Gut-hormone testing: beta-glucuronidase
Updated: Apr 7
Estrogen detoxification - a quick recap
As part of normal hormone detox in the liver, estrogens get "flagged" to be excreted from the body. Once in the gut, an enzyme called ß-glucuronidase will re-convert some of these estrogens into their active form. This puts active estrogens back into circulation for our body to use again.
In a healthy gut, ß-glucuronidase helps to maintain proper estrogen levels in the body.
If β-glucuronidase levels are abnormal, changes in the levels of circulating estrogens can then become too high or too low. This can lead to symptoms and disease.
If there is too much ß-glucuronidase activity in the intestines, estrogen that was slated to leave the body will be brought back. Certain intestinal overgrowths can cause this to happen. This is where we see symptoms of excess estrogen.
💡 Learn about the 3 phases of estrogen detox in
"The Estrobolome - Hormones & Digestion".
Causes of high β-glucuronidase*
Intestinal bacterial overgrowth of Escherichia coli, Bacteroides species, and Clostridium perfringens (2)
BMI > 25
Diets high in saturated fat
Exposure to carcinogens - dietary and environmental
Diets high in red meat
* Importantly, certain normal life factors like pregnancy can cause β-glucuronidase to be elevated. It is important to talk with your doctor about testing and lab interpretation before making changes.
How to lower β-glucuronidase to manage symptoms of estrogen excess:
Vitamin C, calcium, iron and magnesium
Probiotics - certain strains have been shown to decrease β-glucuronidase levels in humans
Fiber - diet and/or supplements
Calcium d-glucarate contains only 9% calcium, making the glucarate the big winner here. Glucarate is made in our bodies but also occurs naturally in apples, oranges, and Brassica-family foods (like broccoli, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower). We add in the calcium to get a stabilized supplement form.
Oral supplementation of calcium-d-glucarate has been shown to inhibit the activity of beta-glucuronidase. Thus, we can allow these excess estrogens to leave the body and stop their re-uptake. This helps to bring levels of circulating estrogen and relieve symptoms of estrogen dominance.
What about abnormally low β-glucuronidase?
Although β-glucuronidase can cause issues when it is too high, not having enough can cause problems as well. β-glucuronidase helps to make carbon-based food products that feed the microbiome, and it helps the body maintain appropriate levels of hormones and other liver products when necessary.
Low β-glucuronidase may indicate the microbiome is lacking diversity and/or metabolic function. Some causes of β-glucuronidase being too low are:
Maintaining a long-term overly restrictive diet may starve out β-glucuronidase-producing bugs.
Over-supplementation of probiotics or prebiotics
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...
Conditions of the Gut-Hormone Axis
Maya Abdominal Therapy
Estrogen - Too Much or Too Little?