Causes, Symptoms and Management of
The main functions of the hormones include development and growth, metabolism of food, sexual function and reproductive growth and health. Additionally they are responsible for cognitive function and mood as well as maintenance of body temperature and thirst.
Hormones are secreted by the endocrine glands of the body. The glands do not have ducts, so the hormones are secreted directly into the bloodstream instead of going through the duct method. Some of the most important endocrine glands in the body include the pituitary gland, pineal gland, thymus, thyroid, adrenal glands, pancreas, testes and ovaries.
These organs secrete hormones in extremely small amounts and only a very small amount is needed to cause major changes in the body.
Causes of imbalance
An imbalance of insulin, steroids, growth hormones, and adrenaline can affect both men and women. Women can also experience imbalanced levels of estrogen and progesterone, while men are more likely to have imbalanced testosterone levels. The endocrine system regulates the hormones that control metabolism, reproduction, and growth. The good news is that today, the hormone levels of men and women are more imbalanced than in the past.
Signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalances
Men and women can have similar symptoms, although some are gender-specific. The most common symptoms in men include fatigue, low sex drive, weight gain and muscle loss, loss of bone mass, mood swings, difficulty in concentrating, high blood sugar and cholesterol.
In women, hormones play an important role in balancing the mind, body, and spirit. Abnormal fluctuations, deficiency or excess reproductive hormones in women can cause many physical and psychological diseases. There are many signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women. They depend on which glands in your body are affected and which hormones are out of balance. Symptoms include irregular periods, low sex drive, unexplained weight gain, infertility, insomnia, bloating and mood swings. For women, hormonal imbalances can commence at puberty and through the various life stages of pregnancy, post childbirth and menopause. Imbalanced hormones can be the cause of mood disorders and even depression.
Ayurvedic Approach to Female Hormone Healing
Ayurveda manages hormonal imbalances in women from a holistic approach. Ayurveda will look at a person’s daily regimen including diet, lifestyle and the stressors they face. Adjustments and recommendations will assist with hormonal balance as well as herbal supplements. Some of these are suggested below.
Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is a female fertility herb that treats a variety of hormonal symptoms such as PMS, menstrual cramps, mood swings and hot flushes during menopause. It also increases fertility and balances female hormones. The designation for the use of this herb would be for all cases of female organ weakness, infertility, sexual dysfunction and menopause. It cures infertility in women and inhibits female genital disorders.
Another herb that works with the female reproductive system is Vidarikand (Pueraria tuberosa). This herb is used as an aphrodisiac, restores health, it is invigorating, it has emollient and diuretic qualities, Indications to use this herb are in cases of amenorrhea, perimenopause, infertility and low milk supply – it induces lactation. It is prepared differently depending on the ailment.
Ashok (Saraca asoka) is good for the reproductive system due to its haemostatic, analgesic, and astringent effects. It is indicated in cases of heavy menstrual bleeding, anaemia and dysmenorrhea. It’s astringent qualities make it preferred for pitta and Kapha.
Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) has excellent effects on the reproductive system as a hormone regulator, restoring fertility and impotence. Wild yam is capable of increasing semen, lactation and other hormonal functioning as well as promoting body weight. It is an effective tonic for the female reproductive system.
Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) is a special herb that has many special uses for the female reproductive system. It’s refreshing, sweet and aromatic properties make it useful for all doshas. Aloe vera called “kumari” or “virgin” is said to restore the energy and youthfulness. It is a major tonic for the female reproductive system and due to its sweet, bitter and refreshing properties, it is particularly beneficial for pitta and pairs well with Shatavari. It is also used to promote menstruation and balance the menstrual cycle.
Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa) can be used for the female reproductive system for menopausal hot flushes, amenorrhea, delayed labour and dysmenorrhea (cramps). It has a changing, colic, antispasmodic, antibacterial and muscle relaxant effect. This herb also contains phytoestrogen.
Manjishta (Rubia cordifolia), with a bitter, sweet and pungent taste, is best used for pitta and Kapha. In the reproductive system, it may be beneficial in the treatment of amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menopause, and bleeding disorders. It induces menstrual blood, stimulates and contracts the uterus, which is useful in cases of amenorrhea.
Kappikachu (Mucuna pruriens) is a fertility tonic that can be used for infertility and to increase libido. Its bitter and sweet qualities are best used for Kapha and Vata. It is contraindicated for use during menstruation.
Ayurvedic techniques can alleviate many symptoms of hormonal imbalances with just a few changes to lifestyle and supplementary herbs. Many women believe that it is normal to experience drastic changes each month or at times of change such as during menopause. These symptoms are their body telling them that things are not balanced and in sync internally. Instead of accepting these symptoms, women can support their bodies functioning by implementing a diet, lifestyle, habits and herbs to better manage hormonal imbalances through the life stages.