Updated: Dec 19, 2019
I recently put out a post about oestrogen and how this hormone can impact your thyroid health. I spoke about how being in oestrogen dominant state (i.e too much oestrogen in the body) could give rise to symptoms of low thyroid function. Check it out here, if you haven't already.
Not sure what oestrogen dominance even is, let alone whether it's an issue for you? Below is a list of symptoms, if you experience any of these... it may be an indication of unbalanced oestrogen levels.
Breast tenderness and swelling
Fibrocystic breast lumps
A slump in libido (sex drive)
Irregular menstrual cycle (as well as heavy periods or no periods)
Increased premenstrual syndrome
Cold hands and feet
In this blog post, I want to explain how you might land yourself in an oestrogen dominant state and give you a few tips to help you resolve this and improve your thyroid health.
Elevated oestrogen levels not only negatively impact on your conversion of T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) into T3 (active form), it can also prevent your thyroid hormone from getting into your cells where it’s needed by creating too much in the way of thyroid binding globulins. I like to think of thyroid binding globulins like taxis travelling in the bloodstream, your thyroid hormones bind to these proteins, hitching a ride in these taxis to be dropped off where they are needed. But if there are too many taxis, with too much of your thyroid hormones trapped in transit, this can mean less getting into the cells carrying out the functions you need them to do.
So how do we get to become oestrogen dominant? Well it’s often a combination of various factors as with so many things.
Firstly, taking in too many oestrogens in from exogenous sources (meaning coming from outside of the body) as opposed to the oestrogens our bodies naturally produce. The oral contraceptive pill, often overlooked as a medication by women, provides the body with synthetic oestrogens. Taking such a medication can lead to symptoms of oestrogen dominance and ultimately affect thyroid function. Another common source of exogenous oestrogens comes in form of xenoestrogens. These are ‘oestrogen like’ compounds, acting like oestrogen in the body causing hormonal imbalances. We can get xenoestrogens into our bodies through the use of plastics and via our skincare.
A word to the wise … there are currently a lot of BPA free plastic products on the market but the safest option would be to avoid plastics all together where possible, as the plastic compounds used to replace the BPA have been found to be even worse than the originally used BPA. Fortunately an awareness about xenoestrogens seems to be developing and more and more people are opting for greener alternatives. To really optimise thyroid health it’s important to eliminate the use of plastics and opt for natural personal care items.
Secondly, poor liver function can contribute to oestrogen dominance, all hormones once they have performed their purpose/actions in the body need to broken down and gotten rid of and the liver is key in this process. If you have poor liver function, your ability to rid yourself of these hormones becomes compromised. Poor liver function can lead to so many problems, but if you’re not able to properly break down these hormones and eliminate them, they can be processed by the liver into an even more toxic form and then get pushed back into the bloodstream.
What? More toxic after having been processed by the liver?! Yes, there isn’t just one form of oestrogen, there are in fact several different oestrogen metabolites (types), some more favourable health-wise than others. I can feel another blog post coming on the various types of oestrogen, so be sure to click follow if you want to be notified of new posts. Thyroid health, hormonal balance and liver function are intrinsically linked, creating a bit of a catch 22 situation, the more you have in the way of excess hormones, the more overburdened the liver can become and the more the liver is struggling to keep up with it’s processing of excess hormones, the more hormonal imbalance can become an
The take home message from this is, supporting the liver can be extremely helpful in resolving oestrogen dominance and improving thyroid health. One supplement I really like for liver support and hormone regulation, is DIM (Diindolemethane). DIM is found naturally occurring in cruciferous vegetables. DIM not only helps to prevent oestrogens metabolising into more toxic forms, it also can help metabolise excess oestrogens from the body. Broccoli sprouts can also be little liver detoxifying powerhouses, helping to restore hormone balance in the body.
I would over love to hear from you. Let me know if you feel like your hormones are out of sorts or whether you have tried any liver support and found it to be beneficial. Just leave a comment below.