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HORMONE DETOX BASICS

by Christine Phillips, Functional Medicine Health Coach

WHAT IS A HORMONE DETOX?

The definition of detox according to the Cambridge Dictionary is: “a period when you stop taking unhealthy or harmful foods, drinks, or drugs into your body for some time, to improve your health.” That's an essential aspect of detoxification for sure, though, during this detox, you will be doing so much more! Reducing your toxic load is something you should ALWAYS be concerned with if you want to maintain healthy hormone balance.


WHY YOU NEED A HORMONE DETOX

LIVER CONGESTION

Our liver is the main detoxification organ in the body. Most toxins and chemicals reach the liver, where they are eliminated or broken down to remove the toxic compounds from circulation. The liver works extremely hard to do this and usually does a very good job. However, nowadays, our liver is exposed to toxins at such an alarmingly increased rate; it simply cannot keep up. An overworked liver often leads to hormonal imbalances – especially estrogen imbalance. Detoxification is essential for helping the liver eliminate estrogen and toxins from your body.

EXPOSURE TO ENDOCRINE DISRUPTING CHEMICALS

Each day, we are exposed to hundreds of chemicals that interfere with our endocrine system by mimicking, decreasing, or increasing our hormone levels (no wonder our hormones are a hot mess!). EDCs have been linked to many health issues and diseases, including several types of cancers, autoimmune conditions, endometriosis, and thyroid disease. EDCs are found in everyday household products, beauty care products, as well as many foods you may regularly be eating. I suggest you start detoxing your home from EDCs to reduce your exposure.

XENOESTROGENS

Most of the beauty and personal care products that we use contain some endocrine disrupting chemicals. Xenoestrogens are a sub-category of endocrine disrupting chemicals that mimic the estrogen hormone. BPA is a notorious xenoestrogen that can act as natural estrogen in the body and bind to the estrogen receptors, causing a multitude of health problems that are often seen with abnormally high levels of estrogen, also referred to as estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance, whether it is caused by abnormally high levels of natural estrogen or xenoestrogens, can cause polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, infertility, cancer, and much more. BPA is found on store receipts, in canned food, and plastic containers. Phthalates are another group of xenoestrogens that cause many reproductive problems. They are found in most fragrances and are unfortunately not always listed in the ingredients. The chances are that if a personal care product contains fragrances, it also contains phthalates.


SIGNS YOU NEED A HORMONE DETOX

Here you will find a list of signs or symptoms showing that you need a hormone detox:

  • Feeling exhausted all the time

  • Absent periods

  • Difficult periods

  • Mood swings

  • Tender breasts

  • Water retention

  • Skin issues

  • Weight gain – especially belly, hips and thighs

  • Resistant weight

  • Low sex drive

  • Hot flashes and/or night sweats

  • Difficulty conceiving

  • Miscarriages

  • Fibroids or cysts

  • Endometriosis

  • PCOS

  • Thinning hair, hair loss or excess hair

  • Estrogen dominance

  • Body aches and pains

  • Joint pain

THE LIVER AND ESTROGEN METABOLISM

Estrogen dominance is a prevalent hormonal imbalance in industrialized nations and is associated with premenstrual syndrome, endometriosis, PCOS, cystic breast disease, fibroids, and breast cancer in women. The good news is that a hormone detox is beneficial for clearing excess estrogen from the system. The focus should be on the liver, as the liver is the primary site of estrogen metabolism.

In the liver, estrogen is eliminated through two phases. The phase I pathway changes the structure of the estrogens to prepare them for removal from the body via the sweat: stools and urine.

Often, when the liver is not functioning optimally, it has trouble with the second phase of its detoxification process, which is the removal of the compound from the body. If this process is inefficient, it results in compounds remaining in the body. As a result, estrogen circulates back into the bloodstream in a more toxic form. These toxic estrogen metabolites can be reactivated once they enter circulation and contribute to the increased risk of cancers and conditions of the reproductive system that we see with estrogen dominance.

TO SUPPORT PHASE 1

Reduce alcohol consumption to protect your liver and consider replacing your coffee with green tea, which is loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight the toxic free radicals that the liver produces in phase I of eliminating hormones and toxins. Vitamin C, milk thistle, cruciferous vegetables, and magnesium also help support phase I liver detox.

TO SUPPORT PHASE 2

If your liver needs help in eliminating these toxic metabolites in phase II, you can increase the amount of free-radical fighting foods in your diet, such as berries, turmeric, green tea and cinnamon. Sulfur-rich foods like onions and garlic, amino acids, and B12 are also beneficial for phase II detox. It’s essential to keep the bowels moving so estrogen can be cleared! If you become constipated, you can’t remove estrogen out of your body – no matter how hard your liver works! So, it is essential to eat lots of fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber and to stay adequately hydrated. If you suffer from poor gut motility, use prokinetic agents like magnesium citrate and ginger tea. You can drink ginger tea between meals. If prokinetics don’t help, investigate if there are imbalances of bacteria in the gut or food intolerances.

This is just the summary for detoxing and balancing your hormones. It’s a very complex subject and everyone is unique in so many ways, so make sure you consult your doctor or functional medicine practitioner for guidance.

If you wanting to try a detox or hormonal detox and not sure where to start, I have some wonderful 21 Day Programs on offer at Health Yourself.

Christine Phillips

Health Yourself

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