PMS, fibroids, cellulite, menopause, hair loss, allergies, hip fat, belly fat, thyroid nodules or cancer, breast or uterine cancer, endometriosis or infertility? It could all be due to your estrogen.
What is Estrogen Dominance?
You might have heard of the term before used loosely in magazines and conversations. That’s hardly surprising – estrogen dominance is one of the most common hormonal imbalances women experience today.
In fact, it is so common, that we assume that feeling PMS, being menopausal and having fibroids is pretty normal. I want to show you that it is not and there is a way to fix it.
Estrogen dominance can occur for three reasons
You can experience estrogen dominance if you have one or even all three of the below:
1: E1, E2 and E3 ratio: When there is too much estrone (E1) and estradiol (E2), also known as the “aggressive estrogens”, as compared to estriol (E3), which is the “protective estrogen.” This measurement is called the “Estrogen Quotient” and can be measured with a simple saliva test.
2: Progesterone: Estradiol ratio: When there is insufficient progesterone to oppose the more aggressive estradiol (E2) – this shows up as a ratio of progesterone to estradiol in saliva or urine tests.
3. Metabolites: When estrone metabolites called 2:16 hydroxy-estrone get broken down unfavorably towards the “dirty” metabolite – 16 hydroxy-estrone (that tends to be highly estrogenic and act on the estrogen receptor). I like to use YourLabwork.com to order the tests to check these metabolites. You can read more about which lab tests to order here.
Do you have Estrogen Dominance?
If you have not done any tests yet, that’s OK. A good diagnosis is always based on lab work, symptoms and family health history, especially from your mother’s side (this applies to women).
Why do we become estrogen dominant?
Estrogen dominance is a complex condition and can be caused by some of these:
Eating non-organic food – which is grown “conventionally” (this term is ridiculous, in my world), contains a high amount of pesticides, fertilizers as well as growth hormones and antibiotics that are fed to animals. They contribute to endocrine disruption in every way you can imagine
Excess exposure to environmental xenoestrogens – a number of chemical compounds (like phthalates, BPA, SLS and many others) found in consumer products such as detergents and skin care products.
Use of synthetic estrogens such as the birth control pill and hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Digestive issues which inhibit the estrogen detoxification process in the liver and overproduce cortisol which blocks progesterone receptors
Chronic stress which strains the adrenals and the thyroid,
Unresolved emotional issues from the past and present-day
Poor liver function, as the liver is responsible for eliminating metabolized or “used up” estrogens
Lifestyle choices such as drugs (prescription and recreational), smoking, and alcohol.
What can you do?
Here is the good news. You can do many things to help yourself right away. There is always an option of taking topical creams but I do not recommend this as an immediate solution. Build a healthy foundation for yourself so you can prevent other conditions – like autoimmune conditions which are also becoming a pandemic. Progesterone cream alone will not take away the underlying causes of estrogen dominance. Your food and lifestyle choices will. Here is how:
1. Test first
It’s important to confirm your suspicion of experiencing estrogen dominance. You can get your doctor to test it for you at your next appointment (be sure to get saliva, not blood testing) or you can order a test online from the YourLabwork.com without having to pay doctor consultation fees. What is key is to get your Estrogen Quotient and Pg/E2 ratio reading.
You might need the help of a skilled practitioner to interpret the results (they are pretty complex). At this point, I do not offer 1:1 consultations but if you email my team, we can point you to practitioners I recommend and trust.
I also wrote an article about which lab tests to order. You can read it here.
2. Go organic
If you think that organic food is just a hype or a “hippie thing” to do, think again. Most of the chemical compounds used in raising “conventional” food and growing animals are highly detrimental to your hormonal balance. If you are on a tight budget, there might be surprising options in your neighborhood like food co-ops. Many people like to get their food directly from an organic farmer (dropped off in the city). For listings of farmers in your area, go to www.LocalHarvest.org
3. Eliminate xenoestrogen
Xenoestrogen are compounds found in general consumer products such as creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfumes, hair sprays, and room deodorizers. Such compounds often have chemical structures similar to estrogen and indeed act like estrogen.
Other sources of xenoestrogens include: car exhaust, petrochemically derived pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides; solvents and adhesives such as those found in nail polish; paint removers, and glues; dry-cleaning chemicals; practically all plastics; industrial waste such as PCBs and dioxins, and synthetic estrogens from urine of women taking HRT and birth control pills that are flushed down the toilet and eventually find their way into the food chain and back into the body. They are fat soluble which means we need the engage the liver to get rid of them.
If you use skincare and cleaning products advertised on television and magazines, I hope you ditch them. They are the worse offenders.
One great website to evaluate your skincare and home cleaning product is www.ewg.org , a non-profit and independent testing authority for the toxicity and safety of thousands of products.
In terms of the cleanest, most effective and divine-smelling skincare brand, I recommend the Annmarie Gianni range. You can get a sample kit from them first to decide if it’s for you.
4. Improve your liver function
I wrote extensively about the role of our liver in hormonal health. In short: your liver is responsible for the evacuation of metabolized estrogens (the methylation pathway in the liver) to make way for more healthy estrogens. The article I referenced here will give you many ideas about how to detoxify your liver naturally.
Please note that in order to detox your liver, you need to make dietary and lifestyle changes for a period of time. Powders, pills, and supplements alone will NOT be effective enough to help your liver.
5. Restore the health of your digestive system
The health of your gut is central to your overall health as much as your hormonal balance. I am yet to meet a person who is healthy but has digestive issues. When I say “digestive issues” I mean chronic constipation, gas, bloating, diarrhea, acid reflux, burping, and frequent stomach aches.
A distressed digestive tract will prompt the adrenals to release cortisol. Cortisol is a progesterone blocker at the cell level. Can you see now why any form of stress (emotional, physical, digestive, etc.) can lead to estrogen dominance?
Another interesting data point is the recent findings on the estrobolome – a subset of the gut bacteria that helps metabolize estrogen. Who would have thought that the poor gut bacteria would bring on estrogen dominance?
“The estrobolome provides a framework for understanding how an individual’s resident gut bacteria may modulate lifetime estrogen exposure,” said Dr. Plottel. “States of estrogen excess are associated with an increased risk of developing estrogen-related cancers, so knowledge and characterization of the estrabolome represent a novel area of promising scientific and biomedical research.” – source.
Where do you start?
My approach to restoring digestive health always starts with identifying the potential food intolerances you might be suffering from; most often, unknowingly. I see many people not reacting well to gluten, dairy and sometimes eggs, corn, soy, grain, beef – and the list goes on
What if food is not enough?
Over the years in my health coach practice and personally, I have discovered that sometimes food alone is not enough to heal our bodies. I recommend you start with dietary changes then add in herbs and supplements if further hormonal balancing is needed.