Herbs offer a wide plethora of healing properties, and their ability to positively affect hormones is one of them. Thyme, holy basil, clary cage, sandalwood, and myrtle are the five herbs which are of particular interest to hormonal health.
Some of the major hormones in the body include:
- Adrenal hormones: These are responsible for the production of cortisol, which contributes to metabolism and controls stress.
- Reproductive hormones: Progesterone and estrogen manage female fertility and menstrual cycle and balance vaginal pH, while testosterone manages bone mass, red blood cell production, and male fertility.
- Sleep hormones: Sleep hormones like melatonin affect the health when out of balance. Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc to the entire body, making it more prone to burnout and sickness.
- Thyroid hormones: These are produced by the thyroid and are responsible for metabolism regulation.
5 Hormone Balancing Herbs
1. Thyme: Preventing Breast Cancer
A team of researchers studied the effects of different herb extract on breast cancer cells in an in vitro study. Thyme was shown to bind to progesterone, a sex hormone which plays role in pregnancy and menstrual cycle. It has been found that thyme is packed with phytoestrogens and phytoprogestins, which mimic the activity of anti-progesterone drugs and stop the growth of breast cancer cells.
2. Holy Basil: Lowering Anxiety
It has been scientifically shown that basil has the ability to lower the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. According to one study, holy basil extract lowers anxiety levels safely and quite effectively. The subject were given holy basil for six weeks and exhibited improvement in various stressful aspects, including exhaustion, sleep quality, memory issues, and sexual problems.
3. Clary Sage: Healthier Menopause
Clary sage is yet another herb with an ability to lower cortisol levels. In one study the levels of cortisol of women in their 50s notably decreased after they inhaled clary sage oil. It is worth noting that the hormones that stimulate the thyroid are decreased, but only slightly. In addition, clary sage might boost estrogen levels in those with menopausal symptoms caused by lack of estrogen.
4. Sandalwood: Reducing Stress
According to one study involving women undergoing a breast biopsy, the combination of orange and peppermint oil was less effective than the combination of sandalwood and lavender, which notably reduced the anxiety during their exam.
Another study has found that cancer patients suffering from sleep deprivation improved their sleep quality by inhaling blends of essential oil. Sandalwood, which was one of the oils included in one of those blends, led to improvement in the sleep pattern in more than 64 percent of the patients.
5. Myrtle: Improving Sleep
Although many cultures use this herb as hypnotic herb or sedative, there have not been any studies on its effects yet. But, there have been a couple of promising animal studies though. It has been shown that lab animals given myrtle extract were sleeping better and their muscles were much more relaxed.
Another study done on the connection between myrtle and sleep, mice given myrtle essential oils experienced prolonged sleeping during which their brain activity was slowed down.
The Best Ways to Use Herbs Medicinally
Herbs can be used in many different ways! The simplest way to get the most of them is to add them to your food, but they can be also found in extract forms, essential oils, and teas.
Herb-based essential oils can be used in a wide range of ways, too:
- Add a couple of drops to a hot bath
- Mix with a carrier oil and massage in the skin
- Use a diffuser: Add a couple of drops to distilled water and place in a common area of the house