Hormones are extremely powerful messengers. Minute quantities of hormones trigger a wide range of reactions in the body from ovulation to sleep, to energy, moods and everything in between. A delicate balance exists which is influenced from many internal and external factors.
Hormones are produced in the body and travel through the blood system and tissues attaching to hormone receptor sites which then signal cells to function in a certain way in response the stimulate or message received. Once the message has been received hormones will normally detach and travel through the blood system to the liver where they are metabolised and excreted into the digestive system for removal from the body.
Now this is where one of the problems can occur. If the liver is not metabolising hormones well, then these hormones pass through the liver unmetabolised and have a duplicate effect. The second part to compound this double effect is when the digestive system is sluggish there is a chance that the metabolised hormones are reabsorbed and have a triple effect. These two factors are the major cause of a phenomenon known as oestrogen dominance. It’s a duplicate and triplicate effect of oestrogen which causes many symptoms such as;
- Weight gain
- Painful breasts
- Overgrowth of hormonal tissues leading to endometriosis
- Fibrocystic breast disease
- Mood swings
- Fluid retention
- Acne and skin issues
- Reduced libido
- Irregular or abnormal menstrual periods
- Hair loss
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Foggy head
- Sleep disorders
Part of the issue is excessive oestrogen in the system but also the corresponding lack of progesterone which in general is more easily metabolised in the liver than oestrogen. Oestrogen and progesterone are partners in a way and need to be in balance to offset the action of each other.
Oestrogen dominance can happen at any age but the most common time period is between 35 and 50 where the liver does not function as well as it once may have. Another factor is certain nutrient deficiencies which are needed to metabolise hormones such as zinc, b vitamins, and magnesium. Ironically these nutrients are depleted through the use of synthetic hormones from contraceptives or HRT because the body needs to work harder to metabolise these hormones, hence leading to the deficiency.
Some women however have genetic predispositions to poor hormone metabolism via pyrrole disorder and MTHFR genetic defect which affects methylation which is the major process for oestrogen metabolism. The characteristic symptom pattern for these women is since early menstruation they have always has issues with their hormones and when prescribed any form of hormone treatment tend to get worse quickly.
4 steps to successfully treating oestrogen dominance.
The standard approach for the past 20 years has been to look at the deficiency of progesterone rather than the excess of oestrogen. Hence the boom in progesterone creams. And to be honest women feel almost immediate improvement in their symptoms because the progesterone buffers the excessive effect of the oestrogen.
The problem however is that the body eventually stops producing its own progesterone and the confusion it causes for the overall endocrine function. Then further issues with thyroid develop and more weight gain because the underlying issue has never been addressed.
It’s always better to deal with an issue by having a holistic view of treating the body as a whole rather than focusing on the hormone itself. It is just common sense to deal with the cause of the problem rather than just trying to supress the symptoms which is what HRT or bioidentical hormones do.
- Diet and lifestyle
Diet is important for many reasons however in relation to oestrogen dominance there are several factors to consider.
First is a diet full of processed foods puts strain on the liver and bowels which is the last thing we want when the liver is not working well.
Second is there are several foods which help the body to better metabolise oestrogen. These come mainly from green vegetables and particularly cruciferous vegetables with broccoli being the star of the family.
Thirdly foods which are naturally high in fibre help to bind to oestrogen in the bowel and assist to correctly excrete it with regular movements.
Finally, alcohol is a big issue. As soon as alcohol is consumed levels of circulating oestrogen raises by 200% This is a big issue for women with oestrogen dominance.
- Improve liver function
There are many natural medicines that can be used to improve liver function. The simplest way is to have some lemon juice in water first thing in the morning. Anything bitter tends to stimulate the liver function.
Several herbal medicines are available to stimulate liver function. The best 3 are St Maries Thistle, Dandelion and Globe Artichoke. Then there are several amino acids the body uses to improve liver metabolism of hormones. These are methionine, cysteine and taurine. All are sulphur amino acids and work specifically on hormonal metabolism. Most of these are found in the Morlife Liva Detox which we recommend.
- Improve digestion
Apart from increased natural fibre in the diet, beneficial microbes are very important for overall GUT health and hormone breakdown. Live cultures from fermented foods, kefir, kombucha and rejuvelac are invaluable to restore healthy digestive function and improve hormone excretion. All are suggested in our 8 week program.
- Balance the hormone control centre
Finally, you then need to correct the endocrine imbalance that has allowed the oestrogen dominance to occur. The hypothalamus and pituitary axis in the brain needs to be corrected and this is the function of Happy Hormones. 3 primary ingredients in the mix are cimicifuga racemose, sage and vitex and when the combination is correct they have a unique impact on controlling the hormone control centre in the body.
If you can understand the mechanisms why you feel the way you do, then it’s very powerful to be able to take back control of your health naturally, without the use of drugs. Balancing oestrogen dominance is also particularly important to avoid a difficult menopause because if you have been oestrogen dominant for many years, then there is a massive shift and your body will not produce any oestrogen at all. Getting the hormone control centre into balance before menopause will help you to manage this stage of life much more successfully.