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In a fast-paced world full of stress and high-sugar foods, hormonal imbalances have become common. Estrogen dominance is now a significant concern affecting both women and men. Characterized by excess estrogen relative to other hormones, this imbalance can lead to a wide range of symptoms and health complications. In this article, we delve into estrogen dominance and explore a natural approach to restoring hormonal balance.

What is Estrogen Dominance?

Estrogens are a collection of steroid hormones that are vital to women’s health. They’re primarily responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system and secondary sexual characteristics. They also play an essential role in regulating menstruation. While they’re present in both males and females, they’re typically at higher levels in females and play a central role in the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. [1]

There are several types of estrogens, but the three most important ones are: [2][3]

  1. Estradiol (E2): This is the most potent and prevalent form of estrogen in women of reproductive age. It’s produced mainly by the ovaries and is crucial in regulating the menstrual cycle, breast development, and bone health.
  2. Estrone (E1): Estrone is less potent than estradiol but still contributes to physiological processes. It’s also produced in small amounts in men.
  3. Estriol (E3): Estriol is the least potent of the three major estrogens. It’s produced in significant amounts during pregnancy, but otherwise, it’s almost undetectable in blood tests. Estriol helps maintain the placenta and supports fetal development.

When someone has a healthy hormonal balance, these estrogens are balanced. But if there’s too much of the more aggressive estrogens, estrone and estradiol, compared to other hormones, it can lead to symptoms. Estrogens are also supposed to be counterbalanced by other sex hormones like progesterone. But if there are too many estrogens and too little progesterone, it also leads to symptoms of estrogen dominance.

Estrogen dominance can lead to several health risks and complications. However, the specific effects of high estrogen levels can vary from person to person, and the severity of the symptoms can depend on the degree of hormonal imbalance and individual susceptibility.

Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance

Many symptoms that women believe are normal are actually signs of estrogen dominance. As we at The Wellness Way always say, “Common does not mean normal.” Some common symptoms of estrogen dominance in women include the following:

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Mood swings
  • Memory lapses
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Heavy periods
  • Irregular periods
  • Lack of ovulation
  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness or lumpy, fibrocystic breasts
  • Hair loss
  • Insomnia/restless sleep
  • Hip or belly fat
  • Cellulite
  • Sagging skin
  • Water retention
  • Weight gain/obesity, particularly around the hips and thighs
  • Migraines
  • Allergies
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Endometriosis
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Thyroid nodules or cancer
  • Estrogenic cancers, including breast cancer and ovarian cancer
  • Infertility
  • Menopause symptoms like hot flashes

These symptoms may cause women to seek medical advice. However, a mainstream doctor may just say the symptoms are normal, due to aging, or simply due to stress.

Men with high levels of estrogen obviously have a few different symptoms. Symptoms of high estrogen in men may include erectile dysfunction, infertility (low sperm count), and gynecomastia, or “man boobs.”

How is Estrogen Dominance Diagnosed?

Mainstream medicine doesn’t typically acknowledge estrogen dominance. Naturopaths and functional medicine practitioners are more likely to test for markers indicating this imbalance. However, if you’re on hormone replacement therapy, using in vitro fertilization, or have signs and symptoms of cancer, they may be willing to do more extensive hormone testing. [4]

Here’s how doctors may diagnose this condition:

  1. Medical History and Symptoms Assessment: The first step in diagnosing estrogen dominance is often a thorough discussion of the patient’s medical history and a review of their symptoms. Doctors will ask about symptoms like menstrual irregularities, breast tenderness, mood swings, weight changes, and other signs suggesting hormonal imbalances.
  2. Physical Examination: A doctor may also do a physical examination to assess any physical signs or abnormalities associated with estrogen dominance, such as breast tenderness or uterine fibroids.
  3. Blood Hormone Testing: Lab tests are crucial for diagnosing hormonal imbalances. Blood tests can measure hormones like estrogen and progesterone. The key hormone levels typically measured include:
    • Estradiol (E2): This is the most potent form of estrogen and is often the primary focus of testing.
    • Progesterone: Progesterone levels are checked to see whether they’re in balance with estrogen levels.
    • Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH): These hormones help assess the function of the ovaries and pituitary gland.
    • Testosterone: Excess estrogen can impact testosterone balance.
  1. Additional Tests: Depending on symptoms and clinical findings, doctors may order further tests, such as ultrasound scans or imaging, to evaluate the uterus or ovaries for conditions like fibroids or ovarian cysts.
  2. Thyroid Function Testing: Thyroid hormones can influence estrogen levels, and thyroid dysfunction can mimic symptoms of estrogen dominance.
  3. Other Diagnostic Procedures: In some cases, a doctor may recommend more specialized tests or procedures if there are concerns about specific conditions associated with estrogen dominance, like endometriosis or cancer.

The Fireman vs. The Carpenter in Healthcare

At The Wellness Way, we talk about the mainstream perspective on healthcare versus our perspective, as the “fireman approach” versus the “carpenter approach.”

Mainstream “fireman” doctors have two tools (treatment options) to take care of people: an axe and a hose. The axe represents cutting things out during a surgical procedure. The hose represents using medications to extinguish the “flames”: inflammation, pain, and other symptoms.

Wellness Way doctors are more like carpenters: They assess the body’s current state with testing and then create a personalized plan to rebuild using nutrients from foods and supplements. Sunshine, rest, and positive relationships are some common natural therapies that support the body in healing.

While these things are considered “complementary medicine” or “alternative medicine,” scientific research backs up their effectiveness in supporting the healing process.

Mainstream Medicine’s Approach to Estrogen Dominance

As mentioned, mainstream “fireman” doctors don’t typically acknowledge estrogen dominance until it leads to a diagnosable condition, such as fibroids, endometriosis, or breast cancer.  At that time, they’ll prescribe medications and treatments to address the condition that could have been prevented by hormone-balancing protocols early on.

Medications for Estrogen Dominance

Medications for reducing estrogen or the effects of estrogen may include aromatase inhibitors like Anastrozole (Arimidex) and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists like leuprolide (Eligard) [5]

What Causes Estrogen Dominance? Traumas, Toxins, and Thoughts

At The Wellness Way, we think differently! The most common causes of estrogen dominance fit into one or more of three categories: traumas, toxins, and thoughts. There’s rarely one root cause – Usually, it’s a combination of several factors, outlined below.

Traumas (Physical Stressors)

Traumas or physical stressors can be acute (like a car accident) or chronic (like being in a physically abusive relationship). Examples of traumas that could contribute to chronic hormone imbalance, including estrogen dominance, include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Concussions
  • Neck injuries
  • Sexual assault/rape
  • Car accidents
  • Severe illness or infection
  • Witnessing violence or a natural disaster
  • Military combat – PTSD
  • Having a baby
  • Surgery
  • A death in the family or a close friend

These physical traumas may set off a state of chronic stress within the body, increasing cortisol and depleting progesterone. The result may be estrogen dominance.

Toxins (Biochemical Stressors)

Toxins are biochemical stressors in the body. Examples of toxins that could contribute to estrogen dominance include:

  • Sugar – Excessive sugar consumption can lead to insulin resistance. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, it has trouble regulating blood sugar levels, which can result in weight gain and increased body fat. Fat cells produce estrogen, contributing to estrogen dominance. [6]
  • Non-organic food – The pesticides, chemical fertilizers, growth hormones, and antibiotics contribute to endocrine disruption, increasing estrogens and inflammation. They also overburden the liver, making it more difficult to break down and eliminate hormones. [7]
  • Medications – Certain pharmaceutical drugs, including birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy, can lead to too much estrogen in your system. [8]
  • Phthalates – Phthalates are a group of chemicals commonly used in plastics, personal care products, fragrances, and household items. They may disrupt the endocrine system by mimicking or interfering with natural hormones, including estrogens. When absorbed into the body, they can bind to estrogen receptors, potentially increasing estrogenic activity. [9]
  • Plastic exposure – Bisphenol A (BPA) is a synthetic chemical compound widely used in plastic manufacturing, including food containers, water bottles, and the lining of canned foods and beverages. BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical, meaning it can interfere with hormone regulation. BPA can also act as a xenoestrogen, binding to estrogen receptors and increasing estrogen activity. [10]
  • Alcohol consumption – Frequent alcohol consumption can contribute to estrogen dominance by impairing liver function, increasing the conversion of male hormones to estrogens, increasing abdominal fat, and more. Women who consumed over 25 grams of alcohol daily had higher levels of circulating estrogens. [11] There’s a known link between regular drinking and breast cancer. [12]
  • Food allergies – Foods can act like toxins, causing inflammation and imbalance. [13]
  • Gut dysbiosis – Intestinal dysbiosis, imbalanced gut bacteria, may also contribute to estrogen dominance. Overgrowth of certain gut bacteria increases an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase. When this happens, estrogens recirculate instead of being eliminated. The result can be estrogen dominance. [14]

Traumas and toxins are made worse by negative thought patterns and emotional stress.

Thoughts (Emotional Stressors)

Don’t underestimate the power of your thoughts. Emotional stress is just as powerful (or more powerful) than physical and biochemical stressors in triggering inflammation and imbalance. When the stress hormone cortisol goes up, progesterone goes down, and you may be left with estrogen dominance. [15]

Emotional stress can come from the following:

  • Relationship issues – Relationships can turn toxic, leading to chronic stress. Prolonged stress can lead to dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which can, in turn, affect hormone levels, including progesterone and estrogen.
  • Financial stress – Again, stress and cortisol are linked to hormone imbalance.
  • Watching the news – The mainstream media rarely focuses on the positive. Regularly exposing yourself to bad news increases fear, worry, and overall stress.
  • Feeling overwhelmed – Stress from significant life changes, like a recent marriage, a new baby, graduation, a divorce, or even moving to a new city, can lead to high cortisol, low progesterone, and estrogen dominance.
  • Holding a grudge/pent-up anger – Holding a grudge creates stress in the body. Chronic stress may show up as inflammation, weight gain, and hormonal imbalance.
  • Grief/feelings of loss – Grief is another form of stress that may create imbalance in the body.

The cumulative effect of these traumas, toxins, and thoughts can create inflammation and increase the risk of dis-ease anywhere in the body.

The Wellness Way Approach to Estrogen Dominance

At The Wellness Way, we dig deeper to solve the health challenges others can’t. We don’t just address symptoms; we run tests to find out what’s going on behind the scenes.

Essential Tests for Assessing Your Inflammation Levels and Hormone Health

Your Wellness Way practitioner will order more tests based on what he or she considers most relevant based on your health history.

Dietary Changes for Those with Estrogen Dominance

First, focus on lowering inflammation in the body. That means avoiding food allergies and following a personalized nutrition program, as the Wellness Way practitioner recommends. Here are some general dietary guidelines for those with estrogen dominance:

  • Limit sugar and processed foods – Both increase inflammation and cortisol. They can also lead to gut dysbiosis, potentially causing estrogens to go up.
  • Gluten-free, mostly grain-free – Gluten is known to aggravate the gut lining, contributing to chronic inflammation in the gut and brain. A gluten-free diet may help lower gut inflammation, allowing the body to return to balance. [16]
  • Consume an overall low carbohydrate, non-inflammatory diet of organic whole foods, which supply nutrients, antioxidants, and food for a healthy gut microbiome.
  • No cow’s milk dairy products – Goat and sheep’s milk products may be better tolerated –and even beneficial for lowering inflammation in the gut, which makes up a large part of the inflammatory response. [17]
  • Avoid high omega-6 vegetable oils, like corn, canola, soybean, cottonseed oil, sunflower, grapeseed, and others, which can alter the omega-6 to omega-3 balance to be more inflammatory. [18] Instead, use fruit oils like olive, coconut, avocado, and palm oil or animal fats like beef tallow, bacon grease, and duck fat.
  • Follow a Personalized Nutrition Program based on your food allergy test results.
  • Add specific nutrient-dense foods: Add Liver/organ meats, sauerkraut, and microgreens for enhanced nutrition. Liver is nature’s multivitamin, according to Dr. Flynn.
  • Focus on antioxidants – Including things like turmeric, green tea, berries, dark chocolate, and other botanicals high in polyphenols support the gut and keep inflammation under control. [19]
  • Eat omega-3-rich foods – Wild-caught salmon, herring, sardines, walnuts, and ground flaxseeds provide omega-3s and help lower inflammation. [20]

A healthy diet can reduce inflammation, but supplements can support gut healing and hormone balance.

Supplements For Those with Estrogen Dominance

A healthy diet reduces inflammation, but natural remedies like herbs and supplements can support proper hormone levels. Here are some herbs and supplements that may balance out estrogen and bring you closer to hormone balance:

  • DIM (Diindolylmethane) – DIM is a compound derived from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage. In studies, DIM reduces circulating estrogen, potentially lowering the risk of developing estrogen dominance. [21]
  • Calcium D-Glucarate – Supplementing with calcium-D-glucarate has been shown to inhibit beta-glucuronidase, reducing recirculating estrogens. [22]
  • Chaste Tree – Chaste tree (also known as Vitex) increases progesterone levels, which can help balance out estrogens. [23]
  • Passionflower – Passionflower has a compound called chrysin, a flavonoid that reduces inflammation and improves ovarian function. [24] Chrysin may also promote the conversion of estradiol (a potent estrogen) into estrone (a weaker estrogen), reducing overall estrogenic activity in the body. [25]
  • Dandelion Root – Dandelion root promotes liver detoxification, helping it more efficiently break down estrogen byproducts and remove them from the system. [26]
  • Gallbladder Complex – The gallbladder complex has ox bile, artichoke, and beet, which help promote proper bile availability and movement. Optimizing bile production and flow can help the body remove excess estrogen. [27]
  • Wellness Greens – Sulforaphane, a compound present in cruciferous vegetables like kale and Brussels sprouts, is helpful for supporting the liver and reducing estrogen dominance. [28]

Each person is different – herbal remedies that work for one individual may not work for another. Part of that is due to body chemistry, including genetics and allergenic responses, and part is due to differences in the contributing factors to estrogen dominance.

Lifestyle Changes & Complementary Therapies

  • Regular chiropractic care – If your posture is poor and your nervous system is affected, it can create stress and inflammation in the body, affecting hormone balance.
  • Acupuncture – Acupuncture may also support proper levels of estrogens and progesterone. [29]

Be a well-informed patient! Here are some resources for learning more about inflammation and estrogen dominance.

Educational Resources for Estrogen Dominance

Videos & Webinars Related to Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen Part 1 | A Different Perspective | Episode 132
Estrogen Part 2 | A Different Perspective | Episode 133
Estradiol | Living Hormoniously
Boobs Too Soon! | The DPF Show! | Episode 19
Rethink Breast Cancer: Causes, Myths, and “Prevention”
Menopause | A Different Perspective | Episode 119

Articles to Support Those with Estrogen Dominance

How Do You Know if Your Hormones Are Messed Up?
PCOS: Embracing Natural Solutions for Hormonal Harmony
Breast Cancer: Natural Therapies to Complement Breast Cancer Treatment
Menopause Doesn’t Have to Be Miserable! Here’s How to Transition Smoothly

CONNECT WITH US

We invite you to connect with us! Find an event at a clinic near you! Follow us on social media. Tune in to A Different Perspective each Saturday morning LIVE to get cutting-edge training directly from Dr. Patrick Flynn. Please set up a no-obligation health consult with one of our doctors today. The best is yet to come! Think differently – and THRIVE. To learn how best to overcome estrogen dominance and other chronic complaints, contact a Wellness Way clinic today.

References

  1. Estrogen – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
  2. High Estrogen: Causes, Symptoms, Dominance & Treatment (clevelandclinic.org)
  3. Reproductive Hormones | Endocrine Society
  4. Estrogen Levels Test: MedlinePlus Medical Test
  5. High Estrogen: Causes, Symptoms, Dominance & Treatment (clevelandclinic.org)
  6. Obesity, estrogens and adipose tissue dysfunction – implications for pulmonary arterial hypertension – Kirsty M. Mair, Rosemary Gaw, Margaret R. MacLean, 2020 (sagepub.com)
  7. Cytochrome P450-mediated metabolism of estrogens and its regulation in human – PubMed (nih.gov)
  8. High Estrogen: Causes, Symptoms, Dominance & Treatment (clevelandclinic.org)
  9. Toxicity and estrogenic endocrine disrupting activity of phthalates and their mixtures – PubMed (nih.gov)
  10. Bisphenol A: an endocrine disruptor with widespread exposure and multiple effects – PubMed (nih.gov)
  11. Alcohol and breast cancer – PMC (nih.gov)
  12. Alcohol intake and breast cancer in the European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition – PubMed (nih.gov)
  13. Food Allergies: The Basics – PMC (nih.gov)
  14. Estrogen-gut microbiome axis: Physiological and clinical implications – PubMed (nih.gov)
  15. Low Progesterone: Causes, Symptoms, Tests & Treatment (clevelandclinic.org)
  16. Extra-intestinal manifestations of non-celiac gluten sensitivity: An expanding paradigm – PubMed (nih.gov)
  17. Reviewing the Benefits of Grazing/Browsing Semiarid Rangeland Feed Resources and the Transference of Bioactivity and Pro-Healthy Properties to Goat Milk and Cheese: Obesity, Insulin Resistance, Inflammation and Hepatic Steatosis Prevention – PubMed (nih.gov)
  18. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids – PubMed (nih.gov)
  19. Polyphenols as a Diet Therapy Concept for Endometriosis-Current Opinion and Future Perspectives – PubMed (nih.gov)
  20. Omega-3 Fatty Acids And Inflammation – You Are What You Eat! – PubMed (nih.gov)
  21. 3,3′-Diindolylmethane Modulates Estrogen Metabolism in Patients with Thyroid Proliferative Disease: A Pilot Study – PMC (nih.gov)
  22. Calcium-D-glucarate – PubMed (nih.gov)
  23. [The efficacy of the complex medication Phyto-Hypophyson L in female, hormone-related sterility. A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical double-blind study] – PubMed (nih.gov)
  24. Chrysin reduces inflammation and oxidative stress and improves ovarian function in D-gal-induced premature ovarian failure – PubMed (nih.gov)
  25. Inhibitory effect of chrysin on estrogen biosynthesis by suppression of enzyme aromatase (CYP19): A systematic review – PMC (nih.gov)
  26. Diverse biological activities of dandelion – PubMed (nih.gov)
  27. Cholestasis-induced bile acid elevates estrogen level via farnesoid X receptor-mediated suppression of the estrogen sulfotransferase SULT1E1 – PubMed (nih.gov)
  28. Sulforaphane-induced metabolomic responses with epigenetic changes in estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cells – PubMed (nih.gov)
  29. A Literature Review of Women’s Sex Hormone Changes by Acupuncture Treatment: Analysis of Human and Animal Studies – PubMed (nih.gov)

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Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Wellness Way clinic or personal physician, especially if currently taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Pregnant women, in particular, should seek the advice of a physician before trying any herb or supplement listed on this website. Always speak with your individual clinic before adding any medication, herb, or nutritional supplement to your health protocol. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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