The challenges of being female today are unprecedented. In such a relentlessly fast global-informational-techno-chemical-competitive age, the only constant is definitely CHANGE. In my own experience, as a working mother, contextualized by perpetual role-shifting, time urgency, and uncertainty, there are acute challenges which I am sure I share with many of you reading. It is a time when finding balance and remaining present seem beyond a person’s reach, yet these concepts or states are hopefully still worth striving for.
Against this back drop is a highly polluted environment as we find ourselves at the pinnacle of The Chemical Age, characterized by mega huge industry and mass environmental destruction. This is further defined by a pervasiveness of electro-magnetic interference bombarding us from every cellular tower and wi-fi-run working, living, shopping environment –all influencing our individual realities as we bring up our children.
CHEMICALS ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS (EMFs)
I call this three-fold reality 'The Bermuda Triangle' of Health Challenges –wherein one’s female hormonal and nervous systems have to do a highly sophisticated 'juggling act' and manage a kind of 'tug and war' on a constant basis.
I chose to write specifically about women's health from my own experiences and insights gained from running a wellness practice over the current decade. My conclusion is that we need EXTRA support in getting through our monthly cycles and indeed our life cycles as women today.
The world has changed drastically in the past 50 - 60 years. Today 51 synthetic chemicals and environmental pollutants have been identified as “endocrine (hormonal) disruptors”. They are present in our food, air and water, and have an effect on us not only from birth, but even from as early as in the womb. They are capable of disrupting biological processes of the body and result in a dangerous condition known as Estrogen Dominance. We will be taking a close look at these issues in the following articles, and continue this theme throughout many other educational articles on this website.
The Sea of Estrogen
Sally Longden, dedicated researcher, international speaker and promoter of Natural Progesterone Therapy –based on the work of the late Dr John Lee – shares readily about the chemical onslaught we are all facing today. Many types of chemicals entering the bloodstream mimic the hormone, estrogen. These chemicals are known as xeno-estrogens and invade the estrogen receptor sites contributing to a dangerous state called estrogen dominance. This is also created when the opposing hormone to estrogen, called progesterone, is continually redirected to protect us from stress by making more stress hormones.
Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
Estrogen, when not kept in balance by progesterone, can lead to a multitude of health challenges in the female system.
Here is a long list of Estrogen Dominance symptoms to become aware of. Do you relate to some or many of them?
- Depression, anxiety, panic attacks
- Mood swings, agitation, irritability
- Memory Loss, foggy thinking, loss of concentration
- Chronic Fatigue
- Decreased Libido
- Skin problems, acne
- Increase in allergies
- Development of auto- immune diseases
- Breast tenderness, mastitis, fibrocystic breasts
- Breast cancer and other estrogen dominant cancers like cervical / endometrial cancer
- Cervical disphagia
- Early onset of anovulatory menstrual cycles (when a women stops ovulating)
- Polycystic ovaries / PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)
- Uterine fibroids
- Period pain & cramps
- Infertility due to luteal phase failure (By the way, sperm counts are down by over 50%)
- Early onset of menstruation in young girls, irregular periods
- Bone loss during pre-menopause, osteoporosis
- Thyroid problems, sluggish metabolism, weight problems
- Weight gain, water retention, constipation
- Risk of heart disease -high blood pressure, increased risk of clots and strokes
- Migraine headaches
- Zinc/ copper imbalance
- Magnesium Deficiency
- Gallbladder disease
- Hair loss
The Role of Progesterone
Progesterone is the counter balancing hormone to Estrogen. Progesterone is the precursor to estrogen and testosterone. It is the hormone that gets its name from the word “gestation” or the term “pro-gestation (pregnancy)”. As such, progesterone is necessary for the survival of the embryo and fetus throughout gestation (pregnancy).
It is derived from our good cholesterol, therefore one should think twice about ever going on a totally fat-free diet and consider holding on to high quality plant fats and oils as well as those obtained from safely sourced fatty fish.
Some of the major roles that progesterone does in the body are:
- Keeps brain cells healthy
- Protects against Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss
- Protects against stress
- Protects the nerves
- Protects against PMS (Estrogen dominance leads to a retention of copper and a loss of zinc –which causes the uncontrolled PMS rage)
- Reduces aches & pains
- Promotes / restores emotional well-being
- It is known as “Nature’s Valium” –natural progesterone is a natural anti-depressant by helping to restore our serotonin levels
- Stops panic attacks
- Restores skin hydration
- Stabilizes blood sugar levels -which estrogen has an adverse effect on
- Natural diuretic -thus helping to reduce water retention
- Protects against heart disease (Estrogen causes blood clots. Fluid retention increases the blood volume therefore the blood pressure. In most young people with high blood pressure the cause is usually estrogen dominance.)
- Protects against endometrial & all estrogen cancers
- Protects against fibrocystic breasts.
- Helps thyroid function (estrogen blocks the effects of Thyroxin in the body –leading to symptoms of Hypothyroidism. When balance is restored with progesterone, Eltroxin is one of the drugs that can be discontinued)
- Helps use fat for energy thus regulating weight (Estrogen increases body fat and fluid & salt retention. Ever since there has been experimentation with the contraceptive Pill and HRT this fact has been known. ESTROGEN MAKES FAT and FAT MAKES ESTROGEN. Where this happens naturally is twice in a woman’s life, when she is in a state of unopposed estrogen at PUBERTY (“puppy fat”) and at MENOPAUSE (“the middle-age spread”).
- Restores sex drive (libido) and fertility (1:7 couples getting married today are infertile)
- Decreases Uterine Cramping
- Reverses endometriosis -Unopposed estrogen levels stimulate cell growth to go out of control, literally anywhere: fallopian tubes, vagina, liver, lungs etc. This condition prior to the 1950’s had only 50 recorded cases in the world compared to today).
- Decreases Uterine Fibroids -Growths within the uterus that are stimulated by estrogen. These fibroids usually disappear once estrogen levels are balanced.
- Decreases Polycystic Ovaries (progesterone helps restore hormonal balance brought about from INSULIN RESISTENCE due to sugar & refined carbohydrates in the diet.)
- Restores proper cell oxygen levels
- Helps inflammatory degenerative diseases/conditions - like arthritis & allergies
- Protects against and reverses osteoporosis -by helping the bone-building cells
- Protects against all cancers by switching off the cancer gene -Statistics show that cancer has increased from 3% in the 1920’s to 50% in the 21st Century).
Where have things gone wrong? The cause of hormonal imbalance & Estrogen Dominance
The causes of hormonal imbalance can be explained by looking at the work of bio-chemist, Dr Formby in the 1990’s. He discovered that unopposed estrogen is highly dangerous. He found that estrogen switches “ON” the (BCL-2) gene, an onca gene (a cancer gene). On the other hand, progesterone switches this cancer gene “OFF”, and rather, switches “ON” a protective gene, the (P53) gene. This means that if estrogen is unopposed, this dangerous gene, the (BCL-2) gene, remains switched “ON”, thereby increasing the risk of cancer. Estrogen dominance is the result of the balance between estrogen and progesterone being upset. This is influenced by various factors, of which some major ones are: Xeno estrogens, estrogen drugs, and our deficient western modern diet.
These are chemicals that mimic estrogen and came about through the rise of the chemical age which emerged particularly from the 1960’s/1970’s onwards towards our present day. Xeno estrogens are serious endocrine (hormonal) disruptors. That means they disrupt our natural hormonal balance and seriously affect the fertility of all species on our planet today. The first endocrine disruptor found was DDT in the 1960’s. The dangerous effects & the number of these kinds of hormonal disruptors are now unprecedented. For example, PCB’s (Poly carbonated Bi-phenols, an anti-inflammatory agent found in electrical generators), is possibly worse, because DDT has a “half-life” of 60 years, whereas PCB’s have a “half-life” of 1000 years! Wherever there have been concentrations of these chemicals, it has been noticed that nature is being feminized.
Synthetic estrogen made by drug companies are found in:
- The Contraceptive Pill: This estrogen finds its way into our water supply, so men and children are now being exposed to this drug.
- H.R.T. (hormonal replacement therapy): Fortunately today H.R.T. is now seen for its very real danger. Some say it has been the worst experiment ever performed on women. All the so-called “benefits” of HRT have now been disproved. It causes breast cancer, heart disease, and has no benefit in reversing osteoporosis.
- D.E.S. (diethol stilbestro) and other synthetic estrogens used to fatten cattle, used as growth stimulants in chickens and in dairy cows to promote milk production.
- Petrochemicals found in soft plastics like plastic wraps used in foods packaging, household detergents, wax floor polish, beauty products, synthetic clothing, industrial chemicals, agricultural chemicals –all have the same A-ring in their molecular make-up as estrogen, and thus have an estrogenic affect in the human body by locking onto the receptor sites on the cell membrane. This is why they are called "Xeno Estrogens". These all effect the estrogen/progesterone balance and lead to a dangerous state of estrogen dominance.
Our deficient western diet
Today women are / are becoming deficient in many essential nutrients which has affects our hormonal balance. Omega 3 fatty acid is just one such nutrient needed for hormonal production. Besides this, there is a huge array of vitamins and minerals deficient in today’s modern diet, and in the face of great levels of stress we should be addressing these very seriously if we wish to achieve hormonal health and take care of related ailments.
Progesterone deficiency is now very much the norm in amongst women of the current century. It is marked by the following aspects:
This is when a woman ceases to ovulate. NO progesterone is produced by the ovary. However, this progesterone is necessary to counter-balance estrogen. Unopposed estrogen as seen above, is very dangerous. Theses anovulatory cycles are now affecting women in the West at an average age of 34 years. A century ago, this was at 50 years of age on average!
When stressed, our stress hormones have priority over all other hormones in their call for production. This is because they are vital for our survival. Ever heard of stress serving as the best contraceptive? Our predecessors would occasionally experience the stress response in dangerous situations. Whereas we are continually under stress due to our fast pace and modern lifestyles. Driving cars, watching TV with worrying or fear-inducing content, dangerous sports, worrying over finances, jobs, crime, politics, family problems, etc.
As progesterone is a pre-cursor hormone to various stress hormones, like adrenalin, nor adrenalin (short-term stress hormones) and cortisol (the long term stress hormone), it is continually being converted to form these stress hormones. Now, due to our increased stress levels and pace of life, our basic levels of progesterone are being “sucked dry” as Sally puts it… Thus throwing the balance between Estrogen and Progesterone completely OUT!
Progesterone is the only counter balance to estrogen. It restores hormonal balance and eliminates the symptoms of estrogen dominance:
- Progesterone Therapy is very beneficial in treating infertility, and helps to maintain healthy pregnancies. Remember, “progesterone” actually derives its name from the word “gestation”).
- It is a key instrument in de-activating the cancer (BCL-2) gene, and activating the protective (P53) gene, which restores the cell to a healthy state, thereby protecting it against becoming cancerous.
- It acts as a natural anti-depressant by increasing serotonin levels and relieving anxiety.
- It protects against Alzheimer’s disease.
- It helps normalize blood clotting and assists in preventing hypertension.
- It aids in the restoration of proper thyroid function.
- It is beneficial as a natural anti-inflammatory in its effects on the immune system.
- It also reduces the incidence of auto-immune disorders.
- It protects against fibro-cysts in breast tissue.
- It aids in the management of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and mood swings.
Infographic : Promotion of Healthy Estrogen Metabolism :
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"Your Body on Meditation" Dr. Sara Gottfried at Wanderlust's Speakeasy : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6fOO8BCxFs
Promotion of Healthy Estrogen Metabolism : http://justinhealth.com/estrogen-dominance-female-hormones-and-your-health/