Oestrogen (also written as estrogen) is a sex hormone that is produced predominantly from the ovaries in menstruating women, but also from the adrenal glands and fat tissue. It acts as a signalling mechanism when it enters the blood stream and binds with receptors found in the heart, breast, bone, brain and genital tract. The obvious effect of oestrogens is in the development of breasts, the female skeleton and reproduction.
Lack of oestrogen like in menopause causes issues with hot flushes, changes to vaginal tissues and can affect bone density and heart health. Excess oestrogen is also a problem and is linked with symptoms such as PMS (Pre-menstrual syndrome), fluid retention, painful heavy periods and sore breasts.
When looking at estrogen levels we need to look at the role of the liver. The liver is the place where most of our hormones are synthesised. Its job is to package them up and send them out in the blood stream. The liver is also involved in the elimination of excess hormones. Here’s the bit most people don’t know. The liver can make good and bad forms of oestrogen.
Good oestrogen (2-OH Estrone & Estriol) are antioxidants and help protect the heart and brain. They also regulate energy metabolism, which helps burn fat.
Bad oestrogens (16a-OH Estrone and 4-OH Estrone ) are associated with unwanted weight gain and hormone related cancers such as breast and uterine cancers. They can also contribute to symptom of excess oestrogen.
So how can we make sure that we don’t have excess oestrogen; especially the bad sort?
Liver health is certainly an important factor. When the liver is overburdened by environmental toxins, alcohol, excess processed foods or smoking it has trouble clearing and processing hormones. Moderate exercise and weight loss also help channel the production of good oestrogen, rather than bad.
More specifically when looking at making good vs bad oestrogen one substance that has been shown to help is DIM (diindolylmethane). This substance is found in the brassica family, which includes broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. DIM stimulates the production of good estrogen as it is metabolized down a similar pathway. The good news is that when more oestrogen goes down the good metabolic pathway, less bad oestrogen is produced. DIM encourages healthy estrogen metabolism and may help reduce PMS symptoms like moodiness and breast pain.
Conditions associated with excess estrogen include endometriosis, uterine fibroids and fibrocystic breasts.
By Jane Cronin
TAPS Approval No: PP2855
Clinicians Women's Hormone Support provides 100mg (per capsule) of Di-indolylmethane (DIM). It is available for secure order from our online shop.
We’d Love Your Feedback
What’s your favourite way to eat foods high in DIM (broccoli, cabbage, bok choy etc)?