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Price-Pottenger Journal PAGE 13 Vol. 39, No. 4
Your hormones are the driving force behind
just about every aspect of your physical
and mental well-being—from your mood and
energy levels to your skin health, weight, and
sexual vitality. The endocrine system, to which
they belong, is incredibly complex, and any hor-
monal disruption can wreak havoc on your body.
Imbalanced hormones can quickly produce
unpleasant symptoms, such as fatigue, irritability,
acne, and weight gain. If not addressed, imbal-
ances can develop into more serious and chronic
conditions—diabetes, infertility, breast cancer,
and autoimmune disorders among them. Fortu-
nately, there are simple lifestyle changes you can
make to achieve hormonal balance, increase your
health, and improve how you look and feel.
BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR
AND BOOST NUTRITION
Healthy blood sugar levels are intrinsically
involved in endocrine balance and are essential
for long-term health. Insulin and glucagon are
the predominant pancreatic hormones respon-
sible for regulating blood sugar. If blood sugar
drops too low, the stress hormone cortisol, pro-
duced by the adrenal glands, comes into play to
help correct the imbalance.
In a balanced system, blood sugar levels
fluctuate gently throughout the day, rising
slightly after a meal and dipping a bit before the
next. When the system is out of balance, blood
sugar levels spike and fall more dramatically.
These exaggerated cycles force the pancreas
and adrenals to work harder, producing greater
amounts of hormones to keep the body func-
tional. If the imbalance persists, these organs can
become sluggish. Moreover, receptor cells that
respond to these hormones can begin to ignore
their persistent messages—a condition known
as hormone resistance. This can result in weight
gain, adrenal fatigue, and chronic illnesses
including metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Because blood sugar spikes can be caused
by meals high in refined sugars and simple car-
bohydrates, the most effective way to stabilize
your blood sugar (and balance your hormones in
the process) is to adopt a traditional diet rich in
healthy fats and protein. Eating fats and protein
at every meal will help keep your blood sugar
balanced by slowing the absorption of glucose
into your bloodstream. Focus on unprocessed
whole foods, including pasture-raised animal
protein, vegetables, fruits (in moderation), and
healthy sources of fat, such as avocados, nuts,
seeds, coconut oil, and olive oil.
Limit grains, caffeine, refined sugar, processed
carbohydrates, and alcohol—all of which can
contribute to elevated blood sugar, depleted
adrenals, and inflammation. Also, avoid trans
fats as they can interfere with adrenal hormone
Eliminating foods that contain
added hormones or hormone-like substances—
such as factory-farmed animal products and
unfermented soy products—will help ensure you
are not unwittingly exacerbating your hormonal
In addition to what you eat, it is important
to alter how you eat. Don’t let yourself get too
hungry between meals—this can lead to steep
blood sugar drops and create more work for your
pancreas and adrenals. When going out, pack
healthy snacks containing protein and fat to take
with you. Improve digestion by eating calmly
and avoiding stress during meals. Always sit
while eating and chew your food thoroughly.
Balancing Your Hormones
Through Diet and Lifestyle
by Monet Euan
Vol. 39, No. 4 PAGE 14 Price-Pottenger Journal
INCLUDE SUPPLEMENTS IN YOUR
As an addition to an unprocessed, whole
foods diet, nutritional supplementation is a sim-
ple way to promote hormonal balance. There are
many natural products available that support
endocrine function, including Chinese herbs,
vitamins, minerals, and homeopathic remedies.
Supplements can also help address nutritional
deficiencies that can lead to hormone imbalances.
Keep in mind that nutrients are the building
blocks that endocrine glands need to manufac-
ture hormones. The following supplements may
be included in a hormone-balancing protocol:
• Vitamin D plays a significant role in main-
taining hormone balance and decreasing
your susceptibility to disease. Low vitamin
D levels are associated with a higher risk for
many diseases, including cancer, diabetes,
and depression. You can manufacture vita-
min D in your skin through exposure to nat-
ural sunlight or take a high-quality vitamin
D3 supplement. The most accurate way
to measure your vitamin D level is with
the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test, which is
relatively inexpensive and easily available
through most doctors.
• B-complex vitamins offer extra protection
and support to the body during times of
stress. They also assist the liver in metabo-
lizing excess amounts of hormones, includ-
ing estrogen. This is especially important
for women with breast cancer and those
using hormonal birth control or hormone
also help prevent estrogen dominance,
boost energy, support the adrenals, reduce
inflammation, and enhance fertility.3
• Magnesium affects numerous structures
and processes throughout the body. This
critical mineral is easily depleted by factors
such as environmental toxins, emotional
stress, and alcohol intake.4
tion can boost low levels, aiding hormonal
regulation. In addition, neurosurgeon
Norm Shealy, MD, PhD, established that
transdermal magnesium raises levels of
the vital hormone dehydroepiandrosterone
[For more on magnesium, see
“Magnesium: An Essential Element for
Good Health” in the Fall 2015 issue of the
• Adaptogens are a group of herbs that mod-
ulate the body’s response to stress, allowing
for proper regulation of cortisol and sup-
porting the adrenals. They can also address
other issues, such as blood sugar imbalance,
impaired immunity, poor energy levels, and
low libido. Examples of adaptogens that
may be helpful include ginseng, eleuthero,
rhodiola, tulsi (holy basil), maca, and ashwa-
Consult with your healthcare practitioner to
determine the best options for you, and, when
possible, avoid or reduce intake of pharmaceuti-
cal drugs that interfere with endocrine function.
CHOOSE APPROPRIATE EXERCISE
According to family physician and author
Mark Hyman, MD, “exercise might be the most
powerful medicine to manage blood sugar
levels and make your cells more insulin sensi-
Indeed, a study in the Journal of Obesity
found that high-intensity intermittent exercise
lowers insulin resistance and improves glucose
tolerance—both factors that help stabilize blood
Exercise can also positively impact the
sex hormones, including testosterone and estro-
Additionally, it reduces stress, depression,
and anxiety, thus reducing cortisol levels and
supporting the adrenals.
When beginning an exercise regimen, con-
sider the current state of your endocrine system,
especially the adrenals. If you are concerned
about adrenal fatigue, choose light to moderate
exercise. Overexercising increases cortisol levels
and inflammation and can further weaken your
adrenals. Moreover, if cortisol levels are already
elevated, high-intensity aerobic exercise can actu-
ally slow down your metabolism and accelerate
Instead, choose low-intensity activities that
decrease cortisol, such as Pilates, yoga, and walk-
ing. Endocrinologist Diane Schwarzbein, MD,
Price-Pottenger Journal PAGE 15 Vol. 39, No. 4
recommends tai chi, qigong, and restorative yoga
to reduce stress.9
She also suggests that rest can
be more beneficial than exercise when you are
sick, overly stressed, or sleep-deprived.
IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP HABITS
Women’s health expert Christiane Northrup,
MD, asserts, “Sleep restores adrenal balance
more effectively than any other modality.”3(p537)
Your adrenals are the source of a number of
hormones, so restoring their function is imper-
ative for hormone balance and optimal health.
With adequate sleep, you are likely to notice
increased energy, optimized mental function, and
decreased sugar and caffeine cravings.
The impact of insufficient sleep is far-reach-
ing—it can inhibit growth hormone, promote
insulin resistance and thyroid imbalances, and
reduce immune function. Research has shown
that decreased sleep can be a risk factor for
obesity because it influences the hormones that
control appetite. A recent study noted: “Sleep
restriction was associated with reductions in
leptin and elevations in ghrelin and increased
hunger and appetite, especially an appetite
for foods with high-carbohydrate contents.”10
Leptin is a hormone that induces feelings of sati-
ety, while ghrelin is one that stimulates hunger.
Keeping your bedroom totally dark at night
facilitates deep, restorative sleep. The pineal
gland secretes more melatonin, the hormone
that regulates your sleep and wake cycle, during
periods of darkness. Make sure you have proper
blinds and/or curtains to block light from enter-
ing your bedroom windows. Electromagnetic
frequencies (EMFs) can also interfere with quality
sleep. Opt for no night-lights, cell phones, or other
electronics in the bedroom, and limit television,
cell phone, and computer use before bedtime.
The detoxification process can support the
liver, which performs more functions in the body
than any other organ. The liver must process
the large amount of environmental toxins we are
exposed to every day. Detoxification reduces
its workload, so it can focus on the other tasks
at hand—including the metabolizing of excess
For some, simply giving up sugar, alcohol,
and processed foods may be enough to facilitate
detoxification and healing. Adding certain sup-
plements can also be helpful. Examples include
herbs such as burdock and dandelion to support
the liver, and chlorella to move heavy metals
such as mercury from the body. Exercise and
other activities that promote sweating—using an
infrared sauna, for example—can be an impor-
tant adjunct because toxins are released through
perspiration. Always consult with a qualified
healthcare practitioner to determine the appro-
priate detoxification protocol for you.
ELIMINATE ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS
In addition to detoxifying your body, you
should do everything possible to remove toxins
from your home. The Environmental Working
Group (EWG) is a helpful resource for identify-
ing and phasing out toxic household products,
as well as body care products and cosmetics. In
its online “Guide to Healthy Cleaning,” EWG
provides scores for over 2,000 household prod-
ucts, based on potential health concerns (such as
endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity, and carcino-
genicity), and highlights the safest ones available
in categories such as air freshening, dishwashing,
floor care, kitchen, and laundry. [See EWG’s
Health Guides at www.ewg.org.]
One common endocrine disruptor that contrib-
utes to estrogen dominance and other hormone
imbalances is bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical
found in many plastics and food can liners. Plas-
tic food containers may also contain phthalates,
endocrine disruptors that are particularly dam-
aging to the male reproductive system. Steer
clear of plastic containers for leftovers, and use
glass or stainless steel for water and food stor-
age. Avoid canned foods as the cans frequently
contain BPA—and those that are labeled “BPA-
free” often contain bisphenol-S (BPS), another
Replace non-stick pots and pans with glass,
ceramic, or high-quality stainless steel to pro-
tect your thyroid from perfluorooctanoic acid
(PFOA). Switch to organic feminine hygiene
Vol. 39, No. 4 PAGE 16 Price-Pottenger Journal
products to avoid the endocrine disruptors
dioxin, BPA, BPS, and phthalates, as well as
pesticides. In addition, when purchasing fish
for consumption, choose types that contain low
levels of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls
(PCBs), such as sardines and wild salmon.
Purchasing organic rather than conventionally
grown produce can greatly reduce your expo-
sure to endocrine-disrupting pesticides (such
as organophosphates) and herbicides (such as
glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s
Roundup and many other products). Choosing
organic and pasture-raised when it comes to
dairy products is important as well, as it will
enable you to avoid recombinant bovine growth
hormone (rBGH), a synthetic hormone used to
increase cows’ milk production.
INSTALL A WATER FILTER
Our water supply is contaminated with a vari-
ety of toxic chemicals.11
These toxins accumulate
in human tissue and blood and cause endocrine
Depending on your location, your
water supply could contain a laundry list of endo-
crine disruptors, including:
• pharmaceutical drugs
• perchlorate (jet fuel)
• heavy metals
• polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
• perfluorinated compounds (PFCs)
Reduce your exposure to these contaminants
by drinking filtered or natural spring water. (If
using bottled water, select glass to avoid xeno-
estrogens found in plastic). Install a high-quality
water filter in your home. Also invest in a filter
for your shower or bath, as your skin absorbs a
large percentage of the water’s toxins.
ADDRESS YOUR STRESS
One of the most important and effective ways
to balance your hormones and prevent disease
is to reduce stress. When you experience stress,
the body often reacts with the survival-driven
fight-or-flight response, even if the situation isn’t
actually a matter of life or death. Stress hormone
production is always prioritized over less-pressing
matters, such as digestion, reproduction, and
healing. Reducing stress allows your body to
focus on these important functions.
You can lower your stress levels the same way
you balance your hormones—by stabilizing your
blood sugar, maintaining a healthy diet, getting
enough restorative sleep, exercising appropri-
ately, and detoxifying as necessary. In addition,
making some of the following adjustments to
your daily routine can go a long way towards
• Schedule regular unstructured time for
• Make sure you have enough downtime for
rest and leisure activities.
• Refrain from making additional commit-
ments that will raise your stress levels.
• Plan carefully when facing stressful situa-
tions, such as work deadlines. If possible,
balance unavoidable heavy workloads with
intermittent rest, which is proven to increase
focus, creativity, health, and well-being.13
• Practice self-compassion. Be kind to your-
self and recognize your moment-to-moment
needs. People who practice self-compassion
are happier, more optimistic, and less anx-
ious and depressed.14
INCORPORATE AN INTEGRATIVE
Alternative healing modalities and health
practitioners are often excellent resources to help
you identify and address the underlying reasons
for a hormonal imbalance. The following meth-
ods have been found effective in balancing hor-
mone levels and improving overall health:
• Chiropractic adjustments and spinal align-
ment can enhance function of the nervous
system, which is the major regulator of hor-
Price-Pottenger Journal PAGE 17 Vol. 39, No. 4
• Traditional Chinese medicine and herbal
therapies can assist with hormone imbal-
ance, detoxification, and stress reduction.
Acupuncture has been shown to be espe-
cially effective in reducing cortisol levels
and feelings of anxiety, boosting immune
function, and increasing pain-reducing
• Meditation and yoga can reduce cortisol
levels and improve mental well-being. In
a meta-analysis of 47 studies, researchers
found that meditation eases psychological
stress factors, such as depression, anxiety,
As stress levels decrease, the
workload of the adrenals also decreases.
• Massage reduces stress by lowering cor-
tisol levels and boosting oxytocin (known
as the “bonding hormone” or “bliss hor-
Balancing your hormones is one of the
most important ways to improve your health.
Remember that you have the power to actively
influence your hormone levels by making life-
style changes. For best results, take your time
and create small, attainable goals. Go as slow as
you need to ensure the changes you make really
stick—your endocrine system and health depend
on it. &
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Monet Euan is a health and
wellness writer, researcher, and
consultant based in Los Angeles,
California. She founded Transcend
by Monet, an integrative health
support system, to provide
others with information and
resources that can help them
explore their options and make
informed health decisions. For
more information, visit www.moneteuan.com.
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6. Hyman M. The one test your doctor isn’t doing that could
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doctor-isnt-save-life/. Published January, 8, 2015.
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12. Mercola J. Fluoride and other chemicals in your drinking
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PRICE-POTTENGER JOURNAL OF HEALTH AND HEALING, VOL. 39, NO. 1
THE ESTROGEN ALTERNATIVE
A Guide to Natural Hormonal Balance (updated fourth edition)
By Raquel Martin and Judi Gerstung, DC
Review by Monet Euan
The Estrogen Alternative: A Guide to Natural Hormonal Balance is a thorough inquiry into
the beneﬁts and risks of synthetic and natural hormone replacement therapies for
women. It addresses a wide spectrum of health conditions related to imbalances in the
female hormonal system, including osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.
This engaging book on balancing hormones through natural methods was written to
provide support for women who are confused and suffering, but the research and
thoroughly documented information it presents will also be invaluable for doctors and
other health professionals looking to expand their knowledge of women’s health issues.
Written from the perspective of author Raquel Martin, assisted by chiropractor, teacher,
and radiologist Judi Gerstung, the book begins by sharing Martin’s personal experience
with traditional estrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and the disturbing side
effects she endured. In her quest for relief, Martin received contradictory information
from the doctors she consulted, who were constantly adjusting her prescriptions and
dosages, oftentimes making her symptoms worse. She put an end to ten years of this
“experimentation” and began to take personal responsibility for her own health after
reading about the increased risk of breast cancer linked to synthetic estrogen. She
became committed to learning about her options and ﬁnding safer treatment methods,
which led to her healing. What she discovered motivated her to share her research
ﬁndings, observations, and experiences through this book.
Martin debunks a popular myth perpetuated by conventional medicine: that
menopausal symptoms tend to stem from an estrogen deﬁciency. This myth has been
furthered, she learned, by mainstream media sources and pharmaceutical marketing
campaigns that misinterpret conventional HRT studies or take isolated elements
supporting estrogen supplementation out of context. In fact, she points out, the real
deﬁciency is often that of progesterone, and its root cause is estrogen dominance.
Adding more estrogen when there is already too much present only exacerbates health
problems or creates new ones. To counterbalance the effects of this estrogen overload
requires supplemental progesterone. In making this point, Martin quotes the late John
R. Lee, MD, an international expert on natural hormones whom she cites frequently in
the book: “Estrogen should never be given unopposed, i.e., without progesterone, due
to its risk of developing endometrial carcinoma… It is amazing to me that, given the
extensive supporting medical references presently existing, estrogen without
concomitant progesterone is still commonly prescribed.”
The author further discredits the estrogen myth as she delves into the studies on
natural, plant-derived progesterone. She discovers that natural hormone replacement
therapy (NHRT) with botanical progesterone actually confers the many beneﬁts that
have been falsely attributed to conventional estrogen therapy by its proponents. The
beneﬁts of natural progesterone include, among others, an increase in energy and libido
and a reduction in depression, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, migraines, hot
ﬂashes, cardiovascular disorders, adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues, and osteoporosis.
Natural progesterone has little to no side effects, does not cause cancer, and can even
reverse speciﬁc uterine cancers. Martin was astounded at the risks the conventional
medical model accepts when safer—and more effective—options exist.
After unraveling the misconceptions about hormone replacement therapies, Martin
presents a holistic guide to addressing the root causes of hormonal imbalances, with a
focus on estrogen and progesterone treatments prescribed during pre-, peri- and post-
menopause. She investigates the differences between synthetic and USP plant-derived
progesterone, as well as between synthetic and natural estrogen, and includes a
discussion of when supplementation with natural estrogen may truly be needed. An
entire chapter is dedicated to preventing and treating osteoporosis, and another
addresses estrogen-related cancer risks and provides information on hormone
replacement therapy for cancer survivors.
Martin also emphasizes the importance of preventative care and the use of holistic
adjuncts where appropriate to support the healing process. The ﬁnal section of the book
suggests lifestyle changes that center on developing a healthy, balanced diet to support
the hormonal system. Key herbs and vitamin supplements proven to assist hormonal
function are featured. Various forms of diagnostic testing are discussed, with speciﬁc
resources provided. Several detailed appendices follow, dealing with such subjects as
methods of hormone application, natural infant formulas, resources for cancer patients,
clinical studies and research reports, and sources of natural progesterone. These
informative appendices include lists of useful books, websites, products, compounding
pharmacies, and more to support the reader in taking positive action.
In this book, Martin advocates for educating oneself about all the options available and
working with one’s healthcare providers to make informed decisions, considering those
treatments with little to no side effects before entertaining options that may pose serious
risks. The holistic template she presents, which is applicable to any health concern, is
grounded in an awareness of the shortcomings of the conventional medical paradigm.
Given its rich detail and extensive documentation, The Estrogen Alternative would be an
important addition to any health practitioner’s library. All women could beneﬁt from
this compelling read, which can help them achieve a deeper understanding of their
bodies and learn to take greater responsibility for their health.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Monet Euan is a health and wellness writer, researcher, and consultant based in Los
Angeles, California. She founded Transcend by Monet, an integrative health support
system, to provide others with information and resources that can help them explore
their options and make informed health decisions. For more information, visit