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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Angelica L Dumapit on May 16, 2022

Is Estrogen Dominance Causing Your Weight Gain?

Estrogen is a necessary hormone that is responsible for cardiovascular health, reproductive health, and more. But too much may be impacting your ability to lose weight. Learn how to correct estrogen dominance here.

Visceral fat min scaled

Estrogen dominance occurs when there is an imbalance in the body’s estrogen to progesterone ratios.

Higher than normal levels of estrogen may lead to several unwanted symptoms, including problems with menstruation and weight gain around the mid-section.

If you’ve been struggling to keep the weight off despite a healthy diet and exercise regimen, then you may want to have your estrogen levels checked.

In this guide, we’ll explain what estrogen dominance is and how to use natural therapies to help correct this hormonal imbalance.

What Is Estrogen Dominance?

Estrogen dominance goes by several other names, including high estrogen and unopposed estrogen. It occurs when the body does not produce enough progesterone, leading to higher than normal levels of estrogen in the body.

Normally, progesterone and estrogen work together to create a balancing effect on the body. When estrogen levels become too high, it may increase the risk of several unwanted complications, such as cell overgrowth, tumors in the uterine, and reproductive problems.

Causes

Estrogen dominance may also occur when the body produces too much of it. It may also occur due to certain medications you are taking or because the body is not breaking down estrogen and clearing it as it should.

High levels of stress may also lead to high levels of estrogen. Research shows that producing high amounts of cortisol in response to stress immediately increases the body’s estrogen levels. Drinking too much alcohol or having liver complications may also impair the body’s ability to break down and clear estrogen.

Lastly, exposure to synthetic xenoestrogens may increase estrogens in the body. Xenoestrogens are chemicals that act like estrogen once they get inside your body. They can be found in various plastic products, household cleaning products, some shampoos, and pesticides.

Symptoms

Worsening PMS could be a sign of high estrogen levels.

The most common symptoms may include irregular or heavy periods and breast tenderness. Here are some other signs of estrogen dominance that may occur:

  • Bloating
  • Weight gain
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Worsening PMS symptoms
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Reproductive or fertility problems
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED) in men

Estrogen Dominance, According To TCM

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views estrogen dominance as an imbalance between Yin (body fluids and cooling energy) and Yang (warming energy). Specifically, it pertains to the dominance of Yin over Yang. In other words, Yin is in excess while Yang is deficient. 

According to Registered TCM Physician Brandon Yew, it may be caused by drug or substance abuse, pre-existing chronic medical conditions, and the prolonged usage of certain medications. Other possible causes include work stress, poor work-life/rest balance, weak emotional and mental management, unhealthy dietary habits, and a sedentary lifestyle.

“These factors cause the formation and accumulation of pathogenic factors like Heat, Dampness, Phlegm, sluggish Blood flow, Stagnated Qi and fluids within the five vital viscera (Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lungs, and Kidneys),” explained Physician Yew. 

For more information and to seek help on estrogen dominance, Physician Yew recommends consulting an endocrinologist. He stated that TCM’s causatives behind the symptoms are very similar

Does Estrogen Dominance Cause Weight Gain?

Most women start to notice weight gain around their middle section during pre-menopause or menopause when progesterone levels first start to drop off.

Without adequate amounts of progesterone in the body to balance estrogen levels, a surplus of estrogen may occur.

The condition can be worsened if you already have elevated amounts of adipose tissue (fatty tissue). This is because adipose tissue secretes estrogen, creating more of an imbalance in hormone ratios.

Exposure to synthetic xenoestrogens may also increase your risk of obesity. According to one study, estrogen exposure is known to cause weight gain among women due to thyroid inhibition and modulation of the hypothalamus.

How Can TCM Reduce Estrogen Dominance?

TCM can help reduce estrogen dominance and restore hormone levels through herbal medication, acupuncture, cupping, guasha, moxibustion, and tuina (Chinese manual therapy).

Physician Yew stated, “All of these treatment methods are formulated carefully by the TCM physician to address specifically the unique body constitution of every individual patient. Hence, it is best to always first consult the TCM physician for proper assessment.” 

Herbal remedies

Below listed are some TCM herbal formulations to help restore hormone levels: 

  • Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi: Strengthens Spleen Qi and dispels Dampness, Phlegm, and Stagnated Qi 
  • Cang Fu Dao Tan Wan: Promotes Spleen Qi circulation to dispel Dampness, Phlegm and Stagnated Qi 
  • Chai Hu Shu Gan San: Dispels Dampness, Phlegm, and Stagnated Qi 
  • Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San: Dispels Heat, Dampness, Blood Clots, and Stagnated Qi; strengthens Spleen Qi; replenishes Blood and Yin to nourish and soothe the Liver 
  • Wu Ling San: Dispels Dampness and Stagnated Fluids 
  • Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang: Strengthens Spleen Qi to restore and enhance fluid circulation, dispelling Dampness and Stagnated Fluids 
  • Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan: Dispels Heat, Dampness, Blood Clots, and Stagnated Fluids 
  • Ji Sheng Shen Qi Wan: Regenerates Kidney Yang to restore and enhance fluid circulation, dispelling Dampness and Stagnated Fluids 

Bak Foong pills are often used in TCM to help regulate hormone levels to ease symptoms of PMS and other complications related to high estrogen levels. Meanwhile, a slimming essence drink may help reduce bloating and weight gain in the abdominal area.

“Please always bear in mind that the herbal formulas provided above are meant for varying etiologies of estrogen dominance. As such, it is strongly advised not to purchase any of them to self-medicate without first consulting a licensed TCM professional,” Physician Yew cautioned.

Acupressure

Acupressure is an easy self-help remedy. You can perform it at home by placing fingers or a blunt object like a massage stick at certain acupoints and applying an appropriate amount of pressure to elicit a tolerable sensation of soreness or tenderness. At the same time, massage in both clockwise and anticlockwise circular motion 20 times each. Repeat for at least 3 minutes per acupoint. 

  • He Gu LI4 (dispels Heat, Dampness, Phlegm, Stagnated Qi, and Blood Clots) 
  • Zhong Wan RN12 (alleviates Dampness, Phlegm, and Stagnated Qi; helps with trunk weight gain)
  • Tian Shu ST25 (dispels Dampness, Phlegm, and Stagnated Qi; helps with trunk weight gain)
  • Da Heng SP15 (dispels Dampness, Phlegm and Stagnated Qi; helps with trunk weight gain)
  • Shui Dao ST28 (dispels Dampness, Phlegm, Stagnated Qi, and Fluids; helps with trunk weight gain)
  • Guan Yuan RN4 (revitalizes Kidney Qi and Yang to dispel Dampness, Phlegm, Blood Clots, Stagnated Qi, and Fluids; helps with trunk weight gain)
  • Qi Hai RN6 (revitalizes Kidney Qi and Yang to dispel Dampness, Phlegm, Blood Clots, Stagnated Qi, and Fluids; helps with trunk weight gain)
  • Jing Men GB25 (dispels Dampness, Phlegm, and Stagnated Qi; helps with trunk weight gain)
  • Dai Mai GB26 (dispels Dampness, Phlegm, and Stagnated Qi; helps with trunk weight gain)
  • Zu San Li ST36 (strengthens Spleen Qi to dispel Dampness, Phlegm, and Stagnated Qi and Fluids)
  • Yin Ling Quan SP9 (strengthens Spleen Qi to dispel Dampness, Phlegm, and Stagnated Fluids)
  • Shang Juxu ST37 (dispels Dampness, Phlegm, and Stagnated Qi and Fluids)
  • Xia Ju Xu ST39 (dispels Dampness, Phlegm, and Stagnated Qi and Fluids)
  • San Yin Jiao SP6 (strengthens Spleen Qi, revitalizes Liver and Kidneys; dispels Dampness and Stagnated Fluids)
  • Tai Xi KI3 (revitalizes Kidneys and dispels Stagnated Fluids)
  • Tai Chong LR3 (revitalizes and soothes Liver to dispel Blood Clots, Stagnated Qi and Fluids)

Physician Yew recommended, “Do take note that acupressure provides very mild symptomatic relief and is insufficient in tackling the actual etiologies behind estrogen dominance. It is thus strongly recommended to seek professional TCM help in conjunction with the medical doctor.” 

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