By Natalie Pickering, Naturopath
Oestrogen excess is one of the most common hormonal pictures seen over my 20 years in practice. Thisproblem is likely to worsen amongst younger women and pubescent girls as our environment becomes increasingly saturated in xenoestrogens and our bodies struggle to cope well under the pressure we put on our liver and gut health.
It is important to remember oestrogen is not the bad guy, it is an essential part of the monthly dance of the menstrual cycle. It promotes the development and maintenance of the reproductive structures, it is responsible for preparing the uterus for pregnancy and preparing the follicle to release an egg every month. It supports the production of your ‘motivation’ neurotransmitter, dopamine and your ‘happiness’ neurotransmitter, serotonin. Oestrogen also helps maintain our bone density and healthy hydration of your skin. We need oestrogen to be dominant in the first 2 weeks of our cycle, only when it remains dominant through the whole cycle does it start to create chaos.
What does Oestrogen Excess look like?
To paint the picture, you are likely have an excess of oestrogen if you suffer with several of these symptoms; your moods tend to be volatile, you feel irritable and tense often, it is difficult to maintain concentration or you have been feeling depressed. Your breasts can become sore and engorged, you are struggling to reduce fat gain around your belly, bottom and thighs, you have recurrent thrush and your libido is non existent. Your menstrual flow tends to be heavy and clotty and you gain and lose a few kilos in fluid retention every month.
I don’t know about you but the mental and emotional complaints alone are enough to prompt me to search for a solution. Knowledge is power!
How to avoid oestrogen excess
To begin with we need an understanding of how and why this imbalance develops. Oestrogen excess is rarely a result of excess production (though it can be during perimenopause). It is usually the result of exposure to Xenoestrogens, poor oestrogen clearance or impaired detoxification. Without getting too deep into the biochemistry there are three essential steps to stopping the drivers of oestrogen excess.
1. Support healthy Liver function- your liver packages up oestrogen into a form your body can excrete through the bowel.
2. Maintain good bowel health- healthy gut flora and a high fibre diet reduces the amount of oestrogen reabsorbed back into the blood from the bowel.
3. Reduce Xenoestrogen exposure- Xenoestrogens are synthetic or natural substances that imitate oestrogen. The most common sources of xenoestrogens are found in plastics, beauty products, insecticides and conventional cleaning products. To start with, look out for and avoid anything containing Phthalates, Parabens, BpA, PBDE (flame retardants) and PCB.
Five essential steps to reducing oestrogen excess
* Maintain healthy weight- excess fat drives higher oestrogen production
* Support you liver health- reduce sugar, alcohol, processed food, artificial additives and fried vegetable oils. Consider herbal therapies like Turmeric, Schisandra and St Marys Thistle, nutritional supplements like DIM, Calcium d Glucarate, Zinc, Magnesium, B6, Methionine, N acetyl Cysteine,
* Eat a healthy diet- higher in healthy fats and proteins and high fibre foods, low in refined carbohydrates and processed food.
* Buy organics- As much as the budget allows, where necessary use a fruit and vegetable wash to clean residues from conventional veg.
* Audit your home- look for sources of xeno eostrogens in the laundry, bathroom, garden shed and kitchen. Replace products with new natural ones without xeno oestrogens as the budget allows.
The above are five of the steps you could begin with today if you suspect you may have an excess of oestrogen. If your symptoms are more than mild I recommend consulting with a naturopath specializing in women’s health to organize a saliva analysis to assess your hormone levels and provide the support, guidance and practitioner grade supplements to resolve the imbalance as quickly as possible.
On November 2nd at 6pm my colleague Mel Hohaia and I will be presenting “Session One – On the path to becoming a well woman”, an informal evening delving deeper into the hormonal intricacies of your cycle.
Check our facebook page Womanly Wisdom Sessions or email us firstname.lastname@example.org for more information