Do you suffer from symptoms of estrogen imbalance? Estrogen is one of the main sex hormone in women and is essential to the menstrual cycle. Women who are estrogen dominant can be subject to a variety of symptoms including:
- PMS symptoms (swelling and pain in breasts, mood swings, etc.)
- Abnormal PAP smear
- Low thyroid function
- Ovarian cysts
- Uterine fibroids
- Cystic breasts
- Heavy and painful periods
- Trouble losing weight (especially in the mid section)
What causes you to be estrogen dominant?
Women produce estrogen from their ovaries, adrenal glands and fat cells. An estrogen dominance occurs when the body is unable to regulate the amount of estrogen in the body. Though the body is equipped to regulate bodily production, it is not always able to regulate estrogen absorbed from the environment. “Environmental estrogen” or xenoestrogens, are estrogen mimickers. These are man-made chemicals that act like estrogen in our bodies. They can be found in plastic, cosmetics, pesticides, dairy, soy products, etc.
Want to know if your body is being bombarded by environmental estrogen? Click here to take survey.
Estrogen Dominance, Thyroid Problems & Adrenal Fatigue
As previously mentioned, high levels of estrogen can disturb the thyroid. Approximately 23% of men and women are on medication and 30% of women and men have issues with their thyroid that are not even diagnosed.
The main symptoms of thyroid issues are:
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Feeling cold
- Night sweats
- Brittle hair
During perimenopause and menopause, the ovaries begin to decrease their production of estrogen. To compensate the adrenal glands, which also produce adrenaline and cortisol, will need to produce more estrogen. If the adrenals are fatigued, they will not be able to perform this function and the following symptoms could be experienced:
- Trouble sleeping – i.e. waking up between 2-4am
- Craving salts
- Affected by caffeine
- No energy
- Weight gain around the middle
Estrogen, the thyroid and the adrenal system work together, all relying on cholesterol (yes, we do need cholesterol!). When one is out of balance, the other hormones can be affected.
Can Men Experience Estrogen Dominance?
Many think that estrogen only affects women, but men can also experience high estrogen levels thanks to xenoestrogens.
Men experiencing estrogen dominance may have the following symptoms:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Beer belly
- Enlarged prostate
So, what should we do?
To keep estrogen dominance at bay, we need to first turn to our environment and lifestyles. We should decrease if not completely eliminate the use of beauty products that contain parabens (PBA) and phthalates. How can we do this? Start with conducting an inventory of the products you are using. How about your hair-dye? Your fabric softener and laundry soaps, do you know what is in there? If you can’t pronounce half of the ingredients in the products, you may want to re-think! Not completely sure if your products pass the test? Visit the website, ewg.org (Environmental Working Group) to assess the toxicity levels of your household items. You’ll be surprised of the amount of products you are using that contribute to high estrogen levels. How about the food you eat? You may want to focus on fresh whole foods that are not out of a box and stay away from pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.
What else can you do?
- Opt for organic, especially cruciferous vegetables. Vegetables like broccoli, kale and cauliflower will help balance and detoxify the estrogen. Organic too expensive? Check out the Environmental Working Group for their list of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen – focus on buying organic for the items listed in the Dirty Dozen.
- Sweat and get your lymphatic system going! Infrared and dry saunas force the body to sweat and detoxify. Dry brush towards the heart and/or try rebounding (skip rope, or jump on a mini trampoline will also be helpful to get your lymphatic system up and activated so the body is able to flush toxins.
- Take care of your liver. Why? The liver is our main detoxification organ.
Clean eating. Eat a well-balanced, nutritionally adequate diet. Focus on consuming as much natural, organic food as possible.
Avoid certain foods. Reduce intake of salt and fatty foods, which contribute to fatty liver disease, by avoiding deep-fried or highly processed food.
Avoid drugs and alcohol. Processing alcohol and drugs (including prescription drugs) is very taxing on the liver.
Fibre. Get more into you; a diet high in fibre (both soluble and non-soluble) helps the liver to function effectively.
Avoid sugar. Processed sugars (white sugar, glucose-fructose, corn syrup) promote fat deposits in the liver.
Drink more water! Staying hydrated improves the flow of nutrients to, and waste products from, this liver. Dehydration can increase the risk of gallstones.
Turmeric. Turmeric has impressive anti-inflammatory effect throughout the body, including the liver. It is excellent against a liver virus or infection. (Cinnamon and licorice are also great to support liver detoxification.)
Cleanse. Using herbs, such as dandelion root, milk thistle and burdock, along with green tea are a great way to cleanse and protect the liver.
Vitamin C. Increasing the amount of vitamin C helps the body to produce glutathione, a liver compound that drives away toxins.
Foods and Natural Supplements
As you can see, some foods and specific changes in our lifestyle can have an impact on our estrogen. When it comes to supplements, Estrosmart by Lorna Vanderhaeghe is my go-to supplement for estrogen related issues. The supplement contains several ingredients proven to balance estrogen levels. It does not contain hormones, only natural products to help achieve better balance, including:
- Indole-3-Carbinol, which is found in cruciferous vegetables helps break cancer-causing estrogen down to non-toxic form and assists in the detoxification of the Cytochrome P450 enzyme system.
- DIM, basically breaks down into Indole-3-Carbinol.
- Glucarate found in apples, grapefruit and broccoli, helps detoxify the estrogen produced in the liver, and helps to flush fat.
- Green tea extract is an antioxidant high in polyphenols, catechins and flavonoids.
- Curcumin, the yellow component of turmeric, has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Sulforaphane, again found in broccoli and sprouts, has a detoxifying effect and it neutralizes dangerous carcinogens.
- Lorna’s EstroSmart Plus has something called Vitex made of the chaste tree berry. Vitex affects the pituitary gland which in turn will affect LH which is the luteinizing hormone that helps regulate the cycle.
The Bottom Line
Thanks to our environments, estrogen dominance has become a health issue for many men and women. If you, or someone you know is experiencing any number of the symptoms discussed, consider getting your hormones checked by your health care practitioner. Symptoms are there to tell us something is not right, ask questions, try to find answers to your health challenges. Ultimately you are in charge of your own health.
For more information on estrogen dominance check out my segment on CTV News here.