Published April 18, 2023 Your symptom picture throughout your menstrual cycle can tell you a lot about your hormonal health. While painful periods and intense PMS are often viewed as the “norm”, they are actually often rooted in a hormonal imbalance. Today we’re going to take a deep dive into Estrogen Dominance — specifically, what it is and how to manage the uncomfortable symptoms that come with it. WHAT IS ESTROGEN? Estrogen is a hormone primarily produced in the ovaries and plays an important role in the menstrual cycle. Estrogen is one of the key hormones that triggers puberty and the development of female sex characteristics. Throughout the menstrual cycle, estrogen levels rise and fall in a very orchestrated manner. Estrogen is involved in a number of processes including triggering ovulation and supporting endometrial growth. ESTROGEN DOMINANCE & SYMPTOMS Estrogen Dominance is exactly what it sounds like. It is a hormonal imbalance that occurs when levels of estrogen in the body are higher than they should be and “dominate” other hormones like progesterone. Excess estrogen is processed by the liver and excreted via bowel movements. So poor liver function and digestion are some of the leading causes of Estrogen Dominance. Another factor that plays a huge role in Estrogen Dominance is our exposure to xenoestrogens, which are synthetic chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body. These can be found in things like personal care products, plastic, and pesticides. Some common symptoms of Estrogen Dominance include: Irregular menstrual cyclesMood swings Fibrocystic breastsCyclical breast tenderness Insomnia Headaches Decreased libido TIPS FOR NAVIGATING ESTROGEN DOMINANCE There are a host of lifestyle and dietary changes that can have a huge impact on symptoms of Estrogen Dominance so let’s dive into some of our top tips: Vitex – this is a great herb for women with irregular periods and intense PMS symptoms due to estrogen dominance. It provides top-down hypothalamic regulation to balance the HPAOT axis; and works over 3-6 months to bring up progesterone in comparison to estrogen. We have a formula called Flow Balance that combines Vitex with other supportive herbs to achieve this and it’s incredibly effective if you’re consistent with it, even more so if you combine it with some of the strategies listed below!Up your fiber – this matters for prostaglandin balance too, but even more so for estrogen detoxification. Eating more fiber helps to provide this highly bindable, “dumping ground” for the estrogen and toxins your body is attempting to get rid of via bile. When fiber-rich foods are moving through your intestines, the bile your body releases that contains the estrogen it’s trying to excrete gets squirted into your gut and immediately picked up by the fiber, instead of getting recirculated again and again through the intestinal wall.Make sure you’re pooping regularly – The whole goal is to get your excess estrogen bound up by the fiber-rich food you eat, and then eliminated by regular bowel movements. If you’re not having a full bowel movement at least once daily, you’re recirculating excess estrogen. Here we’d lean on bitter digestive herbs and hepatic liver herbs to improve liver-bowel detoxification and excretion, such as digestive bitters before meals or liver herbs like those found in our Liver Juice formula. We often recommend Liver Juice alongside Flow Balance for those with longstanding hormone imbalances. Bowel-moistening herbs like adding marshmallow root powder to your oatmeal or slippery elm can also be immensely helpful if your bowel movements are very dry and hard to move.Increase your intake of probiotics – Both with supplements and fermented foods – probiotics help to crowd out pathogenic bacteria that can also recirculate estrogen.Up your intake of Vitamin C and Vitamin B6-rich foods – Vitamin C increases progesterone production and adequate vitamin B6 alters bodily changes induced by estrogen excess; whereas a vitamin B6 deficiency causes estrogens to accumulate in uterine tissue and bind tightly to nuclear receptors. Sometimes dietary intake of B6 isn’t enough especially if you have gut dysbiosis or compromised gut function so I often find a liquid b complex is helpful for women with hormonal imbalance – it’s something I take daily myself for not just hormones but cognitive function and energy. Vitamin C is quite interesting because animals can make their own but we HAVE to get it through diet! It’s so important to eat fresh fruit and veggies daily – bell peppers are a great source – because we simply cannot make it and use Vitamin C at very high rates when stressed or sick, yet it’s so important for our holy grail hormone progesterone.Up your cruciferous veggie intake – Cruciferous veggies like broccoli encourage the body to excrete the less-toxic versions of estrogen metabolites (such as 2-hydroxyestrone: lower levels of breast cancer) rather than the toxic versions of estrogen metabolites (the ones related to breast cancer risk such as 16-hydroxy-estrone). Some people genetically tend to go the 16 route (genetically higher risk of breast cancer) others tend to go the 2 (less toxic) route. Cruciferous veggies push the body to go the less toxic route regardless of genes.Include methionine containing foods in your diet – Methionine is an essential amino acid that plays an important role in supporting the liver’s ability to metabolize estrogen. Methionine helps the liver produce our master detox antioxidant: Glutathione. And glutathione is essential for detoxing excess estrogen and other hormones from the body. Some foods that are good sources of methionine include meat, fish, poultry, spirulina, sesame/sunflower seeds, beans/legumes, onions, garlic, and egg yolks.