Healthy Liver = Healthy Hormones
Healthy hormone balance is absolutely essential during a woman’s reproductive and menopausal years. Disruptions in hormone balance can lead to menstrual disorders such as irregular or heavy bleeding, symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), uterine fibroids as well as menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and insomnia later in life.
Stress, aging, exposure to pesticides, man-made chemicals, too much or too little exercise, or improper nutrition can all affect the delicate balance of hormones. When hormones return to balance, the organs and tissues can return to their proper functioning. It is now well known that one of the most prominent causes of PMS related symptoms, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breast disease; and breast, uterine and ovarian cancer is excessive estrogen exposure from xenoestrogens which are synthetic estrogens from the environment. This is most often referred to as Estrogen Dominance. Two major sources of these exogenous estrogens are oral contraceptives (birth control pill) and hormone replacement therapy. These hormones are considered “foreign” which the body does not recognize to be identical to its own hormones. These foreign hormones can create damaging by-products and metabolites which can put a lot of stress on the liver as well as disrupt normal hormone pathways.
Other major sources of xenoestrogens are environmental toxins found in pesticides, herbicides, plastics, refrigerants, industrial solvents and hormones used to fatten livestock and promote milk production. These toxins are structurally similar to estrogen and have the ability to mimic the harmful estrogens in the body, increasing a women’s risk for a variety of cancers such as breast and ovarian cancer. Research has shown that both “good” and “bad” natural estrogens exist in the body; for example, 16α-hydroxylated estrogen metabolites are stronger and associated with a higher risk of breast cancer compared to 2-hydroxylated estrogen metabolites.
About 10% of women of childbearing age have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and it can occur in girls as young as 11 years old. Common symptoms include obesity (particularly around the waist), facial hair, thinning hair on head, ovarian cysts, irregular menstrual symptoms, elevated insulin levels and more…
One of the potential significant aspects of PCOS is a buildup of the lining of the uterus. This occurs because the ovaries still produce adequate estrogen, but not enough progesterone, due to the lack of ovulation. The uterus then receives what is called “unopposed estrogen stimulation”. This can lead to an increase in estrogen, which can cause the uterus to thicken and those cells over time can become atypical or even malignant.
Our liver is one of the most important organs in the body for detoxification. Keeping the liver healthy and supporting its ability to break down hormones efficiently is essential for healthy hormone balance.
Look for a natural formula to support liver health at your local health food store. Liver supportive ingredients such as milk thistle and curcumin are essential for supporting those detoxification pathways. Milk Thistle is a well researched botanical extract that contains potent antioxidants that protect liver cells from free radical damage and support detoxification pathways. Calcium-d-glucarate, indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane help the liver metabolize excess estrogens from the body. Green tea extract has been shown to reduce excess testosterone levels and to control high levels of insulin. It is also a potent antioxidant along with lycopene and rosemary extract. Antioxidants are key players that bind onto free radicals during detoxification of harmful substances and have anti-carcinogenic properties, thus protecting the body from environmental insult as well as reducing one’s risk of cancer.
Hudson, T. Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Revised and Updated. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2008.
Lord, RS., Bongiovanni, ND, and J. Alexander Bralley. Estrogen Metabolism and the Diet-Cancer Connection: Rational for Assessing the Ratio of Urinary Hydroxylated Estrogen Metabolites. Alternative Medicine Review. Volume 7, Number 2. 2002.
Dr. Marita Schauch BSc ND is a graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Canada’s premier institute for education and research in naturopathic medicine. Dr. Schauch’s health articles educate the public about health and wellness and have been featured in numerous print media. She currently resides and has her clinical practice in Victoria B.C. www.drmarita.com