Nowadays, more and more people feel concerned about health problems that were unknown years past.
Obesity, heart disease, and autoimmune conditions are rising in prevalence. There are more cases of cancer, and many ailments requiring multiple therapies.
Less than 100 years ago, the majority of health problems were solved with one treatment option only. Now, we have occidental medicine, natural medicine, and alternative treatments.
In the same proportion, we also have antibiotics introduced in foods, pesticides in crops, and synthetic hormones all over the place. We live more stressed out, with a more sedentary lifestyle, and all of these factors have begun to take its toll.
For the past 30 years, a slow decline of testosterone in men has led to something called estrogen dominance.
If we are not careful, this imbalance in estrogen and testosterone levels in men will add up to the global burden. Thus, if you’ve been worrying about your testosterone levels or found yourself with annoying symptoms of low testosterone, keep on reading this article to know about a new health problem that is affecting the modern man.
We will address estrogen dominance, and learn how to counter this prevalence with natural aromatase inhibitors.
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What is estrogen dominance?
Estrogen is a sex hormone. It is the most prevalent hormone in women, as opposed to testosterone. However, all men have estrogen and testosterone. The normal circulating levels of both hormones are kept in balance by the testis.
However, other organs and parts of the body contribute to either of them. Estrogen dominance in men happens when the balance between normal levels of testosterone and estrogen is lost. When estrogen becomes excessively high in a man’s standard, it will start opposing testosterone. That’s when you start getting feminizing symptoms and other health problems.
Estrogen dominance is not meant to be a part of the life cycle, but sometimes it happens that way. When men age, their testis produce less and less testosterone. But our modern world has contributed to this hormonal prevalence. As we become more sedentary, we tend to accumulate body fat.
Testosterone is then stolen by your body fat and converted into estrogen.
The same happens with the food we eat and the products we use every day. We are constantly hit by synthetic substances that promote estrogen dominance in a man’s body. That’s why recently, estrogen dominance is starting to resonate in the vocabulary of men’s health (1).
Symptoms of estrogen dominance in men
If we are talking about estrogen dominance as a bad thing, it is not because estrogen is detrimental by itself. It is a hormone in males and females, and even males should have a reasonable level. Testosterone is not just important for sexual health. Testosterone is also essential for maintaining lean muscle mass and bone density. Additionally, testosterone regulates the metabolism of fat.
The problem starts when this hormone becomes abundant in a man’s body. Then, we would begin to experience several problems and various symptoms. The most important are as follows (2):
- Reduced libido: In most cases, a reduced libido is a sign of low testosterone. Circulating levels get transformed into estrogen, and males start displaying low sexual drive.
- Erectile dysfunction: It is associated with a low sexual drive, and more common as we age. Erectile dysfunction is a complex problem. I usually respond to an association between hormonal imbalances and psychological problems.
- Enlarged breasts: It is one of the most common signs of estrogen dominance. It is clinically named gynecomastia.
- Urinary tract issues: A hormonal imbalance in men may also contribute to prostate problems. That’s why it causes urinary tract symptoms.
- Increased belly fat: It is a cause and a consequence of estrogen dominance. High levels of estrogen favor fat accumulation, which also increases estrogen levels.
- Fatigue: Patients with low testosterone and high oestrogen levels tend to feel tired more easily.
- Loss of muscle mass: Testosterone is transforming into estrogen. Due to a reduction in testosterone, muscle mass is also reduced.
- Anxiety and depression: Estrogen acts in the nervous system and influences our neurotransmitters. It modulates our cortisol levels and the action of this hormone. An excess is likely to cause anxiety and depression symptoms.
There’s also a higher risk of various diseases, as we will show you next. It promotes certain types of cancer, contributes to cardiovascular disease, and much more.
Importance of hormonal balance in men
The importance of hormonal balance is fundamental but sometimes overlooked. In aging men, excess estrogen can cause the following health problems:
- An increase of stroke risk: High estrogen in males has been found to increase the risk of stroke. A study showed that men with higher estradiol had a 2.2-fold higher risk of stroke. The peak level of estradiol to cause a higher prevalence was 34.1 pg/mL (3).
- A thicker carotid artery wall: As we age, the arteries get thicker. A process called atherosclerosis speeds up this prevalence. According to studies, higher levels of estrogen cause a thickening of the carotid artery. It can be used as a predictor of the progression of atherosclerosis (4).
- A higher risk of a heart attack: Patients with their first heart attack and repeated episodes usually have a higher level of estradiol. They also tend to have decreased levels of testosterone, causing estrogen dominance (5).
- It impairs the circulation in the body: Circulatory problems are clinically named peripheral artery disease. It features varicose veins, cramps, and tingling symptoms in the skin. According to studies, men with peripheral artery disease usually have higher estradiol levels. They also have lower testosterone compared to healthy patients (6).
- Favors inflammatory disease: Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than men. However, men with rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions usually have higher levels of estradiol and other sex hormones (7).
- It contributes to prostate cancer: Studies are contradictory in this particular field. However, they seem to indicate that estrogen metabolites contribute to prostate cancer. In the prostatic tissue, estradiol appears to cause DNA changes and make it lose its regulatory control (8).
- It contributes to prostate enlargement: The role of estrogen dominance in prostate cancer is under discussion. However, its influence in cases of benign prostatic hyperplasia is clear and concise. In animals and humans, estrogens stimulate prostate growth. It causes rapid proliferation of prostatic tissue, which is blocked with anti-estrogen compounds (9, 10).
All of this highlights the importance of maintaining a balance between estrogen and testosterone in men. Even postmenopausal women with hot flashes can be affected when there’s too much estrogen around with a low progesterone level.
Moreover, a man’s body is not used to a high level of estradiol. The tissue of the prostate and the cardiovascular system are not made for such a high level.
Thus, if you are starting to have symptoms of low testosterone, it will be useful to check your levels of estradiol as well. Estrogen dominance is sometimes detected with low testosterone symptoms.
There’s a way to improve your hormonal balance. But first, let us talk about the different factors that contribute to an imbalance.
What can affect hormonal balance?
A man may experience estrogen dominance for a wide variety of reasons. An excess conversion of natural testosterone into estrogen is a likely explanation. It happens in many men, and the enzyme responsible for this is called aromatase.
The aromatase enzyme is not bad by itself and fulfills a healthy function. It maintains a relatively low level of estrogen in a man’s body, which is good and protect us from the disease.
However, when this healthy conversion is exceeded, estrogen dominance ensues. It is usually because there’s an overabundance of this enzyme. Too many aromatase enzymes are converting testosterone at the same time. They get out of control and increase our circulating estrogen levels.
When we age, the body naturally increases the function of the enzyme aromatase. But the conversion gets out of control in obesity. Aromatase can be found in fat cells, and the more we have, the more conversion there will be. However, being overweight and a senior is not by itself a cause of estrogen dominance. Other factors contribute as well, including a sedentary lifestyle and our eating style.
After this whole process has started, it gets more and more difficult to control. We enter a malfunctioning loop, and it is difficult to get away. The production of testosterone is reduced, the conversion to estrogen is increased, and we get more severe symptoms every time.
In short, we can summarize the causes of hormonal imbalance as follows (11):
- Testosterone levels are reduced as we age: Older men have lower levels of testosterone and higher levels of aromatase activity.
- Overweight and obesity: Aromatase enzyme is found in the adipose tissue. With weight gain, the conversion of testosterone to estradiol will be increased.
- Heavy consumption of alcohol: Alcohol has several effects on the endocrine system, including a feminizing effect of males. It increases the circulating levels of estradiol and lowers testosterone levels.
- Exposure to hormones: We also have an environmental influence. Hormone replacement therapy, hormone use, and abuse in bodybuilders, and synthetic estrogens are the most important. Even if you don’t use hormones, you probably have been in contact with substances that mimic estrogen action. They are called xenoestrogens, and we can find them in food additives and many everyday products.
As a result of these factors, we get an imbalance of testosterone to estradiol ratio. There’s a reduction of testosterone, but estradiol levels are average or high. Either way, there’s an estrogen dominance when the ratio favors estrogens instead of testosterone.
As you have seen, there’s not a single factor behind estrogen dominance. Instead, an interplay of causes modulates the endocrine function. Thus, we usually can’t allocate a single cause or say that you have estrogen dominance just because you’re overweight.
If we want to recover our normal levels of sex hormones, there’s a lot we can do. We can address the causes listed above, but we can also use natural estrogen blockers.
Natural estrogen blockers
Some medications block the enzyme aromatase. They include letrozole, anastrozole, exemestane, and many others. However, women with breast cancer are the ones who typically use them.
By dropping their estrogen levels, they stop the effects of estrogen on cancer cells and slow down cancer growth. In men, they can also balance testosterone and estrogen levels. However, there’s a natural way to do it through a natural estrogen blocker. In this section, we will name and explain the most important:
Chrysin: Flavonoids can be sound in many herbs, including bee propolis and passionflower. It is also found in honey. Chrysin is used to increase testosterone levels and block estrogen. There’s mostly anecdotic evidence, and not many studies have been published to sustain the claims (12).
Saw palmetto: It is one of the most important herbs to balance a man’s hormonal system. Saw palmetto is known to reduce 5α-reductase and improves prostate problems. They are very common in patients with estrogen dominance, especially if they are seniors (13).
Maca: This cruciferous plant has many health benefits, including fertility improvements. It is known to have anti-estrogen potential by reducing the conversion of testosterone. Maca also has many nutrients that contribute to regulating the endocrine and immune system of men (14).
Wild nettle root: Another common medication for the prostate. Nettle root contains substances that block testosterone conversion into estrogens. By using this type of supplement, we can help the body regulate testosterone production. It is very useful in patients with estrogen dominance and prostate problems (13).
Grape seed extract: This extract has been shown to act as an aromatase inhibitor, or estrogen blocker, in postmenopausal women at high risk for breast cancer. It works in women with a breast cancer risk and may also work for men with estrogen dominance (15).
Besides these herbs and natural extracts, there are other components in fresh foods. They are calcium D, glucarate, and diindolylmethane. Even though they sound like a synthetic substance, they are not. We can find them in many foods and herbs, and they have powerful evidence as a backup (16):
Calcium D glucarate: This substance can be found in many foods in the form of glucaric acid. When you eat grapefruit, cabbage, squash, and kale, you will be having some calcium D glutarate. Apples, broccoli, and orange also have glucaric acid, and they constitute a natural way to block estrogen.
Besides, calcium D glucarate prevents certain types of cancer and modulates cholesterol levels. This natural substance contributes to conjugation in the liver, an important process for detox. Toxins are more easily processed and excreted, and the body gets rid of excess estrogen faster. Higher levels of calcium D glucarate reduces the level of beta-glucuronides, a substance that increases the risk of prostate cancer, and impairs estrogen balance.
Diindolylmethane: This substance is found in the majority of cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy, and turnip greens. We eat it in the form of indole-3-carbinol. Then the organism transforms it into diindolylmethane. These foods contain other substances called glucosinolates. They also contribute to reverse estrogen dominance. These substances facilitate the breakdown of estrogen into other metabolites. These are eliminated more easily and display antioxidant ability.
Other ways to naturally block estrogen
By reading the above, you may have guessed the most natural way to block estrogen. It is by increasing your daily consumption of cruciferous vegetables.
If you eat more cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, you will have higher levels of calcium D glutarate and diindolylmethane, which will naturally counter estrogen dominance.
These foods confer additional protection against prostate cancer and other types of cancer. You can also buy supplements with these substances to speed up the process and obtain the full benefits.
Other estrogen-reducing strategies include the following:
- Learn about xenoestrogens in beauty products, foods, and cleaning products
- Reduce the contact with xenoestrogens in your everyday life
- Store food in ceramics or glass and avoid using plastics as much as possible
- If you ever use plastic, avoid heating them in the microwave, even if they are made to resist the heat
- Choose a soap and shampoo with natural ingredients
- Avoid using herbicides and be careful with pest control
- Avoid high estrogen foods.
After reading all of the above, you may conclude that estrogen is your number one enemy. The normal reaction would be trying to reduce estrogen as much as possible.
Maybe by using aromatase-inhibiting drugs, natural herbs, and lifestyle changes. However, instead of slashing estrogen levels, we should try to maintain normal levels, between 20 and 30 pg/mL. Lower levels of estrogen are not a good idea and may cause osteoporosis and increase your cardiovascular risk.
Therefore, it is recommended to measure your estrogen levels along with your free testosterone. This should be a routine exam
We may find it difficult to believe, but estrogen as a hormone was discovered in 1906. Before that time, nobody even knew this hormone was synthesized in the ovaries.
Less than 100 years later, estrogen levels were found and recognized as a normal occurrence in men as well. But then, once again, less than 100 years ago, estrogen dominance was discovered and researched. It was firstly described in women, and now it is being investigated in men.
Estrogen has an important role in a woman’s health. Men should maintain low levels, but after a certain age, they reduce their testosterone and increase their estrogen levels. This is heavily influenced by fat deposition and our modern lifestyle. Thus, it is possible to make natural changes and use natural aromatase inhibitors for men to block estrogen dominance.
A male hormonal panel should not only include a PSA analysis and free testosterone.
It should also measure estradiol and other chemistry levels. By maintaining a good proportion of testosterone and estradiol, we will be able to detect and treat estrogen dominance as soon as possible. It will also be possible to detect patients with low testosterone levels and differentiate them with patients displaying high estrogen symptoms.