In the past few weeks, I’ve explored hormonal balance from an integrative, naturopathic, and functional medicine perspective. These chemical messengers are so powerful, the body has complex feedback mechanisms in place to control their levels. In fact, even minute shifts in amounts of hormones can have systemic effects on other vital functions of the body, beyond the sex organs.
This is why I feel that it’s crucial to first work with nature’s wisdom and address the root cause of imbalances before implementing any form of hormone replacement. Simply suppressing symptoms through either pills, creams, or supplements, hormonal or otherwise, will not provide lasting benefits. Furthermore, just tinkering with hormonal levels from lab values can cause unintended side effects and seemingly unrelated symptoms to occur. You can read more about this and access the full articles in my summary here and in my latest video.
Now, I will focus on hormonal balance from several other often overlooked, yet imperative aspects. Specifically, I will discuss how perception, emotions, social relationships, and cultural beliefs influence health, hormones, and women’s experiences with shifts in reproductive cycles.
The Power of Belief and Emotions in Perpetuating Health and Hormone Symptoms
All women that live long enough will eventually undergo menopause, or the cessation of ovulation and their menstrual cycles. (source, source, source) Due to the prevalence of hormonal issues and the universal experience of this end of fertility, many will assume that it is normal to have uncomfortable effects from these hormonal fluctuations.
Some may seek for any intervention to make their disruptive symptoms go away. Others might feel it is their lot in life in being a woman to tolerate these imbalances. Interestingly, both extremes are perpetuated in our society, including by medical experts. (source, source, source, source)
There are several reasons why these beliefs are actually more harmful than helpful for rebalancing the body, two of which have already been covered. These include:
- The influence of the placebo and nocebo effects on health outcomes
- How emotions and stress impact hormones
- How social behaviors, relationships, and cultural perspectives shape our genes and wellness outcomes (sociogenomics)
Good or Bad Expectations and Health Outcomes:
The Power of the Placebo and Nocebo Effects
The placebo and nocebo effects are scientific terms that explain how our beliefs effect health outcomes. Literally, the expectation that an intervention will work for a symptom or disease process can cause changes in the brain and shift the body’s biochemistry.
Below are some of my previous articles and research on this topic:
- Good Expectations, Negative Beliefs, and Their Health Consequences
- How Positive Belief, a Little Hope, and Essential Oils Can Bolster Health Outcomes
- How to Un-Tox the Modern, Toxic, Mind – Why You Should Consider Emotional Detox
Furthermore, thinking a symptom is chronic will also affect hormones due to the stress it creates. Who wants to be miserable for long periods of time?
Below are some articles on how stress impacts hormones and some suggestions to mitigate it:
- Can Essential Oils Balance Stress Effects and Hormones?
- Rose Geranium Essential Oil for Mood, Stress, and Hormonal Balance
- Stress and Hormone References and Video
- A summary blog on essential oils for balancing reproductive issues and stress impacts.
Relationships and Health
The importance of having a “tribe” is a powerful influencer in overall physical health, not just well-being. In these previous posts I discuss how relationships are linked to cardiovascular disease risk, fertility, and longevity:
- Could Isolation or Toxic Relationships Be Harming Your Heart and Health? Part I
- Could Isolation or Toxic Relationships Be Harming Your Heart and Health? Part II
- Lessons Learned in Tuscany, Healthy Aging & Longevity Tidbits from the Blue Zones, the Pushback on Paleo…
- This One’s for the Boys (and the Women and Partners That Love Them): Male Libido, Hormones, Fertility, and Essential Oils- Part I
It’s worth reiterating that isolation is more of a health risk than “obesity,” smoking, or any disease marker.
How relationships are connected to our health through beliefs and behaviors can be explained through sociogenomics.
The Impact of Sociogenomics on Health and Its Connection to Hormones
Remember those big terms epigenetics and nutrigenomics? Respectfully, they are the study of how lifestyle and nutrition impact our DNA expression. This is the interaction between nature and nurture.
Nature influences gene activity through the inheritances of variations in DNA sequences, “SNPs” or single nucleotide polymorphism. Nurture is the variation of environment that influences how these SNPs impact our health. (source) Interestingly, changes in hormones can affect the expression of these genetic variances.
Relationships and culture also influence our genes and health. Sociogenomics is the study of this molecular basis of social life and it is quite complex. (source, source) In, Sociogenomics: social life in molecular terms, the authors discuss how biology and social behavior interact for the evolution of species. Genes shaped through social regulation can even influence how the brain functions. (source) This can perpetuate certain habits and behaviors within members of groups.
Our beliefs, emotions, relationships, and societal perceptions have profound impacts on our health. Our ties to others are based on survival. They are so strong, we may automatically subscribe to cultural norms without question due to our genetic imprinting!
In the next article, I’m going to explore cultural influences on women’s experience of menopause. Then, I’ll discuss the implications of social status and rejection and how we can positively nurture relationships for optimizing wellness.
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This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.