Estrogen is vital for fertility in women, for immune function in both men and women, it’s also vital for bone and tendon health.
As with all these things — you need enough, not too much in order to be healthy. In women ‘estrogen dominance’ can occur when too much estrogen is produced either in the ovaries or via excess fat stores and an enzyme called aromatase. In men sometimes testosterone can convert too quickly to estrogen leading to female type body fat deposition and sometimes breast like tissue or man boobs can occur ‘moobs’ as they are sometimes called.
In a man testosterone is converted to estrogen via the same aromatase enzyme. This occurs in body fat. Keeping lean then is one of the keyways to avoid over production of estrogen in both men and women. As less fat means less aromatase converting and producing excess estrogen.
High estrogen can be associated with a smoother look body fat wise. Body builders often use anti aromatase drugs to block estrogen conversion to increase the ‘paper-like’ skin effect, and ultra-lean look.
Natural products can help do this without liver toxicity and other side effects.
Many bodybuilders report increased injury risk during periods of using anti-estrogen medication. These same medications are the same ones used for estrogen driven cancers. This is because estrogen is vital for strong tendons and bones.
To regulate hormones and stay healthy, proper detoxification is also vital, making liver, and bowel function 2 other key areas for regulating hormones and cholesterol.
Common signs and symptoms associated with Estrogen Dominance:
- Irregular menses and heavy bleeding
- Weight gain, especially in your hips, thighs and mid-section
- Fibrocystic Breasts and Gynecomastia in men
- Low Libido
- Breast CA
Although PCOS is characterized by high levels of androgen production — it can also occur alongside estrogen dominance.
If you have signs of estrogen dominance, it’s going to be worth discussing the best routes forward with your GP or consultant. Both men and women will benefit from the protocols below which also support detoxification, bowel health and antioxidant support.
Tell-tale signs that a man has Excess Oestrogen…
Men produce oestrogens — the group of hormones responsible for feminine characteristics.
During puberty for example, when boys start synthesising large amounts of sex hormones, the excess oestrogen derived from testosterone production gives many boys a feminine shape. This same effect can hit harder in middle age when oestrogen levels increase and the body’s own levels of testosterone reduce — hitting you with a womanly double-whammy!
The “feminisation”, resulting from inappropriate levels of female hormones can result in features including developing breasts (man boobs!), and a reduction in the feel-good effects of testosterone. Men can end up feeling emasculated, losing sex-drive, suffering feelings of inferiority and depression…alongside poor body image issues and low self-esteem.
Moobs are cause by;
Excess fat. This can be stored all over resulting in more fat on the pecs and a boob like appearance.
Actual fatty breast like tissue can develop which can be improved by natural methods, reducing fat and increasing muscle all over — however sometimes surgery is required in extreme cases.
Causes of Excess Oestrogen
So where does this excess oestrogen come from? How can a hormone produced by the body be bad for you?
As with most deficiencies, illnesses and disorders, it’s a case of the body’s normal systems not being as well controlled and regulated as they should. Declining health can upset the delicate balance in the body, leading to a downward spiral!
As the body forms oestrogens as a breakdown product from testosterone, these hormones are ever present but are usually eliminated by the liver, which treats them as toxins.
Anything that preoccupies your liver and diverts resources from the hormonal detox, will therefore increase levels of circulating oestrogen above normal healthy levels.
Liver supporting nutrients and foods that reduce the strain on the liver, like high fibre, nutrient-rich vegetables can help keep these levels in check. You can also use more powerful liver protecting detox herbs like milk thistle.
In addition, many external compounds present in the food-chain and environment have structures similar to oestrogens, and can mimic their effects, or prevent oestrogen clearance. These “xeno-oestrogens” include petrochemicals and pesticides such as polychlorinated biphenyls, DDT, TCDD, and dioxins.
These appear to be much more of a problem than previously thought. Making ‘cleaner’ eating and using less plastics generally vitally important.
Aromatase is the enzyme responsible for converting the androgens (e.g. testosterone) into oestrogens — it’s the most emasculating of enzymes!! Having higher levels or greater activity of this enzyme will therefore increase oestrogen production.
Increased levels of oestrogen are associated with higher levels of body fat, while it may also increase the amount stored on the waistline — a dangerous, metabolically active area! Aromatase’s synthesis of oestrogen occurs in fat tissue — this causes a viscous cycle of fat gain!
It’s not just fat that increases oestrogen levels, but alcohol consumption stimulates this enzyme. As we age, a greater proportion of testosterone is converted to oestrogen — we are facing an uphill battle!!
Certain nutrients allow the molecular machines in the body to turn the building-blocks from our food (fats, proteins and carbs) into hormones and structures. These nutrients are like the nuts and bolts that hold the machinery together. Zinc is one such nutrient, being associated with high levels of testosterone compared to oestrogen in the body. Zinc always need to be balance with other minerals and high intakes of zinc and any single nutrients should be regulated and tested for. I tend to recommend no more than half your weight in kg / mg for zinc supplementation for longer term use. So for me sitting at around 85kg I’ll rarely take more than 40mg of zinc from various sources for too long. Exceptions are for long haul travel and using zinc losengers. Or for short term T boosting for 5 days max.
Plus, periods of ‘wash out’ to allow the body to settle back to normal levels.
How our body clears excess estrogens
Enzymes in the liver detoxify harmful excess estrogen. They work to solubilize toxins and excrete them in the urine. We therefore need to provide nutrients that support our liver’s detox abilities.
There’s a couple of nice charts below showing the phases of liver detoxification and the nutrients required to support all the phases.
Compounds such as DIM and Indole 3 carbinol will assist these detoxification pathways and may have a direct estrogen moderating effect. These occur in high amounts in cruciferous vegetables; watercress is the best of these. Broccoli is also an excellent choice.
Calcium D glucarate, Calcium D-glucarate is a botanical extract found in grapefruit, apples, oranges, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Scientists are discovering that it appears to protect against cancer and other diseases via a different mechanism than antioxidants such as vitamin C, carotenoids, and folic acid. These vitamin antioxidants work by neutralizing toxic free radical damage in the body.
Fiber intake can also have a positive effect of detoxification.
A low-fiber diet causes estrogen levels to be higher, while a diet high in fiber results in decreased estrogen levels in the bloodstream.
Why? Excess estrogen is excreted in the bowel. When stool remains in the bowel for a longer time, the estrogen is reabsorbed. Studies have shown that women on a vegetarian/high-fiber diet have lower levels of circulating estrogen.
Increasing fiber from all sources and using fiber blends can help with general detoxification and elimination.
Healthy bowel flora is essential to proper detoxification of excess estrogen and to help and wellbeing. Using Symprove or VSL probiotic supplements is a great idea periodically to assist optimum bowel flora health and diversity.
All nutrients involved in liver conjugation will be helpful to moderating normal levels of estrogen in the body. Lipoatrophic will all contain beneficial nutrients.
You’ll see that MSM and NAC are both available in high doses in my Alpha greens formula. Many of the other detoxification herbs are included In similarly high doses in my metabolic optimizer tablets. Things like carnitine are in high amounts in the metabolic amino complex. Glutathione support in the R5 aminos.
Can you see how the plan is coming together…..
Lecithin granules will assist detoxification and cellular hydration. Use sunflower lecithin not soya-based lecithin for this purpose. Soya products mimic estrogen. Making them useful for states of lower estrogen like menopause, but not as clever a choice in excess if you suspect or have clinical symptoms of estrogen excess.
BENEFICIAL FOODS & SUPPLEMENTS
This is a good list but there are other items not included here which are also important;
All flavanoids particularly citrus and grape
Zinc rich foods
Fiber rich foods
Glutathione boosting habits and foods / supplements (insert link to glutathione page here)
If you work with a Chinese Dr or acupuncturist they may also recommend Chinese herbs for estrogen support.
- 200 mg — Smilax glabra Roxb.
- 200 mg — Curcuma zedoria
- 200 mg — Cyperus rotundus
- 200 mg — Aralia Dasyphylla Mig
There is a lot that men and women can do to combat estrogen dominance and the symptoms they cause;
- Lose Fat
- Train hard
- Detox and cut out alcohol
Obviously, every individual is slightly different and if you can’t afford an individual consultation (email me as you might be surprised how affordable this is) then the best supplements are likely to be;
- Metabolic Optimiser
- Multi Vitamin and Mineral (due out end of this month)
- Fibre as psyllium husk
- Calcium D Glucarate
FURTHER READING FROM VARIOUS SOURCES
CHOLESTEROL: Too much oestrogen can raise the levels of cholesterol. A study from Leicester University found young men with slightly raised levels of oestrogen in their blood had the highest levels of cholesterol.
The higher oestrogen levels seemed to encourage the production of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol (which is linked to heart disease), while reducing levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol (the protective form that can help prevent clogged arteries).
WEIGHT GAIN: Rising levels of oestrogen encourage the development of male beer bellies. Oestrogen encourages fat to accumulate around the central part of the body,’ explains Professor Grossman. ‘The problem is that the fat cells, in turn, produce an enzyme that encourages testosterone to be converted into oestrogen.’
So you end up with even more oestrogen and lower testosterone levels than normal — as well as weight gain, this can lead to tiredness, flabby muscles and reduced libido.
Reduced Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin reduces insulin sensitivity, meaning that higher circulating levels are created in the body. Reduced insulin sensitivity is associated with increased levels of body fat, higher blood-lipids, and dangerous belly-fat accumulation. Eventually, this can go on to become type II diabetes.
OSTEOPOROSIS: Oestrogen is important for men’s bone health, enabling them to retain calcium. Men who have too little of the hormone tend to develop osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease.
Oestrogen also explains why men tend to be taller than women.
During puberty, oestrogen helps the bones fuse — so preventing men and women from becoming giants. In order to do this, oestrogen levels climb. But in girls this happens when they are about 12, whereas in boys it happens about two years later.
‘That is why boys tend to be taller, as they have around two years more natural growth before oestrogen helps fuse their bones,’ says Professor Grossman.
ENLARGED PROSTATE: It’s thought too much oestrogen might contribute to an enlarged prostate, an age related condition where the gland surrounding the man’s urethra grows, affecting urine flow and causing the need to use the lavatory more often at night.
Meanwhile, too little oestrogen might be linked to prostate cancer. A study published in the Journal of Endocrinology has suggested that boosting men’s levels of the hormone might prevent the development of prostate cancer.
MALE BREASTS: Male breasts are common in puberty, explains Professor Stafford Lightman, an endocrinologist and professor of medicine at Bristol University.
‘At this time, young boys start to produce sex hormones in large quantities for the first time.
‘Normally, the body recovers from this and the breasts vanish without the need for treatment.’ However, in older men the change in hormone balance causes fatty deposits to settle in the breast area, creating ‘man boobs’ or ‘moobs’.
HEART FAILURE: Earlier this year, a study found that men with heart failure who have very high or low levels of oestrogen are at a higher risk of dying early.
Researchers from Poland noted the level of estradiol, a form of oestrogen, in the men’s blood and monitored it for three years. Those in the low estradiol group had an early death rate four times higher, while men in the high-estradiol group were twice as likely to die young.
‘These results may be down to the fact that men with higher levels of oestrogen tend to be more overweight,’ says Professor Lumsden.
‘Being overweight would mean they had poorer health anyway.
‘High levels of oestrogen also lead to an increased risk of DVT and stroke for men. However, the results at the lower levels are hard to explain.’
OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER: Australian researchers have found a possible link between obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in men and low levels of oestrogen.
OCD causes unwanted compulsive urges and thoughts, such as endless checking or obsessive cleanliness.
A study by the Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne found that male mice which produce no oestrogen tended to practice obsessive wheel running and grooming. When the male mice were given oestrogen replacement for three weeks, their obsessive behaviour ceased.
OCD affects as many men as women and there are around 1.8 million sufferers in the UK.
The male hormone testosterone plays a key role in women’s health; too much — or too little — can have a significant impact.
POLYCYSTIC OVARIES: Excessive levels of testosterone can lead to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This causes excess body hair, oily skin and fertility problems.
‘The latest understanding is that women with polycystic ovaries seem to produce more testosterone from their ovaries than other women,’ explains Stephen Franks, professor of Reproductive Endocrinology at Imperial College, London.
The condition affects as many as three million women in the UK. It cannot be cured, but can be controlled with drugs.
LOW LIBIDO: Too little testosterone affects a woman’s sex drive and — according to a Swedish study — actual enjoyment of sex.
‘We don’t know why testosterone has this effect — it is perhaps related to its effect on the brain rather than any effect directly on the genitals,’ says Professor Lightman.
UNWANTED HAIR: Testosterone is vital for healthy hair, stimulating hair growth in the follicle — but too much and women sprout excessive hair.
Older women produce less oestrogen and so have higher levels of testosterone, meaning they are prone to excess facial hair. Yet raised testosterone levels can also cause hair loss on the head, leading to some women developing male-pattern baldness, with a receding hairline at the temple and around the ears.
HEART DISEASE: Some research suggests women with lower levels of testosterone are more prone to heart disease.
A study of post-menopausal women published in the European Journal of Endocrinology found that women who had atherosclerosis — a thickening of the arteries — had significantly lower levels of testosterone compared with women who did not have the disease.
Professor Lumsden suggests ‘results can be influenced by social factors that may put them at higher risk of heart disease’.