-Since managing stress and rebalancing my hormones remain my main goals right now, it’s important that I'm taking steps towards both lowering the stress I'm faced with (i.e. ensuring adequate nutrition, proper rest, eliminating lifestyle stressors etc - all covered here) as well as strengthening my body’s ability to better cope with stress and rebalance my hormones whenever they get out of whack in the future.
Conventional treatments for many hormonal imbalances usually include synthetic hormone replacement therapies, medications and the contraceptive pill. Personally (really emphasising that this is a personal opinion), I’m of belief that while these treatments have their place, for the majority of us, relying on these only does three things:
For the sake of my own journey and recovery, I’ve made sure to read LOADS of research and have also consulted with numerous GPs and specialists to devise a more natural/holistic treatment plan that will (hopefully!) work for me. I’ve been given 6 months to heal my body naturally after a period of chronic stress and excessive cortisol, hypothalamic amenorrhea and now adrenal fatigue and hypocortisolism.
WWithin these 6 months, I’ll be playing around with natural supplements with the hope that they will accelerate the normalisation of key hormones that have become imbalanced and deregulated in my body - such as cortisol, testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone.
Like I’ve emphasised a few times, changing things in my diet and re-evauating some of my lifestyle habits are going to be the most crucial for balancing my cortisol levels and managing my hormones, but supplements can give me a big advantage in achieving that balance - and it would be foolish for me to ignore that advantage.
There are a ton of natural supplements out there, and many of them will be specific for healing different hormonal imbalances - so for the sake of my own experiences and blog, I’m going to 'skim over’ the really technical jargon of these, and just outline the supplements I’m personally trialling and why. I suggest you do your own research and consult a professional before putting anything into an already stressed body!
Honestly, I’d never heard about these before I faced all these health issues - so don’t be skeptical if you haven’t heard of them before either!
Adaptogens are a class of natural remedies that counter the physical and mental effects of stress - they are neither stimulating nor sedentary, and instead work to bring the body back to a state of balance/homeostasis - in whichever direction is needed (e.g. they will work to lower cortisol levels if they're too high, or will boost them if they'e too low).
There’s a few key ones that have been shown to effectively manage cortisol levels and rebalance sex hormones, two I've which I'm trialling at the moment:
Ashwagandha - a traditional adaptogenic herb in Ayurvedic medicine used to treat anxiety and promote relaxation and healing. This herb has been shown to have powerful effects for lowering stress responses and regulating cortisol levels within the body. It benefits thyroid function and can help overcome adrenal fatigue. I take in the form of daily CortRX supplementation, as well as in a herbal tea blend 1-2 x daily.
Rhodiola rosea - another adaptogenic herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. It significantly reduces chronic cortisol and increases resilience to stress. It’s also been found to alleviate symptoms of depression, and can offer energising relief to a fatigued system. Again, I take this one in the form of daily CortRX supplementation.
A lot of these nutrients you can easily obtain from an adequate and varied diet, but keep in mind that in a stressed or compromised system, your body may not be capable of effectively extracting these nutrients from what you're eating, or it may need a little extra than you’re able to realistically consume through your diet alone.
Which supplements to try first?
Firstly, to drive home this point again, make sure you’ve satisfied your core nutritional needs and eliminated some lifestyle stressors. Remember, supplements aren’t going to ‘cure’ you in isolation - so make sure you’re prioritising the tips I covered in Parts I & Part II before trying any of these supplements!
Since stress and hormone imbalances are notorious nutrient drainers, your ‘safest’ and probably cheapest bet is to start with a high-quality multivitamin-mineral supplement and an omega-3 supplement (either fish oil or flaxseed oil). Starting here will ensure you’re building up a healthier system to combat stress, and to nourish your body with the nutrients it needs to regain an optimum balance.
Next, I’d start experimenting with some adaptogens to work directly on managing the cortisol and other stress hormones naturally - especially since you may not know which direction your hormones are falling out of balance. I went from having extremely high cortisol, to now what they suspect is chronically low cortisol. Adaptogens make sure you're not driving your hormones too far in the wrong direction - especially at the start of your recovery when you might not have clear answers as to what's out of balance and in which direction. Ashwagandha is probably the most researched and effective adaptogen for stress management, as well as being one of the easiest to find. You can buy it in capsule or powder form from most supplement or health food stores.
I’d also recommend researching ATP Science products - they have a range of natural remedies that combine a lot of adaptogens and natural ingredients effectively to relieve common hormonal imbalances. This is completely unsponsored, but I would personally call their products life-changing, and well worth the price. (Note: I'm more than happy to review each product separately if there's enough interest!)
If you’re a gym-junkie and will be maintaining a moderate training regime throughout your healing, I would also prioritise the magnesium, zinc and glutamine for recovery and to give your body a greater chance at managing the demands of training on a stressed system (note: it’s up to your discretion and the advice of a professional to determine whether you should still be training right now).
So what is my supplement stack right now?
I feel like a bit of a pill popping junkie, but right now here’s what I’m doing:
So far, I am noticing a huge difference in how my body feels after implementing this supplement routine for 2 weeks now. I’m sleeping so much better (honestly it’s been amazing), my anxiety during the day is much more manageable (before this I was literally jumping out of my skin at the smallest of sounds I was that on-edge), and I can feel myself breathing more steadily and feeling more at ease. Physically, the inflammation around my gut as decreased a little, and I'm feeling lighter and holding on to less water!
I feel really hopeful that all these extra investments into my daily routine will pay-off, and I can’t wait to prove to myself and to my specialists that I can heal myself naturally - and make a comeback feeling stronger and happier than ever before. xx