Hormones are chemical transmitters in the body that tell cells what to do and when.
They are produced by the body’s glands through the normal course of living and are stimulated by both internal and external influences.
In our toxic world, with pathogens found in everything with which we come into contact, hormone production can get out of whack.
5 Key Hormones
Of all the hormones in our bodies, there are five that are especially influential on our overall health.
The stress hormone. We need some stress to keep us going and for bursts of energy when it’s needed. Too much cortisol raises blood sugar levels, causing weight gain, chronic fatigue, and can lead to fatty liver disease. Not enough and we’re like a wet rag: tired and weak, with low immune system function.
2. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
Dihydrotestosterone is an androgen– a male sex hormone. Women have it, too, but at lower levels. Different androgens are responsible for males’ physical characteristics, including male-patterned baldness (1). A synthesized form of testosterone, too much DHT in men can cause acne, enlarged prostate, and enlarged breasts. In women, too much of this hormone can cause male-patterned hair loss as well.
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Estrogen, a female hormone, is present in higher levels in women than men. Estrogen is responsible for female physical growth, regulation of menses, and moderating cholesterol. Plus, it’s critical for bone and organ health and affects the brain.
Many environmental chemicals are xenoestrogens (synthetic estrogens) that wreak havoc on estrogen levels in both sexes. Taking in these synthetics causes too much estrogen in the body, resulting in cancers, decreased sex drive, low energy, poor sleep, skin conditions, reproductive damage, and obesity in females and males alike.
Produced by the pancreas, this hormone regulates blood sugar. A regular intake of too much sugar causes cells to become resistant to insulin, often resulting in diabetes. Insulin imbalance affects the body’s ability to regulate all the other hormones, too.
Watch the brief video below for an explanation of insulin resistance.
4. Thyroid Hormone
Sort of the captain of hormones, those produced by the thyroid control other hormones, growth, and metabolism. Too little (hypothyroidism) can cause weight gain, hair loss, constipation, memory loss, decreased libido, dry hair and skin, fatigue, weakness, and other symptoms. Increased thyroid hormone activity (hyperthyroidism) can cause goiter, excessive perspiration, irregular heartbeat, anxiety, irritability, and hoarseness or swelling in the neck.
Stinging Nettle For Hormonal Imbalance
Some hormonal imbalances can be due to genetic predisposition, however, getting enough sleep, eating the right foods, and exercising regularly will help to restore these body chemicals to normal levels.
Stinging nettle is a herb shown to moderate hormones.
This prickly plant is beneficial for the following conditions:
- Enlarged prostate (2)
- Hair growth
- Lowers blood sugar
- Lowers blood pressure and supports heart health (3)
- Muscle and joint pain
- Osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding support
- Seasonal allergies
- Urinary tract infection (4)
How Stinging Nettle Works
When there are excess hormones—most particularly sex hormones—stinging nettle prevents them from sticking to proteins, inhibiting their distribution through bodily systems.
Phytochemicals in stinging nettle inhibit the formation of dihydrotestosterone from testosterone and its binding to hormone receptors in the organs. DHT is believed to be the primary hormone responsible for common baldness; drinking stinging nettle tea can stop hair loss in its tracks and potentially stimulate new growth.
Stinging nettle is a remedy for allergies and other respiratory conditions, as it is a natural antihistamine. Better yet, since it contains serotonin and acetylcholine, stinging nettle moderates cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal glands.
A potent general detoxifier, stinging nettle is also anti-inflammatory, supporting the immune system.
In fact, an extensive study of stinging nettles nutrition at Virginia State University concluded:
“Results show that processed nettle can supply 90%–100% of vitamin A (including vitamin A as β-carotene) and is a good source of dietary calcium, iron, and protein. We recommend fresh or processed nettle as a high-protein, low-calorie source of essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins particularly in vegetarian, diabetic, or other specialized diets.” (5)
Hormone-balancing Stinging Nettle Remedy
Note: if you are pregnant, make sure you use nettle leaves and not the root, as using the root during pregnancy can spur uterine contractions. Limit how much you drink; as we’ve said, they affect hormones. Stinging nettle stimulates lactation so it’s great to use if you’re breastfeeding.
- 1 quart of water
- ½ cup dry stinging nettle leaves (the fresher the better!)
- Boil water.
- Place nettle leaves in glass bottle or jar. Pour boiling water over leaves, screw lid tightly, and allow to steep 4-10 hours at room temperature.
- Drink tea throughout the day. It’s delicious hot, cold, or at room temperature. You may add a little honey for sweetness or coconut milk for a richer drink.
- You can make a few days’ worth at once, storing unused tea in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.