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Hormonal Imbalances

by June Butlin(more info)

listed in women's health, originally published in issue 26 - March 1998

Over the past 18 months I have been consulted by more and more clients suffering from hormonal imbalances. These include premenstrual tension, menopausal symptoms, infertility and problems occurring from the side effects of hormone replacement therapy and the birth control pill.

The reasons for this rise in hormonal imbalances appears to be a combination of the following factors: The higher levels of oestrogenic compounds in the atmosphere (xenoestrogens) such as nonylphenols in plastics, paints, detergents, lubricating oils, pesticides and industrial chemicals; poor nutrition in terms of vitamin and mineral status; emotional, chemical and physical stress and the use of synthetic hormones.

Synthetic hormones are used by the medical profession to deal with hormonal problems. These hormones are similar in structure to our own hormones, but alter the natural balance in our bodies. For this reason there are major controversies about their effectiveness. I firmly believe that natural alternatives to balancing hormones should be explored first as the repercussions from synthetic hormones can be very severe as Cloe, my client, discovered to her detriment.

Cloe had a normal menstrual cycle with very few problems until she went on the combined birth control pill, `Ovranette', to prevent pregnancy. She was totally unaware of any side effects of taking the pill. She stayed on this contraception for three months only, as she did not feel that it suited her.

From that time onwards Cloe suffered from severe problems with her menses which were regular, but heavy and painful. Her gynaecologist concluded that she had high levels of progesterone in her body along with a lack of synchronicity among the hormones.

He offered no further advice as to how to deal with this imbalance other than taking further synthetic hormones.

At this point Cloe came to see me. A careful case history was conducted with particular reference to the timing of the symptoms in relation to the menstrual cycle. Cloe's problems started at ovulation, on day 14 of the menstrual cycle, and lasted for two days. The symptoms included moodiness, sore breasts and water retention. From day 21 these symptoms returned with a vengeance, and on days 23 -- 28 spotting occurred before the commencement of the menses. On days 1 and 2 there was a light blood flow. On days 3 and 4, however, the blood flow became so intense that there was a need to change her sanitary protection, every hour, for 24 -- 48 hours. During that time she suffered intense pain along with stomach cramps, headaches, nausea, diarrhoea and sleepless nights. She was also extremely fatigued throughout her period and for approximately a week afterwards.

Apart from problems with her menses Cloe had slight eczema, dry skin and poor circulation. She was very active, took regular relaxation and exercise and had a reasonable quality diet.

The kinesiology assessment suggested major imbalances of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and progesterone and that the oestrogens were not converting properly. The liver also needed support in the detoxification process. Her body was low in vitamin A, which depletes when taking the pill, along with B6, vitamin E, Mg, Zn and Fe. She was also sensitive to wheat and celery. Her heavy periods suggested that she was producing too much arachidonic acid in the endometrium (lining of the uterus). This results in the release of too much `prostaglandin 2' which is thought to be the major factor in both excessive bleeding and menstrual cramps. To counteract this Cloe needed both the essential fatty acids, GLA and EPA.

My main strategy was to rebalance the internal environment in the body by giving the correct nutrients and by cleansing the liver. Cloe followed a liver cleansing programme which included Silymarin, a herb which helps to reduce excessive oestrogen levels. Her basic diet included whole foods, particularly vegetarian foods, fish and lots of water. Phytoestrogens (oestrogen balancers) such as parsley, cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, soy beans, nuts, whole grains, apples and alfalfa were emphasised. She was also asked to avoid the xenoestrogens, wheat, dairy and celery.

The supplement programme consisted of a multi vitamin with a high degree of vitamin B6, vitamin A, Fe, Zn, EPA and GLA.

After twelve weeks Cloe wrote; "My symptoms are improving, but day 14 is still a problem. On day 3 the pain was very bad for about 24 hours in both my lower stomach and in the centre of my lower back. The pain peaked and subsided continually. I was left with a dull ache on day 4."

At this point I felt that there might be something else causing the symptoms, perhaps mild endometriosis, a suspicion shared by Cloe's doctor.

I gave Cloe support for the adrenal glands, as a way of helping to balance the hormones, by using `wild yam' and `saw palmetto'. On good days deep abdominal massage with fennel, rose and lavender oils were used. The essential oils are hormone balancers and the massage increases the lymph circulation, and helps to break up any tissue adhesions caused by the endometriosis.

The outcome after 7 months is that Cloe has normal menses with slight discomfort only on day 3. All other presenting symptoms of PMT have cleared. Her skin conditions and circulation have also improved.

Cloe is now well on the way to recovery; however, her symptoms may have been avoided had she not used the pill. I urge everyone considering using any form of hormone therapy to carefully consider the clinical research evidence, in order to make a conscious and appropriate decision.


WDDTY Endometriosis.Volume 5, no 10.January 1995.
WDDTY Menstrual Mayhem.Volume 8, no 8 September 1997.
Horrobin D.F. The role of EFAs and prostaglandins in the premenstrual syndrome J. Reprod Med 1983;28(7):465-68.
BMA New Guide to Medicines and drugs. 1994. ISBN 0-7513-0102-7. Darling Kindersley Ltd.
Optimal Wellness, Ralph Galan, M.D. 1995. ISBN 0-345-35874-0. Ballantine Books.
Balancing Hormones Naturally. Kate Neil. 1995. ISBN 1 870976. ION Press.
The Better Pregnancy Diet. Patrick Holford and Liz Lorente. 1992. ISBN 1-870976-08-8 ION Press.


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About June Butlin

June M Butlin PhD is a trained teacher, nutritionist, kinesiologist, aromatherapist, fitness trainer and sports therapist. She is a writer, health researcher and lecturer and is committed to helping people achieve their optimum level of health and runs a private practice in Wiltshire. June can be contacted on 01225 869 284;

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