TCM Can Treat Estrogen Dominance
How can Chinese medicine help with patients with estrogen dominance? Women who have excess levels of estrogen have an increased risk of breast, uterine, ovarian cancers, and cervical dysplasia. Some women can also have intense and unpleasant menopausal symptoms.
Some symptoms of estrogen dominance:
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Anxiety and mood swings
- “Fuzzy thinking”
- Loss of ambition
- Slow metabolism
- Water retention
- Loss of libido
- Weight gain
- Thickening of endometrial lining, clotted menses
- Increased risk of uterine fibroids
- Increased incidence of ovarian cysts
Many of these symptoms are related to stagnation of qi, blood and damp against a background of qi or yang deficiency from the perspective of Chinese medicine.
For 25 years it was assumed by general doctors that women produced minimum amount of estrogen after menopause until research have shown different. Chinese medical textbooks states that yin becomes increasingly vacuous until a woman stops having regular periods. Before menopause women’s levels of progesterone decline, while estrogen levels remain stable or even increase. This leads to a situation where estrogen levels is high in relation to progesterone, which is referred to as estrogen dominance. The term estrogen dominance was composed by Dr. John Lee, who advocated for natural progesterone supplementation.
Estrogen is produced mainly in the ovaries and progesterone is produced predominantly by the corpus luteum. When the egg quality begins to decline in perimenopause, the quality of the corpus luteum also declines, leading to lower progesterone levels and relative estrogen dominance. Many perimenopausal women are periodically anovulatory, which means that estrogen goes unopposed during those cycles.
Another factor which become more prevalent over the last two decades is the amount of xenoestrogens we are exposed to. Xenoestrogens are found in everything from sunscreen to plastic water bottles, our water supply which contains synthetic estrogen because of the widespread use of birth control pills. Cooking with non-stick coated cookware and microwaving food in plastic containers releases xenoestrogens into our food.
In my practice I suggest a combination of diet and lifestyle advice along with acupuncture, herbs and supplements to help women achieve an appropriate balance between progesterone and estrogen as they head towards menopause.
And here’s some advice I give my patients when they ask me how they can help themselves:
- Take care of your liver. It is your best defense against estrogen dominance because it’s job is to eliminate excess estrogen. Minimize your alcohol intake and, to stimulate your liver, drink water with lemon juice first thing every morning. There are a few simple supplements that you can take just a few times per week to help your liver function at its best.
- Research endocrine-disrupting chemicals in cosmetics, processed foods, cookware, and cleaning materials and cut your exposure to xenoestrogens as much as you can. Look at labels, many chemicals in cosmetics are derived from petroleum products.
- Get rid of your plastic containers and plastic water bottles. Plastic is a petrochemical product and in part of its degradation process, off-gasses into water and foods. Use glass containers and ditch your microwave. Cooking your fast or processed food in the plastic containers they were frozen in is non-nutrition.
Any questions you have about how you can rebalance your hormone health, set up a consultation with Dr. Hackett. We can go over your current labs, order new tests, and formulate a strategy for you to get back to feeling your best.