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Is Stress Affecting Your Hormones? How can adaptogens help?

Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms …

A missing or late period? Fertility issues? Digestive issues such as bloating or heartburn? Brain fog or fatigue? Anxiety?

The number one factor that I see in clinic affecting women’s health and hormone balance and is a cause of all of the seemingly unrelated symptoms above is stress. Our busy modern lives demand a lot from us physically, mentally and emotionally.

Why does stress alter our hormone balance?

Our stress hormones (e.g., cortisol) and our female sex hormones (e.g., oestrogen and progesterone) all start from the same basic building blocks in the body: cholesterol. This is why it is so important to make sure that we are eating a diet rich in healthy fats to support our hormones, food like avocados, nuts and seeds and oily fish.

If we are experiencing high stress in our lives such as the demands of daily life (which includes endless to do lists, coffee and alcohol, poor diets, busy jobs and childcare responsibilities) then our bodies will naturally direct the production of our female sex hormones towards the stress hormone pathway. This can cause disruption to our cycles.

The good news, there is a group of plants that can help with stress that I commonly recommend to my clients. They are called Adaptogens.

What are Adaptogens?

‘Adaptogens’ is the name for certain herbs and medicinal mushrooms which possess unique properties that help combat the effects of stress.

Adaptogens have been prized in traditional medicinal practices such as Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda for many years for their calming and restorative effects as well as much more wide-ranging benefits from boosting mental clarity to improving sleep.

Some examples of adaptogens include ashwagandha, ginseng, maca, rhodiola, tulsi and turmeric as well as medicinal mushrooms such as reishi and chaga.

How do Adaptogens work?

Adaptogens have a broad, non-specific effect and work on multiple body systems at once. They can bring the body back into harmony by working to raise what is low and reduce what is high. In technical terms they help to control the release of stress hormones from the adrenal glands which is important in times of acute and chronic stress. They also work to nourish the body’s immune system to offer support during times of stress and infection. Although adaptogens are potent medicinal agents, they are non-toxic and thought to be safe for long term use.

Each adaptogen has its own unique set of properties and benefits. I recommend a consultation with Nutritional Therapist in order to find the best adaptogen for your needs. Herbs can also interact with some medications, so if you are on any medications then I recommend an appointment with a Nutritional Therapist or checking with your healthcare provider before using them.

Here are three of my favourite adaptogens that support women’s health.

Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera)

Ashwagandha is a great overall adaptogen for stress, anxiety, burnout and fatigue. It was traditionally used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine as a tonic to aid overall wellbeing. It is particularly good for reducing fatigue, balancing cortisol, rebuilding strength and encouraging a more restful sleep. It works by strengthening the nervous system which boosts resilience against stress and nourishing the endocrine system, ensuring that metabolism, hormones and sleep stay in balance.

Benefits include improving resistance towards stress, reducing the stress hormone cortisol, decreasing anxiety, reducing high blood sugar and high cholesterol, relieving insomnia, supporting thyroid health, enhancing immune health, reducing inflammation, and boosting mental performance and memory.

*NOTE ashwagandha is part of the nightshade family and therefore may not be suitable for those with sensitivity to this family of plants

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)

Rhodiola is a herb also known as Arctic Root that has been traditionally used in Russia and Northern Europe for anxiety and low energy.

Benefits include reducing anxiety, increasing energy, improving endurance and stamina, protecting brain health, enhancing mental acuity, and improving symptoms of depression.

Tulsi (Ocinum Sanctum)

Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, is a herb native to Asia with history of use for disease prevention, and resilience against stress and easing anxiety.

Benefit include coping with stress, easing anxiety, improving mood, reducing blood sugar levels, normalising blood pressure and cholesterol, and as a potent antioxidant protecting cells from damage.

Book a FREE call with me here, if you would like to learn more how adaptogens can support your health.

Is stress affecting your hormones? Nutritional Therapy

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