Tag Archives: Dr. Lara Briden

How To Reduce Prolactin With Natural Treatment By Holly Grigg-Spall

Dr. Lara Briden is a naturopathic doctor. She currently practices at Sensible-Alternative Hormone Clinic in Sydney, Australia. She is also the author of the popular troubleshooting guide, “Period Repair Manual.” For more on her work go to LaraBriden.com.  In today’s post, Dr. Briden tackles the topic of high prolactin levels and the best natural remedy.



Dear Dr. Lara Briden,  

My prolactin is slightly high at 438 mIU/L. How can I reduce it?


Dear Bríghdín,

Great question. Mildly elevated prolactin like yours can cause troublesome symptoms such as breast pain, loss of libido, and irregular periods. Severely elevated prolactin is a more serious medical problem, and can cause periods to stop completely.

What Is Prolactin?

Prolactin is a pituitary hormone, and is best known for its role in promoting lactation. It also  regulates ovulation and the production of estrogen and testosterone.

What Causes High Prolactin?

Very high prolactin (greater than 1000 mIU/L or 50 ng/mL) is usually the result of a benign pituitary tumour called a prolactinoma. It requires medical diagnosis and management.

Moderately high prolactin (greater than 480 mIU/L or 23 ng/mL) can be caused by prolactinoma, thyroid disease, heavy alcohol intake, or by medications such as high dose birth control pills, stomach acid tablets, and some types of psychiatric or blood pressure medications. It requires medical diagnosis and management.

Mildly high prolactin (around 480 mIU/L or 23 ng/mL) is common, and cannot be diagnosed by a single result. Why? Because prolactin can be temporarily elevated by any of the following:

  • Sex
  • Exercise
  • Alcohol
  • Eating
  • Sleep
  • Dehydration
  • Stress
  • Luteal phase (post-ovulation)
  • Mild thyroid disease
  • Hormonal birth control

For accuracy, prolactin should be checked again under the following conditions:

  • Follicular phase
  • Between 8am-12pm
  • Fasting
  • Hydrated
  • Not directly after exercise or sex
  • Relaxed
  • Not on hormonal birth control

Natural Treatment of High Prolactin

Both moderately and severely elevated prolactin require medical diagnosis and management.

Mildly elevated prolactin responds well to stress reduction and gentle exercise such as walking and yoga. It’s also helpful to reduce alcohol, especially beer, because barley stimulates prolactin (that’s why beer was traditionally prescribed to increase milk supply). Do not exceed four alcoholic drinks per week.

Mildly elevated prolactin also responds to the herbal medicine Vitex agnus-castus (also called chaste tree or chasteberry). Vitex suppresses prolactin so strongly that it can mask a prolactinoma, and for that reason, it’s advisable to seek medical advice before taking Vitex for prolactin. The dose of Vitex is 200 mg of a standard extract, taken once in the morning. (Different formulations use different doses depending on the preparation of the extract.)

Vitex is a popular medicine for PMS and menstrual regulation, and its main mechanism of action is the reduction of prolactin. For more information about Vitex, please see: The Do’s and Don’ts of Vitex.


By Holly Grigg-Spall – Marketing Consultant and Daysy Blog Editor

When she came off the birth control pill after 10 years in 2009, Holly decided to write a blog about the experience. That blog became a series of articles, and then book, “Sweetening the Pill,” which then inspired a feature documentary, currently in production and executive produced by Ricki Lake. She is a fertility awareness and body literacy advocate and educator, a Daysy enthusiast, and excited to help more women come off the birth control pill and find a natural, effective alternative.


How To Stop Premenstrual Spotting – Holly Grigg-Spall

Menstruation Mechanic Dr. Lara Briden tackles the topic of spotting prior to your period

By: Holly Grigg-Spall April 5, 2016

Dr Lara Briden is a naturopathic doctor. She currently practices at Sensible-Alternative Hormone Clinic in Sydney, Australia. She is also the author of the popular troubleshooting guide, “Period Repair Manual.”  For more on her work go to LaraBriden.com.

Dear Menstruation Mechanic, Lara Briden,

“I’ve had 7-9 days of premenstrual spotting since some stress a few months ago. My cycle also shortened to 23 days. I tried magnesium, which reduced the spotting and brought my cycle back out to 26 days, but now on my third cycle with magnesium the spotting is back. What’s causing this? Should I be more patient with the magnesium or try something else like vitex or bio-identical progesterone? … Cathrine”


Dear Cathrine,

Great question about premenstrual spotting.

First I’ll discuss spotting in general, or as your gynecologist likes to call it: Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding (DUB).

Bleeding between periods can occur for a number of different reasons. Light bleeding with ovulation is the result of a slight drop in estrogen, and is normal. Bleeding throughout the month and after sex can be due to an infection or a condition called endometriosis. It’s something to see your doctor about, especially if you also notice pain with sex. Bleeding throughout the month can occur with a hormonal condition called polycystic hormone syndrome (PCOS), and is also something to get checked out. Finally, spotting can be an early sign of a pregnancy or miscarriage.

Spotting between pill bleeds is called “breakthrough bleeding” and is something completely different. It’s nothing to do with your own hormones (remember, hormonal birth control switches off your body’s own hormones). Instead, breakthrough bleeding is the result of an incorrect dosage of whichever synthetic steroid combination your doctor gave you, and may need to be adjusted. Bleeding is also common during the few months after the insertion of an intrauterine device (IUD).

But Cathrine, your question is about premenstrual spotting, which is none of those things.

From the perspective of conventional medicine, a few days of premenstrual spotting is normal, and is viewed simply as a gradual start to a menstrual bleed. From a functional medicine (optimal health) perspective, premenstrual spotting is not ideal. It means your uterine lining is shedding early because there  has not been enough progesterone to hold it all the way to the end of your luteal phase (post-ovulation phase).

You also noticed a shortened cycle. It would be interesting to know if it was your luteal phase that had shortened, and furthermore, if your basal body temperatures dipped in your luteal phase. Those things, and the fact that you spot for so long (7-9 days), are all further evidence of a progesterone deficiency.

Progesterone deficiency can be the result of stress, as you found. It happens because 1) stress impairs the quality of ovulation (remember, ovulation is how you make progesterone), and 2) stress causes your body to “steal” progesterone to make more stress hormone cortisol.

The solution is to reduce stress as much as possible and to take magnesium to regulate your stress regulatory system (also called the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal or HPA axis). You had some results from that, which is great.

The fact that your spotting improved, but then returned suggests that something else might be going on. One of the most common reasons for progesterone deficiency and protracted premenstrual spotting is underactive thyroid. I discuss underactive thyroid as a cause of premenstrual spotting in Rachel’s patient story in Chapter 5 of my book. It would be worth asking your doctor for a thyroid test, especially if you’ve noticed any other symptoms of underactive thyroid such as hair loss and dry skin.

If your thyroid is normal, then Yes, you could consider the herbal medicine Vitex to boost progesterone, or even a few months on a natural progesterone cream. Please speak to your doctor or naturopathic doctor before using progesterone. (More about progesterone cream in a future instalment!)