I see so many women struggling with hormonal balance today. From age 15 to age 80 it seems everyone has symptoms. Some patients are breast cancer survivors others are dealing with menopause symptoms. Hormonal imbalances are not always just PMS & hot flashes, some of my patients have cold hands, irritability, mood swings, pre-menopausal bone fractures, sluggish metabolism (fatigue), thyroid dysfunction, fibrocystic breasts, anxiety, fibroids, irregular menstrual cycles, and /or insomnia to name just a few?
All of these symptoms can be related to hormonal imbalance and a state known as “Estrogen Dominance” which refers to as a cumulative load of estrogen effects that outpace progesterone.
So how does someone become “estrogen dominant” and how does estrogen effect our overall health? Understanding the causes requires first a look at the most common places we find estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen (E1) is produced mainly in the ovaries. Progesterone is produced mainly from the outside lining of a mature egg released from the ovaries. Our modern world has bio-mimicking hormone disruptor’s just about everywhere, the water we drink, the food we eat, the buildings we live in. Estrogen can also become a dominant hormone through the exposure to xeno-estrogens (chemicals that act on estrogen hormone receptors).
Xeno-estrogens are known endocrine disrupting chemicals and can be found in:
- Body-care products, including ones like sunscreens we coat on our bodies.
- Pesticides in our food supply
- Hormones used to plump up animals in our meat supply chain
- Hormones in our milk supply
- Unfiltered tap water can contain synthetic estrogen from birth control pills
- Microwaving food in plastic containers releases xeno-estrogens
- Some non-stick coated cookware release xeno-estrogens
- Plastic water bottles contain xeno-estrogen chemicals
- Processed food can contain propyl-paraben a well know endocrine disruptor (Propyl paraben is in 49 widely-available processed foods)
We can solve this, right? We can drink filtered water, eat only organic meat and vegetables, change some lifestyle habits and our hormones will go back into balance, problem solved. Theoretically this approach should work, IF the body can detox/eliminate the accumulated toxic estrogen load. Often this load is stored in fat and so many of us are struggling with our weight.
Lifestyle changes will help the toxic overload of estrogen but, unfortunately this is often not enough to bring the body back into balance. Considerations these tips for help with reducing your toxic estrogen load.
Creating a safer estrogen by-product or metabolite should be part of the overall detoxification plan.
1. Chinese herbs formula Jia Wei Xiao Yao San AKA Relax Herb Pack – This popular Chinese herb formula sold worldwide for stress and anxiety outsells all other Chinese formulas, year after year. Stress dramatically affects liver function through continual overproduction of cortisol. When the body over produces cortisol, estrogen dominance can flourish. Help the liver with stress and the downstream effects will improve. In Chinese medicine we always treat the liver first when there are signs of stress and estrogen dominance.
2. Methionine – This supplement provides sulfur (not the same as sulfa drugs) and acts as a cellular cleanser. It literally donates methyl groups for the biochemical reaction that rids you of poisons and harmful estrogen by-products. Foods can also donate methyl groups a few good ones are beets, legumes, eggs, broccoli, leafy greens, nuts and sunflower seeds.
3. Methylcobalamin – A form of B12, this supplement also provides a “methyl” group which helps the estrogen detoxification process. Keep in minds, antacids, some diabetes medications, certain cholesterol binding medicines and alcohol can wipe out your supply of methylcobalamin.
4. Calcium D-Glucarate – This is not the same as plain calcium. Toxins must combine with water-soluble substances to leave your body. This supplement combines with estrogen to help move it out.
5. Reishi Mushroom – Reishi is high in poly-saccharides which feed the body’s microbiome, which, in turn, help your metabolism including liver metabolism. Since your liver is your main detoxification organ, you need to do everything possible to keep it working optimally. Get into the habit of feeding your body foods that help every organ perform better. (Check out organic coffee & tea with reishi here)
6. Fermented foods such as miso soup, tempeh, kombucha, fermented vegetables i.e. pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi.
Keep in mind, reaching hormone balance can be accomplished faster with the elimination and avoidance of xeno-estrogens. However, most doctors will agree, diet, supplements, exercise and lifestyle-based strategies are equally important. Establish realistic goals for yourself and you will be successful in treating the root causes and symptoms of estrogen dominance.
Cathy Margolin, Dipl Oriental Medicine, L.Ac., Founder of Pacific Herbs. This article was originally published on www.pacherbs.com