Low Estrogen – Supplementing Good Nutritional Choices

The past couple of weeks we’ve talked about what estrogen is and what it does, what happens when it gets too low and what you can eat to raise your estrogen levels. So what do you do if diet alone is not working? If your levels are not extremely low, there are numerous supplements that help. Everyone is different and sometimes it takes a combination of two or three things before you find the combination that works best. It can also take time with natural supplements so you need to be patient.

Vitamin E at a dose between 200-400 IU per day is the oldest remedy for reducing hot flashes, vaginal dryness and mood swings. It helps increase blood supply to vaginal wall and improve menopausal symptoms. You’ll need to use it for at least 4 weeks to experience the effect.

Magnesium has been shown to reduce hot flashes, fatigue and distress, which are all common low estrogen symptoms. Magnesium also helps improve sleep quality, reduces restless legs, improves heart health to name just a few. Taking too much magnesium can cause loose stools and only take it at night since it is a relaxant. My preferred form of magnesium is Bisglycinate. It is currently the most absorbable form of magnesium and the form that I use.

Maca has been shown to increase estradiol in menopausal women and helps with insomnia, depression, memory, concentration, energy, hot flashes and vaginal dryness as well as improved body mass index and bone density. Maca has also been shown to improve libido and to lower anxiety and depression, all of which are symptoms of low estrogen.

Black cohosh has been used often over the past 30 years and is one of the most frequently studied herbal alternatives to hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms. Black cohosh appears to be most effective for hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, sleep disorders and body aches. In a study comparing black cohosh and conjugated estrogens (Premarin which is the synthetic estrogen replacement), both produced beneficial effects on bone metabolism but black cohosh extract had no effect on endometrial thickness, which is associated with higher rate of uterine cancer. Black cohosh contains substances with selective estrogen-receptor-modifying activity and shows positive effects in the brain/ hypothalamus, bone and vagina but no cancer-causing effects on the uterus.

Red ginseng has been shown to reduce hot flashes as well as lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein. Panax ginseng is known to improve mood and general well being in postmenopausal women.

Fish Oil has been shown to reduce hot flashes and moderate to severe psychological distress such an anxiety and depression. Fish oil is also beneficial to brain health, hormone balancing and the immune system.

Maca’s therapeutic actions seem to rely on plant sterols stimulating the hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal glands and ovaries and therefore also affecting the thyroid and pineal gland. In one double-blind, randomized, four month study of post-menopausal women, estrogen production increased and FSH and cortisol decreased. Maca also had a small effect on increasing bone density and alleviated numerous menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia, depression, nervousness and diminished concentration. In another double-blind trial using powdered maca, measurements of estradiol, FSH, LH and sex-hormone-binding globulin levels did not change but there were significant reductions in anxiety, depression and sexual dysfunction.

If the above does not work (and it generally takes some time to see results), as an absolute last resort, you have the option of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. I recommend going to a naturopath for the
bio-identicals and have it filled at a compounding pharmacy rather than a retail pharmacy as they can fine-tune the ingredients to better fit your needs. Please keep in mind that there are risks with any type of hormone replacement therapy, especially involving estrogen, and should be used only as a last resort.

If you’re unsure where to start and need some guidance, please email me here.

Until next week, wishing you all the best for a fabulous week!

Sandy O’Shea

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