Hormones are the key to health and vitality few people give enough credit to. These chemical messengers are abundant in the body and control many different functions from sleep, weight and hunger to reproductive health. Together, they have an immense impact on our overall health and wellbeing.
Hormonal imbalance occurs when one or more of our hormones becomes too prevalent or depleted within the body, causing disruption to the functions they are responsible for. The delicate balance can easily be affected, especially now as a result of contemporary lifestyles. Endocrine disruptors can be found in many different forms from cosmetics to foods, so it’s little wonder than hormonal imbalance has become so common. It’s the unseen culprit behind a host of common symptoms and concerns, including weight gain, mood disorders, infertility and irregular periods in women.
Fortunately Ayurveda gifts us many ways with which to rebalance our hormones for a healthier, happier body and mind.
Better balance = better health
Ayurvedic treatments are all about bringing balance back to the body. As a holistic health system, a practitioner won’t focus solely on your presenting symptoms but look at your situation as a whole and work to improve various key elements of your health including sleep, digestion and diet. Restoring your overall health allows the body to heal, in turn treating your presenting concern.
(Looking for guidance on determining your dosha type? Take our quiz here.)
Five ways to balance hormones according to Ayurveda
When you visit an Ayurveda practitioner, they will of course adopt a completely personalized approach to treating your concerns. These are just five of the key ways we look to treat hormonal imbalance in Ayurveda, with advice and learning you can incorporate into your lifestyle right away.
Certain lifestyle elements may not be strictly related to Ayurveda – but your Ayurvedic practitioner will ask you about your habits and lifestyle choices to determine how they may be impacting on your hormones. Modern lifestyles include a multitude of stressors and disruptors that can throw our balance of hormones – from blue light on screens and synthetic hormones in food to chemicals in skincare and pollution in the air. Some of these outside influences can’t be controlled – but others can. Look at your lifestyle carefully and see where you may be able to eliminate habits and elements that may be causing or aggravating hormonal imbalance. This could include switching to a predominantly plant-based, organic diet, swapping chemical cosmetics for natural products and cutting down on screen time.
Eating well is one of the first steps towards better balance in the body. You’ll want to eat seasonally for your dosha type to maintain balance, focusing on fresh whole foods and plants, avoiding processed, refined foods and excessive consumption of meat, fish and dairy. Eating enough is also key – many people find that they eat too little through the day to sustain them, causing blood sugar crashes and spikes in cortisol, the stress hormone.
Introducing or replacing healthy fats like ghee is also key. Diet culture has caused many people to focus on the wrong types of foods, but also disrupted their eating habits. Eating intuitively when you are hungry and getting enough of the right foods rich in protein, carbohydrate and fiber is sure to set you on the right track.
How you eat is as important as what you eat, too. Eating while stressed, or standing up, disrupts digestion and further impacts imbalance within the body.
3/ Herbal supplements
There is a huge variety of herbs we use in Ayurveda to support hormonal balance. These include adaptogens, highly intelligent herbs that work with the body’s natural systems to harmonize and rebalance them. Key herbs used to help rebalance hormones (or rather, address the symptoms of hormonal imbalance) include Shatavari, Ashwagandha, Brahmi, Tulsi and Rhodiola. An Ayurvedic practitioner will put together a tailored blend for you, based on your specific requirements.
4/ Support digestive health
Agni, or digestive fire, is an essential and important aspect of health as it enables us to properly process the foods we eat and harness all of their energy or life force (Prana), as well as vitamins and nutrients. Lots of different factors can dampen Agni, from poor diet to stress and lack of exercise. Poor digestion can make us sluggish, irritable and fatigued – but more than that it has an influence on our nervous system, increasing stress. In both Eastern and Western medicine gut health is known to be key to overall health – as the gut sends messages to the brain ten times more than the brain sends to the gut. Whilst addressing your diet and food habits will help to restore digestive health, herbal supplements may also be required to help address the imbalance. Our Digestive Blend is designed to support better gut health and enhance nutrient absorption.
5/ Calming techniques
Many instances of hormonal imbalance have their roots in chronic stress. So many people struggle to cope with the stresses and strains of modern life – constantly on the go, with little time to rest or relax. The problem with this is that it can cause excessive levels of cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’ which over time can throw other hormones out of balance, too. Using Ayurvedic calming techniques and practices such as Pranayama (breathwork), meditation and yoga can help your body to naturally bring hormone levels back into balance. Getting into a routine and adopting good daily habits around stress will help you to feel more relaxed and in turn impact positively on your overall health.
Whilst it’s fine to supplement independently (with advice and guidance from your medical practitioner), if your concerns are complex or long-term you may want to consult with an Ayurvedic doctor who can put together a personalised treatment plan to address your symptoms.