Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Series: Optimal Hormone Balance

Many women suffer from PMS and hormone related health issues throughout their lives. Unfortunately, we don’t always clearly understand hormones and how they work. This lack of knowledge has led some women to seek unnatural remedies to common imbalances. For example, you may know of someone who has taken birth control pills for alleviating menstrual cramps. Aren’t birth control pills for preventing pregnancy? And how do birth control pills prevent pregnancy? Chances are we haven’t investigated this thoroughly up until now. Birth control pills mimic progesterone in the body but they are often made with progestin. Progestin isn’t a natural hormone. In fact, if you want, just look at the back of a birth control pill advertisement in a magazine and you’ll be surprised at all of the potential side effects they pose. I personally haven’t taken the pill for about 11 years now and my health has improved. I stopped taking the pill when my Candida symptoms became out of control. I feel that my eyesight changed from perfect to blurry after having taken the pill for about 6 months. (Of course, I don’t advise anyone to discontinue medications without a doctor’s consent).

My interest was sparked in this topic was when I read a newsletter based on the book Dr. Susan Lark’s Hormone Revolution. Dr. Lark has extensively studied hormone health and as a medical doctor she highlights natural solutions to hormone woes. I highly recommend her book to anyone who feels their health concerns are related to an underlying hormonal imbalance. I will be using information from her book as well as from other sources to present this series on hormone balance. I’ll be sharing advice for all ages of women along with helpful natural supplements. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at

Natural Remedies for PMS/Menstrual Cramps

EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids) are beneficial for reducing menstrual cramps. EFAs are effective for a wide range of estrogen-dominant related conditions, but they are most commonly praised for their effectiveness in easing cramps. A study from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology looked at 42 girls between the ages of 15 and 18 years, all of whom had experienced significant menstrual pain during their periods. The girls who took 1,080 mg of EPA and 720 mg of DHA every day for two months enjoyed a significant decrease in pain due to menstrual cramps. No change was reported in the placebo group. Additionally, the amount of pain killers taken by the girls during their periods decreased by more than 50 percent during the time they were taking fish oil supplements as compared to the placebo group.

Flax for Stimulating Ovulation

The two best sources of EFAs are flaxseed and fish oil. In the case of flaxseed both the oil and the ground seeds are rich in EFAs. Plus, flax has been proven to support progesterone production. A research study was done by the University of Minnesota on 18 women with normal menstrual cycles. The women took 10 grams of ground flaxseed per day in addition to their normal diet. The women who ate flaxseed had more cycles where ovulation occurred, (necessary for hormone balance), than those who didn’t consume flax. Ground flaxseed was also found to improve the estrogen-to-progesterone ratio, favoring the levels of progesterone in the body. The researchers noted that the flax was converted into prostaglandins, which are necessary for ovulation to occur.

Today’s tip:

If you can tolerate ground flaxseeds or cold-pressed flax oil, try adding 1-2 tablespoons of oil per day or 4-6 tablespoons of ground flaxseed per day.

Flax Facts

1. The lignans in flax are weak phytoestrogens that help modulate estrogen production.
2. The fiber assists the intestines in the excretion of excess estrogen, once it has been inactivated by the liver.
3. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are converted into series 1 and 3 prostaglandins to help with progesterone production.

If you can’t handle flax, you can get your EFAs through fish oil. If fish is oil is your preference, I suggest taking 3-6 capsules that contain at least 300 mg DHA and 200 mg EPA every day.

If you’d like to give flax a try, it goes well in yogurt, smoothies and in cereal. I prefer it in yogurt.

Dr. Susan Lark’s Hormone Revolution by Susan M. Lark MD with Kimberly Day

The opinions given here have not been endorsed by the FDA or the author of the aforementioned book. This information is not intended as medical advice and is for entertainment purposes only. If you have any health concerns, please consult a licensed health care professional. Please consult your doctor before beginning a supplement program.

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