Evidence Based This post has 25 references
2

Are There Natural Ways to Balance Estrogen Levels?

Written by Puya Yazdi, MD | Last updated:
Jonathan Ritter
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology) | Written by Puya Yazdi, MD | Last updated:

SelfHacked has the strictest sourcing guidelines in the health industry and we almost exclusively link to medically peer-reviewed studies, usually on PubMed. We believe that the most accurate information is found directly in the scientific source.

We are dedicated to providing the most scientifically valid, unbiased, and comprehensive information on any given topic.

Our team comprises of trained MDs, PhDs, pharmacists, qualified scientists, and certified health and wellness specialists.

All of our content is written by scientists and people with a strong science background.

Our science team is put through the strictest vetting process in the health industry and we often reject applicants who have written articles for many of the largest health websites that are deemed trustworthy. Our science team must pass long technical science tests, difficult logical reasoning and reading comprehension tests. They are continually monitored by our internal peer-review process and if we see anyone making material science errors, we don't let them write for us again.

Our goal is to not have a single piece of inaccurate information on this website. If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please leave a comment or contact us at [email protected]

Note that each number in parentheses [1, 2, 3, etc.] is a clickable link to peer-reviewed scientific studies. A plus sign next to the number “[1+, 2+, etc...]” means that the information is found within the full scientific study rather than the abstract.

CBD Oil for Depression

Though the research remains young and isn’t fully decided, a lot of women are looking at natural ways to balance their estrogen levels to maintain good health. Read on to find out which complementary approaches are supported by evidence.

Estrogen Balance and Women’s Health

Healthy Habits

It’s always a good idea to avoid unhealthy habits – such as smoking, fast food, overeating, being under a lot of stress, and drinking too much – that can bring your hormones out of balance. Look to get regular exercise, enough nutrients, sleep, and follow a healthy circadian rhythm.

When to See a Doctor

It is very important to speak with your physician before making any lifestyle changes or taking supplements to balance your hormone levels – especially if your symptoms are significantly impacting your daily life.

Your doctor should diagnose and treat any underlying conditions causing your symptoms.

Research Limitations

Have in mind that the research on natural remedies for hormone balance is young and remains an area for further investigation.

Additionally, some of the strategies listed below do not affect estrogen levels. They may increase or decrease estrogen activity, for example, by activating estrogen receptors in a similar way that estrogen does. Phytoestrogens likely do this [1].

Herbs that are high phytoestrogens like maca and red clover supplements may also increase estradiol activity, according to some research. The evidence to back up their use is still weak, however [2, 3].

Recently, some scientists have looked into some complementary methods of increasing estradiol, which include practicing yoga and increasing dietary fiber [4, 5, 6].

Smoking and excessive alcohol drinking should be avoided, as both increase estradiol in a way that leads to health risks and problems in the long run [7, 8].

Precautions

Supplements have not been approved by the FDA for medical use. Supplements generally lack solid clinical research. Regulations set manufacturing standards for them but don’t guarantee that they’re safe or effective. Speak with your doctor before supplementing.

Supplement-drug interactions can be dangerous and, in rare cases, even life-threatening. That’s why it’s crucial to consult your doctor before supplementing and let them know about all drugs and supplements you are using or considering.

Lastly, the strategies listed below should never be used in place of what your doctor recommends or prescribes.

What May Increase Estrogen?

Lifestyle

1) Yoga

According to one study, practicing yoga for at least four months may help increase estradiol and the quality of life of postmenopausal women. Large-scale trials are needed [4].

2) Fiber

Eating a diet rich in high-fiber vegetables, fruits, and grains may increase estradiol levels. High dietary fiber intake was associated with higher estradiol levels in one small study on Latina women. Avocado and grapefruit were hypothesized to be the biggest contributors, but this has yet to be confirmed with further research [5].

3) Black and Green Tea

Tea contains phytoestrogens and antioxidants. Regularly drinking black tea and green tea was associated with increased estradiol levels in a study of 130 healthy, postmenopausal Chinese women. Larger studies are needed to confirm these results [9].

Herbs & Supplements

4) Maca

In a pilot study, two months of maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon) supplementation increased estradiol levels in women who were transitioning into menopause [2].

5) Red Clover

A review of 11 studies concluded that red clover may help increase estrogen levels in women undergoing or about to undergo menopause. However, most of the studies had major limitations and flaws. Higher-quality trials are required to confirm this finding [3].

6) Black Cohosh

Black cohosh is traditionally used in Native American folk medicine for hormonal imbalances in women. This herb may contain estrogen-like compounds. Clinical evidence is lacking to support its use, but limited studies suggest that it should be researched further for its potential to help with menopausal symptoms [10].

7) Chasteberry

Chasteberry also has a traditional history of use for women’s health issues. Research suggests that this herb contains phytoestrogens, but larger trials are needed to determine its effectiveness [11].

8) Boron

Boron supplementation seemed to increase estradiol levels in a couple of small studies on postmenopausal women [12, 13].

9) DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone)

In a study of 225 healthy adults, a year of DHEA increased estradiol levels in women but not men [14].

The FDA has approved the use of DHEA only for women with vaginal atrophy. This compound should never be used without the prescription or recommendation of a medical professional.

Phytoestrogens

Purported Health Effects

Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that have a similar structure or activity to the estrogens women naturally produce. Thus, certain phytoestrogens mimic some of the effects of estrogen [1].

According to one theory, the effects of phytoestrogens depend on a person’s estrogen levels. Since these plant compounds are somewhat weaker activators of estrogen receptors than naturally-produced estradiol, they are hypothesized to:

  • Increase estrogen activity when estrogen is low (by occupying empty estrogen receptors). Estrogen levels fall after menopause, which is why postmenopausal women are sometimes advised to eat more soy and other foods high in phytoestrogens.
  • Reduce estrogen overactivity when estrogen is high (by kicking estrogen out of estrogen receptors and only weakly activating them). PMS, for example, has been linked with high estrogen levels [1].

However, research on how effective phytoestrogens are remains controversial.

Some safety concerns have also been raised. According to one line of research, phytoestrogens might act as endocrine disruptors, which voices their potential to cause adverse health effects [1].

At the moment, experts agree that it’s unclear whether any potential benefits of phytoestrogens outweigh their risks. More clinical research is needed [1].

Foods

The following foods are considered to contain phytoestrogens [1]:

  • Soy
  • Flaxseeds
  • Whole grains
  • Sesame
  • Leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables
  • Alfalfa and clover sprouts
  • Legumes

What May Decrease Estrogen?

Gender Differences

Aromatase is an enzyme that converts male sex hormones (androstenedione and testosterone) into female sex hormones (estrone and estradiol). Thus, reducing the level of aromatase enzyme activity is hypothesized to reduce the level of estradiol in the body [15].

High aromatase activity is usually an issue in men, especially as they get older. High aromatase and estrogen levels can diminish testosterone and cause gynecomastia in and more belly fat in men [16].

In women before menopause, aromatase is most active in the ovaries. After menopause, some aromatase activity remains in the skin, fat tissue, and brain. Estrogen produced this way is thought to be particularly important for heart and brain health as women get older [17].

Overall, women are more likely to suffer from high aromatase activity. For example, women with PCOS seem to be more likely to have low aromatase activity in the ovaries. High aromatase activity has also been linked with estrogen-sensitive cancers, like breast and endometrial cancer [18, 17].

Purported Aromatase Blockers

Blocking aromatase activity has mostly been studied in men. These results can’t be applied to women. That said, the following are hypothesized to reduce aromatase activity:

  • Losing excess body fat [16]
  • Increasing zinc, selenium, and magnesium intake to inhibit aromatase [19]
  • Increasing the intake of foods containing natural aromatase inhibitors, including mushrooms, celery, carrots, spinach, and grapes [20]
  • Reducing alcohol consumption [21]
  • Reducing carbohydrates, since a high carbohydrate diet may increase estrogen levels [6]

Estrogen Detox

Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is being researched for potentially contributing to the prevention of cancers that require estrogen to grow, including breast, endometrial, and cervical cancers [22].

Once in the stomach, I3C releases diindolylmethane (DIM), which is thought to be the active compound [22].

Aside from being a focus of cancer research, DIM hypothesized to enhance the activity of CYP enzymes, which aid detox. Cell-based experiments suggest that this might reduce the formation of potentially dangerous estrogen compounds that increase oxidative stress [23].

In one small trial, DIM supplements increased urinary excretion of estrogen metabolites in postmenopausal women with a history of breast cancer after 30 days. Larger clinical trials are needed [24].

Thus, increasing the intake of vegetables that release indole-3-carbinol is hypothesized to balance estradiol levels and support estrogen detox. These vegetables include [22, 25]:

  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kale
  • Garden cress
  • Mustard greens

Whether or not these veggies and their compounds affect estradiol levels and activity has yet to be determined in large scales. But we know that they are high in nutrients and good for overall health.

Takeaway

While the research remains inconclusive, some studies suggest lifestyle and dietary changes may help balance estrogen levels naturally. Speak to your doctor before making any major changes to your lifestyle and supplements regimen.

About the Author

Puya Yazdi

Puya Yazdi

MD
Dr. Puya Yazdi is a physician-scientist with 14+ years of experience in clinical medicine, life sciences, biotechnology, and nutraceuticals.
As a physician-scientist with expertise in genomics, biotechnology, and nutraceuticals, he has made it his mission to bring precision medicine to the bedside and help transform healthcare in the 21st century.He received his undergraduate education at the University of California at Irvine, a Medical Doctorate from the University of Southern California, and was a Resident Physician at Stanford University. He then proceeded to serve as a Clinical Fellow of The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine at The University of California at Irvine, where he conducted research of stem cells, epigenetics, and genomics. He was also a Medical Director for Cyvex Nutrition before serving as president of Systomic Health, a biotechnology consulting agency, where he served as an expert on genomics and other high-throughput technologies. His previous clients include Allergan, Caladrius Biosciences, and Omega Protein. He has a history of peer-reviewed publications, intellectual property discoveries (patents, etc.), clinical trial design, and a thorough knowledge of the regulatory landscape in biotechnology.He is leading our entire scientific and medical team in order to ensure accuracy and scientific validity of our content and products.

Click here to subscribe

RATE THIS ARTICLE

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.