Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Estrogens are a group of hormones that are produced in the ovaries, in females, and in small amounts in the male testicles. One form, estrone, is produced in the fat cells of both men and women. Throughout a women’s life the balance of female hormones affects her overall health and vitality. Both high and low levels of estrogen are associated with health problems. Estrone is strong in terms of its stimulation of the body and must be kept in check by having adequate levels of the other estrogens, estradiol and estriol. High estrone increases the risk of heart disease, cancer polycystic ovaries and PMS. Estrone becomes more abundant in women who are obese. Estradiol is the most abundant estrogen in women of reproductive age. It is responsible for female characteristics, protecting the bones and cardiovascular system, keeping the hair and skin vital and maintaining fertility. High levels of estradiol cause the same problems as high levels of estrone. Estriol becomes important in postmenopausal women but it only stimulates the body a little as compared to estrone and estradiol. Optimal levels of estriol protect women from complaints of aging like heart disease, loss of hair, skin wrinkling, cancer and bone loss. Estrogens are available only by prescription in Canada. It can be used orally or topically, in a cream. To enhance the body’s production of estrogen without taking estrogen itself there are several options. By supporting the function of the ovaries the body can optimize its estrogen levels, relative to a woman’s age. For specific information (dosing, safety issues, etc.) on each supplement follow the link. Essential fatty acid and protein intake is important. Essential fatty acids are used to make steroid molecules, the precursors to hormones like estrogens. Primrose and borage oil are two sources of essential fatty acids that have a particular affinity for balancing female hormones. Protein is what the body uses to build connective tissue, bone and fetal tissue under the direction of hormones, like estrogen. Vitamins and minerals that support sexual gland function include vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B complex, vitamin B6, zinc, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, selenium and zinc. Herbs can support estrogen production by containing plant estrogens (phytoestrogens); compounds that look similar to human estrogen and can interact with estrogen receptors in the human body. The important thing to remember is that these plant estrogens only stimulate the receptors a fraction of the amount that the hormone estrogen would. Therefore they can be used to treat conditions of high estrogen activity, by blocking the activity of the hormone estrogen. It can also treat conditions of low estrogen activity by binding to vacant receptor sites and causing a bit of hormonal stimulation. Some examples of plants that contain phytoestrogens are black cohosh, chaste tree, dong quai, red clover and soy.

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