Estrogen and progesterone are the two main sex hormones found in women. They are like a dance couple, and just like couples on the dance floor, issues can arise when one rules and the other does not follow. In women, estrogen is the hormone that dominates, not progesterone. There are two roads to excess to excess estrogen:
- High estrogen relative to normal progesterone. This combination is common in overweight women, and women exposed to xenoestrogens, which are chemicals, such as plastics, that mimic estrogen.
- High estrogen relative to low progesterone. This combination, known as estrogen dominance, is the most common.
In this blog, I describe the main symptoms of estrogen dominance, and the scientifically proven ways you can help symptoms of excess estrogen.
Symptoms of excess estrogen
Excess estrogen can lead to a host annoying symptoms: weight gain especially around your middle and hips; water retention and it’s cousin breast tenderness; mood swings from irritability to full blown anxiety and depression; and painful periods, perhaps endometriosis. You might feel foggy, sleepless and weepy. Maybe you have noticed that you have more headaches, or that your face is redder.
Scientifically proven ways to help excess estrogen
Life changes and nutritional supplementation
Avoid alcohol. Alcohol consumption raises estrogen levels. In one study, estrogen was increased by 7 per cent with 15grams of alcohol per day, and by 22 percent with two servings.
Cut the Caffeine. A study of Premenopausal American women showed that consumption of caffeine-containing diet drinks and green tea raised estrogen.
Steer clear of xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are chemicals, such as Bisphenol-A (BPA) and Phthalates, that mimic estrogen. BPA is typically found in plastic bottles and the lining of tins. Phthalates are found in nail polish, shampoos, and vinyl flooring.
Consume less dairy and meat from conventionally bred animals. In one study of postmenopausal women, consumption of conventionally raised red meat increased the risk of breast cancer by 22 percent. In another study of postmenopausal women, consumption of commercial dairy was associated with increased estrogen levels. When you consume dairy or red meat if possible choose a grass fed, organic option.
Eat more prunes. Research has shown that consumption of prunes reduces estrogen.
Get your fibre. Research has shown that increased fibre, from fruit and vegetables, will lower estrogen.
Drop the weight. If you are overweight, research has shown that weight loss will lower estrogen levels.
Exercise regularly. Scientists have shown that regular exercise decreases estrogen levels.
Get to bed by ten. Going to bed by ten o’clock allows the optimal production of melatonin, a hormone that lowers estrogen.
Take Di-iodomethane (DIM). DIM lowers excess estrogen levels. In one high-level study, DIM supplementation significantly improved abnormal Pap smears (a common sign of excess estrogen) in women versus placebo. Recommended dosage is 200mg per day.
Eat seaweed. From a high-level study, researchers found that women eating Alaria, a type of brown alga, over a seven week period had significantly lowered estrogen levels compared to placebo. It is important to note that Avaria contains high levels of iodine. Iodine consumption may trigger problems in people with Hashimoto’s Disease or autoimmune thyroiditis.
Take Curcumin. Curcumin is an extract of the Turmeric root. Research has shown that curcumin reduces the spreading effect of estrogen on cancer cells. Suggested dosage is 250mg, up to six times per day.
Try Hops. Hops or Humulus lupulus have been shown in research to lower estrogen by reducing the production of aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen.
If your symptoms do not resolve after trying the lifestyle, supplementation and herbal remedies, I suggest you consult with your physician.
This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.