Hormone Health

How Healthy Fats Benefit Hormones and Detoxification


Don't Avoid Fats: You Need Them

For many years, dietary fat has been unfairly villainized as the cause of a slew of chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. During the heyday of the low-fat craze in the 1990s and early 2000s, medical authorities urged us to banish fat from our diets.

Unfortunately, epidemiological research indicates that this dietary shift did not make us any healthier; in fact, it may have worsened many of the conditions it initially sought to reverse. The truth is that the body requires healthy dietary fats to carry out many crucial biological processes. Two critical functions influenced by healthy fats include hormone production and detoxification.

Read on to learn about how healthy fats benefit hormones and detoxification and how you can incorporate more healthy fats into your diet.

What Are Healthy Fats?

All fats are not created equal. While it is true that some fats, such as man-made trans fats, are harmful to our health, other fats serve essential functions in the body. To understand why some fats are healthier than others, it helps to understand the chemical structure of fats.

Fats are chains of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms. The length and shape of the carbon chain and the number of hydrogen atoms connected to carbon atoms create different structures; these structures translate into differences in form and function among various fats.

Man-made trans fats are created when industrial seed oils, such as soybean and safflower oil, undergo a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation heats the oils to high temperatures in the presence of heavy metal catalysts, adding more hydrogen atoms to the carbon chain; this process turns the fatty acids into rigid, kinked structures that damage blood vessels and cell membranes and are highly inflammatory. Trans fats are ubiquitous in margarine, baked goods, and other processed foods.

Healthy fats, on the other hand, include the naturally-occurring monounsaturated fatty acids, certain types of saturated fats (such as those found in coconut oil and pastured butter), and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

While monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids have their place in a healthy diet, I'd like to focus specifically on the roles of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as these fats play vital roles in hormone production and balance, and in detoxification.

Omega-3, Omega-6, and Prostaglandins

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids; the numbers 3 and 6 in their names refer to the location of the double bond within their carbon/hydrogen structures. The body cannot make omega-3 and omega-6, thus necessitating the consumption of these fats in our diets.

In contrast to trans fats, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. Their anti-inflammatory effects stem from their crucial roles as precursors in the creation of prostaglandins.

Prostaglandins are lipid compounds that play roles both in the initiation and reduction of inflammation. While inflammation is a normal physiological process in the body, excess inflammation causes a variety of health problems, including hormone dysregulation.

In fact, a growing body of research indicates that hormonal issues have an inflammatory component caused by an imbalance between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.

Hormonal issues associated with a prostaglandin imbalance include premenstrual syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and hot flashes and osteoporosis associated with menopause. (1)(2)(3) Omega-3 fatty acids and specific omega-6 fatty acids can help correct these conditions by promoting the production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins that reduce inflammation.

Types and Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids that we can obtain in our diets:

  1. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

  2. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)

  3. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

ALA comes from plant sources, including flaxseed oil, chia seeds, and walnuts. EPA and DHA come from wild seafood, fish oil, and pasture-raised eggs and meats.

ALA can be converted into EPA with the help of an enzyme called delta-6-desaturase. EPA, in turn, can be converted into prostaglandin E3 (PGE3), an anti-inflammatory prostaglandin. A high intake of omega-3 fatty acids can help suppress the formation of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins such as PGE2, discussed below.

Types and Sources of Omega-6 Fatty Acids

While fresh sources of omega-3 fatty acids are always a healthy choice, omega-6 fatty acids are more of a mixed bag. While these fats are found in corn, canola, and safflower oils, these oils should be avoided because they come from genetically-modified seeds and are rancid and pro-inflammatory due to the chemical changes they undergo during food processing! Eating these fats induces inflammation and may worsen hormonal imbalancesF


Conversely, omega-6 fatty acids from avocados, almonds, brazil nuts, pistachios, pecans, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, organic organs meats, borage oil, evening primrose oil, flax oil, olive oil, hemp oil, and spirulina are very healthy and can help reduce inflammation.

As with omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids are precursors to prostaglandins. The omega-6 fatty acids include linoleic acid (LA) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).

LA can be converted into dihomogamma-linolenic acid (DGLA), a precursor to both PGE1, an anti-inflammatory prostaglandin, and PGE2, a pro-inflammatory prostaglandin.

Both PGE1 and PGE2 are needed in the body; however, higher levels of PGE2 are associated with inflammation and hormonal problems such as dysmenorrhea and premenstrual syndrome. We can optimize our hormones by choosing to eat omega-6 fatty acids that balance PGE1 and PGE2 in the body.

Oils for Hormone Balance

Consuming an optimal balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in your diet can help balance the production of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory prostaglandins in the body and resolve symptoms of hormonal imbalances. In fact, supplementation with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have already been found to improve symptoms of PMS, premenstrual syndrome, and menopause! 


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal abnormality in reproductive age women. It is characterized by elevated androgen levels and insulin resistance, both of which can exacerbate imbalances between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.

Research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids help reduce symptoms of PCOS and restore hormonal balance by reducing inflammation. 

  • Flaxseed, a source of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA and antioxidant lignans, decreases insulin and testosterone in PCOS. (4)

  • Omega-3 fish oil supplementation reduces serum levels of testosterone and regulates the menstrual cycle in women with PCOS. (5)

  • Supplementation with fish oil, high in omega-3, decreased lipid profiles, waist circumference, and the interval between periods in women with PCOS. (6)

Premenstrual Syndrome and Painful Periods

Up to 80 percent of women report experiencing symptoms before menstruation, including irritability, bloating, migraines, and breast pain. (7) Furthermore, 25 to 50 percent of women and 75 percent of adolescents experience pain with menstruation. (8) These uncomfortable and in some cases debilitating phenomena are called premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and dysmenorrhea, respectively.

Many features of PMS and dysmenorrhea may be attributed to imbalances in pro- and anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. For example, research has found that women with dysmenorrhea and PMS have a reduced conversion of GLA to DGLA in their bodies, resulting in abnormally low anti-inflammatory prostaglandin production.

However, supplementation with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can help promote anti-inflammatory prostaglandin production and alleviate symptoms of both PMS and dysmenorrhea.  

  • Two months of supplementation with flax seed, high in the omega-3 ALA, significantly reduces symptoms of PMS, including cramping and headaches. (9)

  • Supplementation with GLA, found in evening primrose, black currant, and borage oils, improves symptoms of dysmenorrhea. (10)

  • Fish oil combined with vitamin E reduces the intensity and duration of pain in women with dysmenorrhea. (11)


Many menopausal women are plagued by uncomfortable symptoms, including hot flashes and bone loss. Fortunately, several dietary oils can help reduce these symptoms and improve quality of life throughout a woman's menopausal years.

  • Black cumin oil is a great oil for menopause because it supports healthy progesterone levels, reverses osteoporosis, and protects against metabolic syndrome. It may even be powerful enough to serve as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy! (12)(13)(14)(15)

  • Sesame oil improves blood lipid levels, antioxidant status, and sex hormone status in postmenopausal women. (16)

  • Omega-3 fats improve hot flashes and depressive symptoms in menopausal and post-menopausal women. (17)(18)

  • Pumpkin seed oil raises HDL cholesterol (the “good” type of cholesterol that protects against cardiovascular disease) in postmenopausal women. (19)

Breast Health

We don’t often associate our fat intake with the health of our breasts, but it turns out that omega-3 and omega-6 oils can help promote healthy breast tissue!

  • Phytoestrogens in pumpkin seed oil may protect against breast cancer. (20)

  • Flaxseed oil suppresses the growth, size, and proliferation of breast cancer cells and promotes breast cancer cell death. (21)

  • A high intake of fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. (22)

Clearly, healthy dietary fats play essential roles in female hormone health!

However, the benefits don't stop there; healthy fats also assist with detoxification, a collection of biochemical and physiological processes that help maintain hormone balance and eliminate hormone-disrupting toxins from the body.

Healthy Fats for Detoxification

The processes of detoxification help the body achieve a balance between hormone production and elimination and usher hormone-disrupting toxins out of the body. Healthy fats help support detoxification through several mechanisms. 

Healthy Fats Accelerate Bowel Motility

One of the most important routes of toxin elimination from the body is via the colon. Healthy fats, such as flaxseed oil and sesame oil, lubricate the colon and promote bowel regularity, thus speeding up the elimination of excess hormones and hormone-disrupting compounds from the body.

Healthy Fats Protect the Liver and Cell Membranes

The liver is the body’s primary organ of detoxification. It converts toxins into water-soluble forms that they can be excreted in the urine and stool.

Omega-3 fatty acids help protect the liver from oxidative damage induced by environmental toxins such as heavy metals. (23) They also support the regeneration of cell membranes that have been damaged by bacterial toxins. (24) Omega-3 fatty acids thus help protect our primary organ of detoxification and ensure that it can carry out its essential functions.

As you can see, healthy fats deserve a significant place in our diets! By balancing anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory prostaglandins and protecting our organs of detoxification, omega-3 and omega-6 oils can help balance our hormones and optimize our detoxification systems.

Choosing Healthy Oil Supplements

There are many omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplements on the market, and navigating the available options can be overwhelming! Fortunately, here at Women’s Wellness Collaborative, we’ve taken the guesswork out of selecting omega-3 and omega-6 supplements!

Learn more about Bridgit’s favorite high-quality fish oil supplement here.

What to Do About Menstrual Migraines


By Ann Melin, Lead Health Coach for Women’s Wellness Collaborative

Of all of the symptoms that women experience with their menstrual cycles, menstrual migraines are among the most debilitating. Many women who suffer from menstrual migraines report missing at least one day of work per month and many others often have to cancel personal plans and social activities.

I’ve been lucky in that I have only had a few migraines in my life! Unfortunately, those were a few of the worst experiences I’ve had. I remember thinking that I wanted to crawl into a dark corner with a morphine drip… that’s how bad it was!

In all honesty, very few things would make me consider going to an ER. Although I never did for the migraines I had, I thought about it seriously on a couple of those occasions!

So, let’s talk about menstrual migraines. Read on to learn what they are and how to avoid them.

What are Menstrual Migraines?

True menstrual migraines are those that occur anywhere from 2 days prior to menses up until day 3 of the menstrual period. Many women also experience migraines throughout the menstrual cycle that become more prevalent during menses.

Menstrual migraine symptoms often include severe aching, throbbing, or pounding pain on one or both sides of the head. This pain may be exacerbated by light, noise, and movement. Symptoms may also include nausea and vomiting. Some migraines are associated with visual auras or other kinds of visual disturbances, such as temporarily blurred vision or disturbances in visual perception.

What Causes Menstrual Migraines?

Shifting levels of hormones and neurotransmitters are thought to be the primary cause behind menstrual migraine symptoms. In particular, the decline of estrogen towards the end of the luteal phase appears to trigger menstrual migraines in those who experience them.

This is even more common in women who have elevations in estrogen during the follicular phase and lower than normal levels of estrogen during the luteal phase. These wide swings of estrogen appear to be more highly associated with menstrual migraines than having consistently high or low levels of estrogen.

Progesterone levels also drop sharply just before your period, and women’s bodies are more sensitive to the decline of estrogen when progesterone is low. Progesterone can also act as a buffer against high levels of estrogen throughout the month and may offset symptoms of estrogen fluctuations that result in menstrual migraines.

As women enter into peri-menopause, they often experience declines in overall progesterone levels creating a condition of estrogen dominance that can precipitate the onset of menstrual migraines.

Drops in estrogen also lead to decreases in serotonin. We often think of serotonin as the neurotransmitter associated with mood. Indeed, mood dysphoria associated with pre-menstrual syndrome is likely connected to decreased levels of serotonin caused by fluctuations in estrogen.

Additionally, research has shown that low levels of serotonin cause dilation of the blood vessels in the brain thereby initiating migraines. Serotonin regulates GI function and low levels of serotonin are thought to be involved in the common symptoms of nausea and vomiting associated with migraine headaches.

What Helps Migraines?


The DUTCH Cycle Mapping Test

The DUTCH test for hormones is one of our favorite labs at Women’s Wellness Collaborative and they have a version of their test that is called the cycle mapping test. This test evaluates shifts in estrogen and progesterone throughout the entirety of the menstrual cycle.

This is a great lab to consider if you suffer from menstrual migraines as it could help target variations in hormones that may be driving menstrual migraine symptoms.

Creating more balance in the hormone system can ultimately lead to a reduction in frequency and severity of symptoms, while simultaneously helping you to work towards menstrual migraine prevention rather than symptom management.

This is where health coaching can really help you to access the right labs and to build a customized protocol based on your results.

A Good Diet

Some foods are known to have the potential to trigger migraines, and these foods include:

  • alcohol

  • caffeine

  • cheese

  • ice cream

  • citrus

  • nuts

  • vinegar

  • and chocolate (I know! It’s a crime to tell a woman to avoid chocolate when she has PMS!)

Self Care

Both too little and too much sleep can exacerbate migraine headaches, as can excess exercise, poor hydration, environmental toxicity, smoking, and travel.


Interestingly, one study showed that 45% of women who experience menstrual migraines have a magnesium deficiency and experience significant benefits from supplementing with magnesium. Magnesium also aids in muscle relaxation, which can help alleviate menstrual cramps and tensions associated with menstruation.

Due to declining soil and food quality, most of us do not get enough magnesium and are deficient. We have tried many brands and types of magnesium and this magnesium bisglycinate chelate is one of the best absorbed forms of magnesium.

Fish Oil 

Essential fatty acids are critical for balancing hormones and studies have correlated imbalances in fatty acid metabolism in all of the more troublesome symptoms associated with PMS. Linoleic acids (as found in things like flax oil and evening primrose oil) and EPA and DHA (as found in fish oil) can help the body synthesize prostaglandins which can regulate the body during PMS. Fish oil is also thought to enhance serotonin production which, as mentioned above, may be implicated in the etiology of menstrual migraines.

Herbal Remedies

Natural remedies for migraines commonly include the herbs feverfew and willow bark, which are both wonderful for the reduction of headache pain. In addition, butterbar has been shown to be specifically effective for use with migraine headaches.

Traditional herbalists have also used feverfew for a wide variety of gynecologic issues and the herb has been shown to reduce the nausea that commonly occurs with migraines. Cramp bark and black haw are both herbs that are effective against menstrual cramping in that they work as muscle relaxants. As with willow bark, cramp bark and black haw contain salicylates which alleviate pain and can help with menstrual migraine symptoms.

There are also great phytoestrogenic herbs that can help to regulate estrogen levels. I always prefer to know what the estrogens actually look like through lab testing before adding phytoestrogens; however, some good options include red clover and black cohosh.

Vitamin D

Low vitamin D is something that we see in a large percentage of our clients and there is some evidence that low levels of vitamin D may be one of the common migraine triggers. We recommend getting your vitamin D levels tested and then supplementing appropriately! If you are supplementing with vitamin D, it is important to have your levels monitored with some regularity and to take a bit of vitamin K2 as well.

Overcoming Your Migraines

So, what’s the take away? Yes, menstrual migraines are common and they can be debilitating at times. But they don’t have to be a life sentence! There are tons of natural tools available that can support you in having more comfortable periods.

Sometimes people have to try several things before they land on what works but there are so many wonderful labs and herbs and supplements and dietary options available to try and you deserve to be as comfortable as you can be throughout all parts of every month.

If you’re looking for tested, high-quality supplements, you can find these products in our shop:

Click here to learn about our favorite magnesium and here to learn about our favorite fish oil.

Seed Cycling for Hormone Balance at Any Age


How to Adapt This Low-Cost Choice to Support Your Body

Do you suffer from irregular menstrual cycles, PMS, or mood swings? What about hot flashes, hair loss, or weight gain? If so, you’re not alone! Many women are searching for natural ways to balance hormones.

Seed cycling (also called seed rotation) is a natural remedy for hormonal imbalance which you can easily adapt. Read on to learn more about hormone balance, seed cycling and how you can customize this approach to fit your specific situation.

What Do Balanced Hormones Look Like?

We all want our hormones to be healthy. Unfortunately, today hormone imbalances are so common that it’s easy to ignore the symptoms with thoughts like, “Everyone else experiences this, too!”

Our cycles (or hormonal rhythms, for menopausal women) should not be accompanied by symptoms of hormonal imbalance. These are not normal; they are warning signals that your hormones are not right and your body is trying to get your attention.

Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Menstrual cramps

  • Irritability

  • Mood swings

  • Acne

  • Fatigue

  • Missing cycles (if you’re of childbearing age)

  • Short, long or irregular cycles (if you’re of childbearing age)

  • Hot flashes

  • Tender breasts

  • Hair loss

  • Weight gain

  • Menstrual headaches

  • Insomnia

A balanced cycle will not be painful, depressing, or irregular. (1, 2)

How to NOT Balance Your Hormones

Unfortunately, today’s world makes it hard to be healthy, and many women struggle to obtain hormone balance. Why?

Here are a few of the common reasons why hormones may be out-of-balance.

  • We are constantly being exposed to toxins. Endocrine disruptors like phthalates, parabens, and fragrances fill our toothpastes, deodorants, shampoos, and makeup. Toxins like heavy metals, arsenic, and pesticides lurk in our drinking water. Plastics fill our food and our houses. Air fresheners and cleaners fill our air with debris. And these are just a few examples. No wonder our bodies are overloaded!

  • We are constantly stressed out. We get stuck in traffic. We get sick and long to feel better. We worry and fret over our busy lives. We work long hours. We never stop to rest. Stress takes its toll, depleting our hormones and running down our reserves.

  • We often eat foods that don’t support our bodies. Some foods, like gluten, dairy or other, can excite an inflammatory response in some people. Non-organic foods are often sprayed with pesticides, which stay on the food and enter our bodies when we eat them.

Obviously, we can work to avoid some of these factors, but a quick glance will tell you that avoiding them all is impossible!

So what can we do to help balance our poor, stressed-out hormones?

Many women, desperate for solutions, turn to options like hormonal birth control or symptoms-based hormone replacement therapy. Unfortunately, these can be expensive, and do not treat the underlying cause. They may not even resolve the symptoms these women are facing, and they are well-known for causing additional unwanted side effects. (3, 4, 5)

There must be a better way to encourage hormone balance!

What Is Seed Cycling and How Does It Work?

Simply stated, seed cycling is alternating the consumption of certain raw seeds every 2 weeks. It's very safe and gentle, but always ask your doctor first if you are on medications or in poor health.

While there is not a large amount of scientific studies on the subject, seed cycling has successfully helped many women. The basic theory is that certain seeds support the production and proper elimination of different hormones.

During the first half of your cycle, estrogen production should be higher. Flax seed powder, pumpkin seeds, and omega 3 oils can help boost and balance estrogen and hormones. (6, 7)

Progesterone should rise during the second half of your cycle. Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and oils such as borage oil or evening primrose oil can boost and support progesterone.

Basic Instructions for Seed Cycling

For best results, buy quality ingredients and prepare them appropriately. Use raw nuts and seeds and store them in the fridge or freezer. You’ll also need to grind the seeds fresh daily, but if you keep a little grinder on your counter, you can quickly scoop in your seeds and grind.

Cycle Day 1-14: Follicular phase, also known as Phase 1

1 T organic, raw, fresh-ground flax seed

1 T organic, raw, fresh-ground pumpkin seed

And/or 1 T high-quality fish oil

Cycle Day 15-28 Luteal Phase, also known as Phase 2

1 T organic, raw, fresh-ground sesame seed

1 T organic, raw, fresh-ground sunflower seed

And/or 500 mg borage oil

A note on dosage: You will see slightly different recommendations in different places. You can do 1 rounded tablespoon of each, 2 tablespoons of just one type, or up to 4 tablespoons total (measurement is made before grinding) in a day. I think what is most important is to get at least 2 tablespoons a day. If you happen to get in extra servings, no problem!

How to Adapt Seed Cycling for Your Situation

My cycle is somewhat regular. How do I support it?

If you are currently cycling, you start phase 1 of the seeds on the first full day of your period. You will then switch to phase 2 on day 15 of your cycle.

What do I do if my cycle is too short or too long?

You can start the phase 1 seeds on the first day of your period or on the new moon. On day 15, go ahead and shift to the phase 2 seeds, even if you haven’t ovulated yet. Once you hit day 28/29 (or the next new moon), switch back to phase 1 seeds. Eventually, your cycle should start to line up with the new rhythm you’re setting.

I have an irregular menstrual cycle and/or I have PCOS. What should I do?

These seeds can be a great supplement for PCOS patients to balance hormones for irregular periods. You may choose to start on the first day of one of your cycles or on the new moon. On day 15, go ahead and shift to the phase 2 seeds, even if you haven’t ovulated yet. Once you hit day 28/29 (or the next new moon), switch back to phase 1 seeds. Eventually, your cycle should start to line up with the new rhythm you’re setting.

I don’t have a cycle. Can I still benefit from seed cycling?

Yes! This goes for menopause, breastfeeding women after 6-9 months, or women with amenorrhea (no cycle in 3 or more months.) Start phase 1 of the seeds on the new moon. You will switch to phase 2 of the seeds on the full moon. A special note for menopause: Though you will not be supporting a cycle anymore, these seeds and oils can be a great part of the best diet for menopause, to clear and balance your hormones.

I’m following the lunar calendar. When do I switch the seeds exactly?

Seed cycling is recommend on a 28 day cycle. However the lunar cycle is 29.5 days. I would say if you are going with the lunar calendar, stick to the lunar schedule.

I’m trying to get pregnant. Can I try seed cycling?

Seed cycling is one of the natural ways to boost fertility. It can help regulate your cycle and improve fertility so you can get pregnant. Be careful, though, to stop seed cycling once you’re pregnant. This is a tip from the website of Dr. Amy Neuzil, ND, "If you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s important to continue the luteal-phase seeds (sesame/sunflower) until you actually have a period, just in case you are pregnant that month. This gives the egg the best chance at implantation."

I am currently pregnant. Is seed cycling a good choice for me right now?

This protocol is NOT intended for pregnant women.

What if my diet doesn't allow me to eat some of these seeds?

If you are avoiding, for example, flax seeds and sunflower seeds, then just use the pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds in rotation. If you are avoiding all nuts and seeds, then you can rotate a fish oil supplement in your phase 1 (2 caps a day), and then use borage oil in phase 2 (2 caps a day). You can purchase these at our supplement shop under the names GLA 240 and OmegAvail Ultra.

Do I need to soak the seeds?

No, you don't need to soak them, but you are welcome to do so to increase the digestibility.

I’m looking for home remedies for menstrual cramps. Can seed cycling help?

Yes, seed cycling can help improve your hormone balance, which leads to fewer cramps. For more ideas, check out my blog post here.

Will seed cycling boost levels of bad estrogen?

No. Seed cycling invites your body to make and properly clear the good estrogens. This will actually lessen the effect of any “bad estrogen” you may be dealing with.

I have high androgens. Will seed cycling help that?

Yes, the increased fiber should help, as well is the increased support for the whole hormonal system.

Can I start seed cycling at any time in my cycle?

Yes! Just make sure you start with taking the seeds for the phase that you are currently on.

How long can I keep this up? Do I need to take a break?

The seed cycling is pretty safe. You shouldn’t need to take a break, but if you want to take a month off a couple times a year that is ok too. Or you can just continue until your cycle regulates and then see what happenst.

Extra Resources and Recipes

Join Us to Learn More

Do you have experience with seed cycling? Or do you have more questions?

You’re invited to join and share with our Facebook group, the Hormone Detox Tribe! This is a community of amazing women who love learning, want happy hormones, and want to avoid toxins to protect their health and to love up on the environment.

Click here to join us. We can’t wait to meet you!

Notice: This information serves as education only and does not replace your relationship with your doctor.

Herbals vs. Bioidenticals for Hormones: Which Is Better?


By Ann Melin, Lead Health Coach for Women’s Wellness Collaborative

The question “What do you think of hormone replacement therapy?” is one of the most common I get asked as a health practitioner focused on women’s health.

And, a fair amount of the time, the question is followed up by a client telling me she has been using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy but isn’t sure it’s safe and asks if there are natural hormone supplements that might be effective.

Should You Consider Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Although I have had these kinds of questions arise in women of all ages, the decision about whether to use hormone replacement therapy or to seek natural remedies is most hotly considered when women begin experiencing perimenopause and menopause. Common symptoms of this include hot flashes, night sweats, and emotional swings.

As with everything in the world of health, my answer is often somewhere in the neighborhood of “It depends!” Just what you wanted to hear, right?

Seriously, though, there is no one right answer on this subject and each woman has her own symptoms and health history that needs to be factored into any decision. I have certainly witnessed circumstances in which the use of hormone therapy for women is highly beneficial. I have also seen some women respond extremely well to using herbal remedies for menopause and perimenopause.

The Biggest Problem with Hormone Replacement Therapy

Unfortunately, many women are not properly tested when they start using hormones and even more women do not have their hormone levels monitored after they begin using hormones. I believe this is a major problem that can exacerbate hormone imbalances.

It’s confusing, because many symptoms of progesterone deficiency mimic symptoms of estrogen deficiency (and also mimic symptoms of cortisol dysregulation).

For example, it is not unusual for perimenopausal women to experience symptoms consistent with estrogen depletion, when they actually have elevated levels of estrogen and suppressed levels of progesterone. Many of these same women have been recommended BOTH estrogen and progesterone hormone therapy by other providers based upon symptoms alone. Not desirable!

Blindly supplementing with estrogen when it is already dominant can lead to estrogen dominance. This can be a dangerous condition that drives issues such as uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breasts, endometriosis, endometrial polyps, and even cancers, like breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Although it is natural for perimenopausal women to go through some months when estrogen becomes more dominant, we definitely do not want to provoke those conditions through the unmonitored use of hormones.

Should Anybody Ever Use Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Lest it sound like I’m against hormone replacement in every case, let me assure you I am not. In fact, I have been using progesterone therapy for many years now because I have a personal history of endometrial polyps and ovarian cysts. The progesterone helps to balance excess estrogen and to lighten monthly endometrial proliferation.

Blindly using hormone replacement therapy without knowing the actual levels of hormones is dangerous. But through the use of sophisticated lab work, like the DUTCH test, I can get a clear view of hormonal imbalance and gather information about the potential benefits of varied approaches.  

If you’re going to use hormone replacement therapy, make sure you know why you’re using it and make sure you get properly tested and monitored along the way!

Should You Pursue Natural Alternatives?

Many women are looking to integrate natural alternatives to HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and, as I stated earlier, I have seen some remarkable results. Of course, you still need to know what you’re taking and why you’re taking it.

For example, I have many women who come to me already using herbs like maca and ashwaganda in efforts to promote balanced female hormones. While both of these herbs are WONDERFUL under certain conditions, I often see lab results from these women showing elevations of DHEA without the intended benefits to the female sex hormones.

Despite what any research or anecdotal evidence might suggest, each woman is unique and it is absolutely impossible to know how you respond to any herb, supplement, or medication without looking at the impact on your individual physiology. And it is for this reason that I will always recommend testing rather than guessing!

Once women have their lab results, they often wonder if herbal therapies will actually work and, again, the answer is, “It depends!”

Some women respond very well to herbal approaches; however, it often takes a little bit longer to experience the benefits. In general, you have to use herbs for hormones for about 90 days before they will really start to drive a noticeable shift in hormones.

In many cases, I feel that herbs are a wonderful option in that they promote regulation of hormone production via the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonad axis thereby regulating and stimulating the function of the endocrine organs rather than simply replacing what the body is not producing efficiently. This strategy helps to encourage appropriate levels of hormone production that fall within optimal ranges.

I have had clients completely eliminate their hot flashes and night sweats through the use of appropriately developed herbal formulas.

I have had clients experience more comfortable intercourse, enhanced libido, and increased vaginal lubrication from the use of herbal remedies.

The primary caveat to this is that you must have all of your organs in order for this to work; meaning that women who have had complete hysterectomies probably won’t experience much benefit from using herbs to help them regulate their symptoms of low estrogen and progesterone.

My Favorite Herbal Formula for Female Hormone Balance

With all of that said, my favorite formula for working with all kinds of female hormone imbalances includes the herbs mentioned below in the indicated ratios. (And I can’t put this out there without another reminder that everybody is different and I will usually customize the formula when I’m working with people individually.)  

*Note: I usually am referring to volume when I indicate a “part.”

  • 5 parts Vitex. This is an herb that helps to promote production of progesterone.

  • 3 parts Black Cohosh. This is an herb that helps regulate estrogen production.

  • 3 parts Red Clover. This is a phytoestrogenic herb, meaning that it resembles estrogen and has estrogen-like effects on the body.

  • 2 parts Ashwaganda. Supports DHEA production and can help support the adrenal system.

  • 2 parts Motherwort. This herb helps to enhance the synergy and efficacy of the blend of herbs. (Note: Motherwort is generally contraindicated in those with thyroid conditions… another reason to have proper testing and assessment prior to use)

You can use these herbs in tincture form from companies like Herb Pharm or Gaia Herbs. In this form, a reasonable dosage would be about 30-40 drops of the blend up to four times per day.

You can also use the cut and sifted form of the bulk herbs and blend them into a tea. I personally like this approach as it forces you to experience the taste of the herbs (as bitter as they might be), and taste immediately sends certain signals to the brain about what is being ingested and what the body needs to do to integrate it.

If you want to use a tea, you can order herbs from a place like Mountain Rose Herbs. You will make the mixture of herbs and then take 2 tbsp of that mixture, put it in a glass bowl, and cover it with two cups of boiling water. Cover the herbs and let them steep overnight. Strain the herbs out of the tea in the morning and separate the tea into two halves. Drink one half in the morning and the other in the evening.

Of course, both of the above suggestions are labor-intensive yet many women have a lot of demands and prefer something simple! In this case, Pure Encapsulations has a great product called PhytoBalance which contains several of the herbs mentioned above.

How to Properly Test Your Hormones

Knowing your actual hormone levels is the most crucial piece of attaining proper relief from your symptoms. There are many treatment options available and almost all of them have appropriate uses. However, it is nearly impossible to achieve balance if you don’t know exactly what is out-of-balance and how far out of balance it is. Once you know where you’re starting from, it becomes much easier to identify strategies to optimize health and well-being.

The DUTCH test is my favorite way to get a clear picture of hormonal imbalances in my clients. Check out my video, below, to learn which hormones the DUTCH test measures and why the it’s so effective in guiding hormone treatment plan.

Help for Your Hormones

Precise hormonal testing and expert, customized functional coaching is the BEST way to finally get results for your hormonal woes.

Visit our coaching page to learn more and schedule a free consultation with one of coaches.

Finding a Non-Toxic Deodorant That Works


Choose Your Best Natural Deodorant Without Sacrificing Your Social Life!  

When the weather gets warm, it’s a great time to enjoy the sun, have picnics, lounge on the beach…. and put toxins in our armpits? Truth is, most conventional deodorants and antiperspirants are a recipe for toxin build-up and hormonal imbalance. 

Unfortunately, some natural deodorants are a recipe for scaring away friends and may still contain harmful ingredients. Read on to learn how to use healthy deodorant and keep on good terms with your friends, too!

What Happens When We Sweat?

When most of us think of sweating, we believe it mainly cools down our bodies so we don’t overheat. While it’s true our bodies do produce sweat to help us stay cool, that is not its only function.

Our bodies actually produce two types of sweat: we sweat when we’re hot, but we also sweat when we’re nervous. 

  • The eccrine sweat glands are found all over our skin and are responsible for temperature control. They mainly release water and salt, and the liquid typically evaporates quickly to help us cool off. 
  • The apocrine sweat glands are found in the armpits (as well as some other places), and they secrete a fatty fluid as a response to stress. The bacteria living on our skin love to feed on the fatty secretions; unfortunately, this typically results in a bad smell.

Besides cooling us down, sweating is a great way for our bodies to detox and expel harmful toxins. However, detoxing through sweat is often associated with an odor. Since we don’t like smelling bad, it’s easy to turn to antiperspirants to control the issue. 

Using antiperspirants may appear to solve the odor problem, but blocking our bodies’ abilities to expel harmful substances can lead to ever-increasing toxicity, which, in turn, can blossom into a host of chronic health issues.

In addition to helping us detox and cool down, sweating also burns calories, boosts the immune system, releases endorphins, and helps circulation. Definitely not something we want to skip!

What’s in Your Deodorant?

It’s so easy to grab our favorite deodorant and slather it on our skin. But is it safe? 

Did you know most conventional deodorants contain harmful ingredients that have been linked to hormone imbalances, cancer, neurotoxicity and impaired detoxification? 

Since our skin absorbs much of what we put on it, it’s important to read the labels on our personal care products, including deodorant. 

Take a look at some of the ingredients found in many deodorants and antiperspirants:

  • Aluminum/potassium alum - An active ingredient often used to plug the sweat glands, aluminum is suspected of causing hormonal imbalances by mimicking estrogen in the body, and is often connected to breast cancer. But that’s not all. It is also connected to neurotoxicity and respiratory complaints. (1, 2, 3)   
  • Parabens - Parabens typically function as preservatives, preventing the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi. While that is helpful, parabens have also been linked to hormonal imbalances, as they can mimic estrogen and confuse the body.
  • Phthalates -  Phthalates are used to keep a product flexible. However, again they can mimic estrogen and add to the toxic load on our bodies. (4)
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate - This ingredient is added as an emulsifier, but, same as with the previous products, is a suspected carcinogen and also hinders the body’s detoxification efforts.   (5)
  • Fragrance/parfum - The benefits of adding fragrances to deodorant should be obvious! Unfortunately, the problems outweigh the benefits when we consider that many harmful chemicals can be included under the listing of fragrance or parfum in product ingredient lists, resulting in hormone imbalance and toxicity.

It’s Not Easy...

With such an array of toxicity around us, it can be perplexing to sort it all out! 

Fortunately, healthy deodorant options do exist. 

Unfortunately, many people experience difficulties when trying to switch to non-toxic deodorant. With great hopes they buy an expensive natural deodorant…. but within days they develop painful rashes and skin irritation. Or maybe the product doesn’t even work at odor control! 

When we try natural deodorant and encourage detoxing through sweating, this can invite the stored toxins to the surface, resulting in rashes and a worse odor than ever. It’s tough. Many people get discouraged and give up when the problem gets worse. And that’s understandable. Who wants to spend their days smelling bad, all alone, and with a rash in their armpits? But do we really want to put harmful chemicals into our bodies?

There must be a better way!

Your Best Natural Deodorant Solutions

Our bodies are loaded down with toxins every day. One way to reduce both the smell and the rashes is to address these toxins and help usher them out of our bodies.

Try an Armpit Detox

Strange as an “armpit detox” may sound, this is a fairly easy step with a good track record for helping people transition to natural deodorant.

This is a similar idea to clay face masks, except we put the mask in the armpits instead. Bentonite clay is famous for increasing blood flow to the area where it’s applied and drawing toxins out of the body, so it’s a great choice. 

The armpit detox is simple: using only non-metal utensils and bowls, mix 1 tablespoon of bentonite clay with 1 teaspoon raw apple cider vinegar, spread a thin layer in your armpits, and rinse off after 15 minutes. (It may feel warm and tingly, which means the clay is working, but if it starts to hurt, please wash it off immediately.)

This can be repeated daily to help with a transition to natural deodorant, and after that it can be used whenever needed. (https://www.naturallivingideas.com/armpit-cleanse/)

Test Your Toxic Load

If you’re struggling to switch to natural deodorant, chances are your system is overburdened. It’s time to identify and properly eliminate those toxins!  

Many of our clients come to us burdened with heavy metals, mold toxicity, and other chemical toxins. Listen to our recent podcast with founder Bridgit Danner and lead coach Ann Melin to learn more about our approach to testing for different toxins.  

Are you wondering if toxins testing could help you? Schedule a free consultation to explore your options!    

My Favorite Natural Deodorant That Works

I love the NOW Long-Lasting Deodorant Stick because it offers amazing value and unparalleled protection you can really count on. 

It was scientifically formulated, combining natural odor-fighting ingredients: 

  • coconut oil
  • zinc oxide  
  • lavender oil
  • rosemary leaf oil
  • And more!

Click here to view my favorite non-toxic deodorant and see my video review. 

You can take 15% off anything in our personal care category now through August with the the code ‘summer15.’ 

Thanks and happy summer!


High Energy Morning Detox Guide

No time to detox?  If you are willing to put in just 5 minutes a day, you’ll see a shift in just 5 days!

Grab our High Energy Morning Guide and get some spring back in your step, naturally.

Learn more here...

Do You Have Low Hormone Levels?

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We recently started a new Facebook group and I found that some of our new members were complaining of ‘low hormone levels,’ so I thought that would be a good topic for discussion.

Though usually undiagnosed, I’d say ‘low hormone levels’ is an epidemic these days. Let’s learn about what that term even means, how you can be diagnosed, and what you can do about it!

What are ‘Low Hormone Levels’?

When people use this term, they are usually referring to low levels of steroid hormone. Steroid hormones are a class of hormones that include cortisol (made by the adrenal glands to give energy and manage stress) estrogen hormone (your dominant female hormone) and testosterone (a hormone you need for good sex drive and muscle mass.)

Here is a little background from Wikipedia:

“The natural steroid hormones are generally synthesized from cholesterol in the gonads and adrenal glands. These forms of hormones are lipids. They can pass through the cell membrane as they are fat-soluble,[5] and then bind to steroid hormone receptors (which may be nuclear or cytosolic depending on the steroid hormone) to bring about changes within the cell.”

Steroid hormones do a lot of jobs that keep you feeling well. They:

  • Balance your blood pressure

  • Balance you blood sugar

  • Give you energy

  • Keep your skin toned

  • Put minerals into your bones

  • Help you think clearly

  • Help you have easy periods, be fertile, and have a smooth menopause.

How Do I Know If I Have Low Hormone Levels?

There are two ways to know, although one is less certain than the other!

The first way is through symptoms. Common symptoms of low steroid hormone levels are:

  • Low energy

  • Low sex drive (these first two are the most common and important)

  • Low blood pressure

  • Poor vaginal lubrication

  • Chronic pain, especially in the evening

  • Tension headaches

  • Can’t recall thoughts /think clearly

  • Sugar and carb cravings

  • Unexplained weight gain

The definitive way to know if you have low hormone levels is through lab testing. Along blood labs can give you a snapshot of your estrogen and progesterone, they don’t give a robust picture that is enough to help you have targeted treatment.

In our practice, we really love using the DUTCH test (Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones) to measure hormone levels.

The DUTCH test is an easy urine test you can take at home from anywhere in the world. It tells you about your cortisol levels through the course of the day, your female hormones and how you metabolize them, your detox capacity, your melatonin levels and more.

What Can I Do About Low Hormone Levels?

If you do decide to run a DUTCH test with us, your supplement and lifestyle protocol can be very targeted.

However, I think there are some things you can do safely at home to support low estrogen levels, and I’ll outline them here. Do these whenever you are feeling low energy:

  • Lay completely horizontal and rest for 3-20 minutes (your steroid hormones help balance blood pressure and this gives them a break)

  • Squeeze ½ - 1 whole organic lemon into a glass of water and drink

  • Have a generous pinch of sea salt and follow with water. Repeat until you are feeling better up to ½ teaspoon salt. (Do not do if you have high blood pressure.)

  • Rub essential oils of basil and rosemary into your palms with a bit of carrier oil like coconut oil or grapeseed oil. Inhale for a few breaths and then rub over your kidneys. (May increase blood pressure.)

  • Avoid blood sugar swings by eating often and including fiber, fat and protein. Avoid simple sugars that will make you crash like alcohol, coffee, pasta, cookies, etc.

Please always check with your doctor before starting this or any other new protocol.


It’s important to realize that your hormone levels don’t lower ‘for no reason.’ Yes, they will lower with age, but it shouldn’t be so much so that you feel like junk.

So you need to assess everything in your life to get an idea of where you are being drained.

  • Are you eating foods that are void of nutrition (sweet coffee drinks, chips, etc.)?

  • Are you overworked and not getting rest?

  • Are you not getting enough sleep at night?

  • Are you around people who bring you down?

Beyond the basics, much can be off balance that will disrupt your hormones:

  • Chronic injuries

  • Gut infections

  • Heavy metal exposure

  • Food intolerances

If you’ve already done the basics and are eating well and trying to meditate, etc, it’s probably time to work with a practitioner who is trained in functional nutrition. The state-of-the-art testing we offer can identify these root causes and our detailed protocols can directly work to correct them.

Next Steps

We’d love to chat with you about Functional Health Coaching on a free call. It’s just 15 minutes and can help give you a lot of clarity about next steps. Schedule here.

I’m also happy to develop a custom essential oil protocol for you at no cost with our fav oil company, doTERRA. Schedule here.

Five Ways Essential Oils Support Your Hormones


Adding Essential Oils to Your Routine Balances Hormones

You may have heard of essential oils, and maybe you already use them. You might be wondering, “how do these really work?” In this article, I’ll explain five ways that essential oils work to powerfully affect your hormones in a positive way!

  1. Lower Stress and Benefit Sleep

There are several essential oils that have been shown in studies to reduce the stress hormone cortisol. (1) The speed of this reduction is what impresses me! You can feel calmer within seconds of inhaling a cortisol-reducing oil.

While you need cortisol for energy, immunity, and inflammation, you don’t need too much cortisol! Your cortisol tends to get high thanks to chronic stress.

Symptoms of high cortisol include:

  • Stubborn belly fat
  • Feeling high-strung
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Being too keyed up to enjoy sex
  • High blood pressure
  • Increasing wrinkles and fatigue

Lowering excess cortisol with essential oils can help relieve the above symptoms. If stress and insomnia are chronic issues, I suggest using cortisol-reducing oils a few times a day, and especially in the evening as you wind down for bed.

Good sleep is important for another hormone, human growth hormone. This hormone helps you repair and rejuvenate at night; it’s how you get ‘beauty sleep.’ So lowering cortisol so you can sleep is key.

Common essential oils that lower cortisol are: lavender, basil, rosemary, orange and ylang ylang. The oil blend we use nightly in a diffuser is Serenity by doTERRA.

In a 2007 study, lavender and rosemary were both found to lower cortisol and prevent the free radical damage (hello, early aging) associated chronic high cortisol. (2)

       2. Reduce Appetite & Improve Metabolism

Having excess fat tissue contributes excess estrogen levels. Your fat tissue is an estrogen factory so, like cortisol, you don’t want an excess of body fat.

Avoiding processed foods and losing weight is challenging in our busy, toxic world! Luckily essential oils can give you a helping hand to make better food choices and to process calories efficiently.

Grapefruit oil is a cravings-buster when you place a drop on your tongue, as is peppermint oil. Grapefruit oil contains D-limonene, a compound that boosts metabolism and drains lymph (bye, bye puffy eyes and water weight). It can also be used externally along with a dry brushing technique to reduce cellulite. 
Cinnamon oil is a blood sugar balancer, and having balanced blood sugar will mean less cravings and better food choices. (3)

The cravings and metabolism blend I use regularly is Slim and Sassy by doTERRA. It has a dorky name but it works really well! It contains ginger, grapefruit, cinnamon, lemon and peppermint.

      3. Calm Emotions

Inhalation of essential oils directly affects limbic system, where you store emotions and memories. Taming negative emotions and painful memories can get you out of the sympathetic dominant mode that inhibits optimal hormone production.

According to the author of Healing with Essential Oils, Jodi Sternoff Cohen, the most powerful use of essential oils may be their value in emotional recovery and management:

“Fragrant substances pass on to the limbic system without being registered by the cerebral cortex. This powerful emotional reaction in the limbic system is triggered by nerve impulses which, in turn, trigger other areas of the brain that are responsible for secreting hormones and neurotransmitters and for regulating body functions.”

“This makes essential oils especially powerful tools for dealing with emotional challenges, like anxiety, depression, fear, worry, grief, trauma, anger and self-abuse.”

Some essential oils help you feel more grounded and others give you a sense of peace. The essential oil cedarwood helps me feel secure and confident, while essential oil of neroli makes me feel euphoric!

      4. Improve Digestion

Strong digestion is critical for healthy hormones. Within the digestive tract:

  • Nutrients needed to make hormones are absorbed
  • Neurotransmitters are produced
  • Hormone metabolites (used hormones) are cleared from the system

If the digestive tract is inflamed, these important processes won’t happen. Some symptoms of digestive distress include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Multiple food sensitivities
  • Skin eruptions
  • An autoimmune diagnosis

There are many essential oils that can support proper digestion and help detoxify the gut. I’ll highlight three here:

Lemon oil has been shown to inhibit candida albicans infection. Excess candida yeast can cause sugar cravings and foggy thinking. (4)

Peppermint oil relaxes smooth muscles in cases of IBS, and it also helps break down the biofilms that protect chronic bacterial infections in your gut. ( 5, 6)

Essential oil of ginger promotes digestion, reduces nausea, and has been shown to help prevent and treat stomach ulcers. (7)

A product I love that combines several oils in one formula for both acute and chronic indigestion is DigestZen by doTERRA. I try to use in on my abdomen with a carrier oil at least twice a day, and I also inhale it and sometimes use a drop on my tongue.

I find the warming and bitter nature of the oils in this formula help me digest a meal and have healthy bowel movements.

      5. Lower Inflammation

Inflammation is a process in the body that is helpful and necessary at times. It gathers to do its job when you are injured, when you’re fighting an infection and more.

But chronic inflammation presents various problems, one is which is preventing proper hormone production and signaling.

Inflammation allows less hormone to attach to receptor sites on a cell’s membrane. This means that hormones may be knocking at the door, but they can’t get inside. With an inflamed cell wall, also toxins can’t get out and nutrients can’t get in.

Inflammation also dysregulates the immune system, which can lead to autoimmunity, in which the body is attacking its own tissue. You can use essential oils to lower inflammation, thus allowing your hormones to signal correctly.

Frankincense is an oil derived from a tree resin that contain a high percentage of boswellic acid. Boswellic acid is able to lower inflammation and modulate immunity. It has become a popular oil in autoimmune thyroid conditions for this reason. (8, 9)

Lavender reduces the inflammation of a bug bite or a sunburn but also the systemic inflammation that interferes with your hormones.


Many oils overlap in their functions; many simultaneously lower cortisol, prevent bacterial growth and lower inflammation. This is because the ‘essential oil’ of a plant protects it and keeps it healthy. Essential oils can provide some of the same protection to you as you endeavor to stay healthy through the changing seasons of life.

What I love about essential oils is that they are easy and enjoyable to use. There are some cautions to take, for instance some oils need to be diluted or they will feel hot or burning on your skin. A few oils can make you sunburn easier, so you need to avoid applying them on an exposed area before a day in the sun.

With a little education, essential oils are fun and creative to use, and you can reap benefits immediately in reduced stress or a calmer stomach, and you can enjoy long-term benefits in better periods, less hot flashes, thicker hair and more.

Learn More!

We had two lectures on hormones and essential oils. Listen here:

Natural Solutions for Hormonal Symptoms with Dr. Mariza Snyder

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Dr. Mariza Snyder is a Women’s Hormone Practitioner and an essential oils expert. This episode is a recording of a webinar with Dr. Mariza on essential oils for hormones. We talk about perimenopause & menopause, the thyroid, nutritional tips & essential oils.

Here's what you'll hear:

Min 02:10 Dr. Mariza Snyder & her mother's health history
Min 06:20 Dr. Snyder's former client testimonial
Min 07:45 Committing to functional medicine
Min 10:00 Hormonal imbalances & prescriptions
Min 12:10 What are hormones?
Min 13:20 The Charlie's Angels of hormones
Min 16:30 The Foundational 5
Min 21:10 Eating right for your hormones
Min 29:10 Essential oils & herbs
Min 31:50 How to use essential oils
Min 34:05 Essential oil protocols
Min 40:20 Low Progesterone & Dr. Snyder's protocols
Min 47:55 Phytoestrogens
Min 50:00 Dr. Synder's protocols for hormone balancing

To learn more about Dr. Mariza Snyder, visit her website here and follow her on social media:


Hormone Detox shop

Doterra Essential Oils shop

Here's a video version of the webinar with Dr. Mariza Snyder:

Work With Us!

We would be honored to work with you as a private client. We provide testing and coaching options to women in most every state and country. Come chat with us on a free consultation to see if it’s a fit.

Could Your Sunscreen Disrupt Your Hormones?


Learn the Dangerous Ingredients that May Be Lurking in Your Sunscreen

Most types of sunscreen contain toxins that can easily penetrate the skin and cause inflammation, hormone imbalances, and increased toxic burden. Fortunately, there are safer options that still protect from harmful sun rays. Learn how to read your label and discover where to buy safer sunscreen.

Sunscreen 101

As we head into summer, it’s important to remember the impact of the sun’s rays on our skin. Though some sun is good for us (hello, vitamin D!), too much exposure can age our skin, burn us, and leave us at a higher risk for skin cancer.
Most of us have likely experienced a bad sunburn and are determined to protect ourselves better this year. So we turn to sunscreen in an effort to keep ourselves safe. But what if our sunscreen itself is dangerous?
Most sunscreens on the market contain chemicals that quickly penetrate our skin and disrupt our hormones. Since our skin absorbs much of what we put onto it, we need to guard against slathering ourselves with toxin-laden chemicals. Sunscreen can also provide a false sense of security. Some sunscreens may actually cause more harm than good!

Sunscreen Toxins to Avoid

Before you cover yourself or your kids with sunscreen, grab your bottle and check the ingredients for these endocrine-disrupting chemicals:

  • Oxybenzone - This chemical is included in many sunscreens because it absorbs and filters UV rays. However, it also penetrates the skin rapidly and mimics estrogen in the body, leading to hormonal imbalances and potential infertility. (1)


  • Octinoxate - This is another inexpensive UV filter, making it a popular choice for many sunscreens. Unfortunately, it is also a potent endocrine disruptor, posing problems for the thyroid and reproductive systems, among others. It is also linked to cell death and difficulty clearing toxins from the body. Octinoxate also causes complete coral bleaching at low doses. In other words, snorkeling with this sunscreen during a tropical vacation contributes to a weakened, diseased state in coral reefs. (2)


  • Retinyl palmitate - Retinyl palmitate is a form of vitamin A and a popular choice for sunscreen because it is believed to slow skin aging. The problem is this chemical breaks down in sunlight, creating extra free radicals and leading to skin problems, even skin cancer. Additionally, retinyl palmitate is a powerful reproductive toxicant, which is, again, easily absorbed through the skin and can lead to hormonal imbalances.


  • Parabens - These chemicals are included in sunscreens because they delay bacterial and fungal growth. They are, however, also linked to endocrine disruptions, possibly leading to breast cancer and other hormonal difficulties. Again, this is not something we want to be inviting into our bodies!


  • Fragrances - These are also commonly found in sunscreens. They are added to make the product more appealing, but they can also cause hormonal disruption and toxin build up. If you see the word “fragrance” on a label, it could include any number of toxic chemicals that legally don’t have to be listed individually. (3)

As you might imagine, slathering our bodies with these chemicals throughout the summer can lead to or worsen hormonal imbalance and create a heavier toxic load for our bodies. Fortunately, we have other choices to help keep us safe from sunburn and hormone-disrupting chemicals.

The Issue with Spray Sunscreen

When it’s time to apply sunscreen, it’s easy to grab an aerosol can and spray on the sunscreen. However, this can cause lung irritation.
To make it easier to use as a spray, the sunscreen is broken down into even smaller molecules that fill the air around us as we spray the skin. We (and anyone else around us) end up breathing the chemicals in the air, giving us even more exposure to the chemicals. Now we get them through our lungs and our skin! The use of aerosols has even been linked to a higher risk of breathing problems like asthma.

So if you choose a spray sunscreen, make sure it’s a natural one, and don’t use on yourself or your kiddos if it causes any breathing irritation.

Also, realize that a spray sunscreen does still need to be rubbed in to work most effectively!

Staying Safe in the Sun

Fortunately, we have many options when choosing how to protect ourselves from the sun!

  • Choose a mineral-based sunscreen made with non-nano zinc oxide. Mineral-based sunscreens protect our skin by reflecting and scattering the sunrays. Make sure to pick a sunscreen that uses non-nano zinc oxide, as the regular nanoparticles of zinc are small enough to penetrate the skin and cause problems. (See below for our favorites.)


  • Reapply sunscreen every few hours. Sunscreen does not last all day! Make sure to re-apply frequently if you are out in the sun for long periods of time.


  • Cover up. We can protect our skin by wearing long sleeves, using a hat, and taking other precautions to avoid direct sunlight as needed.


  • Eat a healthy diet. It shouldn’t be a big surprise that our skin will be healthier and less likely to burn quickly when we eat better! Make sure to include healthy fats, antioxidants, and an abundance of vitamins and minerals.


Protect Yourself with Safe Sunscreen

Daily Protection



DeVita brand sunscreen offers a Solar Body Moisturizer and a Solar Protective Moisturizer for the face. These sunscreens go on light and smooth for everyday use. 

My skin is acne-prone and DeVita sunscreens have never clogged my pores. It doesn't feel like you are wearing a sunscreen at all with these products! I apply them on first thing in the morning.

In addition to 19% micronized zinc oxide (it’s non-nano), they contain ingredients that support your skin like aloe, grape seed extract and vitamin C. 

I am so fond of these products that I decided to carry them in our new online shop! You can find the Body Sunscreen here and the Facial Sunscreen here.  

Use coupon code 'safesun' for 15% all the non-toxic personal care products in our shop through June 30.

Fun in the Sun

If you are planning a day at the pool or the beach, you need a stronger product to withstand the elements. When I’m going into full sun exposure,  I turn to Beautycounter’s line of water-resistant products.

Beautycounter offers a line called Countersun with a lotion, a stick and a spray sunscreen. Beautycounter is always free of synthetic fragrance, parabens, and 1,500 other harmful or questionable ingredients. 

Their sunscreens are reef safe, so you can take them to Hawaii, and you can even pack the spray in a checked bag!

In addition to sunscreen, Beautycounter offers skin care, hair care and makeup that perform like any high-end product, but without disrupting your hormones or exposing you to heavy metals.

Receive a free sample pack of tinted moisturizer when you make a Beautycounter purchase of $100 or more through June 30.  

Root Causes of Hashimoto's with Dr. Eric Osansky

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Dr. Eric Osansky is a chiropractic physician, clinical nutritionist, and Functional medicine practitioner. He is back on the show in the event of his new book coming out called "Hashimoto's Triggers". In this episode we talk about Hashimoto's disease & its triggers, the connection between thyroid & SIBO, and essential oils.

Here's what you'll hear:

Min 01:05 Introducing Dr. Eric Osansky's new book
Min 02:55 What are Hashimoto's triggers?
Min 04:25 Food triggers
Min 08:00 Estrogen dominance
Min 12:10 The connection between thyroid & SIBO
Min 18:10 Blood sugar as a trigger for Hashimoto's
Min 21:55 Blue light exposure
Min 23:45 Dr. Osansky's book
Min 24:05 Using essential oils

To learn more about Dr. Osansky, visit his website here and follow him on social media:


Hashimoto's Triggers book 
Addressing Hashimoto's and Graves' Disease with Dr. Eric Osansky 
Receive a FREE CHAPTER from Dr. Osansky's book "Hashimoto's Triggers"

Here's a video version of the interview with Dr. Eric Osansky:

Work With Us!

We would be honored to work with you as a private client. We provide testing and coaching options to women in most every state and country. Come chat with us on a free consultation to see if it’s a fit.

My Real Life Healing Journey with Tami

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Tami is part of our staff at WWC and joined our online coaching program as a client about a year ago. She's our special guest this week where we talk about her health history, menstrual cycle, negative self-talk, working at WWC among other topics.

Here's what you'll hear:

Min 03:00 Introducing our guest & her health history
Min 05:12 Puberty & irregular cycles
Min 08:30 Health in high school
Min 11:40 Seeking natural treatment
Min 17:30 Testing with naturopaths
Min 20:35 Online coaching at WWC
Min 23:20 Home cooking & changes experienced
Min 28:20 Negative self-talk
Min 31:45 Personal care products
Min 33:58 Distrust in the medical community
Min 37:10 Testing on the WWC coaching program
Min 43:50 Shifts & improvements experienced
Min 49:30 Working at WWC


Leaky Gut Solutions webinar
Perfect Periods Program
Improve Your Genetic Performance with Dr. Ben Lynch
High Energy Morning Detox Guide
WWC Shop

Work With Us!

We would be honored to work with you as a private client. We provide testing and coaching options to women in most every state and country. Come chat with us on a free consultation to see if it’s a fit.

Three Great Hacks for Hormonal Imbalance


Hormone imbalance can rear its ugly head in myriad ways: fatigue, moodiness, cramps, bloating, headaches and more. 

There are some ‘hormone helpers’ available to you that cost just pennies per use and can shift things quickly.

I’m talking about essential oils and there are many of them, but today I’ll deep dive on just three so you can start building your oils knowledge to help yourself. These three oils are all personal favorites of mine that I use weekly!


1. Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata)


When you are under stress and your hormones don’t seem to be supporting you, returning to a feeling of nourished feminity is key! Ylang ylang helps with mood and beauty and leaves you feeling like your best self.

  • The intoxicating smell of ylang-ylang is super relaxing and makes me feel like a queen!  It helps me feel restored and sensuous at the end of the day, and ready for sleep. I usually use it after bathing as a body oil.
  • If you suffer from hormonal mood swings, either anger or depression, ylang-ylang can help smooth out the bumps in your monthly roller coaster.
  • Ylang ylang has traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac. Most of our clients report their sex drive as low, so this oil can help you get in that relaxed and ready mood.
  • It is also fantastic for skin and hair.  For skin, it is soothing and nourishing and supports aging or irritated skin. Shake a drop into your hand and apply with your moisturizer.
  • For hair, it is so smoothing, and I’ve been experimenting with using it in a homemade leave-in conditioner for the ends of my hair. Or shake several drops into your conditioner bottle and mix well.

2.  Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Basil is an oil I’ve been using a long, long time on my acupuncturist clients when I was giving a localized massage. I learned basil to be a muscle relaxant, and I stayed dedicated to using this oil. People always loved it and tried to identify the scent.

I think I must have also enjoyed the benefits of basil, which is why I stuck with it!  Since giving up my acupuncture practice last summer, I got away from basil. But we recently reunited and I am in love again!

  • The scent of basil is very calming. It helps relieve chronic stress and promotes restful sleep. As chronic stress is often what is robbing our hormones, managing stress is key! Basil is supportive of your adrenal glands.
  • As I mentioned earlier, it’s a muscle relaxant, so it’s useful for menstrual cramps or restless leg syndrome.
  • Yes, you can also use it for cooking! Add a couple drops to your pasta sauce before serving.


3.  Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Peppermint oil sounds too simple to be very powerful, but it is! Many of the symptoms that arise during hormonal changes can be relieved with peppermint.

  • Create a mist of water and few drops of peppermint oil to get relief during a hot flash. (Ratio is about 1 drop per teaspoon of water. Shake well before spraying.)
  • Use to help for headaches during your period or at the end of long day. (Dilute in carrier oil and rub on neck, shoulders, temples.)
  • Use during your work day to increase energy and improve your focus. (Peppermint actually increases circulation to the brain.)
  • And, my favorite use, use on your scalp to improve hair growth and prevent hair loss. (Shake into shampoo bottle or create a spray with water and keep in the shower.)
  • It’s also great to have on hand for an upset stomach or to freshen your breath.
To learn more about the incredible power of essential oils for women's health, join us for an educational email series by filling out this form or visit our essential oils page.

Throughout the month of April 2018, doTERRA will give you back $50 in credit when you become a new member at the $100 level. It’s a great deal and a chance to spoil yourself with a few more decadent oils.

What You Need to Know About Phthalates

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Some years back, BPA (a type of plastic), earned a bad name as a health disruptor. The market responded by slapping a ‘BPA free’ label wherever it could, and often just replaced BPA (bisphenol A) for  BPS (bisphenol S), which has the same estrogen-like compounds.

While it was great that consumer awareness about plastics began at this time, and it also was great that many consumers started using glass and steel containers, I would not say that we, as a culture, got a deep and clear understanding of synthetic ingredients following the BPA uproar. 

Let's Learn About Phthalates

So let’s continue our education and add another ‘bad plastic’ to the list: phthalates.  Phthalates is a hard word to pronounce ( say “thal - lates” ) and even harder to spell, but I want you to get to know this group of chemicals, as they are probably more ubiquitous than BPA, and a lack of awareness is leaving you literally soaking in a sea of phthalates.

Phthalates keep plastic soft- like in those disposable, pre-filled water bottles, plastic hoses, plastic wrap, even IV bags in hospitals. But that’s not all phthalates do. They also help keep fragrance lingering for longer, so they are a part of about every ‘fragrance’ mix you see on a label.

Large companies are now pumping fragrance around their buildings as a signature scent. Hotels are doing it, and even Goodwill Industries has gotten into it. But I digress...

The Problem with Phthalates

The problem with phthalates is that they are obesogens and endocrine disruptors. This means that they contribute to a toxic load that can make you fat, tired and grumpy.  They can also contribute to fertility issues and man boobs.

The tricky thing about environmental toxins is that we are all exposed to multiple toxins from multiple sources, so it becomes difficult to isolate any one source as the cause of disease.

However, there is a growing body of study linking phthalates and other chemicals to health disorders, especially in unborn and small children:

Associations of prenatal environmental phenol and phthalate biomarkers with respiratory and allergic diseases among children aged 6 and 7 years.

Early Prenatal Phthalate Exposure, Sex Steroid Hormones, and Birth Outcomes.

Impact of diisobutyl phthalate and other PPAR agonists on steroidogenesis and plasma insulin and leptin levels in fetal rats.

Association between use of phthalate-containing medication and semen quality among men in couples referred for assisted reproduction


Are We Being Protected?


According to the FDA, the higher levels of phthalate metabolites now found in urinary testing cannot be tied to symptom development. (Example of testing of phthalate levels)

“While the CDC report noted elevated levels of phthalates excreted by women of child-bearing age, neither this report nor the other data reviewed by FDA established an association between the use of phthalates in cosmetic products and a health risk. Based on this information, FDA determined that there wasn’t a sound, scientific basis to support taking regulatory action against cosmetics containing phthalates.” (source)

It appears this information has not been reviewed since 2002.  However, I did find an article that stated that, in 2016, the FDA was going to reconsider the use of phthalates in food packaging and equipment (source), but I have not seen any further reference to their response to this public petition.


What Can You Do?

As I mentioned earlier, we all have multiple exposures to chemicals in our modern world. But we can reduce our exposure significantly through our own choices!  Most of those choices are made in what we buy to eat and use around the home. If you want to avoid phthalates, here are some easy tips:

  • Avoid buying those pre-filled soft water bottles. Instead, invest in a home water filter and keep glass bottles of filtered water ready to go when headed out of the house.
  • Eat organic as much as possible. Phthalates are part of some pesticides.
  • Avoid processed foods wrapped in plastic like pre-made burgers. Also, store your food in glass- not plastic.
  • If you don't need your receipt, ask the sales clerk to throw it out for you.
  • Don’t get your nails done. Nail salons are so full of chemicals! Just buff, trim and oil your nails to keep them healthy.
  • Make your own air freshener.  This is super easy and avoids phthalates.  I have a video on it here.
  • If you visit a place with a troubling amount of fragrance, comment! I just wrote my local Goodwill Industries and cited some sources!
  • Avoid the word ‘fragrance’ like the plague.  Instead, buy unscented or items scented with essential oils. Be careful, because everything from kitty litter to trash bags is now being scented.
  • Learn more. This is a huge topic but little by little you become an expert!  

This week and next I have two live webinars available to learn with me about non-toxic products:

1. Choosing the Best Products for Your Skin Type

We will spend a little time talking about why Beautycounter is different in terms of product quality (both non-toxic and high performance) and then we'll focus on their skincare lines to help you choose a good fit for you.

Apr 17, 2018 2:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Register here.  

I chose to work with Beautycounter as it allows me to recommend high-performing, safer products online. You can browse our Beautycounter store here: https://www.beautycounter.com/womenswellness


2. What Women Want: A Webinar on Essential Oils for Women’s Health and Beauty

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Essential oils are a great way to find non-toxic health solutions in your home. After working in women's health for many years, I think I know what women struggle with! I'll be talking about sleep, anxiety, hair loss, bloating, food cravings and more. Hope you can join us live to ask questions and get special deals!

Apr 24, 2018 2:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Register here.

 What are your experiences with phthalates? Do you try to avoid them?

Your Period After 40 with Dr. Lara Briden

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Dr. Lara Briden is a naturopathic doctor and the period revolutionary—leading the change to better periods. Her book Period Repair Manual is out on its second edition with new sections on perimenopause, how to come off hormonal birth control and the different options for birth control. In this episode, we talk about the new book, perimenopause, managing heavy periods, and histamine intolerance.

Here's what you'll hear:

Min 02:10 Dr. Lara Briden's new book

Min 03:45 Feedback from Dr. Briden's first book

Min 04:30 What is perimenopause?

Min 05:55 The connection between hormones and symptoms of perimenopause

Min 11:10 Dr. Briden's rescue prescription for perimenopause moods:

  • Magnesium
  • Natural Progesterone
  • Taurine
  • Magnolia
  • Ziziphus
  • Ashwagandha
  • Vitamin B6

Min 20:20 Pregnancy in perimenopause women
Min 23:35 Managing heavy periods/flooding

Min 29:30 Going into perimenopause with health conditions

Min 35:35 Histamine intolerance

Min 44:15 Dr. Lara Briden's resources & help for teenagers

To learn more about Dr. Briden, visit her website here and follow her on social media: 





Period Repair Manual book
Perfect Periods Facebook Group
Hormone Balance After 40 summit
Prof Jerilynn Prior's article prescribing progesterone for heavy periods
Lara's article "The Curious Link Between Estrogen and Histamine Intolerance"

Here's a video version of the interview with Dr. Lara Briden:

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We have lots of valuable, free resources for women's health we share weekly.

Bridgit Danner,

Founder of Women's Wellness Collaborative