Q: Dear Dr. Jen,
I am a 35 year old woman, and have been getting worsening PMS. My naturopathic doctor is treating me for estrogen dominance. Can you explain what this means? —J.S., Coquitlam
A: Although women need estrogen for numerous functions in the body, excess estrogen can lead to estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance can contribute to symptoms of PMS, breast tenderness, and uterine fibroids, and has also been implicated in estrogen-related cancers. It’s disconcerting to think that a natural hormone circulating through women’s bodies is a carcinogen, but The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recently added estrogen to its list of known cancer-causing agents.
Your naturopathic doctor has most likely suggested dietary changes and supplementation to encourage the proper metabolism of estrogen and prevent the production of carcinogenic compounds. One particularly influential type of food is the cruciferous vegetable family, including broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. They contain a naturally occurring compound called indole-3-carbinol (I-3-C) that can influence estrogen metabolism, the breakdown of “bad” estrogen, and the formation of the protective form of estrogen.
I-3-C can also be supplemented, which is usually an easier task than consuming pounds of these vegetables a day. Other supportive nutrients include calcium D-glucarate, green tea extract, and curcumin from turmeric root. As always, I encourage purchasing products that have been third-party tested for traces of pesticides, herbicides, and other contaminants, as these can act as xenoestrogens and disrupt your estrogen levels further.
Find more Q&A with Dr. Jen in The Good Life magazine.
Dr. Jennifer Dyck is a naturopathic doctor, health educator for Natural Factors, and public speaker with a passion for empowering her patients to achieve optimal health. Dr. Jen has special expertise in treating digestive complaints, hormone imbalances, and brain-related health conditions. She has a busy active practice at Brix Wellness Clinic in Kelowna, BC.