Due to the high degree of environmental pollution as well as the unhealthy diet we all consume, hormonal imbalances have become quite a common problem in recent times. The toxins from the environment are changing the way our body produces hormones, and the overworked liver rarely has the time to manage hormone breakdown and elimination.
The endocrine disrupting chemicals which are found to impede the function of our endocrine systems are found everywhere, from the water we drink to the cosmetic products we put on our bodies.
The environmental toxins are mostly affecting the levels of these 5 hormones: cortisol, dihydrotestosterone, insulin, estrogen and thyroid hormone. Disrupting these hormones usually results in weight gain, acne, infertility, irregular periods and hair loss.
Here are a few words about these hormonal imbalances:
- Estrogen (also known as the female hormone)
High estrogen levels can lead to the development of some unwelcomed symptoms such as bloating, breast tenderness, and irregular periods in women, and infertility or erectile dysfunction in men. In most cases, the estrogen build up in the body occurs when the toxic burden slows down the metabolism of this hormone.
Insulin is responsible for controlling your blood sugar levels. Too much of it can cause insulin resistance, a condition which results in sluggish metabolism and other imbalances. As insulin is one of the most important hormones in the body, the body can’t control all other hormones when insulin goes rogue.
- Cortisol (also known as stress hormone)
The lack of cortisol (or over production) can cause havoc in the body. Excessive levels of cortisol in the body lead to blood sugar elevation, which causes constant fatigue, weight gain, and sometimes even fatty liver disease. On the other hand, a lack of cortisol causes cravings for unhealthy foods, intolerance to exercise, and weakens the immune system.
- Dihydrotestosterone (androgen hormone)
This hormone is the main androgen hormone in the body and the most powerful version of testosterone. Too much of it can cause gynecomastia, male pattern baldness, male-pattern hair growth in females and prostate enlargement.
- Thyroid Hormone
Thyroid hormone is crucial for the proper functioning of your metabolism. The thyroid hormones control the rate at which you grow, as well as the rate at which you burn calories. The lack of this hormone causes fatigue, weight gain, bowel irregularity, and dry, brittle nails and hair.
How Stinging Nettle Can Help You Balance Hormones
While changing diet and lifestyle is a given when trying to reduce your toxic burden, there is one simple drink you can make each day to help kick start the process. The herb is called Stinging Nettle, or in it’s Latin binomial, Urtica dioica.
While you may find its roots and leaves in tincture preparations, the aqueous (aka water solution) components in its leaves are the ingredients we want in this case.
Stinging Nettle has some excellent research on hormone support, as its been shown to be a moderate aromatase and reductase inhibitor, meaning is slowed down the enzymes that convert testosterones into estrogens and dihydrotestosterone. Hence, it has has been shown to support acne, amenorrhea, prostate enlargement, PCOS, and all related androgen excess conditions.
While more research is still needed, Stinging Nettle is also said to stimulate hair growth, reduce blood sugar and improve insulin resistance in diabetics, ad provide relief from water retention – all symptoms of hormone imbalances. Furthermore, Stinging Nettle contains ingredients such as serotonin and acetylcholine, which offset the hard effects of stress on the adrenals.
It’s also a rich source of minerals like zinc, magnesium, potassium, and iron, which means a long steeping process is necessary to pull out all the good stuff.
Here’s how to prepare it (the prep time is minimal, but the steep time is lengthy)
- 1 liter water
- Dried loose nettle leaves
- Large glass container with lid
How to prepare:
- Bring the water to boil in a large pot
- Pour the boiled water over half cup of dried nettle leaves in glass container
- Cover the container and let it infuse for 4-10 hours, preferably overnight
- Drink liter of the tea during the day. Feel free to reheat it or mix it with milk, almond, or honey