What is Oestrogen Excess?
Oestrogen excess occurs when the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone are out of balance. Oestrogen is a sex hormone made in the ovaries, adrenal glands and in fat cells. Oestrogen and progesterone are designed to keep each other in check, so a healthy balance of the two is what we see in optimal hormonal health.
Progesterone creates a calming effect within the body and acts as a natural anti-depressant, as well as maintaining a healthy sex drive and even helping to eliminate sleep disturbances. So, when oestrogen levels are excessive within the body, progesterone levels will be lower and thus the unpleasant signs and symptoms of oestrogen excess begin to show.
- PMS – tender or even painful breasts, fluid retention, bloating, headaches, constipation, low mood, irritability, depression and increased tearfulness
- Period pain – can be mild to severe
- Heavy, long or clotted periods
- Difficulty shifting weight especially abdominal fat
- Recurrent thrush especially before your period
- Decreased sex drive / libido
- Low thyroid function
- Fluid retention
- Weight gain
- Bloating and excessive flatulence
- Sugar and carbohydrate cravings
- Insomnia and poor sleep quality
Why does oestrogen excess occur?
There are a few theories as to why this condition is becoming increasingly common among females of reproductive age. Some of the factors that may play a role:
- Hormonal birth control such as the pill, which contains synthetic forms of oestrogen that the body does not detoxify efficiently
- Increased consumption of non-organic meat which contain considerable levels of hormones (particularly poultry)
- Diets low in fibre and high in saturated fat
- Xenoestrogens which are chemicals that mimic the action of oestrogen within the body and are found in cleaning products, beauty products, electronic goods, pesticides and plastic
- Overburdened detoxification pathways due to past exposure to processed foods, alcohol, drugs, medications, synthetic hormones and the high-chemical load from our environment. This overwhelm can impact on the livers ability to efficiently metabolise and detoxify both endogenous and environmental oestrogen
- Excess body weight– fat cells make oestrogen so this one is a vicious cycle. The more excess weight you are carrying, the more oestrogen your body makes.
How can I increase oestrogen detoxification?
The good news is there are effective ways to increase your body’s excretion of oestrogen and balance your hormones. These include:
- Minimising exposure to synthetic oestrogens
- Minimising exposure to xenoestrogens (read in more detail below)
- Increase and support liver function – this can be done through nutrition and herbal medicine
- Exercise daily- 30 minutes per day is the goal, and a combination of high-intensity workouts such as cardio, boxing, cycling or dancing with low-intensity exercise such as yoga, walking, swimming and pilates
- Supporting the body’s natural progesterone levels – this should only be done under the supervision of an experienced practitioner
- Dietary measures – Vegetables from the Cruciferous family (think broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts) are a must as they contain a compound called indole-3-carbinol which supports one of the main detoxification pathways in the liver. Other foods which support the excretion of oestrogen include:
- Brussel sprouts
- Alf-alfa sprouts
- Dandelion greens
Aim to include 2-3 cups of a variety of these in your daily diet. Additionally, drinking at least 2 litres of water daily along with 1-2 cups of dandelion root tea will be supportive and make your skin glow!
- Sugar (1-2 pieces of whole, fresh fruit daily is OK)
- Excess dairy
Minimise environmental oestrogens:
Xenoestrogens act as endocrine-disruptors by mimicking the action of oestrogen and thus increasing levels of circulating oestrogen within the body. They are found in cleaning products, make-up, plastic, electronics and pesticides.
- Avoid ALL plastic food storage containers, water bottles and cooking utensils. Invest in good quality glass storage containers and a glass or metal water bottle to refill
- Switch your mainstream body and skin care products to natural alternatives – see our blog post ‘Wake up to what’s in your make-up’ for more info including the alternatives we love
- Use natural cleaning products- bi-carb soda and vinegar work a treat!
- Never re-heat food in plastic containers
- Buy organic where possible, especially poultry
- Gut health: is vital to hormonal health so including fermented foods such as kefir, yoghurt, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables and kombucha into your daily diet will be beneficial
- Stress management: hormonal imbalances are difficult to correct when stress levels are high, so spend time each week doing something that brings you joy. Exercise, relaxation, meditation and time with friends helps, as well as herbal and nutritional support that your practitioner can provide.
If you would like more information about this condition and overall hormone health please book in with a practitioner at the clinic.
For more information on oestrogen and other hormones these articles below may offer great sources of information on women’s and men’s hormones, or review this pub med study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29573619