The basic issue of estrogen dominance is that estrogen levels are too high relative to other hormones, specifically progesterone. Usually it occurs when estrogen levels go too high, though it can also happen when progesterone levels fall too low. It can occur at any time during life – during reproductive years, perimenopause, or even menopause. Many of the symptoms of estrogen dominance coincide with symptoms of other health issues. Common symptoms include:
- Irregular Cycles: cycles are longer or shorter than normal, come sporadically, or you don’t have a period at all.
- Menstrual Issues: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, fibroids, severe menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms like swollen breasts, water retention, and digestive issues.
- Loss of energy and sex drive: low libido, “foggy” brain, memory lapses, chronic fatigue, insomnia, and sluggish metabolism (resulting in weight gain ).
- Emotional Issues: headaches, depression,anxiety, mood swings, heart palpitations, and sleep disturbances.
- Skin Issues: allergy-like symptoms (asthma and hives), dry eyes, vaginal dryness and hair loss. There are several things that combine to Estrogen Dominance.
Poor diet. Processed foods or foods that are high in unhealthy fats and sugar can increase estrogen levels. Eating a diet high in soy foods dramatically increases estrogen levels. Not having enough Magnesium and Vitamin B6 can also affect estrogen levels. Xenoestrogens. We live in an estrogen-dominant world, and we’re bombarded by environmental estrogens, or xenoestrogens, every single day. They’re everywhere – in the plastics, canned foods, conventional meats, non-organic fruits & veggies, our body care products, cleaning supplies, and many more.
Being overweight. Fat cells perform a function called “aromatization” which converts testosterone to estrogen. The more body fat, the more the body tips the balance towards estrogen and away from testosterone. Poor liver function. The liver is responsible for clearing the body of “old” hormones, especially estrogen. If the liver is overburdened with a hyper-caloric diet, a diet filled with excess sugar, alcohol, vegetable oils, GMOs and/or chemicals, it becomes sluggish in its ability to process everything. When the liver slows down, estrogen ends up becoming backlogged, and wreaks havoc on the reproductive system as it waits for the liver to heal and to catch up in its bloodstream clearing capacity. Harmful phytoestrogens cause negative effects similar to estrogenic chemicals — causing cancer and promoting their growth. Soy is the most estrogenic plant found in nature and promotes estrogenic activity that harms the body as much as synthetic xenoestrogens. The body recognizes the highly bioactive form of soy isoflavones (phytoestrogens) as harmful toxins that need to be neutralized and eliminated. Soy works by competitively occupying the estrogen receptor sites on the cell membrane to prevent internal estrogen from exerting its effects on the cell. Fermented forms of soy like natto, soy sauce, tempeh, and miso do not have the same estrogenic properties and are ok to eat
The most potent estrogenic plants, besides soy, are licorice and red clover. Avoid them. They both show potent progesterone-inhibiting properties. No sunflower oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, or canola oil. These are all estrogenic. Use olive oil instead. Avoid black cohosh. There are many reports of its cancer-promoting effects and liver-damaging effects after long-term use. Avoid tea tree oil which also has estrogenic effects.
To support the liver’s work at de-toxifying estrogens favour herbs and supplements that do the job. Diindolylmethane (DIM) helps detox excess estrogen. Glutathione, N-acetyl-cysteine, methionine, l-taurine and r-lipoic acid also provide great benefit. Milk thistle and its extract silymarin haves special value. Silymarin prevents damage to the liver by acting as an antioxidant. It is much more effective than vitamin E and vitamin C. Extremely toxic chemicals such as carbon tetrachloride, amanita toxin, galactosamine and praseodymium nitrate produce experimental liver damage in animals. Silymarin has been shown to protect the liver against these toxins.
Silymarin also works by preventing the depletion of glutathione. The higher the glutathione content, the greater the liver’s capacity to detoxify harmful chemicals. Moreover, silymarin has been shown to increase the level of glutathione by up to 35 %. In human studies, silymarin has been shown to exhibit positive effects in treating liver diseases of various kinds including cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis, fatty infiltration of the liver, and inflammation of the bile duct. Excessive estrogen affects both thyroid and adrenal function, and in turn, dysfunctional thyroid and Adrenal Fatigue makes estrogen dominance worse. They all go hand in hand.