You may be familiar with the hormone estrogen, and the vital role it plays in women’s reproductive and metabolic health, however, too much estrogen, referred to as estrogen dominance, can cause a myriad of health issues in both men and women. (Yes, men have estrogen too).
While estrogen dominance can naturally occur as we age, one of the most common hormone disruptors are environmental toxins and plastics. Plastics contain xenoestrogens which mimic estrogen in the body and contribute to estrogen dominance. Additionally, many of the pesticides and organic solvents used in our food and water supples act as xenoestrogens too, as do our conventional household cleaners and our daily beauty products. Xenoestrogens are difficult for us to break down, and fools the body into thinking they’re estrogen.
Women with estrogen dominance will likely have PMS, belly fat, and difficulty losing weight. They may also have a history of varicose veins, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, headaches/migraines before periods, sore breasts, or heavy and painful periods. Men with estrogen dominance will often experience fatigue, loss of muscle mass, depression, belly fat and sometimes sexual dysfunction.
The liver is responsible for breaking down estrogen, and impaired liver function can cause an estrogen buildup. Support your liver with herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion, turmeric, and artichoke and essential estrogen balancing supplements such as indole-3-carbinol, calcium-d-glucorate, and DIM.
Bacterial imbalance in the gut and poor digestion can interfere with the proper elimination of estrogen from the body through the digestive tract. Include a daily probiotic in your diet.
Fibre binds to excess estrogen in the digestive tract and helps the liver excrete the toxins. Include sources like flaxseeds, chia seeds, rice/oat bran, lots of fresh fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, lentils and most beans.
Try to choose organic produce, dairy and meats to minimize your exposure to potential estrogen-mimicking pesticides.
Switch over to environmentally friendly household cleaners and detergents, choose organic beauty products and makeup and minimize your exposure to plastics. Switch out all the plastic in your kitchen and dump the plastic zip lock bags and wrap. Wax paper is excellent for wrapping sandwiches or better yet a stainless steel lunch container. Try to go plastic free!
When you are stressed, progesterone is depleted to manufacture more of the stress hormone cortisol, often leaving an excess of estrogen. Choose stress-busting vitamins such as vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium and adapotogenic herbs such as Rhodiola, Siberian ginseng, and Ashwagandha.
Poor sleep habits cause a reduction in the hormone melatonin, which helps to protect against estrogen dominance. Go to bed at the same time each night and prepare for bedtime by winding down and turning off your screens. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
I hope you find these suggestions useful and here’s to happy and healthy hormone balance!
This blog post was written by our guest writer, Dr. Marita Schuach. She’s a naturopathic doctor from Vancouver Island, focusing on preventative healthcare & health education.