Puberty, ovulation, pregnancy, and menopause. Throughout a woman’s in-built life cycle, hormones naturally fluctuate. During your menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone hormones shift as your body prepares for ovulation and a possible pregnancy. During pregnancy, these hormones soar. If there is no pregnancy, your hormone production falls, inducing menstruation and the beginning of a new menstrual cycle. As you approach menopause, your production of hormones naturally decline.
At every stage, your hormones – the chemical messengers in your body that control your growth, development, reproduction, metabolism, mood, sleep and digestion – should be in balance. But factors like stress, poor diet, ill health, excessive exercise, prescription medicines and a toxic overload can trigger your body to produce too much or too little of a certain hormone, causing hormonal imbalance. This can manifest as moodiness, weight gain, digestive problems, acne, menstrual irregularities, infertility, headaches, insomnia, breast pain, anxiety, food cravings, loss of libido, and more.
The link between Yin and Yang and hormonal balance
In Traditional Chinese Medicine hormonal balance is closely tied to the concept of Yin and Yang balance.Yin and Yang are opposite in nature, yet – just like your hormones – they depend on one another to function properly. If there is too much Yin or Yang in the body, imbalances occur, which affect your hormones.
Hormonal imbalance does not happen overnight. The symptoms become apparent after some time.
Take, for example, a person who is sedentary for most of the day and eats a poor diet. Over time, she will likely experience heaviness and congestion (too much Yin) in the lower part of her body. Her blood will not circulate properly and – with not enough Yang to move Yin – she may develop health challenges such as a sore back, varicose veins, achy legs, piles and painful periods. Her liver can become congested and unable to function properly. If the liver cannot process or bio transform hormones efficiently, the body will feel “out of balance” leading to hormonal imbalance.
On the other hand, a woman who exercises too much without sufficient rest (too much Yang) can put so much stress on her body, she drains her reserves. When a person’s reserves, which are stored in kidneys and adrenals, are running low, she may experience symptoms such as tiredness, low libido and poor appetite. If her body produces a lower than normal level of hormones (Yin deficiency), it can lead to hormonal imbalance. This in turn can lead amenorrhea (no periods) or infertility due to ovulation problems.
How to restore hormonal balance
Our TCM practitioners can work with you to determine your Yin-Yang ratio and accompanying symptoms. Tailored to your needs, they can create a treatment plan for you to rebalance your hormones through acupuncture and herbal medicines. While acupuncture has a regulating effect on the body, herbs have a hormone balancing effect on the body. Together, they play an important role in regulating the menstrual cycle, balancing emotions, and promoting healthy organ function.
Our practitioners can also advise on lifestyle, nutrition, and exercise habits to maintain your hormonal balance. While treatment plans are entirely tailored to suit your needs, practitioners also recommend the following:
- Eat organic foods and hormone free meats when possible. Produce is treated by pesticides, chemicals, and hormones, and animal products contain synthetic estrogen-like substances, which negatively impact our organ and endocrine systems.
- Add more cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower to your diet. These cruciferous vegetables contain di-indolymethane (DIM), which helps break down estradiol in the body. Too much estradiol (a form of estrogen made in the body) can contribute to breast pain, weight gain, moodiness, low libido and breast and uterine cancer.
- Eliminate caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
- Avoid junk food
- Take time out to do the things you like – hikes, facials, pedicures, foot massage, read a book, meditate, and more.
- Zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6 and Vitamin C are helpful too.