“Achieving balance” is one of those phrases that’s a lot like “detoxing your life”—it sounds great in theory, but, like, what does it actually mean? In regard to your hormones, quite a lot. When your hormones are out of whack, it can lead to a whole slew of issues, from breakouts to low energy and even some serious health problems. We caught up with Ayurvedic expert and Sundara Holistic founder Kiera Nachman and asked her to school us on how to get our hormones back on track—100% naturally.
Keep scrolling to find out the key to balancing your hormones without supplements!
First things first—how do hormones get off balance in the first place? Nachman says that nine times out of 10, it’s caused by one main factor: stress. “If there are too many stress hormones like estrogen and progesterone, it throws off the hormone balance in the body,” she explains. “The body must maintain an equilibrium to be in optimal health.”
When adrenaline and cortisol are overactive, they trigger a fight-or-flight response, which causes it to stay in your bloodstream longer than necessary. Nachman says that once it becomes a permanent presence in our bloodstream, you see symptoms like tight shoulders, high blood pressure, depression, and yes, unbalanced hormones. Other signs your hormones might be off balance? “Frantic, frenetic energy,” Nachman lists, “skin that is not luminous, anxiety, someone who looks undernourished, fatigue, and low energy levels.” Other, more serious conditions include fibroids, heart disease, infertility, and osteoporosis. Yikes. Thankfully, there are some natural ways to get your hormones in check—Nachman shares her favorite methods below…
Turmeric milk: “If you are stressed, I recommend taking turmeric milk an hour before bed to provide nourishment to the body and mind. Melt 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder with 1/2 teaspoon of cardamon powder in 1 cup of warm milk on the stove. When the spices have assimilated into the milk, add 1 teaspoon of raw honey. Ideally, use raw or unhomogenized milk.
Orange root vegetables: “Consume plenty of orange root vegetables such as yams, squash, carrots, or sweet potatoes—especially during the fall and winter.”
Warm over cold foods: “Try to eat mostly warm foods, unless the weather is hot. Cold foods are harder to digest. If you are going to consume raw foods, consume them close to midday, when your digestive fire, or agni, is strongest.”
Grass-fed or pastured meat + cage-free eggs: “If you eat meat or poultry, choose only grass-fed or pastured. Purchase cage-free eggs. It is always best to consume foods the way they have been consumed for thousands of years. Grass-fed, pastured, and cage-free foods are in their natural state. Corn-fed is unnatural, much the same as non-organic produce. Once upon a time, before industrial agriculture, all fruits and vegetables, and everything, for that matter, was organic.”
Organic coffee: “If you do drink coffee, make sure it is organic. Non-organic coffee has chemicals that may disrupt hormone balance.”
Phytoestrogen foods: “Incorporate plenty of phytoestrogens into your diet! Other foods which naturally contain good quality estrogen or support healthy estrogen levels in the body include flaxseeds, peas, beans (especially pinto and lima beans), garlic, olives and organic, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil, beets, and sunflower seeds.”
Chemical-laden skincare products: “Try to use only non-toxic, natural, or organic skincare on your body. Food-grade or Ayurvedic skincare is best. Try to look at choosing your skincare the same way you choose your groceries: Don't use anything on the skin that you would not put in your mouth. Skincare containing chemicals disrupts the endocrine system.”
Non-organic/GMO foods: “Avoid non-organic or GMO foods, which contain chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body, disrupting some bodily functions.”
Pictured: Sundara Holistic Tridoshic Face Serum ($45)
Guy Aroche for Free People
Ever heard of the herb shavatari? If not, it’s time you did. Nachman calls it the “number one Ayuervedic rejuvenator for women” and swears that it supports the female sex hormones, progesterone, and estrogen—it even translates to “she who possesses a thousand husbands.” Available in pill or powder form, shatavari nourishes and cleanses your blood, Nachman says. You can take it in ghee or cooked in milk, which is the preferred form, as all Ayurvedic herbs are fat soluble, meaning they’re best assimilated into the body’s cells when taken with fat. “It can be boiled in water as a tea, or you can purchase shatavari capsules,” Nachman says. “You can also take it through the skin.” (She is currently working on formulating a breast balm made with ghee and shatavari, which she promises is wonderful for breast health.)
Another herb to add to your diet? Milk thistle, which has been used for thousands of years to clean the liver and support hormone balance. “Some hormones, including certain types of estrogen, are produced in the liver,” Nachman explains. You can take milk thistle as a tincture or in capsule form (try Nature Made’s Milk Thistle, $9).
Lastly, you can add in two Ayurvedic rituals in your daily life to keep your hormones balanced. The first is abhyanga, which is the timeless Ayurvedic ritual of oil massaging. “The therapeutic use of oil has been used as a healing modality in Ayurvedic medicine for millennia,” Nachman says. “It creates an invisible barrier of immunity for the body and mind.” She says applying oil to your body is a grounding, relaxing, and warming experience, one that evaporates stress and fatigue. “Do this self-care ritual every morning to calm nervous system for the whole day,” she says. “When the nerves are calm, the nervous system is less likely to produce stress hormones (which, as mentioned earlier, tips the balance of hormones in the body).” Or, you can try pranayama, which is alternate-nostril breathing technique that balances your hormones and combats stress, anxiety, and even insomnia; 15 minutes of deep belly breathing, twice daily, will help, too. “Ultimately, I’ve found that everything relates back to the condition of your nervous system,” Nachman says. “The nervous system regulates every single system in the body—this is why stress is so detrimental for our health. Doing the above practices daily will keep the nervous system regulated.” We’re deep-belly-breathing as we type.
Curious about Ayurveda? Click here to read what it’s really like to get a (Gwyneth Paltrow–approved) Ayurvedic treatment!