Estrogen dominance can produce a range of symptoms including weight gain, hair loss, irregular periods and mood swings - to name just a few. The first step to take if you are experiencing Estrogen dominance is to head to your GP and get a diagnosis. If you want to balance your hormones naturally, there are a number of steps you can take, starting with diet, exercise and supplements. In this article we discuss what Estrogen dominance is and how you can get yourself back in check
What is Estrogen?
Estrogen is a dominant female sex hormone along with progesterone. However, estrogen is essential for men also. Estrogen is required for menstrual cycles, pregnancy, sex drive, puberty, brain function, skin health, cardiovascular health, mood, cholesterol balance, bone development and much more.
There are 3 types of Estrogen. Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2) & Estriol (E3). Estrogen can be made in the ovaries, testes, liver, adrenals, fat cells and the brain. Too much aromatase (enzyme that converts androstenedione & testosterone into estrogen) can lead to too much estrogen in men and women.
Estradiol (E2) is the most common form found in nonpregnant, premenopausal females. Estradiol levels vary through a woman’s menstrual cycle, with levels highest just before ovulation.
However, under certain conditions estrogen may stay high throughout the cycle or be elevated in relation to progesterone. This may lead to symptoms of estrogen dominance.
Both estrogen and progesterone are essential. However, the ratio and how it fluctuates through the 4 phases of a woman’s cycle are of upmost importance. Here is a brief diagram explaining the yin & yang of these two important sex hormones.
What are the symptoms of estrogen dominance?
Estrogen dominance can lead to a range of frustrating symptoms including:
- Irregular/heavy periods
- Hair loss
- Weight Gain
- Depression and anxiety
- Loss of libido
- Increased premenstrual symptoms
If you have a hormonal imbalance, it's safe to say you won't be feeling your best. Estrogen and Progesterone are necessary for a range of essential bodily processes - not just related to reproductive health. These other functions include blood clotting, fat storage and blood sugar control.
Remember men have estrogen and progesterone also. Both these hormones are necessary for healthy bodily functions. The balance of these hormones is also important for men, although they do not fluctuate in a monthly cycle like women.
Estrogen is anabolic. This means it builds tissue including uterine lining, blood, skin, bone, fat etc. It can also be stored and made in fat tissue. This means people who have higher body fat often have higher estrogen and the cycle continues.
How the body conjugates (binds to) and eliminates excess estrogen is critically important. Defects in this elimination system can lead to a build up or reabsorption of estrogen.
Let’s take a look at the herbs, vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are most helpful in balancing estrogen and sex hormones in men and women.
Turmeric (Curcumin): is an Ayurvedic spice that contains curcumin which is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory benefits that may help support hormone signalling and feedback. In addition, inflammation tends to exacerbate the symptoms of PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, anxiety, and depression. Therefore, adding curcumin to your diet has been shown to reduce these symptoms.
Turmeric also helps support the liver to eliminate excess estrogen and xenoestrogens as well as toxins, chemicals and heavy metals which all contribute to endocrine (hormonal) disruptions. Turmeric may also help reduce digestive bloating and painful periods. And a recent study also found curcumin helps to control blood sugar levels and reduces lipogenesis (the accumulation of body fat). Therefore, breaking the estrogen dominance cycle.
Broccoli (Sulforaphane & Indole 3 Carbinol): and other cruciferous vegetables are full of glucosinolates and glucoraphanin. These compounds are precursors to more potent isothiocyanates like Indole 3 carbinol and sulforaphane. You will find 300% more of these compounds in sprouts vs full grown vegetables. They are powerful detoxification supporting antioxidants that also increase NRF2 and therefore glutathione.
Glutathione is our bodies most potent antioxidant and detoxifier. Supporting detoxification and elimination of excess estrogen, xenoestrogens or endocrine disruptors is critical in providing a balanced, healthy hormonal profile. Sulforaphane is becoming a prized supplement for skin health and is said to reduce fine lines, wrinkles and cellulite by reducing oxidative stress and activating genes that improve collagen and elastin production.
Resveratrol: is found in pinot and other red wines. It’s sometimes referred to as the French paradox as it helps support fat burning by enhancing lipolysis (breakdown of fats for fuel) and preventing the maturation of juvenile fat cells. However, red wine probably isn’t the best source of Resveratrol.
The most concentrated source of Resveratrol is Polygonum Caspidatum (Japanese knotweed). Polygonum contains the biologically active Trans-Resveratrol which is a powerful antioxidant and anti-aromatase compound. That means it helps prevent the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.
Resveratrol also supports phase 1 & phase 2 detoxification which results in less accumulation of excess estrogen, xenoestrogens and other endocrine disruptors. Resveratrol acts like a SERM (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator). This means it weakly activates the estrogen receptors and can block the attachment of more powerful estradiol, which may reduce estrogen dominance symptoms.
Finally, all sex hormones are made from cholesterol and Resveratrol helps with the synthesis and metabolism of cholesterol which may maintain hormonal balance. This mechanism may be how resveratrol also supports cardiovascular health.
Schisandra Chinensis: is a berry used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to support energy, reduce fatigue, cleanse the liver and increase qi (life force). It is known to have nitric oxide (NO2) boosting benefits which may promote circulation and nutrient transport. As an adaptogen Schisandra helps to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, improve adrenal function and support a balance of progesterone to estrogen.
Schisandra may help improve insulin sensitivity resulting in better use of carbohydrates, less storage of body fat and reduced symptoms of PCOS.
The way Schisandra enhances liver function is through the support of hydroxylation. This allows for better estrogen metabolism and detoxification resulting in a balanced sex hormone profile.
N-Acetylcysteine (NAC): is a biologically active form of the essential amino acid cysteine. It is a precursor to glutathione and powerfully supports liver and kidney function and detoxification. In fact, doctors regularly administer NAC to protect the liver and kidneys of patients receiving high doses of acetaminophen (Paracetamol).
Research shows NAC helps support ovulation frequency and fertility through regulation of the menstrual cycle, healthier eggs, and sperm.
NAC may also reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in skin cells resulting in clearer healthier skin. It may also improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation. This may result in less fat storage and insulin resistance.
Pomegranate Seeds: contain ellagic acids called Punicalagins. These powerful antioxidants act as natural SERM’s (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator) to prevent over activation of estrogen receptors in the case of estrogen dominance and maintain healthy hormone function in the case of depleted estrogen during menopause etc.
Punicalagins may reduce the enzyme (Aromatase) that converts testosterone into estrogen reducing excess estrogen formation. They also possess anti-Inflammatory benefits and have been studied to support healthy prostate function and heart health.
Milk Thistle: contains silybin which may support phase 2 detoxification by boosting Glutathione. This means it may help reduce excess estrogen and xenoestrogens through detoxification.
Milk Thistle may also help support skin health by balancing hormones and detoxifying our body. One study showing 53% reduction in acne.
Milk thistle may reduce the visible signs of aging and support cognitive health by reducing oxidative damage and Amyloid plaque in the brain. It may also stimulate bone mineralisation, reducing the risks of osteoporosis that comes with excessive or low estrogen.
Quercetin: is a flavonoid found in a lot of common fruits and vegetables. It is most well-known for its anti-inflammatory and antihistamine (reduce allergies) benefits. It may also help support the removal of heavy metals that can disrupt hormones, gut, and brain health.
Quercetin may reduce the enzyme aromatase that converts testosterone into estrogen, reducing excess estrogen formation and preserving more testosterone for muscle tone, fat loss and libido.
Quercetin weakly activates estrogen receptors like a natural SERM. This may help reduce over activation with estrogen dominance and maintain some healthy function in the case of perimenopause & menopause.
Zinc: is critical for healthy hormone production and metabolism. It helps support the release of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) which are critical to support a regular menstrual cycle and maintain adequate sex hormone levels.
Stress and excess estrogen can result in an underactive thyroid. Zinc is involved in converting inactive T4 into active T3. It may also support immune function and gut health.
Selenium: is critical for healthy thyroid function and detoxification. It supports sulfation and methylation which supports your bodies elimination of excess estrogen.
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that may protect your skin from UV damage that accelerates aging. It is considered one of the top 10 nutrients for healthy glowing skin.
It also helps support immune function which may result in less pathogenic activity in your gut causing hormone imbalances. Selenium may also improve fertility. One study showed selenium has a protective effect against free radical damage of sperm.
There are several lifestyle factors that may also help balance hormones. Most hormone disfunction comes as a result of nutrient deficiency, stress and toxicity. You should try avoiding alcohol, eating a wide variety of spray free fruits and vegetables, eating hormone free animal protein and quality fats.
Reducing stress via breathing techniques, yoga, exercise, dancing, singing and generally having fun may help considerably.
For more information speak directly to a qualified health care provider.
Disclaimer: The above article is merely a guide and is in no way a recommendation or a treatment protocol for any health conditions or diseases. You should always consult with a qualified health care provider before changing your supplement, training or nutritional strategy. Supplementation should not be attempted by pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone on prescription medication or children under the age of 15 unless advised by your qualified health care provider.