Estrogen is absolutely essential for good health. In women, estrogen helps the body maintain a normal temperature, regulates the menstrual cycle, strengthens the liver and cardiovascular system, and keeps metabolism running smoothly.
But estrogen doesn’t always work in helpful ways. As estrogen lives out its life cycle, it can warp into unhealthy, dangerous forms that cause long-term damage if they are not removed. Over time, exposure to these forms of estrogen (called estrogen metabolites), or to toxic xenoestrogens from plastic bottles, pesticides or other contaminants that act like the dysfunctional forms of estrogen in the body, can be very dangerous.
So, keeping estrogen in its healthiest forms, and assisting the body in sweeping out potentially dangerous estrogen metabolites, is crucial. And having the right nutrients in your regimen to help keep that process going smoothly can reduce PMS and menopause symptoms, keep metabolism on track, and reduce the risk of cancer.
DIM: The Cruciferous Compound for Healthy Estrogen
Having healthy circulating estrogen can help reduce the risk of severe menopause or PMS symptoms, development of endometriosis, fat accumulation, and cancer.
Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a naturally occurring metabolite of a compound found in broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables. Research shows that DIM helps estrogen stay in its healthiest form and can affect women’s health in a variety of important ways.
DIM and Cancer Prevention
Some women are more at risk of breast cancer because they carry an altered variation of a cancer stopping gene and its protein called “BRCA1.” But DIM may be able to change that.
A Canadian clinical trial found that women taking supplemental DIM saw a 34 percent increase in BRCA1 expression. The researchers stated that these results, achieved by using a natural compound to influence how the body’s own genes fight tumor formation, could be a major paradigm shift in the way we think about treating breast cancer.
Other clinical work found that one year’s supplementation of DIM in those who carry this altered BRCA, saw a significant decline in the amount of fibro glandular tissue— which left to its own or allowed to form dense clusters may be an indicator of tumor risk. The researchers admit that more work needs to be done, but it is possible that the simple act of adding DIM to a daily regimen could yield incredibly powerful results.
Endometrial cancer is a serious risk for women who have had increased estrogen exposure, whether through hormone replacement therapy, or from other sources, including xenoestrogens. Research at the University of California at Berkley showed that DIM had a definite anti-tumor effect on endometrial cancer cells.
Additionally, a scientific study found that DIM directly shuts down tumor replication in a variety of cancer types and can make cancer cells more sensitive and vulnerable to radiation. In the future, this could mean that DIM may be used with conventional treatments and reduce the amount of radiation required to get results from those treatments.
DIM and Hormones
DIM has been used alongside the commonly prescribed progestin drug for endometriosis, dienogest. In fact, when added to the drug, DIM enhanced its effects on estradiol secretion in endometriotic tissue in scientific models of endometriosis, and reduced pelvic pain compared to the drug alone in patients.
In a case study of a woman with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), DIM and chaste tree berry (Vitex agnus-castus), along with acupuncture treatments, helped regulate androgen levels and reduce symptoms over a 10-month period.
Curcumin is Critical for Detoxification
Curcumin, the widely studied compound from turmeric, is an excellent partner nutrient to DIM. Although curcumin doesn’t directly impact estrogen, it impacts liver detoxification, which does affect the way estrogen acts in your body.
Curcumin enhances detoxification enzymes—superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase—and makes it easier for your body to rid itself of toxic xenoestrogens—those harmful estrogen mimics that can come from environmental pollution. And, since curcumin is a strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, it protects the liver as it processes these toxins, too.
Additionally, curcumin fights cancer and has been shown to relieve PMS symptoms, so it’s a great botanical to add to your regimen for even more than healthy detoxification. The curcumin I prefer is blended with turmeric essential oil for enhanced bioavailability, so it overcomes absorption problems seen with standard curcumin extracts.
Grape Seed Extract: Unsung Hero for Hormones and Weight
While grape seed extract may not be the first botanical that comes to mind when talking about estrogen and other hormones, a clinical study found that it can significantly reduce hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, and other symptoms of menopause. Women in this study also saw an increase in lean muscle mass (a real plus as we get older), and a reduction in blood pressure.
Grape seed extract also eases the ups and downs of blood sugar and may stop additional fat cells from developing. That’s not just good for your weight, but for your hormone balance as well: fat cells are known to be storehouses of hormones.
Grape seed extract partially inhibits aromatase, an enzyme that converts androgen into estrogen and is implicated in many risks to health, including breast cancer. Leading research shows that grape seed extract’s ability to modulate aromatase may also prevent or treat endometriosis, and the irregular menstrual cycles, pain, and potential infertility of the condition, which is typically very resistant to conventional therapy.
The grape seed extract that I prefer is a French grape seed extract with low-molecular weight oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) that are well absorbed. For many years, the perception of grape seed extract has suffered due to poorly produced ingredients with high tannin content that was neither absorbed well nor provided any of the results people expected. It truly pays to get the best in grape seed extracts.
WHAT IS ESTROGEN DOMINANCE?
Estrogen dominance is a term that describes having too much estrogen in relation to other hormones (such as progesterone) or having high exposure to estrogen-mimicking xenoestrogens. Estrogen dominance is associated with symptoms many women experience
regularly: severe PMS, hot flashes, breast tenderness, weight gain, insomnia, mood swings, and sluggish metabolism. Fortunately, DIM, curcumin, and French grape seed extract can help reduce these symptoms and help keep estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones in a helpful state of balance.
To guard against hormonally-related cancer, stop PMS and perimenopause symptoms, and ensure estrogen stays in its healthy form, I recommend curcumin, French grape seed extract, and DIM taken 1-2 times daily.
For more information on this topic, watch this video: The Link Between PMS, Menstrual Migraines, and Cancer
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