Estrogen dominance and probiotics are two words that don’t typically go together. Estrogen is a hormone. Probiotics are for guts. It seems that simple.
But it is not.
It is possible to cure your estrogen dominance with probiotics?
As it turns out, you very well may be able to.
Estrogen dominance (which I discuss at length in the post: The Estrogen Dominance Post: Where it’s coming from and what to do about it) is one of the most common health problems to face women today.
It is brought about by many different factors. Birth control pill usage, exposure to estrogens in the environment, having a high body fat percentage, stress, high intake of estrogenic foods (see this post on phytoestrogens: phytoestrgens in the body: how soy interferes with natural hormone balance and also Why I now believe phytoestrogens may be good for you), and an inflammatory diet can all be factors.
Estrogen dominance can be signalled by symptoms such as depression, mood swings, PMDD, PMS, menstrual cramps, low libido, weight gain, ovarian cysts, cystic fibroids, and variants of female cancers.
It can be an incredible challenge to overcome.
Yet emerging science is beginning to demonstrate that probiotics could play a role. In fact, probiotics could be a key component to an estrogen dominance solution.
Estrogen dominance: Probiotics for reducing Beta-glucuronidase
I know it’s a mouthful, but it’s important.
Beta-glucuronidase is an enzyme that is produced by “bad bacteria.” This enzyme breaks the bond between an important molecule the liver creates – glucuronic acid – and a toxin to which glucuronic acid is attached. The liver excretes glucuronic acid specifically in order to attach to toxins and then excrete them out of the body.
When beta-glucuronidase breaks the bond between glucuronic acid and toxins in the gut, these toxins are then freed to be reabsorbed back into the bloodstream through the intestinal walls.
This is extremely problematic.
All sorts of bad molecules count as “toxins.” This ranges from heavy metals to toxic by-products of your body’s metabolism, to excess estrogen.
The liver is the body’s primary way of clearing “old” hormones out of the body. If you don’t have an efficient disposal system – that is, if your liver doesn’t function properly or if estrogen gets reabsorbed back into your body – then your hormone levels will simply keep piling up over time.
Fortunately, healthy supplementation of fermented foods (such as these: Organic Raw Kombucha, Fermented Natto beans, Kimchi, Coconut Yogurt, Raw Organic Sauerkraut, Kefir, Pickled Baby Beets) on a daily basis,
OR a high quality probiotic supplement such as my personal favorite Prescript Assist, will help boost good gut flora in your intestines, and replace the bad.
This will reduce the rate at which glucuronic acid is separated from toxins, and therefore help you excrete all the toxins your liver processes. Including estrogen.
Estrogen dominance: probiotics for increasing gut motility
Another powerful effect probiotics can have on estrogen dominance is by speeding up the rate of your bowels.
An unfortunately high percentage of women are constipated. An even higher percentage aren’t necessarily constipated per se, but do not have regular bowels movements – at least once a day.
This is okay, it’s not necessarily a bad thing for your health. But it does mean that you may be reabsorbing more toxins into your bloodstream than you would like.
The slower your digestion is, the more time toxins have to hang out in your intestines and get reabsorbed.
The speedier your digestion is (or, at least, having a health rate of digestion), the more efficiently your body will be able to empty out excess estrogen and other molecules your body doesn’t want hanging around.
The reason probiotics can help with this is that gut flora actually comprise a whopping 30% of the bulk of your stool. The more bulk you have – and of the healthy sort – the better your stool will move along. Gut flora also help process the foodstuff in your gut, which makes that more digestible and easily excretable as well.
Estrogen dominance: probiotics for reducing inflammation
Probiotics are now well known to help reduce inflammation in the body in a number of ways.
This has a number of positive downstream effects. One of them is on hormone production.
When the body is inflamed, it doesn’t necessarily produce hormones in the correct amounts. In fact, the body will often over-produce estrogen in times of stress, as it is a part of the pro-inflammatory response. This is important to note: reducing inflammation can help reduce excess estrogen levels, and reducing excess estrogen levels can help reduce inflammation. Estrogen is complex.
But it is clear that excess inflammation is harmful, and that estrogen can play a role in it.
So marshalling all your resources – including a healthy gut biome – in fighting inflammation can go a long way towards hormone health.
Estrogen dominance: the probiotic solution
Estrogen dominance can be helped by a number of things. I discuss many of them in this post: The Estrogen Dominance Post: Where It’s Coming from and What to Do About It.
Yet perhaps one of the best (and easiest) things you can do is make sure your gut is in good order.
My favorite broad spectrum probiotic – Prescript Assist – could possibly go a long a way.
I however personally prefer to do it the “natural” way – that is, with food. I keep my fridge stocked with Kimchi and Coconut Yogurt always.
Other good alternatives include Organic Raw Kombucha, Fermented Natto beans, Raw Organic Sauerkraut, Kefir, and Pickled Baby Beets.
And please, as ever, let me know if you have any questions, comments, or experiences to share! We all grow best when we learn from one another 🙂
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Hey Stefi Hey!
I’m a regular when it comes to reading your material and would highly recommend your book Sexy by Nature, even though I have to admit that I need to read it again to fully understand the opposite sex. Practice makes perfect.
Alright, enough with the asskissing and now to my question.
My question is, is it healthy for a woman to have a lot of estrogen in her body as long as it’s a healthy ratio compared to progesterone or is it just bad to have plenty of estrogen in a woman? Basically, what matters here? Is it the amount or the ratio?
the medical community is unfortunately undecided on this! And I don’t consider myself enough of an expert on the literature to come down on either side. I think I would say that so long as the hormone production is 100% natural and from one’s own body, and so long as the body’s detox processes are working properly, having higher than average estrogen levels is okay. However, if you suffer from symptoms of estrogen dominance, have been on the pill, are on the pill, eat a lot of phytoestrogens, suffer from other health conditions and especially inflammation, leaky gut, or autoimmune diseases, then I would investigate the high estrogen and see if there is some underlying cause that could use support. High estrogen levels – at least from pharmaceuticals – have been linked to increased rates of female cancers. So it’s important to know your body and your genetics well, in this case
For over 3 years now I’ve been going through the menopause.
Initially, I chose to go down the route of being prescribed medication (natural only) to treat this condition. But after a year I decided instead to go down the route of changing my diet and lifestyle. I now choose a Paleo style diet and lifestyle. This is because I still include some forms of dairy in my diet.
I’ve found that it really has helped me. What I love about your article is the choice of foods you include. I was already including Kefir in my diet as I found it especially effective at treating my digestive problems. However, I never considered Kimchi before and have only recently started eating it. I’m very lucky that I have a great Korean restaurant close to where I live that makes it from scratch.
I have tried prescript assist in the past and it made my acne worst. When I just stick to probiotic foods I don’t think I see an increase in my acne. Why would I brake out more when taking probiotics in a pill form?
It could possibly cause an imbalance in your gut flora and therefore cause short term inflammation. OR it could help your body increase its rate of detox (by moving stool more quickly through your bowels) which could disturb your present hormone levels. OR it could help boost hormone production which could end up making acne WORSE if it happens to be the case that your hormone levels are imbalanced. Or possibly something else. Hypothetically unfortunately there are a lot of options, and it would require knowing your body and conducting some self experiments to figure out which it could be. Hopefully this helps a bit <3
I started taking a probiotic about 3 months ago and haven’t had my period since. Could this be why? I went to the Dr. and waiting on test results. Got only blood work back and now she calls and wants me tested for hvp. I’m 43 so I thought maybe it was early menopause. Anyhow can a probiotic completely stop your period and if so is this good or bad? Thanks
Hi Melissa! Probiotics COULD change your hormone levels, though it’s pretty rare. Is there anything stopping you from taking a break from the probiotics to see if it helps?
I started taking a prebiotic/probiotic mix daily and noticed 1) that I became much more constipated and bloated than I was beforehand; 2) it affected my hormones (I am menopausal and on bio-identical hormones and it caused uterine bleeding for a few days); and 3) it caused me to crave sweets much more than beforehand.
I went off the mix in the past 3-4 weeks and have noticed 1) I am much LESS constipated now and my bowel habits are more regular; 2) I have had a near non-stop (estrogen-withdrawal) migraine more days than not; and 3) I’m craving sweets less, but craving other carbs a little more.
For me, it seems that the prebiotics/probiotics 1) decrease the regularity of my bowels; 2) increase my estrogen levels; and 3) affect other hormones such that I crave different foods.
I am tired of the migraines, so I’m going back on the prebiotics/probiotics, but I am not looking forward to the bowel effects.
Overall, I’m not convinced about the prebiotics/probiotics *decreasing* estrogens. I’m a physician and I’ve certainly done my share of reading on the link of hormones with migraines, but I can’t find a lot of peer-reviewed scientific literature about the link between prebiotics/probiotics and hormones or migraines. I hope that in the next 10 years, a lot more research is conducted in this area.
Yes, I agree with you that the science on it is currently very limited and complicated. Thank you for sharing about your experience <3
Hello, Do you still use and recommend Prescript Assist? Chris Kresser and a few other alternative health practitioners who used to recommend it have stopped because they say they were informed by its distributor, Eoviromedica, that they were dropping it because the manufacturer changed the formulation pretty drastically. Have you found this to be the case? And, if you use another probiotic now that seems to help with hormone balance, could you please let us know what it is? Thanks very much!
Thank you for this reminder to update! I have of late been recommending BioKult. 🙂