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. 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.
The liver is considered a key player when treating hormone imbalances. Many of our hormones, such as estrogen pass through the liver and are broken down into their respective metabolites. The problem arises when xenoestrogens pass through the liver because they often create very damaging by-products and harmful estrogen metabolites, which can put a lot of additional stress on the liver as well as disrupt our normal hormone pathways.
Other major sources of xenoestrogens are environmental toxins found in pesticides, plastics, household cleaners, and many of our personal hygiene products and cosmetics. These toxins are structurally similar to estrogen and have the ability to mimic the harmful estrogens in the body. Research has shown that both “good” and “bad” natural estrogens exist in the body; for example, 16α-hydroxylated estrogen metabolites are stronger and associated with a higher risk of breast cancer compared to 2-hydroxylated estrogen metabolites, which are considered friendly and protective estrogens.
To help maintain healthy hormone balance eat organic foods, use clean body care products which are free from xenoestrogens including parabens and sulfates, and ask for a natural formula to support healthy liver detoxification at your local health food store. Liver supportive ingredients such as milk thistle and curcumin are essential for supporting those detoxification pathways. Milk thistle is a well-researched botanical extract that contains potent antioxidants that protect liver cells from free radical damage and support detoxification pathways. Calcium-d-glucarate, indole-3-carbinol, and sulforaphane help the liver metabolize excess estrogens from the body. Green tea extract has been shown to reduce excess testosterone levels and to control high levels of insulin. It is also a potent antioxidant along with lycopene and rosemary extract.
Antioxidants help bind onto free radicals during the detoxification of harmful substances, thus protecting the body from environmental insult.
Our liver is one of the most important organs in the body for detoxification. Keeping the liver healthy and supporting its ability to break down hormones efficiently is essential for healthy hormone balance.
Hudson, T. Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Revised and Updated. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2008.
Lord, RS., Bongiovanni, ND, and J. Alexander Bralley. Estrogen Metabolism and the Diet-Cancer Connection: Rational for Assessing the Ratio of Urinary Hydroxylated Estrogen Metabolites. Alternative Medicine Review. Volume 7, Number 2. 2002.