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Under Pressure: Balancing Hormones By Reducing Stress

It’s hard to adequately emphasize how significant the impact of stress is on the body.

HPA Axis Dysfunction

Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis dysfunction caused by stress is a main driver of hormone imbalance in the body. Without truly addressing stress and HPA axis dysfunction, the body will not be able to achieve and sustain hormonal balance.

Adaptogenic Herbs

Taking adaptogenic herbs is a simple, convenient place to start, as these compounds are able to simultaneously reduce stress and promote calm, relaxed states while also increasing energy, focus and resilience. Some examples of adaptogenic herbs include:

  • Ashwagandha

  • Ginseng

  • Schisandra

  • Reishi

  • Rhodiola

  • Cordyceps

  • Astragalus

  • Eleuthero

  • Licorice

  • Holy Basil

  • Turmeric

Stress-Reducing Practices

To really address stress, though, we need to do more than just take a supplement. Prioritizing activities and practices that reduces the feeling of stress in your daily life is a non-negotiable. Some examples may include:

  • Meditation

  • Breath work

  • Body scanning

  • Rest

  • Boundary-setting

  • Saying no

  • Doing less

  • Acupuncture

  • Yoga

  • Tai qi

  • Qi gong

  • Regular movement

  • Stretching

  • Exercise

  • Time spent in nature

  • Hot epsom salt baths

  • Sauna

  • Red light therapy

  • Playtime

  • Community

  • Friendships

Being Bold

Of course, we cannot control every source of stress in our lives, but there are many stressors we can address if we are willing to confront the things that we know regularly bring us stress.

Being bold and decisive about our personal relationships and commitments is often one of the most significant shifts we can make to reduce the perceived stress in our life.

It’s not always easy, but acknowledging what is working and what is not working can be pivotal in the amount of stress we allow in our life.

Getting serious about dedicating time and effort toward stress relief is required for any true hormone balancing protocol. It simply cannot be ignored, dismissed or overlooked. Doing so will set back any therapeutic protocol designed to restore balance to the body.

Functional Lab Work

Evaluating adrenal function via lab markers like cortisol and DHEA can help provide insight as to what stage of stress adaptation a patient’s body is in, which can then guide a targeted treatment plan based on the results.

Three Stages of Stress

The first stage, known as arousal, is considered a healthy stress response with no symptoms, where cortisol and DHEA increase during episodic stress and return to normal shortly after.

The second stage, known as adaptation, sees cortisol chronically elevated with DHEA declining and symptoms that include feeling stressed, anxious, panic attacks, mood swings and depression.

The third and final stage, known as exhaustion, presents with adrenal insufficiency, where both cortisol and DHEA are low and symptoms may include fatigue and depression.

Quantifying Stress

Quantifying the impact stress is having at a physiological level through testing is a clear and direct way to begin understanding what steps must next be taken for the body to recover.


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