Oestrogen dominance is currently stealing centre stage when it comes to hormone imbalance that may exist within your body. It's pretty simple. When there is excess oestrogen in comparison to progesterone, the result is imbalanced hormones. Symptoms including weight gain and terrible periods, are common.
It's thought that there are several factors linked to oestrogen dominance. These specifically are:
~ considerable consumption of non organic meat, especially poultry – the high levels of hormones present in these animals skyrockets oestrogen
~ there is a direct link between excess copper and high levels of oestrogen
~ increased phyto-estrogens (oestrogen mimicking chemicals found in things like plastics, chemicals in beauty products, soy products and chemicals in our environment)
Now the majority of us have probably indulged in hormone pumped chicken at some point in the past 20 years and drank water out of a cooler with copper pipes. So if you're scratching your ovaries wondering "could this be me," don't sweat it. There are some stand out signs to look out for – and again, just because you have one of these doesn't necessarily mean you need be running to your local pathology lab. Some simple diet and lifestyle changes may be just what this little TCM Dr ordered.
Oestrogen Dominant signs might look like:
Painful, heavy, clotty and/or long periods (one or all of these dreaded symptoms)
Mittleschmerz (ovulation pain)
Facial hair – especially above the lip
Pre menstrual tension including emotional upset, frustration, anger, headaches, breast distention, nose bleeds, sinus issues, bowel irregularities that occur from ovulation (up to 2 weeks prior to the period arriving).
Female hormone balance also guides social, sexual and nurturing behaviours. Symptoms of depression, mood swings and anxiety due to the overbearing influence of oestrogen over progesterone, may become apparent and the most bubbliest of women no longer the life of the party. These are all because progesterone has a specific role in heightening our moods and making us feel happy. You see, it's all about the balance!
But here's the thing you most likely tuned in for.
Because oestrogen is an anabolic hormone, excess oestrogen may lead to weight gain, specifically around the abdomen.
Research scientists have found that having either too much or too little oestrogen signals the body to hold onto the extra kilos especially around the waist, thighs, under the bottom and at the tops of the arms. As oestrogen levels rise, controlling your weight becomes a really tricky task, because fat cells are also responsible for producing oestrogen. So the more fat cells, the more oestrogen released into the body, the more fat cells grow. And to add to the issue, increased oestrogen contributes to bloating and fluid retention.
Now those suffering from Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, Endometriosis, ovarian cysts, breast irregularities, weight gain – these are all possibly related to oestrogen dominance. And let's not leave our menopausal friends out. Since menopause is a shift in hormones, this also comes onto the radar. This is why many women gain weight at the time of menopause, they feel like they're going a little 'crazy' or their life is way out of control. It's also a time we see increased facial hair, especially of the moustache variety. We're forgiven for 'dreading' those transition years but as we discussed last week – menopause isn't supposed to be difficult. You can read more about that in this article.
Typically your hormones are tested with a blood, saliva or urine test and should your levels of oestrogen come back high, your doctor will most likely suggest the pill, simply because there isn't much else he has on offer. Now, we've visited the pill a gadzillion times (search that here), and we all now know that:
the pill doesn't offer any kind of a long term solution but rather one humungous bandaid.
Rip off the bandaid and it not only hurts, but the condition is still there and the symptoms often come back ten fold. What's more, say you're using the pill to control symptoms, come the time of making babies there's a whole lot of hormone regulation that needs to happen before your body is baby ready. We really must consider our hormone health way before we're ready to make tiny humans. Let's not forget how the pill affects your bodies ability to absorb vitamins and minerals as well as messes around with your gut flora. Unfortunately no amount of supplementation will get around this, and deficient mothers make for deficient babes – with higher incidence of post natal depression and difficulty breast feeding, irritable often colic-ky babies that are unsettled and hungry. This combination is worrying not to mention torturous for both parties.
In the majority of cases there are some simple additions I can suggest to your diet that will assist in treatment of not only the symptoms but in healing the imbalance. Now of course, nothing is a one size fits all and my job is decoding the specific signs that your body is speaking. However, one of the key minerals in balancing hormones is magnesium. Magnesium is a key element in the process of producing progesterone and is necessary for more than 350 different biochemical process that occur within your body.
When it comes to fertility, a healthy weight range is essential. The difference of just 4 kilograms can stand between you and your baby. What's more, if weight is an issue it may pose risk on your un-born so it is advised that weight be within a specific 'fertile' range. I talk about this in my book, but it is roughly your height in centimetres, minus 100 to give you a ball park figure. So for me, I'm 156cm (giant I know), so my fertile range is around 56kg. Remember, it is just a rough guide.
As a herbalist, there are many different herbal formulas that I can prescribe as an individual and specific treatment regime. This may be a more favourable option as it takes into account all other factors, obvious signs and symptoms and most likely sees the quickest results. That said, high doses of magnesium (350mg elemental Mg twice daily) in combination with the herb Vitex agnes casts (1g per day) will assist most in rebalancing oestrogen – although it may just take a little longer. You'd most likely stick to this regime for 3 – 6 months.
The other key factor is diet and lifestyle. Your body is in a constant state of work – we must make decisions that support wellness for our bodies to be supported. Eating adequate fats and protein are key to fuel hormone function. Fertilise Yourself carefully goes through all the things you need to do from a diet and lifestyle perspective to support hormone health. It's the guide to fertility in the sense that it's about what you can do in your own life to ensure your body is in full fertility swing – regardless of if you're making a baby or not. It's all about making happy, healthy hormones!
Implementing these supplements, gentle diet and lifestyle changes and decreasing stress is certainly key to balancing hormones. You'll be looking fabulous (and comfortable) in your skinny jeans in no time and that bulge be gone with your hormone imbalance and moustache!