The impact of the last few years has definitely taken a toll on many of us. The stress and burnout from the ongoing uncertainty of the world around us has impacted our health in more ways than one. While we’ve had no choice but to adjust to a new norm, we may not realise just how much our hormones have taken a hit from the ongoing stress. Stress has such a widespread influence on almost every organ system within the body, and it’s arguably the biggest factor that influences our hormones. With the environment we live in today, it’s no wonder we’re experiencing so many hormonal imbalances! When we take a look at the body holistically, we can see that stress is an underlying cause of many conditions, from disrupting our sleep to causing pesky breakouts.
Stress and hormonal imbalances
There are many ways that stress can wreak havoc on our hormones, and we can’t talk about stress without mentioning cortisol - one of our key stress hormones. Cortisol is released from the adrenal glands in response to stress, and it’s one of the main instigators when it comes to hormonal imbalances. When we’re in a state of chronic stress or what’s known as ‘fight or flight’, the body perceives it’s in real danger. We may just be experiencing a stressful situation within our work or home life, but the body can’t actually tell the difference between a life-threatening situation or a day-to-day stressor. While this state of fight or flight is a healthy and normal response, it’s when our stress response is dysregulated (or if we remain in this state for too long) that it causes some real issues. When we experience stress frequently, the body will be prioritising the production of stress hormones over the production of our sex hormones, like estrogen and progesterone.
With cortisol’s ability to knock the delicate balance of our sex hormones out of whack, we can see how keeping our stress response under control is key when it comes to hormonal balance. This is where adaptogens come in!
What are adaptogens?
Adaptogens are a class of herbs that essentially helps us adapt to stress, from the physical to the emotional sense. These powerful herbs have a generally enhancing effect, helping to restore vitality and energy to various body systems. Rather than working specifically to evoke particular changes, adaptogens work to encourage balance within the body as a whole. These herbs gently nudge the body back into balance, to help combat the long term effects of stress. By regulating our stress response, adaptogens are particularly nourishing for the adrenals and they help us cope more effectively with those everyday stressors. Adaptogens have a modulating effect, meaning that not only do they help our body adapt, but they also adapt to what our body needs by either enhancing our energy or helping us wind down. Pretty impressive, right?! Because they’re generally safe and work to support the body holistically, these herbs are absolute heroes when it comes to hormonal concerns.
Herbal medicine is unique in the way that each herb has its own active constituents that influence different actions within the body. This means that you get more ‘bang for your buck’ when you take herbs, because they influence the body in more ways than one. While adaptogens work generally to help the body adapt to stress and reduce inflammation, different adaptogens also have more specific actions that work to balance hormones. From boosting libido to preventing hot flashes, choosing the right herb for you can be a game changer when it comes to healthy hormones.
5 Adaptogens you need in your life
This traditional ayurvedic herb has been used for thousands of years to relieve stress and restore energy and vitality. Ashwagandha balances the HPA-axis, which is the part of our nervous system responsible for regulating our stress response. Not only does ashwagandha work to reduce cortisol, it also reduces inflammation, supports the immune system and improves sleep. You’ll find ashwagandha in both our Hormone Balance blend and our PMS blend.
While it isn’t strictly classed as an adaptogen, licorice is often considered to be an adaptogen for its modulating effects. It’s a super versatile herb with some incredible anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s extremely soothing for our mucous membranes which is why it’s often used for digestive woes or respiratory complaints. Licorice also has an affinity for women’s hormones, from regulating the effects of cortisol to influencing estrogen and androgens. Get your daily dose of licorice from our Hormone Balance blend.
This ayurvedic herb translates to ‘one hundred husbands’, which is thought to be because of the way it supports the reproductive system. While ashwagandha is considered the king of adaptogens, Shatavari is definitely known as the queen! This herb is called on for a variety of hormonal imbalances, from PMS and mood swings to infertility. It’s been shown to support the transition throughout menopause, and also improve sleep and enhance libido.
Along with supporting the body’s stress response, maca is well known for its ability to improve libido and reduce menopausal symptoms. It has a modulating effect on estrogen and some animal studies have shown that it may also regulate our neurotransmitters like dopamine, which may support depression. Along with boosting libido, maca is most well-known for its energy enhancing effects. Try Shatavari and Maca together in our Menopause blend.
Our liver is not to be underestimated when it comes to hormonal balance! As an adaptogen that works to protect and support the liver, schisandra is a powerful herb for hormonal balance. Along with supporting the detoxification of our hormones, schisandra has been shown to reduce stress, boost libido and enhance energy. You’ll find this herb in our Daily Hormone blend for your everyday stress/liver support!
Our wholefood based blends have been naturopathically formulated to provide you with a therapeutic dose of adaptogens in each serve. Whether you add the blends to your daily smoothie, baking or oats - experience the amazing, hormone balancing effects of these incredible herbs for yourself!