You take care of yourself with nourishing foods and exercise, and you know the importance of taking some time out for yourself. With all the demands of today’s fast-paced lifestyle, it can be hard to tick all the self-care boxes. There is constant work pressure, family and household demands, financial concerns, and of course all the external stressors that are happening in the world around you. Somehow, you’re also meant to maintain a thriving social life and sizzling love life! It’s no wonder many of us are falling behind. They say ‘put yourself first’, but it’s easier said than done. Sometimes you just need a little extra support to manage your healthy lifestyle. This is where natural supplements can be of assistance.
Your hormones are constantly fluctuating throughout the month due to your infradian rhythm. Over time, your hormones go through different stages as you advance through your life. Whether you are preparing to fall pregnant, are going through menopause or feel a bit out of balance, there are plant-based extracts that can assist you on your journey. Your unique makeup is why you need female-based support, and there are some natural ingredients that you’ll find commonly used that can assist your holistic wellness.
Are you feeling confused about natural women’s hormone products? Here’s the low down on some of the more common ingredients, so you know what you’re getting:
Also known as Angelica sinensis or female ginseng. It is a blood nourishing herb traditionally used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It belongs to the Apiaceae family, It has been used to aid menstrual and menopausal symptoms, in combination with other herbs. It is anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-fungal and antibacterial, so it has many applications!
Chaste tree/ Vitex:
Also known as Chasteberry and Vitex agnus-castus. It is derived from berries and is found in Asia and the Meditteranean, with a long history of use in ancient medicine.
In placebo-controlled trials, Vitex appears to have a potent effect for the management for Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). It has been linked to notable effects in breast tenderness and migraines, and for minor relief in anxiety, cramps, insomnia and mood disturbances that occur with PMS.
Also known as Asparagus racemosus (it’s a member of the asparagus family!). It has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for a long time, specifically to support the female reproductive system, and to support digestion. With a translation of ‘having one hundred roots’ and also referred to as ‘having one hundred husbands’, you’ll be forgiven if it piques your curiosity.
Shatavari has an aphrodisiac reputation that helps a healthy libido flourish, to support your energy and hormonal balance. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which is excellent for your immune system and can assist in your general health and wellbeing. Shatavari may also assist breastfeeding mothers with milk production.
Also known as Dioscorea villosa. Wild yams contain diosgenin, a chemical that can influence hormones in the body like estrogen or dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). It is sometimes recommended as an alternative to estrogen replacement therapy for menopause symptoms. Scientific studies on this particular ingredient are limited, though anecdotally it has been reported to be of great use.
Sometimes referred to as Peruvian Ginseng, Maca is a source of important vitamins and minerals, supports a healthy libido, and may improves energy and performance.
Studies suggest a notable effect on libido in both men and women, with further studies on sexual dysfunction. Though more research is needed, there appear to be effects on helping to increase estrogen for postmenopausal women. It has a mild effect on reducing cortisol, easing mild anxiety symptoms, and depressive symptoms.
Fenugreek is a herb that is similar to clover, found in the Mediterranean. Apart from having applications in digestive complaints, it can also help with with painful menstruation, Polycystic ovary symptom (PCOS), and to increase sexual desire. It’s also commonly used to increase milk production in breastfeeding women.
Black Cohosh is an astringent, bitter and anti-inflammatory herb. Black Cohosh is a popular supplement for relieving menstrual pain and cramping. It has antispasmodic and relaxant functions, which can be of great help to women especially during and before menstrual bleeding. This herb has been used for many years by the North American Indians in their traditional medicine.
Though all vitamins are important, pregnant and nursing women especially need more Vitamin B6 and, Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid (B9), to prevent deficiencies that could hurt the developing infant. Folic acid in particular has been shown to assist in the reduction of certain birth defects like spina bifida, as well as promoting a healthy birth weight.
These supplements are a snapshot into some of the popular choices available for you. Always make sure to prioritise eating whole foods so you get a full spectrum of micronutrients, as well as the macronutrients you need to live your life with strength and vitality. Iron and Vitamin D3 supplementation are also important for you to maintain health and energy. To determine your levels, you can get a blood test from your GP.
As always, seek advice from your medical practitioner before starting a new supplements regime. They can also conduct hormonal testing and ascertain the best treatment for you. Pregnant or nursing women should be especially careful to confirm what they can and cannot take, most supplements are not suitable, only because there haven’t been enough safety studies done on pregnant women. Though supplements are extremely helpful, they are not designed to be used in replacement of healthy eating and lifestyle.