Handling estrogen imbalance: a case study
A patient came to see me, reporting that she felt an increase in her interstitial cystitis (IC) symptoms when she was premenstrual. Aware that hormone imbalances can influence symptom flare-ups and can be instrumental in the development of disorders like IC, I decided to focus on her hormone/ estrogen levels.
Here’s what she had to say before I began treating her: “I had been struggling with PMS, cramps, increased IC symptoms, breast tenderness – to the point that I needed to keep my back towards the water in the shower because the pressure hurt my chest – and very heavy bleeding the first three days of my period.
“I had talked with several doctors over the years about my PMS symptoms and the heaviness of my flow, and they had all assured me it was normal. I found this hard to believe but assumed that they knew far more than I did. My time of the month meant that for the first three days I would have to stay near a restroom and as well as use an ultra tampon and the thickest pad available, at the same time, and would have to change them every hour.
“When I spoke to Dr. Deckert about this, she told me it wasn’t normal, and that’s when she shared with me about estrogen detoxification. She put me on supplements, and when I had my cycle three weeks later it was light, normal, and easy. I was shocked! In fact, I’m still am shocked. I can’t believe that three simple supplements could change my cycle, or that no doctor had been able to help until I met her.”
Treating her hormone imbalance
It was instantly clear to me when the patient described her symptoms that her estrogen levels were imbalanced, so I prescribed an estrogen detoxification plan. Whether the patient is taking hormones, or the body is producing too much or too little estrogen, it’s vital that the body is using the right amount and getting rid of any excess.
There are a number of estrogen pathways that the body uses to detoxify estrogen, but there are three primary ‘estrogen pathways’: pathway 2, pathway 4 and pathway 16. Pathway 2 is the healthiest, followed by pathway 16. Pathway 4 is known to cause inflammation, so it was my professional opinion that my patient was using pathway 4 to some extent and needed to be encouraged to use pathway 2. While there are tests that can confirm this, it is often easier to give supplements that promote pathway 2 and see if the patient feels better.
I introduced a two-pronged approach for my patient. Firstly, she began to eat more healthily, adopting a low-sugar diet with healthy fats, high fiber, and plenty of fruit and vegetables. Secondly, I prescribed iodine supplements, Myomin, and Indole 3 Carbinol (DIM).
Most patients who have problems with estrogen metabolism have some degree of breast tenderness before their periods, and many believe this is normal. If the treatment prescribed reduces that symptom, this is an indication that the hormone imbalance is being addressed.
In the case of this particular patient, her premenstrual symptoms were reduced and, over time, the inflammation caused by her interstitial cystitis also lessened. She experienced less IC-related pain and her overall sense of well-being improved.
Getting help with your hormone imbalance
It’s important that you speak to an integrative medicine practitioner if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. It might be that your condition is not related to your hormone levels, but with so many suffering from an imbalance, it’s worth investigating.
Treatment will vary depending on the type of hormone imbalance, but if your estrogen levels are too high or low, you may benefit from reading another blog I’ve written, entitled ‘Implementing an Effective Estrogen Detox’. To find out more general information about potential symptoms, read, ’10 signs that you might be suffering from a hormone imbalance’.