by Cat, June 2007; updated May 2019
As women reach middle age, we begin to experience changes in our bodies, emotions, moods; from peri-menopause, through menopause and into post-menopause. The common thread that links these changes — and underlies many female reproductive diseases such as uterine fibroids, edometriosis, fibrocystic breasts, cancer, and PMS — is known as ‘estrogen dominance.’ That is, a relative excess of estrogen, and an absolute deficiency in progesterone.
For the last 40 years, conventional wisdom has attributed the changes during menopause to a deficiency in estrogen, brought on by shrinking ovaries that can no longer produce the hormone at pre-menopausal levels. Hormone replacement therapy was introduced in the mid 1960s to alleviate this lack, but many women did not respond as expected. Some women did indeed require estrogen supplementation; some required a combination of estrogen and progesterone therapy; other women got better relief from natural progesterone alone. (1)
Clearly it is not necessarily a lack of estrogen that causes the menopausal symptoms. Perhaps it is an imbalance in the complex interplay between hormones that lies at the root of the ‘problem.’
- Includes: 1. General Foundation; 2. Conversion of Estrogen Metabolite; 3. Liver Function Enhancement; 4. Control of Estrogen Dominance Symptom
- See also: 1. Diet & Health Menu; 2. Supplements I Use
- See also articles on my old iWeb site (not yet moved): 1. Estrogen Dominance in Disease section; 2. Female Hormones in Metabolism section; 3. Menopause & Peri-Menopause in Metabolism section. When move these articles to new blog, update links here and also “Female Hormones” in this article (below)
I don’t intend to suggest that taking supplements can provide the same health benefits as eating healthful meals. Supplements are intended to support our health when there is a dietary lack, or when a health condition causes the body not to assimilate a particular nutrient properly. They should not be used as drugs to “make something go away,” and they should not be abused. Overuse of supplements, just as overuse of drugs, can lead to other health problems.
Healthful meals are comprised of whole foods as much as possible, especially fresh (or home canned/frozen) organic or biodynamic foods grown by someone you know. It means avoiding prepared and processed foods (commercially canned, bottled, boxed, bagged, frozen), and especially avoiding foods made with highly processed or artificial ingredients. Know your ingredients; know your cook. Refer to my Diet for Health articles for more information:
- Diet for Health, Part 1: General recommendations,
- Diet for Health, Part 2: Cat’s diet summary (includes keto summary)
- Diet for Health, Part 3: Procuring healthful food
NOTE: Consult with your health practitioner before taking any supplements.
Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
Typical symptoms/complaints from women having estrogen dominance (1):
- Cysts in breast;
- Pain in breasts (as though pregnant);
- Swollen, enlarged breasts;
- Swollen fingers (“I can’t put my rings on my fingers.”);
- Increased impatience;
- Increased menstrual cramps;
- Increased need to control (“People tell me I’m too bossy.’);
- Moody, depressed (“I’m just not my normal self anymore.”);
- Changes in monthly cycle: missed/skipped periods; irregular periods;
- Large clots in menstrual blood;
- Changes in foot size (longer, wider, puffy, sore);
- Fatigue (“I’m tired all the time; I just don’t have energy anymore.”).
Changes in metabolism brought on my the hormonal imbalance can lead to:(1)
- Rise in blood pressure
- Abnormal lipid panel (increased cholesterol and fats in the blood)
- Increased risk of stroke
- Emotional changes (depression, anxiety and irritability).
Refer to my article on Menopause & Peri-Menopause for more on the symptoms of this period of change. (Links to my old iWeb site, Metabolism section)
Supplements Recommended by Others
The supplements listed below are recommended by Dr. Lam on his website (article on Estrogen Dominance, source 1 below) to reverse and/or relieve the symptoms of Estrogen Dominance.
General Foundation Supplements
Look for whole-food versions of these recommendations, where available (see parentheses).
- Fish oil 200-1000 mg,
- Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) 50-100 mg,
- Folate (Vitamin B9) 400 mcg for adult men and women or 500 – 600 mcg for lactating or pregnant women (6). (NOTE: Dr. Lam’s article calls it folic acid with RDA of 100-800 mcg, but that is a synthetic form; folate is the natural form. Note that un-metabolized folic acid may have adverse health risks including cancer and un-detected B12 deficiency (5)).
- Vitamin C 100-1000 mg (as Amla or Acerola whole food)
- Vitamin E (natural)90-400 I.U. (as wheat germ oil)
- Magnesium 200-800 mg, (I get this from 80% magnesium chloride solution)
- Quercetin 350-1,000 mg;
Supplement for Conversion of Estrogen Metabolite
- Diindolylmethane (DIM) 60 mg standardized extract once or twice a day (DIM is a version of the active ingredient in cruciferous veggies, and is an estrogen balancer in women, and a testosterone balancer in men). It is also available as a supplement, for example Source Naturals: DIM (see iHerb code SNS-01567). From Livestrong (7B):
“…when estrogen is broken down in your body, it can either form beneficial or harmful estrogen metabolites, and DIM helps your body to break down estrogen into the beneficial type. The beneficial estrogen metabolites have antioxidant properties and help to protect the heart and brain from free-radical damage. Diindolylmethane also simultaneously reduces the levels of harmful estrogen metabolites, which is beneficial because they are associated with an increased risk for obesity, breast cancer and uterine cancer. Additional problems associated with too many harmful estrogen metabolites include moodiness and breast pain in women and loss of sex drive in men.”
NOTE: the good estrogen metabolites are 2-OH estrone and estriol (E3); the bad metabolites are 16-α OH-estrone and estradiol (E2). See a diagram, “Metabolism of Estrogens” on my old iWeb page: catsfork.com/Health-Metabolism/Hormones-Female.html (saved HEALTH-NUTRITION > SEX HORMONES / Estrogen metabolism.jpg) << update link when I get article moved to new blog.
Supplements for Liver Function Enhancement
For the following vitamins, it is best to use natural forms such as those I use. Refer to general foundation above, for recommended dosages.
- Vitamin A: Cod liver oil for vitamin A (and D), such as Rosita brand (see Dr Ron’s) or Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil (see Amazon ASIN B004QCMGTG;
- Vitamin C: Acerola cherry for vitamin C; I use Now Foods brand of powdered acerola, to add to my smoothie (iHerb code NOW-00740). I also use Now Foods Alphasorb C (iHerb code NOW-00717) because it contains both vitamin C and Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) in a combination that doesn’t cause my food sensitivity reaction to the ALA.
- Vitamin E: Wheat germ oil (pressed from the germ), such as Now Foods (iHerb code NOW-01880) is a good natural source for vitamin E supplement. Another good source for vitamin E is any that contain mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols, such as Now Foods Advanced Gamma E Complex (iHerb code NOW-00811) or Healthy Origins, Tocomin SupraBio (iHerb code HOG-16478).
- Methionine (an amino acid) promotes conversion of ‘bad’ Vitamin E2 to ‘good’ Vitamin E3. Daily dose depends on body weight, but should be in range of 100 – 1000 mg/day. To support methionine, also take taurine, cysteine, and other sulfur containing amino acids, as well as folate (vitamin B9). Dr. Lam recommends ranges from 500 – 4000 mg in divided dosages throughout the day. NOTE: A buildup of homocysteine is a marker for heart disease and stroke; for those who are at risk, taking folate will help avoid that buildup.
For the following amino acids, it is best to eat a diet of well-rounded protein sources, including meats, rather than supplementing with individual amino acids.
- SAMe (S-Adenosyl methionine) is a metabolite of methionine and has many important functions in the body.
- Taurine (this is an amino acid found in animal, but not vegetable protein). Estradiol (E2) depresses formation of taurine in the liver, so if you have estrogen dominance, you probably need more of this amino acid in your diet. Dr. Lam suggests 1 -3 g. Doses greater than 5 g/day can cause problems. The best way to get taurine is from meat protein sources, rather than supplements.
- Fish Oil promotes the metabolism to good estrogens. Dr. Lam suggests 500 – 10,000 mg/day. Be sure to purchase fish oil that is free of mercury and other heavy metals. Nutrigold or Wiley’s Natural Wild Alaskan Fish Oil are better quality brands (available on Amazon); Nordic Naturals and Carlson are more common brands sold in most health food stores.
- Calcium-d-glucarate is one of the most important nutrients to enhance liver function, according to Dr. Lam. He suggests 250 – 1000 mg/day.
- Silymarin (milk thistle) is a powerful antioxidant and prevents depletion of glutathione, the liver’s primary detoxifying agent. Dr. Lam suggests 200 – 800 mg/day.
- N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is another powerful antioxidant and heavy metal chelator. In the body, it is converted to cysteine. Dr. Lam recommends taking vitamin C with NAC, to prevent oxidation of NAC which can cause kidney stones; he recommends 350 – 2000 mg/day of NAC. I have a food sensitivity to NAC, so do not take it as a supplement. The N-acetyl form is not found in any foods; but cysteine is found in high-protein foods (meats, etc) and also in broccoli, cauliflower and other cabbage-family members, onion family, and bananas (7A).
- Lipoic Acid is termed the universal antioxidant, because it is both water and fat soluble. Dr Lam recommends 125 – 1000 mg/day of alpha lipoic acid. [Synthetic alpha lipoic acid contains equal amounts of its two isomers; only the r-isomer is bio-active, so it is worth the extra cost to purchase r-lipoic acid. It has a short half-life, tho, so to ensure that you don’t just waste it, its best to purchase a sustained release version, or take mini-doses every couple hours.]
- Quercetin is a flavonoid that increases intracellular glutathione levels. It has been demonstrated to damage cancer cells only, and leave normal cells intact. Dr. Lam suggests 350 – 3000 mg/day.
- Grape seed extract and pycnogenol (from pine bark extract) are potent free radical scavengers in the bioflavonoid family. Dr. Lam suggests 100 – 1000 mg/day.
Control of Estrogen Dominance Symptoms
- Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) for emotional stability at 250 – 2000 mg/da
- Taurine for excessive fluid accumulation at 300 – 3000 mg/day
- Chromium polynicotinate to help control sugar craving at 100 – 800 mcg/day
- Glutamine to enhance energy and enhance gastric function at 300 – 3000 mg/day
- Avoid iron unless you are anemic
- Avoid copper unless advised by a health care professional.
- Estrogen Dominance; The Silent Epidemic (drlam.com/A3R_brief_in_doc_format/Estrogen_Dominance.cfm)
- Cabbages, Sex hormones and Their Metabolites (smart-drugs.net/ias-di-indolymethane.htm) (Link no longer valid)
- Bioidentical Hormones (womentowomen.com/bioidentical-hrt/bioidenticalhormones.asp)
- Estrogen Levels and Menopause (womentowomen.com/menopause/estrogendominance.asp)
- Healthline (healthline.com/nutrition/folic-acid-vs-folate)
- National Institute of Health (ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/)