chronic fatigue and estrogen dominance

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by ohmyaching, Jul 25, 2003.

  1. ohmyaching

    ohmyaching New Member

    Fatigue and Estrogen Dominance
    Dr. Lee believes that many people are suffering
    from estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance
    is the imbalance of a person’s hormones which
    results in a disproportionate amount of too much
    estrogen and too little progesterone, although
    there may not be any actual deficiencies of
    either. He believes this imbalance is caused by
    xenoestrogens from chemical pollutants in our
    environment, as well as from poor diets and
    stressful lifestyles. Estrogen and progesterone
    usually work together to maintain hormone
    levels, but when there is an excess of one or too
    little of the other, our hormone levels can
    become very unbalanced and illness can result.
    The following information on fatigue and
    estrogen dominance was taken from Dr. Lee’s
    book,”What Your Doctor May Not Tell You
    About Premenopause”. I think when you read it
    you will see, as I did, that estrogen dominance
    may very much be involved in Chronic Fatigue

    The Mitochondria
    Estrogen dominance, an imbalance in hormones
    resulting in too much estrogen, can affect the
    mitochondria which produce the energy used by
    our bodies.
    p. 189 Adenosine triphosphate(ATP), a
    substance used to produce energy in an
    organism, is created in the mitochondria.
    Anything that hinders your mitochondria from
    producing ATP can cause fatigue and any
    damage to the mitochondria could therefore
    result in chronic fatigue. In some cases damage
    to the mitochondria is inherited by faulty DNA.
    The mitochondria produce pregnenolone from
    cholesterol. Pregnenolone is used to produce
    progesterone and DHEA, these are two
    hormones necessary for proper adrenal function.
    Improper function of the adrenals from too low
    levels of these hormones can cause fatigue.
    Estrogen can block the mitochondria from
    functioning properly. When the mitochondria do
    not function well there is less pregnenolone
    synthesis (as well as less progesterone and
    DHEA) and also less energy production(ATP)
    both of which results in causing a person to be
    fatigued. Other substances that inhibit the
    function of the mitochondria are radiation, some
    unsaturated fatty acids and iron. Full spectrum
    light, T3 -triodothyronine ( a thyroid hormone),
    vitamins B2, A, E and the trace element copper,
    aid the mitochondria.
    NADH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide)
    plays a pivotal role in the production of ATP.
    Dr. Lee says that if you’re suffering from chronic
    fatigue that is due even in part to mitochondrial
    damage NADH can help give you the pep you
    need. It has been shown to improve Parkinson’s
    disease and chronic fatigue syndrome. NADH is
    best taken on an empty stomach in the morning.
    I wonder if some of the things suggested to
    cause CFS could have a damaging effect on the
    mitochondria? I’m not sure there is any evidence
    of that.
    Dr. Lee believes that xenoestrogens cause
    damage to the developing reproductive systems
    of fetuses and embryos so that progesterone
    production is lost in early adult life and the
    person becomes estrogen dominant. p.88

    The Adrenals
    p.149 Adrenal exhaustion can cause fatigue.
    Adrenal exhaustion is the failure of the adrenals
    to produce adequate levels of steroids to meet
    our needs. Often the adrenals are so stressed that
    they no longer are able to produce adequate
    amounts of their hormones. Our society is very
    stressful. Epinephrine, adrenaline, androgens and
    cortisols are all stress hormones produced by the
    adrenals that give us an “up” feeling. People
    often live off stress looking to find that
    “adrenaline rush” which will speed them through
    their daily activities. Unfortunately these stress
    hormones are not meant to be used all the time,
    but rather for times of emergency where short
    bursts of intense energy are needed. If we are
    always calling on these hormones to drive us
    through our day our adrenals can become
    exhausted from over production. The adrenals
    may swell from overwork and the inflammation
    can cause adrenal cells to die off (which is
    something we don’t need). All of the adrenal
    hormones are produced from pregnenolone. Any
    disruption in the production of pregnenolone can
    effect the adrenal output of its hormones. Many
    adrenal hormones are produced from
    progesterone. The adrenals can produce
    progesterone from pregnenolone, but if the
    adrenals are exhausted they may not be able to
    produce as much progesterone as is needed.
    Add that to the loss of progesterone
    manufactured as a person ages and progesterone
    may end up not being produced anywhere in the
    The following are symptoms of adrenal
    exhaustion listed by Dr. Lee. p. 153 Constant
    fatigue, especially in the morning when trying to
    get out of bed and after exercise, muscle
    weakness, low blood pressure, low metabolism
    coupled with decreased thyroid function, excess
    pigmentation which may look like tanning or
    dark freckles on the skin, allergies and/or
    asthma, low reserves for coping with stress so
    that if anything doesn’t happen on schedule,
    you’re unable to meet demands and have to take
    time to recuperate, irregular menstrual cycles,
    fibrocystic breasts, anovulatory periods,
    infertility, susceptibility to infectious illness like
    flu and upper respiratory infection, depression
    caused by the constant fatigue, weakness and
    irritability to cope with stress. (Do these
    symptoms sound familiar?)p. 154 The thyroid
    gland and the adrenals work very closely
    together. If a person’s adrenals are weak their
    thyroid might slow down to compensate, and
    vice versa. This often causes low blood pressure.
    To find out if you have low blood pressure as a
    result of adrenal dysfunction take a reading of
    your blood pressure when you are lying down
    and then after standing up. If your blood
    pressure from lying down to standing up is
    normal there will be an initial drop and then a
    quick rise in blood pressure. If your blood
    pressure is low the response after the initial drop
    will be much slower. You may also experience
    dizziness, unsteadiness or blurry vision when you
    stand. Salt is not always good for our health but,
    using a moderate amount of salt for raising
    blood pressure is very good for people with tired
    adrenals. Natural progesterone and even natural
    cortisone in very small doses can help to
    overcome hormone imbalances and improve
    energy from tired adrenals. Licorice is an
    adrenal-supportive herb, but should be used
    carefully as it can raise estrogen levels.

    p.151Glucocorticoids are secreted by the adrenal
    cortex. An important class of glucocorticoids are
    the cortisols. Cortisol regulates blood sugar and
    the movement of carbohydrates, protein and fats
    in and out of the cells; it also regulates
    inflammation and muscle function. Cortisol is
    produced from progesterone. A drop in
    progesterone can cause a concurrent drop in
    cortisol production. Stress causes cortisol to be
    produced. Chronic stress leads to chronically
    elevated levels of cortisol. Some symptoms of
    too much cortisol are weight gain, (especially
    around the midsection) and blood sugar
    imbalances- a good clue to whether you have
    sugar imbalances is if you are a sugar junkie
    and/or get shaky when you don’t eat regularly.
    Other symptoms of too much cortisol are
    thinning and papery skin , muscle wasting and
    memory loss. It is possible to have symptoms of
    both too much cortisol (caused by stress which
    keeps our adrenals functioning at a heightened
    response level) and too little cortisol (caused by
    the inability to maintain adequate production of
    this hormone in response to this heightened
    demand). This takes it’s toll on progesterone
    levels setting the stage for estrogen dominance.
    It is possible that estrogen may also interfere
    with the impulses produced by the hypothalamus
    which signals the adrenals to produce more
    cortisol, but further study is needed.
    A diet high in sugar promotes estrogen
    dominance. Most of this sugar is turned into fat.
    Fat cells produce estrogen, especially after
    menopause when they take over most of the
    duties of estrogen production from the ovaries.
    Cortisol sends glucose (blood sugar) flooding
    into the cells which may make you feel great
    after the initial rush of glucose into the cells, but
    twenty or so minutes later your blood sugar level
    falls and then your body will want more glucose
    to get your blood sugar and energy back up. A
    consistently high sugar diet can set up a pattern
    of struggling to keep your energy up and your
    weight down. High levels of sugar in the blood
    stimulates the release of adrenaline which
    stimulates the release of cortisol which in turn
    causes a craving for quick calories which
    increase the blood sugar, which stimulates the
    release of adrenaline which stimulates the release
    of cortisol.....and on and on it can go. In
    hypoglycemia sugar causes our blood sugar to
    rise, but then fall back to even lower levels than
    before resulting in fatigue. The drop in blood
    sugar may be so low the person may black out.
    Some researchers believe that hypoglycemia
    results because we have stressed our body’s
    insulin response so much with our high sugar
    diet that it starts to overcompensate and produce
    too much insulin causing the blood sugar level to
    drop much lower than normal. Eating unrefined
    carbohydrates that take much longer to enter the
    blood stream and eating small meals steadily
    throughout the day which don’t cause the blood
    sugar levels to fluctuate way up and down will
    help to keep the blood sugar levels steady and
    prevent hypoglycemia.

    p. 152 Magnesium is an important activator of
    enzymes that help to produce energy. It would
    seem therefore that too little magnesium can
    negatively effect energy levels. Estrogen can
    deplete magnesium levels. Mineralcorticoids,
    especially aldosterone regulate the balance of
    minerals in the cell, mainly sodium and
    potassium, but magnesium is also affected.
    Mineralcorticoids are produced by the adrenal
    cortex. Stress triggers the release of aldosterone
    which raises blood pressure by causing the
    body’s cells to hold onto sodium and lose
    potassium and magnesium. Long term release of
    mineralcorticoids due to chronic stress can cause
    a potassium deficiency and a magnesium
    imbalance as well as chronic water retention and
    high blood pressure.

    The Thyroid
    Low thyroid levels can result in a condition
    called hypothyroidism. Fatigue is a symptom of
    hypothyroidism. Low progesterone levels create
    symptoms similar to hypothyroidism and it is
    important to determine which is causing the
    symptoms. This is what Dr. Lee has to say.
    p.187 “During the first few years that Dr. Lee
    recommended progesterone cream to his
    menopausal patients, he noticed that those who
    were also taking thyroid medication often
    needed a reduced dose of it after a few months
    on the cream. Quite a number of these patients
    eventually were able to discontinue thyroid
    supplementation completely. When he went back
    and reviewed their cases he found that many of
    them had been started on thyroid supplements
    for symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, low basal
    body temperature, and other signs and symptoms
    often associated with low thyroid
    (hypothyroidism) in spite of normal thyroid tests.
    After nearly twenty years of observing this
    phenomenon Dr. Lee has come to believe that
    estrogen dominance interferes with or inhibits
    thyroid hormone activity. Estrogen and thyroid
    do have some opposing actions. Estrogen
    instructs the body to store calorie intake as fat
    tissue, whereas thyroid increases the body’s
    ability to metabolize fat for energy.
    Progesterone, on the other hand, has an anabolic
    action similar to that of thyroid: They both
    promote energy production and raise body
    temperature. Progesterone deficiency would lead
    to lower basal temperature, simulating symptoms
    of hypothyroidism. The most common symptoms
    of low thyroid (hypothyroidism) can include:
    fatigue and weakness, low basal temperature
    (measured under the armpit first thing in the
    morning), dry or coarse skin and hair, cold hands
    and feet, slurred or slow speech, poor memory,
    weight gain.
    There is no doubt that many premenopausal
    women are truly suffering from hypothyroidism.
    However, women who have symptoms of
    hypothyroidism but come out “normal” on a
    thyroid test may be progesterone deficient and
    can often be adequately treated by restoring
    normal progesterone levels using transdermal
    progesterone creams.(This thyroid-balancing
    effect does not occur with the synthetic
    progestins such as Provera or the oral
    progesterone pills.)
    Dr. Hanley saw so many women in her practice
    with low thyroid function that she began to dig
    deeper to find the causes, and discovered that
    even small amounts of radiation can permanently
    destroy the thyroid gland. She found government
    statistics showing that in the 1950s the amount
    of radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons
    testing was enough to cause thyroid problems in
    an average person. Growing children exposed to
    the radiation were even more susceptible. Also
    the ranges of normal used to determine thyroid
    function were calculated in the 1940s on
    twenty-two-year-old medical students, so she
    believes that they don’t apply to premenopausal
    women. The consequence, Dr. Hanley believes,
    is an undiagnosed epidemic of low-level
    If you have low thyroid symptoms, you can try
    using some progesterone cream for a few
    months. If you still have the symptoms you can
    either use Armour Thyroid which is a
    combination of cow (bovine) and pig (porcine)
    thyroid extract, or one of the synthesized thyroid
    hormones such as levothyroxine (Synthroid).
    There is much debate about which one of these
    forms of thyroid supplementation works
    best...the jury is still out on this question.”

    Because of the demand that chronic stress places
    upon the adrenals hormonal imbalance may
    result creating the condition of estrogen
    dominance. p.50 Stress causes estrogen
    dominance which causes insomnia and anxiety
    the stress of which then causes more estrogen
    dominance. Dr. Lee says, “A woman who has
    been caught in this type of cycle for a few years
    will find herself in a constant state of ‘wired but
    tired’ (‘or tired but wired’), which will
    eventually result in dysfunctional adrenal glands,
    blood sugar imbalances, and debilitating fatigue
    that may be diagnosed as chronic fatigue
    Excess stress can be reduced by slowing down,
    by reducing work and activity and by relaxing.
    Rest is the best remedy for restoring tired
    adrenals. Pushing your adrenals to function more
    with the help of supplemental hormones and
    herbs can only work for so long and can result in
    further damage. Sleep is very important.
    Insomnia is a sign of estrogen dominance. Allow
    yourself to sleep as long as necessary. You may
    need to allow yourself to sleep all day if
    necessary until your adrenals start to heal. Dr.
    Lee uses natural progesterone cream to treat and
    balance hormone levels. Natural progesterone
    cream when taken in proper amounts has few
    side effects. One side effect is that it makes you
    sleepy. This is not such a bad thing for CFS
    patients with trouble sleeping. Because it makes
    you sleepy it is best to take progesterone just
    before bedtime.
    p. 138 Stress can raise levels of prolactin, a
    hormone that stimulates the breasts to make
    milk. High levels of prolactin reduces
    progesterone production. Low levels of
    progesterone in turn stimulate an increase in
    prolactin levels. It is a vicious cycle. Prolactin
    levels are also influenced by hypothyroidism,
    herpes zoster, estrogens, oral contraceptives,
    and a number of prescription drugs. Elevated
    prolactin levels are becoming increasingly
    common. You can take progesterone
    supplements to make up for any deficiencies but
    if you have high cortisol and prolactin levels
    from excess stress you need to manage and
    reduce your stress so that you’re not just using
    up the supplemental progesterone before your
    progesterone levels can rise back to normal.

    Dr. Lee’s book,”What Your Doctor May Not
    Tell You About Premenopause” is a must read
    for all people with chronic fatigue syndrome.
    The title does the book a great disservice, THIS
    SYNDROME. I believe that you will see
    yourself in the description of symptoms and case
    histories. It is all about balancing hormone levels
    for health. I do not have a medical background
    so I hope that I was able to paraphrase what he
    had to say with some accuracy. I urge you to
    read the book and consult a doctor before
    following this information. I cannot encourage
    people with CFS enough to read this book. What
    I have excerpted here about fatigue is only a
    small sampling of helpful information about the
    miseries that plague us.
  2. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    Thanks for sharing.

    Love, Mikie
  3. ohmyaching

    ohmyaching New Member

  4. AnnieMay

    AnnieMay New Member

    I have that book - wonderful resource! Unfortunately, I'm the exception. I'm 51 years old, and this is (I believe) my second episode of CFIDS. I was diagnosed with CFIDS just a week ago, but 3 weeks prior to that, I was diagnosed with estrogen DEFICIENCY. I was actually hoping that all other symptoms were related to that, but it seems not. Don't know yet if I'm actually menopausal - has only been 5 months since onset of my last period, so it's too soon to tell. Also, I was told a week ago that I have a 2" diameter cyst on one of my ovaries - don't know if that's relevant or not.

  5. Laurita

    Laurita New Member

    In my reading and searching I keep coming around to a cycle of sorts, those of us who are typ A's, OCD, Stressed, and working unnatural schedules. It ties in with our circadium rythum or lack of, and the adrenal glands. I worked graveyards for years. Night and day reversed, no sleep. I have now come to understand that is not good for you. Just the industrial age we live in where most people arise before dawn to tend to family, get ready and go to work. Some work I have read on the Circadium rythum, (by the way this came from my research for a friend who is fighting liver cancer and tring to regain health) that we should be in bed by 9-10 PM so our liver can get through it's detox cycle and then have time for it's rebuilding and refueling the adrenals. this takes several hours. We should not then arise no earlier then 6-7 or sunrise. After learning about the liver and circadium rythum, I try to abide by this schedule and I have seen improvements, however as life goes, I get off it and then I have a whole Fibro relapse, swollen , glands, increased fatigue, pain, fogginess. I'm now trying to leran as much as I can about restoring my adrenals. I feel progesterone does play a big part in this.
    Is anyone taking progestrone?
  6. ohmyaching

    ohmyaching New Member

    This stupid disease, it can be so complicated .
    Just when you think you’ve got it figured out it
    takes a turn in another direction.
    You say you do not produce enough estrogen.
    According to Dr. Lee estrogen dominance does
    not necessarily mean that you have too much
    estrogen, but rather that you have too much
    estrogen in proportion to your other hormones.
    He questions the necessity of estrogen
    supplementation after menopause. Do we need
    it? I guess we need some, but Dr. Lee says that
    the claims about the need to take estrogen
    supplements to keep us healthy and vibrant after
    menopause may not be true and that this idea has
    been implanted into our thinking and our
    doctor’s thinking by the makers of synthetic
    estrogen in order to get us to buy their product.
    So when you say you’re not getting enough
    estrogen that could be debatable.
    Are you taking estrogen supplements? If your
    answer is yes, did your ovarian cyst develop
    before or after you started taking the
    supplements. I developed tumors on my hands
    quite soon after I was prescribed estrogen. I’m
    going to see about getting my hormones
    Don’t forget about progesterone. Doctors tend
    to focus on estrogen. Low levels of
    progesterone cause many hormonal problems.
    For example if your fatigue is caused by adrenal
    insuffiency then it doesn’t seem that taking
    estrogen is going to do much for your energy
    levels because the missing hormone is
    progesterone. Estrogen can interfere with
    progesterone production. Taking estrogen would
    widen the imbalance between estrogen and
    progesterone and it seems this would make you
    sicker by creating estrogen dominance. Dr. Lee
    says that polycystic ovaries are a sign of
    estrogen dominance p44.
    Don’t assume I’m an authority on hormones. I
    am only offering this as food for thought. You
    need to talk to your doctor. I personally am
    having quite a time trying to figure out what to
    do about my hormones.
    Dr. Lee recommends progesterone for symptoms
    of menopause and estrogen dominance. Many
    people who have answered my previous posts
    say progesterone didn’t help them. I don’t think
    the answer is as straightforward as just taking
    progesterone. In fact Dr. Lee says that we must
    find the right balance with our hormones and
    with our lifestyle. For one thing we need to be
    sure that we are getting the right balance of
    hormones to protect our bones. Hormone
    balancing is tricky. I’m hoping to see an
    endocrinologist so that I can talk all this over
    with them. Because I have endmetriosis an
    imbalance in my hormones could cause internal
  7. ohmyaching

    ohmyaching New Member

    Yes many people on this board are taking progesterone. Some say it helps, some say it didn't help, some say it helped for a time. I don't know if they were taking NATURAL progesterone. Synthetic progesterone can cause a lot of side effects. I think that what Dr. Lee says about adrenal exhaustion and reducing stress makes a lot of sense. I wonder if the problem with FM has something to do with lack of progesteone to synthesize the cortisols (cortisone). I know that I have seen some improvement in my pain on cortisone, but cortisone can be scarey because it has so many serious side effects that I won't use it. Hormone balancing is scarey too, but natural progesterone seems to have few side effects. Dr. Lee suggests using low doses of natural cortisone (for a very limited time) if necessary with his hormone therapy. I'd be very careful.
  8. ohmyaching

    ohmyaching New Member

  9. 1by1

    1by1 New Member

    dear ohmyaching,
    that was extremely interesting. i have polycystic ovaries. have had for years. and i know that when i have had some of my worst cysts, they came at timeswhen i was under a lot of stress. so very interesting. between this dd and the other explanations, it really does make a lot of sense. thank you for all your research into the subject.
  10. fibrojewel

    fibrojewel New Member

    Thank you so much for the information!

    I also have poycystic ovaries, endometriosis, and went through infertility for over 10 years! LOTS of "female" wonder.

    I have printed your info, and want my sister to read as well. Thanks for taking the time to post this information for everyone!

    What a blessing this board is.