Adrenal and Testosterone Balancing Herbs, Supplements and Lifestyle Change
In my last article I covered herbal supplements and lifestyle tools for bringing estrogen and progesterone back into balance. Today, I’m shifting gears and am going to talk about both cortisol and testosterone. These are important hormones for women, even though estrogen and progesterone often get the most attention.
Remember that it’s important to test hormone levels and work with a practitioner to interpret the labs in the context of your health history and symptoms. When you understand your hormonal patterns, it’s easier to use the tools that we are about to discuss to your benefit. You’ll save yourself a lot of trial and error by having a hormone expert on your team.
Now, let’s dive into today’s article. You will learn about:
Let’s get started!
Adrenal Support Supplements
This has been a stressful year for everyone. Chronic stress leads to dysfunction in the HPA-axis, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis that is responsible for detecting a threat and the body’s response to that danger. Prolonged stress may lead to changes in cortisol levels. Cortisol is a main stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands.
Understanding your current cortisol pattern and how it relates to symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, cravings and others helps to target adrenal support.
Some of my favorite adrenal support supplements include:
Apoptogenic herbs for hormone balance help the body adapt to stress. Some commonly used ones include:
While supplements certainly have their place and are very supportive, especially during times of stress and while recovering from stress, they don’t always address the root of the issue. This is where the deeper work comes in.
To move beyond imbalances in hormones, you may need to address your sources of stress, both emotional (such as relationships, money, work) and physical (such as nutrient deficiencies or toxin exposures). In addition to removing the stressors that you can, begin to cultivate additional stress management tools.
To learn more about these supplements and lifestyle tools, read my article: Adrenal Support During A Pandemic.
We usually think about testosterone in men, but testosterone is important for women as well. It helps us to feel strong and driven. Testosterone levels that are too high or too low may contribute to many symptoms such as weight gain and acne with high levels or low libido and low muscle mass with low. Often these imbalances go hand-in-hand with other hormones including DHEA, cortisol and insulin.
Again, testing is important!
Supplements to increase testosterone include the herbal medicine maca. While we may need more scientific studies on maca for specific applications, it has a long history of traditional use as an apoptogenic herb and for supporting healthy hormonal levels. I often think of it as a functional medicine food as the powdered root can be added to smoothies and treats.
DHEA is another go-to supplement in my practice. Since DHEA is a hormone (the precursor to testosterone), some care and monitoring is warranted.
Lifestyle strategies are important for raising testosterone levels and include managing stress, eating enough dietary fat and strength training. Read more about low testosterone strategies here.
High testosterone is another imbalance that I see in my practice, particularly with PCOS.
Supplements to help lower testosterone include:
Addressing insulin resistance and balancing blood sugar is an important lifestyle tool for supporting testosterone. Read more about strategies for high testosterone here.
From the functional medicine perspective, there are so many ways to support women’s hormone balance. These include living a healthy lifestyle, addressing the root cause of the imbalance and supporting with well-placed supplements.
When our hormones are balanced, we feel balanced, energized and ready to step into our most radiant versions of ourselves! If you are feeling anything less than this, please reach out to get some support. Health isn’t simply that absence of disease, it is about thriving!
Wang, S., & Zhu, F. (2019). Chemical composition and health effects of maca (Lepidium meyenii). Food chemistry, 288, 422–443. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30902313/
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