Progesterone is known to all as a sex hormone, we know it’s involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and development of the embryo. But did you know that it also acts as a neurosteroid? Neurosteroids can exert effects such as sedation or excitability. In this case, progesterone acts as a relaxant by enhancing GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) receptor activity for a calming effect.
And who doesn’t want a calming effect around the time of menstruation? Low levels of progesterone are associated with premenstrual symptoms such as bloating, moodiness, headaches and pain, therefore it would make sense to do menstrual charting (find out how, here) and work out whether you need to naturally increase your progesterone. If you would like to increase your progesterone levels – here are some helpful ‘at home’ tips.
1. Help your liver to build hormones and to detox excessive hormonal production by eating a healthy, wholefood diet and by eating proteins with every meal. Proteins are NOT just meat. You can get protein also from fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, tofu, tempeh and legumes for example. Proteins are the building blocks of all our cells including hormones.
2. Again, help your liver detox by drinking teas like roasted dandelion root tea. Dandelion root helps liver cell regeneration so helps with liver function
3. Avoid exogenous estrogens (estrogens found in the environment) such as those found in plastics (never heat your food in plastic containers in the microwave), avoid eating non-organic animal meat and try to limit canned foods
4. ‘Vitex agnes-castus’ is a herb that is well proven to increase progesterone levels. I really like the formula ‘premular’ as an over the counter supplement.
5. Eating foods with B vitamins will help your liver detox, build hormones and help with stress levels. Foods with high amounts of B vitamins include beef, fish, eggs, hard cheeses and tofu. Stress is a big cause of disruption of normal hormone synthesis and action – of course, we need to treat the whole person, address the nervous system and support the adrenals.
These small steps will do a lot to help improve your mood, increase progesterone and decrease symptoms of PMS. It’s always advised to see your health care practitioner for a holistic treatment where it’s all about YOU!