Editor’s note: This article is not medical advice, and is not intended to replace your physician. Always talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns about your health.
When it comes to hormonal health, it seems that we’re all a little off nowadays. Our reproductive hormones play an integral role in the overall functioning of our bodies, not just our fertility. For example, they affect our blood pressure and insulin levels, as well as our mental health.
Since science is running a mile a minute trying to catch up with Islam, let’s save you some time and share these six scientifically-verified habits from the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet SAW that play a key role in keeping our hormones healthy.
This indulgent powerhouse fruit needs no introduction in the Ummah. Boasting a myriad of health benefits, the potent dose of manganese found in dates plays a critical role in the production and regulation of our sex hormones. It is also a great source of melatonin, a hormone responsible for ensuring we catch a sufficient amount of zzz’s every night. Since sleep quality is also a critical component to maintaining a healthy hormonal balance, this one packs a double whammy!
Bonus tip for our pregnant sisters: the Prophet SAW was quoted saying that it is especially beneficial for pregnant women to eat around 6-8 dates daily in their final trimester of pregnancy. It turns out that dates may aid in softening of the cervix during childbirth, making the process a little easier and safer for mom and baby!
I’m sure many of you have come across the Hadith quoting the Prophet SAW’s belief in the power of black seed. He believed it is the cure for everything except death! That’s pretty high praise, no? I’m guessing this Hadith is the root of the Sunnah in chewing a pinch of black seed first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
This potent seed is not only full of essential vitamins and minerals, but also does a great job at hormone regulation, especially in women, where it has been proven to ease symptoms of a wide array of reproductive issues ranging from PCOS to menopause. It is also astronomically high in antioxidants, most notably, thymoquinone, which has shown great efficacy in combatting several serious diseases and reducing overall inflammation in the body, which is another common cause of hormonal imbalance. Whether you choose to grab a few seeds to chew on every morning, or prefer chugging a spoon or two of black seed oil, there’s no doubt that you will reap rewards for this practice in this life and the next.
Bonus tip for those struggling with hormonal hair loss: A 2017 study showed that massaging your scalp regularly with black seed oil can reduce hair fall by up to 76 percent! #SelfCareSunday scalp massages, here we come!
This age-old detoxification practice was a favourite of the Prophet SAW. Hijama or wet cupping, was made incumbent upon the Prophet SAW on the Night of Power, where it was narrated that he didn’t pass a single angel who didn’t tell him “Upon you is cupping, Oh Muhammad.” The secret behind cupping seems to be its ability to increase and improve blood flow in our bodies, which in turn aids in natural detoxification processes and nourishes our vital organs with adequate amounts of oxygen, nutrients, and hormones required to function optimally. Sounds great, but how exactly will this improve our reproductive struggles?
By detoxing our bodies of stagnant, old, hormones and toxins and improving the blood flow around our bodies, our womb and ovaries are finally able to get all of the nutritious goodness that they need to feel healthy enough to ovulate and produce beautiful, thick endometrial linings. When our reproductive system is getting what it needs to do its job, it’s less likely to become stressed and start pumping out too much of the wrong hormones and too little of the right ones, which may contribute to or exacerbate issues such as infertility, irregular periods, PCOS, and the laundry list of other reproductive issues facing women today. “Hey Siri, find cupping therapy near me.”
There are countless Hadiths mentioning the Prophet SAW’s (super) diligent oral hygiene habits. If he wasn’t languidly chewing on a miswak, or flossing his pearly whites with strings of palm fibre, he was rinsing his mouth following each meal. While on the surface, this stands testament to the Prophet’s flawless manners and self-care regimen, it turns out our oral hygiene has an incredible effect on not only character and our overall health but also — you guessed it — our hormones.
Our mouths are home to the second-most populous microbiome in our bodies. Without constant cleansing, the delicate balance of bacteria and fungi in this area can fall out of whack, and like a chain reaction, this imbalance spills over into the rest of our digestive system. This can potentially result in losing our ability to absorb nutrients adequately, efficiently excrete excess hormones in the body, and ultimately cause inflammation leading to further hormonal imbalance and various other unpleasant side-effects. What to do?
We can start with brushing and flossing our teeth twice daily, rinsing our mouths out with water three times after each meal, and if you have access to this ancient gem, chewing on a stick of miswak in your free time.
Sleep is a hot topic in the wellness community right now. Globally, scientists and doctors are trying to figure out the best way to approach this vital human function, but if they just picked up a Quran they wouldn’t need to look any further! The big buzzword over the last few years has been “circadian rhythm,” which is basically our body’s system of clocks that tells us when its time to sleep, and when it’s time to get up and get active.
Our circadian rhythm is governed by light exposure. The bright morning light of Duha tells our bodies to start the day’s work, while the darkness following Isha’a is basically the biological equivalent of our parents yelling “Lights out!” at our 7-year-old selves, and forcing us to get to bed.
This science isn’t new; Allah SWT draws our attention to the wonders and importance of the night and day countless times in the Quran, calling on us to ponder its significance. Hint: our circadian rhythm, and by extension our health has a lot to do with it.
We were also encouraged by the Prophet SAW to go to bed after Isha’a and to wake up early, in other words, to obey the natural circadian rhythm of the planet. He was also recorded telling his companions to always extinguish their lamps before bed, indicating that we need a dark, cool environment in order to sleep well. The Prophet was also a huge fan of the afternoon nap, always listening to his body when it told him that it needed some rest; self-care goals!
This makes sense, but how does this whole sleep thing affect our reproductive hormones? Short answer: in a big way. The long answer is that our body does a lot while we slumber; it focuses on repairing tissue, getting rid of old and damaged cells, metabolising all kinds of toxic waste that we’ve ingested from the day, and manufacturing all of the hormones and enzymes we’ll need for the day ahead.
When we don’t get enough sleep, or don’t get enough sleep at the right time, our bodies are unable to fall into the deep REM sleep where all of these functions take place. This means our organs are unable to metabolize our food and hormonal waste correctly and is also not able to perform repairs as it needs to if we aren’t sleeping well. This leads to a build up of toxicity in the system and heaps of metabolic stress, resulting in elevated cortisol levels as well as insulin and glucose resistance, among other things. Because we are stressed and not well-rested, our body doesn’t think it’s the best idea to burden us further with a baby, essentially shutting down our reproductive system to prioritize survival.
How do we fix it? By following the Sunnah and getting to bed early in a cool, dark room. Dim the lights in your home or use candlelight where possible after Isha’a, limit your screen time before bed (yes, even dark mode emits light) and make sure you never sleep past Duha. Also, remember to get outside throughout the day and evening so that your eyes can send your brain those vital light cues that keep your circadian rhythm on track with nature.
While the Prophet SAW and his companions were not vegetarians, you would rarely find them eating meat, with Umar RA even banning the consumption of meat for two days in a row during his caliphate, citing its addictive quality. While some animal products are openly discouraged for us to eat as Muslims — here’s looking at you pork, and um, blood (eew) — the Prophet SAW suggested that we eat meat no more than once a week, preferably at Jummah, or even only twice a year in some cases, strictly at Eid.
Unfortunately, given the toxicity surrounding the meat production industry today and following much of the latest scientific literature, the consumption of meat has become somewhat of a biological hazard both for us and the livestock we farm. From harmful antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones, and the incredibly stressful and cruel living conditions these animals are subjected to, consuming the tissue of these animals leads to us inheriting their diseased flesh and the residue of the hormonal and antibiotic therapies they’ve been subject to. There is strong scientific evidence suggesting that this could play a huge role in throwing our own hormones into a tailspin and compromising our immunity against some pretty serious illnesses.
By following the Sunnah and keeping our meat consumption to a minimum, we can do a better job of safeguarding the overall health of our bodies and protecting our hormones from external interference. As Muslims, we should also consider the spiritual and ethical repercussions of feeding into such a cruel and capitalistic industry, whether the Prophet SAW would feel comfortable eating meat in this day and age, and most importantly, whether this practice aligns with the cardinal tenet of Islam: peace. It’s important to buy organic, halal, and tayyib in order to avoid consuming meat that has been treated with antibiotics and hormones if you do choose to consume meat.
Now that you know some ways from the Sunnah to help you hack your hormones, are there any of these you’ll be adding to your wellness routine?