Monday, August 27, 2012

Estrogen, exercise and imbalance

Cartoon by Frank Coble

On 12 June 2012, Robb Wolf released a podcast titled "Estrogen and Brad Davidson". The blog post itself was not very descriptive, yet I was intrigued because many health bloggers have for awhile been discussing hormonal imbalance and estrogen detox. I usually wait for Robb's podcasts to be transcribed because reading allows me to skim and save time. But this time I actually listened to the podcast itself because I could not wait.

A little of what was talked about in the podcast was too deep for me, but I walked away with two interesting points.

First, Brad Davison, the guest on the podcast, mentioned that he was reading some "new ideas" by Jade Teta, a naturopath and a CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist). Jade Teta proposes that "the menstrual cycle may provide unique opportunities for women with exercise". He says that there are three phases of the menstrual cycle: the follicular phase, ovulatior phase, and luteal phase.

The follicular phase begins on the first day of your period and lasts 10-15 days. During this time, levels of folicle stimulating hormone is slightly increased, stimulating the growth of ovarian follicles (egg sac wall). This phase is associated with higher levels of estrogen, compared with progesterone. Women in this phase tend to burn fat much better than sugar, so Jade Teta recommends lower intensity exercise.

The ovulatior phase occurs when the levels of luteinizing hormone increase, and an egg is released (ovulation).

Finally, the luteal phase begins once the egg is released, and during this period the ovary sac closes, and the body produces greater amounts of progesterone compared to estrogen.  During this phase, women burn sugar better, and Jade Teta recommends higher intensity workouts.

Personal experimentation

I tried experimenting with this once, and did not notice any positive effects, plus found myself too tired in the luteal phase to perform HIIT, whereas I usually feel more energetic in the follicular phase. Nevertheless, the personal experiment is in too early a stage to be conclusive, and I will try to continue exercising according to Jade Teta's recommendations just to see whether it works.

Second, when Brad Davison was asked about the products he would recommend for estrogen detox, he said that his favourite product is Estrium. He said he makes his female clients do a cleanse twice a year, and that Estrium is the "base product" in the cleanse. Brad Davidson said he then likes a product called Hormone Protect, which is a combination of DIM and sulforaphane. He also likes a product called DIMension 3, which is DIM mixed with curcumin. 

What is this DIM thing?

DIM (diindoylymethane) is a component of Indole-3-Carbinol, which is found in members of the Brassica family, for example broccoli, cauliflower and kale. DIM is said to have "potent effects on estrogen metabolism and is able to keep the body relatively balanced".

Brad Davidson also notes on his blog the common symptoms associated with high estrogen levels: carrying excess fat on your thighs and having very heavy PMS symptoms.

Personal experimentation 

I was not sure about excess fat on my thighs, but I had noticed that I was storing more fat on my hips. Additionally, I knew that my PMS symptoms were slowly getting worse, for example increased fluid retention, cravings, mood swings.

After a bit of research on estrogen detox, I decided to try DIM and Calcium D-Glucarate instead of Estrium, Hormone Protect and DIMension 3. After a month on both, at 200g DIM and 500g Calcium D-Glucarate a day, my hips went down in size - I could tell from clothing, there was much much less fluid retention, cravings were a little less severe, and my mood was more stable. This can only make me feel that the DIM and Calcium D-Glucarate is a great combo and women experiencing bad PMS symptoms should give it a shot.

Once my bottle of DIM runs out, I will experiment with Indole-3-Carbinol in place and compare the results.


 Update 1 on 5/10/12 here.


Note: The brand of DIM I have been using is Source Naturals. It comes with 120 tablets in a bottle at 100mg each, so it should be able to last you at least 60 days. It is selling at for US$22.39 a bottle.

As for Calcium D-Glucarate, I have been taking Natrol's. A bottle has 60 tablets at 250mg per tablet, so it should last you about 30 days. It sells at for US$15.29 per bottle.

If you are a first-time customer at, the coupon code "XOJ002" will get you US$10 off your first order.

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