Youthful, holistic beauty is at the forefront of our research and through that research we quickly learned how essential healthy and balanced hormones are. One hormone, in particular, has long been associated with youth and coined as the “female hormone” (if you read that and guessed estrogen, you are correct!) But today we raise the question: Is estrogen really the pro-fertility / anti-aging hormone that it has been advertised as?
Over the last 100 years since the drug companies first exploited estrogen as the “female hormone” to create the hormone replacement business, there have been thousands of publications about estrogen's toxicity. In later research done by Dr. Ray Peat, the many variants of estrogen on its basic molecular level appear to work in the body as more of a “shock hormone” – releasing histamine and activating the nervous system stress response.
This explains why people under chronic stress, people who have a thyroid deficiency, and people who don't eat enough protein typically have elevated estrogen levels. The body is burdened and consequently, symptoms such as cellulite, breast tenderness, increased body odor, melasma, fibrocystic breasts, weight gain, varicose veins, mood irregularities, and more arise. These symptoms are the result of what Dr. Ray Peat calls the “protective features” of estrogen, which include stealing oxygen from the mitochondria, shifting patterns of growth and adaptation, and directly impacting the blood circulatory system.
Don’t worry, we will soon be dishing out 5 simple practices to help alleviate these symptoms, but first, it’s essential to know that we say “estrogen dominance” concerning progesterone levels in the body. With progesterone being both an anti-stress and anti-estrogenic hormone, having adequate levels of it in the body should naturally protect us from excess estrogen and its effects such as premature aging or atrophy. Thus, we’ve aimed these tips at improving progesterone production and increasing estrogen detoxification, so the body can return to its youthful balance and our hormones can work in harmony. Without further ado, here are our top 5 estrogen intervention tips:
One study conducted on seven premenopausal women who completed five cycles of exercise training found that during the last two exercise cycles, total estrogen declined by 18.9%. Another study found that every 100 min of exercise was associated with 3.6 % lower follicular phase estrogen. Both results suggest value in exercise interventions to reduce estrogen hormone levels in women with high estrogen-related cancer risks.
Commonly used polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in vegetable oils like canola, cottonseed, etc.) have estrogen-promoting actions that can suppress thyroid function. Ray Peat writes, “The enzymes which break down proteins are inhibited by unsaturated fats, and these enzymes are needed not only for digestion, but also for the production of thyroid hormones, clot removal, immunity, and the general adaptability of cells. The risks of abnormal blood clotting, inflammation, immune deficiency, shock, aging, obesity, and cancer are increased. Thyroid and progesterone levels are decreased."
Light can stimulate healthy gut microbiota and consequently, hormonal levels can be more stable. This all happens when the mitochondria are properly energized by sunlight or in the evening, red light therapy. “The absence of bright light would create a progesterone deficiency, and would leave estrogen and prolactin unopposed.” - Ray Peat
Your body removes estrogen via your liver and then into your bowels. Research has proven by optimizing liver and bowel function you can lower your estrogen load. One study is linked here. Tools like castor oil packs, coffee enemas, adequate-protein consumption, and adding insoluble fibers like raw carrots or well-cooked mushrooms are great for binding to excess estrogen, improving bile flow, bowel movements, and liver detoxification.
“Many of the events involved in inflammation are increased by estrogen, and decreased by vitamin E. Estrogen causes capillaries to become leaky; vitamin E does the opposite. Estrogen increases platelet aggregation, and decreases a factor that inhibits platelet aggregation; vitamin E does the opposite.” - Ray Peat
Whether you’re looking to improve symptoms of estrogen dominance or to simply age more gracefully, keep these simple practices in mind and see where you might be able to soak up a few extra minutes of sunlight or incorporate physical movement into your day.
*Lastly, it’s important to note that limiting frequent exposure to external sources of estrogen-like substances such as BPA and phthalates in plastic, herbicides, parabens in many personal hygiene products, perfluorinated chemicals in nonstick cookware, nonylphenol in detergents, triclosan in antibacterial soap, and GMO soy can further protect from external sources of excess estrogen.
This is for general information and research purposes only, not medical advice.
Ashley Lange is a certified IHP (Integrative Health Practitioner), wellness innovator, and writer based in San Diego, CA. When she’s not with her pup at dog beach or in the mountains skiing with family, she enjoys empowering others through research-forward writing and holistic skin education.