The principal role of the body’s endocrine system
is to regulate various functions such as reproduction, growth and energy balance. This system consists of a number of glands (pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, thymus, pancreas, ovaries …) which produce chemicals called hormones
. These substances act on target cells by speeding up or slowing down their normal activity. Each one acts on specific tissues which recognise that particular hormone.
A number of health issues are caused by hormone dysfunction
including menopause symptoms, thyroid problems, metabolic diseases such as diabetes, sexual dysfunction in men and chronically high levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Medical treatments are available for these problems and while sometimes essential, they can often be restrictive or produce side-effects. However, a number of natural products
identified through traditional use and scientific research are considered ‘hormone precursors’ and are thus likely to stimulate hormone production
. Interest in these medicinal plants is growing because such treatments have a high therapeutic index
and are also free from side-effects.