Dr. Laura: Why Estrogen Makes You Stressed

How estrogen impacts stress

High levels of estrogen might increase your levels of stress. It clogs up the detoxification pathways and leaves neurochemicals in the body for too long. A build up of neurochemicals can make a person angry, irritable, anxious or exhibit compulsive symptoms.

The detoxification processes affected by high levels of estrogen:

  1. Methylation
  2. Breakdown

Methylation

Methylation keeps cells from oxidizing, aging, or simply “going bad”. Too much or too little methylation is linked to multiple diseases and cancer. Methylation aids in DNA and RNA synthesis, cell differentiation, neurotransmitter synthesis and metabolism, detoxification, hormone clearance, energy production, nerve conduction and histamine clearance.

Methylation is provided by foods that offer sources of B6,B12, zinc and folate (lots of vegetables, fruits, seafood, red meat, nuts & seeds). The MTHFR (methyl folate reduction) gene’s activity is observed through genetic and organic acid tests. Homocysteine can also be a blood biomarker for how well the methylation cycle works.

Breakdown of neurotransmitters

COMT Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) is one of several enzymes that degrade the neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. COMT is heavily influenced by levels of estrogen. When the estrogen is high, the COMT is slowed down.

MAO, or monoamine oxidase, is an enzyme that affects the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.

When we think of estrogen, we often think of females with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and peri-menopausal women. These are times when the estrogen surges and drops, inflicting mild to severe mood swings.

Estrogens are not only a female concern. There are increased levels of estrogens in males and females due to environmental factors.

Xenoestrogens are not natural forms of estrogen and the body has difficulty eliminating them. Xenoestrogens come in the form of birth control pills, flame retardants, BPA, pesticides, heavy metals, aluminum, lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium.

Increased xenoestrogens puts an increased toll on our COMT and MAO. When the COMT and MAO are busy with excess estrogen and  xenoestrogens it makes it more difficult for them to do their everyday job of clearing catecholamines, or brain chemicals like dopamine and adrenaline. When dopamine and adrenaline hang out for too long, the body endures long standing experiences of stress. This is why estrogen detoxification and support of methylation, COMT and MAO activity in general can lead to less anxiety and aggravation.

How well does your methylation, COMT and MAO work?

Find out how your hormones influence your levels of stress through blood,  dried urine, and salivary tests available with Dr. Laura:

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND works with her patients to help them understand their genetic tendencies and educates on how to prevent disease, reduce experiences of stress and live with energy.

Vitamins: Could you be deficient?

Habitual eating habits that lack variety, medications or certain medical conditions  put us at risk for nutrient deficiency. A medical expert review of your current health condition, medications and diet diary is key to screening and finding potential changes that could be a substantial difference in your health and well being. This short review may provide some reminders and insight. Daily requirements for any vitamin vary on age, gender and current system demands. Some supplementation of one vitamin can mask a deficiency of another.

This and more will be covered in Dr. Laura M. Brown’s next complimentary talk entitled Food or Mood at Goodness Me! in Guelph on January 13th, 6:30pm. Register here.

Part 1 of 2:

Part 1: Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3 and Folic Acid

Vitamin A: Conditions that may be associated with Vitamin A deficiency include hypothyroidism (thyroid plays a role in converting beta carotene from our diet to vitamin A), liver disease, alcoholism, gastric or intestinal surgery, intestinal parasites, other gastrointestinal disturbances that cause malabsorption like Celiac, Crohn’s or food sensitivities. Increased levels of inflammation in the body will also decrease your vitamin A status.

Often you can tell if you are deficient if you have mild follicular hyperkeratosis – often felt at the back of the upper arms as you run your hands along, skin has multiple little bumps or feels rough to the touch. Night blindness can also be from Vitamin A deficiency but this can also be from a Zinc deficiency. Vitamin A is best absorbed from your diet and is found in foods like liver, fish liver oils, dairy, eggs. Foods that are high in beta carotene that your body converts to vitamin A are carrots, spinach, kale, cantaloupe and other fruits and vegetables. Women who are pregnant or are capable of becoming pregnant and smokers should never supplement with vitamin A. Vitamin A can put the baby at risk for birth defects and has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers.

Vitamin B1: Thiamine Conditions associated with psychiatric conditions, aging or insomnia can often be helped with supplementation. A diet low in thiamine can lead to deficiency is as little as 4-5 days. Other triggers can include pregnant women with severe morning sickness including multiple bouts of vomiting, alcoholism, thyrotoxicosis, and major surgery.

Thiamine deficiency is known as “beriberi”. Signs of mild deficiency include fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, vague headaches, pain, and difficulty with mental concentration and memory. Some people also experience weakness, weight loss, peripheral neuropathy, edema, tachycardia. Deficiency can also contribute to congestive heart failure. Severe deficiency is known as Wernicke’s encephalopathy in the early stages and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome in the later stages. Early signs include psychiatric disturbances, ataxia, ocular palsy, nystigmus. Later stages progress to a chronic neuropathic/psychiatric condition.

Good food sources of B1 include whole grains, legumes, nuts, meat, and enriched flour products.

B2: Riboflavin. B2 is important for helping convert B6 to its active form and is active in homocysteine metabolism, something that is important to cardiovascular /cholesterol health. B2 is also used to help prevent or treat migraines, Parkinson’s disease, psoriasis and some myopathies (muscle pain).

Indications that you may be deficient in vitamin B2 include cracks at the corners of your mouth, swollen tongue, changes in personality, anemia, weakness, depression, seborrheic dermatitis (moist, oily flaky skin condition – cradle cap in newborns and psoriasis/eczema mocking skin reaction in adults aged 30-60), excessive tears, inflammation of the clear membrane that lines your eye (results in vision distortion). Good food sources include meat, dairy, eggs, legumes, fish, poultry, green leafy vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Vitamin B3: Niacin B3 is critical in supporting health as it relates to cardiovascular, dermatological, hearing, taste, balance, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, ADHD, dementia, schizophrenia, sleep, osteoarthritis, trigeminal neuralgia, diabetes and alcohol addiction.

Classic deficiency is known as pellagra – the “three d’s”: diarrhea, dementia, dermatitis and sometimes the fourth D…. death.

Early signs that you may be deficient include nervousness, headaches, forgetfulness, apprehension and/or gastrointestinal disturbances.

Food sources include meat, chicken, fish, whole grains, legumes and dairy products.

Folic Acid: Known as folate in foods, folic acid in supplements. Folic acid is key to the intrauterine development of the spinal cord. It is also involved in cardiovascular health, dermatological and neurological conditions, psychiatric many other conditions within the body as it is a key methylator to many biochemical transactions.

As adults, folic acids needs stomach acid to help absorb, so if H.pylori present or on a proton pump inhibitor you may be at risk for deficiency. However people with low stomach acid are also at risk for overgrowth of bacteria in small intestine, and these bacteria can make folic acid – so deficiency is not eminent. If you are supplementing with high doses of B12, you may not be able to tell if you have a folic acid deficiency as they present as one in the same – megaloblastic anemia. Other symptoms can be vague or similar to other B vitamin deficiencies: depression, anxiety, headache, fatigue, apathy, confusion, dementia, polyneuropathy, cracks at the corners of your mouth, swollen tongue, brownish pigmented skin, low muscle tone in babies, poor immune response. This is just one of many reasons why it is always advised to seek a medical expert opinion on your supplement regime.

 

From the heart and mind of your local naturopathic doctor, Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND. www.naturalaura.ca www.forwardhealth.ca

 

Source:

Gaby, A. (2011) Nutritional Medicine. Fritz Perlberg Publishing. Concord, NH.

New! B12 injections & more

B12 intramuscular injections are useful for those deficient in B12, pernicious anemia, fighting depression, stress or fatigue, diabetic neuropathy, chemotherapy induced neuropathy, herpes zoster (including prevention and treatment of shingles).

Book your Appointment Now

Existing patients:

Injection B12 1000ug + 1mg Folic Acid = $16.00b12folic
Injection B12 5000ug + 1mg Folic Acid = $18.00
You could be at risk for B12 deficiency if you are taking the following medications: Metformin, H2 blockers (Pepcid, Zantac), Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s) (Nexium, Prevacid, Losec, Tecta, Pantoloc, Pariet, Dexilant) , Phenytoin, also long term use of Oral Contraceptives or Aspirin. Excessive alcoholic intake longer than 2 weeks, inflammatory bowel disease, Celiac disease,  gastric or small intestinal resection, prolonged vegan diet, no meat, poultry or dairy product consumption, age over 75 years. Long term supplementation of Folic Acid.

Signs of B12 deficiency: Unexplained neurologic symptoms like paresthesias, numbness, poor motor coordination, memory lapses or cognitive and personality changes.

B12 status is measured through a Complete Blood Count (CBC), blood analysis and Serum B12 (cobalamin), and folate. Related tests include Complete Blood Count, Methylmalonic Acid, Homocysteine, B Vitamins, Intrinsic Factor Antibody, Parietal Cell Antibody, Reticulocyte Count, Blood Smear. It is a good idea to get tested when you have symptoms of anemia such as weakness, tiredness, pale skin and/or tingling or itching sensations, eye twitching, memory loss, altered mental status which are signs of neuropathy. It is useful to have a baseline status before supplementation so you can monitor treatment effectiveness when if you have vitamin B12 or folate deficiency. Ask about costs of testing.

Why is folic acid included?  It helps B12 get into the red blood cell.

Naturally occurring Folic Acid, known as folate,  is found in leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, dry beans and peas, liver, and yeast. Vitamin B12 is found in foods from animals, such as red meat, fish, poultry, milk, yogurt, and eggs.  Dietary sources of B12 and folate also include fortified cereals, breads, and other grain products.

What else is new?

2) New naturopathic service – Ear lavage – for those with a lot of ear cerumen (wax)  a naturopathic protocol involves home treatments then an in-office ear wash. This will be assumed as part of the appointment fee, however please note we can do this! Some ear cerumen is healthy, but too much or a blockage can impact hearing and can be uncomfortable.

Also a reminder that these services are available to patients:
a) Laboratory analysis pay for service – many of the same lab tests requested by your family doctor may be ordered through Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND, just know you have to pay out of pocket. I cannot post a price list but can provide pricing on an individualized, as needed basis.

b) Urinalysis $3 -additional to appointment fee Naturopathic medicine has great choices for relieving chronic cystitis and acute or persistent urinary tract infections. We also are trained to know when to get the patient to their MD for antibiotics.

c) Strep Throat Swab – $7 fee additional to appointment fee. Rapid Strep Test – the same one your family doc will do, just added convenience of getting some great advice and prescription for natural medicine and antimicrobials, if it turns out you don’t need mainstream antibiotics.

From the heart and mind of your local naturopathic doctor, Dr. Laura M. Brown , ND