I know people are talking about Shatavari for Hormone balance and I even see Allopathic doctors recommending Shatavari to women over 40 as support for peri menopause under the assumption that it will build up their Estrogen. Is Shatavari truly the magical hormone elixir and should I be taking it?
In a Functional approach to Hormone balance, there are no quick fixes and everyone is truly unique. There are multiple causes and systems involved in balancing hormones in a woman’s body and while we cannot go into great depth in one article, this is to bring a bird’s eye view into hormonal health in girls and women of all ages, in modern society. Stay tuned to more in depth articles on women’s health as we go forward.
Looking at girls reaching puberty, today we are seeing a trend of it being earlier and earlier, due to a number of reasons, mostly that as a society, we are exposing our girls to xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are the estrogen that we are exposed to in our environment from pesticides, plastics, cosmetics and fire retardants. Phytoestrogents are plant estrogens, some of which can help support us, but we want them in limited amounts. Both these mimic Estrogen in the body. Another cause for girls having early puberty is hormones from farmed meat and dairy which stimulate early breast development and increased Estrogen production. This is also not considering the processed food, lack of fibre and bad fats that many young girls are eating. Early puberty then sets the stage for Estrogen dominanace, PCOS, Endometriosis and Adrenal dysfunction.
With the added stress of growing into young women, having inadequate sleep, pushing themselves with excessive exercise, body conscious to the point of unhealthy food habits, nutritional stress from deficiencies, various emotional stressors, blood sugar imbalance and further Estrogen dominance, women’s hormones can get into a spiral from which one magical cure is absolutely impossible.
During peri menopause, with today symptoms starting at 40 itself from the cascade of Estrogen buildup through life, and with our ovaries producing less Progesterone earlier, we continue to become more Estrogen dominant. At this point, please make a note that we might still be low in Estrogen overall, but in relation to Progesterone we are Estrogen dominant. We’ll come back to this point later as this is really important.
Estrogen dominanace at any age can be visisble through a multitude of symptoms like excess weight in the waist, depression, mood swings, infertility, fluid retention, irritability, candida overgrowth, headaches, fatigue, sleep issues, PMS sypmtoms, palpitations, multiple aches and pains, vaginal dryness, fibromyalgia and tearfulness. This list can go on and on.
The balance between Estrogen and Progesterone is the backbone of hormonal health. They need to flow gently up and down, through the month, without volatile mountains and valleys. They need to rise gently like a wave. They need to work together like a healthy relationship. If Progesterone prevents cancer in breasts, Estrogen stimulates tissue growth in breasts. If Estrogen makes us sharp in the brain, Progesterone makes us calm.
Coming back to Shatavri, it is a Phytoestrogen and from the Asparagus family making it a diuretic. While it can be helpful in some cases, mostly when overall toxic load is low, where detoxification in a body is optimum, and in a body which does not have excessive Estrogen dominance, for everyone to be taking it, prescribing it and telling their friends to take it as a magical hormone fix can be counterproductive. It can further aggravate Estrogen dominanace, and increase all symptoms of Estrogen dominanace related to a specific age, and further upset the cascade of hormones. With Estrogen further dominating, and Progesterone lower in comparison to Estrogen, symptoms related to lower Progesterone can arise, such as aggaravating mental symptoms, sleep disorder, weight gain, fluid retention and more.
It all comes back to the functional approach that there are no magical pills, potions or protocols, and caution must be exercised when looking at any thing, even a healthy herb, with you as a unique individual. It requires looking at a variety of factors from our environmental exposures, our gut health, our detoxification capabilities, fat reduction, balance between Estrogen and Progesterone, and overall homeostasis in the body. For healthy and happy hormones, a multi system approach is required, while respecting the unique individual.