Hormone Resilience – your 101 guide to hormones
Last weekend I attended a seminar by the brilliant Lara Briden on Inflammation and Female Hormonal Disorders. I was inspired in many ways and learnt so many new and amazing things that I wanted to write a blog post referencing Lara’s book ‘Period Repair Manual. Every Woman’s Guide to Better Periods’. Below I will discuss the beautiful balancing act of oestrogen and progesterone, their role on our periods and general health, and how you can balance your hormones naturally and gain hormonal resilience. First let’s start with hormone basics –
Women need oestrogen like men need testosterone. It has amazing protective effects, helping to prevent cardiovascular disease, dementia, osteoporosis, and breast cancer. It also improves gut microbiome, integrity and reduces risk of intestinal permeability. Some oestrogen is great, too much oestrogen is over stimulating and can cause breast pain, fluid retention, irritability and headaches.
Oestrogen drops at the end of your cycle, and when it does it brings serotonin and dopamine down with it. The higher the oestrogen, the further you will fall. The withdrawal from oestrogen can cause fatigue, night sweats and migraines.
At the same time oestrogen is going up and down, progesterone should be coming to your rescue. If you make enough progesterone, it will soothe you and shelter you from the ups and downs of oestrogen. Remember progesterone counterbalances oestrogen. Progesterone has superpowers, such as converting to allopregnanolone which calms your brain just like the neurotransmitter GABA. If you make enough progesterone, you will then be soothed by allopregnanolone all the way to your period. If you don’t make enough, or if your progesterone drops away too quickly, then you may experience anxiety.
The conventional approach to approach PMS and hormone fluctuations is flat line your hormones with birth control. Yes this stabilises things, but not in a good way. You will no longer experience hormone fluctuation, but that’s just because you no longer have hormones.
NB: Hormonal birth control can also symptoms, but they’re drug side effects – not PMS.
The natural approach to hormone fluctuation is different from conventional. It doesn’t switch off your hormones, instead it embraces the normal and beneficial process. If you are going to have hormones, they are going to fluctuate, it’s the cyclical pattern of ovulation. You don’t need to switch them off, you need to adapt to the ups and downs. The ability to adapt is called hormonal resilience. How do we do this?
· Enhance progesterone and GABA
· Stabilise oestrogen and metabolise it properly
· Reduce inflammation to calm your hormone and neurotransmitter receptors.
Enhance progesterone and GABA
1. By reducing inflammatory foods – sugar, wheat and cow’s milk you can support progesterone in two was –
· Less inflammation leads to better ovulation, therefore more progesterone
· Less inflammation enhances the sensitivity of both progesterone and GABA receptors.
2. Reduce alcohol – it lowers allopegnanolone (allopegnanolone is made from progesterone – less of the calming neurotransmitter, therefore increasing anxiety)
3. Reduce stress – adrenaline (released under stress) blocks progesterone receptors and depletes GABA. In the longer-term stress impairs ovulation and depletes progesterone.
4. Exercise – reduces stress and inflammation.
5. Supplements – Magnesium (involved in the manufacture of hormones, reduces inflammation, regulates stress, and enhances GABA). B6 (involved in synthesis of progesterone & GABA, reduces inflammation, and helps detoxify oestrogen), Selenium (key to healthy corpus luteum, which produces progesterone)
6. Herbs – Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste Tree) – enhances ovulation and progesterone. It also contains opiate-like constituents, which calm the nervous system.
7. Micronised progesterone
Stabilise and Metabolise Oestrogen
1. Reduce alcohol – improves oestrogen metabolism and detoxification
2. Maintain healthy gut bacteria – help expel oestrogen from the gut
3. Maintain a healthy body weight – body fat makes a type of oestrogen called estrone
4. Avoid endocrine disrupting chemicals – plastics, and pesticides impair the ability to metabolise oestrogen
5. Reduce inflammatory foods – sugar, wheat, cow’s milk to support detoxification, and reduces histamine (which can be blamed for a lot of PMS symptoms)
6. Eat phytoestrogens – flaxseeds, grains and vegetables. They are natural oestrogen like substances that bind weakly to your oestrogen receptors and buffer the ups and downs (this speeds up metabolism of stronger oestrogen oestradiol.
7. Supplements – Iodine (stabilises and downregulates oestrogen receptors. Esp. good for breast pain). Calcium d-glucarate (assists in oestrogen detoxification), probiotics (lactobacillus casei to help escort oestrogen from the bowels, stopping it from being reabsorbed)
1. Reduce inflammatory foods – wheat, sugar, vegetable oil
2. Magnesium & B6 + Zinc
Briden, Lara. Period Repair Manual. Every Woman’s guide to better periods. 2018, Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd.