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Herbal Relief from Female Hormone Imbalance

From the time a woman starts menstruating until the time she reaches menopause, she will experience mental, physical, and emotional changes on a monthly basis (except during pregnancy) which can all be attributed to fluctuations in the levels of the dominant female hormones, estrogen and progesterone.

Hormones are powerful chemical messengers in the body. For some women, the changes they trigger are dramatic and discomforting, while others barely notice them. Like most things in life, the key is balance. A healthy balance of estrogen and Progesterone is important not only for regular, symptom-free menstrual cycles and an easy transition into menopause, but for the long-term health of breast, uterine, heart, and bone tissue. So how do you achieve hormone balance if you are one of the of the 75% of women who experience premenstrual syndrome or one of the 85% of women who experience hot flashes and other symptoms associated with menopause? Read on�

Black Cohosh

Many women are looking for natural alternatives to address menopause. Black cohosh is one of the most extensively used herbs in North America for treating a wide range of female conditions. Numerous clinical studies have shown that this herb provides effective relief for symptomatic menopause. Although it was long assumed that black cohosh�s effects were a result of weakly acting plant estrogens, or �phytoestrogens�, contained within the herb, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago recently showed that black cohosh is not estrogenic whatsoever and most likely works by targeting receptors in the brain responsible for regulation of body temperature. This is good news for women who are concerned about their breast Health and are trying to minimize exposure to estrogens. In fact, laboratory studies indicate that black cohosh actually encourages growth of healthy breast tissue.

Chaste Tree is another herb that has long been used to promote hormone balance, especially when manifesting as irregular cycles or PMS symptoms, including mood disturbances, bloating, breast tenderness, water retention, and skin and digestive disturbances. The berries of the chaste tree act on the body�s master hormone controllers, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, to increase production of the luteinizing hormone (LH) while inhibiting the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This shifts the ratio of estrogen to progesterone in favor of progesterone which is significant for PMS sufferers as well as women who are perimenopausal, since the majority of symptoms are caused by a deficiency of progesterone relative to estrogen during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Just how effective is chaste tree? A European study involving 1,634 women suffering from PMS found that 93% reported a decrease in the number of symptoms or even a cessation of PMS complaints after 3 months of taking chaste tree.

Other Herbal Allies for Women

Other herbal allies for women�s health are schizandra, ginger, rosemary, and evening primrose. Schizandra is a superb stressbalancing and detoxifying herb. Since both stress and impaired liver detoxification can affect hormone balance, it is well indicated for female conditions. Of note is that schizandra is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to correct fluid imbalances which may manifest as vaginal dryness. Ginger and rosemary both contain rich sources of plant compounds which safely promote a healthy inflammation response which is important for maintaining normal cell growth, cardiovascular health, healthy cognitive function, and strong bones. Finally, the oil from evening primrose contains the essential omega 6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which has been shown to ease both physical and psychological symptoms associated with PMS in up to 60% of women.

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by Taryn Forrelli, ND
This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.