And some herbal superheros!
"I am always shocked when my patients tell me their doctors have dismissed their hunch that hormone imbalances are related to digestion. Anyone with a cycle will know, of course these systems are related!"
- Dr. Sand
So, what are some common conditions affected by the gut-hormone axis?
There are very cool data coming out about how the microbiome contributes to progression of gynecologic conditions like endometriosis, recurrent UTIs, and even types of cancer, like breast and bladder. Learning more about your microbiome can not only help treat many conditions but can also help prevent disease.
How are these systems related?
Sex hormones (like estrogen, testosterone, progesterone) are largely made in the ovaries, testes, and/or adrenal glands. But they sure do travel from there! Sex hormones go on to bind to our bones, brain, liver, colon, skin, fat tissues, and salivary glands. Importantly, hormones interact with receptors in our gut to influence the movement of gas and stool and absorption of nutrients in the intestines. Sex hormone levels that are too high or too low are associated with a variety of conditions, like IBS, depression, skin issues, and infertility.
The tricky part of this is... the reverse is true, too. Poor digestion can also cause hormone levels to become too high or too low. You might now see, it's a bit of a chicken or the egg problem.
💡 Learn more about Estrogen Dominance in
Where do we start?
Many treatment strategies involve picking one system and hoping that rebalances both the hormone system and digestion. However, Dr. Sand has found the best traction in tackling both. And, why not? If the body is giving us signals that both systems are compromised and we have data suggesting a strong connection, let's support this axis from both ends for quicker resolution with more longevity.
Some of Dr. Sand's favorite treatments for these conditions are herbal medicines.
The beauty of herbal therapy is it is individually tailored to your symptom picture and unique underlying causes.
Herbal treatments often have fewer side effects and work synergistically with your body's natural healing response.
Some herbs to know
Vitex agnes-castus - The berries of this plant act as a progesterone precursor and help to calm spasms and irritation in the abdomen and pelvis. This is a heavy-hitter for menstrual-related conditions including PMS, painful periods and irregular menses. It can also help calm IBS spasms and relieve pre-menstrual bloating.
Silybum marianum - The seeds of this plant help with liver and digestive detox pathways, which help improve the health of the estrobolome from both the intestinal and hormonal pathways. This herb also helps to regulate cholesterol and promote lactation.
Hydrastis canadensis - A member of the buttercup family, the roots of this plant are antimicrobial, pain-relieving, and help with liver detoxification. This is a bitter herb, which also tones the vagus nerve, the cornerstone of the gut-brain connection.
The information in this article is not intended to replace your doctor’s advice. Consult with your local healthcare professional before starting or stopping any medication or supplement.
For a deeper look...
Marciano, Marisa, and Nikita A Vizniak. Quick Reference Evidence Informed Botanical Medicine : Herbs, Nutrition, Hormones and Medications. Canada, Professional Health Systems Inc, 2018.
Weiss, R F, and A R Meuss. Weiss’s Herbal Medicine. Stuttgart ; New York, Thieme, 2001.