“Among all of the different hormonal imbalances I had, estrogen dominance was one of the easiest to reverse.” – Magdalena Wszelaki
Do you have symptoms of estrogen dominance? A better question may be who doesn’t have symptoms of estrogen dominance. Does any of this sound familiar: fibroids, endometriosis, fibrocystic and lumpy breasts, mood swings, hot flashes, absent, irregular, or heavy periods, PMS, thyroid nodules, infertility and miscarriage, cellulite and hip fat, spider or varicose veins, hair loss, headaches or migraines. Getting to the root of your estrogen dominance can have a tremendous impact on your health. Magdalena Wszelaki is back on the PCOS Diva podcast to help us naturally get our estrogen balance back on track. Listen in or read the transcript as we discuss:
- 3 scenarios of why you may be low in estrogen or have estrogen dominance
- What the DUTCH test can and cannot tell you
- Natural steps you can take to reverse estrogen dominance
- Pros and cons of flaxseed
- The food that can help hot flashes
Mentioned in this podcast:
- Hormones Balance
- PCOS Diva Podcast Episode 116: Overcome PCOS & Estrogen Dominance Naturally
- PCOS Diva Podcast Episode 68: Herbs for PCOS & Skin Care
- Magdalena’s New Book: Overcoming Estrogen Dominance
- Magdalena’s Cookbook: Cooking for Hormone Balance
- Article by Amy’s husband: 5 Things to Know If Your Partner Has PCOS: a Husband’s Perspective
I’m so happy to have Magdalena Wszelaki back on my PCOS Diva podcast. She’s one of my dear friends, and she is the founder of Hormones Balance. It’s an online community dedicated to helping women to rebalance their hormones naturally. Magdalena is a certified nutrition coach, herbalist, a published best-selling cookbook author, speaker and educator, and she has a long history of hormonal challenges. Her health crisis was the direct result from a highly stressful life in advertising, starting from Graves and Hashimoto’s, to adrenal issues and estrogen dominance, which is what we’re going to be talking about today. Magdalena was on the PCOS Diva podcast on episode 116, and we talked about overcoming PCOS and estrogen dominance, and this is going to be a continuation of that podcast because she has a fantastic new book out that I just read last night. It’s a beautiful coffee table book, really, and it’s called Overcoming Estrogen Dominance. So congratulations on your new book, Magdalena, and welcome back to the PCOS Diva podcast.
Thank you so much and thank you for having me and helping spread the word about this hormonal imbalance that so many women experience, and yet, so many of us don’t realize that that’s what it is.
Well, you and I have so many different parallels. I was in marketing in a previous life and you were in advertising. And we both had our own health issues to deal with that led to us to become educated and empowered so that we could advocate for ourselves and now we’re teaching others to do the same. And I would love for you to share your story, and what led you to write this book about estrogen dominance.
I think the main reason is because it is a very underserved community of women, that really consists of almost every single woman that you know in your life. When you look at the symptoms of estrogen dominance, it calls for question, who doesn’t have it? Who hasn’t experienced it at least at some point in her life, right? And so that was a big motivator, and just my own story of being super estrogenic from an early age, and you kind of know when you have estrogen problems when you’re having debilitating periods and you’re in a fetal position on the floor when your period starts and for the first two days. And it’s not because you want to skip school or not go to work, but you really just can’t get yourself together.
And then followed by everything from lumpy breasts, to having all sorts of period problems, and absent periods, a lot of irregular periods and mood swings. That was a one big thing that compromised so many of my relationships in the past, and you know as the core person who you are and how you respond to things, and you find yourself just becoming like this monster and just doing and saying things that you wouldn’t have done otherwise. Then you regret it later, but sometimes it’s too late.
And those lumpy breasts… I will never forget this. I think any woman who finds a lump on her breasts, there’s a moment of terror and panic. And then you hit Dr. Google and you kind of conclude that you probably have breast cancer, you’re going to die in a couple of years. And even if you’re cool about it, and then you hit the wall with like how do you get diagnosed and do you do the mammogram, as conventional medicine is pushing you to do? Or listen to your naturopath and your hippy friends who tell you thermogram. And so there was all of that.
And in my later years, it was also thyroid nodules. So I had three thyroid nodules on my thyroid and not really knowing what to do with it. It was really intimidating. Later was also hair loss that wasn’t thyroid related. I do also have a history of Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease so those are both autoimmune diseases that affect the thyroid. But the hair loss was caused by estrogen dominance. Yeah. But I think that the biggest aha moment came probably about five, six years ago when I started having deaths on both sides of my family. My dad’s and my mom’s side. My aunts on both sides passing away from ovarian, uterine cancer, breast cancer. And I pretty much, when I think about it now, I don’t have an aunt on either one side of the family who would still have her uterus. Just really interesting. I actually didn’t realize that until I was thinking about this just a few months ago.
And so genetically, I definitely inherited the genes that predispose me to be a very slow estrogen metabolizer, and I don’t detox estrogens very well. And that was confirmed by my genetic testing. When I went to see my functional doctor who my friends visited a few years ago, she was flipping through all my lab work including genes, and she asked me if I’ve ever had breast cancer. And I asked her why would you say that and she said, “Women with this kind of genes, by your age…” At that time I was 45… “Would have had breast cancer by now.” So I think I dodged the bullet in some way. I’m still dodging it because of the work that you and I do, and living this lifestyle.
But it was a real aha moment for me to realize like, “Wow. I am so incredibly predisposed, and yet…” I never feel in my life that I’m compromising or that I’m living in deprivation anyway. I feel like I live a very complete and full out life. Just being observant of the things that maybe don’t serve me well. And so that’s really what drove me forwards to say, “You know what? I really want more women to know about this.” And it’s not just us women who are not aware that a lot of these symptoms are related to estrogen dominance, but even both allopathic as well as even functional practitioners. Many of them don’t even know really what to do with estrogen dominance. So there was a whole lot of reasons why I wrote the book.
It really is a fantastic book. And I love that you say… And we’re both the same age… And saying that you’re now in your late 40s, you feel so much better than you did in your late 20s, because I can really attest to that as well, living this type of lifestyle, and we can talk about that in a bit. But you’re right. It’s not a less than life. It’s really an abundant life that you can thrive and feel good and set yourself up so that you can have a happier, healthier life than what your genetic profile is showing on paper.
So I wanted to just call out a couple other symptoms that you mention in your book that I think are kind of surprising as an estrogen dominant symptom. And those listening, if you have some of these symptoms, you may be suffering from estrogen dominance. And I just want to mention, you also have a great quiz in your book, so that you can kind of go through the quiz and have a better idea if this is something that you’re dealing with, which a lot of women with PCOS do. So things like hot flashes, and spider or varicose veins, fat and cellulite. What else do we have? Headaches or migraines, particularly before your period or mid cycle. As you mentioned, thyroid nodules, gall bladder problems, melasma or those brown facial discolorations kind of on the side of your head. So those are all estrogen dominant symptoms.
Absolutely. Yeah. And this is on top of period problems, so super heavy periods, lack of periods, or very irregular periods, absent periods, fibroids, endometriosis. We talked about fibrocystic and lumpy breasts. So this is on top of that, and so you can just imagine how few women don’t have it. And I also want to… Like what I alluded to in my quick story of my family, uterine, ovarian, estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, but also lung cancer in non-smokers. A lot of research now coming out on that. People going, “I’ve never smoked in my life. I’ve never been around a person who smokes. Why do I suddenly get diagnosed with lung cancer?” So that could also be due to estrogen. Very often is. And thyroid cancer are all estrogenic cancers.
And in men, because we talk a lot about women, but almost every woman has some form of man in her life. And many of them do struggle with prostate. And so prostate issues in men are also due to estrogen dominance. And if your guys start developing boobs, then sorry to say, but that’s also because he’s highly estrogenic. So one of the questions we get, Amy, is, “If I start eating this way and I turn my whole family into your kind of meal plan and diet, would my husband be okay with that?” And in fact, we always say that he probably is going to benefit from it as much as you do, if not more.
Yeah, absolutely. And there’s a great article that my husband Cliff wrote on PCOS Diva that he attests to that.
Yeah. So let’s go into the three different scenarios of why you may be low in estrogen or have estrogen dominance.
Yeah, so the first one, I call it bad breakup, is basically when… Actually, let me just frame it first. That estrogen dominance is not… It doesn’t mean that you have to be fearing estrogen altogether. In fact, you and I would not be sitting here and having a cohesive conversation if we didn’t have adequate levels of estrogen. So we need estrogen to be a woman, to have our cycles. But even later when you’re in perimenopause and menopause, for you to have healthy bones and healthy looking skin and having good cognitive function. The regular joke of woman walking into a room saying, “Where are my glasses?” while she’s wearing them. So those are the symptoms, funny not funny, about perimenopause and menopause. So estrogen is not an evil thing. It’s not a bad thing.
The problem is… There’s a couple of issues. One big thing is how we break down those estrogens is an issue. And so we call it metabolism of estrogens that happens largely in the liver. So I want to just give you like a visual analogy here. Just imagine you’re standing by the side of a river, and the water is flowing and is hitting a bank. In the middle of the river you have a bank, and the river is hitting the bank and then the bank separates the water out to clean water and dirty water. And so with estrogen, the same thing happens when you’re breaking down those estrogens to clean estrogens, or what I call in the book dirty estrogens. And the dirty estrogens are the metabolites that are potentially… Well, they are problematic and documented as being the ones that are causing all the symptoms we talked about. And then you have the protective kind of estrogens, the clean estrogens that actually mitigates, for example, the growth of a thyroid nodule or the growth of endometrium.
So that’s one form that it can happen in. And the two body organs that are hugely important in the dictating how well you’re breaking down those estrogens is basically your liver and your gut. And the liver especially more so. A lot of people think of the liver as being something that detoxes us from maybe alcohol and caffeine. And some people know about some of the, maybe, pesticides that are found in food, et cetera. But also our liver is hugely important for overall hormonal health. And your estrogen hits the liver and the liver… There are specific pathways like the sulfation pathway, methylation pathway, glucuronidation pathway that are responsible for breaking down those estrogens. So that’s one form of estrogen, the liver plays a huge role here.
The second form of estrogen dominance is when you have… Basically that your ratio of estrogen to progesterone is not great. Meaning you have too little progesterone to oppose estrogen. So think of estrogen and progesterone like two dancing partners, and if you watch a dancing competition, if the man is overly cocky and sort of overdressed and the woman is timid, it doesn’t look good. And vice versa. And so you want to have a balance between them. And they do this wonderful dance. Problem is that, especially as we start aging… So like 35. The minute you hit 35 and onwards, both estrogen and progesterone start dropping.
But typically in most women, progesterone starts dropping faster than estrogen, so you have this disproportion that happens. And a lot of people, like for example, some women are like 45, 55 and email us and say, “Hey, it just doesn’t make sense to me. I’m low in estrogen. Why do I show symptoms of estrogen dominance?” And the answer is that you basically, even though both of them are low, estrogen and progesterone is low, you are basically not having enough. Even though it’s low, you don’t have enough progesterone to oppose the little estrogen that’s there. And it can also be that even though you’re low in estrogen and progesterone, the way you’re breaking down those estrogens is still unfavorable. So if you think about it like who are the women who get breast cancers? Those are women who are 55 to 75 is the largest group, demographic. These women don’t have high estrogen. They have low estrogen, yet they develop estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. So it’s not the amount of estrogen. I really want to highlight that. It’s how you break it down, and how much progesterone you have to oppose it.
Yeah. And I just wanted to point out as well that most women with PCOS have a low progesterone profile. So that’s really good to note, and it’s one of the reasons why I think it’s really important to do hormonal testing, and we talked about this in our last episode. I know you’re a big fan of the DUTCH test. Maybe before we go into that third type, you could just give a little overview of the DUTCH test and why that is helpful for kind of figuring out your estrogen situation.
So DUTCH stands for desiccated urine tests, and so it’s only in urine you can actually see the metabolites properly. And so when you get the test, it’s a 24 hour urine test, you get your report back and it shows actually a lot of really great things, like your cortisol levels, the HGH, testosterone level. But since the conversation here is about estrogen, it also shows you how effectively you’re breaking down those estrogens. And you have these three metabolites: 2, 4 and 16-hydroxyestrone. And two is the protective one. Four can be either problematic or protective, and 16 is clearly problematic. And it also shows you whether your COMP gene is working properly or not. That’s the gene that breaks down estrogens. And then what can you do to skew that balance, so that’s part of the reason why I like DUTCH a lot.
The only thing I don’t like about DUTCH, and they do a combo of saliva with it, is that they only do a prediction of progesterone level. It’s not an absolute number. And so, you cannot really get your progesterone reading from DUTCH. If you want to get a progesterone reading, blood is completely useless so don’t waste your time with that. And saliva testing… There’s a couple of labs like ZRT and Labrix. I think they got bought over by Doctors Data. They do show progesterone a lot more accurate numbers.
Great. So what is the third scenario with estrogen dominance?
Yeah, the third one, I don’t generally talk too much about it because you have to do saliva testing to see that. So there’s three types of estrogens. You have E1, so it’s estrone. E2 is estradiol and E3 is estriol. So estriol tends to be the protective type of estrogen. It’s highest in women who are pregnant. The problematic form of estrogen is estradiol. And part of the reason why you and I are so big on, for example, cleaning up not just your diet, but also the stuff that you bring into your home, the things that you inhale, the things you put on your body, the things you clean with, the things you use in a kitchen. It really matters because a lot of those chemicals, whether it’s phthalates, or whether it’s aluminum, BPA. The list goes on. They convert in the body into estradiol. When you look at women, for example, with breast cancer, estradiol is extremely high.
And so this is another indicator of just understanding that not all estrogen is bad. Again, it’s how much you work on your liver and your gut, that you can skew that balance towards the protective estrogens or the clean estrogens and pull the body away from the dirty ones or the estradiol.
So your book is really focused around a three-legged stool to help kind of bring about hormonal balance. And in our last interview together, I pulled out this quote. You said, “I will tell you that among all of the different hormonal imbalances that I had, estrogen dominance is one of the easiest to reverse.”
So let’s kind of get into the your three-legged stool and some tips for our listeners on how to reverse their estrogen dominance.
Yeah. So sometimes I wonder whether the three-legged analogy is… I think it helps to contextualize things, but sometimes I feel like when I first start talking about it, it can be kind of intimidating. But I just mention it and if the listeners can trust me that it’s actually easier than what it sounds. So the analogy goes like if you want to sit on a three-legged stool, all the three legs needs to be firmly in place for you to feel stable and comfortable. And so in terms of your hormones, including estrogen dominance, is the three legs your body depends on is the health of your liver that I talked about. The health of your gut and your blood sugar levels, which I know in your community that’s a big part of the conversation because metabolic disorder is a big contributor towards PCOS. So those are the three things.
The good thing is that I think to some people, especially starting out on this journey, it sounds very intimidating and going like, “Oh, my God. Now she’s asking me to do all these 20 things for my liver. And then another 10 things for my gut. And then boom. And then I’ve got like other 20 things from Amy to do for my blood sugar levels.” And so I just want to say, actually, when you follow protocols like the way, for example, we’ve laid it out and I know, Amy, all your diet plans are the same way, when you are really focused on anti-inflammatory diets and pack your diet and your daily meals with certain foods that hopefully we can get to talk about a few of them today. You actually kind of killing the three birds with one stone. And you don’t have to then focus on like, “Oh, the one thing I need to do for my blood sugar levels. Oh, there’s another thing that I need to my liver.” No.
Let me give you an example. For instance, if you do incorporate a lot of broccoli sprouts into your diet, they’re very high in sulforaphane. And so sulforaphane is this wonderful substance that research shows it’s like that little tender broccoli sprout can kill cancer stem cells. How about that? But it is also a great gut healer. Because it’s also a cruciferous vegetable, so it’s in the cabbage family. It also contains levels of DIM, diindolylmethane, which the liver loves as well. And guess what? In the latest research that I’ve come across is that sulforaphane can also help you balance your blood sugar levels. Contributes towards that. So it’s things like that you can start incorporating that can be hugely beneficial for all the three at the same time.
Or like one of the things that… I can’t remember when I talked about it two years ago, but for example, fixing your breakfast. Not doing things like yogurt and fruits and porridge, oatmeal and bananas in it with maple syrup, because it’s all carbohydrates. It’s not going to help you in any way. But like switching out your breakfast to what I call a PFF kind of breakfast. Protein, fat and fiber kind of breakfast. And we’ve got some new recipes in the book for fisherman’s breakfast, and a farmer’s wife’s breakfast. Where you’re actually eating savory food for breakfast.
And just a little side note here, I’m a big world traveler before the crazy virus hit the world. And I’ve traveled to over 40 different countries and I can tell you that… In what we call developing countries, they actually eat savory food for breakfast. If you go to Turkey or Japan, which is not even developing. In Japan or Korea or go to Morocco or Peru, walking around… This is my favorite thing to do is to get up early in the morning and walk around the markets and just see the city wake up, because I’m an early riser. And I can tell you, man, no one eats sugary, processed carbohydrates for breakfast. Everybody eats savory foods and there’s a reason for that. So when you start off your diet that way, you’re immediately managing your blood sugar levels. You are managing your cravings a lot better. You don’t go then resort to eating muffins and then be pissed off with yourself or caving in to sugar. You reduce your coffee because your blood sugar levels are a lot more stable. You have a lot more energy. You don’t need that caffeine.
And guess what? By doing that, you’re doing yourself a favor in terms of… Your liver gets a break, as well. Of course I said, blood sugar levels are stabilized. Your liver gets a break. Your gut is going to be a lot happier, especially if you follow what you and I always talk about, anti-inflammatory diet. So cutting out gluten, dairy, soy, corn. I’m also a big fan of cutting out eggs for a while just to see whether that helps a person. I have found in our community that about 40, 50% of women have a problem with eggs and they can be highly inflammatory. And there are some who don’t, but you don’t really know until you cut it out and bring it back in. So my whole book is based on… All the recipes are based on being egg-free.
When you embark on that kind of meal plan that is, by the way, not limiting in any way. I’m not forcing you to be buying any protein powders and shakes. It’s just based on real food, traditional ways of using food. You really are addressing all three things at the same time.
Yeah, and that’s such a great point. And in your book… I’m just going to read a quote. That you say, “It’s really simple. The next time you go grocery shopping, make sure 80% of your cart consists of fresh foods instead of packaged processed items.” And when you’re eating fresh foods, mainly like nuts and seeds and veggies, fruit, you’re getting a lot of fiber. And fiber is one of those things that can kind of benefit all of those legs on the stool.
Absolutely. It balances your blood sugar levels. It will act as a really great broom to sweep your colon, especially the insoluble fiber. And guess what? Constipation is one of the big contributors towards estrogen dominance because whatever you don’t poop out… And by the way, we poop metabolized hormones out. You know when I talked about the dirty estrogens, they don’t just miraculously vanish. The liver separates them out and then that passes onto the colon and you poop out your metabolized hormones. So constipated women tend to be far more estrogenic than women who have regular bowel movements. And so fiber can help with that.
Yeah, insoluble fiber also is food for your probiotics. And so one of the other things I talk about in the book, the reason why the gut is one of the legs for estrogen dominance as well as is because we have something called the which is a subset of bacteria in the gut that code for enzymes. So they produce enzymes that break down those estrogens. So the liver, yes, is very important, but your gut microflora would also contribute towards breaking down those estrogens in a favorable way. So insoluble fiber can really help with that. And on that, Amy, can I share about flaxseed because it’s kind of involved too.
I was just going to ask you about that. You are one of the first people that… Years and years ago, we were talking about seed cycling and how good seeds are for you and I think you contributed an article early on to my website about it. So we’re not going to go into seed cycling in this podcast, but tell us more about the benefit of flaxseed.
So first of all, flaxseed is controversial because… And it’s understandably so because when a woman hears or she takes a quiz or is told by her doctor that she’s estrogen dominant, then you think, “Well, hold on. Flaxseed is estrogenic and contains phytoestrogens, so hence I should fear it and avoid it.” And the paradox of this is… Well, I think the answer isn’t a nuance. So like I said at the beginning of the podcast, estrogen is not a bad thing. Those phytoestrogens that are found in flaxseed are very gentle, and they are very subtle and they are the good types of estrogen actually your body will benefit from. So women, for example, with hot flashes… And before we started recording, you said that a big part of your community, even younger women, are reporting hot flashes. And so adding some flaxseed is actually going to really help. And if you add just two tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed to your smoothie or glass of water or sprinkle on top of salad, just don’t cook it, is really going to help you a ton.
So we don’t want to fear it. But the interesting thing is that… What research shows about flaxseed is that flaxseed together with a few other foods, including pomegranates, for example, is that they have the function of blocking the receptors in a cell that are open to dirty estrogens. And so they literally block dirty estrogen from coming through, causing the symptoms that we talked about earlier in the podcast. And that is kind of fabulous. That the food can be so selective in how it acts in your body, and really help you even though it’s estrogenic, but it blocks those dirty estrogens. This is fabulous.
The other thing I love about flaxseed is the fact that it’s highly anti-inflammatory, and I know in PCOS community you talk a lot about inflammation as being the underlying root cause of the condition. And so flaxseed contains alpha lipoic acid and that is really wonderfully anti-inflammatory. I’m not a fan of flaxseed oil. I’ll just say it straight up. Because look at how it’s sold. Dark bottles in a refrigerator. Why? Because it gets oxidized really quickly and goes rancid really, really quickly. So in order to get the lignans that I was talking about, to get the fiber that we talked about, and bring in the dirty estrogen blocking property that I discussed, you need to get all of this from actual seeds that’s ground and not from the oil. But the oil is still present in the seeds and so hence the anti-inflammatory result.
And then the third thing I love about flaxseed is the insoluble and soluble fiber that it contains. On one hand, it supports to diversify the microflora. And on the other hand, it helps you evacuate and go to the bathroom with a lot more ease. And guess what? Whenever there is fiber around, your liver is going to love it. So, it’s just a really wonderful food to add.
I will add, Amy, just to this, is that I’m a big proponent of flaxseed. It’s in a lot of our recipes. And I remember a couple of years ago beginning to get quite a lot of email saying, “I’ve tried it and actually my symptoms of estrogen dominance have gone worse from taking flaxseed.” And so, I don’t want to dismiss it. That’s a valid concern. And I would say it was probably one out of 20 women would have like a paradoxical response to flaxseed. So I hit the research zone and what I have found was that there are certain women who have… especially when you have poor diversity of your microflora, your gut microbiome, then the reaction to flaxseeds might be paradoxical because you don’t have the right bacteria to break down that flaxseed, and to free your body to deal with it. And so then it becomes almost like a toxic food rather than a friend.
So, I would just put it out there, that’s something to consider. If it’s making you feel worse, then you definitely want to stop taking it. That’s a first big thing. But the other thing is that, I think to the next point is saying what can you do to diversify your microbiome? And when I say diversification of the microbiome, one thing that comes to mind is when I was writing the book is how much research we have found on women who have breast cancer. There’s no causation per se, but there’s a correlation between women having breast cancer and having a very… not poor microflora, but just a lack of diversity of the microflora as compared to women who are healthy. So it kind of brings us back in the same circle which is work on your gut.
Right. And I just wanted to back up just a quick minute to the flaxseed. And you talk about using it freshly ground. Do you like use a coffee grinder to put a couple tablespoons in and grind that up?
Yeah, exactly. So I don’t drink coffee. I can’t drink coffee, but if I was, I’ll get another grinder just because coffee kind of overtakes everything. But yeah, absolutely. You can just use a regular spice grinder for that. And Amy, I’m lazy, so I will just grind up like a whole jar, like half a quart jar, and keep it in the fridge and use it up within a week. So you don’t want to be buying flaxseed, what’s called flax meal, that’s already pre-ground because of the oxidation issue that I talked about. And if you really want to have a full medicinal value of it, then you want to do it yourself. But you can keep it for like five days in a fridge with no oxygen.
So I wanted to close the podcast on talking about bitters. And one of the other foods that you mentioned is dandelion. This podcast is coming out in March and hopefully we’re going to be seeing some dandelions soon here in New Hampshire, and I know you’re in Colorado. So tell us about the benefits of bitters like dandelion.
Yeah, so dandelion… So you have the leaf and the roots. The leaf tends to work a little bit more on the detoxification of the kidneys. But because of the bitter quality, you can definitely add it into your diet too and that’s going to be very supportive towards the liver. But the root has got a lot more efficacy towards the liver itself. So a couple of applications here. First of all, if you are foraging like what you were saying, Amy, I think it’s a great idea. I love that. Those kind of dandelion leaves tend to be really quite bitter because they’re wild. And make sure you’re picking it from places that have not been sprayed with pesticides, there’s no dogs peeing on it. Or you can also get in a health food store.
A lot of people don’t really know what to do with those leaves, and so a couple of quick tips: you can just toss it into your salad. One of the recipes I really love is like this old Tuscan recipe from Italy where you chop up dandelion leaves with some fennel bulb and add some oranges to it to sweeten it up, so you balance the flavor profile. But also the dressing is made out of orange skin and so the skin contains also a lot of bitter qualities and a lot of other medicinal values and a lot of oils, and so with some olive oil and salt, it’s a really simple salad. You can also just sauté those leaves. So just really a couple of applications. Just anything you bring into your food that has got bitter qualities always going to be supporting your liver in a huge way.
And I will say, Amy, I feel like a lot of people are like kind of stuck with this mentality, “I’m going to do two big detoxes a year,” and some of the detoxes are okay, and others are just kind of pure crazy and not really healthy. And to me it feels a little bit like saying to someone, “I’m just going to clean my house like deeply two times a year,” and the rest of the year just imagine what your house would look like if you didn’t clean it every weekend or something. So we can do little detox things like this to support our liver and our hormones on a daily basis and those are like good examples, dandelion leaf and throwing that into a salad or sauteing it is one good example.
But on the root side, one of my favorite teas… And I will tell you, a number of women in our community have said that they got really addicted to this tea. Not addicted, but they craved it. They said they craved it. And I think cravings is a fascinating concept, because craving is a way of your body communicating with you, telling you what it needs. So after a few weeks of doing the liver tea, they’re like, “I cannot imagine finishing a meal without having the tea afterwards.” So basically, what it is it’s a dandelion root, or and/or burdock root that you steep for about 15, 20 minutes. There’s a lot of companies now that you when you walk into a health food store, they have tea bags that are ready made.
I prefer to make my own and just buy it bulk and infuse it myself. But maybe that’s just me as a herbalist, but a teabag is perfectly fine. And it’s the bitter quality that I think… The reason why women crave it is because it just facilitates your digestion so beautifully. It stimulates your bile production. In herbalism, we call it cholagogues. Cholagogues are herbs that are stimulating towards the liver to produce bile, and then for the gallbladder to release that bile on demand. So you’re digesting your fats a lot better.
When you’re digesting fats, this is actually really important because when you’re digesting fats properly, you’re producing HDL cholesterol, which is the cholesterol that is the building block for all your steroid hormones. So guess what? Your progesterone, estrogen, DHEA, testosterone, cortisol are all produced from HDL cholesterol. So that explains why a lot of women who cannot digest fats very well because of bile problems or liver issues, they also have a lot of hormonal problems. So it’s all beautifully interconnected. But another quality about bitters, whether it’s in a form of a tea or digestive bitters in the form of a tincture, or whether it’s bitter foods that you’re incorporating, all of those will play beautifully.
They also help you manage your blood sugar levels, which is another really fascinating one. They’ve been around for centuries and centuries. If you have German friends, you might have had a Jägermeister, shooting that after a meal. If you go to Italy, North Italy has Campari before a meal. And it’s not to get drunk, it’s just to prepare digestion for receiving food and extracting the most out of it. So just really wonderful equality.
And I just want to tell you just one other thing before we close on bitters is that we formulated our own and when I was at a botanical camp last summer, and we had a girl who was celiac and she had Crohn’s disease, so super sensitive to gluten. And we were doing communal dinners, and there was a section of the table that was supposed to be gluten free, but I think it got contaminated and so she suddenly developed like this really severe pain in her whole GI tract. And I said to her, I said, “Listen, I’ve got like these 20 bitters. I’m tasting and testing them right now.” And I’m like, “If you want to try them.” And she did and she came back after 20 minutes and she says, “Hey, Magdalena. This thing really works. My pain is gone.” So that was like a real acid test of, wow, I respect bitters now even so much more.
Well, I’m really excited because you’re going to send me some of your bitters to try. And I will report back. If you’ve been listening to PCOS Diva podcast for a while, you know my son has had some surgery that makes his digestion compromised, so he’s going to try them too. And that was something that I was really excited about, to learn about in your book.
And the other thing that I was excited to learn about is all of your personalized add on protocols that you added to the end of the book. This book is not just for women with PCOS. As you mentioned when we opened, that so many of our girlfriends are dealing with estrogen issues and you have specific protocols for and I’m just going to read through these quick. Fibroids, endometriosis, fibrocystic and lumpy breasts, hot flashes, absent periods, irregular periods, heavy periods, PMS, thyroid nodules, infertility and miscarriage, cellulite and hip fat. I could talk to you forever, Magdalena, but why don’t you just mention a little bit about the cellulite and hip fat and how that relates.
Yeah, so it’s really interesting where the body stores fat. It can be an indication of which hormone imbalance a woman is experiencing. So it’s probably not surprising, probably your community, if you put on weight, it’s going to be more… You’re like the apple-shaped if high testosterone and high blood sugar levels are the issue here. With estrogen, we have the typical pear shape. And so we like to store fat around our hips and thighs, and it’s fat as well as cellulite. If I put on weight, certainly that’s the first place that it goes to. And the reason why I wrote this protocol and wanted to address it was because there’s so many women I know who are hitting the gym five times a week and just can’t lose that weight. And the truth is it’s probably going to be extremely hard to lose it, if at all, unless you address estrogen dominance as the underlying cause. And when you address that then you start seeing the fat going away.
And you also finally talk about the breast cancer protocol, which is so important. And you don’t leave us PCOS Divas out, because you talk about high testosterone protocol as well.
So it’s such a strength to the book, in addition to your 28 day meal plan with shopping lists. And I can tell you all that Magdalena is really gifted at making healthy food taste delicious. We’ve talked about her Cooking for Hormone Balance cookbook many times on my PCOS Divas boards. It’s a great resource to kind of have on your cookbook shelf. So you also include how many recipes in this new book?
We got 46 new recipes, and they’re all new and different from the first book. And thank you for the kind words and I will say about the recipes and the one thing that we’ve done differently this time around is that when I look at some of the reviews on Amazon, on my first book, I think the biggest criticism was that not all recipes were simple. Or they were using ingredients which I thought could be just like a real cool challenge for people, and using things like maybe cassava flour or pomegranate molasses. But people actually found it kind of like, “Hey, where do you want me to find this? This is a pain in the butt,” sort of attitude. And so we thought, “You know what? This time around, let’s just make it really simple.”
So, when working on the recipes with a recipe developer, my brief to her was to work on five, six ingredients at the most, and making it no more than 20 minutes involved time. And we have a lot of modifications for the recipe, like you can either cook it on the stove top or you have Instant Pot modifications. So it’s like a lot of one pot meals kind of a thing. So that’s a big change from there. A lot of the recipes are just things that I do on a daily basis. I am not a very involved cook. I really don’t like actually spending time in the kitchen so much, and I like it to be quick and super delicious and very flavorful and very healthy. So a lot of that inspiration just came from our own lunches and dinner ideas that were quick and easy and healthy.
This book and these recipes are not going to win me awards for being the most sophisticated recipes, but I don’t care because that’s not how we cook on a daily basis, do we?
Right, it’s just you want it to be easy and approachable and that’s definitely this book and those recipes. And the beautiful pictures, like I said before, a coffee table-like book. So, congratulations and thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and knowledge with us, Magdalena.
Thank you so much for having me, Amy.
Oh, before we close out, just tell us where we can find your book and how can we learn more about your work.
Yeah, so the book is available now on Amazon. And if you are overseas then just head out to… We have our book shipping from other places if you’re overseas and so just head over to overcomingestrogendominance.com and you will find the international shipping. And my website is hormones, with an S, hormonesbalance.com. That’s our home.
Perfect. Well, it was awesome chatting with you again. And I look forward to being with everyone again soon. Thanks so much for listening. Bye-bye.