12 Tips to Balance Estrogen Levels Naturally
Estrogen imbalances in both men and women are all too common and can lead to a variety of health concerns including endometriosis, fibroids, irregular periods, PMS, fibrocystic breast changes, prostate enlargement and loss of libido. Fortunately, there are natural strategies to take that can help you balance estrogen levels and regain your health and vitality.
Estrogen is a hormone that is important for sexual and reproductive development, mainly in women, although men do produce in smaller quantities. It is also commonly referred to as the major female sex hormone along with progesterone. The term “estrogen” refers to all of the chemically similar hormones in this group, which are estrone, estadiol and estriol.
Manufactured from cholesterol by a woman’s ovaries each month, estrogen circulates in the blood, passes easily in and out of all organs and tissues and is eventually metabolised by enzymes in the liver. There are 3 major types of estrogen that are naturally produced by the body. Here are some of the many symptoms of poor estrogen balance
3 Major Types of Estrogen:
1) Estrone (E1): The main form of estrogen produced during menopause. Produced mainly in your liver and fat cells. Since toxins such as xenoestrogens, heavy metals, and other pollutants that directly affect hormone levels are stored in your liver and fat cells, individuals with higher levels of toxicity have altered and contaminated forms of estrone.
2) Estradiol (E2): The major estrogen made in the ovaries. This hormone is known to play a huge role in energy, sleeping, pleasure, sex drive, and healthy bones, skin, & hair. It also helps support the mucous membranes, providing moisturization for the skin, lips, eyes, GI tract, and vagina. Estradiol is a very strong growth stimulator and elevated levels are linked to greater risk of breast, uterine or overian cancers.
3) Estriol: (E3): Made in the liver and breast cells. Also, primarily made by the placenta during pregnancy. It is suggested that this form of estrogen is a key regulator in determining which cells are turned on or off to estrogen. This is a highly protective form of estrogen that reduces cellular growth factors and other estrogens. Estriol reduces the more aggressive estradiol and protects against radiation induced cancer of the breast.
We should normally have a ratio of 90% Estriol, 7% Estradiol and 3% Estrone in what is referred to as the Tri-Estrogen Formula.
The Problem with Low Estradiol:
Estradiol works to boost serotonin levels naturally (1). When this hormone is out of balance, serotonin levels drop. In order to counteract this, the adrenals kick out norepinephrine (Nr) and epinephrine (Ep), which have natural balancing mechanisms.
However, if you are under chronic stress or have weak adrenals, Ep levels will drop, skewing it’s natural balance with Nr. Here are the symptoms that follow:
Your Estrogen Quotient:
If you get your Estrogen subtypes tested, you can figure out your Estrogen Quotient or EQ. The well-known estrogen researcher, Dr Henry Lemon discovered that the greater the amount of cancer protective E3 is present in comparison to the growth promoting E1 and E2, the lower the risk of estrogen sensitive cancer development.
The formula to find your EQ is:
Total E3/(Total E1+Total E2)
If the EQ is below 1.0, the risk of Breast Cancer is higher than that of the individual whose EQ is above 1.0. The optimal ratio that is considered most protective to breast tissue is an EQ that is greater than 1.5. This quotient can also be useful to determine other aspects of hormonal health and risk of autoimmunity.
You can get this test done along with your complete adrenal profile, progesterone and testosterone levels with our DUTCH Complete Hormone Panel here
Dangers Behind Hormone Replacement:
When hormones such as thyroid, estrogen, & progesterone are supplemented through prescriptions, creams, & contraceptives such as birth control pills, they are abnormally flooding their body with an unnatural amount of hormones (2, 3). This causes several responses within the body:
1) Reduced Receptor Sites: In response, the cell receptor sites for the particular hormone are reduced in an attempt to protect from too much hormone interaction. Therefore, one could have plenty of thyroid hormone, progesterone, etc, in the bloodstream, yet have poor cellular sensitivity.
2) Hormone Regulation is Altered: The hypothalamus and pituitary gland, key centers in the brain that control hormone secretion, are in a constant communication with hormonal cells to regulate and control the amounts of circulating hormones. If the brain senses that there is not enough hormone, it will signal for more production and secretion.
If it senses that there is too much, as is the case with hormone replacement, than it will slow down production. After a while, the constant bombardment of artificial hormone will shut down production of the natural hormone all together. The gland then atrophies and loses all function, making the hormone creams and pills a necessity.
3) Increased Liver Stress: An excessive bombardment of hormones taxes the liver, which desperately tries to break down the excess to effectively eliminate it from the body. Over time, the hormone eventually is stored in fat cells.
4) Toxic Estrogen Metabolite Accumulation: Poor liver function causes an inadequate breakdown of older hormones, allowing these back into the bloodstream in an even more toxic form than when they originally entered the liver. This includes 4-hydroxy estrone, 4-hydroxy estradiol, 16-hydroxy estrone and 16-alpha-hydroxy estradiol.
These toxic forms of estrogen dramatically increases the risk for breast cancer, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, cervical dysplasia, prostate issues, menopause, andropause (male menopause), and thyroid disorders.
5) The Problem Is Not Addressed: Even though the problem is too much hormone, blood tests will only look at the natural substance, therefore a deficiency will be present. Typical medical advice will include additional hormone replacement, which will only further the problems at hand.
***I am not against bio-identical hormone replacement, however, the goal of the clinician should always be to support the body and help it heal to the point where it is able to maintain hormone balance without the use of bio-identicals if possible. Many people just assume they need to be on it for the rest of their lives, because their doctors have mapped out a plan for them.
Xenoestrogens: Artificially made compounds produced by industry, that have estrogenic effects and differ chemically from archiestrogens (naturally occurring) produced by living organisms. These new compounds are ubiquitous in our society. These mimic the effects of true estrogen, interacting with receptor sites and either contributing to estrogen excess or blocking the effects of true estrogen (4, 5).
Natural estradiol produced in the body depends on Sex-Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) in order to enter into the cell. However, these free estrogen molecules are able to interact directly with the cell without the need for SHBG. This difference is critical because it allows the artificial estrogen to enter the cells faster, inhibiting the natural form from getting in.
Endocrine disruptors lodge in fat cells and they are resistant to breakdown. Many of these chemicals will act synergistically, exponentially promoting their functions which cause devastating disruptions to the body.
12 Tips to Balance Your Hormones:
Here are 12 key strategies to help reduce estrogen dominance balance your hormones. This is a great place to begin when it comes to improving your health.
If after 3-4 months you are not seeing the progress and changes you want than you should consider working with a functional health practitioner so they can do some detailed lab work with you and figure out a customized treatment plan to address your unique challenges.
1. Minimize Xenoestrogen Containing Products: Get off all oral contraceptives, hormone creams, and hormone based prescription medications, etc. You should consult your doctor about this and weaning stages may be necessary. This also includes plastics, personal hygiene products, makeups, etc.
2. Focus on Really Good Hydration Habits: Be sure to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of clean, filtered water daily. Adding lemon/lime or apple cider vinegar to your water enhances the detoxifying effects.
3. Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Keep grains, sugars, bad fats and commercialized meat out of your diet. Load up on non-starchy veggies, low-glycemic fruit (lemons/limes, grapefruit, berries, granny smith apples), organic meat, good fats (coconut, grass-fed butter/ghee, olives, olive oil and avocados). Use herbs in abundance and fermented foods and tonics like apple cider vinegar.
4. Practice Intermittent Fasting: Doing a liquid fast for 16-24 hrs daily or even just a few days a week can be an incredible practice to improve detoxification pathways. I personally enjoy doing 16-18 hour fasts daily where I eat my meals between a 6-8 hour eating window (12-7pm for example).
Outside of meal times I drink plenty of water, greens powders or green juices sometimes and herbal teas. For more info on intermittent fasting read this article
5. Regular Exercise: Moving your body improves your respiration and perspiration outlets. It also helps mobilize body fat stores where many toxins reside and gets these toxins into our circulation. I recommend doing a lot of low-intensity movement each day such as walking, light bicycle riding, dancing, recreational sports, etc.
I recommend doing high-intensity strength training several times per week in the form of resistance training and surge training.
6. Reduce Stress Levels: Stress is a really big factor in throwing off our hormone balance. If you are feeling overwhelmed than it is important to reduce the demands in your life. Do your best to slow down your breathing, practice journaling, meditation and prayer. Here is a helpful article on how to use breathing to help reduce stress and heal your body.
7. Improve Sleep Quality: Sleep is critical for the healing process and good quality sleep has a powerful hormone balancing impact on the body. I recommend sleeping for at least 7-9 hours and going to bed by 10pm at night. Every hour of sleep before midnight is equivalent to 3 hours of regenerative sleep after midnight due to its powerful hormone stabilizing impact.
If you have trouble with your sleep than I would recommend reading this article which walks you through a number of strategies to improve your sleep quality.
8. Use Di-Indole Methane (DIM): DIM is an extract from broccoli sprouts that helps the body to neutralize reactive estrogen metabolites (4 hydroxy and 16 hydroxy estrone and estradiol) and influences the production of non-reactive estrogen production.
I recommend 300-600mg daily of Estro-Protect which is a great DIM formula for my clients that have estrogen dominance.
9. Take Epsom Salt Baths: Epsom salts are a powerful way to relax and cleanse the body and mind. Epsom salts are a fantastic source of magnesium and sulfur compounds that relax the muscles, ease stress and support liver detoxification.
I recommend taking a healing bath with Epsom salts and add in some essential oils such as chamomile and passionflower which are relaxing and have a hormone balancing impact on the body. Diffusing some of these essential oils your home while taking the bath in the evening to help wind down can be extremely helpful.
10. Improve Your Gut Motility: Improving bowel movement frequency and consistency is a key detoxification concept. Consuming an anti-inflammatory diet with good fiber sources such as chia seed and flax seed, using bone broths, fermented foods and probiotics will improve bowel motility.
11. Use an InfraRed Sauna: Fantastic way to boost your detoxification processes. Read this article on Sauna usage.
12. Take Fem Protect™: This product supports classic herbal hormonal balancing in the form of vitex, polygonum and black cohosh, along with DIM and chrysin for protection and support of beneficial estrogen aromatase activity.
Calcium-D-glucarate promotes the proper elimination of excess estrogens. Resveratrol and EGCg from green tea are included for maximum antioxidant protection. Vitamins B6, B12, and folate promote proper cell differentiation. * Magnesium and calcium are also included to help support bone and hormone health.