From makeup to menstruation, TikTok has quickly become the go-to for life hacks. However, there’s a lot of misinformation on social media when it comes to health, including hormone balancing. TikTokers are sharing their “hormone balancing” tips — like taking walks in the morning or eating protein as soon as you wake up — all in the name of well-being and self-care. But before you shove that boiled egg in your mouth as you slip on your sneakers for an early “hot girl walk,” is hormone balancing even a legitimate thing we should be doing?
According to Dr. Emilee Wayne, licensed naturopathic physician (NMD) and medical advisor at Mira, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
“Hormones are not static, so ‘balancing’ is such an ambiguous term. But they do need to be in ideal ratios and levels based on the time of [menstruation] cycles for optimal health, healthy aging, and fertility,” she tells Scary Mommy. “Typically, when we are referencing hormones, we mean estradiol, testosterone, and progesterone, but there are many others that work with these three and can impact the health and fertility outcomes of the individual.”
When hormones are balanced, according to Wayne, cycles are regular with minimal PMS, metabolism is good, moods are stable, sleep and energy are good, and inflammation is under control. “When they are not balanced, we see menstrual cycle irregularities, moodiness, weight [fluctuation], fatigue, low libido and sexual function, and fertility issues/infertility, amongst many other symptoms,” she says.
The biggest point of concern is the amount of misinformation available (aka myths) that are not only inaccurate but also potentially harmful. Hormonal health is a complicated topic because it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Below, Wayne debunks some of the most popular myths out there about hormone balancing and what you need to know about your hormonal health.
5 Popular Hormone Balancing Myths On TikTok
Myth #1: Eat two Brazil nuts daily to make the thyroid gland function.
“While this can be incredibly helpful due to the selenium in these nuts, the doses of selenium are not quantified, so a person could be getting 50mcg or 600mcg of selenium,” Wayne explains. “Proper thyroid balancing requires testing and specific dosing.”
Myth #2: Drink two cups of spearmint tea daily to clear your hormonal acne.
“While spearmint is a great herb to help with acne, it often does not work due to the fact that it works best with other herbs treatments,” Wayne says. “Thoroughly assessing the acne condition will allow for it to be cleared properly.”
Myth #3: Use breathing training to manage your cortisol levels.
“Breathing can help with cortisol levels, but they do need to be done in a specific way in order to stimulate your vagus nerve, which in turn stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system,” Wayne says. “Does it regulate cortisol long-term, though? No. It is best to utilize breathing training in daily practice and as needed for times of higher stress.”
Myth #4: Have at least 20 minutes a day in the sun to improve sex drive and increase vitamin D3 levels.
Clinically, says Wayne, sunlight provides a bunch of healthcare benefits, like improving your sleep-wake cycle and raising endorphins. However, she says she’s not clinically seen sun exposure increase vitamin D3 levels. “There are many factors as to why,” she explains. “Location (the sunlight has to hit your skin at the right angle) and the pigment of your skin (darker complected or highly freckled people have more melanin blocking the sun activation of d3). Additionally, vitamin D3 levels need to exceed certain levels for testosterone to be available to cause an increase in libido or sex drive.”
Myth #5: Remove stress to manage cortisol levels and practice subconscious training.
While it is important to work on stress management, Wayne reminds us that it’s impossible to eliminate all stress because we need it to survive. “It has a biological purpose when it is appropriate,” she explains. “Subconscious training is great to change the way you think and experience life, but it doesn’t change how your body perceives stress, and it can take a really long time to even change cortisol levels. Think of it much like PTSD. You can get past the traumatic event, but without professional help, you can often be ‘triggered’ back into a state very quickly.”
What You Should Really Do About Your Hormones
As for some easy examples that you might do to help balance your hormones, Wayne recommends getting enough quality sleep, drinking enough water, eating enough protein, regularly exercising, and finding ways to manage stress to help stabilize hormones and optimize health.
Overall, Wayne advises seeking out a doctor that focuses on hormone balancing. “Every person is so uniquely different, and because of this, treatments are not one size fits all,” she says. “They should have customized treatment protocols for whatever imbalance is occurring so they can get back to their normal.”
She recommends seeing a doctor anytime you feel something isn’t right, and definitely doing so if menstrual cycles become irregular or you start seeing changes in your mood, metabolism, or sexual function.