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Excess Estrogen:

Pills, Pesticides, Petroleum,
and Plastics

Many reports have been published for quite some time now suggesting that environmental contamination, specifically plastics in the water, has caused lack of sexual differentiation among fish and a loss of their capacity to procreate. Warnings went out to mothers that baby boys should be protected from such risks by avoidance of plastics, including such basic items as baby bottles and perhaps even teething rings and plastics in diapers. While no proof seems to exist that the danger is that great for males, what I have seen over the 30 years that I have been active in the holistic health field is a reduction in fertility, this to the extent that at least a quarter of couples marrying today cannot take for granted that they will be able to have children without some dramatic intervention. This is probably due to a host of hormone disrupting chemicals to which most of us are exposed in greater or lesser measure. While this alone is grounds for serious concern, of even greater consequence is the increased incidence of cancer, especially among a younger and younger sector of the population.

To understand the issues, one needs to know where all the estrogen comes from. A great part of it is ingested when consuming animal products where hormones were used to bulk up the animals, make them weigh more or produce more milk for the market. About 75% of all growth hormones found in human bodies are transmitted through ingestion of animal products. Much of the rest is from use of the birth control pill and hormone replacement therapy. Thus, the likelihood of women having a serious excess of estrogen-like substances in the body is much greater than for men. This has a destabilizing effect on hormone balance but is less likely to interfere with sexual differentiation (but it could exaggerate the traits associated with the female gender such as the size of breasts and curves.)

Pesticides are another source of xenoestrogens, and petroleum products, including secondary exposure by commuting in heavy traffic, are additional hazards for excessive absorption of substances that mimic natural hormones. Then, there are the plastics, everything from PVC pipes to food wraps to car seats and furniture. I suppose we could add a fifth "p": phytoestrogens, precursors to human hormones that may stimulate the body to produce more estrogen. Some experts, such as Andrew Weil, do not believe that phytoestrogens should be regarded in the same manner as xenoestrogens because the body has hormone receptors that can choose whether or not to utilize an available substance. Soy beans and red clover blossoms are two of the more frequently consumed phytoestrogens.

What happens in the body is that the presence of these xenoestrogens throws off natural hormonal balance, such as the ratio of estrogen to progesterone, as well as trace mineral balance, especially the copper to zinc ratio. When there is excess estrogen, there is a tendency to accumulate copper which, in turn, leads to lowered immunity and a higher incidence of viral, fungal, and yeast infections. Some researchers suspect that mothers with this condition are more likely to give birth to zinc-deficient children with attention deficit disorder. The local news station is airing a broadcast tonight (3 Oct 2002) in which it is stated that 42% of American women can be expected to develop cancer in their lifetimes. Copper excess has long been associated with cancer.

Nature loves balance. Which herbs would you think are highest in zinc? Bilberry, famous for its ability to restore vision, and mistletoe, the cornerstone of the Anthroposophical cancer treatment called Iscador. Why bilberry and the eyes? The same factors that result in excess estrogen also affect the fire-water balance and favor cloudiness of vision, cataracts, glaucoma, and even blindness associated with diabetes, another condition that is reaching epidemic proportions, even among the very young.


Water Element
Fire Element
Water Retention
Viscosity - Joints

Blood Sugar - Density
Acuity - Weight

Anabolism - Catabolism


Bilberry Extract


Bilberry Extract, 2 oz.
Sacred Medicine Sanctuary




How worried should you be about
excess estrogen and xenoestrogens?

I cut my teeth on hormones. I have been fascinated by them for many years. At the risk of a considerable digression, let me explain a bit about where I am coming from on the subject of hormones.

Hormones are secretions of endocrine glands

They are extremely powerful chemicals that act as stimulators or inhibitors of physiological functions. Each endocrine gland produces a variety of hormones, and these have dramatic effects on body chemistry as well as mood. Two very simple examples will make this abundantly clear. First, when faced with a sudden threat, such as a traffic accident, output of adrenaline will easily increase 30-fold in a split second, this whether or not you dialogue consciously with your adrenals and authorize them to flood you with these hormones. Basically, what happens in a situation such as this is that the adrenal hormones override all other physiological and psychological agendas so that you have both the wits and reflexes to respond in a manner that will preserve your life. Unless you really understand this point, you will miss what is abhorrent about hormone doctoring.

Imagine for a moment that you are commuting in traffic. The radio is on and you are listening to an interview on NPR, and you are beginning to understand some global issue in more depth. Suddenly a car runs a red light and everything that was on your mind is upstaged by the emergency that is occurring. All your senses are sharper, your life history passes through your mind's eye, and you miraculously escape but you arrive at your destination with heart pounding and very little else on your mind than how you barely escaped an accident. This has happened to most of us at one time or another, but it doesn't happen every time you put some food into your mouth.

The most common ingested hormone is some kind of growth hormone, an estrogenic hormone that is usually synthetic. Such hormones relate to the reproductive system of your body, not the adrenals. Normally, women's hormones cycle, basically between an estrogenic phase and progesterogenic phase. This makes them very different from men whose hormonal levels are much more consistent (but also more insistent—because some testerosterone is produced by the adrenals.) Early in life, hormones from the reproductive system help us not only to grow but to differentiate along sexual lines. These little chemicals are so powerful that they decide whose gonads are inside the body and whose are outside. They decide whether or not you will have large or small breasts, curves, and perhaps also PMS or whether your voice will go down an octave and hair will grow on your face and perhaps also chest. They also signal the body when to stop growing taller by triggering the release of chemicals that cap the ends of bones. Puberty is the next big change in life after the first one: birth. A deficiency of hormones of the reproductive system means that a person will tend to be more androgynous and also less fertile. For those who are interested in energetics, it is fair to say that sexual differentiation as well as fertility are negotiated by the air-water balance. An airy person will look more youthful during the first half of life but these people will not have strong libidos nor pronounced sexuality. This said, they are usually hugely friendly and intelligent. If a person is more watery, they have a much keener interest in the opposite sex, in gender roles, and usually also in having their own families. It's a continuum that when affected only by one's own hormones is precarious enough, but it becomes absolutely wild when exogenous hormones and/or xenohormones are blended into the pot (more correctly blood because hormones are secreted directly into the blood stream.)

I wrote an article on the air-water spectrum that is on a new web site I host, one that is devoted exclusively to constitutional balance. On the Kitchen Doctor tapes, I used a very strong word with respect to hormonal manipulations: reprehensible. Several people have suggested I tone down my language, but I cannot do so because just as you do not have a choice about whether or not to feel a surge in adrenaline when confronted by danger, you do not have a choice about how to feel when the hormones in your body usurp your consciousness. A good example of this and one that keeps to the air-water polarity is concentration. If a student, for instance, is trying to study for exams but his or her hormones are raging, it will basically be easier to think about sex than studies. I know some hugely cynical persons who understand these issues as well as I do who suggest that the contamination of our food supply and environment with xenoestrogens is not caused exclusively by ignorance and greed but rather that it is part of a conspiracy to keep people from thinking for themselves and acting independently. . . because the truth is that you cannot think if you are preoccupied by the hormonal tyrannies.

Chaste Tree Flowers

Agnus castus

The worst hormonal imbalance I have ever suffered was very recently. It occurred immediately after some dental work in which a bonding agent oozed when a Cerec restoration was glued in place. My reaction to this was so extreme that I honestly have to say that I totally understand what people mean when they say, "I don't feel like myself." I think it also offers an entirely new perspective on interpersonal relations and even crime because there are times when hormones are so blinding that one would be inclined towards behaviors that would otherwise be foreign.

When one has excess hormones from a personal or exogenous source, the liver has to metabolize the excess. Sticking to the two examples thus far introduced, the adrenal and reproductive glands, we probably all know a few people who are hypervigilant. These people are running on adrenaline, and it's very difficult to say which came first, fear or fatigue, but I would place my bet on fear. It is exhausting to be on one's guard all the time . . . and it is beyond one's control until one acquires insight into what is causing the heightened alertness and until measures are taken to render this wariness unnecessary. Similarly, if one is hormonal, one is conditioned by the hormones.

In a natural state, the hormones are a reflection of one's true being. They do not cause a person to behave differently than he or she would under normal circumstances. Rather, hormones support one's expression of one's true self. Once you understand this, you will go organic fast!

Interestingly, one of the herbs that has been traditionally used to regulate behavior stemming from excess hormones is chaste berries, Agnus castus. These were given to monks and nuns to help them maintain their vows of celibacy. These vows were considered necessary for three main reasons. The first is the one best understood by the Catholic Church (and obviously not too well observed today) and it has to do with one's ability to serve two masters. To the extent that very natural reproductive hormones have a tendency to encourage deep bonding, it is difficult to love a mortal and serve one's parishioners and God. The second reason for celibacy is more esoteric. It has to do with the transmutation of energy from the reproductive center of the body into the intellectual and spiritual centers. I could write a book on this issue alone, but I will leave it here for the moment with the broad comment that most people have some circuitry that allows for movement between these two areas, sometimes with the result that sexual expression stimulates intellectual creativity or vice versa. The most interesting reason for celibacy, and one that easily misfires, is that life energy that is conserved can be used for regenerating one's own body. In the East, where great emphasis is placed on wisdom, the education of a sage is regarded as a very time intensive endeavor. It was therefore more economic for swamis and yogis and lamas to live a long time in the same body so that the process of educating would not have to be repeated as often.

It is fine to conserve one's life force IF one actually circulates it in a manner that produces the repair and renewal sought, but for most people, the excess becomes a cause of swelling or hardening of parts of the reproductive system. Congestion with these hormones can overtax the liver and disrupt the flow of bile. When this happens, the imbalance has moved to the fire-water axis where it affects metabolism and digestion as well as the body's ability to detoxify. The technical term for this is cholestasis and while conventional medicine appears not to have a clue as to what causes gall stones, holistic medicine is quite a bit more articulate on the subject.


See Holy Basil, Tulsi, on DoshaBalance.com

Seven things to avoid



More on Water, Milk, Pesticides

See also the Articles on Taste and Elements || Pairs of Opposites



Sacred Medicine Sanctuary
Poulsbo, Washington

Copyright by Sacred Medicine Sanctuary 2004, 2007, 2009

*The material provided on this site is for informational purposes only. The author is not a medical doctor. The statements made represent the author's personal opinions and are not intended to replace the services of health care professionals. The content and products discussed have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information on this page and the products available on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.