If you have ever come in to see me and asked me to balance your hormones, you know what I’m going to say - what does that even mean?! Do you want a special acupuncture point that will supercharge certain hormones, cut off others, and magically makes all your symptoms go away? Do you think “hormone imbalance” looks the same for everyone? And if we could just “balance” these poorly behaved home wreckers, life would be rainbows and puppies?
I feel like we have been led to believe that there is a way for our hormones to stay constant and even and we will just sail through life. But that’s not how hormones work! They aren’t static - they ebb and flow, just like anything else in nature. Look at the ocean, look at the seasons, look at pretty much anything in the environment and you’ll see; nature (and humans) are always changing.
Let’s think of it more as getting our hormones coordinated in a delicate dance. In general, they respond to what is going on in our body and act accordingly. Do they go all wacko on their own? Rarely. Instead, we have to look at possible triggers. Here are a few, along with their fixes:
Dietary triggers and gut imbalance.
Hidden food sensitivities and a lack of good bacteria in our intestinal lining have been linked to hormonal issues like diabetes. Avoiding common allergens for a period of time, as well as cutting out sugar and refined foods, can go a long way to rebuilding your gut health. Adding in a probiotic and good spices such as garlic and turmeric can help in the repair. Also, make sure you aren’t skimping on healthy fat - it is an important building block for many hormones.
There are over 80,000 chemicals in our environment, and some of them are well-known contributors to disease. The scary thing is that tens of thousands of them have not been competently studied. The best you can do is do your best (hey, that sounds like Yoda, or Yogi Bear): go organic as much as possible, switch out your cosmetics and cleaning supplies for greener versions, drink filtered water out of glass or stainless steel, eat a lot of cruciferous veggies and add organic lemon to your water to help your liver detox.
Stress and lack of sleep.
Time and time again, I see this play out in clinic. When we are able to get stress levels down and sleep quantity and quality up, symptoms such as hot flashes, moodiness, skin issues and more are resolved. Just do it!
High levels of inflammation.
Most often caused by a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle, inflammation wreaks havoc on all body systems. Eating a whole foods diet with a concentration on vegetables and fruit can help bring that inflammation down and put out the hormonal fires (literally - we often see hot flashes as part of this pattern). Getting moving can help muscles take up extra blood sugar and over time can help to lower insulin resistance as well as inflammation.
Sometimes these lifestyle interventions don’t work quickly enough or well enough on their own. That’s where acupuncture and herbal medicine can help to get things moving in the right direction again. Most often, these modalities are only needed for a period of time to help the body heal more quickly while we work on modifying the lifestyle behaviors to stop contributing to the symptoms.
Now, don’t worry. It’s okay if you come in and ask me to balance your hormones. Just don’t be surprised when I ask for more detail in terms of symptoms so that we can get to the bottom of what’s going on and treat your pattern accordingly. And you can bet I’m going to make you get more sleep and eat more veggies!