PMS? Painful, heavy or long periods?
As women, we are often told that these symptoms are ‘normal’, or something we ‘just have to put up with’.
From a naturopathic viewpoint, these are valuable signs that something is out of balance, and in particular, that oestrogen levels are too high in comparison to the other hormones. Conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids and more seriously, breast and endometrial cancers have also been associated with high oestrogen levels. Often, it is not that your body is producing too much oestrogen, but that your body is not clearing oestrogen through the liver and gut as well as it should (which can be partly due to our 21st century diet and lifestyle habits). What can happen is that oestrogens that have been ‘packaged up’ ready for elimination via the gut can be re-absorbed and put back into your circulation, where they contribute to an overload and leads to the symptoms I’ve described.
If this sound like you, one of the most simple changes you can make in your life to help bring your hormones into balance is make sure you are eating plenty of vegetables from the cabbage family. These can include cabbages, broccoli, bok/pak choy and kale (providing you don’t have any problems with your thyroid). Vegetables from this family contain compounds that help your body process and eliminate oestrogen more effectively, and help prevent it being re-absorbed. These vegetables also contain fibre, which obviously helps the bowel move along more regularly (thereby helping to remove oestrogens), but that also helps to promote healthy gut bacteria (which contributes to overall hormonal balance).