“An effective, easy-to-follow plan to balance hormones and become more energized.”–Amy Myers, M.D., New York Times bestselling author of The Autoimmune Solution
Do you feel energy-depleted and irritable, unable to sleep, stay focused, or lose weight? You may have attributed these symptoms to the natural hormonal fluctuations that occur with age. But behind the scenes, there are a host of pesky culprits wreaking havoc on your hormonal health: chronic stress, air pollution, chemical-laden foods and cleaning supplies, and the synthetic estrogens in personal care products. Women of all ages are left vulnerable to the consequences, suffering from unnecessary hormonal imbalance and frustrating symptoms that are often dismissed by their doctors.
Dr. Mariza Snyder is here to help put you back in control of your health. In The Essential Oils Hormone Solution, you will learn how to heal hormonal chaos and revitalize the body from the inside out with the support of high-quality essential oils. You’ll learn how essential oils work on a cellular level to mitigate the toxic loads we carry, and how to use essential oils to reduce cravings, get deep, restful sleep, ease stress, improve mood, banish the worst symptoms of PMS, regain focus and concentration, boost libido, and increase energy.
Featuring a 14-day plan to jumpstart your hormonal health, with over 100 essential oil blends, daily self-care rituals, and delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes, you’ll discover how to reset your body and pave the way for improved hormonal health, without taking hormones.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
How to Balance Your Hormones Without Adding Hormones
How did I get here?
Many women find themselves in a hormonal crisis at some point in their lives, and they seek advice from medical professionals who, more likely than not, downplay common symptoms like depression, anxiety, weight gain, and brain fog in their failure to see the woman as a whole. Our unique history, genetic makeup, personality, emotional health, lifestyle, habits, and many more factors play into who we are, of course. We need to see beyond the surface—who we are is just as important as what we present as. We are not merely our symptoms. This is why I believe we must treat the whole person.
Society pressures women to be all things, all the time. It’s not just about looking good, though we must do that, too. With a smile on our faces, looking our best, and with a pleasant and nurturing attitude, we navigate life not only for ourselves but also for our families, our friends, our co-workers, for those around us. We spend our lives taking care of our families and are often ostracized for it. When we go back to work after having children, there is even less time to focus on and take care of ourselves. We neglect. We ignore. We push onward. And eventually our health takes a big toll.
Sadly, the timing often corresponds to when our hormonal levels begin to naturally decline and our bodies change as a result. An easy solution is to blame how badly we’re feeling on our hormones. Sure, hormones are at play here, but you can’t fix hormones with hormones. In fact, pumping in additional hormones may do more damage than good.
A holistic approach to identifying and understanding who you are as a woman, and then taking a hard look at the routines and lifestyle that landed you in your current predicament, must be done. Resetting your lifestyle with self-care routines and rituals supported by essential oils will help you to heal yourself. You know who you are better than anyone else, but learning how you got where you are, what you can do to reverse the problem, and identifying triggers that bring out symptoms will all be a part of your game plan.
So, if you are asked the question, “Are you hormonal?” you don’t have to be offended. The answer is yes. We are always hormonal! Hormones keep our bodies functioning the way that they’re designed to.
What we need to focus on is the ever-fluctuating balance of hormones in our own, unique system. No one solution will work for everyone, but a foundation of daily self-care rituals coupled with essential oils will help you discover the solutions you need. You just have to be willing to put in a little bit of work. Time to roll up your sleeves and get your body back.
Hormones are not just about periods and hot flashes. Hormones are chemical messengers constantly at play in our bodies. They affect nearly all functions—influencing, triggering, and regulating everything from temperature to heartbeat, from blood sugar to fertility, from mood to sleep rhythms. The interconnectedness of all our body’s systems makes it nearly impossible to isolate one hormone or one symptom and blame it for all our problems, since the body functions as a complex entity. What I have found in my years of practice is that women usually need to pay attention to several hormones. You need to assess your unique situation to create a personalized plan to reverse imbalances and reset your body.
What many of us don’t realize, though, is that hormones work hard to keep our body in homeostasis, relaying important information as they convey messages from your brain to different organs. Basically, everything that we do causes hormonal fluctuations.
Where Do Hormones Come From?
The endocrine system, composed of a variety of specialized glands, is responsible for synthesizing and secreting hormones. Other organs contain endocrinocytes that also produce hormones, though that's not their main function. So while most people know that the reproductive system produces hormones, we sometimes ignore the important function of our adrenal glands, thyroid, and pancreas. In addition, organs involved in hormone production include the heart, kidneys, stomach and intestines, liver, and skin. Interestingly, even our adipose tissue, or fat, plays a role in the secretion and release of certain hormones.
In this book, I will primarily be focusing on hormones associated with metabolism, reproduction, the thyroid, and the HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis), as they are the ones that tend to become imbalanced over time. Rebooting these hormones seems to clear out the body to heal itself with support from high-quality essential oils and key lifestyle changes.
The Reproductive System Hormones
Our reproductive years are the post-puberty years of menstruation and fertility, followed by the gradually decreasing hormonal levels of the perimenopausal phase, before arriving at menopause, clinically defined as the period following one full year of no menstruation. Your reproductive system is still functioning pre-puberty and post-menopause, but in a different way. Perhaps it was named the “reproductive” system since its primary and most incredible job is creating more humans. This is how a healthy reproductive system should function if all conditions are optimal:
Produced primarily by the ovaries, estrogen is the term used to refer to any compounds producing estrus: estrone, estradiol, and estriol. These three hormones directly affect a woman’s growth and development, as well as regulate her reproductive system—namely, her menstrual cycle. Estrogen is also produced by the feto-placental unit during pregnancy, and in smaller amounts by the adrenal cortex and in the male testes.
Progesterone production takes place in three main arenas: the ovaries during menstruation, the placenta during pregnancy, and the adrenal glands. Primarily responsible for preparing the uterus for conception and implantation, it aids in the regulation of the menstrual cycle and also helps to maintains viable pregnancies. When a new egg is produced each month and begins to develop in the follicle, estrogen and progesterone are both produced.
Though considered to be mainly a male hormone, testosterone is also produced in the female ovaries and adrenal glands. It influences bone strength and muscle mass and is essential to a woman’s libido.
What Reproductive Hormones Do During Fertility
Estrogen and progesterone are the hormones responsible for creating optimal conditions for reproduction. Estrogen allows for a soft and thick uterine lining in days one to fourteen of a monthly cycle, before the egg is released for potential conception. It also tells our bodies to keep some extra fat around in case conception takes place so that we can protect the growing fetus. Progesterone is produced after ovulation by the corpus luteum (the sac that the egg comes from) and dominates the second half of the cycle (luteal phase). Its main job is to keep that comfy uterine lining in place for implantation of a fertilized egg. If this happens, levels continue to rise to ensure the uterine lining remains intact until the placenta is fully developed enough to take over, around twelve weeks into the pregnancy.
Each of us is born with a finite number of eggs. They are released monthly for potential fertilization and implantation. If conception does not take place, progesterone levels will decline, causing the uterine lining to shed and—our menstrual period to begin.
Sadly, many women experience debilitating premenstrual syndrome (PMS), or horrible periods, and symptoms that they attribute to normal hormone function. This is not true. Your body is not supposed to suffer through its normal processes, but if hormone levels are out of whack (and not just the reproductive hormones), the results can trigger these painful conditions.
What Reproductive Hormones Do During Perimenopause
Usually around age forty, although sometimes as early as thirty-five, most women begin experiencing changes in their bodies associated with perimenopause, the period when childbearing comes to an end. Estrogen production specifically for the reproductive system gradually slows; eggs aren’t always released every month and menstrual periods may become irregular. Our bodies slowly adapt over a period from four to ten years as we settle into the normal aging process. The last two years before menopause are when most women notice the biggest change, as hormone levels drop more steadily than before in preparation for cessation of the cycle entirely.
During this time, several changes happen owing to the decline in estrogen production. As estrogen influences bone density, attention to bone health becomes paramount. In addition, we use energy differently, and caloric needs shift so we can properly fuel our bodies, prevent weight gain, and excess fat storage.
What Reproductive Hormones Do During Menopause
After your period has ceased for one year, you are officially in menopause, the culmination of perimenopausal changes. Ovarian production of hormones ceases entirely, but the adrenal glands continue to produce them for the body’s needs. Any perimenopausal symptoms usually decline and disappear at this stage. Women become more at risk for chronic conditions such as heart disease and osteoporosis/osteopenia during post-menopause.
Known as the “butterfly gland” because of its unique shape, the thyroid sits at the front of the neck, where it regulates hundreds of functions, particularly our metabolic function, growth, and easing the body into maturity. The thyroid depends on iodine, a trace element not produced naturally in the body, and good diet to properly function. Iodine from food consumption is converted to produce the protein thyroglobulin, which is then converted into T4 (thyroxine) and other hormones.
TSH (Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone). Produced by the pituitary gland, TSH stimulates the production of T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine).
T3 (Triiodothyronine). Converted from T4 via the liver and other tissues, T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone that affects metabolic processes, weight, energy, memory, cholesterol, muscle strength, heart rate, menstrual cycle, and more.
T4 (Thyroxine). Secreted by the thyroid gland directly into the bloodstream, T4 is an inactive thyroid hormone that functions as a storage component for T3. Levels of T4 in the body trigger the production or cessation of TSH.
Reverse T3 (RT3). An inactive form of T3 is produced when the body saves energy in the T4–T3 conversion process. Low levels can lead to hypothyroidism, while too much results in the blockage of T3 from its receptors.
What Thyroid Hormones Do
Optimal levels of T3 and T4 increase our basal metabolic rate (BMR), causing our bodies to kick into action. Body temperature rises while the heart rate quickens, and our body uses up energy a lot faster. The thyroid taps into the liver and muscles for stored energy in order to support functions like growth and development.
Often described as a “thermostat system,” the hypothalamus functions as the adjuster of the thermostat, the pituitary gland. When the temperature—T3 and T4 levels—drops too low in the body, the hypothalamus releases TSH-Releasing Hormone (TRH), which tells the pituitary gland that it had better heat things up. As a result, the pituitary produces TSH, which triggers production of T4 and ups the temperature. Sensing the shift, the pituitary lowers production of TSH and the system maintains balance.
The HPA Axis Hormones
The hypothalamus regulates the autonomic nervous system, sending messages directly from the brain to various areas of the body, including the thyroid, pituitary, and adrenal glands, as well as other organs. It maintains our sleep cycles and appropriate energy levels, regulates body temperature, and influences our appetite, thirst, weight, moods (such as anger and fear), blood pressure, and libido.
The pituitary gland sits at the base of the brain, physically connected to the hypothalamus. Considered the master control gland in the body, it produces a wide variety of hormones, directly triggers the thyroid and adrenal cortex, and influences the reproductive system and kidney function.
The pair of adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys, where they produce hormones to help regulate blood sugar, energy storage, the immune system, and metabolism. From steroids to stress to sex, the adrenals keep our bodies safe and primed for whatever scenario might ensue.
What HPA Axis Hormones Do
The complexity of the body’s systems never ceases to amaze me, and the HPA axis really gets the science nerd in me excited! The interconnectedness and interplay among such tiny molecules of our body demonstrates the sheer power of big things in small packages. But it doesn’t take much to push these delicate balances into overload or completely throw them off-balance.
Responsible for a variety of bodily processes, the HPA axis directly influences digestion, the immune system, energy storage and expenditure, and mood and emotional responses. The claim to fame for the adrenals, however, is their ability to respond to stress.
The primary function of the HPA axis is to keep the body on an even keel, so it activates when exposed to a potential stressor—a short-term stress response. It all begins in the hypothalamus, which perceives the stressor and begins to produce CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone) to tell the pituitary gland that something is posing a potential threat. The pituitary responds with production of ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), kicking the adrenal glands into action. They then respond to the stressor by having the body produce several different hormones for our own protection.
The catecholamine epinephrine (a.k.a. adrenaline) raises heart rate and increases blood pressure, getting us ready for a potential fight-or-flight scenario: we either fight off the tiger or run for our lives. It also dilates our respiratory passages, allowing for greater airflow to oxygenate our bodies for the battle. The adrenals also produce the glucocorticoid cortisol, which raises our blood sugar levels in order to fuel this ensuing battle, with the help of adrenaline that aids the liver in the conversion of glycogen (think stored energy) into glucose (fuel for the body). It also redirects the body’s attention away from unnecessary systems at the time in favor of survival, so digestion and reproduction take a back seat in favor of saving our own lives.
When we perceive the stressor to be eliminated, the body triggers a negative feedback from the adrenals to the pituitary and hypothalamus so that they slow their production of ACTH and CRH. This returns the body to a normal balance and life goes on.
How Hormonal Imbalance Happens and Its Resulting Symptoms
Though our bodies are constantly bombarded from every angle externally, the way it responds internally often creates our hormonal imbalances. In my years of practice, I have found stress to be the single biggest cause for hormonal imbalance among women, owing to the interconnectedness of all our systems. What was meant to be a complex mechanism for keeping our bodies in top condition can easily tip into an out-of-whack, imbalanced mess, triggering multiple symptoms and leaving us asking that fateful question: How did I get here?
That is the exact question thirty-eight-year-old Rita, a single mother, asked me within minutes of walking into my office. Suffering from chronic fatigue, she looked panicked and exhausted, and struggled to get out of bed each morning. She barely had enough energy in the morning to make her daughter’s lunch and get to her demanding job on time—a job that left her feeling overworked and underappreciated. She had substituted self care and healthy food choices with long nights at the office and trips to Starbucks. Once we figured out the core issue, we worked together to get her body and energy back on track.
Table of Contents
Part I A Hormone and Essential Oil Primer 13
Chapter 1 How to Balance Your Hormones Without Adding Hormones 15
Chapter 2 The Guide to Using Essential Oils 37
Chapter 3 The Top 15 Essential Oils for Hormones and the Value of Daily Usage 58
Chapter 4 The Importance of Creating Your Own Essential-Oil Rituals 64
Part II Using Essential Oils to Address Your Hormonal Symptoms 73
Chapter 5 Stress 75
Chapter 6 Energy and Fatigue 94
Chapter 7 Sleep Issues 114
Chapter 8 Weight Issues 134
Chapter 9 Female Hormones: Fertility, Perimenopause, and Menopause 151
Chapter 10 Libido 169
Chapter 11 Emotions: Balancing Anxiety, Depression, and Mood Swings 186
Chapter 12 Cognitive Issues: Memory and Concentration 208
Chapter 13 Digestive Issues 227
Chapter 14 Toxicity 241
Part III The 14-Day Rescue Plan to Jump-Start Your Hormonal Health 269
Chapter 15 The Five Pillars of a Foundational Lifestyle 275
Chapter 16 The 14-Day Rescue Meal Plan Basics 306
Chapter 17 The 14-Day Rescue Meal Plan and Recipes 313
Chapter 18 Refresh and Replenish 345
Appendix A Resources 351
Appendix B Bibliography 355