When I initially began my quest to understand PCOS and hormonal imbalance, one of the first books I happen to stumble across on the subject was written by Dr. John Lee. The industry acclaimed bestseller titled ‘Hormone Balance Made Simple’ is a classic read in the natural management of hormonal imbalance and has helped millions of women worldwide. It was this book that catapulted my journey and quest to better understand how to manage my symptoms naturally.
Some of the things I loved about the publication is how complex medical matters are broken down into simple and easy to understand language that the average reader can understand. Dr. Lee was also an educator and through his books, women could not only learn how to manage their symptoms but also identify and understand the root causes of their hormonal imbalance.
Personally, I find this to be the most important part of the journey. Learning and understanding what your body is telling you through symptoms. It goes back to the knowing what’s happening under the hood of the car analogy. This will help determine an effective method to manage the problem, what foods, supplements to eat, avoid and so on.
According to Dr. Lee, there are 6 different types of women hormonal imbalances and he often recommended saliva testing as a way to officially diagnose which type of imbalance. Oftentimes, the symptoms experienced by a woman can help determine the type of hormonal imbalance she is suffering from. It is possible that a woman may be experiencing symptoms that fall into more than one group. When this happens, what it means is that she is suffering from more than one type of hormonal imbalance.
If she is experiencing two or more symptoms from a group, she is likely to be suffering from the type of hormonal imbalance which the group of symptoms represents. The more the symptoms she has from a group, the higher her likelihood of suffering from the type of hormonal imbalance represented by that group of symptoms.
The following classification of women hormonal imbalance is on the bases of the symptoms experienced.
Types of hormonal imbalance
Type 1 women hormonal imbalance: Progesterone deficiency
The symptoms experienced by women who are suffering from type 1 hormonal imbalance are:
- Insomnia or sleeplessness
- Pain or lumps on the breast
- Inexplicable weight gain
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Recurrent headaches
- Early miscarriage
Women who are experiencing these groups of symptoms are suffering from Progesterone deficiency hormonal imbalance.
Insufficient level of progesterone is the most commonly experienced hormonal imbalance that women suffer. It can affect women of any age. Women suffering from this type of hormonal imbalance are often advised to use of some type progesterone cream.
Type 2 women hormonal imbalance: Estrogen deficiency hormonal imbalance
The following are the symptoms experienced by women who suffer from type 2 hormonal imbalance:
- Dryness of the vagina
- Night sweats
- Painful intercourse
- Bladder infections
- Hot flashes
- Lethargic depression
- Memory problems
Women who are experiencing the above symptoms are most likely to be suffering from estrogen deficiency. This hormone imbalance caused by insufficient estrogen is more widespread among women who are in their menopausal stage of life and particularly those who are small-sized and or slim fit. To be able to remedy this problem, they would have to make some dietary changes, consume some recommended women herbs and are likely going to require some sort of natural estrogen just about one-tenth the dose prescribed by the majority of doctors. Saliva testing for estradiol is often recommended.
Type 3 women hormonal imbalance: Excess estrogen hormonal imbalance
The symptoms experienced by women who suffer from type 3 hormonal imbalance include:
- Excessive weight gain
- Inflammation and bloating
- Mood swings
- Uneasy depression
- Insomnia or difficulty with sleeping
- Cervical dysplasia (abnormal pap smear)
- Profound menstrual bleeding
- Migraine headaches
- Cloudy thinking
- Breast tenderness
- Red flush on the face
- gallbladder issues
Women who are experiencing this type of hormonal imbalance essentially produce higher than normal levels of the estrogen hormones. It often arises from too much body fat, the use of synthetic hormones or even birth control pills with high levels of estrogen.
Type 4 women hormonal imbalance: Estrogen dominance
Women who suffer from this type of hormonal imbalance would normally experience the combination of the symptoms of groups 1 and 3.
Estrogen dominance hormonal imbalance occurs in women when there is not enough level of progesterone to balance estrogenic effect. According to Dr. Lee, women in this group may have low estrogen levels, but if she has an insufficient level of progesterone to balance its effect, she could suffer from estrogen dominance hormonal imbalance. Estrogen dominance typically affect women who are within the age range of 40 and 50.
Type 5 women hormonal imbalance: Excess androgen hormonal imbalance
- Excessive hair on the face and arms
- Thinning of hair on the head
- Ovarian cysts
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Hypoglycemia and/or unstable Infertility
- Mid-cycle pain
- blood sugar
This type of hormone imbalance is majorly experienced by women who suffer from PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. According to the University of Chicago medical journal, this is most common hormonal disorder affecting women of reproductive age, although it can carry on well beyond the reproductive years.
Type 6 women hormonal imbalance: Cortisol deficiency hormonal imbalance
- Brown spots on face
- Debilitating fatigue
- Thin and/or dry skin
- Foggy thinking
- Unstable blood sugar
- Intolerance to exercise
- Low blood pressure
This type of hormonal imbalance occurs in women as a result of weak adrenals, which is normally caused by chronic stress. If you are passing through constant stress trying to meet up with the demands of your family and work, there is every possibility that you may be going through this type of hormonal imbalance resulting from tired and overused adrenal gland.
How to balance hormones naturally
Now that we have outlined the different types of hormonal imbalance, we can move discussions towards natural ways to balance hormones and manage symptoms.
Diet and exercise
Eating the right foods is a crucial part of the journey to achieve balance. The foods we eat impact how body functions and hormone levels. Consuming high levels of unhealthy carbohydrates, sugars and fats can be detrimental to your health and hormones.
Aim for whole wheat, whole grains, leafy greens, proteins and healthy fats. I personally love to eat, so I stock up on healthy foods so that I can satisfy my gluttony and not feel too bad. Whenever I do find myself indulging in not so healthy foods, I follow up with a good smoothie detox to aid my system in cleansing. In the article how, why and signs of when to detox, we cover the importance of internal cleansing and some tips.
In addition to a wholesome diet, exercise is crucial. Studies have shown that adding a menial 30 minutes of exercise a day, can help to normalize hormone levels. Particularly women who suffer from PCOS, studies have shown that 30 minutes of activity a day can help to lower androgen levels and alleviate symptoms. Here are three simple exercises you can do at home in 30 minutes or less.
Herbal supplements to help balance hormones naturally
Supplements for insulin regulation
Insulin regulation is essential to promoting healthy balance. In the article how to reduce androgen levels naturally in females and balance hormones, I discuss how insulin can act as a messenger in our system. Too much of it, can trigger the ovaries to produce excess amounts of male hormones and too little can lead to a feeling of being tired.
- D-chiro-inositol contains phosphoglycan which coordinates insulin action in the body. Taking D-chiro-inositolt enhances the sensitivity of the body to insulin thus decreasing insulin resistance.
- Chromium is a crucial mineral which helps to keep the level of the blood sugar balanced. Blood sugar imbalances can cause problem with the adrenals which finally results to insulin resistance and diabetes. The major cause of blood sugar imbalance is the deficiency of insulin.
Supplements to boost progesterone levels
A lot of natural herbs are known to boost progesterone level. Examples of those natural supplements are:
- Vitex or chasteberry: This stimulates the pituitary gland to produce a hormone that gives the ovaries signal to manufacture more progesterone according to the center for integrative Medicine Chicago. Chasteberry inhibits the synthesis of prolactin and raises the levels of progesterone thereby restoring balance between two essential hormones involved in the menstrual cycle.
- Natural Progesterone Cream: When applied appropriately can help to boost progesterone level and create a proper progesterone and estrogen balance.
- Mexican/wild yam cream: Mexican yam, as well known as wild yam, contains diosgenin which can be converted into progestrone and is a good source of Vitamin E with itsregenerative and nourishing properties.
- Evening primrose oil contains gamma linoleic acid, a building block of prostaglandins, substances which increase hormone synthesis, thereby raising progesterone levels.
Natural management of excess androgen and testosterone
- Eating omega-3 fats and fiber reduces testosterone levels in women
- Non-GMO soy, a phytoestrogenic superfood can help to reduce toxic testosterone levels and balance hormones.
- Principally, saw palmetto is believed to affect your body’s production of both testosterone and estrogen. Saw palmetto decreases the conversion of testosterone to its more biologically active form (dihydroxytestosterone or DHT) which leads to lower levels of testosterone circulating in the body.
- Nutrients that have a proven effect on aromatase include selenium, melatonin, zinc, green tea, and citrus. Aromatase will turn testosterone into estrogen as well. B vitamins, zinc, omega-3 fish oils are essential nutrients that help to detoxify estrogen.
- Inositol decreases the levels of testosterone and can promote regular ovulation.
Herbal supplements for low estrogen levels
The following herbs increase estrogen level and ought to be avoided if you have excess estrogen but if you are experiencing estrogen deficiency, these herbs are great at boosting your estrogen level. They are:
- blue cohosh, black cohosh, dong quai, hops, lavender, licorice, motherwort leaf, rhodiola rose root, red clover blossom, saw palmetto berry, and tea tree oil.
- Shatavari is a natural phyto-estrogenous plant which contains bioflavinoids, crucial vitamin B components, and the vital elements of calcium and zinc. It boosts estrogen level.
Herbal supplements for excess estrogen
- Chaste berry or vitex in addition to stimulating progesterone production reduces estrogen levels. It also reduces the amount of the hormone prolactin which has the tendency of lowering the level of progesterone while increasing estrogen level in the body.
- DIM (Diindolylmethane) is a phytonutrient that occurs naturally in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, green tea, magnesium, selenium, and melatonin. It aids the in the metabolism and breakdown estrogen in the body.
- Soy, black cohosh, caffeine, lignans, isoflavonoids and coumestans are among the top foods and herbs that contain high levels of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens Improve Estrogen Metabolism By Promoting the C-2 Pathway. The C-2 pathway produces very weak estrogenic action and is known as “good” estrogen. Therefore, including these phytoestrogens in your diet can help reduce estrogen levels.
Other great herbs for women’s hormonal balance
Maca has long been used in many indigenous cultures for the management of women’s health and to increase energy levels.
Candida can produce a type of false estrogen and thyroid hormone, which leads to hormone imbalance and receptor malfunction.Imbalance between the level of estrogen and progesterone leads to over growth of candida yeast. Our body naturally disinfects and detoxifies itself of candida parasites, viruses and bad bacteria if it has sufficient levels of iodine.
It is essential to mention that this article is for information and does not replace the advice of a qualified medical personnel or specialist on women issues. It is just meant to guide you towards discovering the main cause of these symptoms of hormonal imbalances and possible supplements that can be used to cure them. Always check with your physician before starting any therapies.
Need more help? We’ve create a short, simple quiz based on research by Dr. John Lee to serve as a starting point in identifying type of hormonal imbalance.
Disclaimer: this quiz is strictly for informational purposes only and should not be construed as advice or as a diagnosis.
Ready? Let’s begin the hormone imbalance quiz
Lee, John. “Hormone Balance Test – Symptom Checker.” Hormone Balance Test – Symptom Checker. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2015. http://www.johnleemd.com/store/resource_hormonetest.htmlReferences: