Endocrine + Hormone Disruptors
by Gianne Rayandayan, Herbalist
We live in a world completely inundated with plastics, synthetic chemicals, and their byproducts. While plastic and chemicals have played a major role in modern convenience (I couldn't type this blogpost without my plastic keyboard!) research shows that a variety of synthetic substances are known to affect hormone levels. They are commonly referred to as ‘hormone disruptors’.
Hormone disruptors are known to:
Mimic hormones, like estrogen
Interfere with hormonal signaling
Convert hormones into other hormones
Compete with essential nutrients
Unless we live in a glass bubble, completely avoiding synthetic materials is unrealistic. That being said, making small swaps in our daily lives can really give our long term health in the long run. In this blog, we highlight a few major endocrine and hormone disruptors, their effects on the body, and ways to minimize their impact.
It’s also worth noting that on top of minimizing plastic and chemical exposure, we can support the body’s detoxification pathways as well. For example, herbal formulas like our Liver Detox can help the body metabolize excess estrogens and toxins. We always want to pair these with probiotics, dietary fiber, and lots of water to ensure proper elimination out of the body.
Common Endocrine and Hormone disruptors:
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical found in most plastics. It is a hormone disruptor because of the way it mimics estrogen. Research has linked low doses of BPA to breast cancer, estrogen dominance, unhealthy weight, early puberty, and menstrual cycle disruption. Various organizations have dubbed it as the ‘everywhere’ chemical (along with phthalates, which we talk about next), because it is so prolific.
Tips: Swap plastic containers for glass. Opt for electronic receipts vs print, because thermal paper is coated in plastic. Transfer canned food to a pan or glass container before heating or microwaving, and try to buy fresh or frozen food whenever possible.
Like BPA, phthalates exist in many commonplace consumer items like children’s toys and personal care products such as soaps, shampoos, aftershave, nailpolish, and perfumes. A 2014 study related prenatal phthalate exposure to genital birth defects and impaired reproductive function in human males.
Tip: This might become redundant, but minimizing plastic is so key. Search for “phthalate-free” labeling on personal care products, or any product with ‘fragrance’ as an added ingredient.
At Remedy, we try to take as many steps as we can to reduce plastic use, not only for the environment but for our customers. Our prescription vials are BPA and phthalate free and are designed to be 100% biodegradable.
Per- and polyfluorinated substances are found in many water-resistant fabrics, non-stick cookware, and fast-food packaging materials. Because these chemicals do not degrade or break down, they have also been detected in unfiltered drinking water. Studies link PFA’s to altered levels of testosterone and estrogen as well as thyroid disruption.
Tips: Cooking at home is your best bet to avoid PFAS chemicals. Reverse osmosis filters are also an effective way of clearing PFA’s from your drinking water. The Environmental Working Group has a guide to avoiding PFA’s that you can read here.
Pesticides like Atrazine
Atrazine is heavily present in soil and groundwater. Mass agriculture is unfortunately the biggest culprit. A compelling study shows how low-dose atrazine exposure caused significant sex change in male frogs. Research suggests atrazine suppress the hormone LH, which then alters estrogen and testosterone levels.
Tip: Buy organic produce as much as possible! It’s truly an investment for your health. Drink filtered water. Be conscious of public spaces that are known to spray pesticides.
Perchlorate is a chemical used in ammunition and fireworks and is increasingly found in water and soil. When ingested, perchlorate has been shown to compete with iodine, a mineral essential to healthy thyroid function.
Tips: The best way to filter perchlorate is with a reverse osmosis filter. Get enough iodine in your diet through iodized salt or better yet, natural himalayan or sea salt. Herbs like Kelp and Ashwagandha help to re-balance thyroid function over time, which you can find in Gaia’s Thyroid Support formula.
Hormone disruptors are an unfortunate byproduct of modern living, but we can take conscious steps to minimize our exposure! If you’d like to know more about natural ways to heal common hormone imbalances like PCOS, Endometriosis, and infertility, join us for our Remedy Mini Lecture Series on Thursday August 19th with Dr. Natasha Monterey, ND! Sign up here.