Phytoestrogens and Hot Flashes

Hot flashes, or vasomotor flushes, affect 50-85% of menopausal women (Northrup, 2006).  The exact cause is unknown however it is thought to be related to neurotransmitter changes.

Phytoestrogens (naturally occurring estrogens in plants) can play an important part in a menopausal diet.  These plant derived estrogens weakly bind to hormone receptors in our bodies, causing a weak estrogen response in some tissues OR an anti estrogen response in other tissues (Hudson, 2006).  Significant amount of phytoestrogens are found in soybeans and flaxseeds.  It has been found that in populations that eat a high amount of foods containing phytoestrogens, hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms occur less frequently (ie. it is hypothesized that Japanese women have a lower incidence of hot flashes because of the consumption of high amounts of soy).  A randomized, double blind placebo controlled trial showed that women consuming soy protein had a decreased incidence of hot flashes, an increase in vaginal moisture and an improved quality of life (Dupree et al., 2005).

If you have a problem digesting Soy, ground flax seeds offer a high amount of phytoestrogens and can be added to cereals, oatmeal or smoothies.

Figure 34-17 Physiology of estrogen and the estrogen receptor. Estrogen binds to estrogen receptors in the cytoplasm or in the nucleus In:Townsend: Sabiston Textbook of Surgery, 18th ed. 2007 Elseiver


Cervical Dysplasia

The main risk factors that contribute to cervical dysplasia are: increased sexual partners, smoking, deficiencies in folic acid and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

HPV can cause venereal warts and is associated with abnormal pap smears.  It is thought that about 75% of women will have a genital HPV infection at some point in their lives.  Usually, woman exposed to HPV do not develop warts of dysplasia. And only certain strains of HPV can cause cervical cancer (Most women that acquire the HPV virus do not develop cancer).  According to Health Canada, the highest incidence of cervical cancer occurs in woman over the age of 65, once they stop having annual PAP tests.

However, research has shown that we can reverse abnormal cervical cells before they turn into cancer!   If you, or someone you know has had an abnormal PAP test, here are some helpful ways to get those cells healthy again:


-Folic Acid- reverses mild dysplasia
-Indole 3- carbinol- Stops healthy estrogen from converting to the cancer causing form
-Vitamin C-improves immunity
-Beta Carotene- helps tissues and strengthens immune system
-Vitamin B6- supports immune system
-Vitamin B12-supports immune system
-Vitamin E mixed tocopherols -promotes tissue healing
-Selenium -activates immunity

-Green Tea- protects against abnormal cell growth
-Eat cooked tomato sauce a few times a week for protective lycopene, an antioxidant along with olive oil to improve its absorption
-Eat foods high in folic acid (brewers yeast, black eyed pees, lentils, lima beans, freshly squeezed orange juice, kidney beans, romaine lettuce, dandelion greens and leeks.

Stop Smoking!!!! Smoking increases the risk of cervical dysplasia and cancer up to FOUR times. Carcinogens in cigarette smoke concentrate in cervical mucosa at levels 10-20 times higher than in the blood. Smoking also depletes vitamin C, which therefore decreases your immunity!!

Remember to get your annual PAP test every year and think positive- your mind can influence the way your body heals.

Adapted from:
Kaur, Sat Dharam, ND 2010
Northrup, Christine, 2003
Vanderhaeghe, Lorna, MD 2007

A schematic drawing of a posterior view of the cervix, uterus, fallopian tube, and ovary.
(Redrawn from Clemente CD: Anatomy: A Regional Atlas of the Human Body, 3rd ed. Baltimore-Munich, Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1987.)

Painful Periods

Many women suffer from painful periods each month.  There are many natural remedies to help alleviate the pain however sometimes just getting up and moving around can really help!  Here are a few exercises to try when your feeling that monthly pain:

Exercise 1-
Stand at a right angle to the wall with left elbow on the wall level in height with the left shoulder
Tilt pelvis forward
Keeping knees slightly flexed, to avoid hyper-extending them, move left hip until it touches wall
Return to original position
Repeat 5 times
Repeat sequence with right elbow on wall

Exercise 2-
Stand facing the wall with both elbows on wall on level with shoulders
Without moving elbows or feet and keeping knees slightly flexed, to avoid hyper-extending them, move pelvis away from wall and then toward it until pelvis touches the wall.
Return to original position.
Repeat 5 times.

Exercise 3-
Stand with feet 12 inches apart and arms raised to the side at shoulder level
Keeping knees slightly flexed to avoid hyper-extending them, twist trunk to the right and bend forward, attempting to touch the right ankle with the left hand
Return to original position
Repeat sequence in the opposite direction
Repeat 5 times

Exercise 4-
Stand with feet a few inches apart and arms at the sides
Swing arms forward and upward, simultaneously raising the right leg backward
Return to the original position
Repeat with left leg
Repeat 5 times

Breast Massage

Lymph Drainage is an important element to keep breasts healthy.  To help drain the lymph tissue of the breasts try this self massage at least once a month:

1. Stroke neck, moving skin back and down towards the collarbone (15 times, each side).
2. Gently pump armpit with palm underarm (15 times each side)
3. Using 4 fingers, make small circles around the outside of each breast, working inwardly to the nipple
4. Lean forward and cup each breast in your hands and grently pull the breast away from the chest wall while moving the breast around in a circular movement

If you find a lump do not put pressure on it or massage it but please consult with your health care professional.

Adapted from Sat Dharam Kaur, ND, 2010

Healthy Breast Tips

(1) a baby at her breast mammary gland, mamma; (breasts) bosom(s), bust, chest; informal boobs, knockers, bazooms, hooters.
(2) feelings of frustration were rising up in his breast heart, bosom, soul, core.

Today, in Canada, 1/9 woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life (1). As the incidence of this disease is rising every year we must increase our awareness and use preventative strategies to help protect ourselves, daughters, mothers and sisters.

10 Lifestyles Tips to help decrease the risk of acquiring breast cancer:

1. Exercise at least 40 minutes a day
2. Switch to using non-toxic cleaning products, like vinegar, lemon and baking soda
3. Use glass instead of plastics to store your food and liquids (included your water bottle!)
4. Avoid tight bras and consider a looser cotton bra instead of an under wire bra.
5. Check your cosmetics on before purchasing to make sure it is free of toxic dyes and chemicals.
6. Meditate everyday
7. Use a sauna as often as possible to eliminate chemicals and toxins stored in your fat cells.
8. Eat organic whenever possible
9. Eat at least 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day
10. Consume 45 grams of fiber each day (you should be having AT LEAST 2 bowel movements a day!) for proper elimination.

1. Kaur, Sat Dharam. 2011. The Healthy Breast Program