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 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 declines.
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.
What our hormones do
- Estrogen – This is the primary female hormone that regulates the reproductive system, stimulates fertility and libido, and is crucial in female anatomical development (hips and breasts).
- Progesterone – This hormone helps modulate a woman’s cycle, menstruation, and pregnancy, and helps synthesize other sex and stress hormones. It also improves and regulates the sleep cycle.
- Testosterone – This hormone is the primary male hormone; however, women still produce a small amount. It is responsible for muscle growth, fat gain, body hair production, and libido.
Acupuncture and hormones
Acupuncture is wonderful in treating hormone imbalances because it addresses the root of the issue and focuses on the whole person, and doesn’t focus only on symptom management. Acupuncture aims to restore balance in the body through qi (chi), a person’s life force. If an acupuncturist uses a point, such as a stomach one, it doesn’t necessarily correlate to the physical stomach, it may just run along that channel. Common hormone channels include:
- Kidneys – The “source of life” according to Chinese theory.
- Liver/gallbladder – Yin/yang pair that can aid in balancing gonadotropin-releasing hormones.
- Ren/du channels – These are unrelated to organs in the body but are wonderful for balancing.
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 diindolylmethane (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 massages, reading a book, meditating, and more.
- Zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6 and Vitamin C are helpful too.