Estrogen Dominance: the underlying cause of PMS symptoms

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) can include any symptoms that occur for up to two weeks before the onset of menstrual flow.  Mood swings, irritability and even depression are some of the emotional symptoms often associated with PMS. Physical manifestations range from bloating, water retention and breast tenderness to headaches, fatigue, and digestive problems.  Fortunately, Naturopathic Medicine is very effective at resolving all of these complaints.  The first step, as always, is to identify the root of the problem.  In the case of PMS, the root is often estrogen dominance.  Estrogen dominance refers to having an excess of estrogen in certain tissues of the body in relation to progesterone.  Estrogen can be high, progesterone may be low, or it may be a combination of the two factors.  Salivary Hormone Testing (see www.rmalab.com) is the best way to determine which of these situations is the cause of an individuals PMS symptoms.

What Causes Estrogen Dominance?

Excess estrogen is often due to faulty metabolism and poor excretion of this hormone in the body.  The liver plays a very important role in this regard.  Liver stress is a major contributor to high tissue estrogen levels.  Bowel health is also vital to proper estrogen balance.  Imbalances in bacterial flora in the bowel (due to antibiotic use or excess sugar intake) cause inadequate processing of estrogen.  Constipation also leads to excess estrogen levels.  Low progesterone often occurs when a women reaches pre-menopause, age 40-50.  This is a time when PMS symptoms often worsen.  Low progesterone can occur in women of any age.  Low progesterone is usually due to irregular ovulation.  When a women doesn’t ovulate her progesterone levels will be much lower in that particular cycle and PMS symptoms will be exaggerated.

How can Estrogen Dominance be Corrected?

Once the underlying cause has been identified, specific herbal medicines, nutritional supplements and diet changes can be implemented to bring the hormones back into balance.  To clear the body of excess estrogen, liver support is very helpful.  Certain nutritional products such as Ichol plus and Multi B6 help the body to process estrogen through the liver.  Liver cleanses involving herbal medicines including Dandelion and Milk Thistle, or combinations like Thorne’s LCH, are also very effective.  Regular bowel movements are promoted, if necessary, using fibres, ground flax seeds, diet changes, etc.  Intestinal flora may also need to be reestablished using an acidophilus product.  Progesterone is increased using herbal medicines such as Chaste tree and organotherapy which promote regular ovulation.  Natural Progesterone cream is very effective in even the most severe cases of estrogen dominance.

These are just a few examples of the type of products that we may use to bring hormones into balance for a woman suffering from PMS due to estrogen dominance.  We always recommend a consultation with Dr. Richmond or Dr. Tocher as the first step to creating a treatment plan to address your specific health concerns.