Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Estrogen Detox

Cleaning out excess estrogen, whether from internal or external sources can help to reduce your risk of several diseases including heart disease and cancer...

Estrogen is one of the major female reproductive hormones in the human body. It is found in high levels in women during the first half of their menstrual cycle. Usually it is balanced by progesterone during the menstrual cycle. Excess estrogen can be due to high estrogen levels, or due to low progesterone levels resulting in a relative excess of estrogen.

Forms of Estrogen
Imbalance in estrogen can come internal or external estrogens. Internal (endogenous) estrogens are those created by the human body, while external (exogenous) estrogens come from the outside world (external). External estrogens can be from chemical sources (xenoestrogens), or from plant sources (phytoestrogens). Toxic estrogens typically come from xenoestrogen sources.

Endogenous (Internal) Estrogens
Estrogens produced in the human body are mainly produced by the ovaries although some come from the liver and adrenal glands. Interestingly, human fat cells also secrete estrogen, so carrying excess weight can contribute to hormonal imbalances. There are three naturally occurring estrogens in women called: estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3).

E2 is the most active and influential form of estrogen in the body during our reproductive years, while E1 plays the largest role during menopause. See the chart below for a summary of endogenous estrogens. For more information on metabolites, see the paragraph on estrogen metabolism below.

EstroneE110 - 20%Moderate2-OH-E /
EstradiolE210 - 30%High2-OH-E
EstriolE360 - 80%Least4-OH-E /

Xenoestrogens (External "Zee-no estrogens")
There are a number of industrial chemicals that have estrogenic effects, meaning that they can bind and stimulate the body's estrogen receptors. Some examples of these compounds are: PCB (Polychlorinated biphenyl), BPA (Bisphenol A) and phthalates. Most of us are familiar with these substances from news reports of their being banned from manufacturing practices. The hormonal disruption caused by the accidental ingestion of these chemicals is associated with developmental abnormalities in babies, and with certain types of hormone sensitive cancers like breast or uterine cancer. These compounds have also been associated with infertility in male wildlife in regions of contamination. It would not be a far stretch to assume that similar effects would occur in human males exposed to the same substances.

Excess Estrogen - Estrogen Dominance
Having elevated levels of estrogen in the body, whether natural or from external sources can have many negative health effects. Research has shown an association between excess estrogen and increased risk of blood clots, stroke, heart attack, endometrial cancer, and uterine fibroids. Interestingly, this excess can be due to actual elevation in estrogen levels, or can be due to a relative excess of estrogen to progesterone. Thus, a deficiency of progesterone makes a normal estrogen level appear excessive.

Signs of Estrogen Dominance (Excess estrogen)
Breast tendernessHypoglycemia
Breast cancerIncreased blood clotting
Decreased sex driveIrregular & heavy menstrual bleeding
Uterine fibroidsMood swings
Fat gain around the middleOvarian cysts
Fibrocystic breast diseaseUterine cancer
HeadachesWater retention and bloating

Estrogen Metabolism
E2 is easily broken down to 2-OH-estrone (2-OH-E), which is a healthy breakdown product that does not have negative effects on health. When estrogen is broken down to 4-OH-estrone (4-OH-E), a "bad estrogen" that is associated with the cardiovascular problems listed above, as well as a large increase in the risk of cancer. The same is true of 16-alpha-OH-estrone (16-alpha-OH-E). There are supplements like DIM and I3C that can help support the proper metabolism of estrogen to its 2-OH-estrone metabolite. For more information on DIM, please click here. For more information on I3C, please click here.

Estrogen Detoxification
Cleaning out excess estrogens and detrimental estrogen metabolites from the body can be a complicated process. As with any detoxification regime, everything starts by making sure the removal pathways are clear and active. In the case of estrogen, this means keeping the liver and colon healthy and functioning well. The liver metabolizes estrogen, and then excretes it into the intestines where it is shed with other waste in our stool. For more information on how to promote healthy liver detoxification, please click here. To ensure colon health, see our article on colon cleansing.

Once these detoxification pathways are progressing normally, some simple dietary and lifestyle changes can help to prevent further exposure to external extrogens as well as promote a continued state of health.

Fibre is the key to continuing colon health and promoting estrogen excretion. It binds the estrogen metabolites excreted by the liver and prevents them from being reabsorbed into the bloodstream. For more information on the benefits of fibre,please click here. Supplements that promote healthy liver and colon function, as well as those that promote hormonal balancing can all work together to help detoxify estrogens from the body. See the list below for a number of supplements that can help to promote estrogen detoxification.

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