In our day-to-day busy lives, women are especially prone to feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, sleep-deprived, and irritable. Additionally, many of us also face the frustrations that come with following healthy weight loss regimens, only to not see the desired results.
When a client comes to see me with these symptoms, we examine the likelihood that she has a hormone imbalance and that it’s probably an issue with the critical sex hormones Estrogen and Progesterone.
When estrogen is out of sync
Estrogen Dominance is a term for a condition first coined by health care pioneer Dr. John Lee MD, whereby a woman has excessive estrogen levels, or even normal to low estrogen levels – but they’re high relative to progesterone.
In other words, she has too little progesterone to balance the effects of estrogen.
Dr. Lee, author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About, even postulated that it is estrogen dominance that causes many of the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, and not necessarily just a drop in estrogen levels as most doctors would suggest.
Why is this E:P balance so important?
Estrogen is the hormone that gives a woman full breasts, curvy hips, a boosted sex drive and tops her up on serotonin – the feel-good neurotransmitter.
Progesterone, on the other hand, is what balances out all that “sexiness” by being calming, keeping the thyroid on task and raising body temperature to help boost metabolism.
This delicate balance is like dance partners; when one partner misses a step and falls behind, the well-rehearsed choreography is off.
Common symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
- Breast tenderness & fibrocystic breasts
- Decreased sex drive/low libido
- Fat gain, especially around hips & thighs
- Hair loss & thinning
- Depression, irritability & mood swings
- Water retention & bloating
- Trouble sleeping & insomnia
- Ovarian cysts
What are the causes?
Due to the fact that we’re literally bombarded daily with toxins in our environment and in our own routines, the causes of estrogen dominance are many!
You would virtually have to live in a bubble to avoid all the possible sources of external estrogens or xenoestrogens – man-made chemicals in the environment that mimic estrogen in our bodies and act as hormone disruptors, even in small amounts.
Dr. Natasha Turner, ND & Women’s Health Expert, offers some insight into the main causes:
There are basically two ways to accumulate excess estrogen in the body: we either produce too much of it on our own, or acquire it from our environment. Unfortunately, accumulating estrogen is not hard!
Additional ways we can produce too much estrogen include:
- Excess body fat (>28%) – because estrogen is produced in fat cells, the more fat cells we have, the more estrogen we produce
- Too much stress, resulting in excess amounts of cortisol and insulin, which can negatively affect overall hormone balance including pushing the adrenals past their limits (adrenal “exhaustion”)
- A low-fiber diet, high in sugar & excess refined carbs, and deficient in high quality “good fats”
- Environmental toxins & xenoestrogens
Natural treatment for Estrogen Dominance
- Ditch the toxins, plastic, conventional house cleaning & beauty products and other sources of xenoestrogens!
- Greatly limit processed & packaged foods, refined sugary carbs, as well as coffee and alcohol.
- Follow a hormone-balancing, anti-inflammatory diet. This includes a diet rich in fresh, whole foods, adequate protein and moderate amounts of good fats, like coconut oil, avocados and hemp seeds.
- It is also recommended to include foods that are naturally high in calcium d-glucarate and indole-3-carbinol. Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower & Brussels sprouts are high in both of these estrogen-detoxing components.
- Eat more fiber. Estrogen is excreted through the bowel, so if the bowel isn’t regularly evacuated, all of those toxins, including estrogen can be recirculated in the body. It is suggested to eat fiber-rich fruits & vegetables daily, including the unique estrogen-absorbing fiber found in the skin of unpeeled, organic carrots.
- Support your liver so the “bad estrogens” can be detoxified more efficiently. Drink two cups daily of liver-support tea blend that includes milk thistle, dandelion leaf, peppermint, lemon balm, holy basil (tulsi), ginger, and/or turmeric (curcumin).
- There are many effective supplements used for estrogen detoxification purposes like DIM and those mentioned above: calcium d-glucarate & indole-3-carbinol.
- There are also supplements indicated for naturally increasing progesterone levels like Vitamin C and Chasteberry (Vitex). Please ask a health professional (nutritionist, naturopath, or functional medicine practitioner) to guide you in adding therapeutic supplements to your routine.
- Exercise regularly – especially strength training. Move your body and break a sweat daily.
- Daily self-care routine – go to bed earlier, try meditation, explore stress management tools like exercise, aromatherapy, music, connecting with nature or an epsom salt bath.