Information Acquired from Natural Health Expert, Lorna Vanderhaeghe, M.S.
What do endometriosis, PCOS, heavy periods and PMS have in common? They are all associated with estrogen dominance!
All about Estrogens
Estrogens are a group of hormones that play an important role in normal sexual and reproductive development in both men & women. In a woman, the ovaries produce most of the estrogen (before menopause) as well as the adrenals and fat cells. Estrogens can stay in their original form, convert to another form in the liver, or into beneficial OR harmful estrogen metabolites (breakdown products). Each form has various degrees of interaction with receptors, making them either weak or strong.
Progesterone is a precursor hormone that the body can use to make other hormones. Estrogen and progesterone work together to create harmony. If estrogen is low, progesterone converts to estrogen. Too much estrogen creates a need for more progesterone to keep the balance.
What Is Estrogen Dominance?
An imbalance of unopposed estrogen to progesterone ratio. Either due to excess estrogen, or low progesterone levels in the body. There are many potential causes of estrogen imbalance, such as:
- Overloaded liver (cannot convert, detoxify and excrete excess estrogens)
- Overweight (fat cells store and manufacture estrogen)
- Insomnia (decreases melatonin, which naturally opposes estrogens)
- Stress/Taxed Adrenals (high cortisol competes with progesterone for receptor sites)
- Poor Digestion (dysbiosis -poor gut flora/candida/constipation/food sensitivities/enzyme or HCL deficiency)
- Poor Diet/ Nutrient Deficiencies
- Lack of Exercise
- Underactive Thyroid (slows down liver, leads to release of estrogen)
- Blood Sugar Imbalance (high insulin affects sex hormone production, leads to fat storage, causes fatty deposits in liver)
- External Sources– birth control, HRT, tap water, animal products
- Xeno Estrogen Intake/Exposure – hormone mimicking chemicals found in plastics, agriculture chemicals, cosmetics, cleaning products. These may stimulate estrogen production or fit into estrogen receptors and cause stimulation, promoting imbalance.
PCOS - a disease characterized by many fluid-filled cysts, male facial hair growth, lack of ovulation, skin tags, weight gain, infertility blood sugar imbalances, abnormal periods. Unmatched estrogen levels and excess insulin cause an increase in the production of male hormones.
BREAST CYSTS – characterized by fibrous tissue that develops into lumps due to accumulation of fluid (not properly drained by lymphatic system). Leads to tenderness, swelling and lumpy feeling.
FIBROIDS – round, firm, benign growths on or in uterus. Usually occur in groups. May lead to painful, irregular, heavy periods.
ENDOMETRIOSIS – a disease characterized by infertility, painful periods & intercourse. Tissue (cells) that normally grows inside the uterus abnormally grows outside of it. May have a link to immune reaction.
PMS – a syndrome characterized by tender breasts, cramps, swelling, bloating/constipation, cravings, migraines, skin problems, mood swings, terrible periods.
INFERTILITY – inability to conceive. Linked to low progesterone levels, PCOS, endometriosis.
Other symptoms of Estrogen Dominance may include: Depression, Weight Gain, Insomnia, Early Aging, Acne, Fatigue, Foggy Thinking, Irritability/Mood Swings, Dryness, Thyroid Issues, High Blood Pressure, Irregular Menstrual Cycles/Heavy Periods, Tenderness, and Cellulite
How do we work at supporting our liver and help balance healthy estrogen to progesterone ratios? 1) We must work at minimizing and eliminating triggers/ underlying factors that may be contributing to the problem (chemicals in food, body care and cleaning products, etc.) 2) Other factors to consider are supporting healthy digestion and elimination to prevent toxicity from constipation and ensuring adequate nutrition for proper hormone regulation (healthy fats, quality protein, foods such as flax, broccoli, buckwheat, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, squash, etc.) 3) we can focus on taking in nutritional support to help maintain a healthy estrogen to progesterone ratio, help the body break down harmful estrogens to non-toxic forms, detoxify excess estrogens in the liver and protect against the effects of estrogen dominance. These ingredients consist of, but are not limited to Indole-3-Carbinol, Calcium D Glucarate, Sulforaphane, Curcumin, DIM, etc. 4) Lifestyle tips can be incorporated such as regular exercise, weight, blood sugar and stress management, thyroid support (if necessary). 5) Additional natural recommendations can be made for those suffering from PCOS, menstrual pain, endometriosis, cysts, infertility, etc.
If these signs or symptoms are of concern to you, contact a health professional or advisor to consider natural options for hormone regulation and symptom relief!
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.