Calcium D-glucarate is a supplement that your body converts to glucaric acid, an active chemical in your intestine that supports the liver. When your body is in balance and in optimum health, it is possible to obtain a sufficient amount of glucaric acid through the food you eat, without supplementation. Glucaric acid is found in most vegetables, such as bean sprouts, lettuces, and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage and kale), and in fruits such as grapes, oranges, cherries, and tomatoes. However, if your body’s balance is disturbed in anyway—including if you suffer from Adrenal Fatigue —your body may not be getting enough from diet alone. Calcium D-glucarate supplements can help. When glucaric acid is bound to calcium, as in the supplement form, it allows your body to absorb it and process it more efficiently.
How does Calcium D-glucarate work?
Calcium D-glucarate works in conjunction with an enzyme in the intestine, beta-glucaronidase, and the liver’s detoxification process. In the normal functioning of the body, hormones often travel to the liver and are tagged for excretion. The neutralized hormone is excreted in bile, which travels out by way of solid waste, and must pass through the intestine. When beta-glucaronidase encounters a neutralized hormone, it breaks the bond to reactivate this hormone and the hormone is then reabsorbed through the wall of the intestine. Calcium D-glucarate, however, inhibits beta-glucaronidase. By inhibiting beta-glucaronidase, Calcium D-glucarate ensures that the hormone is excreted from the body and not reabsorbed. Normally, beta-glucaronidase and calcium D-glucarate are in balance in your intestine. This ensures that if the body actually needs a hormone that the liver marked for excretion, beta-glucaronidase can recycle the hormone, rather than have the body make it from scratch again. However, calcium D-glucarate inhibits beta-glucaronidase to prevent too many hormones from being reabsorbed. Thus, if the body actually doesn’t need a certain hormone at that time, it is excreted.
Often times, however, balance isn’t achieved. It is especially hard to maintain balance when the liver is already stressed. Any reabsorption of materials that the liver has already tried to excrete is an added stress to the system. This is the case if you suffer from Adrenal Fatigue, in which case your body is probably often overwhelmed with stress. In addition, it is natural for the levels of beta-glucaronidase to increase as the body ages, which also increases rates of hormone reabsorption. This can contribute to estrogen dominance, which is often associated with stress, especially in aging women. It has been shown that calcium D-glucarate supplementation is beneficial for those attempting to restore balance between hormone levels and beta-glucaronidase.
Calcium D-glucarate and the Liver
The liver is the body’s natural cleanser and detoxifier. The liver has two ways to cleanse the body: Phase I and Phase II. Phase I uses the molecule cytochrome P450, which processes toxins. These toxins are then sent to the kidneys to be excreted with urine. During this process, free radicals are created which cause damage to the body. While the liver has built-in protections against this, antioxidants help support the liver in neutralizing the free radicals and thus eliminate toxins.
The Phase II pathway of liver detoxification involves conjugation of a hormone or fat-soluble substance. The conjugation of the hormone neutralizes it, combines it with bile, and sends it through the intestine to be excreted. Excess estrogen is processed through phase II. Any type of damage to the liver or condition that affects the liver’s functioning disrupts the effective breakdown of estrogen. Clinical conditions include hepatitis, liver cancer, and cirrhosis. Subclinical conditions (where the liver is not functioning optimally but laboratory results are still normal) include liver congestion and cysts.
Calcium D-glucarate is important because it helps ensure that estrogen marked for excretion actually leaves the body. Without sufficient levels of calcium D-glucarate, the neutralized hormone can be activated and reabsorbed in the body. The liver then has to work again on clearing the reintroduced hormone, which strains the liver.
Calcium D-glucarate ensures that the processed hormone or toxin is excreted by inhibiting beta-glucaronidase from recycling the hormones. If beta-glucaronidase is too prevalent, you may reabsorb more estrogen than you need. As we age, this is exactly what occurs.
Calcium D-glucarate, Estrogen Dominance, and Adrenal Fatigue
Estrogen dominance is part of the hormonal circuit in the Neuroendometabolic Stress Response. When the body perceives stress, the hormonal circuit—consisting of the adrenals, reproductive organs, and the thyroid—revs up to produce their respective hormones. When the body is overly stressed, the hormonal circuit can become imbalanced and estrogen dominance may arise. Over-abundance of estrogen levels, either on an absolute basis or relative to other hormones, has been shown to be associated with increased allergies, PMS symptoms, endometriosis, autoimmune diseases such as lupus, chronic elevated estrogen exposure, endometrial cancer, and breast cancer. While these are severe cases of estrogen dominance, if estrogen dominance is suspected, corrective actions should be taken to ensure that hormone levels are brought back into balance.
It is important to understand that estrogen dominance refers to increased levels of estrogen as compared to progesterone. It does not only signify an increase in the absolute amount of estrogen in your body. In a healthy, balanced body, estrogen functions as a growth hormone, while progesterone functions as an inhibitory hormone. This means that while estrogen works to turn functions on, progesterone is the controlling hormone that determines whether an action is sufficient and turns it off. For those with estrogen dominance, there is not enough progesterone to counter estrogen’s effects on the body. In the short term, or in mild cases of estrogen dominance, the body can compensate by increasing the amount of progesterone created and clearing excess estrogen through the liver.
In today’s world however, the body is constantly exposed to estrogen through xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are chemicals that are not chemically the same compound as estrogen but are very similar. In fact, they look enough like estrogen that your body processes xenoestrogens and uses them as estrogen. Estrogen and xenoestrogens are found everywhere, in food, hygiene products, and the environment. For example, food products—especially animal meat and dairy—is often purposefully laced with estrogen to promote growth. Personal hygiene products may also have estrogenic promotion properties, such as shampoos with estrogen or xenoestrogens.
The liver is responsible for the breakdown of estrogen. If the liver is already under stress from an underlying condition, or managing additional toxins in the system (such as alcohol or other drugs), the liver cannot effectively eliminate the excess estrogen and xenoestrogens. The result is increased levels of estrogen available in your body, unbalanced by progesterone levels; so the effects of estrogen go unchecked.
Estrogen dominance often accompanies Adrenal Fatigue because the Neuroendometabolic (NEM) Stress Response is activated automatically by a body under stress. Numerous organ systems and hormones are involved, including the adrenal glands and the liver. The adrenal glands are the main anti-stress center of the body. They are just above your kidneys and have many functions, one of which is to activate and release the hormone cortisol. Adrenal Fatigue is the result of a constant demand for cortisol, the main anti-stress hormone, well beyond the glands’ ability to produce it. All hormones in the adrenals are made from cholesterol, which is converted to pregnenolone. Pregnenolone can follow one of two paths. One path leads to DHEA, which then creates the sex hormones, estrogen or testosterone. The other path creates progesterone, which can then be used to create cortisol, the anti-stress hormone.
In the initial stages of Adrenal Fatigue, there is a high demand for cortisol, so all of the pregnenolone that would become progesterone, continues down the chain of reactions to create cortisol. Because of this pregnenolone shunt (also called “pregnenolone steal”), progesterone levels can decrease, which means that relative to progesterone, estrogen levels are high, or dominant. As Adrenal Fatigue progresses, cortisol output eventually peaks and then drops, unable to be sustained by the adrenal glands. Estrogen dominance then continues or worsens. Many women complain of irregular and painful periods, a sign of excessive estrogen.
Numerous hormone imbalances can be brought on by Adrenal Fatigue. In addition to estrogen and progesterone, affected hormones can include thyroid, insulin, DHEA, pregnenolone, and androgens. The best way to rebalance your hormones is to address the root cause of Adrenal Fatigue. In addition, rebalancing the estrogen-progesterone ratio alleviates some of the hormonal imbalance symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue.
Managing Estrogen Levels
Estrogen levels are best managed through a multi-system approach. Because this hormone is prevalent, it is essential to monitor your diet and bolster your detoxification system. Since estrogen and xenoestrogens are prevalent in a modern diet, it is best to look for meats that have no added hormones and are grass-fed. Free-range meat is ideal. It is also essential to eat organic fruits and vegetables, as many pesticides contain xenoestrogens. Weight management is also important because fat cells, also called adipose tissue, create the hormone estrogen. While this isn’t a quick solution, it is an effective long-term management strategy. Finally, the liver is essential for ensuring proper flushing of excess estrogen (and other chemicals) from the body. If the liver is damaged due to drugs or toxins, including excess alcohol, it can get overwhelmed and not function properly. Therefore, liver damage can be both a cause and a result of estrogen dominance. Thus, it is clear that supporting your liver is crucial for recovery.
Calcium D-glucarate and the NEM Stress Response
In order to restore balance to the body, regardless of whether Adrenal Fatigue or another underlying stress is causing the hormone imbalance, the NEM Stress Response must be rebalanced. The NEM Stress Response includes all the systemic reactions and organ systems that are affected by stress. In the case of estrogen imbalance, hormone levels, the extracellular matrix, and liver function are the main focuses of intervention.
Calcium D-glucarate is an important part of a successful intervention because it promotes better function of the liver and intestines. In addition to detoxifying the body generally, the liver cleans the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM is where all the signaling between cells occurs, including the transmission of hormones. The way to clear estrogen or other hormones out of the extracellular matrix is through the liver. If the liver is able to efficiently eliminate excess hormones from the body, it will be able to handle other chemicals, including toxins, more efficiently as well. Thus, by helping the liver with estrogen excretion, calcium D-glucarate not only combats estrogen dominance, it also strengthens overall liver function, so that balance can be achieved for all components of the NEM Stress Response.
Calcium D-glucarate supplement
Calcium D-glucarate helps the body excrete hormones, ultimately rebalancing the NEM stress response by ensuring that what the liver marked as toxic stays out of the body. But remember that optimizing liver function requires a comprehensive approach. In addition to Calcium D-glucarate, other natural compounds such as fermented forms of milk thistle, dandelion, and artichoke leaf should be part of your liver optimization program as well.
Because calcium D-glucarate alters the liver’s excretion of Phase II metabolites, be sure to check with your healthcare provider if you are taking medications that go through this processing in the liver, as there might be interactions with those medications. Also be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about a proper dosage of calcium D-glucarate to ensure that the supplement properly contributes to your recovery.
© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
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