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Too Much Estrogen

by Dr. Dalite Sancic, DACM, L.Ac., MSOM

Hormones are a confusing topic and there is a multitude of information out there to look through which can feel like digging through the weeds. However, hormonal health related conditions have increased in the last thirty years exponentially and 80% of women will struggle with some form of hormonal health related condition in their lifetime. Many, if not most, of those women end up having to advocate for themselves in order to get the proper testing, diagnosis and treatment for their symptoms.

In this article, I will discuss the boss of hormones, Estrogen. Estrogen is best known for playing a paramount role in the monthly cycle of women. Other important functions of Estrogen include maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, controlling cholesterol levels, producing neurotransmitters like serotonin, regulating stress response, keeping inflammation in check, maintaining bone health as well as skin tone and hair health. Estrogen also assists in the production of melatonin (a sleep hormone), supports memory and executive function. Estrogen is the primary influencer in the development of the female body shape and physical characteristics. And last, helps to prepare the uterus for pregnancy.

There are estrogen receptors all over the body - in the bones, brain and immune system. Estrogen levels do decline during menopause, however many women can have higher than ‘normal’ levels earlier in life due to our external environment, chemical exposures, some medications, alcohol consumption, higher stress levels, and increased body fat. Symptoms of high estrogen levels include breast tenderness, breast fullness, breast cysts, shortened menstrual cycles, heavy periods, fibroids or endometriosis, mood changes (including anxiety or depression), hormonal headaches or migraines, weight gain around the midsection or difficulty losing weight.

The Liver has to break down estrogen, so if there is too much in your system, some amount of the estrogen will get recycled through the Liver again to try to flush out what isn’t needed, basically causing an excess burden on your Liver over time.


Causes of excess Estrogen and what to do about them:

1 - Estrogen-mimicking hormones in your food or environment:

Endocrine-Disrupting-Chemicals (EDC) have the highest impact on our hormones and are known to interfere with the ones we naturally produce. They are easily absorbed and burden the detoxification system, creating difficulty in excreting the excess.

*Reduce your exposure to plastics. Store and eat your food using glass containers.

*Buy organic and hormone-free produce and meats whenever possible.

*Wash your hands well after handling paper receipts (they are coated in a toxic plastic!)

*Use hair and skin-care products that are labeled “paraben-free”.

2 - Gut and Liver Impact:

The Liver and the gut-microbiome are the two ways in which we eliminate excess Estrogen. If that function is not working properly, Estrogen is trapped in the body and can’t get out!! Estrogen is made in the ovaries, circulates in the bloodstream and throughout the rest of the body. When it’s done doing its job of supporting your system in all of the ways discussed in paragraph two, it can cause an imbalance in the gut microbiome causing more stress on your system.

*Eat more green vegetables.

*Eat more Flaxseeds.

*Reduce or eliminate dairy, caffeine and alcohol.

*Eat naturally fermented foods such as coconut yogurt, sauerkraut, pickled veggies, kimchi & miso. You can also take a high quality probiotic.

Another exposure to toxic chemicals that is not discussed often is spray-tanning or self-tanning products. The main ingredient in these tanning products is called dihydroxyacetone (dha) which is mixed with fragrances. These chemical compounds have been linked to cell damage, triggering genetic mutations which have been linked to cancer. Other reported side effects include flu-like symptoms, nausea, and diarrhea. The skin is a very effective organ for ingestion and excretion, which means that because it is put topically on the skin, it is absorbed into your system easily.

In short, being choosy about what you decide to absorb, whether it be through your skin or through your digestive system, will make a difference in how you feel. Because our environment is more toxic than ever in human history, we need to make a more concerted effort to protect and support our detoxification system.

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