Hormone Balance - Hormonal Health

by Carrie Louise Daenell, ND


INTRODUCTION

The discovery of an absorbable form of diindolylmethane is most clinically promising for people suffering from hormonal imbalances, and poor breast, prostate and uterine health. Diindolylmethane is a phytochemical produced inside the body from the indole-3-carbinol (I3C) that occurs naturally in cruciferous vegetables. (Phytochemicals are simply chemicals that come from plants.) Vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower contain I3C. I3C forms the hormone balancer diindolylmethane. Diindolylmethane encourages estrogens in the body to select certain enzymatic pathways that result in break-down products that are actually balancing for hormonal health.1 As a result, they are cardio-protective, and cancer protective for certain tissues in the body including those found in the breast, prostate and uterus.

The effects of diindolylmethane can be measured in laboratory testing on urine.2 When the body produces unhealthy estrogen breakdown products, they are measured in high levels, while the healthy breakdown products are measured in low levels. Until diindolylmethane was produced in an absorbable form, achieving powerful clinical advantages (proven with positive laboratory outcomes) was not possible. Unfortunately, in order to get enough diindolylmethane to achieve positive changes in hormonal health by eating these vegetables, a person would have to eat so many of them that it would be bad for their thyroid and their digestive health. No one can afford to compromise these very important systems in the body! It was then thought that the I3C might be extracted directly as a dietary supplement. Unfortunately, once extracted, it is unstable in supplement form, and loses its potency before it can be used. Diindolylmethane itself, is very stable as a supplement. Diindolylmethane, however, does not absorb well in the body. As you can see, researchers were so close to a clinical solution to hormonal health, and yet so far away.

The good news is that a research physician was able to make diindolylmethane absorbable, while retaining its stability in a supplement form. This was done naturally. It resulted in the production of what scientists call "bioavailable" diindolylmethane. This is simply diindolylmethane made into a form that the body can use. Since this form is all natural, it retains its safety while ensuring its clinical effectiveness.

DIINDOLYLMETHANE FOR MEN

If diindolylmethane is responsible for healthy estrogen breakdown in the body, how does that ensure prostate health? As very few people realize, estrogen levels in men rise as they age. Researchers are beginning to suspect that it is this increase in estrogen production, with a shift in its metabolism toward unhealthy breakdown products, that leads to changes in prostate tissue health. Inappropriate testosterone metabolism also plays a role. However, that role may be secondary to the substantial role played by improper estrogen metabolism.3-4

DIINDOLYLMETHANE FOR MENOPAUSAL WOMEN

Hormone replacement therapy, especially when taken in a natural form, has the ability to enhance health and quality of life for many women. The health benefits include decreased mortality, increased memory, lower risk of Alzheimer's and dementia, stronger bones, a decreased incidence of cancerous changes in breast and uterine tissues, and a significant reduction in cardiovascular disease.5-10 The quality of life benefits include an increased sense of vitality and well-being, enhanced sexual function, and a decrease in hot flashes, insomnia, mood changes and urinary incontinence. The body's ability to obtain the health benefits of estrogen, when supplemented, depends upon its ability to break estrogen down in a healthful fashion. Diindolylmethane ensures this healthful breakdown of estrogen. The consequences of the unhealthful breakdown of estrogen include cancer cell initiation and promotion in estrogen-related breast and uterine cancers. Even women that choose not to pursue hormone replacement therapy have much to gain from the use of diindolylmethane. It will help her metabolize the limited estrogen that her body makes on its own into breakdown products that are cancer- and cardio-protective. It will also increase her body's own production of progesterone.11-12 Increased levels of progesterone will further balance her hormones, resolving mood changes, headaches, insomnia and breast pain. Additionally, progesterone is an important hormone for maintaining strong bones. From a physician's perspective, diindolylmethane can be essential for hormone, breast and uterine health.

DIINDOLYLMETHANE FOR WOMEN OF CHILDBEARING AGE

Many women, starting with their first menses, are unable to metabolize estrogen in a balanced fashion. Taking the birth control pill can further complicate the unhealthy breakdown of estrogen. The unhealthful breakdown of estrogens, resulting in increased levels of a particular type of "bad estrogens" -- called 16 Hydroxylated estrogens -- is associated with cervical dysplasia.13 Without conducting a laboratory test, a woman who demonstrates symptoms such as heavy bleeding, cramping, PMS, fibrocystic breast changes, uterine fibroids, endometriosis or ovarian cyst formation is obviously suffering from a hormonal imbalance. If the birth control pill was prescribed in order to treat these symptoms, it is simply masking them. This leaves the underlying problem of poorly metabolized estrogens unchanged.

Low levels of progesterone may also complicate this imbalance. Years or even decades before menopause, many women demonstrate abnormally low levels of progesterone on blood testing. Diindolylmethane will ensure the healthful breakdown of estrogens, balancing estrogen in the body. It will also support the body in its production of normal levels of progesterone. The symptoms of hormonal imbalance listed above will be resolved with both the proper breakdown of estrogens and the body's production of normal levels of progesterone. When a woman is looking to treat the cause of her hormonal imbalance, in lieu of simply masking the symptoms, diindolylmethane may be the support her body needs to bring itself to normal. The long-term health benefits of hormonal balance, the healthful breakdown of estrogens, and proper levels of progesterone are preventative for estrogen-related cancers in breast and uterine tissues, cardiovascular disease, and bone density losses.

DIINDOLYLMETHANE AND BREAST, PROSTATE AND UTERINE CANCER

Diindolylmethane promotes the healthful breakdown of estrogens. It simultaneously decreases levels of unhealthful estrogen breakdown products. What does this mean for cancerous changes? Some of the healthful estrogen breakdown products include: 2-Hydroxy Estradiol, 2-Hydroxy Estrone, 2-Methoxy-estradiol and 2-Methoxy-estrone. These "good estrogens" prevent and attack cancerous cell formation in several different ways.14-18 The anti-cancer properties of these "good estrogens" are so varied, and work in so many different ways, that some studies actually link them with decreased risks for other cancers such as lung, stomach, colon and rectal cancers.19-20 This is in addition to the widely confirmed studies that show its direct affect on decreasing the estrogen-related cancers in breast, prostate and uterine tissues. In the prostate, the "good estrogens" lead to decreased Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) activity. When this happens, prostate cell growth, PSA levels, and cellular estrogen and testosterone levels all normalize. Regulated activity of SHBG also prevents a certain phase of cell division. This support at a cellular level prevents the over growth of prostate cells. Conversely, the unhealthful breakdown products include: 16-alpha Hydroxy Estrone, 4-Hydroxy Estrone and 2-Methoxy-estriol. Unfortunately, the first two of the "bad estrogens" listed are actually considered to be "carcinogenic" or cancer-promoting substances. The last of the "bad estrogens" listed merely interrupts the body's natural timing for normal cell death, allowing cells to grow out of control. Uncontrolled cell growth is called "cancer." An increase in levels of these "bad estrogens" is associated with an increased risk for breast, prostate and uterine cancer. Diindolylmethane decreases levels of "bad estrogens" and promotes higher levels of "good estrogens" through its ability to encourage the healthful breakdown of estrogen.21-26

 

SELECTED REFERENCES

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