Women need the correct amount of estrogen for optimal health. Produced mainly in the ovaries, this hormone promotes female characteristics and development in the body. It helps to regulate the reproductive system and menstrual cycle as well as promote healthy bones.
However, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing and if your estrogen levels are too high, you may need to find a way to get your body back in balance. Making small changes could have a major impact on your health, particularly if you are experiencing unusual premenstrual or menopausal symptoms.
High estrogen levels can cause a range of health issues including:
• Low libido
• Hair loss
• Weight gain
• Irregular or heavy periods
• Swollen, tender and fibrocystic breasts
• Water retention and bloating
• Anxiety, stress, and depression
• Sleep deprivation and fatigue
• Endometriosis (where tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb is found in other areas)
• Fibroids (benign growths in or around the womb )
• Ovarian cysts
• Breast and endometrial cancer
There are various steps you can take to get your estrogen levels back on track, from addressing a hormone imbalance, to changing medications or reducing your exposure to ‘xeno-estrogens’: man-made chemicals in the environment that disturb our hormone levels.
By eating (and avoiding) certain foods, we can help our bodies cope more effectively with hormone distribution and getting rid of excess estrogen. Various herbs and spices may help, including turmeric, rosemary, mint, chives, and sage. Flax, pumpkin, and chia seeds are also believed to have an effect. It’s advisable to eat a high-fiber diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (organic if possible). Try to avoid high-fat, high sugar foods, and foods with artificial colors and flavors. Canned and genetically modified (GM) foods should become a no-go, as should items containing monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Research suggests that exercise can help to reduce high estrogen levels. Premenopausal women who engage in aerobic exercise for five hours a week or more saw their estrogen levels drop by nearly 19%. Cardio exercise helps the body break estrogen down and flush away any excess.
Our melatonin levels drop when we don’t get enough sleep, and this hormone is known to protect the body from surplus estrogen build-up. In fact, research suggests that melatonin may stunt the growth of estrogen-induced cancer cells.
There is evidence to suggest that certain supplements can help to correct hormone imbalance and reduce high estrogen counts. These include iodine, magnesium, and vitamin D. It may also help to take broccoli extract, or diindolylmethane (DIM).
A range of over-the-counter and prescription medications can have an impact on estrogen levels. With birth control medication, you are shutting down production of your own hormones and relying on what the pill is giving you. If you’re using hormone replacement therapy (HRT), you may be getting too much estrogen. Other medications such as antibiotics can also contribute to a hormone imbalance.
As always, if you suspect that you need to undertake an estrogen detox, it’s important that you speak to an integrative medicine practitioner. The doctor you choose should consider all your symptoms together and analyze whether you’re suffering from a hormone imbalance or not. He or she will then be able to advise on how to treat it, whether that involves altering your diet, taking a supplement, or adjusting your prescribed medication.
It won’t do you any harm to follow the first three steps above, as these will all improve your general wellbeing. However, if you’re planning to make major changes to your supplement or medication intake, it’s worth consulting a doctor to ensure that you’re heading in the right direction rather than exacerbating the problem. For further reading on hormone imbalance read 10 Signs That You Might Be Suffering From A Hormone Imbalance.