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Balancing hormones

health-and-fitness Updated: Oct 10, 2009 20:23 IST
Shikha Sharma
Shikha Sharma
Hindustan Times
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Hormonal imbalance occurs when the natural balance of the hormones is disrupted, as explained in my previous column. There can be an excess or a deficiency of Yogacertain hormones. The causes can be many, including unhealthy diet, no exercise, excessive alcohol, medication, menopause, long term hormone pills etc.

The best way to manage hormonal imbalance is to rectify the problem in the early stages rather than later when the signs and symptoms become debilitating and difficult to manage despite medication.

Nutrition is the key
Nutrition being the foundation of healing, it needs special attention. Foods which can have high doses of hormones, such as dairy products and meats, should be avoided. Many hormones are used in the meat and dairy industry to increase the milk production or increase the size of animals artificially and very quickly. The hormone oxytocin is used in milk production. Women with a serious hormone problem also need to look at the state of their liver and kidney. These two organs are the cleansers of the body and if they don’t function properly there is a high chance of the inefficient degradation of hormones, leading to over-accumulation of circulating hormones and a consequent imbalance.

Foods of choice are fresh fruits, preferably organically grown, fresh salads and organically grown vegetables. The reason organic farming is important for hormonal problems is because chemicals in food mimic the body hormones or bind to existing receptors, leading to the over-availability of endogenous hormones.

Eat, as far as possible, unrefined foods. These are foods in their whole form like dals with skin, brown rice, dalia, channa, etc.

Nuts (walnut, almond, pine nuts), seeds (flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds etc) are sources of good oils which are essential for the body.

Herbs like ashok (common decoction: ashokarisht), kumara asav, aloe vera, shatavri, tulsi, licorice, cardamom, guggulu, gotu kola, brahmi are also useful. Avoid using strong aerosols, particularly those used in cleaning cars, paints, etc. This will help in reducing the toxins load on the liver.

Try some yoga

Asanas:
Baddha Konasana (cobbler pose, sitting)
Supta Baddhakonasana (cobbler pose, lying down)
Gaumukhasan (the cow pose, beneficial for irregular periods)
Janu Shirasana (head to knee pose)
Virasana (the hero pose)
Supta Virasana (the hero pose, lying down)
Bhujang Asana (the cobra pose)
Ardhachakrasana (the half wheel pose)
Ushtrasana (the camel pose)

These asanas increase spinal flexibility, tone abdominal muscles, reduce stress levels, and regulate the endocrine system to restore hormonal balance.

Pranayam: The recommended pranayamas (breathing exercises) for hormonal imbalance are mild Kapalbhati (lung cleansing), Anuloma-Viloma (alternate nostril breathing), Ujjayi (ocean breath) and Brhamri.

Chakras: Literally means wheel, circle, vortex, or whirlpool. There are seven major chakras, located along the pathway of sushumna nadi, which flows through the centre of the spinal cord. The two chakras that help in treating hormonal imbalance are:

Swadhisthana chakra is related to the female ovaries and male testes. It looks after our liver, kidneys, and the lower abdomen.
Vishuddhi chakra is apparently related to the thyroid, the metabolic rate, and the lungs.