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Stress and your Hormones

Updated: May 4, 2019

Hi my name is Julie, I am a qualified Naturopath living and practising in Casuarina, NSW.

One of my passions is women’s health and helping women achieve better health.

How does stress affect your hormones?

Stress has a major impact on your hormones and health such as:

  • It depletes progesterone, which can worsen PMS;

  • Stress suppresses the thyroid-stimulating hormone, as well as affecting thyroid hormone production;

  • Prolactin, (the hormone that stimulates milk production) can either be increased or decreased.

  • It can affect your menstruation;

  • Can lead to hyperglycemia (excess of glucose in the bloodstream, associated with diabetes)

  • It can affect your weight -cortisol (our stress hormone) favours fat deposition.

  • Can affect your sleep – if cortisol is always up you have difficultly falling asleep.

  • Weakens your immune system. Have you noticed when you are stressed you get sick more easily.

  • Affects your digestion – if you are eating while stressed, you can’t absorb all the nutrients in your food.

What is cortisol?

Cortisol is your fight or flight hormone. It increases your heart rate, raises your blood pressure, increases your blood sugar so your muscles have energy and makes you more alert. Cortisol is very beneficial short term as it helped you run away from that Saba tooth tiger or dinosaur in cavemen times. But today, Women have so many plates to juggle, cortisol can remain high day after day. Our cortisol should be high in the morning and then drop at night so you can sleep. Though if it stays high all the time, you feel anxious during the day and then can’t sleep at night.

Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is caused by on-going stress.

Stages of Adrenal Fatigue:

  • Phase 1: Stress Phase

  • Phase 2: Wired and tired

  • Phase 3: Collapse / Crash

How to reduce your stress and get your energy back.


Nourish your adrenals with food.

Eat less sugar, simple carbohydrates (white bread / pasta), packaged / processed foods, saturated and trans fats.

Drink less coffee, alcohol and avoid all soft drinks and packaged juices.

Eat more – leafy green vegetables (opt for a salad for lunch), complex carbohydrates (these take longer to digest and you will feel fuller longer), good sources of protein such as lean meats, fish and legumes, healthy fats (olive oil, avocados, sustain ably caught salmon), lots of fresh vegetables (try to add vegies to every meal) and snack on vegie sticks, fresh fruit, berries, nuts and seeds.

Drink more water. Try adding fresh lemon or lime juice to a glass of mineral water in the evenings instead of grabbing for that glass of wine.

Try a herbal tea instead of your afternoon coffee.

Opt for screen free time when you are eating. Turn off the news at dinner - feeling stressed while you eat can impair your digestion.

Magnesium rich foods – nearly half of our population is deficient in magnesium. Guess what depletes it from your bodies? Stress.

Good sources include leafy greens, almonds, cashews, seeds, legumes, whole grains and avocados. If you feel you need to take a magnesium supplement, best to talk to your health care professional, as there are so many different forms of magnesium. I always opt for products that have had research behind them such as practitioner only brands.

Exercise – helps you regulate cortisol and your stress response. It also improves your sensitivity to insulin and aids in the elimination of toxins.

What exercise should you do?

One you will enjoy.

Find 30 minutes a day to exercise. It will make you feel wonderful. I personally love walking my dog; yoga and the occasional jog and surf.

Meditation – if you cannot get into meditation, try just sitting for 5-10 minutes a day in a comfy chair and breathe. Inhale slowly for a count of 3 seconds, hold for a count of one and then slowly exhale for 3 seconds. You may have to build up to this, but see how you feel after a week of doing this.

Herbal Treatments

There are some beautiful herbs that can help relieve anxiety and help you body better adapt to stress.

If you don’t like herbal tinctures you can always opt for herbal supplements. Though the herbal tinctures can be formulated just for you.

Kava - there have been a number of clinical studies of Kava and its effectiveness in treating symptoms associated with anxiety. It has also been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce the amount of time required to fall asleep.

Licorice Root – is an adrenal tonic, nourishing and regulating your adrenals. It also has anti-inflammatory actions.

Passionflower - is a beautiful herb to help treat anxiety, irritability and tension headaches. It is also beneficial for sleep onset and maintenance.

Rhodiola - is a wonderful herb as it is a tonic and adaptogen. Tonic herbs assist in restoring vitality in the fatigued patient. It is beneficial in treating anxiety, depression and fatigue.

Withania - is also great for managing adrenal stress and fatigue. It is especially beneficial for people getting recurrent colds from stress, as it is an immune tonic.

For more information or to make an appointment please contact myself.

Have a great day.

Jules x



1. Bone, K. (2007). The ultimate herbal compendium (1st ed.). Warwick, Qld.: Phytotherapy Press.

2. Kava kava. (2016). University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved 10 November 2016, from

3. Osiecki, H. (2010). The nutrient bible (1st ed.). Eagle Farm, Qld.: Bio Concepts Publishing.

4. Ranabir, S. & Reetu, K. (2011). Stress and hormones. Indian Journal Of Endocrinology And Metabolism, 15(1), 18-22. Retrieved from


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