 8-prenylnaringenin produced promising results in clinical studies. It may be the next big drug-free hormonal treatment.
People usually talk about maca when referring to men’s hormones. But it’s one of those supplements that balance hormones in females, too.
One clinical study looked at 34 early postmenopausal women. Researchers gave half the women placebo and the other half maca. They gave the maca at a dose of 1,000 milligrams twice daily with meals.
Researchers examined levels of gonadal, pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal hormones. After two months, maca increased the production of estradiol. It also suppressed follicular stimulating hormone (FSH), T3 (free thyroid hormone), and cortisol (the stress hormone). It alleviated menopausal symptoms as well.
Maca acts as a toner of hormonal processes in early postmenopausal women. It works along the hypothalamus-pituitary ovarian axis. Maca helps balance hormone levels. It relieves menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweating.
Maca provides an alternative non-hormonal plant option. It can help to reduce dependence on hormone replacement therapy.
Herbs to balance testosterone
Most people know testosterone as the male sex hormone. But did you know that females have testosterone too? Both males and females need to have balanced levels of testosterone.
Males with low testosterone can experience fatigue, low sex drive, loss of muscle mass, erectile dysfunction, weight gain, and depression.
Females with high testosterone can have acne, hair growth on the face, decrease in breast size, and loss of menstrual periods. This is called amenorrhea.
Supplements that balance hormones don’t just work on female sex hormones. They can work for testosterone as well.
The alternative medicine community knows ashwagandha as Withania somnifera. Ayurvedic practitioners use it to reduce stress and enhance wellbeing.
One study looked at the effects of ashwagandha on adults with high stress. They wanted to examine mechanisms that lead to this herb’s therapeutic effects.
This was a 60 day controlled study. Researchers gave half the subjects placebo. They gave the other half ashwagandha at a dose of 240 milligrams. This was a standardized extract.
Researchers measured the subjects’ cortisol, DHEA-S, and testosterone.
Ashwagandha intake resulted in lower morning cortisol and DHEA-S compared to placebo. Testosterone went up in males but not females over time.
All participants completed the study with no adverse events. The researchers concluded that ashwagandha has stress-relieving effects. These effects happen because of ashwagandha’s ability to moderate the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis.
Marjoram is also called Origanum majorana. People know marjoram for its ability to balance hormones and regulate the menstrual cycle.
One study looked at the effects of marjoram tea on the hormone profile of women with polycystic ovary syndrome. This was a double blind placebo-controlled trial.
Researchers gave placebo or marjoram tea to 25 subjects twice daily for one month. They found that marjoram significantly lowered DHEA-S by an average of 1.4 micro-mol per liter. It also lowered fasting insulin levels by a mean of 1.9 micro-mL.
Marjoram also affected insulin resistance. Researchers knew this because they measured the subjects’ homeostasis model assessment for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). The change in HOMA-IR was significantly larger in the group that drank the marjoram tea.
It appears that marjoram tea benefits the hormonal profile of women with polycystic ovary syndrome. This is because it improves insulin sensitivity and reduces adrenal androgen levels.
Fenugreek, or Trigonella foenum-graecum, has seed extract that is used in alternative medicine.
A study looked at fenugreek’s effects on symptoms of androgen deficiency. They did this by looking at androgen concentrations in the blood of healthy aging males.
They took 120 healthy men between the ages of 43 and 70. Researchers gave them 600 milligrams of fenugreek standardized extract or placebo for 12 weeks.
They gave participants the Aging Male Symptom Questionnaire. This is a way to measure androgen deficiency symptoms. They also looked at the participants’ serum testosterone and sexual function.
The results? There was a significant drop in the Aging Male Symptom Questionnaire score after having fenugreek. Also, serum and free testosterone were higher compared to the placebo group.
Researchers concluded that fenugreek is a safe and effective treatment for androgen deficiency. It can help to boost testosterone in healthy middle-aged and older men.
A study evaluated the efficacy of treating women with HSDD with Tribulus. This was a randomized, double blind placebo-controlled trial.
Researchers gave 40 premenopausal women either placebo or Tribulus.
The patients given Tribulus had increased sexual desire, arousal, vaginal lubrication, and satisfaction. They also had higher levels of both free and bioavailable testosterone.
Therefore, Tribulus is a safe alternative for women with HSDD. Due to its ability to increase testosterone, it can help reduce symptoms of hypoactive sexual desire disorder.
Herbs for growth hormone
Growth hormone is also called somatotropin. You may have also heard it as HGH, which stands for Human Growth Hormone. Growth hormone stimulates cell reproduction and regeneration. It is essential to human development.
It’s known in the community as Astagalus membranaceus. This is a traditional Asian medicinal herb. Its medicine is made using the root of the plant.
Researchers used astragalus extracts to find out if they stimulate the release of growth hormone in rats’ pituitary cells.
All four compounds isolated from astragalus did indeed cause growth hormone release in the rat pituitary cells.
Growth hormone is important for the growth of muscle tissue.
Herbs for stress hormones
Your adrenal glands are two small glands that sit on top of each kidney. They produce cortisol, the stress hormone.
We must have balanced cortisol levels. They are like Goldilocks. You don't want them to be too low or too high. You want them to be just right.
Cortisol is important for emergencies. Cortisol helps us to go into “fight or flight” mode. We need this to react in an urgent scenario.
But if we produce too much cortisol, it can take its toll on the body. We can begin to gain weight quickly. We can get hypertension or high blood pressure. Our bones can become brittle, and eventually, we could develop osteoporosis. We may get muscle weakness. Our minds can be affected, leading to anxiety, depression, irritability, and mood swings.
This is why it is crucial that we maintain balanced levels of cortisol.
Rhodiola rosea extract is an adaptogen. This means that it helps the body and mind to better adapt to stress.
Rhodiola influences the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. It does this while at the same time boosting energy metabolism. We know this from published studies that have observed this in animals.
Rhodiola can provide a comprehensive treatment of stress symptoms. It can also help to prevent chronic stress. It can even prevent stress-related complications.
As you can see from the information above, herbs really can help your hormones. If you have symptoms of androgen deficiency, there are solutions. If you have symptoms of hypoactive sexual desire disorder, there are solutions. If you have premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, there are solutions. If you are going through menopause, there are solutions.
You are not alone. And you don’t necessarily have to succumb to hormone replacement therapy. But this is a discussion that is best to have with your health care provider. They know you and your individual situation best. They will be able to guide you in the right direction.