BY AUDREY KING RHN
Where do I begin? Estrogen dominance is becoming one of the more common imbalances among BOTH men and women. In this article, I hope to shed some light on this common problem. First of all, it is important to know that estrogen dominance is often never detected in conventional medicine. In fact, if your doctor does test your estrogen levels, it is likely they will come back in the “normal” range. However, if left untreated over time estrogen dominance can develop into chronic disease.
If you are experiencing health conditions rooted in the instability of your hormonal ecosystem, you may be estrogen dominant and it is time to get the facts.
How our hormones get out of balance
- Our body struggles to metabolize hormones. The cause may be genetics, an overburdened liver, stress, diet and lifestyle. If our body is not able to detoxify from these excess hormones they may get upcycled back into our bodies causing too much estrogen to be deposited into our cells.
- Excessive exposure to environmental hormones.Xenoestrogens found in industrial compounds imitate estrogens and are considered endocrine disruptors.
What is Estrogen Dominance:
Estrogen dominance happens in the body when there is an estrogen overload or too much estrogen in relation to progesterone.
A significant factor is the amount of estrogen in our environment. It has become very hard to avoid estrogen excess due to the endocrine disruptors all around us, from our cleaning supplies to the plastics we use for everything.
Birth control pills are often prescribed to deal with the symptoms of estrogen dominance. They provide a band-aid solution to deal with the symptoms but will contribute negatively in the long run.
Birth control pills contain estrogen and contribute to estrogen dominance. Birth control pills keep estrogen at high levels to convince the body into thinking it is pregnant. Worsening pms symptoms are often due to imbalance of estrogen over progesterone caused by birth control pills. In addition, when the liver metabolizes the birth control pill it uses extra amounts of the B-complex vitamins, Vitamin C, magnesium, zinc etc. This creates nutrient deficiencies over time leading to disease.
Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
The symptoms range from mild to severe and may manifest as the following;
- Decreased sex drive
- Stronger Pms symptoms including headaches, breast swelling and tenderness
- Mood swings
- Weight/fat gain (abdomen and hips)
- Irregular, heavy or abnormal menstrual periods
- Cold hands and feet (thyroid)
- Hair thinning
- Sluggish metabolism
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Trouble remembering, foggy brain
- Insomnia or other sleep disturbances
- Fibroids, fibrocystic breasts, ovarian cysts, PCOS, endometriosis, infertility
- Early onset puberty (before 12 years of age
Xenoestrogens imitate estrogens and have estrogenic effects in our bodies, even though they differ chemically. They can be either synthetic or natural chemical compounds. Synthetic xenoestrogens are widely used in industrial compounds, such as PCBs, BPA, and phthalates.
In fact, some of the 70,000 registered chemicals for use in the United States have hormonal effects in addition to toxic effects.
The plastic and pesticide industries create byproducts called organochlorines, one of the largest sources of xenoestrogens. Organochlorines are known to accumulate in fatty tissue and body fluid such as in the breasts and breast milk.
Xenoestrogens can also be found in many of our meats and dairy products due to chemicals and hormones given to the animals.
These types of estrogens are causing reproductive diseases in women and are implicated in early onset puberty. They may also contribute to reduced sperm count, male breast enlargement, hair loss, prostate problems, lowered libido, impotency and atherosclerosis in men.
Plastics are a big contributor to environmental estrogens. The chemical bisphenol A (BPA), is used in the lining of many food cans, plastic bottles and juice containers. It is particularly toxic when subjected to high temperatures like sunlight.
How to avoid Xenoestrogens
- Use a high-quality water filter in your home
- Eat organically grown whole foods
- Eat hormone-free meats and dairy products
- Use glass or ceramics for storing food
- Use a simple laundry and dish detergent with less chemicals
- Use organic soaps and toothpastes
- Use natural skin-care products
- Use naturally-based perfumes
Sources of Xenoestrogens:
Other endocrine disrupting chemical sources to avoid:
· Common cleaning chemicals which omit toxic fumes. Instead use natural, non-toxic formulas. You can even make your own cleaning supplies.
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring estrogenic compounds found in a variety of plants. Their chemical structure resembles estrogen and may effect the production and/or the breakdown of estrogen by the body. They are generally considered weak in comparison to real estrogen or even xenoestrogens. However, if you are experiencing estrogen dominance you may want to avoid phytoestrogens.
In addition, women who do not have estrogen dominance concerns and particularly for women in perimenopause or menopause may find phytoestrogens extremely beneficial.
Which foods contain phytoestrogens?
Soy, black cohosh, caffeine, dong quai, red clover and chasteberry
Phytoestrogens can be broken down into three types:
Isoflavonoids – Isoflavonoid phytoestrogens are found in beans from the legume family. Soybeans and soy products are the major dietary source of this type of phytoestrogens.
Lignans – Lignan phytoestrogens are found in high fiber foods such as cereal brans and beans. Flaxseed contain large amounts of lignans, but some studies suggest that it can have a positive effect on estrogen dominance.
Coumestans – Coumestan phytoestrogens are found in various beans such as split peas, pinto beans, and lima beans. Alfalfa and clover sprouts are the foods with the highest amounts of coumestans.
The Solution: addressing the root causes
- Stress reduction. Part of the solution to getting estrogen dominance under control is bringing balance back to the adrenals, thyroid and to the gonads. Stress management is the key here as chronic stress impacts the estrogen to progesterone balance by reducing progesterone output. Cortisol competes for and blocks progesterone receptors. Also, In times of stress progesterone is converted into cortisol. If you continue to be under stress your sleep is effected, you develop anxiety and your adrenals are further drained creating a vicious cycle.
Stress management will return the adrenals to balance which directly impacts the functioning of the thyroid and the gonads.
- Elimination. If your body is not eliminating sufficiently it cannot properly remove the excess estrogen from your body. It may be caused by your diet, lifestyle, compromised microbiome or a combination of them all. Consuming nutrient dense food and drink that supports detoxification is the way to go.
- Eat more fiber. This helps the body process the excess estrogen out of the body. Good sources are flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, tigernuts, broccoli etc.
- Support your microbiome. Certain good bacteria product an enzyme that help metabolize estrogen. Eat plenty of prebiotics, fermented food, apple cider vinegar and take a probiotic supplement if necessary.
- Support your liver. Start the day with half a freshly squeezed organic lemon in a glass of warm water. Eat lots of bitter greens. Include burdock root, dandelion, milk thistle, Jerusalem artichoke regularly and drink at least two liters of filtered water daily.
- Avoid xenoestrogens, strong phytoestrogens and other chemicals including hormones, pesticides, fungicides and antibiotics.
- Lead an active life to support elimination, detoxification and circulation.
The long-term effects of estrogen dominance: These may include:
- Female cancers, particularlybreast cancer
- Increased risk of heart disease and stroke
I am not a doctor. The information in this article should not be considered
medical advice and is not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure any
conditions, physical or otherwise. Opinions expressed are solely those of
the author and do not represent any particular individual or professional