Our microbiome can influence a number of things, including inflammation and metabolism. Our microbiome also plays a role in our hormonal balance. That’s right! Our “estrobolome” consists of a group of our microbiota that play a role in estrogen metabolism – also known as Phase III detoxification.
Why is estrogen detoxification important?
Our hormones are tightly regulated. They are produced for a specific purpose, for a specific amount of time. To make sure they don’t stick around for too long, we need to make sure our detoxification pathways are robust, so they can efficiently clear out our hormones. If they’re not effectively cleared out, you may find yourself with symptoms of hormonal imbalance such as irregular cycles, PMS, heavy, painful periods etc.
The liver is known for its role in detoxification. There are two-phases, phase I and phase II, which are responsible for breaking down anything from pharmaceuticals to our own hormones.
What is often missed is the huge role our digestive system has on effectively clearing out estrogens. This is known as Phase III detoxification.
Resident bacteria in our GI tract are responsible for producing enzymes that play a role in the final step of estrogen detoxification. The most studied enzyme is called beta-glucuronidase.
In the gut, beta-glucuronidase binds to the incoming estrogens that have been dumped into the colon from the liver. Next, it breaks down the estrogen, allowing it to be re-absorbed back INTO the blood. This prevents your body from getting rid of!
As you can see, your microbiome plays a key role in your hormone balance.
Stool Microbiome Testing
It’s hypothesized that the over-production of beta-glucuronidase may be a contributing factor in estrogen excess picture (heavy, painful periods, PMS etc.), or under-production may contribute to estrogen deficiency and it’s related conditions. If you’re also experiencing irregular bowel movements, IBS-like symptoms or inflammation, testing your gut microbiome may be indicated.
With our stool microbiome test, we’re able to assess for dysbiosis – an imbalance in your microbiome. This test also assesses digestive enzyme levels and inflammation at the level of the gut lining. Additionally, we can directly test the level of beta-glucuronidase – an informative marker for phase III detoxification of your estrogen.
Treatment should include regulating digestion, ensuring a diverse microbiome (i.e. pre and probiotics), optimizing diet. There are key nutrients that can help support these pathways. To learn more, book in for a free 15-minute phone consult with one of our naturopathic doctors.
Dr. Ashley Damm, ND