It has unfortunately become common practice for doctors of conventional medicine—particularly general practitioners and gynecologists—to readily and casually recommend hormonal birth control aka “the pill” to women for any issue they deem related to a “hormone imbalance”.
The patient is usually told––misleadingly––this is the only way to regulate their hormones. This claim could not be more untrue. While it is likely the only way that particular doctor knows how to *shift* a woman’s hormones, it is far from the only way to do so, and more importantly very unlikely to actually *balance* their hormones. What it will do is *suppress* hormones and synthetically control the natural cycle a woman is intended to have every month.
While conventional doctors are educated in the recently developed, side effect-filled catalogue of toxic pharmaceutical drugs, doctors practicing eastern medicine, naturopathic medicine and functional medicine are educated in the vast, abundant, time-tested pharmacopeia of natural plant medicine that has safely and effectively healed humans for thousands of years.
Here is just a brief list of a few natural substances we often use to help balance hormones:
Angelica root, yams, chasteberry, ashwagandha, royal jelly, DIM, sulphoraphane, black cohosh, chrysin, maca, milk thistle, raspberry leaf, fenugreek, dandelion root, licorice root, cramp bark, ginger root, white peony, red clover, shilajit, ginseng, green tea extract, melatonin, berberine, magnolia bark, eucommia bark and many more.
There are literally hundreds of other plants, herbs, botanicals, extracts and supplements used to balance hormones naturally.
It is essential to work with a licensed practitioner to evaluate your specific needs and ideally run hormone panels and blood work to ensure the right substances are used in the proper dosage for the correct duration. Randomly taking herbs and supplements can further exacerbate imbalances and is not recommended.
I encourage every female patient I have who is on birth control to go off of it and reclaim sovereignty over their health, hormones and monthly cycle. Becoming dependent on an artificial, external, pharmaceutical drug to regulate the chemical messengers of your body is not the path to long-term health and wellness. Moreover, it is without question the path to the eventual development of a long list of potential adverse effects.
These include thyroid disorders, skin problems, depression, migraines, digestive issues, high blood pressure, changes in body weight, varicose veins, liver disorders, vitamin deficiencies, decreased libido, yeast infections, bloating, edema, breast cancer, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, lupus, suicide, hair loss, clotting, diabetes and infertility.
Hormonal birth control is incredibly disruptive to the female body and almost no doctors will inform their patient of these potential side effects before prescribing them the pill.
So, what should be done instead of taking synthetic hormonal drugs every day, year after year?
If your goal is to prevent pregnancy, I recommend the Natural Cycles app, which is proven in clinical study to be as effective as the pill at a rate of 98%. There are no hormones, no drugs and no pills involved in Natural Cycles. Only an app and a basal thermometer. The woman takes her temperature every morning upon waking and enters it in the app. That’s it. Check out their website for more information at www.naturalcycles.com
If your goal is to balance hormones in order to address a health concern––such as acne, PMS, irregular periods, menstrual cramps, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, PCOS, unwanted hair growth, anemia or cancer prevention, just to name a few that are commonly treated with the pill––there are countless ways to balance hormones naturally. Here are 40 to get you started:
1. Chinese herbal formulas balance hormones.
2. Acupuncture balances hormones.
3. Plant-based botanicals, extracts and herbs balance hormones.
4. Regulating sleep-wake cycle balances hormones.
5. Exposure to sunlight during the day and no light at night balances hormones.
6. Regularly spending time in nature balances hormones.
7. Removing endocrine-disrupting substances from the diet and life balances hormones.
8. Removing alcohol from your life balances hormones.
9. Removing all stimulants like caffeine balances hormones.
10. Removing hormone-disrupting chemicals from your personal care routine balances hormones.
11. Eating a nutrient-dense diet balances hormones.
12. Removing grains and dairy balances hormones.
13. Removing all sugars from the diet balances hormones.
14. Removing artificial sweeteners, preservatives, food dyes and all other food chemicals balances hormones.
15. Removing all plastics from your life balances hormones.
16. Practicing meditation, qi gong, breathwork, yoga or tai chi balances hormones.
17. Detoxing heavy metals from your body balances hormones.
18. Decreasing systemic inflammation balances hormones.
19. Optimizing vitamin and mineral status balances hormones.
20. Optimizing fatty acid and amino acid status balances hormones.
21. Checking major blood markers for imbalances and treating them balances hormones.
22. Deep, restful sleep balances hormones.
23. Reducing all forms of stress in your life *dramatically* balances hormones.
24. Setting boundaries balances hormones.
25. Removing toxic people from your life balances hormones.
26. Regular movement and frequent, moderate exercise balances hormones.
27. Healing your gut and balancing your microbiome balances hormones.
28. Removing all processed/packaged food from the diet balances hormones.
29. Removing all vegetable oils balances hormones.
30. Staying hydrated with high-quality spring water balances hormones.
31. Consuming animal protein and healthy fats for breakfast balances hormones.
32. Consuming sufficient animal protein and healthy fats overall balances hormones.
33. Eating meals at the same time every day balances hormones.
34. Stopping over-eating/under-eating balances hormones.
35. Identifying and addressing food sensitivities balances hormones.
36. Consuming fermented foods balances hormones.
37. Optimizing your micronutrient status balances hormones.
38. Addressing chronic infections balances hormones.
39. Resolving bacterial and fungal overgrowths balances hormones.
40. Cultivating joy, laughter, community and healthy relationships balances hormones.
Living a healthy, balanced lifestyle is what balances hormones. The catch is you have to actually do these things, not just think about doing them, or do them once in a while, or try a few briefly and then say it didn’t work. You need to build your life in all of these ways.
Taking a drug with synthetic hormones allows people to make no changes to their life and instead continue the unhealthy behaviors that lead to imbalanced hormones in the first place. This, in turn, creates new––sometimes worse––health problems that must be addressed one way or another, sooner or later.
Pharmaceutical medications do not fix or cure problems. They are palliative options that suppress symptoms and cause side effects while kicking the can of real healing down the road. People like them because they require no effort, no change and no personal responsibility within caring for one’s own health.
Real changes to one’s health will always require real changes to one’s life. It takes work, patience and adaptability. It’s not easy or quick, but the reward is real, lasting health with no toxic medications and no new side effects. Take back control of your body, your hormones, your health and ultimately your life by balancing yourself naturally.