person in striped shirt laying down with hot water bottle on abdomenDo you suffer from ovarian cysts from PCOS, or painful endometriosis?  Is the week before your period unusually miserable?  Does your pain sometimes even cause you to miss work?  I have had lots of questions coming in this week about how to use food to calm extreme pelvic pain that can be so bad that it can even cause you to miss work. 


Supporting your liver can be the first step to releasing your pelvic pain, and having much more comfortable periods.

Your liver is a key detoxification organ.   What you eat and the supplements you take can help the liver to function better (or it can slow it down!)

There are all sorts of things we can discuss about detox, but when it comes to pelvic pain the most important thing to improve upon is how your body handles estrogen.  Estrogen is a normal, healthy female hormone that’s essential for ovulation, buxom breasts, and thick, moist vaginal tissue.  But, there can be too much of a good thing.  Many women in my practice have too much estrogen in their bodies, or have a problem with getting rid of estrogen safely, causing more toxic forms of estrogen build up in their bodies.  Too much of the strongest versions of estrogen can put women at risk for endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and even breast and ovarian cancers.

How can you support your liver to optimally metabolize your estrogen?

First, let me give you a bit of background about how estrogen is metabolized.  Once your body uses estrogen it is broken down into several different forms (we’re going to focus on two of them here.)

16α-hydroxyestrone (16αOHE1)


2–hydroxyestrone (2OHE1)

16αOHE1 is the “bad” kind of broken-down estrogen.  It’s highly estrogenic, and it can promote cancer growth.  Your goal is to shift your estrogen detox system, encouraging it to make more 2OHE1 instead.  In short, you want a good 2:16 estrogen ratio.

The good news is that there are several foods and supplements that encourage a healthier high 2:16 estrogen ratio.   Having this high 2:16 ratio is important to lowering your risk for painful endometriosis symptoms, ovarian cysts, and even breast and ovarian cancer.

“What should I eat in order to optimize my 2:16 estrogen ratio?  I’m ready to dump the bad estrogen and keep the good!”

It all comes back to broccoli.  Your mother always told you it was good for you.  She was right.

If you want to increase your urinary 2:16 ratio, you have to eat your cruciferous veggies.  It doesn’t take long to see this healthy shift, only four weeks in one study1, but you’ve got to keep it up.  For some delicious ideas, visit our Pinterest board, Vibrant Veggies.

If you refuse to eat your broccoli (or Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, or kale), then you do have some supplement options.  Some of you are lucky, your good genes can amplify the good effects of these veggies1.   That’s good news… adding lots of veggies is good, but adding ANY veggies is a great start!

If you refuse to eat your leafy greens, you can try taking:

I3C (aka indole-3-carbinol)

DIM (aka 3,3’-diindolylmethane)

or SGS (aka Sulforaphane Glucosinolate)

All of these supplements are concentrated forms of some of the active compounds in cruciferous vegetables that improve estrogen metabolism.  While I always recommend adding whole foods first, sometimes, adding supplements can give your body the high doses that it needs of these detoxifying compounds.  Taking SGS and a combination of active B vitamins to support methylation worked wonders for me to eliminate my ovarian cysts, in addition to eating plenty of leafy greens.

Choosing which of these to take is best done with the guidance of a skilled clinical nutrition professional, as these are not without risks.  In fact, there is some evidence that I3C may actually contribute to cancer2.   Always talk to a clinical nutritionist before you begin taking any supplement so that you can be clear on its benefits and risks.  Join our Outsmart Endo Health Coaching Program. 

In addition to getting your greens in, you want to be sure you’re supporting your liver in a few more ways.  I won’t get into the complex details here because we’ve already gotten a bit technical.  But, here are a few more tips…

  1. Get plenty of glutathione, aka The Master Antioxidant3.
  2. Get plenty of active B vitamins to keep methylation (one of the biochemical processes involved in liver detoxification) running smoothly.
  3. Eat at least 35-45g of fiber each day.
  4. Drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day.
  5. Exercise up a good sweat at least 3-5 times a week.
  6. Limit your exposure to estrogen-mimicking chemicals (We’ll talk more about this in future posts!)

Supporting your liver to healthfully rid your body of excess estrogen is a key step in eliminating your pelvic pain.   Join our Outsmart Endo Health Coaching Program and learn how to manage your pelvic pain and reclaim your life. 

What questions do you have about detoxing?  Ask them in the comments below!

Share this post with the women in your life who are ready to get rid of their excess estrogen!

Have a lighter week!





  1. Higdon JV, Delage B, Williams DE, et al. “ Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis.” Pharmacological Research. Mar:55(3) (2007): 224-36.
  2. Bradlow HL. “Review. Indole-3-carbinol as a chemoprotective agent in breast and prostate cancer.” In Vivo. Jul-Aug;22(4) (2008):441-5.
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/glutathione-the-mother-of_b_530494.html