What You Will Learn in This Article
- Where causes estrogen dominance and what are the symptoms?
- How to naturally reverse estrogen dominance.
- The steps you should take if you show symptoms of estrogen dominance
What hormonal imbalance do most women have but don’t have any idea they have it? Estrogen Dominance is one of the most common hormonal imbalances that the women I work with experience.
Where Causes Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen Dominance can cause all kinds of hormone symptoms including breast or ovarian fibroids, varicose veins, heavy menstrual bleeding, body fat and cellulite, fluid retention, PMS, and anxiety. It can also help trigger or worsen conditions such as endometriosis. Estrogen Dominance can be caused by many lifestyle factors including stress, poor diet, some meds, inadequate liver function and exposure to an estrogenic cocktail of chemicals from skincare products, cleaners, packaging, and food.
These can trigger:
- Excess levels of the strong estrogens: Estrone (E1) and estradiol (E2), as compared to estriol (E3), which is the “protective estrogen.”
- Low progesterone: The ratio of progesterone to E2 is too low because estrogen becomes too dominant and also because many women don’t produce enough progesterone due to issues such as stress.
Which Herbs Can Help with Estrogen Dominance Problems?
Nature offers powerful remedies to help restore the hormonal balance between estrogen and progesterone. Here’s a snapshot of common estrogen dominance problems, along with the herbs and plant foods that can help women:
Fibroids, Breast Lumps and Breast Cancer
Long-term, excess estrogen can increase the risk of developing estrogen-positive breast cancers. Herbs and plant foods that help liver function also encourage a balance between estrogen and progesterone. They can also relieve other signs and symptoms of Estrogen Dominance including breast tenderness and benign lumps (which could turn cancerous). Good choices include:
Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) also known as Monk’s Pepper got these names from the anti aphrodisiac qualities of the plant. Monks used to chew the berries and leaves of this plant to reduce urges. When used in large quantities some may experience reduced libido. Chaste tree works by increasing luteinizing hormone which helps to raise progesterone levels so that estrogen levels are not so dominant. It can help reduce issues such as painful, lumpy breasts, bloating, depression, headache, and constipation.
Passionflower is high in chrysin, a naturally occurring flavonoid that is found in plants like passionflower and chamomile and may help lower estradiol. It is a great plant ally for perimenopausal sleep disturbance because it helps lower estradiol and has calming, mild sedative qualities.
Enjoy this in tea form and benefit from its rich levels of an antioxidant called ellagic acid. Raspberry leaf can alter estrogen metabolism, helping to reduce the risk of hormonal cancers caused by 17beta-estradiol, shows research in animals from the University of Louisville.
Like licorice and ginseng, maca root is an “herbal adaptogen”. This means it will adapt to your body’s needs, helping to naturally balance your hormones. Research at Charles Sturt University in Australia has shown benefits for women taking 500mg capsules off Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon Maca twice a day. Over four months these women experienced an increase in progesterone – which is often too low for women suffering from Estrogen Dominance.
Broccoli and Broccoli Sprouts
According to some research, Broccoli helps inhibit breast cancer stem cells, preventing new tumors from growing because it contains a compound called sulforaphane.
These herbs can be used in easy to make salves, tinctures, and infusions.
Poor Liver Function
When excess estrogen is constantly circulating in your body, the liver can become overloaded, rendering it unable to filter out harmful estrogen metabolites (which are easily excreted when the liver is functioning optimally). This can then lead to even circulating levels of estrogen.
Assists the liver to remove excess estrogen and can also help reduce high cholesterol levels.
Boosts the production of bile, which in turn, supports liver function to eliminate excess estrogens.
Dandelion root and leaf
This bitter plant stimulates bile production which facilities your liver’s detoxification process, helping it to break down estrogen and progesterone byproducts and remove them from the body normally through excretion.
Another research study shows that foods like broccoli, kale, arugula, and cauliflower contain glucosinolates, which also activate a phase 2 detoxification in the liver. These powerhouse veggies filter estrogen metabolites from your body. If you have thyroid issues, cooking your cruciferous vegetables helps reduce ~ 80% of their goitrogenic chemicals. I talk more about how to balance your hormones with food, in my book Cooking for Hormones Balance here.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Does your menstrual cycle sometimes make you feel like you’re riding a hormonal roller coaster? Many women experience mood swings, fluid retention, and breast tenderness in the days or weeks leading up to your period. These fun symptoms can be painfully exacerbated by Estrogen Dominance.
Seed cycling can be used to reduce symptoms of Estrogen Dominance. Seeds can also increase your levels of nutrients, including zinc and vitamin E. You simply add two tablespoons of one seed or one tablespoon each of two different seeds to smoothies, salads or soups. You will need to experiment to work out what best suits your body and hormonal profile.
As a general rule to boost estrogen, the following seeds are favored during days 1-14 of the menstrual cycle:
- Pumpkin Seeds
To Boost Progesterone these seeds are taken during days 15-28 of the menstrual cycle when ovulation and menstruation occur:
- Sesame Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
What Should Be Your Next Steps in Regards to Estrogen Dominance?
Managing your Estrogen Dominance with herbs, vegetables and seeds could be a good solution in order to only temporarily reduce the symptoms. It’s important to confirm your suspicion of experiencing Estrogen Dominance. You can get your doctor to test it for you at your next appointment (be sure to get saliva, not blood testing) or you can start by taking a Free Estrogen Quiz. I’ve designed it to help women discover Estrogen Dominance. The truth is Estrogen Dominance symptoms occur to 75% of women, but a whopping 90% of them don’t even realize they have it. So I recommend taking this Quiz to check yourself.
Aiyer, Harini S, et al. “Dietary Berries and Ellagic Acid Diminish Estrogen-Mediated Mammary Tumorigenesis in ACI Rats.” Nutrition and Cancer, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2008.
Meissner, H O, et al. “Hormone-Balancing Effect of Pre-Gelatinized Organic Maca (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon): (II) Physiological and Symptomatic Responses of Early-Postmenopausal Women to Standardized Doses of Maca in Double Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Multi-Centre Clinical Study.” International Journal of Biomedical Science: IJBS, Master Publishing Group, Dec. 2006.
Li, Yanyan, et al. “Sulforaphane, a Dietary Component of Broccoli/Broccoli Sprouts, Inhibits Breast Cancer Stem Cells.” Clinical Cancer Research, American Association for Cancer Research, 1 May 2010.