06 Jul 2015 The Great Oestrogen Imbalance
Many women suffer with hormonal symptoms thanks to an imbalance in the primary female hormone ‘Oestrogen’.
Where the medical model will look to the Pill, HRT or painkillers to control oestrogen symptoms, the Naturopathic model looks to diet, lifestyle and supplements to balance the endocrine system.
What is Oestrogen?
The term “Oestrogen” is an umbrella term for three hormones – estradiol, estriol and estrone.
Estradiol is the most commonly measured type of estrogen for non-pregnant women. Estradiol varies throughout the menstrual cycle. After menopause, estradiol production typically drops to a very low but constant level.
Estriol levels usually are only measured during pregnancy. And Estrone may be measured in women who have gone through menopause to determine their estrogen levels.
What does Oestrogen do in the body?
Oestrogen controls the first part of the menstrual cycle, causes changes in the breasts and uterus, regulates various other metabolic processes, including bone growth and cholesterol levels and keeps organs such as the brain, liver and heart healthy.
Symptoms of an Oestrogen Imbalance
One of the difficulties with identifying an oestrogen imbalance is that many of the symptoms associated with oestrogen deficiency can be the same as oestrogen dominance. They include;
- Temperature issues such as hot flushing
- Irritability or depression
- Poor concentration and forgetfulness
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Loss of confidence
- Aching joints
- Weight gain, especially around the hips and thighs (the work of Charles Polequin)
- Digestive complaints
It is worth having your oestrogen / progesterone levels tested either with your doctor or a health practitioner to avoid guessing.
What is Oestrogen Dominance?
Previously to Dr John Lee’s work in the 1990s, menopausal symptoms were always attributed to oestrogen deficiency. Dr Lee was the first to identify a condition he coined ‘Oestrogen Dominance’ where a woman can have deficient, normal or excessive oestrogen, but has little or no progesterone hormone to balance its effects. Even a woman with low oestrogen levels can have oestrogen dominance symptoms if she doesn’t have enough progesterone.
How do I manage Oestrogen levels?
- Reducing Xenoestrogens – modern life surrounds us with fat-soluble, non-biodegradable chemicals called Xenoestrogens. Pesticides, detergents, petroleum products, plastic products, cosmetics have an estrogenic effect on the body. To reduce their effects use natural cleaning products, natural toiletries and cosmetics, eat organic food and reduce your use of plastics in the home.
- Stress – progesterone, the partner hormone to oestrogen, is used by the body to create the stress hormone cortisol. If women are under a lot of stress the body it is common that her progestrone levels are low and her cortisol levels are high. Reducing stress will help balance progesterone / oestrogen / cortisol levels. Stress relievers include
- Improve Digestion – Poor digestive health can inhibit excretion of unwanted oestrogen from the body and promote its re-absorption which often stores in fat cells. Ensure you are eating a diet rich in vegetable/fruit fibre and avoid gut irritants such as wheat.
- Balance blood sugars – High insulin levels stress the endocrine system which inhibits estrogen metabolism. Cut out the processed sugars and opt for alternatives (dessert recipe ideas here)
- Liver cleanse – one of the livers many jobs is eliminating excess hormones. Supporting your liver by removing fatty processed foods from your diet, avoiding alcohol intake and taking a herbal supplement such as milk thistle, artichoke or dandelion (we like this one because it supports the other systems in the body too) will help the liver do its job
- Soy – soya contains natural phytoestrogens and can be wonderful for correcting oestrogen deficiency but avoid if you have oestrogen dominance. If your oestrogen levels are low, consider this hormone shake recipe for 3 months
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