Progesterone is an important female reproductive hormone. It performs many important functions in the female body. For example, it is required to regulate your menstrual cycle along with estrogen, another important female reproductive system hormone, by reducing the dominance of estrogen in the body. Progesterone is also required to initiate and maintain pregnancy and infertility is a common problem among women who cannot produce sufficient amount of progesterone. In our body, it increases the body's immunity, and its actions are anti-anxiety, anti-depressive, a diuretic (meaning it allows us to excrete excess fluid) and it allows us to burn body fat as an energy source.
Some common symptoms of low progesterone are:
- Mood changes, anxiety, nervousness, irritability
- Headaches, migraines
- Hot flushes (also known as hot flashes or night sweats if they occur at night).
- Low sex drive / libido
- Menstrual problems such as irregularity or heavy bleeding
- Menopause and peri-menopause problems
- Breast disorders, pain, tenderness
- polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Postpartum depression
- Weight gain and/or bloating
- Infertility or miscarriage
Progesterone is essentially an animal hormone. Did you know that the only food source of progesterone is placenta? Certain animals eat their placenta after birth which gives them the required progesterone surge. Some women also have their placenta made into caplets that they subsequently consume as a source of progesterone.
(And you thought you’ve heard everything…but it’s true!)
However, (and thankfully!!!) there are other ways that you can increase progesterone in your body. Making important lifestyle changes and consuming certain plant and animal sources are key.
3 Ways to Increase Progesterone Naturally
#1 Treat the adrenal glands: This is another way of saying “help your body adapt better to stress”. Because progesterone is produced in both the ovaries and adrenal glands (that also regulate your stress responses) these important glands need to be strong. Reducing chronic stress by taking even small steps to support the adrenals through lifestyle changes (more sleep, improved diet, and moderate to light exercise). You can also time your meals and snacks so that you don't go hungry as this can put extra stress on the adrenals.
#2 Detoxify the liver: The liver metabolizes hormones so in order to ensure proper ratios of estrogen to progesterone, you must support the liver on an ongoing basis. I also suggest doing a whole foods detox/cleanse that will support your liver and other detoxification pathways.
Quick tip: Consider a simple step such as a glass of warm water with lemon every morning to start stimulating the liver’s detoxification processes.
#3 Nutrition: Progesterone-like substances can be found in certain plant and animal sources. Although this is not the progesterone found in humans, science shows that it mimics the properties of progesterone inside the body. There are many herbs and nutrients that can assist in bringing up progesterone, but some of my favourite ones include:
Brassica vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts. These help to reduce the load of harmful estrogen in the body, which in turn increases the ratio of progesterone to estrogen.
Vitamin B6: walnuts, beans, bananas, spinach, lean red grass-fed meat. These help the liver to detoxify estrogen.
Zinc: shellfish, grass-fed beef, pumpkin seeds, raw chocolate. These stimulate progesterone production.
Magnesium: beans, pumpkin, raw chocolate, nuts, spinach. These support adrenal glands and is useful in every enzyme reaction in the body which in turn helps produce hormones.
Try this delicious hormone balancing recipe:
Kale and Fig Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing
1 head of organic kale
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Prepare the kale:
1. Rinse kale leaves and pat off water with dish towel or paper towel.
2. Remove stem from each leaf.
3. Cut leaves into small strips and place in a bowl.
4. Add lemon juice, salt, and olive oil to leaves and massage thoroughly with hands. (This will soften kale and reduce leaves in size.) Set aside.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Braggs apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tablespoon raw honey
Place all ingredients in blender and mix until well combined. Toss dressing with kale leaves until mix well.
• 6-8 dried Turkish figs, stems removed and chopped
• 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
• 1/2 cup raw walnuts, chopped (optional) or raw pumpkin seeds
• pinch of black pepper