Simplifying Female Hormonal Imbalances is not a task we take lightly. Women experience hormonal imbalances throughout the key stages of their lives which is puberty, reproductive, perimenopause and perimenopause. It seems the most useful way to assess female hormones is acute clinical observation of signs, symptoms, and conditions, with testing as a supportive measure.
We have seen how oestrogen excess in the body may not occur because of a gonadal hormone excess, but potentially a whole network of dysfunction surrounding local hormone conversion and detoxification, levels, and activity of receptors, modifying influences such as insulin and growth factors, and, even the influence of other interfering factors such as hormonally acting environmental toxins. The factors which influence abnormalities in the response to any reproductive hormone, and the balance of contributors in oestrogen excess.
Food can be a hormone medicine. Specific foods such as oranges, grapes, mushrooms, celery, onion, coriander, and fennel contain aromatase inhibitors, reducing the excessive production of oestrogen while fibre-rich foods improve bowel clearance contributing to improved hormone detoxification. Some hormones really need detoxification to work optimally, like insulin, oestrogen, and your hunger hormones, leptin, and ghrelin. When it comes to support your body’s natural detoxification process, I recommend eating your greens—and lots of them. Eating dark leafy greens is a great way to inactivate some of those excess oestrogens.
Eating cruciferous vegetables can help you with liver detoxification, and getting allium vegetables (things like garlic, leeks, and onion) helps you with making glutathione, which is part of this process of clearing up the toxins.
Herbs such as turmeric, rosemary and milk thistle are useful anti-inflammatories as well as each possessing specific hormonal actions. When looking to relieve symptoms and correcting abnormal hormone metabolism caused by inflammation, particular attention should be paid to the omega 3 levels in the diet, as well as the consumption of sufficient quantities of fruits, vegetables, and seeds with anti-inflammatory properties
Now, we cannot talk about female hormonal imbalances without talking about alcohol consumption. The correlation between moderate to high levels of alcohol consumption and an increased risk of breast cancer has been noted in several epidemiological studies. Increases in risk (around 10%) have also been noted at lower levels of consumption, equivalent to around 1-2 drinks a day. The more alcohol consumed, the higher the levels of oestrogen in the body.1
Magnesium is a key nutrient which is frequently deficient in women suffering from abnormal hormone activity. In conditions from PMS to PCOS, menstrual migraine to symptomatic menopause, levels of magnesium are around 20-30% lower than asymptomatic matched controls.
Magnesium bisglycinate is one of the most bioavailable forms of magnesium, providing optimal magnesium replenishment with a low incidence of gastrointestinal symptoms experienced with therapeutic doses of the minerals to relieve some of the key drivers of hormonal issues.
Ayurvedic anti-inflammatory herbs, provides potent anti-inflammatory support to relieve the painful symptoms of inflammation as well as reduce the pathogenic effects of inflammation on hormone metabolism. Chamomile works to relieve stress and assist with the mood dysregulation frequently present with hormonal imbalances, while broccoli extract assists with correct hormone detoxification. Nutrient cofactors which are often deficient are calcium, zinc, and B6, crucial for hormone metabolism they work alongside magnesium.
Guided detoxification can correct gut, liver, and kidney function to ensure proper excretion of hormones themselves as well as endocrine-disrupting chemicals which may be driving disease.
However, perhaps an even greater concern is the increasing use of plastics in the preparation, storage and serving of food and drink products. Plastics are ubiquitous, with even cardboard cartons and tins possessing plastic linings in contact with the food. The rise in BPA-free products available unfortunately does little to decrease concerns, as BPA is simply replaced with other similar plasticisers, almost all of which possess significant oestrogenic activity.
Reproductive disorders associated with plasticiser exposure include endometriosis, fibroids, PCOS, breast cancer, miscarriage, and, in men, low sperm counts and erectile dysfunction.
Another common toxicity-related issue which can contribute significantly to hormone-related disorders is poor gut function and dysbiosis. The gut is responsible for determining whether hormones detoxified by the liver are eliminated or reabsorbed. In fact, the effects of gut flora on the reabsorption of hormones are so important that several antibiotic prescriptions come with warnings that they may reduce the effectiveness of the oral contraceptive pill, through reducing the numbers of bacterial flora which mediate the enterohepatic recycling of oestrogen. The microbiome can in fact be viewed as an important hormone metabolism organ in its own right – in some individuals, it is the function of this organ that may need significant correction.
An important part of any detoxification program is cleaning up the diet, and eating fresh organic foods are particularly important for those with hormonal disorders. Simply avoiding all canned and packaged foods for just three days has been shown to reduce urinary BPA and phthalate levels by around 60% 2 .
This hormone imbalance may lead to increased inflammation and may also enhance the pelvic pain disease the endomestrial’s ability to successfully attach the blastocyst to nourish and keep it alive. If oestrogen is the hormone for inflammation and proliferation, progesterone is the yin to its yang – anti-inflammatory, reducing pain, and promoting calm. The signs of oestrogen excess and progesterone deficiency commonly occur together – regardless of which one is primary, the absence or excess provides a relative imbalance in the oestrogen/ progesterone ratio, creating symptoms.
Low levels are associated with many premenstrual symptoms, including physical symptoms such as breast swelling and pain, as well as mood symptoms including anxiety, irritability, and depression, due to the role progesterone plays in the brain. Progesterone levels are also a key target in infertility treatment, to assist the implantation of an embryo and maintain pregnancy through the early weeks. Another effective method of addressing the cause of progesterone deficiency is to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant herbs and nutrients such as ginger, vitamin E and the carotenoid lutein, are therefore highly indicated to support healthy progesterone function, as well as relieving common inflammatory symptoms experienced around the menses. The third important component in a core prescription for PMS is lifestyle change. A diet high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and oils, rich in essential minerals and protein, supports brain and ovarian function as well as metabolic and detoxifying enzymes to maintain hormonal balance.
Adequate exposure to sunlight, and hence sufficient levels of vitamin D, have been shown to increase ovarian reserve, improve the outcome of IVF treatment, positively influence reproductive health in PCOS, as well as confer risk reduction against fibroids, endometriosis and dysmenorrhoea.3
Cardio Metabolic Risk
Insomnia Anxiety/ depression
Traditional Chinese medicine views symptomatic menopause in much the same way that recent science has eventually come to appreciate it – a condition primarily caused by long term stress and depletion of adrenal reserves, or yin. Yin tonifying herbs are the primary remedy and they have demonstrated to relieve hot flushes, sweating, palpitations, anxiety. Stress, poor nutrition, and inflammation are significant drivers of worsening menopausal symptoms.
For a long time in mainstream medicine, the rapid drop-off in oestrogen levels experienced around menopause was believed to be a detrimental phenomenon. However, the science of intracrinology provides us with an alternative therapeutic strategy. The body still uses oestrogen post-menopause – however it uses it sparingly, converting it as needed in the relevant tissues from circulating precursor hormones such as DHEA. One of the most common and troublesome symptoms of menopause is hot flushes. The frequency and severity of hot flushes can range from occasional (eg. a few mild flushes per week) to severely disabling – occurring sometimes hourly, with sufferers feeling completely overcome with heat and unable to continue their normal activities for the duration of the flush. Physiologically, the hot flush is a heat loss mechanism, whereby short-term initiation of widening of blood vessels near the skin increases the exposure of the blood to the surface of the body, allowing heat to escape and lowering core temperature.
Low GABA, low serotonin, high noradrenaline, and low oestrogen along with the contribution of low DHEA provides a physiological explanation for the common clinical observation that women who suffer or have suffered from severe or long-term stress undergo a significantly more troubling menopause. This has demonstrated how hot flushes can also worsen under acute stress.4
In one case, a woman in her mid-40’s, flushes and sweats throughout the day and night were leading to moderate to severe sleep disturbances, irritability and depression. A lack of energy caused her to overeat, particularly sweet foods, and she was struggling with weight gain as a result. She was prescribed Oestrogen Lifting Herbs, alongside a testosterone clearing formula some stress support and an individualised weight management plan. After 8 weeks, the patient-reported hot flushes, night sweats and sleep disturbances had decreased from severe to completely gone.
In another case, a woman in her early 40’s presented with symptoms of potential early perimenopause. She was experiencing hot flushes and night sweats, alongside PMS, breast tenderness, fatigue and depression. She reported the symptoms beginning when a hormonal intrauterine device was implanted 3 years ago. Based on the age of presentation, the symptoms of oestrogen/progesterone imbalance, and the possible hormonal toxicity issues from the IUD. She was prescribed soy and methylating nutrients alongside magnesium Premenstrual symptoms of mood swings, fluid retention, breast tenderness, and cravings, as well as night sweats and dysmenorrhoea were significantly relieved.
The main procedure addresses a range of the key drivers of oestrogen excess, with significant actions to support nutrition, inflammation, insulin signalling, thyroid hormone function, and detoxification. An active compound from the Brassica family, indole-3-carbinol, has been used successfully by natural medicine practitioners for many years to correct the 2:16 OH oestrogen ratio, particularly as part of breast and cervical cancer treatment or prevention.
Lower abdominal pain during or before mensuration
Autoimmune conditions –
Oestrogen excess has also been implicated in driving the increased risk experienced by women for autoimmune diseases 5. In natural medicine, we are always looking for a reason why homeostasis has been altered, aiming to correct the cause of the body’s dysfunction and restore natural order. Hormonal disorders are a classic example of a disturbed natural regulating cycle. Hormonal dysfunction occurs for the same reason as all other imbalances caused by diet, lifestyle, and environmental exposures.
Oestrogen Excess Drivers
We assess and treat female hormonal disorders, each of these areas should be considered as a potential barrier to achieving successful results, and therefore an important treatment target. We use specifically designed questionnaire with every patient presenting with hormonal disturbances to gain insight into both the levels and the particular qualities of the stress present, in order to prescribe the best supportive formula.
I hope this will bring some sort of clarity around female hormonal imbalances and hope to hear if anyone needs help or ant to have a chat. We are putting together a plan specifically for Detoxing as well as other individually tailored plans to support and assist you get your health back.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only if you need any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact the clinic or your doctor.
- Alcohol, tobacco and breast cancer–collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 53 epidemiological studies, including 58,515 women with breast cancer and 95,067 women without the disease – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Food Packaging and Bisphenol A and Bis(2-Ethyhexyl) Phthalate Exposure: Findings from a Dietary Intervention | Environmental Health Perspectives | Vol. 119, No. 7 (nih.gov)
- Vitamin D and female fertility – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Cortisol Levels during the Menopausal Transition and Early Post menopause: Observations from the Seattle Midlife Women’s Health Study (nih.gov)
- Sex hormones, immune responses, and autoimmune diseases. Mechanisms of sex hormone action. (nih.gov)