Progesterone (promoting gestation) is so named because its levels peak in the second half of the menstrual cycle after ovulation. A female steroid hormone which is a very helpful ally is often viewed as the ‘good force’ hormone that supports and balances out the effects of estrogen. During the first half of your cycle, estrogen thickens the uterine lining. Then, during the second half, progesterone stabilizes the thickened lining and makes it “sticky” enough to receive an embryo. Progesterone plays an integral role in pregnancy as it also creates a healthy uterine environment where an implanted embryo can thrive. If the progesterone is low, one may experience frequent miscarriages, irregular or missing periods.
Many women with signs of hormone imbalance have chronically low progesterone, without even realizing this is undermining their health. Could you be one of them?
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it could be linked to some level of low progesterone in your body:
Anxiety and feeling unsettled; abdominal discomfort; sleep problems (problem falling asleep or middle-of-the night waking) and heavy; painful periods, feeling bloated and uncomfortable in your clothes, feeling edgy and easily provoked Lagging energy during the day and sagging skin and cellulite.
And many of these symptoms appear out of nowhere when women approach 40 and older. There are so many changes that our bodies go through. Little do most women know that progesterone starts to drop as we reach this age and it often drops much faster than estrogen, throwing the system out of whack leading to a situation that’s impossible to ignore.
Our society tells us that it’s “normal,” and that’s how you’re “supposed” to feel during this phase of your life, but what if it didn’t have to be?
Gladly, nature has provided us with ways to get instant relief from the symptoms that are disrupting your daily life.
Let’s see how to raise low progesterone levels:
Proper nutrition: good diet plays a key role in our health and can especially be helpful in boosting progesterone. While our food doesn’t naturally contain progesterone, there are several foods that can promote progesterone production, including: cabbage, spinach, beans, broccoli, kale, nuts, whole grains, pumpkin (seeds and leaves). Eat lots of fresh tomatoes and foods that support your body’s production of hormones.
Vitamin B6– helps to boost your progesterone levels. It is richly found in sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados, beans, dates, parsley, and lemon peel. Studies have shown that administration of vitamin B6 at doses of 200-800 mg/day increases progesterone level.
Sesame– is also a good source of B6. Drink 1 Tsp. of sesame oil daily/add it to your smoothies. You can eat roasted sesame seeds or use the ground seed in soup making (same method of cooking melon, “egusi soup”).
Omega 3 and Omega 6 rich foods- found in flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, chia seeds, linseeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashew nuts, leafy green vegetables. A well-planned diet can provide the Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids that you need. But if you are not getting these essentials regularly through your diet, supplements can be helpful. These are available as capsules in health stores around you. Be sure to buy a good quality brand.
Vitamin E-is a fat-soluble vitamin known to increase progesterone, thanks to its antioxidant and estrogen detoxification properties. Thus vitamin E helps to clear excessive estrogen in the body which will make the progesterone to increase and become stable. Take vitamin E supplement at recommended daily dosage.
Vitamin C-is one of the water soluble vitamins to increase progesterone naturally. Studies have found that vitamin C supplementation was linked with higher progesterone levels in per-menopausal women. Food sources include citrus fruits (orange, lemon, and grapefruit); red/yellow peppers, potatoes, plums, pawpaw, rise hips, guavas, golden melon, moringa.
Vitex (uchakoro in Igbo)–is an excellent hormone regulator. It works to stimulate the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) from the brain, which then stimulates the ovaries to produce progesterone. For better results mix the herb with equal portions of Spondias mombin (ijikara-Igbo; iyeye-Yoruba) and dandelion (ewe yarin-Yoruba). Take 1Tbs infused in boiled water for 15-30 minutes, 2-3 X daily. You can also use the temperate variety – Vitex agnus-castus (chaste berry) to treat low progesterone. It is available as a capsule, liquid extract and tablet in health stores.
Thyme – the common spice easily found in the kitchen. Add 1 Tsp. of thyme to a cup of freshly boiled water; allow steeping for 5 minutes and drinking warm. Take daily for 14 days, preferably at night (not later than 7.30. p.m.)
Black seed oil – black seed oil promotes healthy levels of progesterone. This amazing “goodness” naturally contains omega-3, -6 and -9, plus it is a rich source of potassium, iron, copper, vitamin E and B vitamins. Upon waking up or at least 30 minutes before breakfast, take a teaspoon of black seed oil sublingually (place under the tongue/hold for 5 seconds), then follow up with a cup of warm water. You can also take black seed oil with little honey, orange juice, mint or any other tea of your choice.
Maca – is a “hormonal adaptogen,” which means it will adjust to your body’s needs and help to naturally produce hormones in your body. Studies have indicated that women who take maca supplement will experience an increase in progesterone over time. It is available as powder and capsule.
Ashwagandha is also an adaptogen that can improve the production of progesterone levels. Ashwagandha helps your body deal with stress and as you know, high levels of stress can inhibit progesterone production. You can find Ashwagandha in health stores too.
Avoid alcohol and coffee as well as foods and external substances that can knock your hormones out of whack.
Reduce the amount of stress in your life as much as possible.
Exercise and maintain a healthy body weight.