Did you know that the health of your gut has a serious impact on your hormonal health?
You probably know that each month at the beginning of your cycle you start to produce oestrogen, production rises till you ovulate and then reduces in while progesterone starts to increase, preparing the uterus for the possibility of a fertilised egg.
Once that oestrogen has done it’s job it swings by the liver where different pathways in phase one liver detoxification break it down into metabolites known as 2-hydroxyoestrone (2-OH), 4-Hydroxyoestrone (4-OH) and 16 Hydroxyoestrone (16-OH). 2-OH is the most beneficial and protective metabolite helping to protect against the proliferative-or growth promoting-effects of oestrogen.
However the other metabolites are believed to increase risk of breast cancer and can affect the balance of your hormones causing what is known as oestrogen dominance which can lead to PMS, fertility problems and potentially aggravating any tendency to oestrogen susceptible cancers.
If all is well oestrogen metabolites are then subject to phase 2 liver detoxification where the more damaging metabolites are converted into water-soluble substances to be excreted via the gut. However if your gut health is affected by poor nutrition or damaged gut flora constipation can result and, if those conjugated/neutralized metabolites are allowed to hang around in the gut too long they break down into their more harmful metabolites again and swing round the system for another go, interfering with the natural balance, which allows our bodies to produce a healthy egg and then provide the right environment for implantation.
Often the first sign of this is constipation in the run up to your period. Many women with PMS report constipation in the days before a period-often this resolves as soon as bleeding starts. However for women with chronic constipation this easing of symptoms may not occur.
Chronic constipation can be treated effectively with a combination of colonic hydrotherapy, hormone balancing herbs, exercise and a really good probiotic. Colon hydrotherapy is an excellent starting point for improving gut health. It removes the blockage and, if followed by a good quality diet and a good probiotic
it will help balance out the natural microbiome of the gut leading to more natural gut movements and digestion.
Some women need additional help balancing their hormones. Herbal medicine can offer a safe, natural way of enhancing liver function and promoting hormone balance
- Rosemary is a strong antioxidant that helps promote phase one liver clearance
- Milk thistle helps to support the liver, protecting it from toxins and enhancing clearance of toxins and increases glutathione a potent antioxidant which helps keep the body healthy
- Turmeric is another potent anti oxidant which can help protect the body from the more damaging oestrogen metabolites 4-OH and 16-OH
- Senna is probably the best-known herbal laxative and in combination with other herbs such as African bird pepper, garlic and cascara can help promote normal bowel movements in people who have been chemical laxative dependent for many years.
Katherine Bellchambers MNIMH is a medical herbalist who has worked for many years in Nottingham. She has a special interest in womens health and has successfully helped many couples on their fertility journey.
You can find her at www.nottingham-herbalist.co.uk
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And Twitter at @HerbalistNotts