Estrogens are necessary hormones for normal physiological function and health. However, when even slightly elevated beyond normal ranges, their effects resemble that of a stress hormone. In fact, many toxic effects of estrogen were known by the early 1940s and more are continuing to be discovered. Everything from cancer, to abnormal blood clotting, hair loss, edema, hypothyroid, PCOS and infertility are known to be caused by excess estrogen.
Unfortunately, at the same time as these effects were being found out, drug companies were calling estrogen “the female hormone,” and selling estrogen pharmaceuticals to "improve fertility." Considering the estrogen industry is worth billions, it is likely that profit is one of the main reasons estrogen's true effects are kept buried in medical journals.
Here is what science has proven about estrogen:
- While some hormones do decrease with aging, estrogen (like other stress hormones) increases with age. 1
- An excess amount of estrogen mimics all the undesirable effects of aging. 2
- Estrogen steals oxygen from mitochondria, causing abnormal patterns of cell growth and adaptation. 3
- Estrogen increases the cell’s affinity to water, leading to edema and swelling. 4
- Estrogen evokes a stress response by stimulating the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. 5
- Estrogen impairs the feedback loop between the pituitary and adrenals, which causes the adrenals to chronically produce cortisol. Normally, the pituitary tells the adrenals to stop making cortisol at a certain point, but estrogen destroys this communication line.
- Estrogen opposes thyroid hormone function and increases another pituitary stress hormone, prolactin. This demobilizes calcium from the bones/teeth and calcifies the soft tissue like the arteries, skin, and scalp. 6
Tips for Lowering Estrogen
Since stress, aging and disease involve similar processes caused by estrogen, then gaining knowledge of how to lower estrogen would serve as a useful datum to protect our bodies from accelerated aging.
Here are a few physiologically sound ways to do that:
Foods that Naturally Contain Anti-Aromatase
Aromatization is the enzymatic process of androgens becoming estrogen. One simple way to lower estrogen is to inhibit this process, which can be done with simple foods and herbs.
For example, fresh orange juice contains a flavonoid known as naringin. Mushrooms, nettle root, chamomile, and guavas contain a flavone known as apigenin. These two compounds contain naturally-occurring anti-estrogen mechanisms, which can lower estrogen and protect androgens.
Cyclooxygenase is an inflammatory compound that has estrogenic effects. Simple supplements like aspirin, nettle root, milk thistle, and other herbs are simple ways to profoundly inhibit COX-2, and therefore estrogen. Curcuminoids from turmeric powder also exhibit an inhibitory effect on COX-2 and on the production of other inflammatory mediators such as interleukins and TNF-alpha.
Vitamins A, D, K2 & E
These fat-soluble vitamins are natural antagonists to estrogen. Basically, they are necessary for the production of anti-estrogen hormones in the body such as progesterone, testosterone, thyroid, and others. These vitamins are best consumed via animal foods, considering that any plant-sources have trace amounts and in forms that are not readily bioavailable. The best sources are egg yolks, grass-fed butter, liver, and other organ meats.
Limit Phytoestrogen Foods
Certain foods that are often considered "healthy", due to the misunderstandings around estrogen, are actually potent estrogenic foods that you would want to avoid. These foods are grains, legumes/beans, flax seeds, vegetable oils (polyunsaturated fats), raw cruciferous veggies, herbs like hops and cannabis (belong to the same family), and any alcohol. All of these foods have overlapping effects with estrogen and should be minimized or avoided altogether.
Reduce Xenoestrogen Exposure
Next to a conventional diet, our modern environments tend to be highly estrogenic. Found in many everyday household products, xenoestrogens are chemical compounds that intensely mimic and increase estrogen in the body. Cleaning products, personal care products (shampoos, body wash, nail polish, fragrances, etc.), fluoridated water, medications, and most objects made of plastic all contain estrogen-mimicking substances. Avoid these by leading a more natural life, which means to stick to natural products made from 100% organic ingredients and incorporate nature into your home.
Care for Your Liver
The liver is the master chemist of the body. In regards to estrogen, it plays a major role in metabolizing or destroying excess, unused hormones. While excess exposure to estrogen may be a cause of liver disease, an unhealthy liver from other lifestyle factors could be what is causing estrogen dominance for some.
Simple tips for improving liver function include minimizing all toxins (alcohol, processed foods, PUFA, drugs, xenoestrogens, etc.), eating enough calories, carbohydrates, and proteins, favoring saturated fats over unsaturated, learning to manage your emotions (particularly grief and anger), and taking herbs that support the liver like coffee, milk thistle, Chinese bitters, and reishi mushroom.
The Bottom Line
Our modern lives are riddled with estrogen, which is probably one of the major causative factors of the increased risks for cancer, diabetes, hair loss, hypothyroidism, and various hormonal imbalances. Learning to lower estrogen, which ultimately involves leading a more natural life and caring for your body on a deeper level, would be a wise goal for anyone interested in being healthy today.
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