If you're interested in natural treatment for estrogen dominance, consider doing an estrogen detox. Estrogen dominance refers to an increase in the amount of estrogen in your body compared to the amount of progesterone in your body.
Estrogen and progesterone are two hormones involved in regulating your libido (sex drive) and fertility levels. An imbalance of these hormones may cause bothersome symptoms, including hot flashes, fatigue and menstrual changes.
Although hormone replacement therapy is an option, many women prefer to try more natural methods for addressing their symptoms. So what exactly does it mean to do a detox? Let us help you break down this mystery along with some science-based facts.
What Is an Estrogen Detox?
Estrogen comes in two forms. Endogenous estrogen, or naturally occurring estrogen, is produced by your ovaries, liver and adrenal glands. Fat cells also secrete estrogen, so you may have an increased risk of estrogen dominance if you're overweight or obese. Exogenous estrogen comes from outside sources, such as foods and chemicals.
When the body breaks down estrogen, it produces 2-hydroxyestrone and 16-hydroxyestrone. The first substance has beneficial effects on the human body, while the second is associated with obesity, inflammation, hypothyroidism and other health concerns. Maintaining a healthy estrogen balance may increase 2-hydroxyestrone production and reduce the amount of 16-hydroxyestrone in the body. Still with us?
An estrogen detox is the process of clearing out excess estrogen and achieving the healthy estrogen balance necessary to promote the production of 2-hydroxyestrone. This substance blocks the effects of the estrogens involved in cell division, which may reduce the risk of some cancers.
Now that we know what a detox is, let’s discuss the benefits.
Estrogen Detox Benefits
Estrogen dominance often causes fatigue, making it difficult for some women to check off everything on their to-do lists. One of the main benefits of completing an estrogen detox is the potential to increase your natural energy levels. Releasing excess estrogen also eases some of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with estrogen dominance.
If these symptoms have been preventing you from looking and feeling your best, an estrogen detox may be able to restore your natural glow and help you feel much better than you have in a long time. Sounds lovely right?
What Causes Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen dominance has three potential causes: increased estrogen production, changes in estrogen metabolism or an imbalance of progesterone and estrogen. Consuming alcohol regularly affects your body's ability to break down estrogen, allowing it to build up in your bloodstream.
When you experience high levels of stress, your adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol. This hormone interferes with progesterone production, which may lead to estrogen dominance.
Ok, now that we understand the basics, here are some other factors that could contribute to high estrogen levels:
You may also develop estrogen dominance if you have liver problems. Although the liver produces some estrogen, it's more involved in estrogen metabolism. If the liver isn't functioning properly, it can't break down estrogen effectively, allowing it to accumulate.
Even if you have normal liver function, your liver may have difficulty metabolizing estrogen if you're deficient in magnesium, don't consume enough fiber or don't have the right amount of helpful bacteria in your digestive system.
Medications and Chemicals
Some medications and toxic chemicals also contribute to estrogen dominance in women. If you try hormone replacement therapy, you may have to adjust the dosage until you have just the right amount of estrogen in your body. Otherwise, your estrogen levels may get too high.
Phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), which are both used in plastics, have been shown to contribute to estrogen dominance by acting like estrogen once they're in the body. Exposure to household cleaners, pesticides and certain personal care products may also lead to estrogen dominance.
Estrogen Dominance Symptoms
So how do you know if you are experiencing estrogen dominance? Estrogen plays an important role in reproductive function, so many symptoms of estrogen dominance are similar to the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or pregnancy. You may experience breast tenderness, mood swings, headaches, bloating and a reduced sex drive.
- Low blood sugar
- Increased fat in your abdomen
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Increased blood clotting
Steps for a Successful Detox
To enjoy the benefits of an estrogen detox, it's important to do the detox the right way. You may not be able to control how much estrogen your ovaries, adrenal glands and liver produce, but you can take steps to reduce the amount of estrogen you consume in your diet.
It's also possible to address estrogen dominance by avoiding common environmental factors and making a few other lifestyle adjustments. Follow these steps to make your estrogen detox as effective as possible.
1. Estrogen Dominance Diet
Several foods contain estrogen, which may contribute to estrogen dominance in some women. If you're trying to balance your hormones, it's important to limit your consumption of these foods. The foods on this list are also packed with nutrients, so talk with your doctor or dietitian before eliminating them from your diet completely.
- Sesame seeds
- Dried fruits
- Wheat bran
- Green, leafy vegetables
2. Improve Your Gut Health
If your liver struggles to break down estrogen, you may not have enough beneficial bacteria in your gut, a condition known as dysbiosis. The digestive system relies on healthy bacteria to break down food, support immune function and produce some vitamins. Dysbiosis interferes with these functions, which may make it difficult to maintain the right amount of estrogen in your bloodstream.
You may experience dysbiosis due to the following:
- High levels of stress
- Accidental consumption of pesticides or other toxic chemicals
- Antibiotic use
- Increased sugar intake
- Increased protein intake
- Consumption of food additives
Experts from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center recommend eating a plant-based diet to support the healthy bacteria in your gut. Your diet should include plenty of fiber and fresh produce. Reducing stress and getting plenty of sleep can also help you address dysbiosis and reduce the amount of estrogen in your bloodstream.
As noted earlier, fat cells secrete estrogen. Although you can't get rid of fat cells, you can shrink them by shedding excess pounds. Exercise helps you lose weight and balance your hormone levels. If you don't already work out regularly, start slow. Consult with your doctor beforehand to make sure that exercise is safe and isn't likely to aggravate an existing injury or health condition.
Once your doctor gives you the green light to exercise, try a routine packed with activities you love. You're more likely to stick with exercise if you enjoy it, so don't be afraid to play tennis or take a dance class instead of walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. Make sure your routine includes strength training. Building muscle helps you increase your metabolism, which may help you keep off excess weight that can contribute to estrogen dominance.
4. Drink Plenty of Water
Water plays an important role in keeping you healthy. After all, it cushions the joints, protects the spinal cord and helps your body maintain a normal temperature. Drinking plenty of water can also help you flush out excess estrogen and other substances. If you don't care for plain water, add cucumber slices or lemon wedges to give it some flavor without adding sugar.
5. Improve Your Sleep Habits
As you learned previously, increased cortisol production interferes with your body's ability to make progesterone. If you don't make enough progesterone, estrogen may become dominant, leading to the symptoms of estrogen dominance.
One way to reduce cortisol production is to get plenty of sleep every night. If you don't get enough sleep, or if you have poor sleep quality, your cortisol will be high as soon as you wake up. Getting more restful sleep prevents cortisol levels from soaring, making it easier to balance the amount of estrogen and progesterone in your body.
6. Avoid Common Environmental Factors
One of the easiest ways to do an estrogen detox is to avoid exposure to environmental factors. If you're concerned about ingesting phthalates or BPA, stop using food containers and water bottles made with these materials. Common culprits include plastic water bottles so opt for a stainless steel or glass water bottle instead.
You don't have to give up gardening, but instead of using pesticides, try using natural methods of pest control. Using natural repellents can help you avoid estrogen dominance associated with pesticide exposure.
7. Try Supplements
DIM and My Happy Flo are two supplements that may help eliminate excess estrogen from your body and keep your hormones balanced. DIM stands for diindolylmethane, a compound found in cauliflower, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables and trails have been shown it helps support healthy estrogen levels. If you don't eat these vegetables, lucky for you our period vitamin My Happy Flo can help since it also contains DIM & indole-3-carbinol (IC3).
Estrogen Detox Side Effects
When you first begin your estrogen detox, it may take your body a little time to get used to your new lifestyle. If you increase your fiber intake, you may experience some gas and bloating during the first few days.
You may also experience some muscle soreness when you start exercising. As long as you don't injure yourself, this soreness is nothing to worry about. It should go away once your body is used to moving around regularly.
How Long Does It Take to Detox Estrogen?
It can take as long as four months to clear excess estrogen from your body. However, many women start experiencing a difference in their symptoms after just one week of avoiding hormone disruptors and following a healthier lifestyle.
Foods That Help Promote Estrogen Detoxification
Several foods help promote detoxification by supporting the liver, kidneys and skin. Try adding these ingredients to healthy meals or snacks to ensure you have the right amount of support during your estrogen detox:
- Green tea
- Brown rice
In conclusion, an estrogen detox can have great benefits to your health but the decision should not be made lightly. As you can see, there are many ways to approach detoxing successfully. Evaluate your symptoms and health with a medical professional to ensure you are approaching a detox the right way.