“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” Hippocrates, the father of medicine, famously stated. These words still resonate, even over two thousand years later. The foods we eat have a profound affect on how we feel—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And how we feel is rooted in our hormones.
Hormones are chemical signals that carry information all around our bodies, from one set of cells to another. All all of our hormones are made by glands that comprise the endocrine system. The endocrine system functions by regulating and releasing hormones into the bloodstream, which carries chemical messages to various parts of the body. This key system influences nearly every cell, organ, and function of our bodies—mood, growth and development, the way organs work, metabolism, and reproduction.
The primary glands that make up the endocrine system are the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroids, adrenals, pineal body, ovaries, testes, and the pancreas (which is also part of the digestive system). What does food have to do with our hormones and our endocrine system? Everything. “Food can affect the production and secretion of hormones by direct actions on the gut, by nervous reflexes, through changes in the concentration of various metabolites in the blood, or secondary changes in circulating gut hormone levels,” according to research findings in the National Library of Medicine. Hormonal imbalance can manifest in the body in oxidative stress, infertility, thyroid issues, mood disorders, and weight gain.
There are four main types of foods that have the ability to cause imbalances in our hormones; red meat, processed foods, caffeine, and dairy products. Red meat contains large quantities of saturated and hydrogenated fats which increases the production of estrogen in the body. Processed foods usually contain high levels of sodium, sugar, and preservatives—all of which affect hormone function by causing inflammation and stress to the adrenal glands. Not only does caffeine affect your sleep cycle, but it stimulates the release of cortisol—also known as the stress hormone. When dairy is consumed in large quantities can lead to gut inflammation, increase sebum production in the skin, and cause breakouts.
What can we do to help balance our hormones and regain energy, health, and vitality? Along with a balanced diet, exercise, and getting enough sleep—herbs and mushrooms can be key to achieving hormonal equilibrium. Here are our top 6 favorite herbs and mushrooms for balancing hormones:
- Ashwagandha Root: Ashwagandha is an adaptogen which helps your body overcome stress by balancing the brain’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis produces and releases hormones (including cortisol) that activates the body’s stress response. Ashwagandha helps to balance blood levels of cortisol and thyroid hormones.
- Black Cohosh Root: Black Cohosh Root contains plant compounds called triterpene glycosides, which helps to reduce PMS, regulates menstruation cycle, and eases some symptoms of menopause. The plant’s estrogen-like effects are helpful for easing female reproductive hormonal imbalances.
- Chaste Tree Berries: Chaste Tree Berries contain diterpenoid compounds, which cause the herb to affect hormones such as prolactin and dopamine. Elevated levels of prolactin has been associated with increased PMS, which Chaste Tree Berries help to lower. Additionally, studies have shown that Chaste Tree Berries help to relieve menopausal symptoms, improve infertility, and PCOS.
- Dong Quai Root: Dong Quai Root is used to balance hormone excesses and deficits. Dong Quai Root is especially beneficial for balancing estrogen due to its high content of phytoestrogens. This herb also contains the antioxidant ferulic acid which promotes sperm quality and viability. Dong Quai Root supports the nervous system, reducing anxiety, balancing moods, reducing depression and promoting relaxation.
- Cordyceps Mushroom: Cordyceps Mushroom increases the body’s production of the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is essential for delivering energy to muscles, thus improving daily performance. As an antioxidant, Cordyceps has anti-aging properties which help to boost memory, sexual function, and reduce fatigue.
- Reishi Mushroom: Reishi is considered the “king of mushrooms” and is prized for its adaptogenic properties. It is high in vitamin B-12, antioxidants, and the amino acid ergothioneine— all of which lowers the risk of depression. Reishi is a powerful immune system enhancer since it is full of beta glucans or complex sugars that stimulate the immune system to fight infection. The antioxidant properties of the mushroom may reduce the risk of disease, improve longevity and combat fatigue.
We offer several products that are specifically designed to balance hormones—from cacao, herbal tisanes, tinctures, cbd, and pre-roll joints— we’ve got you covered!
Are you interested in checking out all of our hormone balancing products? Check out our Hormones section of Your Goals!