How Can I Increase Progesterone?
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Jacque
Posted on: March 08, 2004

I am looking for an herb or something that will be able to give me additional progesterone support. I am already using the natural progesterone cream an am finding it it not enough. Any suggestions? I have a tincture made by Phillips Nutritionals that is from yams...will that add progesterone to my system? Or am I way off base?

The hormonal system is a complicated set of feedback mechanisms: i.e. changing the amount of one hormone in the body inhibits or stimulates other hormones, having a cascading effect on all of the body’s hormones. The side effects can be dangerous, so it important to follow professional advice.

Wild yam itself cannot be converted in the body to progesterone. You should check that the natural progesterone cream that you are using contains a sufficient percentage of natural progesterone.

John R. Lee, M.D. in "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause", describes the use of progesterone in the body, and how progesterone creams may be used to decrease menopausal symptoms by helping to balance the sex hormones. Lee cautions that care must be taking in selecting a "wild yam" cream: The hormone progesterone can be converted from diosgenin in wild yams or soybeans. The diosgenin in wild yam is not the same as the hormone progesterone: it must be converted in a lab to progesterone before it is active as the hormone. Therefore, creams that state that they contain "wild yam" may not be as effective as creams that state that they contain progesterone. Read the literature carefully, or call the manufacturer to ensure that the cream contains progesterone. The progesterone content of the cream should be approximately 1.5 to 2 per cent.

Synthetic hormones, called progestins, progestogens or gestagens, are often used by pharmaceutical companies instead of progesterone converted from diosgenin. The synthetic hormones are not as effective, and come with many side effects. Thomas Bartram, in “Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine” (available at Richters) lists these side effects for the progestin form: rise in blood pressure, dizziness, fatigue, cystitis, and headache, and he warns that it carries an increased risk of birth defects, blood clots and stroke.

The herb chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) is often used to balance hormones. It acts on the pituitary gland to stimulate progesterone production.

Zinc is necessary for the production of progesterone. Make sure that you are getting sufficient zinc in your diet by ensuring sufficient daily protein (meat, fish or a combination of rice and legumes) and including a handful of sunflower seeds once or twice daily. Coffee, alcohol, fried food and wheat products inhibit the absorption of zinc. Vitamin C, such as in citrus fruits, increases the absorption of zinc.

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