PMS and Candida Overgrowth: The Dangers of Estrogen Dominance
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Each year, millions of women seek out help for hormonal issues that are commonly identified as PMS (premenstrual syndrome).
What Is PMS?
PMS can present itself in a variety of ways, ranging from emotional symptoms like depression to physical symptoms like fatigue and bloating.
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. And yet, up to 80 percent of women have used oral contraceptives, known to wound the inner ecosystem and open the door to more serious side effects.1 For women with a genetic predisposition, using birth control could triple the risk of Crohn’s disease and further devastate gut health.2 Oral contraceptives have also been associated with sexual dysfunction, bone thinning, fatal blood clots, and an increased risk of heart disease and cervical cancer.
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 are 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.
Targeting Candida overgrowth will deal with the root cause of chronic PMS and can balance hormone levels. Eating cultured vegetables daily, made with the Veggie Culture Starter, can strengthen the gut with good bacteria to keep Candida contained.
How PMS and Candida Affect Your Hormones
For those who suffer from PMS, it is important to understand that research shows estrogen supports the growth of Candida.3,4 Research also shows that a common cause of Candida overgrowth is the use of oral contraceptives.5,6,7
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 will further the growth and spread of yeast. Candida also produces a waste product that, in the human body, mimics estrogen.8 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.
Understanding Estrogen Dominance
Estrogen dominance occurs when there is 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 occur at any time in a woman’s life.
Besides symptoms related to PMS, other signs of estrogen dominance include:
- Breast swelling, breast tenderness, and fibrocystic breast disease
- Hair loss
- Heavy and irregular bleeding during menstruation
- Migraines and headaches
- Ovarian cysts
- Some forms of breast cancer
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 all contribute to estrogen dominance.
A healthy liver is essential for many reasons. The liver works nonstop to maintain the right balance of hormones in the body. When properly cared for, the liver will diligently remove excess estrogen and toxins from the body.
Unfortunately, most forms of conventional therapy poorly manage PMS, which is often 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 have been tied with a more difficult transition during menopause.9 Even worse, if PMS related to Candida is left untreated, a woman can pass the fungal infection on to her baby when she becomes pregnant. Up to 85 percent of women experience a vaginal yeast infection when giving birth that passes dangerous pathogens on from mother to baby, instead of the beneficial bacteria needed to cultivate immunity and a strong inner ecosystem at birth. Like PMS, a Candida yeast infection during birth is considered “normal,” with the potential to devastate a baby’s immunity and early development.
Because the body is a unified whole, when you affect one system, you also affect the rest of the body.
For example, it is important to remember that:
- Estrogen can support the unregulated growth of Candida. And Candida overgrowth encourages estrogen dominance. Estrogen is a hormone and plays an important role in the endocrine system. Candida is a yeast that is naturally a part of our inner ecology. While these two systems seem separate in the body, the most current research tells us otherwise.
- Antidepressants can affect healthy gut function. This is specifically true of antidepressants that influence the neurotransmitter serotonin. It helps to remember 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 can damage several areas of the gastrointestinal tract. 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.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that at least 85 percent of menstruating women have one or more PMS symptom each month.10
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 often makes matters worse.
6 Ways to Tame Chronic PMS
If you think Candida may play a role in your symptoms of PMS, consider:
- Including fermented foods in your diet. Make your own fermented foods at home with the Body Ecology Veggie Culture Starter. The good bacteria found in fermented foods helps to control Candida yeast overgrowth.
- Adding fermented beverages to your diet. You can make your own fermented drinks at home with the Body Ecology Kefir Starter or drink ready-made probiotic beverages.
- Limiting consumption of sugar. Sugar feeds yeast, weakens the immune system, and blocks hormone receptors.
- Following the Body Ecology Principle of 80/20. If you eat all the right foods but overeat or eat too many starchy foods, this can contribute to the overgrowth of Candida. The Principle of 80/20 coaches us on how to properly combine foods for optimal digestion.
- Taking a high-quality fish oil. The omega-3s in a high-quality fish oil have been found to alleviate inflammation, linked to symptoms like pain and acne, and signs of emotional distress, like depression or anxiety.11,12
- 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.
What To Remember Most About This Article:
Most conventional treatments for PMS only focus on alleviating the physical symptoms. If you regularly suffer from PMS, it’s important to understand that estrogen levels can support the growth of Candida — which can also be triggered by oral contraceptives used to treat PMS. Left untreated, Candida overgrowth can lead to estrogen dominance, causing an imbalance of hormones in the body.
To beat Candida and control PMS, try the following tips today:
- Eat more fermented foods to replenish your digestive system with friendly bacteria that can help to control Candida overgrowth.
- Drink more fermented beverages and probiotic drinks for a daily dose of beneficial, Candida-fighting bacteria.
- Limit the amount of sugar you eat since sugar feeds Candida yeast.
- Follow the Body Ecology Principle of 80/20 to properly combine foods in a way that doesn’t feed Candida.
- Take a high-quality fish oil rich in omega-3s to relieve inflammation.
- Try a gentle liver cleanse to flush the body of excess estrogen.
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- 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
- Khalili H, Higuchi LM, Ananthakrishnan AN, et al. Oral contraceptives, reproductive factors and risk of inflammatory bowel disease. 2012.
- The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). “PMS may spell menopause symptoms later — but not hot flashes.”
- 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.
- S White, et al. Candida albicans morphogenesis is influenced by estrogen. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. 1997; 53 (9): 744-749.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- X Zhao, et al. Oestrogen-binding protein in Candida albicans: antibody development and cellular localization by electron immunocytochemistry. 1995; 141: 2685 – 2692.
- LM Dickerson, et al. Premenstrual Syndrome. Am Fam Physician. 2003 April; 67 (8): 1743 – 1752.
- 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.
- 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.