How to Achieve Female Hormone Balance

Dietary and herbal interventions for estrogen dominance and hormonal imbalances with Magdalena Wszelaki.

In today’s episode, I talk with Magdalena Wszelaki about female hormone balance, estrogen dominance, and how you can improve hormonal balance and symptoms with dietary and herbal therapies that target the liver and the gut.

How to Achieve Female Hormone Balance - Podcast296b MagdalenaWszelaki

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Hey everyone. Today I speak with Magdalena Wszelaki about the importance of female hormone balance. This is something that we’ve talked about before, but probably not enough. We discuss some of the symptoms of having too much or not enough estrogen, estrogen dominance, and estrogen insufficiency. We also touch on signs and symptoms, various therapeutics with an emphasis on dietary and herbal interventions for correcting these imbalances. There’s a couple of things here that are interesting that I want to give you here in summary. First the importance of liver health, ostensibly, to detoxify estrogen. One thing I want to remind the audience of, there have been a number of studies that have found that probiotics can improve non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. So there’s definitely this gut-liver connection that we should bear in mind. We do discuss the importance of gut health on female hormones. I want to refer you to and remind you of the Estro-Harmony and Progest-Harmony formulas that we have in our product line. Over the years, I’ve found that gut health is demonstrably effective in reducing the symptoms of female hormone imbalances, moodiness, mood lability, PMS, pelvic and breast pain, irregular cycles, hot flashes, and insomnia.

In some cases, in addition to gut health, a little push with some of these herbal preparations that help to balance estrogen and progesterone in a corrective fashion can have quite a remarkable impact. I say the corrective fashion bit advisedly because sometimes women think that they need testing in order to steer the use of herbals. These herbals tend to be adaptogenic. Meaning they help correct whether high or low; therefore, tasking doesn’t matter. Because of this, these are not going to function in a unidirectional function but in a corrective function or fashion. So it was an interesting conversation with Magdalena. If you’re suffering from some of those symptoms that I mentioned earlier, give this episode a listen. Also, if the podcast has been helpful for you, please share it with a friend, and leave us a review on iTunes. Okay, here we go.

➕ Full Podcast Transcript

Intro:

Welcome to Dr. Ruscio radio, providing practical and science-based solutions to feeling your best. To stay up to date on the latest topics as well as all of our prior episodes, make sure to subscribe in your podcast player. For weekly updates, visit DrRuscio.com. The following discussion is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Please do not apply any of this information without first speaking with your doctor. Now let’s head to the show.

DrMichaelRuscio:

Hey everyone. Today I speak with Magdalena Wszelaki about the importance of female hormone balance. This is something that we’ve talked about before, but probably not enough. We discuss some of the symptoms of having too much or not enough estrogen, estrogen dominance, and estrogen insufficiency. We also touch on signs and symptoms, various therapeutics with an emphasis on dietary and herbal interventions for correcting these imbalances. There’s a couple of things here that are interesting that I want to give you here in summary. First the importance of liver health, ostensibly, to detoxify estrogen. One thing I want to remind the audience of, there have been a number of studies that have found that probiotics can improve non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. So there’s definitely this gut-liver connection that we should bear in mind. We do discuss the importance of gut health on female hormones. I want to refer you to and remind you of the Estro-Harmony and Progest-Harmony formulas that we have in our product line. Over the years, I’ve found that gut health is demonstrably effective in reducing the symptoms of female hormone imbalances, moodiness, mood lability, PMS, pelvic and breast pain, irregular cycles, hot flashes, and insomnia.

DrMR:

In some cases, in addition to gut health, a little push with some of these herbal preparations that help to balance estrogen and progesterone in a corrective fashion can have quite a remarkable impact. I say the corrective fashion bit advisedly because sometimes women think that they need testing in order to steer the use of herbals. These herbals tend to be adaptogenic. Meaning they help correct whether high or low; therefore, tasking doesn’t matter. Because of this, these are not going to function in a unidirectional function but in a corrective function or fashion. So it was an interesting conversation with Magdalena. If you’re suffering from some of those symptoms that I mentioned earlier, give this episode a listen. Also, if the podcast has been helpful for you, please share it with a friend, and leave us a review on iTunes. Okay, here we go. Hey, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Dr. Ruscio radio. This is Dr. Ruscio. I am here with Magdalena Wszelaki. We are going to talk about estrogen dominance. This is something we’ve touched on a few times on the podcast in the past. It’s something I see relatively more of in the clinic. So I’m glad this is a topic that we’re resurfacing. Magdalena, I’m looking forward to going into detail on this issue with you today. Welcome to the show.

MagdalenaWszelaki:

Thank you so much. Estrogen dominance is definitely one of my obsessions and my life’s work.

DrMR:

Let’s give people some of your background. How did you find your way into making estrogen dominance your life’s work? What do you do to help increase awareness and rectify the problem of estrogen imbalances?

MW:

I was not a healthcare practitioner my whole life. I have been doing this for the past ten years. I got pushed into it because of my own health issues. Before that, I used to work in advertising as a strategic planner for a vibrant advertising agency. I have spent most of my adult life living in Asia, Southeast Asia, China, and Hong Kong. As exciting as that life was, it was also a life full of trouble. I worked very long hours and enjoyed a lot of drinks. I didn’t do drugs. I used to be a competitive athlete and say, “sleep is for the dead.” All of that manifested in Hashimoto’s disease.

MW:

I was diagnosed in 2008. I was lucky to be diagnosed so quickly. In addition to Hashimoto’s, I most certainly had a lot of symptoms of estrogen dominance. This was something that I only realized several years ago. I realized I probably had it since I was a teenager. It started off with terrible PMS, where I’d skip school on the first day of my period. This continued when I became an adult. I couldn’t go to work, and painkillers only took me so far. I’d have terrible mood swings, water retention in my legs and fingers. It was so bad I couldn’t take my rings off. My mood swings were so extreme my close relationships became compromised.

MW:

You feel so bad after having lashed out at someone. You realize later that it wasn’t so much your personality, but it was my hormones going crazy. I also had lumpy breasts. I think for any woman who finds a lump on her breast, it’s one of the scariest moments of our lives. The first thing you do is you ask Dr. Google, and then you conclude that you probably have two months to live. Even if you stay positive, it’s an issue of how do you get diagnosed properly? There’s a lot of different opinions on that. The looming fear is breast cancer and asking yourself, what do I do with that?

MW:

For me, it’s been a combination of things. What I realize today is that I certainly have certain genetic predispositions to be a slow estrogen metabolizer. I hope we get to talk a little bit more about that. Being labeled estrogen dominant almost vilifies estrogen. We shouldn’t be doing that. As women, we do need good amounts of estrogen in order to function properly and to be a woman. How we clear estrogen from the body is an important factor. Personally, I am genetically predisposed. On both sides of my family, there are deaths from estrogenic cancer, uterine, ovarian, and breast cancer.

MW:

I certainly inherited both. As you know, and you talk about, genetics is not a destination. There are so many things you can do to influence gene expression. I think that’s really what led me to so much of my work. I got to this point and realized I have to take care of myself. More than a person who doesn’t have those genes. What a journey it’s been. It’s wonderful work that’s come out of it, and I think it is also very underserved for women..

DrMR:

Those are great points. A few things I want to follow up on regarding thyroid and estrogen not being vilified. To make sure we give some of your background to where we are now. Essentially you had your own issues health-wise, and you started investigating them. Now you’ve started an online community dedicated to helping educate and provide women with resources. These resources are intended to help them feel more empowered, more educated and address this with their healthcare provider. Is that an accurate summation?

MW:

That is absolutely correct. As a result of all of this, I became a nutritionist. I’m also a certified herbalist and a published cookbook author. I steer women to good health, especially when it comes to estrogen dominance, predominately through nutrition, herbs, and supplements. When needed, we look at prescription bioidentical hormones, which are outside of my zone.

DrMR:

Coming back to your point about thyroid, we’ve published a few case studies where some women will be force-fed thyroid medication. In some cases, we’re talking years, and they don’t feel any better. It even seems to exacerbate things like insomnia, anxiety, or fatigue. This might be repetitive for the audience, but it’s really worth repeating in case we can save one person from this road. When they come into our office, we’ll try to affirm their diagnosis. In some cases, we’ll find that they were never truly hypothyroid. They’ll come off thyroid hormone medication. We’ll use some herbal female hormone support, and it can be miraculous the amount of symptomatic change that will occur. Generally, it’s only a couple of months, and we can get that right. So I do think it’s important for women, especially to understand that there can be female hormone imbalances that manifest as a host of symptoms. These may look like thyroid symptoms, but it’s important not to jump on the thyroid diagnosis too prematurely or without evidence. .

MW:

I agree with you. A good example is hair loss. Many times we assume hair loss is caused by low thyroid function, possibly even high thyroid function. Hashimoto’s is a great example, but it’s not the only cause. In fact, with estrogen dominance and high testosterone levels, you can have hair loss. Symptoms may show up in a different way, but it certainly can happen. Fatigue is another example. Fatigue is so complex. That’s why there are so many different remedies for that. If it’s hormonal, there are many different hormones that can play a role. So, yes, I completely agree.

DrMR:

You make a good point which I wanted to reiterate for our audience. To your point, excess estrogen can be bad, but it’s not always bad. Another head-scratcher for me in the clinic has been when someone is clearly exhibiting signs of estrogen insufficiency, hot flashes, and mood problems, and then they’re given progesterone. It makes me question why hasn’t their provider given them estrogen? Is it because they’ve been scared, or they’ve vilified, as you said, estrogen, without understanding this kind of nuance of really balanced, not necessarily it’s unilaterally bad.

MW:

Absolutely. That’s very true. Can we talk about the symptoms of estrogen dominance versus low estrogen? They are quite different. Although interestingly, a woman can be in menopause and have low estrogen while exhibiting symptoms of estrogen dominance. This is kind of ironic in some ways, but there is a reason behind it. Should we talk about symptoms?

DrMR:

Yes, let’s talk about that. I think symptoms are a fantastic clue that we can use to figure out what’s going on. It sounds like you want to kind of parse these by estrogen dominance versus estrogen insufficiency. Is that how you’re kind of labeling these?

MW:

Yes, as you said, symptoms can be very telling. One of the common questions I get asked is, do I need to get tested, and what kind of tests do I need to do to determine that? You can absolutely do that. I really like the DUTCH urine test. I encourage people to start out by tuning into their symptoms. Let me give you some examples of those. One of the very common ones is terrible PMS for a woman who is still menstruating. We have been conditioned our whole lives as women that having PMS or PMDD is normal. That is absolutely not true. It doesn’t have to be debilitating.

MW:

Obviously, we feel different because our hormones change throughout the cycle and during our period. I mean, they all literally come down to rock bottom. So it’s normal to be feeling a little bit more introverted, reflective, and wanting to be alone during times of our cycle. However, it doesn’t have to mean that a woman is in a fetal position on the floor with pain killers for three days. So PMS and PMDD that’s a big one. Fibrocystic breasts, painful breasts, lumpy breasts that occur on a frequent basis are very clear signs of estrogen dominance. Another is fibroids and how Western medicine deals with them. Because if you go and see a doctor and you’ve got a few fibroids, the solution is going to be either let’s wait and see or let’s remove your uterus.

MW:

Right. The problem with that is that you’re not addressing the root cause of what’s causing the growth of the fiber in the first place. So you remove the uterus, which has its own consequences. You’re probably going to be on hormones for the rest of your life. Suppose a woman wanted to get pregnant like that’s the end of that dream. I feel emphatical that this is not right. Estrogen dominance can manifest in a lot of other forms. For example, endometriosis, which is so common amongst younger women, especially in the late twenties and early thirties, It’s one of the most painful and debilitating conditions a young woman can have. I used to have a housemate many years ago who had endometriosis. I’ll never forget how much she suffered.

MW:

She induced menopause just to be able to deal with all of this. We had no idea what was causing her endometriosis. Certainly, not the way we do now. Interestingly it was thyroid nodules that so many people have due to estrogen dominance. Personally, I had three thyroid nodules. I started following protocols to resolve my estrogen dominance and my thyroid nodules disappeared. When I had a scan a year ago, the technical said, I’m not supposed to be commenting on your thyroid, but for someone who had Hashimoto’s and thyroid nodules before, you’ve got a beautiful tissue there. So again, very resolvable. One that’s quite fascinating depending on which hormonal imbalance a woman has, we store fat differently in the body.

MW:

So women who tend to be estrogenic tend to put on a lot more weight around their hips, thighs, and butt. So that’s a really interesting giveaway. This applies specifically to women who exercise a lot. They eat a healthy diet and exercise yet wonder why their butt gets bigger, or they notice more cellulite. They wonder where this is coming from, and the answer could be estrogen dominance. Women who have a lot of fat around their abdomen tend to be more insulin resistant, have pre-diabetes, diabetes, or a high testosterone level.

MW:

A majority of breast cancers in the United States are estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers. That means that it’s estrogen but not all estrogen which needs to be defined very clearly. It’s the dirty estrogens, the metabolites that are genetic in nature, that tend to fuel the growth of those cancers. So breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, as well as thyroid cancer, interestingly, are fueled by estrogen. Lung cancer, even in non-smokers, especially women, can be caused by estrogen dominance. So as you can see, this is a pretty broad line of symptoms. Who do you know, in your circle of women who haven’t had it at one point in her life, right?

DrMR:

Yes, that’s totally fair. How are you distinguishing the insufficiency symptoms?

MW:

So insufficiency is going to occur when your estrogen levels come down. You’ll see that in women who enter perimenopause and menopause. Declining cognitive function is a big indicator. The proverbial walk into a room and asking, why did I walk in here. Or where did I put my glasses? A lot of forgetfulness, saying I’m not as sharp as I was in the past. Also, mood swings and potential depression. When it comes to our bones, suddenly developing osteopenia or osteoporosis. Those are some symptoms of potentially low estrogen. Estrogen also plays a big role in cardiovascular health. Those are some of the symptoms to watch for that could signal low estrogen could be the issue.

MW:

Women who can’t get pregnant may have low estrogen. I have a hormone quiz on my website. Sometimes I’ll get an email that says your quiz sucks. Women would take the quiz and say they were in perimenopause or going into menopause. They would also identify that they had estrogen dominance. They’d be confused saying that doesn’t make any sense. And so you can still have some of the symptoms that I mentioned earlier of estrogen dominance yet be low on estrogen.

MW:

This happens for two reasons. One is even though both estrogen and progesterone drop, as you enter that phase, you are still breaking down estrogens in a way that is not beneficial to you. Let me explain. Estrogen metabolism means that you’re breaking down the estrogen into what I call dirty and clean estrogen. Imagine a river that splits, and one side is clean estrogen, and the other is dirty estrogen. That’s exactly what happens with estrogen, except in our body, it splits to our liver and gut. That’s why gut health is so important in estrogen metabolism. This means it’s not about the amount of estrogen you have.

MW:

Even though you have low estrogen, you may be breaking estrogen down into too much dirty estrogen. The other possibility of estrogen dominance happening in the older population is the percentage of estrogen to progesterone. As we age, estrogen and progesterone both drop. Progesterone tends to drop much quicker. So when we go through perimenopause and menopause, the ratio of progesterone to estrogen is insufficient. Meaning there’s too little progesterone. That’s why a lot of women start feeling better. Not everybody, of course, but some women start feeling better right away when they take a little bit of progesterone. So that’s how estrogen dominance can manifest.

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DrMR:

A woman might be asking herself, how do I treat one of these versus the other? And I know there’s a host of various things from the diet all the way through even bioidentical HRT, but let’s start with estrogen dominance. What should women be considering to help address that?

MW:

You are basically taking care of two vital organs. This first is your liver which is responsible for the methylation of estrogen. It’s a bit of a detox, but really there are just so many things you can do to support your liver. Let me start with food. As I said, I grew up in Southeast Asia, then lived in Hong Kong and China and traveled to over 40 different countries. One of the interesting things you see when you travel is that there was always an element of a bitter in a meal and is there for a reason for that.

MW:

A lot of people do have a bitter before a meal, whether it’s digestive or alcoholic. I don’t encourage alcoholic too much. Especially in Western countries because we drink too much booze. Digestive bitters, bitter herbs, or bitter vegetables that are added to your diet engage your digestive juices. It promotes bile flow which stimulates your liver. So anything in herbalism, we always associate liver being stimulated, so incorporating a bitter vegetable or herbs can really tremendously help with liver support. You can also get this from taking magnesium. .

MW:

One of the basic protocols for women with fibrocystic breasts is taking magnesium until they have a good bowel movement and then backing off. Some women only need 300 milligrams, and others may need to go as high as 1800 to 2000 milligrams because they are so magnesium deficient. Supporting the liver is a big step. The second is getting your digestion going. I alluded to having a really good bowel movement. You know, one of the big things I see with women with estrogen dominance is women who are constipated.

MW:

A lot of what you don’t evacuate, these toxins re-enter the body through the mucosa. It goes back into the body and the bloodstream. We then absorb estrogen, basically creating our own estrogen dominance by recirculating it through the body. So women who are constipated will reabsorb toxins instead of being able to poop them out. Magnesium can be very helpful in keep regular bowel movements. One of the things that a lot of people don’t realize is that our microbiota contains a subset of bacteria that coat for enzymes that break down estrogens, and it’s called the estrobolome.

MW:

I’m so excited to see more research coming up in the future. To see what the estrobolome is and what kind of bacteria we can re-introduce to strengthen it and make it more efficient. But right now, there’s still very little research on that. What we do know is that women who have estrogen-positive breast cancer have very poor gut health and a very poor microbiota. This is broad strokes. This is another reason to follow your advice because I am sure that a healthy gut is going to help women with estrogen dominance as well.

DrMR:

I’ve seen that. And it’s something we discussed in the past. We don’t know the extent of what research is currently showing with the estrogen-mediated detoxification effects via the microbiome. Clearly, we see there’s a subset of women that co-present with digestive symptoms and female hormone imbalance symptoms. Supporting those two in tandem leads to nice results. I’ll typically start with, in many cases, just supporting their gut and giving them a couple of months, and observing how the female hormone symptoms track. Then if they’re not making headway, there just a little push with some herbs, and they’ll do fantastic. So yeah, that’s definitely something clinically I see quite a bit of.

MW:

When I was working on my book, that’s coming out now, “Overcoming Estrogen Dominance,” that was one of my big aha moments. I was looking at the research that was showing women with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer had a poorer variety of bacteria. So that’s definitely something to look into. My approach with food and nutrition starts off with really basic stuff like elimination diets. We need to get rid of inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and eggs. Corn and eggs aren’t necessarily bad if you can tolerate them, but you wouldn’t know until you cut them out.

MW:

I recommend a proper elimination diet for two to four weeks to reset the gut. I’m sure you see in your practice when people do an elimination diet how many symptoms disappear. Not just related to hormones either but things that have been lingering on for years and years suddenly disappear. Like the little itch behind the ear and all sorts of little pains, they’ve had for 20 years. They didn’t even realize those weren’t okay. I just love the elimination diet because it’s such a wonderful starting point.

MW:

I get people who just want to focus on separate supplements or even herbs. What they don’t realize is that correcting your diet provides the best results and benefits. Trying an anti-inflammatory diet and also removing foods that don’t serve you well is a great place to start. If your intuition is telling you that two glasses of wine every night before going to sleep is really not serving you well, is disturbing your sleep, and you don’t feel as sharp the following morning, then cut out those things plus those ones that I mentioned. That’s how you set yourself up for success. Any supplements and herbs you take will have a much better and quicker result when you change your diet.

DrMR:

I so appreciate that perspective. What about iodine? Is iodine something that you’re recommending for women? I mean, maybe not a foundational item. I guess it is one supplement that we want to be careful not to use too early. What are your thoughts on iodine?

MW:

Yeah, that’s a really important question. I’m very careful with iodine. A big part of our community has Hashimoto’s with very high antibodies. I think there’s enough research that shows that you’re going to be really, really careful with supplementing with iodine when you have Hashimoto’s high antibodies. For estrogen dominance, iodine is marvelous. I have seen women who use iodine topically and internally that have had really great results. They’ve been able to mitigate things like lumpy breasts. Suddenly really regaining their mental sharpness and just feeling really, really perked up by it. But again, with a lot of caution and I really suggest working with a practitioner who is really respectful of testing. It’s important to rule out Hashimoto’s disease before doing iodine because I’ve seen people flip out the other side and not be able to get out of bed for months after doing iodine supplementation with Hashimoto’s. Do you see that too?

DrMR:

I wouldn’t think that iodine, even if it was a high dose would, would cause months of debilitating dysfunction. I’m fairly inclined to think that there’s something else there, and the iodine is just an easy culprit. Clearly, to your point, too much iodine is a problem. I do have some major concerns about some facets of thyroidville, where people present iodine as a solution to every problem. In some cases, they use whopping doses. So yes, there we are very careful. Like you said before, it’s like vilifying estrogen. The same thing seems to apply with iodine. Wherein a reasonable dose, it doesn’t seem to propagate Hashimoto’s and has been used in fibrocystic breasts really quite successfully. To your point and for the audience, make sure that you’re not working with an iodine zealot. If someone’s having you do multiple milligrams, not microgram, milligram doses, that’s when you tend to really run into some dicey territory. So yeah, there’s definitely this Goldilocks sweet spot with iodine. Now, what about insufficiency? Is this something where you like recommending herbs? Of course, we’re going to want the diet and lifestyle foundation. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that, but then is this where you’re finding the estrogen-supportive herbs have more of a place?

MW:

Yes, I do. I do think it is combined with diet. Diet is so multifaceted when it comes to low estrogen. It can present itself in different ways. One woman with osteopenia is a separate kind of treatment or a protocol. It would need to be addressed with a little bit more correcting mineral deficiencies. Not just calcium, either. I get this question a lot. How much calcium should I be taking when I have osteoporosis? They really need to be taking calcium together with Vitamin D3, K2, magnesium, boron, phosphorus, etc. Making sure there’s a comprehensive plan and addressing hormone health.

MW:

Bone health is estrogen and progesterone combined, especially estrogen, which is the bone builder. So, correcting that might be required. But let me give you an example. A lot of women suffer from hot flashes and night sweats as they go through perimenopause and menopause. Dong Quai is the go-to herb when it comes to hot flashes. Almost every herbalist will tell you that, and it can work. It can work for two weeks, for two months, maybe for six months, and then suddenly stops working. That can happen a lot of the time because hot flashes happen because of dropping estrogen levels.

MW:

However, it comes together Dong Quai doesn’t regulate your blood sugar levels. Let me give you an example of a woman I used to work with. She was an emergency physician. It was in New York City, and you know how crazy New York is in emergency rooms. She would get up at seven o’clock in the morning, have breakfast at 7:30 am, and be off to the hospital. By 11 o’clock on the dot, she’d get a hot flash from hell. She couldn’t focus on what she was doing. As an emergency physician, obviously, you can’t do that.

MW:

So what happened was she called me saying, I’m so embarrassed. I’m a doctor. I should know the answers to this and not be calling a nutritionist for help. I said if I break my leg, I’m going to come to you. Right? You don’t have to know much about food if you’ve never learned about food. So we started looking at her breakfast, and it was interesting. She had your traditional American breakfast of cereal, banana, and almond milk. She thought she was doing great because she wasn’t doing dairy in the morning. She was doing almond milk. Then when we calculated the amount of sugar that she was consuming, first thing in the morning, it was really high. It was 25-30 grams.

MW:

So that could be 5-7 teaspoons of sugar right away in the morning. In the morning, you’re really vulnerable to that. Also, she had no protein of any kind in that meal. So one of the first things that we did was changed her breakfast. And so, you know, in my books, I always refer to a PFF breakfast, protein, fat, and fiber. A very rich breakfast. If you look at breakfast from around the world, the whole world eats a very savory breakfast. Breakfast is only sweet in Western countries, especially in the United States, where we eat desserts for breakfast. That change itself just to help her balance; her blood sugar levels completely took her hot flashes away. She used to use supplements 15 minutes before having a hot flash, saying that helped her. I told her she shouldn’t need to do that in the first place.

MW:

That’s one of the things that we see with our communities. When you fix your blood sugar levels, change your breakfast, and are mindful of how much sugar you consume, everyday results are pretty miraculous. We see great improvement in menopausal symptoms especially hot flashes and night sweats. One cool thing I’ll mention about food is that there was one food that contains estrogen. Phytoestrogen is a naturally occurring estrogen that can do a lot to correct symptoms of low estrogen. Flaxseed contains the highest amount of phytoestrogen that we know of. Phytoestrogen is a little controversial, depending on how you’re getting it, where you’re getting it, what form you’re getting it in. I try to steer clear of forms like soy, and I much prefer to work with flaxseed. Having two tablespoons of flaxseed a day for 25 days in a row followed by five days off can boost estrogen levels.

DrMR:

Love it. Doesn’t flaxseed also have some benefits for skin, hair, and nail health? I might be wrong there, but I thought I remember reading some papers about that.

MW:

You’re absolutely right, apart from the fact that it contains phytoestrogen. Flaxseed has soluble and insoluble fiber. So the soluble fiber is really great for your gut bacteria to thrive on. The insoluble fiber is like a broom that sweeps through your colon. That helps you to go to the bathroom. So that’s actually a really great bowel mover. As little as two teaspoons are highly anti-inflammatory because of the oils that you’re talking about. I forget what the oil name is. I’ll have to look.

DrMR:

GLA, maybe is there a GLA in flax?

MW:

I have a whole article about that. If you allow me to pull it out, I can do that.

RuscioResources:

Hi everyone. This is Dr. Ruscio. In case you need help, I wanted to quickly make you aware of what resources are available to you. If you go to drruscio.com/Resources, you will see a few links you can click through for more. Firstly, there is the clinic, which I’m immensely proud of. The fact that we deliver, cost-effective, simple, but highly efficacious, functional medicine. There’s also my book, Healthy Gut, Healthy You, which has been proven to allow those who’ve been unable to improve their health, even after seeing numerous doctors, to be able to help them finally feel better. There’s also our store where there’s a number of products like our Elemental Heal line, our probiotic line, and other gut supportive and health-supportive supplements. We now offer health coaching. So if you’ve read the book or listened to a podcast like this one, or are reading about a product and you need some help with how or when to use, or how to integrate with diet, we now offer health coaching to help you along your way. And then finally, if you are a clinician, there is our clinicians’ newsletter, the Future of Functional Medicine Review. I’m very proud to say, we’ve now had doctors who’ve read that newsletter, find challenging cases in their practices, apply what we teach in the newsletter and be able to help these patients who were otherwise considered challenging cases. Everything for these resources can be accessed through drruscio.com/Resources. Alrighty, back to the show.

MW:

One thing I will mention about flaxseed, I don’t want to make it like this is the solution for everybody. It’s really interesting that when it comes to flaxseed, approximately one out of twenty women will email us that flaxseed didn’t work for them. Some women experience worse symptoms when they take flaxseed which shouldn’t be the case. It’s really what we discussed at the beginning. Flaxseed is a clean estrogen, not a dirty estrogen. So I was really fascinated when we started to get these emails. I spent a lot of time researching this, and there’s still limited research as to why this is happening. What I have discovered is that women with poor microbiota, with a bad variety of gut bacteria, tend to breakdown flaxseed in a way that isn’t beneficial.

MW:

That’s what can be causing worse estrogen dominance. Again that’s approximately one out of twenty. It’s a very inexpensive solution to try for a couple of weeks. If it helps, that’s wonderful, and you can keep going. If it doesn’t, then you stop.

DrMR:

Also, for women, as we’ve discussed on the podcast, When it comes to diet and supplements, listen to your body and be okay with that. You may have a somewhat idiosyncratic reaction. Just because there’s a bunch of people doing well on it and an article on how healthy it is, that doesn’t mean you should force it on yourself. Sometimes there will just be a coincidental flare or flicker of a symptom that doesn’t necessarily correlate with a supplement or a dietary change. Take some time away and run the experiment one or two more times to firm it up. But then, if you’re confident in that observation, then just listen to your body and honor that we all react slightly differently to many of these things.

MW:

Circling back to what we were discussing because I know you’re a nerd too. So I know you want to know this, so flaxseed contains the highest amounts of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). ALA is highly anti-inflammatory. That’s part of the reason why people start feeling really wonderful overall. They tend to have a lot less pain in their joints, which is awesome.

DrMR:

We know we’ve given people or women specifically a lot of great starting points here. If they’re looking to learn more, I know you have a book coming. Tell them about where they can find more about you or about your book so that if they’re in need of help, they know where to go.

MW:

Yeah. So the name of the book is “Overcoming Estrogen Dominance,” and it’s available on Amazon right now. You can also get it through my website hormonesbalance.com. I wrote the book in three parts. The first part is about setting the foundation. So we talked about gut health and liver health. You’re setting yourself up for a great start while balancing blood sugar levels. So that’s really the foundation. Then we go into specific protocols like overcoming fibroids. I work with everything from castor oil packs, essential oils, specifically targeted supplements, and herbs. I try to address a number of the peripheral things that can really help fibroids too. We have twenty-one protocols for the various symptoms of estrogen dominance. Some of these include fibrocystic breasts, lumpy breasts, thyroid nodules, and endometriosis. It’s a pretty comprehensive book that includes recipes. We have sixty recipes and two-week meal plans that are very simple to follow. We created them with ingredients everyone can find in their local supermarket.

DrMR:

Awesome. I love it. Women, if you’re in need, I will second the importance of this. We have, like I said earlier, discussed this on the podcast a few times. Relative to how often I see this in the clinic, we don’t discuss it here on the podcast enough. So I’m happy that we had a chance to talk and give people this great perspective. Diet and lifestyle first, but also how to use certain herbs and other interventions to really get hormones under control. To your point earlier, I’ve been on the receiving side of the hormone rage that can inflict women, and it’s not nice to be on the receiving end of that. So the more women we can help get their emotions under control through hormone balancing, I think will be a win-win for everybody.

MW:

I want to thank you for opening up your platform on this topic. I’m super passionate about it. As I said earlier, it’s a very underserved condition. Western medicine normalized hormone imbalance. I really want to debunk that because of my personal experience. Also, we’ve had thousands of women who followed our protocols with great success. I want to thank you so much for doing this for women.

DrMR:

Yeah, for sure. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you again.

Outro:

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