Hormone imbalances are a common underlying issue for health problems in both men and women.
The term Estrogen Dominance was coined by Dr John Lee, and again is a concept that can apply to both men and women. What complicates the hormone health story is we are not just dealing with our own hormones but environmental pollutants that act as hormone mimics (usually estrogen mimics) and synthetic hormones in the form of the contraceptive pill and HRT. Collectively these man made versions of estrogen are called xeno-estrogens.
Estrogen is a female hormone which regulates many systems in a women\’s body. The other main female hormone is progesterone. The main male hormone is testosterone, however men do also produce some estrogen.
Estrogen dominance can have a number of causes.
1) When women become menopausal – progesterone production falls off faster than estrogen. This results in classic menopausal symptoms as the differential between progesterone and estrogen widens. These symptoms can be greatly helped by herbal supplements like sage, and bio-identical progesterone cream.
2) Xeno-estrogens from food and the environment can create estrogen dominance in the body. There are many sources of these. Plastics (think bottled water, canned food with plastic liners, plastic kettles, etc); pesticide and fertilizer residues; paints; all petroleum products ( your moisturiser?!); parabens preservative, and more. These pollutants can accumulate in the body and create toxicity in the liver contributing to reproductive cancers in both men and women. However there are certain foods and supplements that help remove them from the body, which again I will talk more about over leaf.
3) The pill and HRT, will create estrogen dominance. This is signiﬁcant in particular for women who are on the pill for many years, especially later in their reproductive life. This form of estrogen dominance is known to be contributory to breast and reproductive organ cancers. To an extent we are all exposed to this class of xeno-estrogen thorough the water supply as millions of women pee out the excess hormones everyday.
Although excess comes out in urine there is still an accumulation in the body. A lifetime on the pill can store up problems for later. But again we can do something about this by using the foods and supplements that strip these from our system.
4) Some foods are high in plant estrogens, in particular soya. Feeding an infant soya formula for example is like giving them a birth control pill in terms of the amount of plant estrogens they are receiving. Goats formula is better option for infants intolerant to cows milk. Soya plant estrogens may however be a beneﬁt for women going through the menopause.
Apart from the issue of estrogen dominance there are other aspects of hormone imbalance, one of which is poor nutrition. This is to do with a lack of raw materials to make healthy amounts of your own hormones in the ﬁrst place. In particular a lack of healthy omega 3 & 6 oils, anti-oxidants, and fresh (like you just picked it from your garden fresh) fruit and vegetables.
Then there is the stress effect. All steroid hormones (which includes sex hormones and stress hormones) are made from cholesterol. If you are experiencing high levels of stress then your body is going to prioritize the production of stress hormones over sex hormones.
So it’s complex picture. But if we get it right we will live longer, look younger, keep slim and feel sexier!
For hormonal rebalancing to occur we need to take into account all the causal aspects of imbalance talked about so far. So lets take one piece of the puzzle at a time.
Xeno-estrogens from our environment – the best thing that we can do is to avoid consuming these in the ﬁrst place. Avoiding plastics, in particular those that have close contact with our food and beverages. One of the most toxic formulas is food or drink in contact with plastic and then exposed to heat. Ready meals heated in plastic, plastic water bottles left in a hot car, etc.
Petroleum derived cosmetics are a signiﬁcant source. We actually absorb xeno-estrogens more readily through our skin than our digestive tract. So switching to natural plant based products is a good move.
And consuming organic foods where possible to avoid pesticide and fertilizer residues that are also xenoestrogenic.
To cleanse our system of these toxins, and also synthetic hormones from contraception or HRT there are a number of foods that are important to eat. Firstly cruciferous vegetables (cabbage family) – which are rich in indole-3-carbinol (I-3-C) a compound which helps ‘make safe’ problem estrogens. Cruciferous veg also contains a compound called Calcium-D-Glucarate (CD-G), which helps the body’s detoxiﬁcation pathway to actually get these toxins out of the body. Fresh fruits and vegetables generally are rich in C-D-G. Especially good are berries, mushrooms and apples.
Another compound that is very important in liver detoxiﬁcation of xeno-estrogens is Trimethylglycine (TMG) – available as a supplement – more commonly associated with treatment for high homocysteine levels (a heart attack risk marker). TMG is a methyl donor. A methyl group is a small but very signiﬁcant piece of biochemistry which if lacking, stops all sorts of biochemical pathways in the body working correctly – including detoxiﬁcation of xeno-estrogens. The best methyl donor foods are beetroot, beetroot juice and goji berries. All B vitamins are methyl donors too.
Women that were on the pill long term or coming oﬀ HRT, can help protect themselves from health problems by going on a course of TMG for a 3-4 months alongside a full detoxiﬁcation program. Women still on the pill could take these supplements too to help protect their health long term.
Bio-identical progesterone cream is another huge help to women pre, peri and post menopausal. Bio-id progesterone is plant based and helps counter the eﬀects of estrogen dominance and the menopause. This stuﬀ is magic. It is a far safer solution than HRT, as progesterone dominance is protective to health. Women pre the menopause but experiencing any of the symptoms of estrogen dominance listed above will beneﬁt from bio-id progesterone cream. A lack of healthy hormones induced by stress can also be countered by the cream that will top up the body’s own production. (Please ask in store for details about how to use it. Note it cannot be used if on the pill.)
If our body is estrogen dominant it will be impossible to have a healthy hormone proﬁle. So the foods mentioned that help strip out xeno-estrogens are essential for everyone in todays world. But then there are other foods that act to build our own hormone production. A balanced intake of omega 3 and 6 oils is essential. A 2:1 ratio of hemp and chia seed oils in the diet will provide this. Other pro-hormone foods are coconut oil and foods, maca, chocolate (especial raw cacao), oats and pine pollen tincture (for men).