Beta-glucuronidase is an enzyme that can essentially release estrogen back into recirculation instead of it being escorted out of your body via normal detox pathways. This is one factor contributing to estrogen dominance – a common reason why people are often suffering from hormonal headaches.
An imbalance of estrogen to progesterone levels and a back-up in the clearance of estrogen metabolites through your liver, is a leading cause of hormonal headaches and hormonal migraines.
Consider for a moment any other unusual symptoms you may be experiencing. If weight gain, mood swings, decreased libido, and fatigue sound familiar, then it might be a good idea to check your estrogen and estrogen metabolite levels with a dried urine test. (the only reliable method to obtain information about how your estrogens are being metabolized through your liver).
Elevated estrogen levels do occur naturally in women during certain times of the menstrual cycle, however a built-in checkpoint system is in place to control and balance our body’s hormone levels.
Chronic hormonal imbalances can be caused by one of four things:
- Chronic long term stress of any type (internal or external)
- Excess estrogen secretion
- Intake of endogenous xenoestrogens
- Disruptions in the hormone-eliminating or detoxification pathway
What is Beta-Glucuronidase?
To keep our hormone levels in-check, the liver works to eliminate used hormones and other toxins through a detoxification system that operates three main phases.
In phase one of liver detoxification, enzymes in the liver start to metabolize or break down these substances into a form that is more water-soluable and less toxic.
In the second phase of detoxification, the liver packages unwanted or unneeded molecules destined for elimination into fully water-soluble compounds that our bodies can flush out through the kidneys and bile.
This flushing out process is known as phase three, and your digestive system has to be working well to support this part of the process.
Beta-Glucuronidase is an enzyme that disrupts the detoxification process by reversing the packaging process in phase 2, thereby releasing the conjugated molecules into their separate parts.
This in turn enables their reabsorption into the body, consequently artificially elevating estrogen levels.
In the digestive system, normal levels of Beta-glucuronidase help our bodies to digest complex carbohydrates by breaking them down. If levels of Beta-glucuronidase are too high however, then various metabolites and toxic compounds can’t be excreted properly. Without this step in detoxification, an accumulation of unwanted or unneeded molecules in the body can cause major problems, including symptoms of estrogen dominance such as hormonal migraines.
How does Beta-Glucuronidase impact how you feel?
By inhibiting liver detoxification and estrogen clearance, the enzyme Beta-glucuronidase contributes to excess estrogen building up in the body. This can make you feel tired, “hormonal” and cause recurring headaches. If Beta-glucuronidase levels remain chronically elevated over time, then you are at risk of significant health issues and disease related to hormonal imbalance, poor digestion and toxicity.
Combatting excess Beta-Glucuronidase
To balance out Beta-glucuronidase, our bodies naturally produce D-Glucarate. Calcium-D-Glucarate is a calcium bound d-glucaric acid which actually inhibits Beta-glucuronidase, thereby promoting the elimination of excess estrogenic hormones and environmental toxins.
If you are experiencing estrogen dominance, this could mean either elevated Beta-Glucuronidase or low levels of Calcium-D-Glucarate. Calcium-D-Glucarate can be found in in various plant foods such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, apples, oranges and grapefruit.
Supplemental Calcium-D-Glucarate is an option to naturally support healthy detoxification when someone has elevated levels of beta-glucuronidase.
Note: Although you can try supplementing on your own, only about half of the people we test actually have high levels of beta glucuronidase, which is why we say “test don’t guess”!
Testing for high Beta-Glucuronidase
Test, don’t guess! The best way to know if you’re experiencing headaches or migraines due to an estrogen imbalance is by using the DUTCH Complete dried-urine hormone test! (Btw, men have problems with estrogen dominance too, it just doesn’t correlate with a monthly cycle so it isn’t as obvious to them.) Not only will you find out about imbalances in your stress and sex hormones, but you’ll see how these hormones are metabolized in the liver and which underlying factors may be causing the hormone imbalances in the first place.
These types of root causes simply cannot be detected with blood and saliva tests. Elevated levels of Beta-Glucuronidase can be tested by checking certain digestive health markers in a stool analysis.
A good starting point is scheduling a consultation with us for Gut and Hormone testing, where we tailor a plan that is unique to you! These home test kits are available in most countries, so we look forward to talking with you from any corner of the globe 😀
Erin, I always learn so much by reading your posts. I had never heard of any of this, and you helped breakdown a complicated science into an understandable process. Thank you so much for the continued education!!
though i haven’t been suffering much from headaches, i am experiencing huge hormonal fluctuations with menopause and have been reading all that i can about hormones. this is both interesting and informative. thank you, erin!
I have struggled with these headaches since my hysterectomy, premature menopause. I was on estradiol for 15 years when they started. No one told me it might be the striven. Seeing a nutritionist now. Detoxing and stopped taking estradiol. However I am still fighting teaches. It is week 3. Any feedback?
3 weeks is really too early to say, Michelle. Detoxing and initial changes can be tough in and of themselves but hopefully you are making healthy changes for the long term which can only move you in the right direction. If you need some natural headache relief techniques for the meantime, email us.
I get such bad headaches so such a great helpful post thank u x
Loads of useful information in this post. This is the first time I have read about hormonal headaches. I will be sharing this post with my daughter, my sisters and my best-friend cousin.
I struggle with migraines and I didn’t know how hormones can affect us like that.
Love how you made everything seem so easy !
Never had my eostrogen metabolites checked. Need to do that
Beta-Glucuronidase? This is very new to me. I didn’t even know about hormonal headaches. :0)
I’ve never heard of this before! Thank you so much for sharing it. I have a friend who suffers from chronic migraines, and they are hormone related. I’ll have to show this to her.
my sister suffers from migraines on the REGULAR and no one has been able to figure out WHY- however THIS could spark some insight into why she might struggle so I am totally sending this post along to her!
You learn something new everyday this is nice to know!
I am so glad I found your blog! I need to do a good liver detox! I just found out I have an underperforming thyroid and your liver and thyroid are so connected, it will probably benefit me to get my liver as healthy as possible!
Had no idea of this.Happy to learn.Your posts are so educative.Thanks for sharing.
I’m so grateful that I rarely get headaches. I know a lot of people though that seem debilitated by them.
I didn’t know that headaches are caused by high amounts of Beta-glucuronidase in the system. Interesting scientific fact! I should read more into it.
I often wonder why I get headaches. I think a lot of my issues are hormonal.
Wow this is a detail list of how hormonal imbalances happen to cause headaches. I do not get headaches often and I hope I dont get a hormonal one.
I have suffered from hormonal migraines for years, now I have estrogen dominant breast cancer. Do you think if I had heard of this earlier and fixed it the cancer could have been avoided? why do main stream Drs not test? or do they even know of this?
I’m really sorry to hear this, Tishe. For me personally, using migraines as a warning sign that something is off balance in my body and constantly working towards optimal health is an act of prevention. Unfortunately I did not learn this until I had autoimmune diseases to deal with, but when I looked back and thought about how I wanted to contribute to the world I realized if we can listen to the earlier warning signs our body gives us (migraines, allergies, aches and pains…)- we can hopefully get back on track and avoid the even more serious ones. The current mainstream model isn’t really set up to view the body holistically but Functional Medicine is gaining a lot of traction these days and becoming more accessible and accepted, so that is good news 🙂