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The perfect storm: How PMS and candida affect your hormones

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Each year, millions of women seek out help for hormonal issues that are commonly identified as PMS (premenstrual syndrome).

What’s PMS? It can present itself in several different ways

culture starter

Targeting candida overgrowth can help deal with the root cause of chronic PMS and may help balance hormone levels. Eating cultured vegetables daily, made with our Veggie Culture Starter, can help strengthen your gut with good bacteria to keep candida under control.

PMS may range from emotional symptoms like depression, anxiety, irritability, and mood swings to physical symptoms like fatigue, bloating, insomnia, and changes in appetite.

At least 80 percent of menstruating women have one or more physical or psychiatric PMS symptoms each month.

Once PMS or another hormonal imbalance is diagnosed, most physicians will prescribe some kind of hormone replacement therapy or an oral contraceptive, also known as birth control or “the pill.” This is done in order to regulate hormonal rhythms.

Typically, birth control only alleviates the physical symptoms of PMS. Oral contraceptives have been one of the top two methods of contraception for women since 1982, with potential to wound the inner ecosystem and open the door to more serious side effects.1,2

For women with a genetic predisposition, using birth control could triple the risk of Crohn’s disease and further devastate gut health.3 Oral contraceptives may also be associated with sexual dysfunction, bone thinning, fatal blood clots, and an increased risk of heart disease (for some women) and cervical cancer.4,5

Much of conventional therapy focuses on treating the symptoms of PMS. This is only partially effective — if effective at all. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin or ibuprofen are widely available, and they’re a frequent go-to for pain relief. If the emotional symptoms related to PMS are severe enough, a woman may be placed on an anti-depressant.

What does PMS have to do with candida? Watch out for estrogen dominance

For those who suffer from PMS, it’s important to understand that research shows estrogen supports the growth of candida.6,7 Studies also indicate that a common cause of candida overgrowth is the use of oral contraceptives.8-10

Once candida becomes a full-blown fungal infection, things have a tendency to spiral out of control.

The nature of candidiasis is a vicious cycle. For example, candida can overwhelm the tissue in the digestive tract and generate inflammation, which may further the growth and spread of yeast.

Candida also produces a waste product that, in the human body, mimics estrogen.11 This means that a candida infection will send out a chemical message that your body is producing more estrogen than it really is.

The effect of candida overgrowth on a woman’s hormonal system is rarely acknowledged. This is especially true when managing a diagnosis of PMS or any other time in a woman’s life when hormones are fluctuating to the point of estrogen dominance.

An easy way to understand the dangers of estrogen dominance

Estrogen dominance occurs when there’s an unhealthy imbalance of hormones. In other words, the scales are tipped in estrogen’s favor. While a woman’s body needs estrogen, more is not necessarily better. When it comes to hormones, balance is key. Estrogen dominance can take place at any time in a woman’s life.

Besides symptoms related to PMS, other signs of estrogen dominance may include:

  • Breast swelling, breast tenderness, and fibrocystic breast disease
  • Hair loss
  • Heavy and irregular bleeding during menstruation
  • Infertility
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Some forms of breast cancer12

What leads to estrogen dominance? Candida overgrowth; outside sources of estrogen, such as soy; an overworked liver; hormone replacement therapy; and the most common forms of birth control may all contribute to estrogen dominance.

A healthy liver is essential for many reasons. The liver works nonstop to help maintain the right balance of hormones in the body. When properly cared for, your liver will diligently remove excess estrogen and toxins.

Try it now: Body Ecology’s LivAmend.

Unfortunately, most forms of conventional therapy poorly manage PMS, which may often be a sign of a deeper disorder. These therapies, such as birth control, pain management, and pharmaceutical antidepressants, only address the symptoms. It’s times like these when it’s critical to take PMS seriously, instead of chalking it up as a “normal” part of menstruation.

Chronic symptoms of PMS may promote a more difficult transition during menopause. Even worse, if PMS related to candida is left untreated, a woman could pass the fungal infection on to her baby when she becomes pregnant. Up to 75 percent of women may experience at least one vaginal yeast infection in their lifetime.13

If this occurs while giving birth, it may pass dangerous pathogens on from mother to child, instead of the beneficial bacteria needed to cultivate a baby’s immunity and inner ecosystem. Like PMS, a candida yeast infection during birth is considered “normal,” with the potential to devastate an infant’s immunity and early development.

It’s important to remember that:

  • Estrogen may support the unregulated growth of candida.6,7 And candida overgrowth may encourage estrogen dominance.11 Estrogen is a hormone and plays an essential role in the endocrine system. Candida is a yeast that’s naturally a part of your inner ecology. While these two systems seem separate in the body, the research tells us otherwise.
  • Antidepressants may affect healthy gut function.14 This is specifically true of antidepressants that influence the neurotransmitter serotonin. It helps to consider that the nervous system and the digestive system have a strong connection. In fact, we now know that the brain is not the only place neurotransmitters are made — the gastrointestinal tract makes them too.
  • NSAIDs may damage several areas of the gastrointestinal tract.15 The most common adverse reaction associated with pain relief medications like aspirin and ibuprofen happens in the gut. Typically, NSAIDs damage the mucosal lining in the stomach and the small intestine.

At least 80 percent of menstruating women have one or more physical or psychiatric PMS symptoms each month.16

While there are several drug therapies on the market to meet this demand, none of these conventional therapies target the root cause of PMS symptoms. And, in the case of candida overgrowth, hormone therapy may possibly make matters worse.

6 ways to tame chronic PMS (and contain candida)

If you think candida may play a role in your symptoms of PMS, consider:

1. Adding fermented foods to your diet. Make your own fermented foods at home with the Body Ecology Veggie Culture Starter. The good bacteria found in fermented foods help to control candida yeast overgrowth.

2. Including fermented beverages too. You can make your own fermented drinks at home with the Body Ecology Kefir Starter or drink ready-made probiotic beverages.

3. Limiting how much sugar you eat. Sugar may feed yeast, weaken the immune system, and block hormone receptors.

4. Following the Body Ecology Principle of 80/20. If you eat all the right foods but overeat or eat too many starchy foods, this may contribute to the overgrowth of candida. The Principle of 80/20 can guide you on how to properly combine foods for optimal digestion.

5. Taking a high-quality fish oil. The omega-3s in fish oil have been found to help alleviate inflammation, linked to symptoms like pain and acne, and signs of emotional distress, like depression or anxiety.17,18

6. Gently cleansing the liver. Among other things, the liver helps to detoxify the body of excess estrogen. Make sure that your liver is healthy with an occasional liver cleanse or by incorporating liver-friendly botanicals into your daily routine, like those found in LivAmend.

Put it in perspective, and it’s encouraging: Because the body is a unified whole, when you positively affect one system, you also affect the others.

REFERENCES:

  1. 1. Kavanaugh ML and Jerman J, Contraceptive method use in the United States: trends and characteristics between 2008 and 2014, Contraception, 2018, 97(1):14–21, doi:j.contraception.2017.10.003.
  2. 2. Margolis L., Adami  H.O., Luo  J., Ye  W., Weiderpass  E.; A prospective study of oral contraceptive use and risk of myocardial infarction among Swedish women. Fertil Steril. 88 2007:310-316.
  3. 3. Khalili H, Higuchi LM, Ananthakrishnan AN, et al. Oral contraceptives, reproductive factors and risk of inflammatory bowel disease. 2012.
  4. 4. Nessa A, Latif SA, Siddiqui NI. Risk of cardiovascular diseases with oral contraceptives. Mymensingh Med J. 2006 Jul;15(2):220-4. doi: 10.3329/mmj.v15i2.49. PMID: 16878110.
  5. 5. Asthana S, Busa V, Labani S. Oral contraceptives use and risk of cervical cancer-A systematic review & meta-analysis. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2020 Apr;247:163-175. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2020.02.014. Epub 2020 Feb 21. PMID: 32114321.
  6. 6. X Zhang, et al. Estrogen effects on Candida albicans: a potential virulence-regulating mechanism. J Infect Dis. 2000 Apr; 181 (4):1441 – 1446. Epub 2000 Apr 13.
  7. 7. S White, et al. Candida albicans morphogenesis is influenced by estrogen. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. 1997; 53 (9): 744-749.
  8. 8. GG Donders, et al. Management of recurrent vulvo-vaginal candidosis as a chronic illness. Gynecol Obstet Invest. 2010; 70 (4): 306 – 321. Epub 2010 Oct 16.
  9. 9. YM Zakout, et al. Frequency of Candida species in Papanicolaou smears taken from Sudanese oral hormonal contraceptives users. Biotech Histochem. 2012 Feb; 87 (2): 95 – 97. Epub 2011 Jan 14.
  10. 10. MI Brusca, et al. The impact of oral contraceptives on women’s periodontal health and the subgingival occurrence of aggressive periodontopathogens and Candida species. J Periodontol. 2010 Jul; 81 (7): 1010 – 1018.
  11. 11. X Zhao, et al. Oestrogen-binding protein in Candida albicans: antibody development and cellular localization by electron immunocytochemistry. 1995; 141: 2685 – 2692.
  12. 12. Yue W, Wang JP, Li Y, et al. Effects of estrogen on breast cancer development: Role of estrogen receptor independent mechanisms. Int J Cancer. 2010;127(8):1748-1757. doi:10.1002/ijc.25207.
  13. 13. Sobel JD. Vulvovaginal candidosis. Lancet. 2007 Jun 9;369(9577):1961-71. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60917-9. PMID: 17560449.
  14. 14. Lukić I, Getselter D, Ziv O, et al. Antidepressants affect gut microbiota and Ruminococcus flavefaciens is able to abolish their effects on depressive-like behavior. Transl Psychiatry. 2019;9(1):133. Published 2019 Apr 9. doi:10.1038/s41398-019-0466-x.
  15. 15. Bhatt AP, Gunasekara DB, Speer J, Reed MI, Peña AN, Midkiff BR, Magness ST, Bultman SJ, Allbritton NL, Redinbo MR. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug-Induced Leaky Gut Modeled Using Polarized Monolayers of Primary Human Intestinal Epithelial Cells. ACS Infect Dis. 2018 Jan 12;4(1):46-52. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.7b00139. Epub 2017 Nov 10. PMID: 29094594; PMCID: PMC6013262.
  16. 16. Sabrina Hofmeister, DO. Premenstrual Syndrome and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Am Fam Physician. 2016 Aug 1;94(3):236-240.
  17. 17. MG Rubin, et al. Acne vulgaris, mental health and omega-3 fatty acids: a report of cases. Lipids Health Dis. 2008 Oct; 13 (7):36.
  18. 18. MD Lewis. Suicide deaths of active-duty US military and ω-3 fatty-acid status: a case-control comparison. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011 Dec; 72 (12): 1585 – 1590. Epub 2011 Aug 23.
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