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Balancing act

Here are some more natural ways to keep your hormones in balance

A woman’s hormones can affect every part of her life no matter what age she is,” says leading women’s health expert Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD ( “Using specific nutrients can be extremely beneficial alongside a healthy diet." Here are Dr Glenville's top suggestions.

B vitamins

The B vitamins are especially important because they are essential for your liver to be able to convert oestradiol (the more carcinogenic oestrogen) into the relatively harmless oestriol, which is then excreted. This is important especially with hormone imbalances such as fibroids and endometriosis. The B vitamins are also your anti-stress vitamins and stress can make any hormone imbalance worse.


This mineral has been classed as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’, so it is an important mineral where stress may be a factor in causing a woman’s’ hormonal problem e.g., irregular or no periods, PMS or perimenopause. Magnesium also acts as a muscle relaxant and has a beneficial effect on painful periods and lower back pain. A magnesium deficiency can cause blood vessels to go into spasms, so if you suffer from menstrual migraines, magnesium can be useful in preventing these spasms. There is a strong link between magnesium deficiency and insulin resistance, so it is an important mineral in helping with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Supplementation of magnesium has been found to be extremely useful in alleviating many of the PMS symptoms and even more effective when taken together with vitamin B6.


Zinc is an important mineral for the normal functioning of many hormones including the sex hormones and insulin. So, it is extremely important in balancing blood sugar which is important for PMS and in conditions like PCOS.

Omega-3 fats

Your body makes beneficial prostaglandins (which are hormone-like substances) from omega-3 essential fatty acids. These prostaglandins help to prevent inflammation and reduce abnormal blood clotting. They play a major role in helping with period problems as well as endometriosis, so they are extremely important when thinking about balancing hormones. Research has shown that women with low intakes of omega-3 fatty acids (from oily fish, flaxseeds and walnuts), have more painful periods than women who have a good intake.

Herbal help

“Herbs are there to support women through every stage of life by helping bring errant hormone patterns back into line,” explains medical herbalist Pamela Spence ( “One of the most well-known herbs to help with difficult periods is Vitex agnus castus. By acting on the pituitary gland Vitex is able to balance hormone levels and is particularly good at improving progesterone levels. This can help regularise cycles and reduce symptoms of PMS.

Period pain is something that nine out of 10 women are thought to have trouble with at some point. Antispasmodic herbs like chamomile and cramp bark can help to relieve cramps, making periods less of a painful affair. Sometimes the pain is caused by passing clots, in which case improving pelvic circulation can be helpful. While yoga is great for this, sitz baths (where you immerse your pelvis in water by sitting in a basin) are also helpful and good old fashioned castor oil packs work well too. For herbs, this is a job for yarrow (Achillea millefolium) which can be taken as a tea or tincture.”

Anti-inflammatory support

“Many women find that breast tenderness is a real issue before periods and if that sounds familiar then evening primrose could be the answer you’re looking for” says Pamela. “High in anti-inflammatory oils, evening primrose is usually taken as an oil in capsule form making it an easy supplement to incorporate into your daily routine.

Many women first start to think about using herbs when they first suffer from menopausal symptoms and for good reason. The phytoestrogens they contain can be enormously helpful in helping us with this transition. Herbs like red clover, sage and black cohosh have all gained notoriety for plugging the oestrogen gap and helping with the move from high to lower oestrogen levels for the rest of our lives.”

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