Thursday, August 13, 2015

All About Women and Autoimmune Diseases

As women, we go through three main periods of hormone upheaval in our lifetime: first during puberty, second during and after pregnancy, and lastly during menopause. When our body is going through such dramatic hormonal changes, we can develop a condition known as estrogen dominance, where the level of estrogen in our body is too high compared to progesterone.

Estrogen is generally an immune stimulant while progesterone is an immune suppressant. Thus, if there is not enough progesterone to balance out estrogen, our immune system may become hyperactive and attack our own tissues, resulting in different autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto's, colitis, and ALS, depending on which tissues are targeted.

If you are interested in the mechanism of how hormone changes affects our likelihood of getting autoimmune diseases, please read the more detailed article I wrote on my website,!

Below are some tips for preventing autoimmune diseases.
  1. Avoid using birth control pills if possible. When you do not ovulate regularly, your body has less progesterone to balance estrogen, and therefore, immune function tends to be hyperactive. Once the imbalance reaches a certain level, your gene expression will change.

  2. Avoid too much alcohol. Alcohol can enhance an enzyme called aromatase which can convert naturally occurring testosterone into "bad estrogen" that overstimulates your immune system. Also, alcohol tends to make your body produce internal heat, leading to inflammation.

  3. Eat more cruciferous vegetables. Kale, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower can inhibit aromatase naturally.

  4. Avoid dry cleaning clothing and using plastic containers. The chemicals used can serve as bad estrogen to change our immune function.

  5. Practice yoga, Qi Gong and meditation to calm down the nervous system.

  6. Take wheatgrass, raspberry tea, and Chinese herbal formulas to enhance your ovarian, adrenal and other gland functions to create a more balanced hormone level. Certain chemicals in these supplements can also serve as very weak, "good estrogen" to prevent the stimulating effect of "bad estrogen".

  7. Regular acupuncture treatments can help adjust your nervous and immune functions.
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