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Suddenly, hemp is everywhere! Thousands of new hemp products have flooded the market seemingly overnight, and you might be wondering what the excitement is about. Hemp products offer an astonishing number of health benefits, from boosting your mood and calming stress to easing joint discomfort. Hemp can also bring restful sleep, which helps you stay more alert during the day.

We’ve gathered together the top five reasons why healthy, natural hemp is a must-have for your daily routine.

The 5 Best Benefits of Hemp Extract

Hemp (Cannabis sativa) is a remarkable plant full of nutrients, antioxidants, and phytocannabinoids — all of which work together to provide numerous health benefits. Below are the top five.

1. Promotes a Sense of Calm

If you want to remain focused and calm during your busy day or to relax at the end of it, hemp is where it’s at! Hemp can help you feel more peaceful and happy.[1, 2]

The hemp plant contains more than 100 phytocannabinoids that interact with the endocannabinoid system, a physiological system that keeps your body processes in balance — known as homeostasis. Hemp’s naturally-occurring cannabinoids interact with endocannabinoid receptors, boosting brain and nerve health. By directly supporting brain and nerve cells, hemp and the phytocannabinoids it contains can play an integral role in your overall mental well-being.

One of the major components of hemp, CBD (cannabidiol), allows you to relax without feeling cloudy or spacy.[3, 4]

2. Helps You Sleep Restfully

Hemp can help you fall into a deep, restful sleep when you need to. You can take an organic hemp extract during the day and stay alert yet calm and focused — and then sleep well at night.[5]

Some people like to take hemp products a couple of hours before bed because it can actually increase alertness for a while but then leads to deep, full-body relaxation.

Try adding a full spectrum hemp product to your sleep routine. Full spectrum means that all hemp’s natural phytocannabinoids — including CBD, CBG, and even a little THC — plus terpenes, flavonoids, chlorophyll, fatty acids, proteins, and other synergistic metabolites are contained within. These compounds work together better than any single-ingredient product can — you'll sleep like a baby.

3. Eases Soreness, Aches, and Joint Irritation

When you have joint irritation, muscle tension, or general aches and pains, a potent, high-quality full-spectrum hemp extract can provide relief.

CBD and other cannabinoids, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), promote a healthy response to inflammation, which provides comfort for the swelling in your joints.[6, 7] Many people with joint discomfort have found hemp products help enormously. Hemp can safely bring relief wherever your body may show systemic swelling and redness.[8, 9]

While hemp contains low levels of THC — below 0.3 percent in the U.S. — even the trace amounts in a full spectrum product help relieve chronic body discomfort.[8]

4. Promotes Healthy, Glowing Skin

Hemp cannabinoids show promise for promoting healthy skin![10] Hemp may make your skin less oily, and oily skin can contribute to acne.[12] Cannabidiol, in particular, has been shown to reduce the secretions of sebocytes, the skin cells that produce fat or oil.

Hemp contains high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as numerous vitamins and nutrients. Fatty acids form the building blocks of your skin’s surface layers, and healthy fats play an important role in skin health. Taking omega-3s, especially those from plant sources like hemp, can create a smoother, healthier looking complexion.[11]

Another way that hemp and its components help skin is by reducing overall redness and swelling and promoting a healthy response to inflammation — from the inside out.[6, 7] While you’ll find it in many skincare products, it works incredibly well when you take it internally. It can help your skin glow!

5. Boosts Overall Body Health

If you want a natural product that boosts your overall health, hemp is it! Hemp’s ability to promote body balance works through the so-called endocannabinoid receptors located throughout the body, especially in brain and nerve cells, but also immune system cells, as well as body organs like the heart, lungs, and liver.

Hemp does many great things to promote overall body health and help general health issues, with few to no side effects, including the following:

  • Stimulates brain health and function
  • Helps the heart and cardiovascular system
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Eases head discomfort[13]
  • Reduces oxidative stress
  • Promotes normal blood pressure[14]
Ways To Use Hemp Extract

If you bought a hemp extract or hemp oil and are not quite sure how to take it, below are a few suggestions.

  • Take hemp extract two hours before sleep for more restful slumber.
  • Try with coffee and tea, or add to smoothies or no-bake recipes. Some find that it helps counter the jittery effects of coffee.
  • Use just before times of rejuvenation, such as yoga or massages.
  • Take hemp extract after a workout to promote exercise recovery.
  • Use during times of high stress to promote a calm mood.
  • Citrus and spicy foods can increase the effects of the cannabinoids, so be mindful of this.
  • Tip: When you take a hemp extract, hold in your mouth underneath your tongue for 1 minute then swallow. Some people feel the benefits within 30 minutes.
How to Find a Quality Hemp Extract

With so many products crowding the newly opened marketplace, you want to do your research. There are a lot of companies that have sprouted up overnight that do not have the quality control processes in place that a more established herbal supplements manufacturer would.

Make sure to buy the highest quality product to ensure your extract contains the full spectrum of nutrients and phytocannabinoids that hemp is known for. A high-quality product will be certified organic, high-potency, and made from American-grown hemp.

Most full spectrum hemp oil or hemp extract products are made from the whole plant, including flowers, stalks, roots, seeds, and leaves. Ideally, it will use an extraction process that ensures you get a full array of cannabinoids.

Global Healing Center’s cold-processed, certified Organic Hemp Extract is a full-spectrum, whole-plant product you can trust. Gluten-free, non-GMO, and tested for purity and safety, it's perfect for promoting a relaxing feeling, bringing restful sleep, and easing the fire of sore, aching joints.

Have you tried hemp? How did it help you? Share your experiences below!

The post Hemp Extract Benefits: Get Calm, Sleep Better, and More! appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

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How can I keep my energy levels high, especially in the afternoon? This is a question that comes up all the time because we are living in a toxic world right now. Fatigue is not what we used to see 10 years ago. Mostly it was in people over the age of 30 because their hormones started to decrease or they started becoming imbalanced and many other factors like thyroid and adrenal burnout and even stress.

But now, you're literally seeing fatigue in children. As a kid, I remember I had tons of energy, and I did not really eat that healthy either. I also don't remember being tired at three in the afternoon. I remember wanting to stay out until my mom or dad rang the bell for me to come back in because I was out in the woods playing.

Watch below or read on to learn what you can do to increase your energy and get rid of fatigue.

How to Increase Your Energy

Length: 10 minutes

Root Causes of Fatigue

The first thing I always ask people when they ask me what can I do to increase my energy levels and why am I so fatigued in the afternoon is — what is the root cause of your fatigue?

Let's get to the bottom of it. Why are you feeling fatigued in the afternoons?

Now, you might have a B-12 deficiency. When's the last time you've done some blood work? You might have thyroid issues. You might have a hormonal imbalance. You might have a toxic lifestyle because the accumulation of chemicals and toxins that are coming into the system on a regular basis can cause fatigue. Your body just doesn't have enough energy left in it to break those chemicals and toxins down and eliminate them. How healthy is your gut? How healthy is your liver? Usually, when the liver becomes congested, you're going to start becoming fatigued.

I don't know if you've watched my fasting videos, but I did an 18-day, water-only fast. During that research, I found that the doctors in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s would say that we are really only supposed to eat one meal a day. Doctors are now able to measure kCal and energy expenditure in the body. People are theorizing that even one meal a day — one heavy meal — can take up to 70 percent of your energy stores for the whole 24 hour period to break that one meal down.

When you ask why are my energy levels decreasing or why am I fatigued in the afternoon, think about what your body has to go through every single day to break down meals. If you eat breakfast, then snacks, and finally you're eating lunch. Basically, all the energy that you have in your body is being used for digestion. It's being used to try to process the chemicals and toxins to eliminate them.

Age definitely is a factor in what is the root cause of my low energy levels. As we age, our body is aging even if we don’t feel it. That's just a common fact.

How much exercise are you doing? That has a role to play in your energy levels. Stress has a huge part to play in your energy levels because when you're stressed out and you're in the sympathetic state, your body is sucking all that energy because it's bringing that blood flow and your heart rate goes up to the internal organs in order for you to run. When you’re in a state of stress, you're really in a fight or flight response and your body is conserving that energy but also, utilizing that energy just in case you have to fight for your life or run as fast as you can or something like that.

How to Feel More Energized

If you are feeling low energy, I recommend doing an intestinal cleanse, look at some good probiotics, reduce the amount of food that you're eating, start a little bit of an exercise program, reduce your stress levels, and look at the amount of alcohol that you're drinking. You might want to reduce the amount of alcohol. Sleep is also very important so you have the amount of energy that you need going into the next day.

But all-in-all, look at your lifestyle, look at if you are exposing yourself to any negative chemicals or toxins or environments in work. Are you exposing yourself to any negative toxic foods and beverages at home? Eating a lot healthier will actually give you energy. Are you eating dead food? Are you cooking your food in the microwave? Those are also going to take a lot of energy from you as opposed to giving you energy. What's going to give you more energy is going to be pure, clean water, and pure, clean food. Because live, raw foods are going to be packed full of nutrient-dense energy.

That's what you need to look to in order to improve your energy levels.

Effects of Harmful Organisms on Energy Levels

I'll tell you one thing that I've noticed also in the last three to five years that is a huge drain on people's energy levels is harmful organisms. I've talked to many doctors and we have an epidemic right now that people are contaminated with fungi, yeast, mold, worms, bacteria, microplasma, and prions. All of these harmful organisms are accumulating in our system. Those harmful organisms will actually take your nutrients from you and then they go to the bathroom in your system. When they go to the bathroom in your system, they secrete isopropyl alcohol, formaldehyde, and phenol — very toxic chemicals.

One of the things we do, if someone has low energy levels, is always a harmful organism cleanse. A harmful organism cleanse supports your body's natural cleansing processes to eliminate all of those bugs or harmful things that are living inside of your body.

The world that we live in now, we have to look at those harmful organisms. Especially when people eat a lot of sugar and sushi, they're going to have a higher content of toxins. But, that's something that you want to take a look at, especially if your energy levels are low. Doing a cleanse is the best way to rid your body of toxins.

The cleansing process that we found works the best is to cleanse and heal the gut, cleanse the liver, cleanse the harmful organisms, and then cleanse all the chemicals and heavy metals out of your system, and that's probably the fastest rejuvenation except for fasting, like doing juice fasting, which you can do in conjunction with that or any type of water-only fasting.

Additional Tips to Improve Energy

If I feel like I'm running a little low on energy, I like B-12. I take a B-12 supplement, making sure that it has the methyl- and the adenosylcobalamin in it like VeganSafe™ B-12. Ginseng also works pretty good to give you a little energy boost. And believe it or not, iodine as well.

I'm a big fan of iodine. Not the iodine that you're going to find in the drug store. Do not take that. I'm a big fan of the detoxified nascent iodine, like Detoxadine®, and that will help cleanse and rejuvenate your body because most people have an accumulation of fluoride, chlorine, and bromine. If you ever eat any bread, most likely you're getting bromine. If you ever eat out at a restaurant that uses tap water to cook all their food, swim in a swimming pool, or if you drink tap water you're gonna get fluoride and chlorine.

Your Story

What do you do to increase your energy levels? Any natural hacks you love to do? Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.

The post How to Naturally Increase Energy for a Happier, Healthier You appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

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Hives are never an easy condition to deal with. It’s a rash that can appear anywhere on your body and is usually triggered by an allergic reaction from a number of things like stress, foods, and even medications. Regardless of your situation, hives are a huge inconvenience.

To complicate the situation, the number one remedy for hives is identifying the root cause of your allergic reaction, but the potential causes seem endless. Not to mention, there are home remedies you start to wonder which natural approach is the most effective?

Watch below or read on to learn some of the top causes and remedies we recommend for your hives.

Recommendations for Chronic Hives | Dr. Group

Length: 7 minutes

How to Identify Signs & Symptoms

Any skin condition is usually associated with poor gut health. Conditions like acne, psoriasis, eczema, urticaria, skin lesions, hives, are nothing more than your body giving you a sign that something's wrong and something needs to be addressed.

You know, we are not taught from an early age to recognize symptoms, but your body will always give you a sign that it needs help. It's just that we don't pay attention to it.

So, let's say you have a headache. That's your body saying hello, I'm giving you a headache so you can track back what you put in your body or what you were exposed to over the last 24 hours. Your body wants to you ask questions like:

  • Did you drink too much alcohol?
  • Did you eat something with chemicals in it?
  • Did you have something with artificial sweeteners?
  • Did you eat MSG?
  • Did you have titanium dioxide? (Titanium dioxide is known through the naturopathic doctors to cause migraines and chronic headaches.)
  • Are you using sunblock? (Sunblock has chemicals that are extremely damaging to the brain tissue and venous system that cause headaches.)
  • Are you spraying on insect repellent?

There are a million things that it could be.

But, when you are talking about hives, and having to take antihistamines, what you really have to be looking at is not what you need to take to reduce the hives, but what are you doing that's causing the hives? Causes of Hives

Now, usually, that means that you have the gut and liver in a harmful organism situation. When the gut is out of balance, you're usually eating the wrong foods. Whenever your immune system gets low, your self-healing mechanism drops to a certain level, or you have leaky gut syndrome in the bowel, you cannot process all these foods and break down all the foods. That's the number one reason why people get skin conditions.

Natural Remedies for Hives

I recommend cleansing as the first remedy for hives. You can start cleaning the body and reactivating the body's self-healing mechanism by getting on good probiotics and something that's going to clean your intestinal lining, such as Oxy-Powder®. Once you begin cleansing the body, you start healing from the inside. Try going into intermittent fasting, eating all organic, and eliminating dairy to continue cleaning the body.

Dairy is a mucus-producing, allergen-producing compound. Some people don't have an allergy or reaction. I try to avoid dairy, but I will have raw goat cheese and raw sheep cheese. I do feel a reaction when I have any cow cheese or any regular dairy. I know a lot of people that can eat raw goat cheese and raw sheep cheese and not have a reaction like they do with any type of cow dairy. It has to do with the fact that it's pasteurized and heated, and there's hormones, toxins, puss, and blood particles in most of the milk products out there.

So really, if I was dealing with hives, the first thing I would do is look at my diet. Then I would ask myself a series of questions.

  • When is the last time I've completely cleansed my intestines and loaded up on probiotics?
  • When is the last time I've done multiple liver cleanses?
  • When is the last time I've done a harmful organism cleanse?
  • When's the last time I've done a chemical and heavy metal cleanse?

In other words, you know, we have to be proactive at keeping our bodies clean. I mean, what happens if you leave a plate with some food out in your kitchen? What happens two days later? You have mold and it's nasty.

People are not cleansing their bodies as much as they should. They're not eating raw foods that naturally cleanse your body. Fruit, really anything that's raw, is going to naturally have a cleansing effect on your system.

So, the first thing you need to do is always ask yourself, what is the root cause of my hives? Why am I getting these skin breakouts? And the reason why you're getting the skin breakouts is you're not eating the right foods. You're putting allergens in your system. You're not cleansing your body on a regular basis. Your immune system might be down. You might be under chronic state of stress. You might be not sleeping enough. You might have situations in your life where you're living in a toxic environment. You might have a smart meter near you. You know, there's multiple things that people need to look at to determine how clean, effective, sanitary, and pure that they're living and the things that they’re putting in their body.

The Power of Cleansing

I've never seen a case of hives, in my history of working with people, that haven’t improved after going into a health and wellness program. People change their diet, eat organic foods, begin intermittent fasting, and complete cleansing programs. You also need to look at all those different factors along the way, to determine what I am putting in my body. It's all about reducing the amount of chemicals and toxins that you're putting into your body or you’re exposed to on a regular basis. That goes for every single condition, not only hives, but also for everything that you're dealing with.

Points to Remember

I mean the thing that I'm trying to get out to people, is that you have the power to heal yourself. All you need to do is figure out the root cause of what's causing your situation, the chemicals and toxins, stress, and all those things. So, if you just start working on those and eliminating all those things, then everything else comes into place and your body starts healing itself. You have the power to heal any condition known to man, or any condition that you might ever get. Your body is the strongest healing mechanism out there.

And all I'm doing is just sharing with you the simplest ways to do it, is just cleansing and detoxifying with a clean, plant-based diet, probiotic supplements like Latero-Flora™, and an intestinal cleanser like Oxy-Powder®. I mean it's really not rocket science. It's so easy, but the hardest part is actually changing your diet, changing your lifestyle, but you can do that in slow, baby steps. Nothing has to be done super fast.

What home remedies have you tried for your hives? Share your story below!

The post Home Remedies for Hives — Dr. Group’s Natural Recommendations appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

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From supporting a healthy libido to building muscle mass, testosterone is an important hormone that has a massive influence on men’s health. Testosterone levels (sometimes called T levels) decline with age.

The effects of "low-T" are cumulative, meaning the lower they go, the more you feel the symptoms. Many men say that the more their testosterone levels decline, the older they feel. Want to know how to increase testosterone? Read on!

Although some men seek out anti-aging clinics and testosterone therapy, there's actually an array of strategies — from exercise and diet to vitamins, minerals, and hormone-boosting herbs — that can support healthy testosterone levels naturally. You can even eat certain foods that increase testosterone as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Here, we'll describe and compare some of the lifestyle-oriented initiatives that men can take to encourage a healthy balance of this important hormone.

What Does Testosterone Do?

An anabolic steroid, testosterone is the primary male hormone. Though testosterone levels are substantially higher in men, women produce a small amount of the hormone as well.

In men, the testes produce most of your testosterone. In women, the ovaries produce testosterone. The adrenal gland produces some testosterone in both sexes.

In addition to enhancing sex drive in both men and women, testosterone plays a key role in the growth and repair of reproductive tissues.

In men, the hormone also promotes masculine or male characteristics during puberty and throughout life, such as a deep voice, body and facial hair growth, increased muscle growth, and greater bone mass.

Testosterone also helps the body produce red blood cells and sperm and plays a supporting role in the overall health of your body. Last but not least, low levels of testosterone may contribute to belly fat.

Natural Ways to Increase Testosterone

Using pharmaceuticals to enhance testosterone, such as injections, patches, and topical gels, may bring dangerous side effects.

It also is not necessary, since many natural methods — including exercise, diet modification, stress reduction, and supplements to increase testosterone — work quite well! Below are some of the best tried-and-true natural solutions to increasing testosterone, no matter your age.

Go to the Gym

Getting regular physical activity is a great way to boost your testosterone. Studies show that men who are physically active produce more testosterone than men who aren't — perhaps because exercise sends your body the message that it needs stronger muscles and bones.[1]

The best workouts for increasing testosterone are weight lifting and high-intensity interval training — sometimes called HIIT.

Resistance training with weights is an excellent way to increase testosterone, as is high-intensity interval training (HIIT).[2] Leg workouts may even be particularly effective at testosterone-boosting.

Being overweight leads to lower testosterone levels, but even obese individuals can offset the hormone's loss with increased physical activity.[3]

Get Quality Sleep
Science shows that lack of sleep impacts testosterone production.

Be sure to get enough shut-eye, because sleep deprivation can affect your testosterone levels. Several studies found that insufficient sleep correlates with lower testosterone in the blood.[4, 5]

While everyone is different and recommended sleep times can vary, aim for at least seven to nine hours of zzz's nightly. If you're having trouble sleeping, check out our article on how to get more sleep.

Lose Weight
A higher weight usually means lower testosterone levels.

It's a fact that being obese or overweight corresponds with low-T levels. Not only do obese men tend to have lower testosterone, but low testosterone affects metabolism and may hinder fat loss.[6, 7]

In other words, it's a two-way street. If you are overweight with low-T levels, come up with a weight loss and calorie plan.

Try adopting a vegetarian or vegan plant-based diet while maintaining good nutrition and healthy levels of protein and fat. You can even incorporate weight loss supplements into your diet.

Need more ideas? Visit our weight loss tips article.

Eat Testosterone-Boosting Foods

Eating plenty of whole-food macronutrients — protein, carbohydrates, and fats — can help you maintain healthy testosterone levels.

In one study, hospital patients with depleted protein and fat reserves had lower total testosterone.[8] Another study found that, while testosterone levels rise during exercise, eating carbohydrates helps to maintain high levels during rest periods as well.[9]

Make sure you eat healthy carbs, like those in organic fruit and vegetables, and plant-based proteins, like legumes, nuts, and gluten-free protein-rich grains like quinoa, rather than processed, sugar-heavy foods.

Did you know that red meat can lower your sex hormones and sperm count?

Avoid meat! One study reported that men who ate processed red meat had a lower sperm count than men who did not eat processed red meat.[10]

Also, be sure to add healthy fats to your diet. Avocados, nuts, and seeds are all great sources. Swapping out saturated fats (such as butter) for monounsaturated healthy fats such as olive oil can support testosterone production.[11] Exceptions exist, such as coconut oil, which has different effects on metabolism than other saturated fats.[12]

Take Herbs, Vitamins, & Minerals

A deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals could be a culprit in low testosterone. Be sure that you get enough vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium in particular. Also, try herbs such as fenugreek and ashwagandha, which may act as natural testosterone boosters.

Vitamin D3

Studies associate vitamin D deficiency with low-T and suggest that supplementation can support normal testosterone levels.[13]

The exact relationship of vitamin D levels and testosterone is complex as vitamin D is believed to be involved with the synthesis of the testosterone hormone, not the direct production. Other ways to raise vitamin D levels include getting enough sunshine and eating foods rich in vitamin D.

Zinc

An essential dietary mineral, zinc also affects testosterone levels. Zinc deficiency can lead to low-T and zinc supplementation can support normal levels of the hormone. In one study, a supplement of 30 mg of zinc per day helped raise testosterone in zinc-deficient men.[14]

Magnesium

It turns out that low magnesium levels also correlate with low-T in men. As a result, taking magnesium appears to boost testosterone.[15]

Both athletes and sedentary men who supplemented with 10 mg of magnesium per kilogram of body weight (e.g., 680 mg daily for a man weighing 68 kg, or 150 pounds) increased their testosterone levels — although the effect was greater for the men who also exercised.[16]

Be sure to eat plenty of avocados, bananas, spinach, legumes, nuts, and seeds — all good sources of dietary magnesium.

Fenugreek

A medicinal herb in traditional Asian medicine, fenugreek may help to boost testosterone levels. In one study, a daily supplement of 500 mg of fenugreek boosted testosterone in men who also engaged in resistance training.[17] Another study found that men who took 600 mg of fenugreek daily reported a boost in libido and sexual function.[18] You can find fenugreek in the spice aisle, or take it as a supplement.

Ashwagandha

Healthcare providers who are trained in the traditional Indian medicine known as Ayurveda may recommend the herb ashwagandha for male sexual dysfunction and infertility.

In one review of the science, men using ashwagandha root extract had a 17 percent increase in testosterone levels after 90 days, compared with the placebo group.[19]

Tribulus

Another herb that's popular in traditional Asian medicine, Tribulus terrestris enjoys a reputation as a natural aphrodisiac that can support healthy sex drive and optimal testosterone levels.

Tribulus supplementation showed a 16 percent increase in testosterone levels. One study found an improvement in sexual health symptoms after 60 days of taking tribulus, including a jump in testosterone levels.[20]

DHEA

A hormone produced in the adrenal glands, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is also available as a supplement made from wild yam. DHEA plays a role in the formation of both testosterone and estrogen, functioning as a precursor to both hormones in the body.

Some men take DHEA to boost T levels and improve sexual function and athletic performance.[21, 22]

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids may support healthy blood levels of testosterone. Omega-3s also led to higher serum testosterone.[23]

The researchers found that EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) — an omega-3 fatty acid — played an important role in testosterone metabolism. The healthiest option is a plant-based omega-3 supplement made from microalgae oil.

D-Aspartic Acid

A natural amino acid that is available in supplement form, D-aspartic acid plays a role in the production and release of testosterone in the body.

In one small study, men given a daily dose of D-aspartic acid for 12 days had increased testosterone production.[24]

Reduce Your Stress Levels

Stress has harmful effects on every aspect of your health, including reproductive health. Released during stress, the “stress hormone” cortisol can impede testosterone, blocking its effect in the body.[25]

Even in women, stress can effectively lower testosterone levels, as evidenced in a study of female students anticipating an important exam.[26]

Try reducing stress by incorporating meditation, deep breathing exercises, taking relaxing walks, listening to music, and even dancing. For more ideas, check out our article on how to manage your stress.

Cut Out Alcohol

Several studies link higher alcohol consumption with lower testosterone levels.[27] Even moderate alcohol, consumed regularly, can impact your production of the hormone.

Beer contains hops, a phytoestrogen (a plant form of estrogen). It’s also packaged in aluminum cans with plastic liners, both of which can affect hormone levels.[28] In one study, blood testosterone decreased by 6.8 percent in men who drank beer with dinner during two successive periods of three weeks.[29] If you’re concerned about low-T it may be time to give up beer, and other alcohol as well.

Avoid Endocrine-Disrupting Hormones

It's no secret that human-created chemicals permeate the world, from the BPA in canned food to pesticide residue on your produce. Some of these chemicals are xenoestrogens — compounds that mimic estrogen — which can impede the production of testosterone in the body.

One study linked prenatal and childhood exposure to BPA and phthalates with lower testosterone levels in adolescence.[30] To avoid these chemicals, eat organic and read the labels on your household and cosmetic products.

Signs & Causes of Low Testosterone

When testosterone drops below the normal range, you may notice changes including:

  • Low sex drive
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Low energy
  • Increased body fat
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Reduced bone mass
  • Mood changes such as depression or irritability
  • Reduced body or facial hair

In addition to normal aging, causes of low testosterone can range from hormonal disorders and infection to chronic illness and obesity. Injury to the testicles, as well as testicular cancer, can also impact testosterone levels. In some instances, the reason for low-T is a mystery.

Normal Testosterone Levels

Although opinions differ about what constitutes low testosterone, the diagnosis usually accompanies a blood testosterone level of less than 300 ng/dL in men.

Those aiming to restore optimal testosterone levels should aim to bring the hormone to the range of 425 to 1,000 ng/dL.[31] Women usually have a range much lower, averaging 21 ng/dl.[32]

Points to Remember

Testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, plays a variety of roles in human health. Not only does it support libido and sexual health including playing a role in the production of sperm, but testosterone also helps build muscle and bone mass and helps your body produce red blood cells.

Testosterone levels naturally decline with age and can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, low motivation, lower sex drive, erectile dysfunction, increased body fat, and reduced muscle and bone mass.

As an alternative to traditional testosterone therapies like patches, gels, and injections, many natural remedies can also help bring this hormone back in balance in men.

Natural ways to boost testosterone include getting regular exercise and quality sleep, losing weight, avoiding alcohol, reducing stress, and preventing deficiencies of vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium. Aim to keep testosterone in the normal range, over 425 ng/dL, to avoid the symptoms of low-T.

What have you tried to increase your testosterone? Share your comments below!

The post How to Increase Testosterone: Natural Hacks That Work appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

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If you're looking for a supplement that can help you feel energized, promotes healthy aging, and keeps you feeling your best, look no further than CoQ10. Supplemental CoQ10 benefits include increased energy levels, healthy and youthful-appearing skin, mental sharpness, and immune system support.[1]

Naturally produced by the body, CoQ10 has many roles, including helping convert the food you eat into energy that fuels your brain and body.[1] Because levels decline as you age, some people like to boost their body's production by taking a CoQ10 supplement. Its antioxidant properties can help protect your body from harmful free radicals.[1]

That's not all. Read on to learn more about this important compound that can support your overall health and well-being.

What Is CoQ10?

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) helps the mitochondria — the cell's powerhouses — produce energy.

Did you know CoQ10 is found in every cell throughout the body?

Your mitochondria produce something called ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which stores and transfers energy to every living cell in your body.[2]

CoQ10 plays a role in producing ATP in the body, so in a sense, it's like a cup of coffee for your cells! Maintaining sufficient levels of CoQ10 boosts cellular energy production and keeps your body systems and organs function as they should.[1]

CoQ10 also acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting your cells and tissues from harmful free radicals.[1]

You'll find CoQ10 in every cell throughout your body; however, it concentrates in the organs that require the most energy, including your heart, kidneys, and liver.[1] Your brain also uses a lot of CoQ10! However, its production declines with age.

Top 12 CoQ10 Benefits

Though technically not actually a vitamin, some people refer to CoQ10 as "vitamin Q," since it has vitamin-like qualities. Let's explore some of the health benefits this impressive antioxidant offers.[3]

1. Supports Heart Health

Heart troubles can have a big impact on your quality of life. Thankfully, long-term studies suggest that CoQ10 is beneficial for heart health.

Wow! CoQ10 has been proven to reduce heart-related issues! Pretty impressive.

In Sweden, researchers studied 400 healthy individuals over the age of 70. Half of the group were given CoQ10 and selenium (another antioxidant), and the others were given a placebo pill for four years.

At the end of the study, the CoQ10 group had fewer serious heart problems, and healthier hearts compared to the placebo group.[4]

The even better news? In a follow-up study 12 years later, those same people who took CoQ10 for the initial 4-year period still fared better with cardiac health than the placebo group.[5] CoQ10 also promotes normal blood pressure.[6]

2. Boosts Energy Levels

Feeling less energetic and chalking it up to being "older?" You may have a CoQ10 deficiency. Declining CoQ10 can affect how you feel, including zapping your energy levels.

Maybe it's time to use CoQ10 as your afternoon pick-me-up!

When you take extra CoQ10, you spark the production of your body's cellular fuel (ATP), which recharges your system. Fueling your cells may boost your energy levels. This helps you get through the day with less fatigue.[1]

So far, scientists have found that CoQ10 improves endurance in individuals living with cardiac health problems, particularly during exercise.[7]

More research is needed on how CoQ10 affects already healthy individuals' energy levels.

3. Promotes Healthy Aging

As you age, your body requires extra care. The best way to care for your body is through a diet rich in plant-based foods, regular exercise, and healthy stress-management techniques. But, sometimes our bodies need a little extra support.

Older adults are more vulnerable to harm caused by oxidative stress — an imbalance between free radicals (cell-damaging molecules) and your body's innate ability to prevent the harm they cause. Thanks to its antioxidant qualities, CoQ10 helps protect the body from these harmful free radicals.[8]

Did you know that CoQ10 may help improve your quality of life?

In a clinical trial, older adults took both selenium and CoQ10 for four years. Individuals who consumed the CoQ10-selenium supplement had fewer health issues requiring hospital visits. Participants reported improvements in physical performance, vitality, and even quality of life.[9]

4. Encourages Mental Sharpness

You've likely heard that doing a daily crossword puzzle can help keep you mentally sharp well into your golden years. CoQ10 may have a similar effect.

In animal studies, CoQ10 supplementation improved cognitive performance and memory, particularly when combined with vitamin E.[10]

It isn't just aging that causes oxidative stress — exposure to toxins in our environment can cause it too. This oxidative stress leads to neuron (brain cell) damage.

Researchers have discovered that laboratory cells pretreated with CoQ10 have the potential to protect themselves better against neuron and oxidative damage.[11] This is promising news indeed!

CoQ10's antioxidant nature allows it to bolster the body's defense against oxidative stress in your brain cells, keeping your brain sharp.

5. Upholds Healthy Joints & Muscles

You use your joints and muscles for movement and everyday physical activities. Over time, these body parts encounter wear and tear. As a result, you may occasionally experience muscle weakness and sore joints.

Researchers have explored how CoQ10 can reduce the effects of strain and discomfort in joints and muscles caused by injury or fatigue.

It turns out that CoQ10 might have a therapeutic effect on joints by minimizing cartilage degradation, easing joint discomfort, and promoting overall joint health and wellness.[12]

Research also shows that CoQ10 supplementation helps increase the concentration of this important compound in muscles, helping improve exercise performance.[13]

6. May Ease Occasional Headaches

Headaches are a common problem in all age groups.

In older adults, the prevalence of headache ranges anywhere from 12 to 50 percent. Frequent headaches occur in up to 17 percent of people aged 65 and older.[14]

It may be time to add CoQ10 to your natural medicine cabinet for occasional headache relief!

Some promising new research found that CoQ10 may offer relief by promoting normal levels of inflammatory cytokines — chemicals in the body that affect head discomfort.[15]

As a result, those people taking CoQ10 had fewer headaches; among those who did experience head discomfort, it was less severe and did not last as long.[15]

In a clinical trial that gave Gulf War veterans CoQ10 supplements, researchers found that 80 percent of those receiving CoQ10 supplementation reported fewer headaches, demonstrated improved recall, and had less fatigue with exertion.[16] They also reported feeling less irritable and experienced less muscle discomfort.

7. Keeps Skin More Youthful

We all know and expect wrinkles with age — laugh lines are a sign of a well-lived life. But that doesn't mean we don't want to keep our skin looking as youthful as possible.

Skin becomes more vulnerable to damage as you age, due in part to the lower levels of CoQ10 in the body.

The solution? Take CoQ10 to make up for deficiencies — and keep your skin healthy and youthful.

Reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines by taking CoQ10 supplements!

In a clinical study, researchers found that individuals who took a CoQ10 supplement for 12 weeks had "significantly reduced wrinkles and microrelief lines, and improved skin smoothness."[17]

As a result, you'll find CoQ10 listed as an active ingredient in many skin-care products, such as creams and toners.

8. Supports Oral Health

Sore, bleeding, and receding gums can cause discomfort and may even interfere with enjoying life to its fullest. They also occur more with age.[18]

It turns out that CoQ10 can help reduce chronic redness and swelling in the mouth, supporting oral health.

With its ability to help cells produce energy, CoQ10 boosts tissue repair within the gums to keep your mouth healthy.[19]

If dry mouth is a concern, CoQ10 can help with that, too! Dry mouth is often experienced by older adults, as saliva production tends to slow down with age.[20] A clinical trial showed improvement in dry mouth in individuals who received a CoQ10 supplement.[20]

9. Boosts the Immune System

Your immune system keeps you healthy, and it's important to do what you can to help keep it strong.

Your first line of defense is to live a healthy lifestyle — eat whole, plant-based foods, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. Still, there are times when your immune system may need some extra support.

CoQ10 helps your body produce the energy needed to keep your immune system working as it should, helping you stay healthy.[1]

Certain medical treatments and medications can weaken your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to illness. While some pharmaceuticals and medical treatments can deplete your body of CoQ10, a good supplement can help build it back up and strengthen your immune system.[21]

10. May Improve Your Workouts
Great news! You may feel less tired after workouts with a good CoQ10 supplement.

Are you looking to get the most out of your time in the gym? CoQ10 may help. Or at the very least, help you feel less fatigued afterward.

A study with a small group of people found that those taking CoQ10 for just a week were able to pedal faster while riding a bike and felt less tired after the workout.[22]

CoQ10's effectiveness in this area needs further research. Some studies found that CoQ10 did not affect fatigue or performance during exercise, but this study was on triathletes.[23]

Endurance athletes or those doing high-intensity training may need higher amounts of CoQ10 in order to fully feel the boost in energy and less post-workout fatigue.

11. Supports Healthy Vision
Wow! Did you know that CoQ10 levels in your retina decline by 40% as you age?

If you'd like to avoid picking up a magnifying glass to read the newspaper in the future, consider supplementing with CoQ10 to support your eye health throughout life.

Researchers discovered that CoQ10 protects your eye's retinal cells against oxidative stress — which can otherwise restrict blood supply to your retina and cause damage.[24]

Your retina is a thin layer of tissue on the back of your eye that converts light into an electric signal relayed to your brain through the optic nerve. Your brain then translates the electrical signals into the images you see.

CoQ10 levels in an eye's retina decline by 40 percent with age, which may contribute to vision troubles. Your eye health may benefit from CoQ10 supplementation even before any eye issues begin.[25]

12. Lung Support

Studies have found that people with lung issues and breathing concerns tend to have low levels of CoQ10 in their bodies.[26]

Some studies showed that CoQ10 can boost lung functioning in multiple ways, including reducing the need for unnatural intervention.[27]

CoQ10 supplements improved performance and tissue oxygenation in individuals with lung issues during exercise and at rest.[27]

Do You Have a CoQ10 Deficiency?

Most of us are aware that we need vitamins to avoid deficiencies in our bodies. Did you realize you may also become deficient in CoQ10?

Some of the signs and symptoms that you may have a CoQ10 deficiency include:[28]

  • Bouts of fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Aching or stiff muscles
  • Blood sugar imbalance
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Edema (swelling)

Talk to your healthcare provider if you're worried that you may have a deficiency; they may do a blood test to determine your CoQ10 levels.

Eating a diet rich in CoQ10 and taking a supplement are two options to increase levels in your body.

Foods Containing CoQ10

While you can ensure you are getting proper amounts by taking it as a supplement, dietary sources rich in CoQ10 include:[28]

  • Vegetables: spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fruits: strawberries and oranges
  • Nuts and seeds: hazelnut, pistachio, sesame seeds
  • Lentils

The best way to ensure you get the maximum benefits of CoQ10 through food sources is to consume these foods raw.

Which Is Better: CoQ10-Rich Foods or a Supplement?

Although an organic, plant-based diet involving CoQ10-rich foods is good for your health, taking a CoQ10 supplement is the best way to ensure you consistently get enough in your body, especially as your body's natural production slows down with age.

Environmental toxins in the body coupled with age or illness may mean you need higher levels of CoQ10 than food alone can provide.[29]

Over-the-counter supplements come in two versions — CoQ10, which is also called ubiquinone (an oxidized form) and ubiquinol, its reduced (not oxidized) form. When you take ubiquinone, your body will convert it to ubiquinol in your body.

Your body converts ubiquinone and ubiquinol back and forth in the body, though the ability to do so may slow with age.

Spending time in the sunlight and eating plants containing high levels of chlorophyll both help the body convert CoQ10 between ubiquinone and ubiquinol, depending on its needs.

CoQ10 itself is a safe and effective supplement. Both ubiquinone and ubiquinol are fat-soluble and should be taken with a fat-containing meal for best absorption.

I recommend Global Healing Center’s CoQ10 & BioPQQ® with Shilajit — an exclusive blend of three ingredients that combines the most well-researched CoQ10 supplement on the market with BioPQQ, a compound that acts like a cup of coffee for your cell’s mitochondria, plus shilajit — a mineral-rich Himalayan substance that boosts the bioavailability of the other two ingredients. Altogether, this trifecta provides an energy boost at the cellular level.

You may want to consider taking vitamin B-6 along with your CoQ10; research shows the body requires an adequate level of vitamin B-6 in order to synthesize CoQ10.[30]

CoQ10 Side Effects & Precautions

The benefits of CoQ10 supplementation are plenty. Side effects, although rare, may occur with larger servings of CoQ10, or those just starting the supplement.[28]

These side effects include:

  • Mild stomach upset
  • Lowered blood sugar
  • Nausea
  • Potential issues with blood clotting in patients who use certain medications
  • Restless sleep when taken in large portions
  • Diarrhea

Dividing daily servings into two or three smaller portions may help reduce side effects. Be sure to follow the instructions included with your supplement, and don't take too much.

If you are on any prescription medications for blood pressure, talk to your healthcare provider before taking CoQ10, as it may interact with some blood pressure medications.

The safety of CoQ10 in pregnancy has not been thoroughly tested, so it is best not to take supplemental CoQ10 during pregnancy.

Points to Remember

As we learn more about CoQ10, more people are choosing to use it as a daily nutritional supplement for its multiple health benefits. Research from the thousands of studies conducted on the compound have shown that CoQ10 can:

With CoQ10's few side effects and many benefits, this supplement is great for improving overall health and wellness.

Whether you want to stay mentally sharp as an older adult, increase your fertility, support your heart health, or boost your energy levels, CoQ10 is a supplement worth considering.

Do you take a CoQ10 supplement? Tell us how CoQ10 has helped you, or someone you know in the comments below!

The post CoQ10 Benefits: A Powerful Energizing Antioxidant for Health & Vitality appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

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When something is wrong is your vagina, it's usually easy to tell — it's uncomfortable! You might assume that an infection is the culprit, but that's not always true: your vaginal pH is important, too.

You might remember pH from chemistry class — it's a measurement of how acidic or basic a substance is. Typically, changes in estrogen levels, infections, and changes in your vaginal microbiome lead to an unbalanced vaginal pH.[1]

We know there's a lot to know when it comes to your sexual health, so we've gathered some important information on factors that can change your vaginal pH balance, as well as strategies to help rebalance your internal environment when needed — plus what not to do.

Normal Vaginal pH Levels

The body has a remarkable ability to maintain itself in the correct pH range, and that includes your vagina. The typical pH level in your vagina is between 3.6 to 4.5, which is a slightly acidic environment.[1, 2]

Although your vaginal pH changes throughout the month ever so slightly (becoming lowest during high-estrogen periods of your monthly cycle), there are two periods of peak estrogen — during ovulation, and again at the end of menstruation. A woman's vaginal pH also changes during breastfeeding and post-menopause.[3]

Signs & Symptoms of Vaginal pH Imbalance

Microorganisms in the vagina, such as beneficial bacteria and particularly the Lactobacillus species, help to keep the pH balanced.[1, 4]

If your vaginal chemistry becomes unbalanced, the cause is usually an invading organism (bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other pathogens), an unbalanced vaginal microbiome, pregnancy, or using feminine hygiene products, such as douches. A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can also cause a proliferation of yeast, which can change the pH.

How do you know if your pH is off? Vaginal symptoms of a pH imbalance include:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Burning, including during sex or urination
  • Unusual vaginal discharge (watery, foamy, or chunky)
  • Unpleasant vaginal odor (fishy)

There are vaginal pH tests that you can buy at your local pharmacy to check your pH in only a few seconds using a special strip. Alternatively, your healthcare provider can test your pH in their office.

How to Balance Vaginal pH

Generally, prevention is the best medicine when it comes to your vaginal health. The following natural remedies can help restore vaginal pH and the vagina’s ecosystem.

Probiotic Supplements

Many people think of probiotics as gut supplements, but they also play an important role in your vaginal health.[5, 6] As beneficial microbe species, probiotics boost the number naturally present in the vagina, and help protect your body against harmful organisms.[6]

More than 50 species of beneficial microbes live in the vagina, most commonly Lactobacilli.[6]

Lactobacilli species keep the vaginal pH around 4.5 by releasing lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, which some experts believe protects against harmful organisms.[5, 6, 7, 8]

Several studies have shown that Lactobacillus species deter organisms, including those that cause bacterial vaginosis, (BV) a condition involving bacterial overgrowth that may throw off your pH balance.[7, 8]

Orally consumed probiotics migrate to the vagina after being excreted through the rectum, so you do not need to use vaginal suppositories.[7] If you're not sure which supplement to pick, check out our article on how to choose the best probiotic.

Yogurt & Probiotic Foods

Cultured yogurt contains beneficial bacteria that are similar to those found in probiotic supplements, but be sure to choose either raw or organic varieties. Raw and organic non-dairy kefir is another excellent probiotic food.

Did you know that yogurt is effective at preventing UTIs?

When 120 children were given Lactobacillus acidophilus, the most common species found in yogurt, it was as effective as a commonly prescribed medication at preventing recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs).

This suggests probiotics may have a prophylactic effect — deterring harmful organisms and keeping your vaginal ecosystem healthy.[6]

Although research has not looked at whether probiotic foods alter pH imbalances, presumably the research on probiotic supplements — which does show a relationship — extends to foods such as yogurt; however, you may not get high enough levels from food alone.

If you do try yogurt, choose a natural plant-based, cultured variety, such as one made from coconut or almond milk — and avoid sugar-sweetened ones. You can even make your own probiotic yogurt!

Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Organic raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) has antibacterial properties, which allows it to deter bad microbes that can interfere with normal vaginal pH.[9] ACV also contains probiotics that promote the growth of healthy microbes.[10]

Check this! Apple cider vinegar is perfect for warding off infectious microbes.

Lab research shows that ACV is effective against several infectious microbes.[9, 10] While it can deter Candida, a major culprit behind fungal infections that upset the vaginal pH, ACV was actually found to be more effective against other harmful organisms such as E. coli.[9, 10]

One home remedy for vaginal infections involves using a tampon soaked in vinegar or douching with vinegar to lower vaginal pH. While using a vinegar-soaked tampon may help and should not cause harm, avoid douching as it upsets the vaginal ecosystem.[3] You can also add a few tablespoons of ACV to a warm bath.

While these ideas can temporarily help with pH, keep in mind that your vagina will naturally restore itself once you find and address the cause of any imbalance.

Eliminate Feminine Hygiene Cleaning Products

Be wary of feminine hygiene products that are scented or claim to clean your pelvic area.

It is very important that you don't douche or otherwise "deep clean" the vagina, whether with baking soda or vinegar or anything else. Douching actually removes good bacteria that maintain balance.[3] Douching, wipes, and sprays not only introduce chemicals down there, but they can also interfere with your natural vaginal pH and health.[3]

Your body cleans itself naturally when you maintain good health, and the vagina is no exception.[3]

As evidence that the vagina has its own self-balancing mechanisms, consider this study: when researchers tested a gel that claimed to balance pH, they found that it did not change vaginal acidity.[2]

Use 100% Organic Cotton Menstrual Products

Tampons are reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ensure that they don't promote the growth of harmful bacteria and are generally safe to use.[11]

Synthetic tampons can throw off the balance of good and bad bacteria!

While the vaginal ecosystem is very resilient, synthetic-fiber tampons can cause problems.

More absorbent than cotton, synthetic fibers can concentrate toxins more and throw off the balance of good and bad bacteria, which could contribute to imbalanced pH.[2]

We recommend that you use 100 percent cotton tampons and pads for the best vaginal and overall health.

Consume Less Sugar & Starch, Eat a Plant-Based Diet

Sugar and simple starches promote an overgrowth of yeast (such as Candida albicans) and can contribute to infections. Furthermore, a diet rich in sugars and starches can lead to more sugar molecules in the vagina, prompting harmful organisms — especially yeast — to grow.[1]

Wow! Did you know that simple starches and sugar create an overgrowth of yeast?

Researchers think this is one of the reasons for high rates of yeast infections in people with poorly controlled diabetes.[12] You should eat a plant-based diet to promote overall health. Limit how much starch you consume at each meal by dividing it into several meals. This helps to control sharp elevations in blood sugar. And make sure you consume enough fluids throughout the day!

Use Natural Lubricants

Some lubricants contain oil-based compounds that may damage vaginal cells when used in the vaginal canal (not when taken orally). Vaginal glycerol use allows bad bacteria, viruses, and yeast to enter the body — increasing the rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and infections.[3]

Instead, choose a water-based lubricant that does not alter your vaginal pH or find ways to increase your body's natural lubricants.

Causes of Vaginal pH Imbalance

To effectively manage imbalanced pH, it is important to know the cause of the problem.

Douching

Douching removes good bacteria and is not recommended by doctors[13] — or us. It disrupts the pH balance in the vaginal canal.[3, 13]

Although it may seem like you are cleaning out the problem, douching can actually make things worse.[13]

Avoid using beauty products — including soap, wipes, and sprays — or anything other than warm water to clean your vagina. Even mild soap can affect the vaginal microbiome, cause infection, and irritate the vagina.[13]

Menstruation

Research shows that vaginal pH rises when estrogen peaks during a woman's menstrual cycle, which means it's higher during ovulation as well as during and just after menstruation.[2]

Take note: Your vaginal pH will increase during your menstrual cycle.

Blood has a neutral pH (around 7), which is above that of the vagina. During menstruation, blood and cervical mucus entering the vagina temporarily increase the pH above 4.5.

After your menstrual period ends, the vagina will usually return to its baseline condition.

Bacterial Vaginosis & Other Vaginal Infections

Bacterial vaginosis, the most common vaginal infection, is caused in part by a change that makes the vaginal environment less acidic than it should be.[7, 13] Harmful bacteria take over and prevent beneficial microbes from making enough lactic acid.

Some researchers are investigating how altering the vaginal pH may work as a natural remedy for vaginosis, with mixed results.[14]

Lactobacilli, the main good bacteria, help keep the vagina acidic and when bad bacteria invade, the pH is too low for their liking. Treating a bacterial vaginosis infection can rebalance the mix of microorganisms in the vagina, thus restoring an optimal pH. When treating vaginosis, be wary of antibiotics, which can kill off good and bad bacteria, often leading to vaginal yeast infections.

Sexual Intercourse

Semen has a basic pH (much higher than the normal pH of the vagina), so exposure to sperm during sex can temporarily throw off your vaginal pH balance.

Although the vagina has correction mechanisms, you can prevent this exposure by using a condom.

Condoms also reduce the risk of infections, such as Trichomonas vaginalis (an STD caused by a parasite), gonorrhea, herpes, and bacterial vaginosis.[13, 15] Many condoms contain chemicals that can irritate the vagina. There are vegan, organic varieties that are ethically made and chemical-free!

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

In some cases, hormonal and lifestyle changes from pregnancy and breastfeeding may increase your risk of vaginal infections. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that there are one million cases of bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women each year.[13]

Pregnancy tends to decrease vaginal pH, which means it becomes more acidic.[16] It also stabilizes the vaginal microbiome, with more Lactobacillus species.[16]

During breastfeeding, estrogen levels decline which can raise your vaginal pH to levels that can make it easier to get infections. During this time, make sure to eat well, get enough sleep, and avoid excessive sugars, all of which can negatively affect your immune system, and possibly your vaginal pH.

Monitoring your pH during pregnancy, breastfedding, or other unique times in your life can help you avoid infections.[16]

Did you know that 1 million pregnant women are diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis every year?

Menopause

Estrogen and the vaginal microbiome work together to maintain a pH of less than 4.5.

During menopause, the point at which a woman has not experienced a period for 12 months, estrogen levels decrease. This causes the pH to rise, somewhere between 4.6 and 5.3.[3]

While these changes are normal, if you experience an increase in yeast infections or vaginosis, try natural remedies to help balance your estrogen levels or see your healthcare provider.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you experience persistent itching, burning, or unusual discharge, you might have an imbalanced vaginal pH.

If you have these symptoms for the first time, it is best to see your holistic gynecologist, doctor, or other trusted healthcare provider for further evaluation.

Even if you are familiar with the symptoms, make sure to see a medical professional if you start to feel worse or you don't feel better after a few days.

Points to Remember

A healthy vaginal pH is between 3.6 and 4.5, which is acidic. If the pH is too acidic or too basic, you may experience changes in vaginal fluid texture and color or a foul smell.

A number of factors can disrupt a healthy pH in the reproductive system, such as hormonal changes, pregnancy, breastfeeding, infections, and douching. In fact, pH and infections are closely linked, where pH imbalances can cause infections and vice versa — it's a chicken and egg situation.

On the other hand, several remedies and lifestyle changes can reduce imbalanced acidity and restore vaginal health. Avoid feminine hygiene cleaners and douches, and choose organic cotton pads and tampons, as well as water-based natural lubricants.

Since your vaginal pH is closely connected with a healthy vaginal microbiome, consider taking a probiotic supplement. I recommend Global Healing Center's Floratrex™, a superior 23-strain blend that includes multiple Lactobacillus species. Our blend also includes prebiotics — food for the probiotics.

Have you tried any remedies that helped vaginal pH imbalance? We'd love to hear what worked for you. Comment below!

The post Vaginal pH Balance: Natural Ways to Stay Balanced & Healthy appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

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In an ideal world, you would get all the vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients from a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet. If you're like many women, life stays full of activities and you may not always have time to eat the most well-rounded meals.

If you struggle to get the right nutrition and worry about what nutrients you need most as a woman, read on. The best vitamins will address your distinct dietary needs based on your age and stage of life.

The vitamins you need most in younger years — 20s through 40s — differ from those you need as you reach your 50s and beyond. Some vitamins and minerals are required throughout life, however.

Pregnancy, postpartum, and post-menopause represent special times in a woman's life when your vitamin needs are more specific. Taking the right vitamins and minerals can keep you at the top of your game.

Why Do We Need Vitamins?

Your body performs innumerable tasks every day to keep you alive and healthy. It's constantly busy maintaining bone strength, ensuring that your immune system is functioning well, and repairing cellular damage. To complete all this work your body needs a daily supply of essential vitamins and minerals.

Your body can produce some vitamins and minerals, but you need to get the majority from your diet — which can include supplemental intake.[1]

We have broken the essentials down into those most required at different ages and stages of a woman's life.

Common Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms

If your body is deficient in any essential vitamin or mineral, it will let you know by displaying a set of common symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Lethargy
  • Sleep problems
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Digestive system problems
  • Decreased immune function
  • Cracked or broken skin
  • Weak muscles

To avoid these symptoms and promote overall health, it is vital that you ensure your body receives all the vitamins and minerals it needs to work properly.

Best Vitamins for Women Based on Your Needs

Women experience unique physiological changes throughout life. Many of these changes bring special nutritional needs. If you are looking for a multivitamin for women, you'll want one that is specially formulated and contains the most important vitamins and minerals for your stage of life.

Make sure your multivitamin or supplement contains exactly what you need as a woman. We need more specific vitamins than men!

Generally speaking, women often need more of certain vitamins than men, including folic acid, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, calcium, and iron.[2]

During Your 20s, 30s, & 40s

In this stage of your life, your body goes through many changes, going from a young adult to a fully mature woman.

During the so-called childbearing years, you will have monthly hormonal fluctuations caused by your menstrual cycle that can affect every part of your body. These changes can even cause greater demand for certain vitamins and minerals.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding often lead to big changes in your body that may require additional vitamins, which we outline below. Next, are the top minerals and vitamins every woman in their 20s through 40s should get enough of.

Iron
Did you know that your period or pregnancy can cause low iron levels?

As a woman, you may experience low iron levels due to blood loss during your monthly cycle. Iron helps the body to transport blood to all the cells and organs. Anemia, a type of iron deficiency, can make women feel extreme fatigue, experience headaches, and have cold hands and feet.[3] It can even lead to brittle nails.[3] Anemia is more common in pregnancy, as the baby uses up more of your blood supply.

If you are vegan or vegetarian, ensure you get enough iron by eating iron-rich foods, including kidney beans, cashews, spinach, and other green leafy vegetables. Alternatively, you can supplement with a multivitamin or iron tablet. Ensure you get a minimum of 18 mg of iron per day to avoid symptoms of anemia.[4]

Folate

Folate — also known as vitamin B-9 — is the form found in nature and the foods that come from nature, while folic acid is the synthetic form. Women need 400 to 800 mcg of folate daily to help the body make both white and red blood cells.[5]

Reminder! You need 400 – 800 mcg of folate so your body can produce white and red blood cells.

If you have pale skin, palpitations, extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, or weight loss, you may be experiencing a deficiency of folate.

Folate or folic acid should be taken by expectant mothers and those wishing to become pregnant in the future, as a deficiency can cause complications to the developing baby.

Iodine

The body uses iodine to support the health of the thyroid gland, which influences your overall body metabolism. Iodine is needed for a growing fetus to develop properly and may have an important and beneficial effect on breast health in women. It also supports immune function and normal lactation.[6]

Important news: An iodine deficiency is the number one reason for neurodevelopment deficits in children.

Most importantly for women in this age to know: iodine deficiency is the number one easily-preventable source of neurodevelopment (brain) deficits in children, and it's connected to a child's IQ, or intelligence quotient.[6] Pregnant and breastfeeding women have to ensure they get enough iodine to pass it along to the developing child.[6]

Especially if you eat vegetarian or vegan, it can be difficult to get iodine from food alone, since it comes mostly from the sea. Some sources of iodine include seaweed (kelp, nori, sea palm, wakame), strawberries, spinach, or prunes.

Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12, also called cobalamin, has several ultra-important jobs in your body. Not only does it play a role in producing red blood cells and DNA, but your body also uses it for cellular energy production.[7, 8]

Healthy levels of B-12 help ensure you have healthy bones and eyes, and influence your mental health due to the vitamin's importance to the brain and central nervous system.[8]

According to the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute, a lack of vitamin B-12 can lead to pernicious anemia, a rarer type of anemia which affects more women than men.[9]

It isn't available in plant sources, so vegans need to take it as a supplement. As there is no danger of toxicity, a B-12 supplement is a quick and easy way to make sure you have enough.[8]

During Your 50s, 60s, & Up

Women in their 50s and beyond have different nutritional and health needs than younger women.

As you move through the perimenopausal transition to menopause — when you have gone 12 months without a menstrual cycle — you may be at a higher risk for health complications, including cardiovascular complaints and age-related bone density loss.

To counteract natural changes, make sure you get enough of these vitamins and minerals in your diet, or if not, take supplements. They can help keep your health optimal and keep you feeling great long into your golden years.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps you maintain healthy bones, which may otherwise deteriorate as you age — especially after menopause. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. People get 80 percent of their vitamin D requirements from exposure to sunlight; the rest comes from diet.[10]

Did you know we get 80% of our vitamin D from sun exposure?

Women aged 60 and over should take a vitamin D supplement at the recommended dosage of 600 to 800 IU per day.[11]

A lack of vitamin D can compromise your immune health, and lead to the blues, difficulty dealing with daily stress, or bone density loss. Ensuring you have enough can help keep mood and energy levels high. Vitamin D deficiency is very common, affecting up to a billion people worldwide.[12]

This vitamin is another one only found naturally in animal foods, so if you're vegan, a supplement is critical.

Vitamin K

Getting an adequate supply of vitamin K is important for older women because it helps your body produce proteins for healthy bones and tissue.[13] A deficiency can lead to symptoms of osteoporosis, which women are already at a higher risk of developing after menopause.[14]

This just in! Vitamin K helps keep your hip bones healthy and strong!

The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin K for women is 90 mcg daily.[15] However, a report from the Nurses' Health Study suggests that women who get at least 110 micrograms of vitamin K a day are 30 percent less likely to break a hip than women who get less than that.[16] That's pretty impressive!

Food sources rich in vitamin K include dark berries and leafy green vegetables, like collard greens, kale, and spinach.

Choline

Choline is an essential, water-soluble, vitamin-like nutrient that your body uses for several functions, including creating healthy cell membranes, lipid (fat) transport, and cell-to-cell communication. It plays a role in brain and memory development, which can deteriorate as you age.[17] It's found in more than 630 foods including quinoa, lentils, cauliflower, legumes, and almonds. Adult women need 425 mg of choline daily.[18]

Although most people do not get enough choline in their diet, symptoms of deficiency are rare, suggesting that the body is able to make enough.[18]

For Pregnant & Breastfeeding Women

Pregnancy represents a time in a woman's life where her health, nutrition, and wellness directly affect another person's growth and development — her child. Eating a varied diet with foods from each of the key food groups is often enough to meet both mother and baby's requirements, but most healthcare providers recommend a prenatal vitamin.

The best vitamins for pregnant women are included in prenatal multivitamins. These vitamins ensure that you receive enough calcium, folic acid (folate), iron, iodine, and vitamin C.

Iodine

Iodine is essential for the proper brain development of the fetus. When expectant mothers receive adequate iodine, improvements in the child's neurocognitive performance are typically noted at 18 months of age.[19]

Pregnant women or those who wish to become pregnant should take an iodine supplement; your body requires up to 50 percent more iodine during pregnancy.[20] Learn more about the role of iodine during pregnancy here.

Folate

A supplement of folate or folic acid is recommended to all pregnant women or women who may wish to become pregnant in the future. This nutrient is critical to brain development and helps limit birth defects like spina bifida in a developing baby.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all women should take a supplement of folate or folic acid, the synthetic version of folate, daily.[21]

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is important for proper bone, tooth, and tissue development as well as maintaining proper immune function — all of which are essential when pregnant.[22] A deficiency can cause bumpy, rough skin and bruises, and slow down the healing of wounds.

Some of the top foods high in vitamin C are found in citrus fruits and vegetables. One study found that pregnant women taking vitamin C were not admitted to the hospital as often with non-serious complaints.[23]

Best Vitamins for All Stages of Life

To support total health at all stages of your life, it's important to maintain vitamin levels in the body and to address gaps in your nutrition with supplements. There are certain vitamins and minerals that benefit a woman's health throughout her life, like biotin, calcium, vitamin E, and B complex.

Biotin

Biotin is used in many preparations and supplements to support healthy hair and nails. You can find biotin in foods like oats, white mushrooms, spinach, carrots, apples, and tomatoes.

Although deficiencies are rare, symptoms include hair loss, flaky skin, conjunctivitis, lethargy, and depression.[24] According to the Food and Nutrition Board, the suggested dose is 30 mcg per day.[25]

Calcium

Calcium is an essential mineral for strong bones and teeth and particularly important for women's health as they grow older to avoid fractures. Calcium is stored in your bones, which means that if you do not ingest enough daily your body will leech it from the bones.

The recommended amount of calcium for women up to 70 years of age is 600 IU. Women aged 70 and older should take 800 IU daily.[26] You can get calcium from nuts, seeds, legumes, and greens. For more recommendations, check out our article, "11 Foods High in Calcium."

Vitamin E

Vitamin E has antioxidant properties to fight free radicals, and it's often taken to improve the appearance of the skin, hair, and nails. Women need 15 mg of vitamin E daily which can be found in supplements as well as foods like almonds, sunflower seeds, and hazelnuts.[27] For more ideas, read "15 Foods High in Vitamin E."

B-Complex

The B-complex group refers to eight key B vitamins including:

  • B-1 (thiamin)
  • B-2 (riboflavin)
  • B-3 (niacin)
  • B-5
  • B-6
  • B-7 (biotin)
  • B-9 (folic acid)
  • B-12

B vitamins are found in supplements and some natural sources including avocado, broccoli, kale, and fruits. The recommended intake of B complex varies for everyone. Taking a supplement will ensure you get the right dose. B-12, in particular, is particularly important for women.[28]

Points to Remember

A woman's life has a series of biological changes, including menstruation, possible pregnancies, or breastfeeding, and menopause. Each of these times of life has specific health needs. However, in all phases of life, it's important to follow a healthy diet to make sure you are getting a full spectrum of minerals and vitamins. Where your diet falls short of providing all the nutrients you need, supplements can help to fill the gaps.

The most important vitamins for women include:

  • Iron
  • B-complex
  • Folate
  • Iodine
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K
  • Biotin
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin E

What steps do you take to ensure you get the right combination of nutrients? Have you had any challenges? What are you doing to overcome them? Leave a comment below and share your insight with us!

The post Best Vitamins for Women to Support Any Age & Life Stage appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

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I was in an important meeting at work and suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to go to the bathroom — despite using it an hour ago. I rushed out of the room and frantically searched for the closest bathroom. The full and uncomfortable feeling in my bladder couldn't wait for the meeting to end!

Let me tell you — if you have regularly experienced the sudden need to urinate, you're not alone. Frequent urination in women has unique symptoms, so understanding the causes — and solutions — can help.

Causes of frequent urination in women include pregnancy, childbirth, urinary tract infections, an overactive bladder, and bladder stones, among other issues. Understanding the underlying cause of your frequent urination will help you find the right solution, which may include changing your diet, doing pelvic floor exercises, or losing weight.

Common Symptoms of Frequent Urination
Did you know that you should be able to sleep 6-8 hours without having to urinate?

The most common symptoms of frequent urination in women include having to urinate more often than normal and having to go to the bathroom at night.[1] Under normal circumstances, most people should be able to sleep for six to eight hours without having to urinate.[1]

However, if you experience frequent urination, you may have to get up multiple times at night. You may also have a sudden, strong urge to urinate and feel like your bladder is full or uncomfortable.[1] This feeling of urgency can happen at any time during the day or night.[1]

Similarly, when you have excessive urination, you may not be able to hold it in or wait to use the bathroom. Some women may even lose control of their bladder and experience leaks.[1]

Causes of Frequent Urination in Women

Various health conditions and lifestyle habits can cause frequent urination in women. By tracking your symptoms and how often you use the bathroom, you may notice a pattern. You'll also be able to share this information with your healthcare provider if necessary.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

A urinary tract infection or UTI can cause frequent urination. A UTI involves infection in the urinary tract, including the urethra, ureters, bladder, and kidneys.[2]

Bacteria usually cause UTIs, and if you do have a UTI or kidney infection, you should seek the assistance of your healthcare provider. However, some UTI home remedies can help reduce their occurrence or help relieve symptoms.[2]

Some of the most common symptoms of a UTI are frequent or sudden urges to urinate or a burning feeling.[3] If the infection reaches your kidneys, you may have other symptoms like fever, chills, fatigue, nausea, and pain in the abdomen.[4]

Overactive Bladder

An overactive bladder (OAB) is a common health condition that can also cause frequent urination. It happens when your bladder pushes urine out at the wrong time.[5]

Symptoms of an overactive bladder include having to urinate eight times a day or more, having sudden or strong urges to urinate, and leaking urine.[5]

Some people also experience nocturia — the need to wake up and urinate at night. Nerve problems and low estrogen levels from menopause can cause OAB.[5, 6] See your healthcare provider if you think you have OAB.[5]

Pregnancy
Wow! Did you know that during your pregnancy you produce a hormone that causes you to urinate more?

Pregnant women go through many changes, and some of these can increase the frequency with which you have to urinate. During pregnancy, your body makes a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, and it affects blood flow in the pelvic area so you urinate more often.[7]

As the baby grows, it pushes down on your bladder and other parts of the urinary system.[8] This can make the muscles in your pelvic area weaker, so you're more likely to have leaks or urinary problems, especially in the third trimester.[8]

In many cases, these problems go away after you give birth, and Kegel exercises can help your pelvic muscles recover — see below.[8]

Post-Childbirth

After childbirth, you may continue to have a need to use the bathroom frequently, or other urinary conditions.[8] You're more likely to experience these issues if you have a vaginal delivery.[8] Although natural and healthy, this type of delivery may weaken the muscles in your pelvic area and affect the nerves that work to keep urine in the bladder.[8]

It takes about 6 weeks for your pelvic area to heal after childbirth.

Having a difficult labor and delivery can also increase your risk of having urinary incontinence. Usually, these issues go away after about six weeks because your muscles need time to heal.[8] Doing Kegel exercises for your pelvic floor muscles can make a big difference.

Fluid Intake

Your body needs water to sustain itself, but the exact amount can vary depending on your age, weight, or activity level. In general, women need about 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of water per day, though the specific amount varies according to your weight.[9] We recommend drinking at last half your body weight in ounces daily.

However, if you're drinking a particularly high amount of water, it may increase your need to go to the bathroom. If you constantly feel thirsty and also have a frequent need to urinate, these symptoms might indicate diabetes, so talk to your healthcare provider about it.[10]

Bladder Stones

A bladder stone is a buildup of minerals that looks like a small, hard crystal; one of the symptoms is the frequent urge to urinate.[11]

Bladder stones may start as kidney stones, which then enlarge in the bladder. Only about five percent of all cases occur in women; they are more common in men.[12]

Other symptoms of bladder stones include interrupted urine streams, blood in the urine, dark urine color, and problems urinating.[11] You'll want to drink six to eight glasses of water per day to help the stones pass.[11] If you're prone to bladder or kidney stones, cleansing the kidneys might help to improve your overall urinary tract health.

Other Causes

There are many reasons for frequent urination in addition to the ones described above. Some other common health conditions and reasons that increase your need to urinate include:

  • Diabetes: You're more likely to have frequent urination if your diabetes is undiagnosed or not managed well.[1]
  • Constipation: A hard, compacted stool puts pressure on your bladder and makes you want to urinate more.[13]
  • Age: As you grow older, it affects the function of your urinary system and can lead to a weaker bladder wall and pelvic muscles.[13]
  • Interstitial cystitis: Known as bladder pain syndrome, this condition can cause frequent and urgent urination.[14]
  • Cystocele: Known as prolapsed or dropped bladder, cystocele can cause frequent and urgent urination.[15]
  • Taking certain drugs: Some drugs, such as ones for high blood pressure, can make you urinate more because they flush fluids.[16] Certain herbs and supplements may also act as diuretics, increasing your urge to urinate.
Home Remedies for Frequent Urination

Lifestyle changes can help with frequent urination. Consider keeping a journal to track what causes you to urinate more often and when it happens. This can help you identify which foods, beverages, or lifestyle factors affect you the most.

Diet Modification

You may need to modify your diet to remove foods and drinks that have a diuretic effect and cause you to pass urine. Avoid the following foods that can irritate the bladder:[17]

  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Chocolate
  • Spicy foods
  • Tomatoes
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine (tea, coffee, energy drinks)
Monitor Your Fluid Intake

Pay attention to your fluid intake throughout the day and night. You may want to keep a diary to track the total amount of fluid you drink. Make sure you include all beverages, like tea, and not just water.

Avoid drinking too much water as you get closer to nighttime, so you can get some rest instead of visiting the bathroom at night.

Kegel Exercises
Pro tip: Aim for 3 sets of Kegel exercises with 10-15 reps per day to strengthen your pelvic floor.

Kegel exercises are one of the best ways to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which not only improves your pelvic floor strength, but may reduce accidental urine leaks, and get your post-pregnancy strength back in this region.[8]

These type of retraining exercises not only help your bladder, uterus, and bowels — they can boost your sex life.[18]

Women often learn about these during pregnancy. They involve actively engaging the muscles on your pelvic floor, clenching them and holding for up to ten seconds. Some people think of them like pretending you have to urinate and holding it in.[18]

You can do them at home, in the car, and anytime you think about it. Aim for at least three sets per day, with 10 to 15 repetitions each time.

Other Remedies

Researchers have looked at other remedies for frequent urination. For instance, acupuncture shows promise, but more studies are needed.[19] You may want to try the following:

  • Losing weight to reduce the pressure on your bladder.[8]
  • Quitting smoking because it can affect your urinary system and overall health.[8]
  • Training your bladder by going to the bathroom at specific times.[8]
When to See a Healthcare Provider

If the need to frequently urinate lasts for a prolonged period of time or gets worse, you may need to see a healthcare provider. They can examine to check for inflammation or signs of infection, as well as a urine analysis, ultrasound, and other tests.[1]

Depending on the cause of your frequent urination, you may need to seek the assistance of your healthcare provider.[4] Some natural healthcare providers recommend estrogen creams that lower the risk of UTIs in post-menopausal women.[20]

Points to Remember

Frequent urination in women can have many causes, including urinary tract infection, overactive bladder, pregnancy, childbirth, or bladder stones. You may need to modify your diet and remove foods or beverages that irritate your bladder.

Also, pay attention to your fluid intake and make sure you're not drinking too much water. Consider trying Kegel exercises to strengthen your bladder. If symptoms get worse or don't go away, make sure you talk to a healthcare provider about urinating more often than normal.

Have you found a helpful solution to frequent urination? Leave a comment below!

The post What Causes Frequent Urination in Women & How to Manage It appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

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At certain times in a woman's life, hormonal fluctuation is expected — during puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause, for example.

Other times, a hormonal imbalance may occur because of a stressful time in your life, lack of sleep, or even certain health conditions.

If you want to know whether you may have a hormonal imbalance, what are its symptoms, and what you can do about it, read on.

What Is a Hormone Imbalance?

Hormones are chemical compounds in your body that act as chemical messengers. Produced by endocrine glands such as the pituitary, thyroid, and ovaries, hormones regulate various bodily functions, from menstruation and ovulation to mood and even digestion and hunger.

Hormones are released into your bloodstream, with each targeting different parts of the body.[1] An abnormal amount of any hormone — whether too much or too little — causes a hormonal imbalance. Even a small shift in hormone levels can cause big changes within the body!

Top Hormonal Imbalance Symptoms

Some of the more common symptoms women with a hormonal imbalance may experience include the following.

  • Irregular periods
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Acne
  • Fatigue
  • Change in libido (sex drive)
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Depression
  • Mood swings, irritability, or anxiety
  • Thinning hair or hair loss
  • Night sweating
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Foggy brain
  • Painful periods and heavy bleeding
  • Infertility
  • Heart palpitations
  • Constipation and diarrhea
  • Sensitivity to cold environments
  • Headaches
  • Skin tags
What Causes Female Hormone Imbalance?

There are many different reasons why women may experience a hormonal imbalance. Common causes of female hormonal imbalance include:

Menopause

Menopause marks the time of your life when your period stops permanently. Though a normal part of aging, it has a tremendous impact on hormone production in the body.

The average age at which women experience menopause is 52 years old.[2] First, however, women go through a menopausal transition period, or perimenopause, as their bodies adjust to hormonal changes.

In perimenopause, your ovaries produce less estrogen than usual and progesterone levels also fluctuate.[2] Some symptoms of low estrogen, as well as progesterone levels shifting include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Low libido
  • Weight gain
Birth Control

Estrogen and progesterone levels in your body fluctuate at different times in your menstrual cycle. Birth control disrupts your body's natural hormonal production. Though birth control options work in different ways in the body depending on the type you use, most of them suppress ovulation in order to prevent pregnancy from occurring.[3]

Did you know the CDC found that 64% of women aged 15–49 in the United States are taking some form of birth control?

Because birth control alters the hormones your body naturally produces, some women experience both physical and emotional symptoms.

There are a variety of different forms of hormonal contraception, including birth control pills, skin patches, hormone-releasing contraceptive coils, hormonal injections, and vaginal rings. Most influence a woman's hormone levels to prevent pregnancy.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder. In healthy women, ovaries produce and release an egg each month as part of the menstrual cycle.

A woman with PCOS may experience premature ovarian insufficiency — the egg may or may not develop as it should and ovulation may not occur.

In addition to unpredictable ovulation, women with PCOS may experience irregular menstrual cycles. Other symptoms of PCOS include excess body hair, acne, dry skin, hair loss, insulin resistance, and weight issues.

Though the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, high levels of androgens — male hormones, such as testosterone — may be the cause.[4]

Pregnancy

While the ebb and flow of hormone levels is normal and expected in pregnancy, it may leave you feeling like you're on an emotional roller coaster with your hormones operating the ride. In addition to affecting mood, hormone changes may also cause pregnancy fatigue, tender breasts, nausea (aka morning sickness), and skin changes.

Whoa! Your hormones start fluctuating immediately after conception!

Hormonal changes in pregnancy begin almost immediately after conception. Once an egg gets fertilized by sperm and becomes an embryo, it travels to the uterus where it implants.

At implantation, hormones — such as estrogen, progesterone and the growth hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) — kick in to help the body support and sustain a pregnancy. These hormones all fluctuate throughout pregnancy.[5]

Hypothyroidism

The thyroid gland produces, secretes, and regulates certain hormones. Hypothyroidism — or underactive thyroid — occurs when the thyroid fails to produce enough of these hormones.

Did you know that women are more than 5 times more likely to develop hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disorder caused by hormonal imbalance; women are five to 20 times more likely to develop hypothyroidism, and this rate increases with age.[6] Muscle weakness, fatigue, constipation, and weight gain are common symptoms.

Poor Diet & Nutrition

Eating a diet rich in processed foods, starchy carbohydrates, and sugar may lead to a hormonal imbalance by raising your body's insulin levels, increasing cortisol in the body.

People who live with chronic stress tend to make poorer food choices and may increase their intake of "snack foods" that are not nutrient dense, leading to weight gain. [7, 8]

Science shows that a diet rich in processed foods and meat will cause a hormonal imbalance.

Consuming animal products can disrupt your endocrine system and lead to a hormonal imbalance, too. Researchers discovered that eating meat or drinking milk from cows treated with hormones has a “profound" biological effect on humans.[9]

Lack of Sleep

We spend a third of our lives asleep. And while that may sound like a lot of lost time to engage in the activities we enjoy, sleep is absolutely essential to good health.

Wow! Did you know that estrogen can affect sleep?

Sleep quality can have an impact on our endocrine system and hormones. While we sleep, our bodies are working at releasing and balancing our hormones.[10]

For example, estrogen plays a role in sleep quality and lack of sleep may cause changes in estrogen levels. It can be a vicious cycle; lack of sleep affects hormones, and changing hormones affect sleep!

If you are struggling with sleep deprivation, consider a light yoga or stretching routine in the evening, or meditation to help calm your body and mind to help you get a restful sleep.

Chronic Stress

Can't focus or remember important things? You may have elevated cortisol levels in your body. Often called the “stress hormone," cortisol affects blood sugar levels, metabolism, and even our ability to form memories.

And that's not all. Chronic stress can cause fluctuations in many hormone levels and can lead to a number of health problems, including digestive issues, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, anxiety, and endocrine disorders.[11]

Effective stress management can break the hold that chronic stress has on your life, lowering cortisol levels and helping you feel happier and healthier in the process.

Consider starting a daily meditation practice, or do a few minutes of relaxing breathing exercises when you feel particularly stressed. Know your limits and ask for help when possible, rest when you can, and be sure to get adequate sleep each night.

Estrogen Dominance

Bloating, breast tenderness, and moodiness are all symptoms of normal, expected hormonal fluctuations in women. But these symptoms can also be a sign of abnormally high estrogen levels, known as estrogen dominance.

Toxic estrogens called xenoestrogens can cause estrogen dominance. Xenoestrogens come from common household items such as plastic water bottles, home-cleaning supplies, pesticides, and other environmental toxins.

Estrogen dominance may also be caused by obesity or taking medications such as birth control pills.[12]

Natural Remedies for Hormonal Imbalance in Women

If you are experiencing a hormonal imbalance, there is hope for improvement! Let's explore some natural remedies and lifestyle changes that may help you restore balance and improve your health.

Adaptogen Herbs

Adaptogens are natural substances that help the body adapt, particularly to stress.[13] Adaptogens work to bring your hormones back into balance. Some adaptogenic herbs to consider using to restore hormonal balance include milk thistle, ashwagandha, and licorice root.

Supplementation

No matter your age or issue, you may benefit from supplementation to help balance your hormone levels. Some of the best herbs and supplements for female hormone balance include:

Iodine

Iodine is a crucial component to helping your thyroid gland produce hormones.[14] These hormones support growth and development, regulate metabolism, and repair damaged cells.

Iodine also plays a critical role in supporting women's health, particularly reproductive and breast health. Your ovaries require almost as much iodine as the thyroid.[15]

Probiotics

Probiotics are microbes that have a beneficial effect on the body and human health. In women, probiotics support hormonal and vaginal health.

The probiotics in your gut play a role in recycling and metabolizing the hormones your body produces, such as thyroid hormones and estrogen.[16] If you are looking for probiotics that specifically support women's health, Lactobacillus species are ideal. If you need more information, check out our guide to choosing the best probiotic.

Vitamin A & D

Supplementing with vitamins A and D can help regulate insulin, balance blood sugar levels, and support your body's natural hormone cycles. One of vitamin A's most important jobs is to help the thyroid function properly.[17]

Wow! There could be a link between vitamin D deficiencies and fertility.

Vitamin D helps balance blood sugar levels in the body and regulates adrenaline and serotonin. A study exploring the impact of vitamin D on a woman's reproductive system showed that 93 percent of participants who experienced infertility were vitamin D3 deficient.[18]

Chaste Tree Berry

Chaste tree berry (Vitex agnus-castus) is known to help reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. A review of several clinical studies done on chaste berry discovered that along with managing PMS side effects, it can reduce heavy periods, help with hormone-induced acne, and help regulate menstrual cycles.[19]

Exercise

Exercise does more than just help us stay fit — it can have a big impact on hormonal health, too.

Exercise can help promote normal insulin levels by helping balance insulin sensitivity.[20] High levels of insulin can cause inflammation throughout the body, weight gain, heart disease, and other lifestyle-related diseases.

Aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week! You'll feel the difference.

You don't need to do intense aerobic exercise to enjoy the benefits of physical activity — even walking regularly may balance hormone levels to improve your strength and quality of life.[21]

Diet

Eating a nutrient-dense, plant-based, balanced diet can do wonders for your physical and mental health, including hormonal health. Try to enjoy a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Refrain from consuming too many refined carbohydrates and processed foods, which can cause hormonal imbalance. Though it isn't always easy in our busy world, you'll find your investment in your health will be worth the extra time it may take to prepare healthy foods.

Yoga
Staying in Savasana ("corpse pose") all day sounds relaxing, but you'll actually discover many health benefits by practicing yoga!

Going through menopause? Yoga can decrease hot flashes by 66 percent.[22] No matter what age and stage of life you're in, yoga can have a positive effect on your endocrine system and help balance your hormones when they're off-kilter.

Research shows that regular yoga sessions can significantly decrease premenstrual symptoms such as moodiness and tender breasts.[23]

Meditation

Today's stress triggers — such as an impending deadline or loud construction across the street — can raise adrenaline and cortisol levels. Meditation can lower stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, while also promoting normal blood pressure and heart rate.[24]

As a bonus, meditation also helps produce dopamine — a “feel good" hormone that controls the brain's pleasure and reward centers.[25] Not sure where to start? Check out our guide on meditation.

Traditional Treatments

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a traditional option, particularly for menopausal women but studies linked it to higher rates of cancer and heart disease. However, we recommend more natural methods. After all, menopause is a normal, unavoidable part of life for women.

Many natural health stores sell a progesterone cream, which can reduce symptoms of menopause, such as burning, itching, and dryness. However, many of these are made from soy or Mexican wild yam. The hormone is bioidentical to the one your body produces, and while long-term studies are lacking, research does indicate it is generally safe.

Points to Remember

Hormones are chemical messengers created by endocrine glands that control major bodily functions. When in balance, our hormones help us feel our best. But even a small hormonal imbalance can upset this delicate system and cause our bodies to experience unwanted symptoms.

There are many things that may cause hormonal imbalance in women. The good news is there are things you can do to help restore balance to your hormones. Dietary supplements,

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Nicknamed the “plant of immortality" in ancient times, aloe vera is a true wonder of nature. The spiky succulent plant has a vast variety of uses, the most famous being aloe vera for skin health. From acne and burns to stretch marks and more, this herbal powerhouse can moisturize, nourish, and soothe.

You can apply aloe vera gel — the clear, bitter, jelly-like substance from inside the leaf — directly to the skin as a healing salve, or combine it with other ingredients in unique skin-soothing recipes.

Scroll down for do-it-yourself (DIY) recipes you can make at home with aloe vera for acne, stretch marks, rashes, and skin conditions of all kinds.

Benefits of Aloe Vera for Your Skin
Wow! Did you know that aloe vera is rich in vitamins and minerals?

Aloe vera gel contains at least 75 identifiable nutrients and plant compounds with various applications for health and healing.[1] This powerful constellation of healing agents makes aloe vera incredibly versatile for health, wellness, beauty, and cosmetic purposes.

Moisturizes Naturally

Aloe vera contains plant compounds known for their natural moisturizing powers. Unique to aloe vera, the polysaccharide (plant sugar) acemannan has a hydrating effect on dry skin, as well as numerous additional therapeutic properties.[2]

Aloe vera's excellent moisturizing properties make it the perfect solution for preventing razor burn!

Aloe vera gel also has a high water content and is not greasy, making it an excellent moisturizer when applied directly to the skin. You can also apply aloe vera gel after shaving to retain moisture and prevent razor burn.

Supports Anti-Aging & Reduces Wrinkles
Did you know that aloe vera can stimulate collagen production?

Aloe vera can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, according to science. In one study, women over 45 years of age took aloe supplements orally for 90 days, after which the researchers measured the appearance of their eye "crow's nests" using skin microrelief maps. Dietary aloe not only led to smoother skin but also stimulated collagen production.[3]

Aloe vera also contains antioxidants that may help with aging, since these compounds counteract the age-related damage of free radicals in the body.[4] Some people find that aloe juice complements topical gel as part of an overall anti-aging diet and regimen.

See "Aloe Vera for Healthy Skin" for recipes.

Soothes Burns
Great news! Science shows that aloe vera helps with healing first- and second-degree burns.

Got a burn? Slather on some aloe vera gel. A scientific review of multiple studies revealed that aloe vera applied to the skin speeds healing for first- and second-degree burns.[5]

Although we need more research on why aloe vera helps with burns, we know that the bioactive plant sugar it contains, acemannan, combined with antioxidants and other plant compounds, may help the body to heal.[2]

See "How to Use Aloe Vera for Burns" for recipes, including wraps and poultices.

Relieves Sunburns
Whoa! Did you know that aloe vera stimulates the growth of new cells?

Cool to the touch and naturally soothing, aloe vera gel is an intuitive remedy for sunburn relief. The plant's emollient properties and high water content may help to reduce the sting as well as the dry, flaky skin that comes with sunburns.

Aloe vera also contains the plant hormone gibberellin, which stimulates the growth of new cells and may aid in healing the skin.[6]

May Help With Acne

Aloe vera's antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties make it an effective acne remedy when applied topically.

In one study, a combination of tretinoin cream (a common acne medication) and aloe vera gel was more effective than tretinoin cream on its own to help mild to moderate acne.[7] It appears that aloe boosted the effectiveness of the medication.

Aloe vera may boost the effectiveness of acne medications.

Although we need more research into how aloe vera fights acne, we do know that acemannan encourages wounds to heal at a healthy pace and also promotes smooth skin.[2, 8] Aloe vera's polyphenols (antioxidant compounds) may ward off harmful organisms and toxins within the pores that cause acne and worsen the redness.

See "Aloe Vera Masks and Scrubs for Acne" for recipes.

Promotes Skin Healing

There is much science to support aloe vera's ability to heal wounds — perhaps due to acemannan's ability to assist the skin's natural healing properties.[8] Hence, aloe vera may have good use as a remedy for minor scrapes, cuts, and rashes. Aloe vera's polyphenols also have antibacterial properties that may ward off infection.[9]

May Help With Stretch Marks

Aloe vera may help to diminish the appearance of stretch marks, tiny tears just under the skin's surface that appear as reddish or purplish marks. These occur when the skin stretches beyond its normal limits, common after pregnancy or anytime someone experiences quick weight gain or loss.

Scientific evidence does not directly indicate that aloe vera helps get rid of stretch marks, but acemannan's ability to promote skin healing may help fade these marks over time, especially when used in combination with other substances, like vitamin E.

See "Best Aloe Vera Recipes for Stretch Marks" for recipes

Relieves Flaky, Itchy Skin Symptoms
Check this out! Pure aloe vera gel may provide some relief to the itchiness of psoriasis.

If you suffer from flaky, itchy skin, pure aloe vera gel may provide some relief. The cool gel soothes the skin, reduces redness and swelling, and promotes hydration. One study demonstrated the effectiveness of topical aloe vera for psoriasis in an animal model.[10] However, we need more studies on psoriasis in humans.

Promotes a Healthy Scalp

With its emollient properties, aloe vera may relieve an itchy scalp and help with dandruff. Its combination of proteolytic enzymes, antibacterial properties, and moisturizing emollients can help soothe the scalp and repel the microbes that cause dandruff's dead skin flakes.[11]

Aloe Vera Recipes for Healthy Skin

In all of the recipes below, make sure to use either 100 percent pure organic aloe vera gel (if store-bought), or aloe gel taken directly from an aloe plant.

Light Summer Moisturizer Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon pure aloe vera gel
Directions
  1. Apply aloe vera gel directly to face, including the neck.
  2. Use in the morning and evening. Avoid your eye area.
Anti-Aging Eye Cream Recipe Ingredients
  • Vitamin E capsule
  • 1 tablespoon pure aloe vera gel
Directions
  1. Puncture a vitamin E capsule with a pin and squeeze the oil into a small bowl.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of aloe vera to the oil. Use a spoon to mix well.
  3. With the pad of your finger, lightly dab a bit of the mixture on the skin surrounding your eyes.
  4. Apply nightly before bed.
Aloe Vera, Honey, & Sea Salt Scrub Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons pure aloe vera gel
  • 1 tablespoon organic raw honey
  • 1/4 cup organic sea salt
Directions
  1. Combine aloe vera gel with sea salt.
  2. Mix aloe and salt with a spoon to create a paste.
  3. Add raw honey and blend well.
  4. Use as a face or body scrub, massaging into the skin and rinsing off with warm water.
Aloe Vera Recipes for Acne

The following aloe vera recipes offer ways to take advantage of the plant's ability to deter harmful organisms, including those that contribute to acne.

Aloe Vera, Honey, & Rosewater Mask

Use organic, locally grown raw honey, which soothes the skin and naturally wards off bacteria, among numerous other health benefits.

Rosewater also lends a lovely fragrance to this soothing face mask. Alternatively, you can use lemon juice in place of rosewater, which brightens and clarifies the skin. If you have sensitive skin, you might want to avoid using lemon juice.

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon pure aloe vera gel
  • 1 tablespoon organic raw honey
  • 1-2 teaspoons rosewater (alternate, 1-2 teaspoons organic lemon juice)
Directions
  1. In a small bowl, combine aloe vera gel, raw honey, and rosewater (or lemon juice) to make a smooth paste.
  2. Apply as a mask and keep on your face for 20 minutes.
  3. Rinse with warm water.
  4. Use three times a week to help with acne.
Aloe Vera & Vitamin E Oil

Vitamin E oil has antioxidant and emollient properties, making it ideal for moisturizing and skin blemishes.

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup pure aloe vera gel
  • 10 vitamin E soft-gel capsules
Directions
  1. Break open vitamin E soft-gel capsules, collecting the oil in a small bowl.
  2. Add aloe vera gel and mix well.
  3. Massage into affected skin, and let sit at least 1 hour.
  4. Rinse off with warm water.
  5. Repeat twice daily.
Aloe Vera Recipes for Stretch Marks

Although studies have not yet tested aloe's effects on stretch marks, its ability to smooth fine lines and moisturize skin make it promising. You can try the following aloe vera recipes.

Aloe Vera & Ground Coffee

Coffee grounds exfoliate the skin and may increase blood flow for effective healing. Be warned that working with ground coffee is messy — so use it in the shower and rinse well afterward.

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons pure aloe vera gel
  • 2 tablespoons organic ground coffee
Directions
  1. Mix ground coffee with aloe vera gel until well-combined.
  2. Apply to stretch marks, massaging into the skin in a circular motion.
  3. Let sit on the skin 20 minutes.
  4. Rinse in the shower.
  5. Towel dry and moisturize.
  6. Repeat every other day.
Aloe Vera & Coconut Oil

Coconut oil offers deep hydration in this daily skin rub.

Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup pure aloe vera gel
  • 1/2 cup organic virgin coconut oil
Directions
  1. Whisk together coconut oil and aloe vera gel to create a fluffy mixture.
  2. Massage into stretch marks and leave on overnight.
  3. Keep the mixture in an air-tight container and use every night until stretch marks fade.
How to Use Aloe Vera for Burns

As mentioned earlier, aloe vera gel is an excellent home remedy for both first- and second-degree burns. A first-degree burn results in pain and a reddening of the outer layer of the skin. A second-degree burn affects both the lower layer of the skin, resulting in blistering as well as pain and reddening.

Aloe Vera Gel for Minor Burns

On burned skin, apply a thick layer of pure aloe vera gel. Reapply after the gel dries out.

If desired, place a bandage over the aloe vera to hold it in place and retain moisture.

Aloe Vera & Carrot Poultice

To prevent scarring from burns, apply an aloe vera and carrot poultice. Both carrots and aloe contain vitamins A, C, and E, which may assist healing as well as reduce redness and swelling.[12, 13, 14]

Ingredients
  • 2 organic carrots
  • 1/2 cup pure aloe vera gel
Directions
  1. Finely grate carrots into a bowl.
  2. Mix with aloe vera gel and apply to the affected area.
  3. Use a bandage around the mixture to hold it in place.
  4. Reapply after poultice dries out.
  5. Rinse in the shower.
  6. Towel dry and moisturize.
  7. Repeat every other day.
Aloe Vera & Oatmeal Bath Soak

After your burn begins to feel better, try a soothing bath with aloe vera juice, liquid chlorophyll, and organic rolled oats. Chlorophyll can help ease skin redness, according to at least one animal study.[15] Giving the bath a silky feel, the oats contain silica, which studies find improves skin strength and elasticity.[16]

Ingredients
  • 1 cup of organic pure aloe vera juice
  • 1/4 cup liquid chlorophyll
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • Cheesecloth bag or stocking
Directions
  1. Plug your bathtub and fill with hot water.
  2. As your bathwater runs, add aloe vera juice, liquid chlorophyll, and a cheesecloth bag or stocking containing rolled oats.
  3. Soak 20-30 minutes.
  4. Towel dry and moisturize.
Which Aloe Vera Product Is Best?

If you purchase aloe vera gel from a store, make sure it is pure organic aloe vera gel with no additives. If you prefer, you can use aloe vera capsules to take internally or to use in recipes. I recommend Aloe Fuzion™. Made with 100 percent pure, organic inner leaf aloe vera powder, it has the highest concentration of bioavailable acemannan on the market.

Alternatively, you can extract aloe vera gel directly from the plant using the following instructions:

  1. Choose one of the outermost leaves of the aloe plant, making sure you pick one that is at least 8 inches long. This ensures that the leaf is mature and has plenty of gel inside.
  2. Cut off the leaf using a sharp knife at the base of the plant. Rinse off and discard any yellow ooze, which is aloe latex.
  3. Trim the top one-third of the leaf. This thin part of the leaf does not contain much gel and can be discarded.
  4. With the leaf lying flat on a cutting board, cut off the hard, spiny edges on either side of the leaf.
  5. Slice the green skin of the aloe leaf open down the length of the leaf. You can also use a vegetable peeler to remove it. Underneath, you will see a layer of thick, clear gel at the center. This is the aloe vera gel.
  6. Cut the bottom skin off as well and you will have a slab of clear aloe vera gel.
  7. Store the gel in a clean, airtight container. Refrigerate and use within one week.
Points to Remember

A highly versatile plant with an array of wellness benefits, aloe vera can support healthy skin in numerous ways. Aloe vera gel — sourced from inside the aloe's leaves — contains at least 75 beneficial nutrients and plant compounds, including the plant sugar acemannan, which hydrates the skin and aids with wound healing.

Among its many uses, pure aloe vera gel is helpful for the skin. It may help acne, burns, scrapes, and rashes due to its antioxidant properties, rich nutrients, and natural moisturizers. Aloe is a common folk remedy for diminishing the appearance of stretch marks and scars.

To reap the full benefits of aloe vera for your skin, use 100 percent pure organic aloe vera gel, either store-bought or extracted from the plant itself. If preferred, you can take aloe vera orally for its many health benefits. I recommend Aloe Fuzion™, an organic, high-potency aloe vera supplement.

Have you tried aloe vera for a skin remedy? Share your story below!

The post Aloe Vera for Skin: DIY Recipes for Healthy Skin, Acne, & More appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

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