Is Endometriosis Caused by Infections?

Is Endometriosis Caused by Infections?

Immunity is the Root

Endometriosis is not yet widely understood as an immune disease.  Treatment focuses on hormonal therapies instead of looking at the underlying bacterial and inflammatory factors. Bacterial and fungal infections from the gut can migrate to the genitals. An overgrowth of organisms like bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections can also contribute or indicate an imbalance in the microbiome.  Other causes include sexually transmitted infections or iatrogenic infections from internal gynecological procedures.

Evidence of endometriosis being an autoimmune disorder is still mixed but ultimately this doesn’t matter because treating the immune system helps.  What we know is the endotoxin lipopolysaccaride (LPS) regulates the pro-inflammatory response that occurs in the pelvis and contributes to the growth of endometriosis.  Female Reproductive tract infections particularly can occur in the upper reproductive tract as well as the lower. The fallopian tubes, ovary and uterus can be affected as can the vagina, cervix and vulva.

Hormonal Treatment

Surgery and hormonal birth control are first line interventions for endometriosis. Removing the lesions can be helpful and synthetic hormones do suppress growth but come with side effects.  Natural progesterone can help normalize immune function and doesn’t have the same side effects. Reducing infections first addressing excess estrogen second is ideal because the estrogens respond to the LPS in endometriosis.

Bacteria doesn’t directly cause endometriosis but the bacterial toxins drive and worsen the disease in combination with other factors like hormonal surges and environmental toxins.    Studies confirm that antibiotics are effective at treatment for endometriosis which confirms the hypothesis of bacterial translocation.

7 Immune Modulating Supplements

These have been studied or are being studied as effective supports for treatment of endometriosis.

  1. NAC: this has excellent research supporting its use in endo
  2. Zinc: immune support
  3. Curcumin: anti-inflammatory
  4. Melatonin: a powerful anti-oxidant
  5. Vitamin A:  cod liver oil is my favourite way to get this in the form that is bioavailable
  6. Berberines: have an anti-microbial action.
  7. Estrosense: to balance estrogen

 

Progesterone & GABA for Anxiety

Progesterone & GABA for Anxiety

Progesterone: the Peaceful Hormone

Progesterone restores a sense of calm.  For those balancing the responsibilities of home, work and family, progesterone helps you keep your cool.  It acts on the gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) receptors in the brain.  These are the receptors that sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medications and alcohol act on.  Optimal progesterone levels help with:

  • clearing brain fog
  • allowing you to stay asleep, especially between 2 and 4 am.
  • building bone
  • strengthening libido
  • supporting elasticity in the skin
  • helping neural growth in the brain
  • preventing puffiness & bloating

 

What’s GABA all about?

GABA is the primary inhibitory transmitter in the brain.  It settles the mind and protects our brain from overstimulation.  If you worry a lot or experience anxiety you may be low.  GABA comes from protein we eat and some people respond well to supplementation.  If you don’t, it may be a good sign.  The molecule is quite large so some research has hypothesized that it shouldn’t readily cross the blood-brain barrier.  However, it will still have a positive effect because we have a lot of neurotransmitter receptors elsewhere in the body.  Mood can improve when GABA reaches the cells in our liver and gut.

If you are deficient in GABA, you may experience a kind of physical anxiety that is difficult to shake.  Muscles may tighten and your immune system is less able to do it’s job.  One of the best tips about GABA is to use it before bed on the days that you strength train.  It increases Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels in the blood by up to 5 times with 90 minutes of taking it.  The rate of muscle growth is influenced by HGH  levels which are highest when you sleep.  Use GABA and see the results.  There are no negative side-effects from taking GABA.

 

Promote Peace & Calm Naturally

Here are a 6 more ways you can bump up your GABA:

  1. Theanine from green tea, matcha or the supplement.
  2. Foods high in zinc and magnesium: liver, red meat, shellfish, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, halibut, spinach, and okra.
  3. Chamomile tea: this has a bioflavonoid called Apigenin that binds to GABA receptors in the brain.  It calms the nervous system.
  4. Potassium rich foods: acorn squash, spinach, brussel sprouts and yogurt.
  5. Ensure your serotonin levels are optimal:  tryptophan in food or supplemental 5HTP support serotonin & enhance the effects of GABA.
  6. St. John’s Wort and Ginkgo:  both these herbs have different actions in the brain to increase uptake of GABA.

 

Ovulation is a Important

The birth control pill means you won’t get the surge of progesterone mid cycle and near the end of your cycle.  Progesterone supports your brain, thyroid, bones and breast tissue.  It also reduces inflammation, We produce far more of it than estrogen.  It keeps estrogen from becoming dominant in both males and females which has several health risks. Progesterone is also an essential for building block for other hormones including cortisol and adrenaline.  Men produce progesterone in their testes and use it for general health as well as sexual function.

Ovulation supports estrogen to promote muscle gain, insulin sensitivity and a healthy cardiovascular system.  Missing out on ovulation is an unfortunate reality that many women experience.  They aren’t told the full story of oral contraception.  More and more women are saying no to the pill and the long list of side effects that accompany it.

Symptoms of Low Progesterone

Many of my patients come to me with symptoms that could be low progesterone levels.  Anxiety, sleepiness, headaches, weight gain, irrational fear, moodiness are just some.  Miscarriage and infertility can be caused by low levels.  So can endometriosis, PCOS and depression.  Around menopause hot flashes, low libido and night sweats can be alleviated by using herbs to mitigate what is a natural drop in progesterone.

 

Estrogen Isn’t the Enemy! Weight & Appetite

Estrogen Isn’t the Enemy! Weight & Appetite

Estrogen Says ‘Eat Me!’

Every tissue in the body adores and wants some estrogen.  Estrogen protects us from disease.  It nourishes our brain and keeps our bones strong.  And damn girl, estrogen is what makes women curvy!  We build muscle in our legs and butts more readily than men because of this wonderful hormone.  During a regular menstrual cycle estrogen will spike around ovulation giving us extra energy while suppressing our appetite.  Estrogen doesn’t cause abdominal weight gain.

People get down on estrogen but it’s not estrogen’s fault!  Environmental toxins and pharmaceuticals like birth control contain ‘bad’ estrogens which can accumulate in the body.  These can be recirculated or metabolized down pathways that lead to problems.  There is a trend to ‘detox estrogen’ as a way to lose weight.  Please don’t fall for this!  We need estrogen.  We love estrogen.  Estrogen is sexy.  Treating your hormones without proper testing and guidance is not recommended.  It can create more problems.

Progesterone Just Says ‘Eat!’

Seems like progesterone gets all the love.  It’s true, progesterone is pretty awesome too.  We need all of our hormones to work together. Progesterone spikes before your period.  This is why you may feel extra hungry.  It’s a good time to nourish yourself with iron rich foods so I don’t mind this cue.  It makes sense.  Progesterone doesn’t get a bad reputation the way estrogen does.  Why is this?  Is it because of how estrogen dominance and insulin resistance in men causes a certain type of weight gain?  Well, women are quite different than men.

Progesterone can dip due to high stress.  When this happens it can contribute to estrogen dominance in women.  Estrogen might not even be high but the ratio is what matters.  We have come to equate estrogen dominance with weight gain but it’s not that simple.  The kind of weight that is concerning for women’s health has a specific pattern.  It looks like higher testosterone paired with insulin resistance and an aggressive androgen metabolism.

Estrogen: the Move & Seek Hormone

Around ovulation women tend to have more energy.  It’s a great time to test your limits in the gym or attend a social event.  This phase has been coined ‘move and seek’ by researcher Martie Haselton.  As estrogen is hitting its peak we tend to want to move our bodies more and seek more contact.  This fertile window creates a surge of inspiration for moving and mating.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?

 

 

What you need to know about Estrogen Detoxification

What you need to know about Estrogen Detoxification

Symptoms like breast tenderness, heavy or clotted cycles and fibroids are linked with excess estrogen in the body.  In men, this can look like weight gain, erectile dysfunction, breast development or moodiness.

So where does your estrogen go once your body is done using it?  Estrogen does a lot of great things for our bodies, like protect us from cardiovascular disease for example.  Problems arise  when our body isn’t able to get rid of it properly and it recirculates.

Where Your Estrogens Go

The short answer is that you detox your estrogen based on two main factors.  Lifestyle and genetics.  These influence one another.  Now as we begin to dig in, keep in mind that there are three parts to detoxification & this is a process your body is undergoing all the time.  Gently supporting your overall health supports this process.  Doing fast, hard cleanses does not.

First, the Liver!

In phase one of detoxification your estrogens get turned into 3 different kinds of metabolites.  The metabolites are called 2-OH, 4-OH and 16-OH.  The 2-OH is the protective pathway but even too much of this can inhibit neurotransmitter production.  What we are looking for a a ratio that prefers the 2-OH pathway.  Broccoli, kale, cauliflower, broccoli sprouts, and brussels sprouts encourage this pathway.  There are supplements as well but please do not start using them unless you know it’s phase one that needs support.  I’ll explain why.

If you begin taking DIM when its actually your phase two that is sluggish then you will feel worse.  Both phases need to be optimal in order for the symptoms of PMS, heavy cycles or painful cycles to let up.  Supplementing without testing can also lower estrogen levels overall.  If they aren’t high then this can cause other problems.  With hormones it really is about the balance.

Next, Packaged Up! 

Keep in mind that in phase one, all of these metabolites are reactive to oxygen meaning they have the potential to damage DNA.  The goal of phase two is to neutralize the 2-OH and the 4-OH in a process called methylation.  Basically this process makes the metabolites water soluble so that they are in a form that can be safely excreted.  Magnesium helps the enzyme COMT in this process.  If excretion doesn’t happen then the reactive metabolites will recirculate and end up in the 4-OH pathway.  Magnesium is a safe to supplement for most people.

With testing we can see if you methylate your estrogens well or not.  Nutrients like SAMe, methionine, choline, tri-methyl-glycine (TMG) and methylated B vitamins support methylation.  Having food with a balance of amino acids is a good start.  Before supplementing testing is ideal.  To support phase two check your make-up, skincare and household cleaners for chemicals. Avoid pesticides & herbicides.  Reduce alcohol.

Last, Move ‘Em Out!

Interestingly, we need to begin treatment with this last phase in most cases.  Phase three is all about how we excrete these estrogens once they are ready to go.  This happens in the gut.  If you colon isn’t working properly then recirculation will occur.  Inflammation can inhibit this phase.  Flavonoids like those found in broccoli sprouts, dark chocolate & green tea support phase three.

If your gut bacteria is disrupted and you are producing too much of an enzyme called beta glucaronidase then phase three won’t work.  This is because this enzyme can take the estrogens that are ready for excretion and push them back into circulation.  You can be estrogen dominant because your gut health and microbiome causes reabsorption where the 4-OH pathway is likely to be preferred.  Good gut testing will show if beta glucaronidase is elevated. If it is then we can help with a supplement called calcium d-glucarate.  But again, do not take this without testing.

What you can do is eat a whole food diet with plenty of prebiotic fibres and fermented foods.  Drink two litres of water a day and avoid environmental toxins as much as possible.  We know that by simply living a lifestyle that is cleaner can expand your lifespan by 13 years.  Quality of life improves as well.

Why Estrogen Gets a Bad Reputation

Often women share with me that they are concerned about breast cancer because of a family history.  By looking at the metabolite pathways some of these fears are alleviated.  When it comes to hormones we really can’t guess where the imbalance is because there are so many factors.  By optimizing the detoxification pathways and preventing recirculation we can take steps to decrease the proliferative estrogens.  4-OH is why estrogens get a bad reputation.  16-OH is weaker but also can contribute to symptoms.

None of this is an alternative to cancer treatment.  A friend whose wife recently fought breast cancer shared what he learned.  She had a family history and was screened regularly so it was caught early.  They treated immediately.  He noticed that the women who were diagnosed at the same time and who waited did not have good outcomes.

Going back to how lifestyle and genetics work hand-in-hand allows us to feel empowered.  It is also what evidence-based medicine knows.  The choices we make do have a major influence in how our genetics get expressed in this lifetime.  This doesn’t mean that when someone is diagnosed it is somehow their fault.  It’s shocking that this cruel idea even exists but it does.  Please enjoy this precious life and be kind to those who are up against cancer.  Touching into our mortality can fuel our love for the time we have and align us with how best to spend it.

Understand Your Hormones to Feel Great Again

Understand Your Hormones to Feel Great Again

Get to Know Your Body

Fatigue, depression, and irritability can caused by a hormone imbalance. Getting to know the key players can help. Hormones rule our brain, bone and heart health.  I’ll explain a little about how the key players work together. Hormone health helps in preventing disease and feeling better day to day.

The Androgens

These play a role in maintaining bone and muscle strength. DHEA and testosterone are two I look at closely. DHEA-S can indicate inflammation. Androgen metabolites will push one way if there are PCOS like symptoms like acne, head hair loss or facial hair growth on women. Anxiety and depression in men can be due to low testosterone. Specific botanicals and nutrients can shift the metabolism to a more favourable path. GLA, zinc and saw palmetto are some key ones I use.

Your Estrogens

Estrogens are essential for female characteristics as well as brain, bone and heart health. The pathways for estrogen have been studied extensively.   Preference for certain metabolite pathways may prevent breast and ovarian cancer. Excess estrogen can cause weight gain, heavy cycles, fatigue and irritability. Depending on the pattern, we can support the 2 methoxy pathway with diet and supplements from cruciferous veggies. Boron can support estrogen or testosterone when these are low in women. Perimenopausal women will have a different healthy hormone profile.

Stress Hormones

Cortisol affects all of the other hormones so when we are looking at testosterone for example we must also assess the role cortisol is playing. Cortisol is anti-inflammatory. It manages immune function, blood glucose, energy and metabolism. Depending on the pattern there are several nutraceutical grade supplements that can balance cortisol. Adaptogens are not always the answer. In Functional Medicine we use the phrase, “why guess when you can test?”

And Finally Progesterone

Progesterone balances estrogen and also is protective of brain, bone and heart health. It’s essential for menstruation, fertility and pregnancy.   Estrogen dominance is when progesterone is low in relation to estrogen. Increased consumption of healthy dietary fibres can improve estrogen elimination. Phytoestrogens like flax seeds are excellent because they block xenoestrogens from accumulating in the body. These are prolific in our environment especially if you use any conventional beauty care products or have plastics in your kitchen.

Oh wait!  Don’t Forget Melatonin

You can think of melatonin as the sleep hormone. It’s secreted from the pineal gland and regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Its lesser known that melatonin is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It works with serotonin. Adequate sleep is important for reducing pain and cravings. These are actions of serotonin. Micro dosing melatonin can see better results. Trytophan or 5HTP can support serotonin.

Medications Have an Impact

Medications like opioids, steroids and Accutane can damage the endocrine system.  For example, a common acne medication is known to destroy cells in the hypothalamus.  Another example is thyroid medication at too high of a dose can cause increase total cortisol.  Its important to do thorough testing and if you need to take a medication please have it monitored.

Safe Supplements

These work for balancing common hormone imbalances.  They include nettle, broccoli sprouts, food high in zinc, inositol, fibre from whole foods.  Nettle works on the increasing androgen metabolism down the 5a reductase pathway which is good for anyone with PCOS like symptoms. Broccoli sprouts contain a chemical called sulforaphane. This is one of the most potent antioxidants and detoxification substances that we know of. Inositol balances blood sugar which at the root of many hormone issues.  Zinc is often deficient and can be found in oysters, pumpkin seeds, spinach and a variety of pastured meats.  Fibre from root vegetables, flax and chia seed and gluten-free supplements can help clear excess hormones.

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