Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Estrogen Dominance & Environmental Estrogens PART 1

Estrogen Dominance: A Cultural Condition
Part 1: Estrogen Dominance & Environmental Estrogens
Dr. Summer Swanick, N.M.D.

Are you one of the millions of women that suffers from:
  • PMS?
  • Adult acne?
  • Menopausal symptoms?
Most people know that estrogen and progesterone are the main female hormones. Some people know the basics of how these hormones regulate the menstrual cycle. The first half of the menstrual cycle is controlled by estrogen. During ovulation, estrogen decreases dramatically while progesterone increases. Progesterone drops off, which initiates menstruation and the cycle begins again. Not too many people know the specific roles of estrogen and progesterone, and how the balance between these two hormones is crucial for proper hormone functioning. Imbalances in these hormones are often the cause of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and menopausal symptoms such as bloating, breast tenderness, mood swings or irritability, acne, and night sweats. 

These hormonal symptoms are commonly accept in American culture, but are virtually unheard of in other indigenous cultures. One study of Mayan women in Yucatan, Mexico showed no hot flashes, fractures, or other menopausal symptoms in women with the same hormonal changes as women in the United States. The Japanese language didn’t even have a term for “hot flash” in their language until recently. The main suspected factors for these cultural differences are diet and weight.
So, how are our hormones getting so out of balance?

There are many health conditions associated with “estrogen dominance,” a hormonal imbalance where women’s bodies are overwhelmed with estrogen. Part of this is due to the increased levels of hormones we are introduced to by eating meat that has been hormonally treated. Another contributing factor is the growing exposure to xenoestrogens (pronounced zee-no-estro-jen), which are foreign compound that act like estrogen in your body. Virtually all Americans ingest xenoestrogens daily by drinking from plastic water bottles, topical application of cosmetic products, and eating nonorganic foods.

What it’s called (other names) Where it’s found Effects on your body
Phthalate (dibutyl phthalate, diethyl phthalate, butylbenzyl phthalate, butyl ester, plasticizer, “fragrance”) Plastic food containers, beauty and personal care products including nail enamels and hardeners, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, hair growth formulations, antiperspirants, sunscreen, vinyl flooring, air fresheners. Causes birth defects & reproductive impairment in men by damaging testes and reproductive system. Causes loss of pregnancy in women by preventing implantation of the egg. Can also cause deformities including cleft palate.
Paraben (methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben) Shampoos, conditioners, soaps, shaving gels, hair gels, pre-packaged foods, lotions, creams Disrupts normal hormone functioning, possible effect on reproduction and development, possible link to breast cancer.
Bisphenol ALining of canned goodsIs associated with breast cancer, prostate cancer, infertility and birth defects
Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
Some common symptoms of estrogen dominance include acne, especially along the jaw line, heavy menses, and being overweight. Medical conditions including insulin resistance, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and uterine fibroids are also related to estrogen dominance.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Asthma & Allergies: Is your Digestive Health responsible for your suffering?

Asthma & Allergies:
Is your Digestive Health responsible for your suffering?
Dr. Summer Swanick, N.M.D.
Often times symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, tightness of the chest, runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes are caused by environmental factors including dust, pets, foods, flowers, and grasses. These symptoms indicate that the mucosal membranes of your respiratory tract, intestinal tract and nasal passages are irritated and inflamed. This process is an overreaction by your immune system to certain environmental triggers, and is known as a hyper-sensitivity reaction.
So what do asthma and allergies have to do with your digestive health? 

Approximately 80% of your immune system is found in your intestinal tract.
When your body is functioning optimally, your intestines support your health in three key ways:
  1. Beneficial bacteria live in your intestines and protect you from an overgrowth of detrimental bacteria, which can cause infection. They also help absorb nutrients and make certain vitamins, supporting the health of your entire body.
  2. The inner lining of your small intestine acts as a barrier to separate beneficial nutrients from waste products. Vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are absorbed into your body through this inner lining and everything else passes through as waste products.
  3. Within the lining of your small intestine your body produces immune cells, which are constantly being made to protect you from foreign material traveling from your mouth through your digestive tract.
Proper breakdown and absorption of nutritional factors is dependent on the synergistic functioning of the protective barrier, good bacteria, and the immune cell function of your small intestine.  Disruption can be caused by antibiotics, over the counter pain killers, and fried foods, which kill good bacteria, cause inflammation and ulceration, and disrupt digestive functioning, respectively.  Infection, asthma, allergies and chronic disease are all symptoms of this disturbance.
When you have an immune reaction, your intestines become inflamed with immune cells. This results in increased intestinal permeability, which inhibits your intestines’ ability to separate nutrients from waste and some particles that shouldn’t be absorbed, get absorbed. Your immune cells respond by attacking those particles (hypersensitivity reaction). This increased intestinal permeability has been linked not only to bronchial asthma and allergies, but also to other conditions such as Crohn’s disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Diabetes, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
So, why do you only experience allergy and asthma symptoms some of the time? It’s all about your body’s threshold. As long as your body can process daily exposures to toxins and allergens, you don’t notice symptoms. However, once that threshold is reached, intestinal permeability breaks down, hypersensitivity reactions occur and you start to experience itching, wheezing, sneezing or other symptoms.

Here are some actions you can take to avoid this reaction long term:
  • Limit the use of pain killers and anti-inflammatories to when you really need them. If you find that you are using them on a regular basis, see your doctor.
  • Take probiotics during and 2 weeks after antibiotic use.
  • Use a neti pot or other device for nasal passage irrigation before bed, especially during allergy season.
  • Drink 1 tablespoon of organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar with meals to support digestion.
  • Drink plenty of water. The number of ounces of water you should drink daily is equal to the number of pounds you weigh divided by 2!

There is no substitute for medical advice from a licensed doctor. See your Naturopathic Medical Doctor or other medical practitioner about your health care concerns so they can develop a plan that is right for you.