Are you one of the 75% of women estimated to suffer from PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) every month? The assortment and severity of PMS symptoms is different for each woman and can vary in intensity from cycle to cycle. Managing and relieving your behavioural, physical and emotional symptoms is great for day-to-day happiness, but addressing the main driver of PMS will help you maintain healthy hormone balance and reduce your symptoms.
Oestrogen is sitting in the PMS driver’s seatWhile PMS is a complex interplay between your hormones, neurotransmitters, nutrients and social and psychological factors, high oestrogen levels or ‘oestrogen dominance’ has been implicated as the main driver in PMS. Healthy oestrogen levels are controlled and finely balanced by special feedback loops between your brain (hypothalamus and pituitary gland) and ovaries, so when one hormone level increases, another hormone decreases, creating an imbalance. In PMS, oestrogen dominance can occur when too much oestrogen is produced by your body, excess oestrogen is not cleared effectively from your body or where there is an imbalance between the ratio of oestrogen:progesterone.
Oestrogens are everywhereAdded to the oestrogen you produce in your body, you are also exposed to environmental xeno-oestrogens or ‘endocrine disrupters’ on a daily basis through pesticides, drugs, fuels and plastics and phyto-oestrogens derived from plants. Many of these endocrine disrupters are similar in structure to oestrogen so mimic the activity of oestrogen in your body, adding to the problem of oestrogen dominance.
Oestrogen dominance and your healthOestrogen is an umbrella term used to describe three different types of oestrogen produced by your body; oestrone (E1), oestradiol (E2) and oestriol (E3). Oestradiol is the most potent form of oestrogen, predominantly made in your ovaries, although fat cells, adrenal glands, liver and breast tissue can also make oestrogen. These three oestrogens are metabolised and converted into three different metabolites by your liver. Two of these three oestrogen metabolites, 4-OH (4-hydroxyoestrone and 16a-OH (16-alpha-hydroxyoestrone) are responsible for many oestrogen dominant related conditions while the third metabolite, 2-OH (2-hydroxyoestrone) provides a protective effect. So, it’s not only oestrogen dominance that’s a problem, it’s also the different types of oestrogen metabolites that can be damaging to your overall health.
Maintaining healthy oestrogen balance to avoid PMSOestrogen dominance can be tackled with herbs and nutrients that support healthy detoxification and elimination of excess oestrogen, promote the production of healthy 2-OH and decrease 4-OH and 16a-OH which can be oxidised to highly damaging free radicals known as quinones and inhibit oestrogen production from other areas of your body.
Top 6 herbs and nutrients to support healthy oestrogen levels
- Broccoli sprouts stimulate oestrogen metabolism and detoxification into the protective 2-OH pathway helping to balance oestrogen levels and supports liver detoxification generally
- Rosemary is a potent antioxidant that improves liver detoxification and enhances oestrogen metabolism helping to increase 2-OH levels
- Vitex agnus-castus has progestogenic properties helping to maintain balance between the ratio of oestrogen:progesterone
- St. Mary’s thistle supports liver function and improves your antioxidant status to prevent free radical damage
- Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that protects your body from damaging oestrogen metabolites
- Quercetin competes with oestrogen, helping to reduce oestrogen dominance and inhibits oestrogen production from other areas of your body