Cameron Elmendorf: The Hormone Balancing Act

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Cameron Elmendorf: The Hormone Balancing Act

We caught up with our friend Cameron Elmendorf, practitioner of Chinese medicine in Boulder, Colorado and The Roaring Fork Valley - to chat about hormones and how important they are to our health, well-being and vitality. Her practice includes acupuncture, herbal medicine and Chinese medical massage, among other types of treatment.

Here’s what she has to say about the Hormone Balancing Act!

“Hormones can be beastly. They’re not only experienced in dramatically different ways in people, but they’re also a source of stress, anxiety, and confusion—for women in particular. Yet they’re 100% necessary for a healthy body and key to feeling your best.

As a doctor of Chinese medicine with a focus on women’s health, hormones are an integral part of my practice. Patients want to know how to balance some, calm or boost others, and merely learn how to live with them in a rapidly changing body. From the onset of menarche to the waning days of a woman’s cycle, hormones can be a force to be reckoned with.

Here’s a snapshot of what they are, what they are responsible for in your body, and what you can do to take control of your hormones to live a well-balanced and healthy life.”


Hormones are responsible for many important functions in the body including sleep, energy, mood, metabolism, homeostasis and libido. They are the chemical messengers that coordinate these and many other functions in your body.While hormonal fluctuations in the human body are inevitable, and often times normal (think a woman’s menstrual cycle) the way in which we experience those changes can be varied.

There are several simple steps we can take in our daily lives to improve our hormonal health to make a big difference in the way hormonal fluctuations interact within our bodies.


We know we need protein to fuel all the necessary functions within our bodies, but what type of protein, and how much do you need? For hormone wellness, ensure that you are getting enough protein with each meal (either plant or animal sourced, always preferably organic). Protein contains the building blocks of our bodies, known as amino acids and is found throughout, in the muscles, bones, skin, hair and all of our tissues. Protein helps to keep hormones balanced. A few great sources of plant-based protein are beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, whole grains such as amaranth and quinoa, soy, broccoli, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts.


Sleep is one of the most important elements of keeping hormones stable. Inadequate sleep has been shown to spike and then precipitously drop hormone levels, thus altering our hormone production, predominantly estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, the chief sex hormones within our bodies. Good sleep starts with healthy sleep hygiene like keeping lights low at night, removing all screens from your eyes 1.5 hours before bed, and not eating too late into the evening before bed. Ensuring we get enough sleep (at least 7 hours/night) can help keep hormone production and maintenance on track, lessening hormone fluctuations.


Exercise is essential in regulating the way in which hormones are matriculated throughout the body, and in what concentrations. The effects that exercise can have upon our mood (notably releasing serotonin and dopamine, the “happy hormones”) are significant, and are essential in mental wellbeing. It also decreases cortisol levels—our “stress hormone”when we engage in regular movement. This can look different for different people, but know any exercise like walking is better than none—you don’t need to be a pro.


Your “gut biome” is a buzzy topic these days, and for good reason. The gut contains over 100 trillion friendly bacteria, and regulates hormones, modulating insulin resistance. The maintenance of the gut biome is not only essential for digestion and bowel health, it also translates into hormonal wellbeing. Our gut health is directly connected to our endocrine system, and therefore plays a large role in hormone production and maintenance. So much so that 90%+ of serotonin, our “happy hormone” is produced in the lining of the intestines and is then released into our bloodstream and absorbed by platelets. The gut is ground zero for whole body health, and in turn, hormone regulation and proper function. 

5. Lower sugar intake. Lowering your sugar intake starts with awareness as sugar can be found in most packaged foods. Pay attention to the simple sugar fructose, as lower levels can help regulate insulin resistance, thus lowering our risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other metabolic maladies. When these metabolic functions are out of balance, they can wreak havoc on our hormones.


The impact stress has on our bodies is more apparent than ever, and hormones have a tendency to be the first responders to what your body perceives as crisis. Cortisol, known as our body’s “stress hormone” helps regulate and bring our systems back into homeostasis in times of acute stress, and while that’s helpful in small bursts (such as in times of fight, flight & freeze, known as the sympathetic nervous system state), being chronically stressed means our cortisol levels are elevated for longer periods of time, creating an internal environment where hormone regulation is compromised, and over time, leading to exhaustion.

There are several techniques shown to be effective in helping calm the sympathetic nervous system, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, spending time outside, spending time with loved ones, acupuncture and herbal medicine, and journaling, to name a few.


While there is no replacement for nourishing whole foods, leading a healthy lifestyle, and sleep, perfection is often impossible.That’s where supplementation support comes in. There are several hormone-friendly supplements that can help nourish, balance and sustain us, even in busy and threadbare times.

Please Note: It is vital to consult a medical professional when considering adding any supplementation to your daily routine to ensure safety and health for you and your family members. What is recommended for one, might not be beneficial for another. And simply put, sometimes supplements become expensive excretion if we are not assimilating them properly. Please reach out to me with any questions you might have!

Magnesium: Regulates cortisol and estrogen, while producing testosterone and increasing DHEA and serotonin levels.

Vitamin D: Aids in estrogen imbalances, helps with mood swings, hair loss, low libido, and low energy

DIM: Short for Diindolymethyl, DIM is derived from cruciferous vegetables (namely cauliflower and broccoli) and aids in balancing estrogen levels in the body. DIM increases beneficial 2-hydroxy estrogens, and reduces the unwanted 16-hydroxy variety.5HTP - A naturally occurring amino acid derived from tryptophan, and a chemical precursor to serotonin. Its benefits include sleep support, hormonal balance, and mental health support (depression + anxiety)

Chaste Tree Berry: Also known as Vitex, Chaste Tree Berry has been shown to target the pituitary gland (known as the “master gland” because it monitors and regulates many bodily functions through the hormones it produces) and helps to lower estrogen, raise progesterone, support women with PMS symptoms, mood swings, breast tenderness and dis-regulated menstrual cycles. It is recommended to not take Vitex when pregnant, lactating or while you are menstruating.

DHEA: short for Dehydroepiandrosterone, DHEA is a naturally occurring hormone in the body, that is produced in the adrenal gland. It helps to produce other hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. Natural levels of DHEA peak in early adulthood, and slowly fall as we age. Many people supplement DHEA for its anti-aging properties, depression, osteoporosis, low libido, and fertility challenges. Those with a history of sex hormone-derived cancers should avoid supplementing DHEA.

Chinese Herbs: TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) has been used for thousands of years to aid in hormonal balancing and whole body wellbeing. There are so many wonderful individual herbs and herbal formulas that have been shown to be helpful in maintaining hormonal balance. The beauty of Chinese herbs is that your practitioner can assess your needs though many varied diagnostics to customize the most perfect formula for your body!

“Hormones are essential for everyday living—and learning to support them can have important health benefits. If you need help with how to handle yours, email me to schedule a free 15-minute consultation so we can get you on a path toward optimal health.”

Cameron Elmendorf Dipl. OM. L.Ac., MSOM is a board-certified Chinese Medicine practitioner (NCCAOM) and maintains a thriving practice in both Boulder and Basalt, Colorado. Her emphasis is on women’s health, fertility, prenatal/postpartum wellness, and hormone balance where she employs both Chinese and Japanese acupuncture techniques, as well as Chinese Herbal medicine, and Asian bodywork techniques such as Tui Na and Shiatsu. She is also a certified Acutonics(TM) practitioner and is formally trained in Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture.

Cameron received her Masters of Science in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado in 2006. She has been practicing in Boulder/Denver for almost 20 years. Cameron compliments her acupuncture practice with a deep knowledge of the western paradigm of women's health, including fertility, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), menstrual issues, and menopausal challenges, and she lends a compassionate, holistic bend to those she works with.

Solstice Health - Cameron Elmendorf L.Ac., MSOM