When we think about oestrogen, we think about women’s sex hormones. Whilst this is correct, men do produce oestrogen too, and can be effected just as women are by an imbalance in oestrogen.
Our exposure to oestrogen begins in foetal development and too much oestrogen, or the wrong ratios of oestrogen, can lead to hormonal imbalances in both men and women. Supporting phase I and phase II liver detoxification processes can help support healthy metabolic pathways of oestrogen in the liver.
There are actually three types of oestrogen in our bodies produced from the building blocks of cholesterol and testosterone. These three types are:
* Oestrone (E1) - produced in the ovaries/testes and peripheral tissues
* Oestradiol (E2) - produced in the ovaries/testes
* Oestriol (E3) - produced via the metabolism of E1 and E2 in extra-ovarian/testicular tissues, where testosterone is converted into E1 by an enzyme known as aromatase.
E2 is the most potent form of oestrogen, while E1 and E3 only provide weak oestrogenic activity. Oestrogen accelerates and stimulates cell growth in all oestrogen sensitive tissues and, while the majority of oestrogen is produced in the ovaries/testes, fat cells, adrenal glands, the liver and breast tissue can also produce oestrogen.
In addition to oestrogen produced in our bodies, we also derive oestrogen from the environment, known as Xeno-oestrogens.
Xeno-oestrogens, also known as ‘endocrine disruptors’, are profound hormonal disruptors structurally similar to oestrogen that mimic the activity of oestrogen in the body. Xeno-oestrogens can be found in our environment in pesticides, herbicides, drugs, fuels and plastics e.g. dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
Phyto-oestrogens are oestrogens that are produced by plants we consume, which contribute to the oestrogen levels in our bodies. Bad news guys - hops in beer contains phyto-oestrogens which is what can lead to the classic “beer gut” and growth of breast tissue.
A combination of oestrogen occurring in our bodies, xeno-oestrogens from the environment, and phyto-oestrogens from plants can mean that our production and metabolism of oestrogen can be out of balance.
Healthy oestrogen levels are controlled and finely balanced by positive and negative feedback loops between the brain and the ovaries/testes. Excess oestrogen occurs when either too much oestrogen is produced, excess oestrogen is not cleared effectively from the body, or through exposure to xeno-oestrogens or phyto-oestrogens.
So what can unbalanced levels of oestrogen do in the body? Surprisingly, it can cause a number of issues you may not be aware of, in both women AND men. Some of these issues include:
- Weight gain, particularly around the mid section - women and men
- Breast tissue growth in men
- “Beer Gut” - hops in beer is a source of phyto-oestrogen!
- Abnormal or heavy menstruation
- Enlarged prostate
- Mood swings - women and men
- Low libido - women and men
- Erectile dysfunction
- Anxiety and depression - women and men
- Mental clarity - women and men
- Fatigue - women and men
- Increased risk of heart disease - women and men
- Insomnia - women and men
A number of men who are going to the gym to build muscles take supplements that boost testosterone levels in the body. The problem can be that this excess testosterone if not metabolised will be converted into oestrogen. This in-turn leads to growth of fat cells, which is the opposite of what the desired goal is. This excess oestrogen needs to be dealt with.
You can see from the list above that excess oestrogen is not your friend, and needs to be removed from the body through metabolism. Your liver is responsible for the metabolism of oestrogen through what’s called Phase I and Phase II detoxification.
During Phase I detoxification, oestrogen E1 and E2 are converted to three ‘hydroxy’ metabolites by the liver during phase I detoxification:
* The good: 2-hydroxyoestrone (2-OH)
* The bad: 16-hydroxyoestrone (16α-OH)
* The ugly: 4-hydroxyoestrone (4-OH)
2-OH is considered favourable with a protective effect against cellular proliferation and other oestrogen related conditions while 4-OH and 16α-OH are considered unfavourable with proliferative effects and are responsible for many oestrogen related conditions.
Ratios between 2-OH, 4-OH and 16α-OH are important too. A healthy ratio between 2-OH:16α-OH is considered to be two or more whereas a high ratio of 16α-OH:2-OH is associated with unhealthy proliferation of oestrogen sensitive tissues including breast and ovarian tissue.
Supporting phase I liver detoxification promotes the production of 2-OH and decreases the production of 4-OH and 16α-OH. 2-OH and 4-OH may also be oxidised to highly damaging free radicals known as quinones, considered to be the largest health risk associated with oestrogens.
Phase II liver detoxification utilises COMT (catechol O-methyltransferase) to add a methyl group and glutathione S-transferase (GST) to add glutathione (GSH) to the hydroxyoestrone metabolites produced in phase I. Oestrogen may also skip phase I and proceed directly to phase II via glucuronidation or sulfation pathways.
We’ve recently added Hormone MetabolAid by Herbs of Gold to our shelves. This product has been in development for some time, and we’re excited to finally stock it.
Hormone MetabolAid contains natural ingredients that support the liver to effectively metabolise oestrogen in the body. It doesn’t just remove excess oestrogen, it does it using the more favourable pathways of Phase I detoxification (2-OH or “the good”).
Hormone MetabolAid is suitable for most adults, and promotes a healthy liver. With your oestrogen hormones in check, other aspects of your health can be more easily improved.
Note, this product is not suitable for pregnant or lactating women, or women and men taking Tamoxifen for breast cancer.
Considering taking this supplement? Talk to one of our friendly staff.