Estrogen Dominance


Estrogen is a hormone that is essential for normal reproductive function in both men and women. However, when levels of estrogen become imbalanced, it can lead to a condition known as estrogen dominance. This is when the levels of estrogen in the body are too high relative to other hormones, such as progesterone. This can occur due to a variety of factors, including diet, lifestyle, and environmental toxin exposures. When estrogen dominance occurs, it can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones in the body, leading to a range of health issues.

Symptoms of estrogen dominance include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Heavy or painful periods
  • PMS symptoms, such as mood swings and bloating
  • Infertility
  • Fibroids and endometriosis
  • Breast tenderness or swelling
  • Weight gain, particularly in the hips and thighs
  • Fatigue and brain fog
  • Mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety
  • Increased risk of certain cancers, such as breast and uterine cancer.

When hormone levels are imbalanced, it can affect nearly every system in the body, from the reproductive system to the immune system. Estrogen dominance has been linked to a range of health issues, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and autoimmune disorders. By identifying the underlying causes of estrogen dominance and addressing them through lifestyle changes, supplements, and medications, it is possible to restore hormonal balance and promote optimal health.

Understanding Estrogen

Estrogen is a group of hormones that play a vital role in many aspects of human physiology, from reproductive function to bone health. Let’s explore the different types of estrogen, their functions in the body, and how they are regulated.

The three main types of estrogen are estradiol, estrone, and estriol. Estradiol is the most potent form of estrogen and is primarily produced in the ovaries. Estrone is produced in the adrenal glands and fat cells, while estriol is produced during pregnancy in the placenta.

Estrogen plays a crucial role in the reproductive system, regulating the menstrual cycle and preparing the uterus for pregnancy. Estrogen also plays a role in bone health, helping to maintain bone density and prevent osteoporosis. In addition, estrogen affects many other systems in the body, including the cardiovascular system, the brain, and the immune system.

Estrogen levels are regulated by a complex interplay of hormones, including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and progesterone. FSH and LH are produced by the pituitary gland and regulate the production of estrogen in the ovaries. Progesterone, which is produced in the ovaries and the adrenal glands, works in opposition to estrogen to maintain hormonal balance.

Hormonal Imbalance and Health

In a healthy menstrual cycle, estrogen levels rise during the first half of the cycle, triggering the growth and development of the uterine lining. In the second half of the cycle, progesterone levels rise, preparing the uterus for pregnancy. Estrogen dominance occurs when there is an excess of estrogen relative to progesterone, while progesterone deficiency occurs when there is not enough progesterone to balance out estrogen levels.


Estrogen plays a crucial role in the menstrual cycle and the ability to conceive. When estrogen levels become imbalanced, it can lead to irregular menstrual cycles, anovulation, and infertility. In addition, estrogen dominance has been linked to conditions such as endometriosis and fibroids, which can further impact fertility.


Estrogen has an impact on neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, which play a role in mood regulation. When estrogen levels become imbalanced, it can lead to mood swings, irritability, and depression. Women who experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) may also experience mood changes due to fluctuations in estrogen levels.

Chronic disease risk

Estrogen dominance has been linked to an increased risk of several chronic diseases. For example, high levels of estrogen have been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, while low levels of estrogen have been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

In addition to these health concerns, estrogen dominance can also cause physical symptoms such as breast tenderness, bloating, and weight gain.

Causes and Risk Factors


An unhealthy diet can contribute to estrogen dominance in several ways. Estrogen is metabolized and eliminated from the body through detoxification, which occurs mainly in the liver. Certain dietary factors can interfere with this process and lead to an accumulation of estrogen in the body. One of the main culprits is a diet high in processed foods, especially those containing refined carbohydrates and added sugars. These types of foods can lead to insulin resistance, which in turn can disrupt the balance of sex hormones in the body.

The consumption of meat and dairy products from animals treated with growth hormones has been linked to estrogen dominance. These growth hormones can enter the human body through the food chain and disrupt the natural balance of hormones. Additionally, the use of certain pesticides and herbicides in food production has been linked to estrogenic effects.

A diet high in processed foods and low in fiber can promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut, leading to a condition called dysbiosis. Dysbiosis can interfere with proper elimination of estrogen from the body, leading to an accumulation of the hormone.


Lifestyle factors, such as stress and lack of exercise, can also contribute to estrogen dominance.

Chronic stress can lead to estrogen dominance through the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the subsequent production of cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol is synthesized from the same precursor hormone as sex hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. When the body is under stress, cortisol production is prioritized over the production of sex hormones, which can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones in the body.

Lack of exercise can also be a contributing factors with estrogen dominance. Adipose tissue (fat cells) can produce and store estrogen, so higher body fat percentage can lead to increased estrogen levels. Exercise can also help regulate insulin and glucose levels, which can in turn affect estrogen levels.

Environmental toxins

Exposure to environmental toxins, such as pesticides, plastics, and heavy metals, can also contribute to estrogen dominance. They can disrupt hormone production and metabolism, leading to imbalances in estrogen levels.

  • Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs): These are chemicals that can interfere with the normal function of hormones in the body. Some common sources of EDCs include pesticides, plastics, and personal care products.
    • Parabens have been found to mimic estrogen in the body, which can lead to a condition known as estrogen dominance. This can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones in the body and lead to a variety of health problems, including an increased risk of breast cancer. Studies have found that parabens can be detected in breast tumors, raising concerns about a possible link between parabens and breast cancer.
    • Bisphenol A (BPA): Found in plastics and food packaging, BPA has been shown to have estrogenic activity and may contribute to hormonal imbalances.
    • Phthalates: These chemicals are found in a variety of personal care products and plastics. They have been linked to reproductive and developmental problems.
    • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs): These industrial chemicals have been linked to hormonal imbalances and may increase the risk of certain cancers.
    • Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS): These chemicals are used in a variety of industrial and consumer products and have been linked to hormonal imbalances and other health problems.
  • Heavy metals: Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium can accumulate in the body and disrupt hormonal balance.
  • Xenoestrogens: Xenoestrogens are synthetic compounds that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. They can be found in a variety of sources, including plastics, food additives, and industrial chemicals.
  • Hormone residues in food: Hormones such as estrogen can be used in the production of animal products such as meat and dairy. Consuming these products can contribute to estrogen dominance.

How to identify estrogen dominance

There are many options that you can discuss with your healthcare professional.

Laboratory tests

  • Serum estrogen levels: This test measures the levels of estradiol and estrone in the blood.
  • Urinary estrogen levels: This test measures the levels of estrogen metabolites in the urine, which can provide information about how the body is metabolizing estrogen.
  • Progesterone levels: This test measures the levels of progesterone in the blood, which can provide information about the balance between estrogen and progesterone.
  • Hormone panel: This test measures a range of hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA-S, to evaluate overall hormonal balance.

Holistic Treatment Approaches

Reducing Exposures

Reducing exposure to the above environmental toxins can be an important part of preventing estrogen dominance. Strategies for reducing exposure include using natural and organic cleaning products, drinking filtered water, choosing organic food products, and reducing exposure to plastics and synthetic chemicals. By reducing exposure to these toxins, it is possible to promote hormonal balance and reduce the risk of developing estrogen dominance.


Another approach is to make dietary changes, which involves eating a diet rich in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. It is important to also avoid processed foods, sugar, unhealthy fats, limit alcohol and caffeine intake.

  • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts contain compounds that support liver detoxification and promote healthy estrogen metabolism.
  • Flaxseeds and chia seeds are high in lignans, which help to block excess estrogen production.
  • Whole grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, and oats, contain fiber that helps to bind to and eliminate excess estrogen.
  • Berries such as raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are rich in antioxidants that help to reduce inflammation and promote healthy hormone balance.
  • Wild-caught salmon and other fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that help to reduce inflammation and support healthy hormone production.
  • Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds, are high in magnesium, which helps to support healthy hormone balance.
  • Turmeric and other anti-inflammatory spices can help to reduce inflammation and promote healthy hormone balance.


Supplements can be another option for addressing estrogen dominance.

  • Calcium D-glucarate: This supplement helps to detoxify excess estrogen from the body by promoting liver function.
  • DIM (Diindolylmethane): This supplement helps to convert harmful forms of estrogen into less harmful forms that can be easily eliminated from the body.
  • Probiotics: These supplements help to improve gut health, which can in turn help to regulate estrogen levels.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: These supplements have anti-inflammatory properties and can help to reduce the effects of estrogen dominance.
  • Magnesium: This mineral helps to support liver function, which is essential for detoxifying excess estrogen from the body.
  • N-acetyl cysteine (NAC): This supplement helps to increase glutathione levels in the body, which is important for detoxifying harmful substances, including excess estrogen.
  • B-complex vitamins: These vitamins are important for supporting liver function and detoxification, which can help to regulate estrogen levels.

Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine can be a powerful tool in the treatment of estrogen dominance. Many herbs have been shown to support healthy estrogen metabolism and balance, and can be used alone or in combination with other treatment approaches. Let’s review some of the most commonly used herbs for estrogen dominance.

Black cohosh

Black cohosh is a plant that has been traditionally used for women’s health, particularly for treating menopause-related symptoms. It is believed to work by binding to estrogen receptors in the body, which can help regulate estrogen levels. In cases of estrogen dominance, black cohosh may help reduce the effects of excess estrogen by competing for binding sites on the estrogen receptors.


Chasteberry, also known as Vitex agnus-castus, is a herb that has been traditionally used to support female reproductive health. It is believed to work by indirectly balancing hormones in the body, including estrogen and progesterone. Specifically, chasteberry has been shown to increase the production of luteinizing hormone (LH) and reduce the production of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This can lead to an increase in progesterone production and a decrease in estrogen levels, which can help to alleviate symptoms of estrogen dominance.

Dong quai

Dong Quai is an herb commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine to support women’s reproductive health. It contains compounds called phytoestrogens, which are plant-based compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. However, these compounds are weaker than the body’s natural estrogen and can help to balance hormonal levels in cases of estrogen dominance. Dong Quai has also been shown to support liver function, which can help to metabolize and excrete excess estrogen from the body.

Maca root

Maca root is an adaptogenic herb that is believed to balance hormones in the body, including estrogen levels. It is thought to work by supporting the endocrine system, which regulates hormone production and activity. Maca root contains compounds called macamides and macaenes, which are believed to stimulate the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, leading to the production of hormones that help to balance estrogen levels.

Red clover

Red clover is a natural herb that contains phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that can mimic the activity of estrogen in the body. These phytoestrogens, including isoflavones and lignans, can help to balance estrogen levels in the body by attaching to estrogen receptors and reducing the amount of estrogen circulating in the body.

These herbs can be taken in various forms, including teas, tinctures, and supplements.