Progesterone (synthetic progestin or bio-identical progesterone) is often prescribed for women looking to balance their hormones. But is hormone replacement always necessary? Naturopathic Medicine uses foods, herbs, supplements and lifestyle changes to help normalize hormone levels and bring the body back to balance. Although Naturopathic Doctors can prescribe bio-identical hormones, adding new hormones into your body is often a last resort.
Progesterone can be low due to relative excess of estrogen – including exposure to environmental estrogens such as those found in plastics, cleaning & beauty products, and pesticides. Other factors contributing to low progesterone include high stress levels, low thyroid function, and blood sugar regulation dysfunction.
Low progesterone can lead to a number of symptoms including:
poor management of stress
high cortisol levels
estrogen dominant conditions (fibrocystic breasts, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, some breast cancers)
abdominal weight gain
osteopenia (low bone density)
bloating or water retention
Options for enhancing progesterone levels naturally include:
Chaste tree berry (Vitex agnus-castus) – works to support progesterone production at the level of your pituitary gland
Vitamin B6 – helps to balance estrogen and progesterone levels
Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts – all help to get rid of excess estrogens
Omega 3 fatty acids: flax-seed oil, fish oil, hemp seed – support hormone function
Eating organic meats – avoid ingesting hormones from food sources
Eating organic fruits and vegetables – minimize pesticide exposure that can add estrogens and cause progesterone imbalance
Use natural beauty products and cleaners – if you can read and understand the ingredients on the label, then it’s likely okay to use. Environmental Working Group has a site called Skin Deep that allows you to see the toxicity level of your beauty products.
Use spices like nutmeg and turmeric to help protect your current progesterone levels
Enjoyable activity or exercise for at least 30 minutes a day – helps decrease stress levels and promotes hormone regulation
Regulating hormones starts with lifestyle and nutrition. If you give yourself a good foundation for health, your body often does the rest on its own.
– by Dr. Jennifer Schmidt-White