Estrogen Dominance

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Dr. Heidi Lescanec, ND

We are all fairly aware of the how environmental toxins contribute to climate change and the disruption of the delicate ecosystems on our planet.

We we may be less familiar with the fact that these same chemicals in our environment  (air, water and food) and common household products can mimic our bodies natural hormones and cause endocrine disruption in our bodies finely tuned systems. These synthetic chemicals/toxins are called xenoestrogens. Overtime, an accumulation of xenoestrogens (from the common everyday sources below*) will upset our bodies balance of important hormones like our natural estrogen and progesterone.  Toxins do this by blocking or binding hormone receptors in our tissues. The balance of our reproductive hormones is essential for normal functioning of sensitive tissue like the breast, uterus as well as the immune and reproductive system in both women and men.  The disruption of hormone balance and function can result in a condition of estrogen dominance.

Estrogen Dominance occurs when the body does not have enough progesterone to balance out the influence of estrogen.  We see this condition of estrogen dominance commonly at the clinic.  Women experiencing PMS, difficulties with fertility, fibrocystic breasts, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, breast cancer, ovarian cysts, and menopausal symptoms often have estrogen dominance.  For men they often present with problems concerning fertility (low sperm count), prostate, testicular and other reproductive health issues.

How do we encounter xenoestrogens?

*The common everyday activities listed below can increase our exposure to xenoestrogens:

  • using antibacterial soaps and wipes (parabens)
  • drinking unfiltered water (industrial pollutants: eg: atroxine, perchlorate, arsenic pharmaceuticals: eg.  birth control pills , HRT -Hormone Replacement Therapy)
  • drinking and eating from plastic bottles, containers and cans (BPA- Bisphenol -A),
  • eating food grown with pesticides, herbicides and in contaminated soil (organophosphates, perchlorate, dioxins)
  • eating milk products and meat treated with growth hormones
  • eating  food with added flavours or colour (FD and C Red Dye #9) and preservatives (BHA)
  • using cosmetics and skincare (parabens, acetone, phthalates etc. )
  • using sunscreen (4-MBC- 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor and benzophenones)
  • using  conventional cleaning products (glycol ethers)
  • using non-stick pans and having upholstery, electronics as well as automobiles and furniture treated with fire-retardants (PBDE)

How do xenoestrogens accumulate?

The liver is one of the key organs designed to clear toxins from the body.  The liver is also responsible for metabolizing hormones.  However, when there is heavy load of chemicals challenging the liver OR a detoxification and elimination pathway is blocked a toxic burden piles up that is greater than the body can remove.  An accumulation of toxins occurs and an imbalance in the form of estrogen dominance ensues.

What are the symptoms of estrogen dominance?

Fatigue, breast tenderness, water retention, weight gain (especially hips and waist), headaches, heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding, disrupted sleep, mood swings, irritability, hot flashes, decreased libido, thinning of scalp hair, and poor concentration are some of the symptoms of estrogen dominance.

How to prevent estrogen dominance?

There are many ways to prevent estrogen dominance. These include:

1)    Avoiding xenoestrogens in your environment (see list above)

2)    Managing stress (high stress hormone “withdrawls” can steal your progesterone building blocks!)

3)    Maintain healthy weight (toxic chemicals are stored in our fat cells),

4)    Supporting detoxification pathways (lighten the chemical load)

5)    Supporting your endocrine (hormone) system.

Naturopathic Medicine is well- equipped to provide evaluation and guidance here for stress and weight management, cleansing/ detoxification and endocrine support. We do this with diet and lifestyle counseling, nutrients (supplements, minerals, vitamins) and herbs, and if indicated through testing, bioidentical hormone supplementation.

How do we assess estrogen dominance and hormone status?

The most effective way to assess hormone status is to test saliva for the appropriate hormone levels.  Saliva is the best method for testing “functional” or “active” tissue levels of hormones.  At Sage, we work with a number of labs that provide this testing and can determine which panel of tests is most suited to each individual situation.

Doing a proper individual evaluation of your unique hormone levels before embarking on a supplementation program is most advantageous.  The naturopathic doctors at Sage specialize in this type of testing and prescribing designed to effectively treat individuals who are experiencing conditions that arise from estrogen dominance.


Strawberry Almond Smoothie

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This recipe is from the www.NourishingMeals.com website and is a variation of some smoothie recipes that appear in the cookbook we carry called Nourishing Meals by Tom Malterre and Ali Segersten.  Given the abundance of fresh organic strawberries recently this is a simple, lovely option any time of day.

1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight (8-10 hours) (cover the almonds with water and rinse in the morning)
1 1/2 to 2 cups water
2 to 3 cups fresh or frozen organic strawberries
1 whole vanilla bean
1 tablespoon raw honey (optional)

Place the almonds and water into a high-powered blender (such as a Vita-Mix) or a blender fitted with a sharp blade. Add water and blend until very smooth, about 30 to 60 seconds. Then add the berries, vanilla bean, and honey, blend again until smooth. Serve immediately. Source: www.NourishingMeals.com


The Hormones of PMS

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Dr. Natalie MacIsaac, ND

Although we have all heard of PMS we still have a limited understanding of the complexity of hormonal interactions that create the long list of symptoms that women can experience each month – some with more drama than others. The signs can be mild to severe – from weight gain and cramps to depression and insomnia.  If you suffer from any signs of PMS, you may want to take a close look at your hormones levels.

Each hormone in our body has signs associated with deficiency or excess and many of those symptoms can overlap.  An example of this is fatigue: it is a very common PMS symptom that can be due to too much estrogen, not enough estrogen, too much DHEA, not enough thyroid hormone, etc…it can get complicated.

Feeling healthy and balanced each month is possible once you determine the cause of the imbalance. This is where naturopathic medicine excels.  Our goal is to find why the imbalance happens and then treat the individual with the most effective and least invasive solutions.  Ask your naturopathic physician about hormone testing and treatment, and say good-bye to PMS.

Common causes of PMS:

  • Overwork
  • Imbalanced sleep
  • Constipation
  • IBS
  • Thyroid imbalance
  • Dietary deficiencies – healthy fats, fiber, magnesium, etc
  • Dietary restrictions
  • Emotional stress
  • Inflammation

Common PMS symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Emotional
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Acne
  • Weight gain
  • Food cravings – salt, sweet…
  • Temperature changes
  • Faint or dizzy spells
  • Libido changes
  • Yeast infections

Essentials of Sleep

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Dr. Lisa Polinsky

Ideally, we spend about one third of our lives in restful, restorative sleep and awake feeling fresh and ready for the day.  Yet estimates of 40-50% of Canadians complain of difficulty achieving a good night’s sleep.

On average 8+ hours of sleep are ideal.  If we adjust for the seasons and light exposure perhaps longer hours of sleep in the winter (9 hours) and less when the days have longer light (7 hours).  Fully 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep are needed to achieve deep REM sleep which is considered the most restorative and beneficial time for the body.  If you have light sleep, interrupted sleep or don’t allow enough time then this essential, basic healing process is weakened.

Sleep deprivation is different than true insomnia.  If your schedule is such that you do not allow enough time to sleep – common for many busy people – then you are more in the ‘deprivation’ zone.  Simply focus on creating a window of more time available for sleep.  If you take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, wake for more than 30 minutes in the middle of the night or wake 30 minutes earlier than you need to in the morning you likely are suffering from a form of insomnia.

In addition to the obvious symptom of increased fatigue sleep difficulties are more likely to be correlated to:

-heart disease

-diabetes

-increased blood pressure

-depression, irritability

-reduced memory, attention issues

-ADHD

-obesity

-cancer

Naturopathic Doctors commonly address sleep issues as they can be a hurdle to optimal function of many other health systems – endocrine, immune, hormonal, digestive.   Options for treatment include simple ‘sleep hygiene’ recommendations, gently sedating herbs and nutrients, nervous system support and in some cases stronger prescription medications.  The goal of restoring the ideal sleep rhythm cascades to so many other benefits that it is of primary concern.

The Circadian Rhythym is managed by the hypothalamus which manages alternating states of wakefulness and the drive for sleep.  Shift work, travel, stressful life events and exposure to light can alter this.  Melatonin which is secreted by the pineal gland helps with the signal for sleep induction and is lowered by bright lights both in the room and outside with ambient light.  Having just passed the Summer Solstice we are in the time of year of highest light exposure and often sleep is more erratic and elusive at this time

 

Helpful Sleep Hygiene for everyone:

-darken your room with black-out curtains

-reduce room temperature

-dim lights in the evening before retiring to bed

-have a fan in your room for the cooling and ‘white noise’ effect

-avoid alcohol, smoking, caffeine later in the day as these impact sleep

-Exercise earlier in the day (3 hours before bedtime)

-Create a regular sleep/wake schedule with onset of sleep ideally before 11:00 p.m

-Monitor what you read/watch before bed. (consider a ‘media fast’)

-Consume a small amount of protein before bedtime to limit blood sugar drops at night which can lead to frequent waking and night sweats.

If the above are not enough to assist you in achieving a better sleep state then seek naturopathic care to customize treatment options.  Difficulties of sleep onset in the evening require a different treatment plan than do difficulties of frequent waking at night.  Given that sleep issues are often related to other health concerns the individualized approach yeilds the best results.  Many have already tried melatonin or Valerian on their own by the time they come in to seek care.  Given that medications tend to suppress REM stage sleep, have drowsy side effects and provide a ‘band-aid’ like approach that masks the underlying issue they are often used for much longer timeframes than is ideal.

 

Options for treatment may include:

-testing for adrenal function (Eg.high cortisol can reduce sleep onset)

-testing for neurotransmitter levels (eg. Low serotonin can impact melatonin)

-sedative herbs at sleep time

-minerals such as magnesium at bedtime

-determining and removing food sensitivities

-shifting exercise routines

-managing emotional stress

-nervous system support (homeopathics, acupuncture, cranio-sacral treatments)

If sleep is eluding you, enlist the care of a naturopathic doctor to help you reclaim restful sleep.


Learn the ABC’s of the Vitamin B’s!

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Dr. Stephanie Peltz, ND

Through the lens of my family practice I have witnessed a growing number of frantic parents, frazzled students, and frustrated teachers with the sudden end to the school year.  Lets bridge this chaotic time into a restful and joyous summer!

As naturopathic physicians we have several tools to assess and address stress.  At the top of our list are the B vitamins.  Patients often ask me about the elusive ‘vitamin B’.  Did you know that there is not just one, but 8 core B vitamins?  They include Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic Acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Folic Acid, Biotin, and Cobalamin (B12).  These vitamins share some functions (like the metabolism of food to produce energy), but are also unique in their own way.

The B vitamins are all water-soluble.  This means they are poorly stored by the body and require daily replenishment.  Their water solubility also makes them very safe with a low risk of toxicity from taking too much.  Food sources rich in the B’s include meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, and whole grains.  However, these foods are also highly allergenic for many patients.  And keep in mind, under stress, our natural hydrochloric acid production decreases and this is exactly what’s needed for proper absorption of most B vitamins.  If you are vegetarian, vegan, on a low allergenic diet, or under significant stress, you are a great candidate for a B vitamin supplement.

There are many ways to supplement B vitamins. Sometimes one B is prescribed alone (like vitamin B6 for morning sickness in pregnancy); otherwise they are used in combination (such as a general B complex to boost immunity).  As well, different B complexes have distinct formulas (for instance one highlights B5 needed for support during stress, but also offers smaller amounts of the others).  When choosing a supplement there is also a question of liquid vs. capsules, and oral vs. injected.

I see a true need for B vitamins in many of my patients right now, and a lot of careful consideration goes into the prescription of a supplement. If you are not taking any, or have questions about the ones you are taking, come on in to discuss the details with us today.  Let’s ease this challenging time with a good dose of the B’s!