Maintaining Healthy Hormone Balance
Published in: Vitalité Quebec | June 2011 Issue
Written by: Marita Schauch, BSc, ND
Hormones are important and powerful chemical messengers that are responsible for thousands of reactions in the body. Healthy hormone balance is absolutely essential during a woman’s reproductive and menopausal years. Disruptions in hormone balance can lead to menstrual disorders such as irregular or heavy bleeding, symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), uterine fibroids as well as menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and insomnia later in life.
Stress, aging, exposure to pesticides, man-made chemicals, too much or too little exercise, or improper nutrition can all affect the delicate balance of hormones. When hormones return to balance, the organs and tissues can return to their proper functioning. It is now well known that one of the most prominent causes of PMS related symptoms, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breast disease and breast, uterine and ovarian cancer is excessive estrogen exposure from xenoestrogens which are synthetic estrogens from the environment. This is most often referred to as Estrogen Dominance. Two major sources of these exogenous estrogens are oral contraceptives (birth control pill) and hormone replacement therapy. These hormones are considered “foreign” which the body does not recognize to be identical to its own hormones. These foreign hormones can create damaging by-products and metabolites which can put a lot of stress on the liver as well as disrupt normal hormone pathways. Other major sources of xenoestrogens are environmental toxins found in pesticides, herbicides, plastics, refrigerants, and industrial solvents which are structurally similar to estrogen and have the ability to mimic the harmful estrogens in the body. Additionally, the hormones used to fatten livestock and promote milk production are found in meat and milk products, thereby increasing our exposure to environmental estrogens even more. There are also estrogens in the body that can cause problems and increase a women’s risk for a variety of cancers such as breast and ovarian cancer. Research has shown that both “good” and “bad” natural estrogens exist in the body; for example, 16?-hydroxylated estrogen metabolites are stronger and associated with a higher risk of breast cancer compared to 2-hydroxylated estrogen metabolites.
Luckily there are safe and effective nutrients that help maintain healthy hormone balance. These unique ingredients support the detoxification of “bad” estrogens and harmful xenoestrogens preventing estrogen dominance conditions and reducing the risk of women’s cancers. Calcium-d-glucarate, indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane are important substances that all support healthy hormone metabolism by promoting liver detoxification and excretion of harmful xenoestrogens. Milk Thistle is a well researched botanical extract that contains potent antioxidants that protect liver cells from free radical damage and support detoxification pathways. DIM is a naturally occurring phytonutrient found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. DIM has been shown to promote the formation of 2-hydroxylated estrogen metabolites instead of 16?-hydroxylated estrogen metabolites thereby shifting the ratio of “good” estrogens and reducing the production of “bad” estrogens. Tumeric, Lycopene, Rosemary and Green tea are all powerful antioxidants and have anti-carcinogenic properties thus protecting the body from environmental insult as well as reducing one’s risk of cancer.