Estrogen dominance: What can you do?

February 28, 2012

Estrogen, Health, Men, Organic, Women

Symptoms of decreased testosterone include fatigue, lack of motivation, depression, decreased libido, poor concentration, decreased muscle tissue and increased body fat.

by Paula Owens — 

At around age 40, our hormones begin to fluctuate. For men, testosterone levels decline and often convert to estrogen, a process known as aromatization. For women, estrogen dominance tends to appear in the 30s and 40s, as progesterone levels fluctuate prior to menopause.

Symptoms of estrogen dominance may appear as increased growth of breast tissue (gynectomastia) in males. Females may experience breast swelling and tenderness, abdominal cramping, backaches, bloating, headaches and migraines, irritability, anxiety, depression, food cravings, brain fog, sleep difficulties and/or lowered sex drive. Women may also complain that their legs are fat or thick. Upon observation of these men and women, many tend to spend the majority of their workout time on cardio equipment or jogging, and rarely any time on strength training.

Aside from the activities men and women choose, their estrogen dominance may be attributed to genetics, environmental influences, emotional or physical imbalances, and lifestyle. Estrogen is a catabolic hormone causing an increase in body fat and increased aromatase, whereas testosterone is an anabolic hormone that promotes muscle growth.

Aromatization happens when androgens (testosterone) convert to estrogens (estrodial). High estrogen and low testosterone may indicate aromatase, an enzyme found in estrogen-producing cells in the adrenal glands, ovaries, placenta, testicles, adipose or fat tissue, and the brain.

Symptoms of decreased testosterone include fatigue, lack of motivation, depression, decreased libido, poor concentration, decreased muscle tissue and increased body fat. Men’s breasts may enlarge as extra estrogen begins to promote female body characteristics.

Estrogen dominance may be revealed through caliper skin fold measurements from a qualified BioSignature practitioner and hormonal blood lab work or saliva testing. Results revealing high estrogen and low testosterone apply to females and males, alike.

Suggested lab testing includes the following:

• Female Hormone Profile: pregnenolone, total estrogens, DHEA-S, progesterone, testosterone (total)

• Male Hormone Profile: pregnenolone, total estrogens, DHEA, progesterone, bioavailable testosterone, testosterone (total and free)

• Thyroid panel:  T3, T4, T7 and TSH (both male and female)

• Male: PSA (test at age 50 for Caucasians; age 40 for African Americans)

Liver enzyme activity and poor detoxification of estrogens are other factors to consider. Alcohol can be the culprit here, as well as marijuana.

Excess estrogens in the body not only lead to aromatization, but also to estrogen dominant health issues, such as endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts, and breast and prostate cancers.

Factors that raise levels of estrogen include:

• Age — Aromatase activity increases with age.

• Carbohydrate intolerance and insulin resistance — These affect the adrenals and all other major hormone levels. (The hormone you have the most control over is insulin; which is controlled through diet, as hormones do not act independently.)

• Certain herbal ingredients — Examples include lavender and tea tree oils.

• Consuming a diet of processed soy and nonorganic foods — Such a diet is loaded with xenoestrogens, pesticides, antibiotics, etc.

• Heavy metal toxicity — Heavy metals include arsenic, barium, cadmium, lead, cobalt, aluminum and mercury.

• Liver congestion and function changes — These are indicated by elevated AST and ALT values.

• Obesity — High estrogen is present in most obese people of all ages. Obesity in males equals 25 percent body fat or greater; obesity in females equals 30 percent body fat or greater.

• Overuse of marijuana and alcohol — Both substances lead to higher blood sugar, triglycerides and estrogens.

• Overuse of products containing xenoestrogens, pesticides and other chemicals — These are found in plastics, pesticides, soaps, emulsifiers, skin care products, cosmetics and household cleaning items.

• Prescription drug side effects — These are especially linked to diuretics and liver activity drugs.

• Zinc deficiency — Low levels of zinc have been linked to enlarged prostates and less-than-desirable levels of testosterone.

Aside from implementing lifestyle changes, avoid estrogen precursors such as nonorganic meats, plastic bottles, chemical-laden cosmetics, lotions and cleaning products. Avoid refined carbohydrates, HFCS and trans fat products.

Consider liver detoxification. Calcium D-glucarate supports liver detoxification of excess estrogen. The liver also needs B vitamins, particularly B-6, to detoxify excess estrogen.

Consume organic foods versus conventional foods, which have an abundance of synthetic pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, etc. Eliminate processed soy products and ensure healthy gut flora with probiotics.

Improve your mood naturally and get off antidepressants, which raise aromatase. Increase progesterone levels with herbs, such as chaste tree berry. Lift weights three times per week.

Organic, ground flax seeds encourage progesterone production and inhibit estrogen production. Supplement with omega-3 fish oils (EPA/DHA) and zinc. Test for heavy metal toxicity.

Aromatase inhibitors (natural estrogen blockers) include chrysin, DIM, green tea, nettle root, passion flower and resveratrol. DIM is helpful for estrogen dominance and gynecomastia.

Estrogen dominance is a complex condition, but by implementing and following the above suggestions, you can limit the hormone’s adverse affect on your health and feel better too.

 

Paula Owens holds a master’s degree in holistic nutrition and a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. She is the author of The Power of 4: Your Ultimate Guide, Guaranteed to Change Your Body and Transform Your Life. 480-706-1158, paula@paulaowens.com or www.paulaowens.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number  4, Aug/Sept 2009.

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