I want to cover a hormonal imbalance that way too many women suffer from, but most do not know they have it.
I’m talking about estrogen dominance.
The common symptoms of estrogen dominance are:
- tender, lumpy, and fibrocystic breasts
- estrogenic cancers such as breast, ovarian, uterine
- uterine polyps
- heavy periods
- irregular periods
- thyroid nodules
- cellulite and stubborn fat on the butt and thighs
- water retention
- weight gain, especially around the butt and hips
- lack of ovulation
Note: Even though you might be headed for peri- and menopause, you can still be experiencing estrogen dominance.
Let’s Understand Estrogen Dominance (ED, in Short) First
It can happen due to two main reasons:
Reason #1: You have insufficient progesterone to oppose estradiol, the “aggressive” estrogen that has been connected to the growth of pathogenic cells like in the case of fibroids, cancers, and endometrial tissue.
Reason #2: The way your body is breaking down estrogens to the various estrogenic metabolites, is not favorable to you. I call them the “dirty” estrogens.
Due to a poor liver function, inappropriate diet, nutritional deficiencies, gut issues, chronic constipation, and use of “conventional” skincare and cleaning products, your body is receiving and/or creating too much of the antagonistic or “dirty” estrogen metabolites that cause harm.
Please read these. So many of our readers believe in these, to their detriment:
Misconception #1: I’m headed for peri- and menopause, I can’t have estrogen dominance since my estrogen levels are dropping.
Yes, you can.
Even though your estrogen might be dropping, the way the estrogens get broken down is what causes the ED symptoms.
This is why so many women who enter peri- and menopause, in spite of low estrogen levels, develop ER+ (estrogen receptor positive) breast cancers. It’s the estrogen metabolites (I call them the “dirty” estrogens) that cause it – not too much overall estrogen.
Misconception #2: I need to lower my estrogen intake and avoid food high in estrogens (called phytoestrogens, such as flaxseed) because I’m already estrogen dominant.
That’s not the issue.
You want estrogen (or else you won’t be well as a woman), just the right type and the right metabolites.
Most women with ED do not suffer because of too much estrogen but because they are not breaking down and evacuating these estrogens well enough.
The only thing you want to lower is xynoestrogens (synthetic or external estrogens) found in commercial skin care products, perfumes, and cleaning products. Products containing phthalates, parabens, BPA, benzophenone and Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) should not be found in your house.
Misconception #3: Even though I clearly have estrogen dominance, I should not eat cruciferous vegetables because I have hypothyroidism.
This one is a pervasive misconception that has been copied-and-pasted by bloggers without fact checking. First off, there is not a single study that shows that cruciferous vegetables inhibit thyroid function. All the thyroid experts including Dr. Izabella Wentz, Dr. Alan Christianson, Dr Kharrazian agree – eating cruciferous veggies will not slow your thyroid down.
Secondly, cruciferous vegetables (see below on the supplement line-up and explanation) are key in resolving estrogen dominance. Excess “dirty” estrogens increase the protein Thyroid Binding Globulin (TBG) – this means that the more estrogenic you are, the higher the rate of the TBG protein that binds up thyroid hormones – causing low thyroid function.
ED also interferes with the conversion of the T4 hormones (including Synthroid) to the bioactive T3 which is your working horse. Low T3 hormone causes many of the symptoms associated with low thyroid including hair and eyebrow loss, sudden weight gain, depression, anxiety, severe fatigue, infertility and miscarriages, constipation, feeling cold a lot of the time, and more.
Not to mention that crucifers help to detox the liver which is fundamental to thyroid health as well as estrogen metabolism.
How to Reverse and Manage Estrogen Dominance?
The best approach that will generate the fastest and most profound changes is when you combine diet changes with supplements.
Diet is your foundation.
Supplements are your amplifiers and healing accelerators.
Since this article is focused on supplements, I will dive right in.
Key Products I Recommend:
Ideal for you, if:
- You know that your 2:16 hydroxyestrone (can be tested with blood) balance is off, this is a great product to add.
- You are high in testosterone and you convert testosterone to estrogens.
- You need Phase 1 liver detoxification support (you probably know that yet, more on that below).
Sulforaphane is a compound high in broccoli sprouts. It is a potent Phase II liver detox facilitator, acting on the sulfation pathway. Sulforaphane has also been linked to being anti-carcinogenic in estrogenic cancers.
#3 Calcium D-glucarate
Calcium D-Glucarate helps the elimination of excess estrogen and other toxins and protects against re-absorption. It supports Liver Phase II, glucuronidation pathway detox. (It’s not the kind of calcium you take for your bones.)
Let’s Go Into a Little More Detail on Each of These Key Products and Their Nutrients
The DIM we make provides 100 mg of DIM (Diindolylmethane) – a type of compound known as a ‘plant indole.’
Plant indoles are found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower and are among the nutrients that give these vegetables their well-known healthful properties.
The primary plant indole found in cruciferous vegetables is known as Indole 3 Carbinol (I3C), which converts to DIM in the body.
I3C and DIM have been studied for their health-promoting benefits when used as supplements.
While both may help support healthy estrogen metabolism, DIM may be a better option as it does not produce the unwanted side effects of I3C (including possible nausea and equilibrium issues).
Buying Tip: When getting DIM, be sure it comes in oil form – it is the highest bioavailable form that is most likely to make a difference in your health.
How Does DIM Offer Superior Absorption?
DIM is made up of a crystalline structure that makes it difficult for the body to absorb.
To overcome this hurdle, DIM is manufactured using an all-natural process that helps to optimize the absorption of this nutrient by the body – using a proprietary blend of MCT oils, non-soy derived lecithin, and vitamin E, without the use of potentially harmful surfactants.
This delivery technology increases the absorption rate and reduces the absorption time for DIM, and as a result, it may allow for superior effects through lower dosages.
DIM and Hormone Balance
Both women and men produce many different forms of estrogen. Research suggests that the ratio of two specific forms – 2 hydroxy estrogen and 16 hydroxy estrogen – is important for optimal health.
DIM helps support a more optimal balance of these two estrogen metabolites, thereby providing a protective effect on the body. DIM also acts as an aromatase inhibitor – it means that it can block some testosterone from converting to estrogen, making more testosterone available in the body (can be a good thing). This could have a positive influence on sexual desire and athletic performance in both men and women.
The Difference Between I3C and DIM
I recommend using DIM and not I3C for two reasons.
First, I3C needs co-factors to get converted to DIM which is what does the work.
Plus, I3C, in the process of helping the 2:16 estrogen metabolism, also increases the 4 hydroxy estrone which has been linked to breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers.
In short: DIM is a better and safer option.
Benefits of DIM
- Supports Phase I liver detoxification.
- Helps maintain a beneficial ratio of 2 hydroxy estrogen to 16 hydroxy estrogen (also known as a higher ‘2/16 ratio’).
- Supports healthy balance of testosterone and estrogen.
- Provides antioxidant properties. DIM has been shown to help protect cells in the body from the damaging effects of oxidation.
- Has none of the side effects associated with I3C.
- Can be specifically formulated for maximum absorption and bioavailability.
Why has DIM stopped working or made you feel worse?
DIM has been marketed by many companies as the “estrogen buster.” Yes, it does have all the benefits I covered but note that it only upregulates Phase 1 liver detoxification. In this phase, the toxins become “freed” and need to be conjugated, or “coupled up” with specific compounds found in Phase II liver detoxification, such as methyl groups, sulfur – these compounds bind up the Phase I toxins and evacuate them through urine, sweat, and feces. When your Phase II liver function isn’t nourished with compounds that neutralize the toxins from Phase I, your body will struggle and you will most likely feel worse. This explains why many women either feel their symptoms of ED lift for a few weeks, and then start feeling worse. Some women feel worse right away. The way to solve this is to combine DIM with Phase II liver detoxifiers – sulforaphane and calcium d-glucarate. More on these, below.
Why Not Just Eat Cruciferous Vegetables?
Eating two pounds of cruciferous vegetables like raw cabbage or broccoli can ultimately supply, via I3C conversion into DIM, about 20-30 mg of DIM.
To get 100mg of DIM (I typically see best results with 200mg/day), one would need to eat 6 pounds of these crucifers – which isn’t doable for most people.
Having said that, once you rebalance your 2:16 ratio, a clean diet, rich in cruciferous veggies, might be sufficient to keep you symptom-free.
Can DIM be Taken with Medications?
Unlike I3C, DIM is safe when taken with Tamoxifen, birth control pills and other herbs such as St. John’s Wort.
There are no known contraindications for DIM supplementation.
DIM’s proven safety means that DIM can be used by women wishing to get pregnant but should be discontinued during pregnancy and lactation.
Start with 100mg of DIM. If it makes you feel worse, or you see no improvements, consider adding sulforaphane and calcium d-glucarate.
Some research has shown DIM may affect blood sugar levels. For this reason, people with diabetes or hypoglycemia and those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar should be cautious when supplementing with DIM. Talk to your healthcare provider and make sure blood glucose levels are being monitored if you start taking DIM.
Sulforaphane is a mighty (and safe) compound I feel is highly underestimated and underused by both allopathic and functional professionals. I’m so smitten by it that I may sound like a snake oil salesman. In addition to helping aid in the body’s detoxification, sulforaphane has been shown to have long-lasting antioxidant effects, offering protection from oxidizing free radicals and anti-estrogenic cancer properties. It is also the most powerful anti-inflammatory and is showing impressive anti-carcinogenic properties.
Derived from broccoli sprouts, it has similar characteristics to DIM but is not quite the same. Not only does this compound offer detoxification and antioxidant support, but it is protective for the cardiovascular as well as nervous systems.
Its benefits can be summed up as:
- phase 2 liver detoxification
- raises “good” estrogen (2-OH estrone)
- shrinkage of breast lumps and cancers
- powerful anti-inflammatory
- protects from free radicals
- strengthens the immune system
I’m a big fan of getting sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts (see this article how to grow them at home), but if you don’t have the time or access, a supplement is a good option.
Sulforaphane and Hormonal Balance
Sulforaphane aids hormone balance in several ways.
Liver detoxification: Sulforaphane is directly involved in supporting liver detoxification, which is important not only for liver function but for the rest of the body as well. It targets biological pathways that both modulate Phase I enzymes and elevate Phase II enzymes, allowing for full and proper detoxification of unsafe chemicals along with “dirty” estrogens.
Anti-carcinogen and detoxifier: Research shows when it comes to supplementing with sulforaphane, premenopausal breast cancer risk was decreased with higher broccoli consumption, it can increase the activity of detoxification enzymes, it’s effective in reducing thyroid cancers, and it raises OH-2 estrone, which is the protective form of estrogen.
Chemoprotection: Sulforaphane is considered a chemoprotective agent for various types of cancers, including estrogen-receptive breast cancers.
Digestive health: A recent study determined sulforaphane supplementation decreased the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria in the stool including h.pylori, and improved daily bowel habits of the study participants.
Here are the citation of these claims.
- It inhibits breast cancer stem cells (source) and well as triple negative breast cancers (source).
- It increases the production of liver Phase II detoxification enzymes and glutathione synthesis (source, source).
- Premenopausal breast cancer risk was decreased with higher broccoli consumption (source).
- Oral supplementation showed antioxidant Phase II enzymes induction in the human airway as a strategy to reduce the inflammatory effects of oxidative stress (source).
- It has an anti-tumor effect on thyroid cancer (source).
- It sensitizes estrogen receptors to better receive Tamoxifen, helping to reduce the drug dose to achieve the same results (source).
- It normalizes bowel movement in healthy subjects (source).
- It raises OH-2 estrone, which is the protective (or “clean”) estrogen metabolite (source).
Broccoli sprouts and sulforaphane content
While working with our manufacturer on formulating the sulforaphane supplement, I learned that, unfortunately, the sulforaphane content in supermarket-purchased broccoli sprouts can vary significantly from low to high. The below chart demonstrates this finding. There is no way of telling which product is high or low in sulforaphane contents (and organic sources didn’t make a difference). I’m still a big fan of growing and consuming broccoli sprouts on a regular basis. However, if you are dealing with a persistent type of estrogen dominance or serious conditions such as a large fibroid, breast or thyroid cancer, I recommend considering supplementing with a high quality sulforaphane supplement.
Sulforaphane supplements are not made equal (what to look for)
Top quality sulforaphane is derived from raw material containing high levels of glucoraphanin (the raw material) as well as added myrosinase. Myrosinase is the enzyme that facilitates the conversion of glucoraphanin to sulforaphane – which then guarantees the presence of, for example, 7mg of sulforaphane per serving. Myrosinate improves sulforaphane availability by about 8 times. Many cheaply-made supplements manufacturers don’t use this formulation approach leaving the product efficacy to chance. Furthermore, it helps if the sulforaphane formula contains vitamin C – research shows an even higher bio-availability of sulforaphane.
Find a sulforaphane supplement that guarantees 3 to 7 grams of sulforaphane (not just glucoraphanin), provides myrosinase and preferably contains vitamin C. We formulated our Wellena Brocco Power exactly this way and I believe it is one of the top products in the market.
If you are taking medications that are changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates), check with your provider before taking sulforaphane. Sulforaphane impacts the liver and these medications may act too fast or have side effects.
The Difference Between DIM and Sulforaphane (the clogged toilet analogy)
Since both DIM and Sulforaphane support liver detoxification, especially from the perspective of hormone clearance, what is the difference?
As mentioned earlier, the market has established DIM as a “estrogen buster.”. DIM can be wonderful as it helps metabolize estrogen, especially “dirty” estrogens, which are the problematic metabolites that can cause so many of the estrogen dominance symptoms.
Many women notice it helps at first and then it stops working. Some may have found it makes estrogen symptoms even worse.
Here is the reason: DIM upregulates phase 1 liver detoxification. Your liver also has phase 2 detoxification. Both of them need to work well for the junk to eventually get evacuated through your colon and kidneys (i.e., poop and pee).
To make it a little more graphic, imagine a toilet with a toilet bowl and a drain to carry the waste out. With DIM, you have just unclogged your toilet bowl but not the drain. In fact, the toilet bowl might be so open now that the drain can’t cope, and the result is the toilet is still clogged up and overflowing.
So, back to your liver and estrogens. DIM has just helped you open up phase 1 detoxification, but if your phase 2 isn’t working as well (which in most people it isn’t), you won’t feel better.
The good news: You can open up phase 2 liver detoxification with two potent substances: sulforaphane and calcium d-glucarate.
3. Calcium D-Glucarate
Calcium D-glucarate, as an activator of the glucuronidation liver pathway, is another potent liver detoxifier that clears “dirty” estrogens and other harmful toxins. I also have found it to be very beneficial after several toxic exposures. For example, if you live in a polluted place or have been taking painkillers and antibiotics to prepare for a surgery, you may particularly benefit from calcium D-glucarate, which is found naturally in many fruits and vegetables such as oranges, apples, and cruciferous vegetables. It inhibits beta-glucuronidase, which is an enzyme that reduces the liver’s detox ability, allowing toxins and “dirty” estrogens to re-enter the blood. High levels are seen in people who eat diets too high in fat. It’s been linked to inflammation and certain forms of estrogenic cancers including breast cancer.
- the removal of harmful “dirty” estrogens (source) thus supporting estrogen dominance
- in connection to the above point, it’s been used in treatments of fibroids, endometriosis breast cancer prevention (source)
- liver detoxification Phase II detoxification (source)
- lower inflammation (source)
- lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol (source, source)
- anti-carcinogenic properties (source)
- post-surgery and toxic exposure recovery
Calcium D-Glucarate and Hormone Balance
Calcium D-glucarate aids hormone balance by supporting:
Liver detoxification: Glucaric acid (which is what calcium d-glucarate is converted to) binds to toxins, which are then removed in the urine. Supplementation with calcium D-glucarate has been shown to inhibit beta-glucuronidase, a specific enzyme produced by microflora in the large intestine and involved in phase 2 of liver detoxification that lowers the occurrence of breast, prostate, and colon cancers. Removing toxins from the liver will increase liver function and promote a healthy metabolism. It will also allow your liver to eliminate other toxins that would otherwise cause problems.
Estrogen detoxification: Calcium d-glucarate removes the harmful “dirty” estrogens, which are the harmful metabolites of estrogen that may be responsible for conditions such as fibrocystic breasts, breast lumps, ER+ breast cancers, thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer endometriosis, fibroids, infertility, mood swings, and PMS. This research validates cancer prevention and estrogen metabolism.
The immune system: Furthermore, this study shows calcium d-glucarate decreases inflammation by activating the immune system and increasing the activity of the anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol: One study showed the use of calcium d-glucarate lowers LDL cholesterol by 35%. Many women with low thyroid function suffer from high LDL cholesterol.
Recommended dosage of calcium d-glucarate ranges from 150 mg to 300 mg per day, taken with meals. We have Calcium D-Glucarate in our Wellena store.
Pick a supplement free of gluten, soy, additives, and dyes.
Calcium d-glucarate can speed up the metabolism of toxins and decrease the effectiveness of medications changed by the liver. If you are taking any medications, please speak to your doctor before adding calcium d-glucarate. If taking calcium d-glucarate, some patients take it four hours away from their medications.
Which Product to Start With?
It all depends on your health and on which “links are broken” or not working optimally in your body to detox you from the “dirty” estrogen metabolites.
My recommendation is:
If you are highly symptomatic (and experience things like fibrocystic breasts, stubborn breast lumps, advanced endometriosis, quickly growing fibroids), start with all three products:
You can save money when you get the Estrogen Reset Kit, which contains all three of these products.
If you are not that symptomatic and/or budget is an issue for you, start with Sulforaphane (Brocco Power).
Supplements or Food?
You know I’m a big believer that food is the foundation of our hormonal health. So when is it right to just rely on food or when to take the supplements?
It depends on where you are.
If you are highly symptomatic from estrogen dominance, I recommend starting with the supplements because they will relieve many of your symptoms. Then, continue with an anti-estrogenic diet.
When I had lumps on my breasts and water retention that forced me to take all my rings off, I did DIM and Brocco Power for 2 months – to quickly rebalance my hormones and reduce all the symptoms.
I then stopped taking the supplements and as long as I keep a clean diet (anti-inflammatory, free of gluten, dairy, low in sugar, 70% plant based with no coffee and minimal alcohol), I remain symptom-free.
If you’re struggling with estrogen dominance and would like to learn more about how to balance your hormones, I invite you to join my Estrogen Reset program.
This is a great resource if you are suffering from:
- Breast lumps and fibrocystic breasts
- Hot Flashes
- Amenorrhea (lack of periods)
- Irregular periods
- Dysmenorrhea & PMS
- Menorrhagia (heavy periods)
- Thyroid nodules
- Hip fat and cellulite
- Breast Cancer (ER+)
- High testosterone (PCOS)
You can enroll in the Estrogen Reset program here.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.