Women and the #Autoimmune Time-bomb.Last nights free presentation with the Natural Body Cafe on female hormones and the link between oestrogen and Autoimmune conditions hopefully provided some clues and answers to finding health and happiness (and weight loss) and loosing those mood swings! But there is so much more to hormones than we could possibly imagine…….. Upon discovering that 78% of Autoimmune conditions effect women, I wanted to know what the connection was. I had also noticed that more and more women who spoke about their health issues were suffering with what is know as Autoimmunity, but why?
The simple answer is of course hormones, specifically Oestrogen.
HypothyroidismHypothyroidism was of particular interest to me because I knew that I was suffering with it, but could not get the positive blood-work. I had used bio-resonance and over the years it had often indicated hormonal issues specifically hypothyroidism. Due to other autoimmune conditions I had been diagnosed with I suspected Hashimotos, but struggled to prove otherwise using standard diagnostic tests with the NHS. The standard testing system is notoriously inadequate and according to Dr Gary Pepper:
‘levels of thyroid hormone in the blood do not always reflect the amount of thyroid hormone within the cells where the hormone exerts its effects’and according to many researchers its leaving a large population of women un-diagnosed . In an article published by The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers concluded that:
‘A large proportion of the European population unknowingly has laboratory evidence of thyroid dysfunction’Un-diagnosed hypothyroidism can lead to much more complicated health problems and a lot of unnecessary suffering, my heart goes out to all those women suffering in silence, confused about why they are feeling so bad! Unfortunately I learned that I was unwittingly doing many things to exacerbate my thyroid problems. My diet was the first thing to look at, but due to such complex health issues, I despaired to shift yet AGAIN my dietary habits to another type of diet. What I also learned was that the form of (aerobic) exercise that I had focused on was not necessarily the best or me, adding to further adrenal exhaustion.
AutoimmunityThe link between Autoimmune diseases and women fascinated me and I wanted to delve further down this rabbit hole, as it became more and more apparent to me that Autoimmunity was becoming out of control whilst doctors proclaimed to know very little and could offer minimum support; I could see a medical time-bomb going off for a large part of our society.
FibroidsI have been harbouring large fibroid tumours for a number of years, and despite doctors telling me that they were a mystery and nothing could be done other than a hysterectomy, it began to emerge that they may be due to a serious imbalance with my hormones. A very recent and comprehensive article in the Journal of Tumor Research, sheds some light on several contributors that are influencing the growth of fibroid tumours, but despite being published in 2017, still cannot pinpoint the exact mechanism of action involved in the growth of fibroid tumours:
‘The available evidence continues to reinforce the importance of progesterone in the development of fibroids (suggesting that estrogens are required, but not sufficient, to stimulate fibroid proliferation).’Prescribed a Selective Progesterone Uptake Inhibitor (SPUI) to shrink them prior to surgery, it was apparent that there as a connection with hormonal imbalance, but it is indeed complicated; could my Oestrogen Dominance be largely caused by the fibroids stealing my progesterone, and as a consequence of progesterone decline, Oestrogen spikes?
Autoimmunity and Oestrogen Dominance.
Presentation at the Natural Body Cafe.Here I have published my presentation notes to try and break down the simple facts about Autoimmunity and its relationship with our hormones:
‘An endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC), according to the widely recognised WHO definition (WHO-IPCS) of 2002, is “an exogenous substance or mixture that alters function(s) of the endocrine system and consequently causes adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, or (sub)populations”.’Oestrogen dominance is an endocrine imbalance that occurs when oestrogen levels are too high and progesterone levels are too low.
When stress, inflammation, or immune dis-regulation is high, your body will preferentially make cortisol to try to dampen the inflammation. The result is elevated cortisol (stress hormone) at the expense of progesterone.Progesterone naturally opposes oestrogen, or in other words, protects you from the harmful effects of oestrogen. When progesterone dips oestrogen is left unopposed and you experience oestrogen dominance. Symptoms of E.D;
- swelling and tenderness in the breasts
- decreased sex drive
- irregular menstrual periods
- mood swings
- fibrocystic developments in the breast
- weight gain
- hair loss
- cold hands or feet
- feeling tired or lacking energy
- difficulty with memory
- trouble sleeping
- increased symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or PMS
Hypothyroidism.So what’s happening? Xenoestrogens – synthetic or natural Endocrine Disruptors that mimic oestrogen – are all around us in ways never before experienced in human civilisation. Endocrine disruptors in women promote Thyroid Dysfunction; The growth of Fibroid Cysts, Cervical Dysplasia and Tumours and have been linked to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, early puberty, infertility and other reproductive disorders, and childhood and adult Cancers.
Sources of these Endocrine Disruptors;
1. Plastics.Bottled water is exposed to oestrogenic compounds called Bisphenol A (BPA). The European Chemicals Agency Classifies BPA as an Endocrine Disruptor. Oestrogen activity is three times higher when the water is packaged in PET plastic bottles compared to glass. Residues of BPA are also present in the coatings and linings of canned food. Choose fresh or frozen foods versus canned foods and drinks. Avoid heating reusable plastics that come into contact with food in the dishwasher or microwave. Avoid products made with PVC, Vinyl and plastic. Switch your sandwich wrap and plastic containers to stainless steel or glass containers.
2.Till Receipts.Research conducted at the University of Missouri is providing the first data that BPA from thermal paper used in cash register receipts accounts for high levels of BPA in humans. Subjects studied showed a rapid increase of BPA in their blood after using a skin care product and then touching a store receipt with BPA. Say no to trivial cash register receipts. Choose email receipts whenever possible. And don’t store receipts in the bottom of your purse or bag.
3.Birth control pill.Contains high levels of ethinyl estradiol (synthetic Oestrogen), and while that works to prevent pregnancy, it winds up in wastewater after women flush the toilet. The results are worrisome, as estrogen-like compounds wind up in surface water. Ethinyl estradiol causes a biological effect even at really low levels, which is why we’re starting to see the feminization of fish and amphibians, and rising oestrogen levels in men.
4.Animal Products.Phytoestrogens: Naturally occurring in some foods and drinks, they have been shown to be harmful and helpful in certain situations. An estimated 60 to 80 percent of estrogens in the typical Western diet comes from milk and other dairy products. This is linked to a higher rate of testicular and prostate cancers. Steroid hormones can act like estrogen and are given to cattle used for processed meat.
Avoid dairy or use organic, grass-fed, cultured dairy.
We are what our meat eats.Soybean use is commonplace in dairy and cattle feed. Soy is and other legumes are phytoestrogen-rich and ‘converted by intestinal bacteria to hormone-like compounds with estrogenic activity.’ Phytoestrogens have been identified in both cow’s milk and breast milk. Estrogen is also found in the meat of pigs, cows and chickens. Stick to Paleo diet where possible, grass fed cattle is much healthier than commercial processed fed cattle.
5.Alcohol.Common plants used to create alcohol contain estrogen-like substances. Alcohol changes the metabolization of estrogen in the female body. Alcohol triggers estrogen levels to increase. Higher estrogen levels can fuel breast cancer risk. Excess Estrogen is removed by the liver, so a poorly functioning liver means more Estrogen. Support your liver to clear oestrogen with Turmeric, Milk thistle dandelion supplements.
6.Pesticides.The European commision found a collective list of over 194 endocrine disrupting chemicals used within the EU. DIM, improves healthy estrogen metabolism and is present in Brassica or cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, mustard greens and Brussels sprouts. Calcium D-Glucarate reduces total estrogen levels and is found in brassica veggies, citrus fruits and cucurbitacease; vegetables that are like cucumbers, pumpkins, cantaloupe and squashes. Opt for organic or non-GMO foods as often as possible, the top ‘dirty dozen’ are; 1. Strawberries, 2. Spinach, 3. Nectarines, 4. Apples, 5. Peaches, 6. Pears, 7. Cherries, 8. Grapes, 9. Celery, 10. Tomatoes, 11. Sweet bell peppers, 12. Potatoes. Exercise and avoid processed foods and sugars to lower your body fat to a healthy level. Excess visceral fat manufactures more estrogen in your body. Use coconut, olive or avocado oil instead of vegetable oil. Vegetable oils often contain high-estrogen food additives. Choose fatty fish like Pacific sardines or wild-caught Alaskan tuna instead of shellfish.
Thyroid Dysfunction Testing.The Thyroid is controlled by the pineal gland which in turn is controlled by the hypothalamus. Most medical practices will only test for TSH and T4. But our bodies need T3 also, which is metabolised from T4 by the LIVER. Rarely will doctors test for T3, or the ACTIVE forms of T3 or T4 (Free T4 and T3) and so many women are left undiagnosed. If the liver is sluggish, as is common in modern western society, our bodies cannot transform T4 to T3 and neither can we filter excess Estrogen adequately. TSH and thyroid panel blood tests, and all other thyroid tests DO NOT tell you how much thyroid hormone your cells are actually using, which is the only true way to accurately diagnose hypothyroidism. The most comprehensive way to test for hormonal status other than Bioresonance is the Dutch Urine test. This can be ordered through your health practitioner but its got a hefty price tag at £260.
The Basal Body Temperature Test.Men and post-menopausal women can take their basal temperature on any day. However, women who are menstruating will notice that their temperature will fluctuate depending on what part of their cycle they are in. During the first half of their cycle, their temperature will be lower. During the second half of their cycle, their temperature will be higher. Menstruating women should measure their basal temperature on days 2 through 4 of menstruation. How to Take Your Basal Body Temperature; Make sure you have a digital thermometer by your bedside, take temperature upon awakening, before getting up. A healthy functioning thyroid will consistently maintain a basal body temperature between 97.8 °F (36.6 °C) and 98.2 °F (36.8 °C) upon waking. Anything lower than 97.8 °F (36.6 °C) implies that at complete rest, your cells are not able to produce adequate energy to meet the energy demands of your body. Because there are various extraneous influences that can affect body temperature, it’s useful to take your pulse as an additional indicator of thyroid function. Even if basal temperature is normal, if your pulse is below 80 to 85 beats per minutes, then this is yet another indicator of hypothyroidism. The most thorough testing available for establishing full sex hormone and adrenal levels is the Dutch hormone (urine) testing method, as it is the most advanced hormone testing available.
Estrogen Dominance and Autoimmunity.Dr Brighten describes a three fold recipe for developing autoimmune conditions, and stipulates those factors as:
- Intestinal Hyperpermeability (aka leaky gut)
- An environmental trigger
- Pathogens (bacteria, virus’s, parasites and fungi such as candida)
‘Research has shown that a woman’s immune system is more robust during reproductive years—when estrogen is its highest. As a woman transitions into menopause, estrogen declines and a woman’s immune system is more comparable to a man’s. For this reason, some women see a decline in their autoimmune symptoms post-menopause.’ https://drbrighten.com/the-autoimmune-hormone-connection/When Estrogen is allowed to be unopposed, it can lead to overstimulation of immune responses. Estrogen has a negative effect on the thymus gland, the exact mechanism is not yet understood, but is linked to many autoimmune conditions; Estrogen and the thymus in autoimmune conditions; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16751381 Menopause and aging; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20813470 BASAL TEMPERATURE TEST; http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?volume=119&issue=14&page=1072 Fibroid Research 2017; https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/uterine-fibroids-review-understanding-their-origins-to-better-understand-their-future-treatments-93270.html Boost Progesterone nutritionally: https://hormonesbalance.com/articles/10-natural-ways-to-boost-progesterone-balance-hormones/
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