The use of herbal medicine to balance hormones and endocrine symptoms goes back centuries. We know today that the way plants interact with the endocrine system is via plant compounds, also called 'phytochemcials' - chemicals that can act directly on the hormone itself, or by interacting with their receptors, thus having the potential to affect the adrenals, thyroid and sex hormones in the body.
Chaste tree berries (Vitex agnus-castus)
Vitex has been used medicinally for centuries. Hippocrates (450 BC) suggested using it to treat inflammation, enlargement of the spleen and to help the uterus expel the afterbirth.
Around 50 AD, Dioscorides recommended vitex for inflammation in the uterus. Interestingly, the dried fruits possess a peppery taste and were used in monasteries, in the form of a condiment, allegedly to suppress libido.
Nowadays, Vitex is mainly used for gynecological conditions, in particular those that occur or worsen during the pre-menstrual phase, and it has been found to be very effective for the treatment of premenstrual symptoms (Ref). It has further been used in menstrual disorders specially marked by progesterone deficiency, amenorrhoea (absence of period), metrorrhagia (bleeding in between periods), oligomenorrhea (infrequent period) and polymenorrhea (short periods).
Vitex is also used in mastalgia, fluid retention and mouth ulcers aggravated by menstruation, as well as insufficient lactation, infertility, acne and peri-menopause (PMS) type symptoms.
Not safe during pregnancy and lactation. If you are on medication, including the pill, it is advisable to work alongside your herbalist/healthcare practitioner.
Black Cohosh (Actea Racemosa)
This native North-America herb was reclassified in 1998 and its Latin name was changed to Actea Racemosa.
Traditionally it has been used for a variety of complaints including women’s health, arthritis, fatigue, sore throats and bronchitis. In the late 19th century, Black Cohosh was used similarly in Europe to treat women’s health problems.
The traditional and contemporary view of Black Cohosh is for use during menopause. It is commonly used for the management of emotional complaints, vaginal dryness, hot flushes, rheumatoid pains and cardiovascular symptoms in perimenopause and menopause women.
However, this herb can be useful in all phases of a woman’s stage of life. In menstruation, there are potential benefits for regulating absent, painful and heavy periods, as well as improving the symptom associated with fibroids and endometriosis. It has also traditionally been used for fertility and to ease the pain of labour.
Black Cohosh is not safe during pregnancy and lactation or for long term use, unless supervised by a herbalist/heath professional.
BE WELL LONDON COOKING WORKSHOP COMING UP!!!
Foods for Hormone and Endocrine balance
29 July, 7.00pm - 9.00pm
Hormone regulation can be very effectively supported through diet, no matter what stage of life cycle you are in - from puberty to menopause.
In this workshop we will demonstrate simple ways to balance your hormones through diet. We will be looking at optimising the function of different types of hormones, including: the adrenals, for stress response, thyroid hormones, which regulate the speed of metabolism, and sex hormones, such as oestrogen and testosterone.
We will make simple and tasty recipes to show you how to get the right amount of fibre and also demonstrate ways that plant compounds, which are particularly supportive and protective for hormone regulation, can be incorporated into your daily diet.