Disturbance Of The Normal Cycle
can be disturbed by many factors, mostly related to hormone balance.
This section deals with the causes and symptoms of the more common disorders of the menstrual
cycle, giving suggestions for self help and herbal treatments.
We have already seen how a good diet can maintain the balance of hormones. There are other
factors, however, which affect the hormones, and cause their disruption.
A high consumption of saturated animal fats can interfere with essential fatty acid metabolism.
When unrefined cold-pressed vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, fatty fish, beans and pulses are
eaten the essential fatty acid from them are then transformed into a usable form, gamma
linoleic acid (GLA). Saturated fats block this transformation, as do processed oils.
Moderate to high consumption of alcohol and deficiencies of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6
also reduce GLA formulation. Diabetes, certain viral infections, radiation, and the aging
process are other factors which could also block GLA.
Caffeine in tea, coffee, cocoa and chocolate can interfere with hormonal balance by inhibiting
the liver’s breakdown of hormones once they have done their work. Tea interferes with the
absorption of iron and zinc, particularly if it is drunk with meals, and along with coffee has
been shown to increase the tendency to PMS and breast problems, including fibrocystic breast
disease (painful, lumpy breasts).
Stress affects hormone production by the pituitary gland by its connection with the
hypothalamus; it also causes our bodies to secrete a range of other hormones that interfere
with our sex hormones. Caffeine, by increases the effects of adrenaline, increases the
effects of stress and aggravates symptoms such as anxiety, tension, irritability and
hypoglycemia. Chemical such as phosphates and polyphosphates (E544, E545, E450 in Europe) in
food products such as soft drinks, processed meats, and cheeses, can interfere with
the absorption of nutrients.
Sugar depletes nutrients in the body, particularly B vitamin, and also reduce hormone
transport around the body. Women who eat a lot of sugar tend to suffer more hormonal problems
then those who don’t. Eating sugar also increases the tendency to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
particularly premenstrually. This give rises to sugar cravings, lethargy, weakness, irritability
Smoking can contribute to hormonal problems by increasing the need for vitamins and
minerals to detoxify all the different poisons in tobacco smoke. This reduces the amount of
nutrients available for hormone production.
Your weight influences your hormone balance. The ratio of fat to lean in the body is
critical in the initiation and continuation of the ovarian cycle. If you fall below a certain
weight, the pituitary hormones stop sending their messages to the ovaries, and ovulation and
Exercise is a factor. Athletes and those training vigorously and regularly have a
tendency to upset their hormone balance and also their periods. It is related to weight balance
and also to nutrition. The physical demands of the training may use up so many vitamins and
minerals that there are insufficient to maintain hormone production.
Food sensitivity or allergy can disrupt hormone balance, and it may be that
either eliminating certain culprit foods, or increasing your nutrition to make up for
deficiencies causing allergies, or both, will help the body to regain its balance.
Chronic illness can also upset our hormones. Chronic candida, or candidacies, for example,
is well known for causing hormone imbalances giving rise to whole range of menstrual and
Prescribed drugs such as steroids and the contraceptive pill,
particularly when taken over a long period, cause sever disruption of vitamin and mineral
balance in the body.
Sex hormones are inevitably affected by this. Synthetic hormones in
the pill increase the need for nutrients such as vitamin B6, and by suppressing the body’s
natural hormone production, cause confusion in the body. After ceasing to take the pill, it
may take some while for your own hormones to settle down and find their own rhythm. The pill
increases the tendency to allergies and liver problems, which can also affect hormone balance.
Low levels of thyroid hormone have been related to estrogen excess in the body which
gives rise to a whole range of menstrual and gynecological problems, including PMS and